Tuesday, October 29, 2013


Harley did all the work last night instead of me.  I saddled him, and put him out on the longeline with side reins for about a half hour.  A few minutes in, he realized the saddle pad felt a little funny on his back - itchie I bet from the hair I wasn't yet able to brush off of him.  He tried to throw a fit, and ran into the side reins.  That made an even bigger fit.  I retrieved the longe whip to motivate him, which led to the teensiest bucking fit - once or twice.  Totally calm, I just hung on, and sent him on forward until he got over it.

Finally, some nice work to the left  - steady trot and canter without a fuss.  Sent him right, where he was totally delightful.  Hmm... back to the left, thinking maybe there was a soreness or a painful spot.  Nope.  That time he was better heading left.  We stayed there a while, working on the trot to canter transitions, trying to keep him from tossing his head up and racing into the canter.  A few nice ones, and I let him walk. 

Towards the end, I unclipped the side reins to see what he'd do at walk heading left.  He gave a big long & low stretch, reaching out with his body on every stride.. terrific.   Clipped the side reins back on and turned him right.  A little more trot and canter, followed by a circle of walk on the reins... And a few more laps with them off - more stretchie stretchie. 

Things looked good by the end, but what a horrendous start.  Will try to get a quick ride in tonight, as we're scheduled for some serious rains in the next two days - need to get going before we're flooded out again.

Monday, October 28, 2013


Harley, dressage, rode the warm-up rather than longe him.  Lots of bending walk, circles and direction changes.  He settled in nicely.  A bit of trot and canter on light contact before I got down to business. 

It was a nice, focused ride.  I didn't let him day dream or stare off at the trees, but instead, kept my legs on and my hands connected, forcing him to pay attention.  A few spiral in/out at trot, and what felt like dozens of transitions.  I've noticed that, when I think about "where I'm going", and don't pay close attention to the quality of the ride, then his head comes up, back hollows, and his trot drags on.  

I didn't have my spurs.  I didn't have the whip.  I paid for this dearly.  The longer the ride, the lazier he got, ending up needing vocal cues for the gaits.  Ugh.  Lazy Pony.

As I untacked him, he was a sweatin' mess.  I looked to the sky, checked the forecast, gave him an iodine scrubby bath.. And body clipped him.  All but his head and legs remain.  I'll get that head done sometime this week, legs will stay furry.  He stood pretty well, and I've realized my clipper blades need some serious sharpening.  At the end, he got some heavy duty fly spray, and after a few hard shakes, he seemed to appreciate his new short coat.

Tonight, we'll try that dressage work again, and see if we can't get a bit longer ride in with less fuzz in the way.

10/28/13 Monkey Mondays

MoJo meets a fluffy friend!

Ehh.. what the ... who is THAT?!  What a hairy thing!

Mom?!  It's going to eat me?  Tell that thing I'm really not that yummy, please? 

Uh.. Oh ..

Tune in next week to see if MoJo made it, and wasn't an afternoon snack.

Friday, October 25, 2013


Harley, jump saddle.  A nice cool morning to work again in the newly flocked saddle.  Flat work was nice.  I'm definitely sitting better in it now.   Rode some trot circles without hanging on the reins - arms out like a plane, hands on my belly, back, helmet.  Whee!!!  I did it a little at the canter, but only with one hand at a time. 

Trotted over to the jump - ground pole, 9' to X, 9' to ground pole.  First over, he was pathetically lazy.  With each subsequent effort, he gained a bit of ambition.  At the fifth try, I told him, "Just keep it clean, and we're done for the day".  Boing!  He planted, jumped nicely, cantered over the second ground pole.  A perfect place to stop.  :)

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

10/19/13 Sienna TL#2

Pam Grace, Judge

1 A Enter working trot.
X Halt salute
7 Straight entry. Almost square

2 C Track right & B circle right 20m
7 would like to see rounder top line and more stretch into bridle

3 KXM Change rein working trot
6 head up, back hollow

4 Between C & H Working canter left lead
6 Obedient but back up , head hollow

5 E Circle left 20m

6 Between E & K Working trot

7 A Circle left 20m, allowing the horse to stretch forward and downward
Before A, shorten the reins
6 hardly any stretch shown

8 Between A & F Medium walk
8 giving nicely thru topline

9 FXM Free walk
M-C Medium walk
7 good overstep ' fair stretch

10 C Working trot
6 Head up, back hollow

11 E Circle right 20m
7 some better here

12 FXH Change rein working trot

13 Between C & M Working canter right lead

14 B Circle right 20m
8 Better here

15 Between B & F Working trot

16 A Down centerline. X halt salute
6 backing out of halt not quite straight

RIDER'S position 7
RIDER'S correct and effective use of aids 6

Nice ride . Continue to encourage round supple topline

10/19/2013 Sienna .TL#l

Pam GraceJudge
Score 68.333%

1 A Enter working trot
X Halt, Salute Proceed working trot
8 straight entry Square halt

2 C Track left E Circle left 20m
6 good energy from behind needs rounder topline

3 A Circle left 20m, developing left lead canter second half of circle
AFB working canter
6 obedient transition, head a little high

4 B-E Half circle left 20m
8 much better thru here

5 Between E & K Working trot

6 A Circle left 20m rising trot, allowing the horse to stretch forward and downward
Before A, shorten the reins A Working trot
7 Some good stretch, needs consistency

7 Between A & F Medium walk

8 FXH Free walk H-C Medium walk
8 good overstep & stretch

9 C Working trot

10 B Circle right 20m
7 starting to come thu better here

11 A Circle right 20m, developing right lead canter second half of circle
AKE Working canter
6 balanced. Head a little high

12 E-B Half circle right 20m
8 better thru here

13 Between B & F Working trot

14 A Down centerline X Halt, Salute
7 almost square

RIDER's position & seat : 7
RIDER's use of aids : 7
Nice Ride. Encourage a little rounder topline

10-21-13 Stirlingshire

Saddle fitters were in town yesterday - a quick drive to a barn near MsN's house.  Quick - relative for Texas.  Less than 2 hours, mostly highway, then quiet back roads.

Dressage saddle checked out a-o-k.  No work required.  Hunt saddle, being new, required some flocking in the front.  I took Harley out to test it post-stuff.

It was MUCH easier to sit upright in it, no leaning forward.  I wish I could've ridden a bit harder, but there were a few competing issues..
  • Horses galloping around in the pasture - "switching of the stalled/free horses" soon after I hopped on him.  Harley stopped, and shook, scared of all the chaos.  Also, two ponies lingered right outside the arena fence.  I don't mean a couple fences away, either.  Right outside the arena.  WTH?
  • Arena was on an angle along the short side.  The long sides were "flat", but short sides were uphill/downhill.  Harley, not used to such a slant, was definitely having to find some balance there. 
  • Footing left a bit to be desired.  As I walked into the arena, I saw slipped hoof prints.  Big'uns.  Hmm... I felt him slide a bit on those angles at the trot, so I rode the canter on the "uphill" end.  Didn't have much space to canter from that, as there was another saddle-tester hanging out on the long side. 
Satisfied the fit is good, and the longer I sat in it, the better it settled on him, we loaded up & headed for home.  After Saturday's road trip for the show, and Monday's trip for the fitting, I think he's owed a couple days off.  Then, it's back back to work! 

Monday, October 21, 2013

Monkey Mondays 10/21/2013

MoJo continues his photo album from Georgia.
 Here I am, supervising and assisting in Locust duty aboard this chair. 

 What on earth is he doing?!  That child!  Oh dear!
 Should he really be doing that, Mom?  I can barely stand to watch! 

That's it!  I'm holding this board down until they calm a bit. 

Saturday, October 19, 2013

10/18/13 Getting Ready

I've got my ride times - 5ish and 6ish tonight. 

Trailer's nearly loaded, minus the pile on the dining room table. :-)
Truck gets a bath this morning.  Not until after I do, however.

Kids are ready to go, well, nearly.  Need to get a feed list ready for my wonderful kid sitters this evening.

Last night, Harley got a bath.  Even with some rain overnight, he's still clean - miracle!
I will give him a brief Vetrolin shower before load-up. 
He also got trimmed yesterday - hooves check cool this morning at breakfast.

Speaking of breakfast, blackberry, mango, strawberry, banana, spinach, juice, protein powder smoothie in the cup for me.  I've been experimenting with different fruits, making breakfast fruit smoothies nearly every day for about two weeks.  Good results - decent energy in the mornings, I don't get hungry soon after eating, and they seem to be healthy.  It's all frozen fruit & fresh spinach, how bad can it be?

We're traveling again on Monday.  Special plans!  MoJo's cousin, Monkee, will be visiting from Scotland. :)  The saddle fitters are in Texas, and I'm anxious to see them again.  Much flocking and plenty of fellowship.

Friday, October 18, 2013


Dressage night for Harley.  Tremendous effort on his part.  I find that, when I'm only thinking about "ohmygoshwhatdoIdonext" in panic throughout the test pieces, he's very figety on the bit, wiggly, and completely does whatever's possible to avoid contact.  If I think about it slightly, and focus more on the quality of the ride, he's so much nicer.  So that's what we'll do on Saturday evening - focus on the quality, while still thinking about the pattern.

Rode TL2 completely backwards of how it should be, on purpose, near the start of the ride.  He was decent, and while some things were good, others were horrible.  Anxious to break canter being my least favorite moments.   With that complete, and a few parts of TL1, I figured we were both done with "patterns on repetition", and it was time to break things up.

Three-circle canters, and anytime he broke, he cantered longer.  He's dropping the gait almost unexpectedly lately, so I started paying attention to what was happening right before - a slight drop in head, and a tiny bit of hanging on the forehand, then PLUNK.  Canter over.  With this in my mind, I saved it for later in the ride.

A bit of shoulder-fore.  A little leg yielding at trot.  Very nice, and better than expected.

Back at that canter on a 20m circle - testing out if I really knew what the indicator was before he broke to trot, everytime he'd start to hang on my hands, I'd squeeze up tight with both legs.  BooM!  The solution!  Subtle things to pay attention to in the ride - thus more focus on the quality of the ride rather than the pattern. 

Some walk to sitting trot transitions, followed by some stretchy trot rising, back to sitting (loose contact), then drift down to walk.  Things here went fairly well.  A few bobbles if I moved from sitting to posting and back sitting, but he's becoming steadier here.

50minutes hard work left him huffing and puffing yet again.  Though slightly cooler out, he was sweating all over.   Cool hose over his neck and legs, and he settled out.  I'll make it a project next week to body clip him - the fuzzy yak he is just can't handle the temperatures.  At least not at this workload. 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

10/16/13 A Pole Too Much

Well, Three poles too much, to be specific about it.  I warmed Harley up on the longe, quiet as always.  even in a cooler weather and a breeze.. amazing   I hopped on, and tried not to fall balanced carefully worked on two-point in walk and trot with my new shorter stirrups.  It's going to take some time.  felt like a jockey, I'm tellin' ya.

R came to watch help assist supervise dial 9-1-1 and cheer me on.  First, a walk over all the poles on the ground (9' apart, 5 total).  All quiet.  Then, a trot over.  I giggled when R said, "He started out lethargic, but by the end, he was prancing over them.  How fun."

With the first X set up.  (Reminder.. that's a ground pole, 9' to the X, 9' to another ground pole, then an X pulled down 9' away as ground poles, and one more ground pole 9')  I approached it at a nice trot.  Harley trotted over the first pole, jumped over the X, and cantered over the rest of them, rushed like.  It felt raced, hurried, and incredibly uncoordinated. 

This repeated every other time I went over it, except for one attempt that was a lazy trot through the whole mess of it.  I was worried the distances weren't right -- maybe I didn't pay attention in the lesson.  Was Harley just fresh in the cooler weather?  He usually isn't. 

I emailed MsN and asked.  Oops.. I over-did it.  Turns out, the last two poles (the first, the X makings, the second a pole alone) are too much at once.  "Set up the first ground pole, the X, and a second ground pole, all 9' apart."  A few more instructions about how to approach it, and how to plan for the away from the X.  All completely reasonable, and made logical sense. 

Sorry Harley.. I got a little ahead of us, son.  I'll make it up to you Friday perhaps.  Tonight, we need some dressage miles for the show on Saturday.  I will not ride the tests tonight, so we don't pick up habits.  I will, however, ride the pieces I'm the most concerned about. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Settin' 'er Up &

Watchin' it rain.  Sunday, I set up jumps.  I have the standards and poles to make..
ground pole
cross rail 8' away
ground pole 8' away
cross rail another 8'
ground pole another 8'

That's all the stuffs I have.  :)  I didn't get to set it up under delightful conditions.  Instead, I set it up under a 2" rainstorm downpour.  Yup, that's me.  Why wait to do it after it rains, when I can do it in the rain?! I mean, what's the sense in checking the radar?! 

Monday, with a little mud in the working circles, I dressed Harley up dressage (after I hosed the mud off), and we worked a bit of dressage things.  Our canter work was limited to the dry places, and I let him do the thinking through the little bit of mud.  A nice 30 minutes.  I had that "gut feeling" I needed to end there.. Good thing.  I spent another hour investigating and repairing grounded out hot  fence. 

Yesterday, I had plans to jump.  Harley's fuzzy winter coat, the lack of decent breeze, and the heat index wilted my plans.

Today, a cool(er) front pattern came in.  So tonight, we shall try.  I think. 

If I can talk R into standing there and making the X's into ground poles, and lifting one, let us work it a bit, then lift the other. 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Monkey Monday 10/14/2013

MoJo, sharing some pictures from his Georgia vacation.

 Overseeing MrsMom working in the garden.  

 Hiding in the bushes.  What's that I see out there?  

 It's the DAT!  

Chillin' in the sun, catching some rays.  

Next week, MoJo shows us what it's like to watch the Locusts play in the lake.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

10/12/13 He can Die, but he still has to Bend!

Arrived early at N's house, and it was POURING rain when I got there.  Oh dear.. will I even be able to ride in this mess?  I drove almost two hours, and it wasn't wet on the radar.  I glanced at the map... a storm had brewed from nowhere, and looked to be small.  Still, I saw a puddled arena, and I was worried... I unloaded Harley anyways, ready to go about the day.  At the least, he'd walk around some.

N rode him to start.  Things I remember from her observations: 
* Light in the mouth
* Bends good off a quiet body, and more importantly quiet hands
* One solid tap of the whip and the leg, and he quit star-gazing
* Quiet , obedient , steady in trot
* My canter cue is quite unique - but Harley will canter off the vocal cue - "Canter!"
* He settled nicely for a new rider. 

I was quite happy to see him behave.  Also, I was delighted to see the arena handling the water so well.  It wasn't slick, it wasn't sticky.  It was just wet.  How delightful!  We traded places, and I rode w.t.c. for a warmup as well.  In one of the trot circles, Harley reached forward, and started coughing a fit.  I said to him, "Oh dear, you're going to die!"  N replied, "Well, he can die, but he still has to bend", and with that, more inside leg to outside hand.  A nice bend, and some quiet canter. And we were off.

But off where? To the gymnastic jump line that formed before my very eyes.

It started as four trot poles.
Then a ground pole, and a small X.  Harley was lazy to hop, so it became a taller X.

Then, it was a ground pole, an X, and another ground pole.

Then, a ground pole, an X, a ground pole, and another X.
Then, a ground pole, an X, a ground pole, another X, an extra stride, and a ground pole.
Next, a ground pole, X, ground pole, X, stride, and an X.
Right there, Harley waited until ground pole #2 to see the final X.  He tripped over the second X, stumbled through the ground pole, and stride, just to topple the final X.  And I mean topple.  Knocked the whole darn thing down.  Scared himself, too.   Startled me a little, and I was about ready to give up.  A quick poke, and I was back to it, with a little quiet calm canter from H in the field.  That was neat - he had just made a big train wreck, and out in a field full of large fences, he just cantered about like nothing happened.  Okay, we CAN do this.  
Ground pole, X, ground pole, X, stride, X.

His rides through it ranged from a lazy trot, stepping up over, to nice big jumps, and a steady canter. Entered each time at trot, and the bigger I made the trot, the better the quality of the jumps. 

It was exhilarating.  Down-right FUN, and I expressed that a few times.  I didn't feel un-seated, and though a bit awkward a few times, I never got the "ohmygodI'mgonnadie" feeling in the approach to the line.  Harley never felt like he sucked back or hesitated, though a few of the trot-overs were very unmotivated.  No spurs, no whip, just me & my saddle.  Oh, and my 33mouth D-ring myler bit.  Yup, my dressage show bit, you've got that right.  No extra tack to "tone him down", or "ramp him up".  I was adding lots of cluck and some kiss to get him started at them, but once in it, I really only had two things on my mind..

Eyes UP
Heels DOWN
At every start, I heard "eyes, heels down, legs forward".  Turns out, all these dressage miles have settled my leg good for dressage, horrid for jumping.  Homework?  Shorten the stirrups even more (3 more holes drilled in my leathers), and ride a LOT of two-point in those holes.  Super short, IMO, but probably where they need to be.  When I had my legs "forward" (which really wasn't .. I could feel when they were behind me heading in, because those were the jumps that were terribly awkward), I felt a lot more secure. 

Our next lesson will be more of the same.  That's just some down-right good fun right there.  I'm finally getting closer to crossing jump shows off the "bucket list".  A totally delightful lesson.

And even better?  I was able to actually walk today, like a normal person.  Well, as normal as I can lately.  Still a lot of mixed messages from the doctors, which I will update once I know more.  Until then, you'll need to trust that some days are great, some days are terrible, and I'm working through finding that balance.

Monday, October 7, 2013

MoJo .. Where'd you Go??

My deepest apologites, Monkey Monday fans.. I'm behind.  Okay, I'm way behind.  I have pictures from his Georgia trip to share... I really do. 

Life has gotten in the way.  When I know more about what's really going on, which may be later today, I'll blog some details. 

I have been riding.  Harley is doing great.   Really great, in fact.

MoJo had a fun vacation. He will be back to Texas soon, and up to more antics and entertainment.

Charlie and the other little kids are doing great as well.  Charlie takes me on walks a few days a week, and gets a little better on the leash every trip. 

Bear with me while I get the rest of my world in order.