Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Cutting My Losses

We all know horses are a money pit.  Unless you're wheeling and dealing at the upper levels, its hard to actually make money on horses or even break even. I'm obviously not at the upper levels and am probably spending way more money on my ponies than is wise. Which makes knowing when to cut your losses hard. 

At the end of June I took Tia in to see where she was in her cycle in hopes of breeding her again.  We still were waiting for the biopsy results, but the vet wasn't super worried about it.  When they scanned her, they found a decent sized cyst that hadn't been seen before.  Either it grew fast, or was never found in her earlier scans.  The vet and I discussed options, and decided to wait till after the Fourth to short cycle her and rebreed. I then got the biopsy results the next day and that brought everything to a screeching halt.  The vet originally didn't think she was as bad as she it, and seemed a bit shocked and apologetic when telling me.

Tia has a lot of scar tissue and some signs of long term, low grade inflammation. Even with a clean uterine culture, she probably has, and has had, a low grade infection.  The infection we can treat. The scar tissue we can't.  The vet gave her a 10-50% chance of the embryo being able to implant after fertilization. If we can clear up the infection, and treat her all winter, the higher the chances.  But then we're waiting another year, and she'll be even older which lowers our chances. But even so, we're looking at a less than 50% chance of implantation. 

Basically he told me, if it was his mare, he'd cut his losses. We could throw a ton of money at her, and still end up with nothing. I'm already about $2,000 into this, which isn't all that bad considering the price of going out and buying a foal at the level I'd hope this one would be. But do I want to double that and get nothing? Embryo transfer is an option, but it's not a magic bullet.  I'd be looking at around $5k with no guarantee. Not to mention the emotional cost.  I'm proud that I haven't cried in front of the vets, but there's been plenty of tears in the truck, at the barn, and at home.  The owners of the barn next to mine just had a mare foal and they were complaining that they wanted a bay tobiano colt and got a liver chestnut filly.  I wanted to punch them and scream that I just want a Tia baby.  I don't care gender or color. I understand a better now how women with fertility issues feel.

So for now, we're done.  I technically still have a breeding to Yorke but I don't have a mare. For a few days I was tempted to contact McKenna's new owner (who doesn't appear to be doing a whole lot with her from what I see) and ask for her back.  But the baby wouldn't be what I want, and Yorke wouldn't be as good of a cross with McKenna as he would be with Tia. And I don't ever want to breed just for the sake of breeding.  I'd like to think that someday I'll find another mare like Tia and be able to breed her.

Monday, July 17, 2017

2017 Q2 Goals Review and Q3 Goals

Better late than never, right?  For the most part we knocked some of these goals out of the park.  There are a few still left to work on.

Peebs:

  • Right lead canter.  It'd be nice to not go running up the long side counter bent with his head in the air. Done!!  I've learned that whenever we start having issues with his right canter, he's out and needs to see the chiro.
  • If above goes well, start cantering fences to the right. DONE! Not only did we canter fences to the right, we cantered entire courses, at shows and won!
  • Keep working on counter canter.  Be able to pick up the right lead tracking left. We've worked on counter canter, but haven't been able to pick up the right lead going left.
  • More lateral work  Done, but we can always do more!
  • Stay happy, healthy, sane, and sound We had a couple weeks of crazy Peebers, but I'm learning that him being spooky is a sign he's out and needs the chiro. Other than that, he's great!
Me:
  • Awareness of my outside rein...don't forget about it! I can actually carry contact in both reins, at the same time.  I'm sure this will always be something I need to remember tho.
  • More ground pole work so I can work on my eye and seeing a distance. We've done at least once a week ground pole days and it's really helped.
  • More no stirrup work  Big  fat fail

For Q3

Peebs:
  • Keep working on counter canter and picking up the right lead tracking left.
  • Start working on flying changes
  • Now that the fields have been harvested, field rides once a week!
  • Stay happy, healthy, sane, and sound!
Me:
  • No stirrup work
  • Get comfortable with bigger fences and oxers
  •  Work on my fitness and stamina so I'm not exhausted after shows

Friday, July 14, 2017

Team NW Outreach Show Day Two

After the success on Saturday, I was pretty pumped for Sunday.  Wile I was tired and sore, I couldn't wait to get back out in the show ring.  All my nerves from the day before were gone and for the first time in a long while I felt completely confident walking into the ring.

Before warming up I talked to Trainer about how on Saturday the lines rode in a 6.5 and I pushed him forward for the six.  I said I probably screwed up my math but once we looked at the Sunday's courses she said they should have been 7s.  As we were warming up she commented that Peebs' stride was much more open than at home, but he didn't look fast or quick.  Who knew he could have an effortless 13' stride?! We did plan to do the 7s, which were easier to get since he was a bit tired.

A non-horsey friend came to watch and brought her dog Jack.  Jack was pretty sure Peebs was his new best friend
We had two Outreach hunter over fences, two eq over fences, and an eq flat on Sunday.  The Outreach classes had three or four while there were 9 in the whole eq division.  My first round went pretty well; we were a little short in one of the outside lines but not horribly so.  The second round was going well until the approach for the last line.  There were a couple people sitting in the grass in the shade at the far end of the arena and they stood up right as we were coming around the turn.  Peebs spooked sideways and I ended up having to circle. We broke to the trot to pass them as Peebs was convinced they had appeared out of nowhere and were going to eat him. The people stayed down in the corner of the ring, randomly walking back and forth then sitting down and getting up again.  They spooked a few other horses and one poor kid came out in tears after her pony refused to go past them.

Going into our eq rounds both Peebs and I were pretty tired.  My goal at that point was to not let him break to the trot, which we did in the last round. Cantering past the in gate was just too much and Peebs was sure he was done. I cursed myself again for signing up for the flat, and basically tried not to fall off.  We earned an 8th for it and I hopped off to wait for the over fences placings. 


We managed a first and second for the Outreach classes, and a first and fourth for the eq.  It was my first ever win in an eq class.  Because the Outreach division didn't fill (had to have 3 in the first class and there were only two of us) they didn't award champion or reserve, but we would have been champion. I was slightly pissed I didn't get a champion ribbon, but I couldn't be happier with how we did.  I in no way expected to end the weekend with a champion, especially after the disaster that was the show last month. Peebs far exceeded my expectations and I had so much fun.  I bought Peebs thinking we'd plunk around the hunters for a bit till I got my nerve back to go into the jumper ring but after having a blast in the hunters this weekend, I think we'll be staying in hunterland for a while. I can't wait to get back into the show ring!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Team NW Outreach Show Day One

Saturday morning came way to early.  I stuffed my feet into my paddock boot and ran out to the show to feed Peebs. He seemed totally chill and clean (I don't trust him to keep himself clean but it was too hot to put even a sheet on him overnight). My original plan was to lunge him, but since he was a complete 180* attitude wise from the last show I didn't.  I headed back to the hotel to pick up my parents, change, and get breakfast.


We got back to the show around 8 and wandered to the ring to try and guess when I'd go. My parents parked themselves by the ring while I went back to get ready.  I was doing two divisions on Saturday; an 18" USHJA Outreach Hunter and an 18" Green Rider Hunter.  The Outreach division had classes on Sunday as well, and I was also in the Green Rider Eq on Sunday.  The GR Hunter division had 9 in it, while the Outreach had 1-3 per class.  I was the only one doing the whole division. I had four over fences rounds and they had all four cards open before two under saddles.

Warm up went well, but I was still at bit nervous at how Peebs would be once we were actually in the ring.  I decided that we'd trot the first round then try cantering.  My goal for our round was to ride forward, not let my nerves get to me, and not pick at him.  The first trot round went fine, but I forgot to count in the lines.  I thought they should have been 7s on the outside, and 8 across the diagonal.  When we went back in to canter, the outsides rode in a 6.5 and the diagonal was 7. I pushed him forward for the 6 and it actually felt pretty good.  He was flowing really well, and the 6 and 7 came easy. I was kinda shocked at how easy and good everything felt. I figured I must have screwed up my math.  It was some of the easiest hunter rounds I've ever had, on any horse.  We did have to do simple changes since Peebs doesn't have flying ones yet, but other than that we cruised right along.
 
In which I'm cursing former me for signing up for the flat classes
We had a bit of break until the flats so I hopped off and downed a bottle of water. When I went back in for the Outreach u/s I was the only one.  Luckily the judge took pity on me and I trotted and cantered maybe a 1/3 of the arena each way. They also didn't make me line up. It was my first under saddle win!  I just stayed in for the GR flat which all 9 of us were in.  My left calf started cramping pretty badly about halfway through and I thought I was going to die. For this hack the judge had us do over a lap of trot and canter each way and I was in agony. Once we lined up I dropped my stirrups and tried to stretch my leg as much as I could.


We ended up placing in all of our classes with the first for our solo under saddle, a first and second in the Outreach over fences, and a fourth and a sixth over fences in the Green Rider and a sixth for the GR under saddle. I was super happy with how we did, especially compared to the show a month ago. Peebs was like a total been-there-done-that show pony and I could focus on what I needed to work on and not worry about what he'd do. I was kicking myself for every being worried about cantering him around at a show.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Team NW Outreach Show Warm Up Day

I had a half day at work on Friday so after loading the trailer and Peebs, we hauled out around 1 to the show.  Even though he seemed back to his normal lazy, non-spooky self, I wanted plenty of time before showing on Saturday to let him get his crazies out. Once we got to the show and got his stall set up and dropped the trailer I took him out for a lunge.

Ready to go!

They were working the lunge area and jumper warm up (they're next to each other) so once I saw that Peebs no longer cared about the water truck or tractor we went and watched the National Hunter Derby till they were done with the rings. Jumperland is at the opposite side of the show grounds from Hunterland and Peebs hadn't been over there before.  He looked around a bit, whinnied once when he realized he was alone (the rated show was very small and the jumper ring had finished for the day), then lunged fine.  I probably didn't need to lunge him but figured why not.

I took him back to his stall and tacked up to go for a hack.  The hunter warm up ring was full of International Derby horses and I felt out of place in my schooling breeches and t-shirt in the sea of shadbellies. They were working the arena I was going to be showing in and they said they'd open it for schooling so I only did a little in the warm up before waiting to school in the ring. Peebs was foot perfect in the show ring; we trotted and cantered a couple laps each way before popping over a fence.  My nerves were getting to me, the jumps were set 2'3"-2'6"ish and looked huge. I picked the smallest of them to jump and did it once at the trot and once at the canter.  Peebs, of course, didn't care.

To finish the day he got a bath, wrapped, and a big pile of hay.  My parents were flying in for the week, so I ran off to check into the hotel and then pick them up from the airport. On my way I got a text from my trainer that her daughter had gotten hurt and she wouldn't be able to make it Saturday but would be there Sunday.  That didn't help the nerves at all, but at that point I was too tired and hungry to really care. I figured if worse came to worse, we'd trot everything. 

Monday, July 10, 2017

Redemption

I have a lot to catch up on, but first and foremost, we had some serious redemption at our show this past weekend.
Kisses for the best pony

Not only was Peebs back to his normal, happy self, we cantered our first full course at a show and didn't die!!  In fact we did pretty damn well. I honestly don't know why I was scared to do it; cantering him in the big show ring is so much easier than trotting around. For the most part we were able to find a nice rhythm and just lope along.  I found most of my distances, we made the strides easy (actually too easy, homeboy can have a 13ft stride, who knew?!).  I'll put a full show recap up later.

Of course getting here from our last show took some work.  The week after our last show Peebs felt really disconnected and when I lunged him to take a look, it was like his front end and hind end were two different horses. We also had another major spooking incident walking down the road involving a mail truck.  So I called the chiro and poor pony was way out.  When she first started working on him she said his hips were out and his neck was a bit wonky.  But once she started on his neck he was much worse than she thought.  He's very stoic and we think his way of saying he was out was spooking and being super amped. And a couple days after she worked on him, the tension I'd been feeling for the past couple weeks was gone and he stopped spooking at things. At the show we had multiple encounters with the water trucks and tractors and he never once cared about them.  Even when they got close enough that we got sprayed all he did was stick his head in the air and pin his ears.






The week before the show we had our best lesson to date. Trainer put the jumps up a hole and set the lines on an 11ft stride.  Our arena is small and it's hard to set on a 12' stride so we normally do a 10' or 11'.  Since we've mostly been doing baby stuff I tend to set on a 10'. The theme for the lesson was to ride him forward, in prep for  the bigger strides and lines at the show. And what do you know, once I committed to it, it was easy.  Once I'm comfortable with having a bit more pace and bigger stride, Peebs is super easy to find distances on. He's not a super fancy warmblood hunter, but he can have a nice pace and rhythm that makes doing the hunters fun. Now, all we need is a flying change and we'll be set!!

Monday, June 26, 2017

Bel Joer Blog Hop: If Your Horse Were a Drink

It took me a bit to think of what Peebs would be for the Bel Joer hop.  My past ponies were easy, but Peebs not so much.

Phoenix would have been a nice wine; one that gets better with age. I'm not a huge wine connoisseur but he reminds me of a Mexican wine that I absolutely love.  Its a grenache, a pink wine.  I wasn't expecting to like it but it really grew on me and is now my fave. It's a bit fruity, which Phoenix was as well. When I first got him, he was in love with another gelding at the barn and the two of them were inseparable.  

He could definitely rock the pink
Buddy was, of course, a Budweiser.  He's your all America, basic been there, done that, do anything horse.  I mean his show name was play on Budweiser.  One Bud Wiser... 


McKenna is shots of Fireball. Their website states "If you haven't tried it yet, just imagine what it feels like to stand face-to-face with a fire-breathing dragon who just ate a whisky barrel full of spicy cinnamon." Only try riding that.  She was an explosive powder keg of energy that if you weren't careful, like the shots, would leave you on your ass on the ground wondering how you got there.


Peebs, I think, is vodka. He's pretty unassuming, but can pack a punch.  He also mixes well with other horses, and you can dress him up, like mixing cocktails. I'm a big fan of cocktails and mixed drinks, but I can't handle cheap vodka.  It knocks me out like nothing else.  Top shelf vodka I'm good with, just like Peebs on his good days.  When he's up and spooky he's like cheap booze in that he can rattle me pretty good. But when he's on his game, he's smooth and perfect like nothing else.