Sunday, December 30, 2012

Getting back to normal

The past week has been both awful and wonderful.  My parents came up from San Diego and the day after the got here, my mom got really sick.  Like not able to keep anything down and have to go to urgent care and be on an IV sick.  Right when she started feeling better, I got sick.  I spent Monday and Tuesday in bed, barely making it out to the couch on Christmas. I feel fine now, but it was a rough couple of days.

My parents had to head back on Thursday while I went back to work.  During the time my parents were here I didn't ride, just turned the boys out and lunged them each a couple times.  I hoped on Bud on Thursday once I felt better, and there was a single fence set out in the ring so we hopped over it a couple times.  Bud was good but pretty bold.  I put him back in the fig. 8 and boy was I glad since we had a couple discussions about running to the fence.  We ended on a good note, considering we haven't really jumped in a few weeks.  Yesterday I worked him in the draw reins; a preemptive reminder about using himself correctly.  Again, he was good with just a couple naughty moments.  Today we just plodded around bareback having fun.  We have our first lesson in over a month on Friday, just to get back on track and start thinking of show season.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Looking Back

Looking back 2012 was a pretty good year.  We started in January when I was rehabbing Bud a bit from a nasty cut on his right hind he did in Sept 2011.  We went from basically just trotting cross rails to schooling 2'9" fences. I know we've had our frustrating moments, but all in all he's come so far! And I never thought a year ago that I would bring Phoenix back to work and that he'd be doing so well for Anna, and that he could actually make it back in the show ring over fences.  Add in little miss Zoe, and it was a pretty busy year! I can't wait to see what 2013 brings us.

I started the year doing goals, but that quickly fell to the wayside.  I think I'd like to keep having yearly goals.  Our yearly goals for 2012 were:
  • Be showing 2'6" (hunters, jumper, or eq doesn't matter) and be schooling higher
    • We definitely nailed it.  We showed at 2'6" three times this year in the hunters and eq.  By the end of the year we have schooled one 3' fence and others at 2'9".
  • Attend as many schooling shows as we can, and $$ allowing, one A rated show
    • I ended up doing 5 schooling shows this year (Two with just Bud, two with Bud and Zoe, and one with just Zoe).  No rated show, due to both money and time. 
  • Be schooling 1st level dressage movements, and if $$ allows show at 1st level
    • We did show dressage, and it wasn't pretty.  After our lesson a few weeks ago with Mary I know we can redeem ourselves next year.
  • For fun, go XC schooling at least one, hopefully twice, and take Bud to the beach
    • Unfortunately we didn't do either the beach or XC schooling.  Again, time and money were to blame.  We did go ranch sorting, so I'll say its a kinda complete goal.
  • Be comfortable doing a 2' course without my stirrups
    • I haven't been as diligent about no stirrups in the past few months, but I've been doing some easy bareback rides with Bud.  We'll keep working on it!
    Our goals for 2013 are as follows:
    • Keep showing at 2'6", preferably in the jumpers and eq, and hopefully move up to the 2'9".
    • Long shot, but qualify for Medal Finals.
    • Show 1st level again and redeem ourselves
    • Go XC schooling, to the beach, or ranch sorting at least a few times.
    • For Phoenix, to keep him sound and have him and Anna show in crossrails and possibly short stirrup by the end of the year.
    Merry Christmas everyone and Happy New Year!!

    Tuesday, December 18, 2012

    Winter Blues

    It's been cold and nasty here the past few days.  This past weekend was rainy and windy and last night it snowed a bit.  I have had absolutely no motivation to ride.  Sunday one of the other girls at the barn was riding and she convinced me to ride to.  Luckily we had a bit of break in the rain, but it was windy and Buddy wasn't amused.  We only did about 20mins of easy walk, trot, canter.  I tried not to ask much of him, just that he go forward. 

    I figure the ponies deserve a bit of a break.  They are getting their feet done on Friday which is good as Zoe has seemed a bit foot sore when I've lunged her.  Hopefully after Christmas I'll find my motivation and we'll get back to work.

    Thursday, December 13, 2012

    Not much to report

    I've had some pretty laid back rides over the past few days.  Haven't asked much of Bud, just working on  some of the things Mary gave us to do.  It's been cold, and since I can only ride at night after work Buddy's been a little bit stiffer than he normally is.  Our warm up is taking longer and I have to remember that and not ask for too much too soon.  I figure that a couple easy weeks for him, then after the first of the year we'll start ramping back up.  Money willing, I'd like to go to a show in the beginning of Feb.

    Anna's gone for two weeks, so I'm trying to hop on Phoenix at least twice a week to keep him tuned up.  While I was tacking up tonight I decided to add a little riser pad under the cantle of my saddle.  The last time I rode him, I felt like I was sitting behind him, and looking at my saddle today it looked down in the back.  It helped!  I felt much more balanced and he felt great.  I don't know if it was the pad, the two days of herbs, or that fact that he hadn't been ridden in 3 days, but he was forward and felt pretty balanced left to right  We actually had a moment when I asked for a downward transition from canter to trot where he ignored me and leaned on the bit.  That was his favorite avoidance method in his younger days.  I'm so happy that he's feeling so good!

    Monday, December 10, 2012

    Herbs for Horses

    And plants for ponies!  On Saturday we had an herb clinic at the barn; learning about how herbs can help the overall health of our horses and replace most of their supplements.  There's a horse rescue/rehab place, Three Treasures Farm, about an hour south of us and the woman/trainer who runs it has been friends with a couple of our boarders for years.  Ferronato is also an equine massage therapist and has been out to our barn many times over the years to do massages.  In the pat year she has started doing the herbal clinics as a fundraiser for her rescue.

    We went over some general herbs and discussed each of our horses' problems.  Ferronato has all of her horses off processed grain and on alfalfa pellets and the herbs.  I've started the boys on timothy pellets as Phoenix and alfalfa don't go well together.  I'll slowly wean the down/off their Strategy if I can, but I'm not sure how well Phoenix will keep weight on without it.

    To start the boys on herbs, Ferronato suggest doing a 30 day cleanse while weaning them off their grain.  The cleanse uses dandelion root, dandelion leaf and marshmallow root.  I don't remember exactly what each of them do, but I know one of them cleanses out their intestines and the other helps heal their mucosal membranes.

    After the 30 days, I have a list (which of course I've left at the barn) for what each boy should get.  I know each will get dried nettles (good source of vitamins and minerals) and turmeric (antinflammatory). Phoenix will get celery seed (good for bony arthritis) and Buddy would get cinnamon (don't remember why).  The good thing is that they only get like a tea or tablespoon of each of herbs and the herbs cost around $11/pound.  If they work, it should save me a lot of money. The supplier Ferronato uses is local (about 10mins from where I work) and all organic. 

    If anyone around the Corvallis area is interested there will be another herb clinic Jan 12 at our barn.  Hopefully I'll have the boys done with their 30 day cleanse by that point.

    Wednesday, December 5, 2012

    What's one more?

    In addition to Buddy and Zoe, I've agreed to work another horse at the barn once or twice a week for his owner.  Leo is a late teen aged QH gelding, whose done a bit of everything.  Jake, his owner, mainly just trail rides him, but had him leased to a high school girl who was gaming on him.  The girl quit abruptly and Jake's wife just gave birth to their second son so poor Leo hasn't gotten worked in about a month.  Jake just wants him to get out and have a little tune up so it's shouldn't take too much of my time. And the best part of it is Jake owns a bar that a bunch of us from the barn frequent and I'll get a bar tab in exchange for riding!!
    Leo and Buddy last summer.  Leo beat the stuffing out of Bud so they were separated.

    I gave Bud Sunday and Monday off after the dressage ride and turned him out in the arena for a little play time.  I put him and Phoenix out together on Sunday and it was adorable.  They scratched each other's necks and nuzzled. 

    Aren't they cute?!

    Yesterday it was pouring so I set up an exercise in the indoor for us to work over.  It's a crossrail on the center line with two placing poles on each side diagonal to the jump (see wonderful illustration below.  Jen calls it the Diamond of Death.  The poles are 9ft from the x-rail and it's meant to be ridden on the diagonal.

     It really forces you to be straight and accurate on your line.  Unfortunately it didn't work so well for Buddy.  Going right to left was fine, but left to right he was pretty over bent and didn't really care if he hit the pole.  We did it decently a couple times then I called it quit. 

    Today it was dry-ish and not raining when I got to the barn so we went outside and worked over a gymnastic one of the other girls had set over the weekend.  It was a trot in x-rail bounce to a vertical bounce to an oxer.  We started with just the first bounce and it took Buddy a couple times to get the concept that he had to jump the x-rail.  Once he got it we added the oxer.  It went pretty well, but he did drift to the right a bit.  Since he had jumped two days in a row I didn't do it too many times.


    Sunday, December 2, 2012

    We have a dressage pony!

    Yesterday we had a dressage clinic at the barn.  Mary Arnold is a local trainer that Connie has worked on and off with for many years, and right after I first moved into the barn about 5yr ago we had a clinic with her.  Unfortunately I don't remember much about the last one other than I had a decent ride so I was cautiously optimistic about this clinic.

    I had to work first thing this morning and made it to the barn in time to watch  most of Anna's ride with Phoenix.  They were working on getting Phoenix to be more responsive to Anna's aides by doing trot-walk-trot transitions.  They also did some leg yields at the walk and trot; Anna's first time doing them. Once she figured out what she was supposed to be doing they nailed them!  Mary said at the end of the ride she remembered Phoenix and I and said that he's come a long way and is very nice horse for Anna to be riding.  Made me feel like a proud mama!

    For my lesson, I got on about 20mins early to warm Buddy up.  The lessons were being held in the indoor, so we went outside to warm up.  Luckily we managed to find a window when it wasn't raining.  It's been wet and cold and I've noticed over the past month that it takes Bud a lot longer to warm up.  He was little cranky and behind my leg, and I tried really hard to pick at him. 

    When we went in to start the ride Buddy decided to wake up.  He started marching off right away and instead of half halting him to slow down, Mary had me focus on driving into my hand and using his forward motion to get him round.  It worked well!  Buddy seemed a little surprised that I wasn't pulling on him and our usual tug-of-war wasn't going to happen. 

    We started our trot work by doing some circles and getting him to soften to the outside rein.  To the right wasn't too bad, but he was really resistant to give to my right rein going left.  We did some counter bend and once he softened brought him back to the left bend.  Mary said that he's pretty stiff in his right shoulder and needs to work on learning how balance himself.  We did have some very nice moments when he did give and started to really use his hind end.  Mary had us go down the long side and ask for a lengthening while giving on the inside rein.  It felt wonderful and we got some nice compliments!

    We gave Buddy a walk break, then went back to a circle at the trot.  Mary had us spiral in and out on the circle and once we had an nice soft trot, she had me think about leg yielding him into the canter.  It took me a couple tried to figure out what I was supposed to do with each leg and rein at what time but once I got it, oh man did we have some nice transitions.  Instead of leaping or rushing into the canter he felt more balanced and round.  He couldn't hold that balanced canter for long and Mary said that's fine; again he needs to learn how to re balance himself. 

    I'm so glad I decided to do the clinic and hopefully Mary will be coming back in 6-8wks.  Everyone at the barn had good rides and has homework to do.  Mary was super nice and I'm glad that she likes Buddy. 
    Both boys were tired and got to play in the arena together today

    Wednesday, November 28, 2012

    Back to Work

    I got back from San Diego on Saturday and went immediately to the barn.  To be fair it's on my way home and I only live 8mins from the barn.  I checked on all the ponies and gave all 3 treats.  Sunday I free lunged Zoe and planned to do a light hack with Bud. 

    Jen was giving lessons and I rode around the other girls.  They were doing a a little course and she told me to join in.  We only worked on a couple fences, as I didn't want to interrupt the lessons and since Bud hadn't been ridden in a week.  We did a single diagonal fence, right to left, then a fairly snug rollback to a single on the outside going downhill.  I was holding Buddy a bit too much to the first fence, trying to keep him packed so we could make the turn and Jen got after me about it.  Once I let go and moved him up a bit it flowed much better and we were able to get a better turn. I think my biggest goal right now should be to stop picking at my horse and learn to ride the more forward pace.

    Monday I was motivated after work so I rode both Zoe and Bud.  I haven't ridden Z in almost 3 wks, so I lunged her before getting on.  She was surprisingly good, both on the lunge and under saddle.  She had a couple little fits where she would put her head down and shake it while doing a mini crow hop, but after the first time I was prepared and it amused me more than annoyed.  We just worked on going forward and being straight at the canter and didn't do a whole lot since she's been out of work. 

    I put the western saddle on Bud and channeled my inner reiner.  We worked on transitions and his stops.  There is something so fun about cantering down the long side as fast as you can and then sitting deep and saying whoa and having them stop.  Buddy doesn't have a sliding stop, but  he can stop pretty quick when he wants to.  We also did some lead changes and I rode most of the time with only one hand (a big step for me). 

    Yesterday I gave Bud the day off and rode Zoe again, with the plan to pop her over a couple fences.  She warmed up well, and didn't have any tantrums.  I had just started going back and forth over a cross rail when I head a loud pop coming from the field behind the barn.  It's goose hunting season and there was someone shooting in the far field. I rode for another few minutes, but every time I heard a shot go off it freaked me out till I finally quit.  Zoe couldn't have cared less, but I had the willies.  The few jumps we did were good and I got a nice lead change out of her so at least we ended on a good note.

    Sunday, November 25, 2012


    As an early Christmas present, my mom got tickets for us to see Cavalia in San Diego.  It was awesome!! Even my dad (who is not a horse person) loved it.  We had great seats, only 6 or 7 rows up from the arena.

    The did the acrobatics, vaulting, free lunging, driving, trick riding, high level dressage, and jumping.  They mostly had Anadulsians and Lusitanos, but also had QHs, Paints, a couple drafts (Perch and I think a Suffolk Punch), a mini, and a warmblood.  Ages ranged from 6months to 20yrs.  They had 16studs, and 32 geldings.

    I think the think I liked best about it were the mistakes.  One of the vaulters missed a flip and fell off the Percheron.  She got back up and did a couple circles before trying again.  You could see her gather herself for the second jump but unfortunately she fell again.  The routine was over by that point but as she was leaving she walked up and petted and talked to the horse.

     Then during another act there was one man free lunging a group of 6 horses.  One of the horses (I think he was the 20yr old since he looked old and bossed the others around) decided to have a nice roll.  The man lunging kept going, then when the horse got up he walked over and pet his face.  You could tell that there was a lot of affection between the two.

    The final oops was during the jumping portion.  There was a one stride set up with the first fence  set about 2'6".  The second was just a bamboo looking pole held up to chest height (4'ish) by two guys.  About a stride out from the first fence I could tell the distance wasn't going to be pretty....and it wasn't.  They got way deep to the first and weren't able to make the one stride.  The horse jumped to the side, right at the guy holding the pole.  Luckily the guy managed to get out of the way.  The rider stopped his horse and shrugged his shoulders with his hands up as if to say "Oops".  Again, the rider pet his horse before walking out.

    It was nice to see that even professionals who do this show twice a day four days a week even make mistakes.  It was very obvious that all the horses were in great shape and well taken care of.  Almost all of them had boots or wraps on and everyone went in a snaffle.  If you ever get the chance to go see Cavalia, do it

    Thursday, November 22, 2012

    Whirlwind Week

    First off, Happy Thanksgiving!! It's been a busy week for me.

    Last Friday my plan after work was to ride Zoe, lunge Bud then clean and pack for our show on Saturday. However one flat and one very low tire on my trailer derailed that. Luckily Rick was able to change my flat and put air in the low tire. With an hour till closing time, I hauled the trailer over to Les Schwab and the wonderful guys fixed both tires for free!!

    Saturday was very cold and wet and I was glad I spent the money to get Bud a day stall at the show. We got there early enough to eat breakfast and watch some rounds go. I had a 2' schooling round first, and Bud was pretty backed off in warm up. The footing was pretty hard and packed in the warm up ring and he didn't like it. Our round went ok, the lines were a little long and we had to scramble a bit to make them.

    My 2'6" rounds weren't much better. Buddy woke up for the bigger fences but it was still hard to make the distances. I did have a couple "oh shit" moments but Bud held it together. Surprisingly our last round, the mini medal, was our best round. I only placed 6th, and both Jen and I thought I should have been higher. The girl who was 5th had a couple funky lines and her horse swapped leads a couple times. Oh well.

    Sunday I flew down to San Diego to my parents for the week. It's been shopping and cooking, my favorite things after riding!

    Tuesday, November 13, 2012

    Showing off

    Buddy and I had a great lesson on Sunday.  Both Jen and I decided since we've been picking on Buddy in our last couple lessons that we would take it easy on him and just try to have an nice rhythm and flow. We started working on a couple trot fence which Buddy wasn't impressed by at all.  We moved on to an outside line which was an easy 4.  We nailed it the second time thru then moved on.

    There was a single set along the curve at the upper end of the ring that we did a few times by itself then put it in a bending line with a single on the outside.  It was 4 or 5 strides straight then turn and 2 to the single.  It was little nerve wracking for me, since it was hard to see the distance with such a short approach.  It actually rode pretty well.

    We then put together a little course with a couple fun roll backs, an angled oxer, and the single at the top going the other way.  Buddy was feeling great; forward and in front of my leg.  The course rode well and after a few times thru we called it good.  It was a great lesson a week before a show!

    Bud had Monday off, and the plan was to do a flat hack with him today.  But when I got out to the barn one of the other farriers was out doing horses.  Larry used to own Buddy; he was the one Connie bought him from.  I personally can not stand him and Rick and Connie (who used to be good friends with him) can't stand him either.  I decided that since the jumps were still up and it wasn't raining that I would pop Bud over a couple.  I put them up a hole from our lesson so they were 2'9"ish.  We  just worked on some of the single fences and didn't put anything together but Buddy was jumping great again!  I got a couple pretty deep distances and Bud hopped right over them without touching a thing.  I know I wanted to show off how far Bud's come and it felt like Bud wanted to show off too.  He was so good and felt great!

    Saturday, November 10, 2012

    One down, one to go

    Phoenix got body clipped tonight.  He doesn't grow much of a coat, but he sweats a ton.  This past week it's cooled down and after almost every ride he's been very sweaty.  Anna's had to do a lot of currying and walking him with his cooler on to get him to dry.  I decided a few days ago that it was time he got clipped.  I had ordered new blades from Schneider's last week, as they  had a buy one get one free sale but they hadn't come in yet. 

    I'd forgotten how wiggly Phoenix can get when I do his stomach.  His whole side will twitch and he dances around.  He also seemed sore when I did his right hip/stifle area.  I know he has arthritis in that stifle and has had it injected before.  I've been playing with the idea of getting it injected again but will wait to see how he does this winter.  Anna's starting to jump him a bit more, still just x-rails but she's taking a few lessons a month and wants to show him over fences next spring. 

    I still have to go back and do touch up tomorrow, but it was dinner time and Phoenix was getting upset so I called it a  night. I'm also planning on doing a trace clip on Buddy but after our show next weekend and after my new blades arrive.

    Thursday, November 8, 2012

    Don't text and drive

    Ground drive, that is.  Corie has suggested ground driving both Zoe and Buddy to work on suppleness instead of lunging with side reins.  I took Bud out last night and let's just say I don't think he's ever been driven.  We walked around the arena like drunken sailors (which is somewhat normal for him). We mostly worked at the walk trying to stay straight and did lot of changes of directions.  I did work him in a circle both directions at the trot and he stayed soft in the bridle.

    Tonight was Zoe's turn.  She obviously has been driven.  It was so much easier to get her to change directions and to steer.  She offered to both trot and canter on her own, so I worked her on a circle both ways and was even able to change directions thru the trot.  She worked really well being driven.  I was walking her around the arena to cool off and was answering a text when we passed the opening to the barn.  She darted to the right and took off down the aisle.  Luckily I stopped her, and no one was in the aisle.  We backed out and did a little more work to remind her that I'm in control.
    Zoe says "It's dinner time, let me in!"

    Saturday, November 3, 2012

    Taking a step back to move forward

    In  my lesson on Thursday I was having a hard time finding distances, and getting Buddy in front of my leg.  Jen had me focus on pumping my arms like a little kid to relax my elbows and encourage Bud to come forward.  We also went back and did a mini course of canter poles, working on moving him forward and then collecting. 

    At first I was pretty upset that I'd been downgraded to just poles, but it's a lot harder to find distances to the poles than it in to the jumps!  Bud (an most horses) don't really care about ground poles so he was ambivalent about moving forward or collecting when I asked him to.  I really had to get after him, and we ended up hand galloping some of the poles then stopping after to get him to listen.  Once we went back to the jumps it was so much easier.

    Again, I focused on relaxing and being fluid with  my elbows.  We then moved on to a little course and it was so much better than when we started.  Bud was tired, but willing and Jen even set some of the fences up a few holes for our final run thru.  We also talked and confirmed that we're going to our last schooling show for the season, Nov 17th.  We'll do the 2'6" pre adult hunter and the mini medal.  Can't wait!

    Tuesday, October 30, 2012

    Getting Fancy

    When Jen said in our last lesson that Buddy could benefit from going in a figure 8 noseband I immediately started looking for deals online.  I do have a flash noseband that I've been using on him, but figure 8's are so fancy and I've always wanted one.  I found this one. I have a HDR girth that I really like, so I thought I would try their bridle.

    I got it yesterday, and it's lot nicer than it looks. The padding is very nice and I really like the one piece crown.  It took me a bit to fit it to Buddy, and he was not amused.  I think he looks very fancy!
    I still need to tweak it a bit, but I liked it when I rode last night.  We have a lesson with Jen tomorrow so we'll see what she says.  I also want to see if I can get a regular noseband to swap out the figure 8 with when we show in the hunters.

    Sunday, October 28, 2012

    Go kiss your pony!

    Tonight at the barn one of the horses got himself stuck in a feed window in his stall door.  Red is a 16.2hand 24 year old QH gelding.  He's been abused in the past, and can be nervous and flighty but is generally very well mannered and level headed.  No one saw how he did it, but somehow he got his front end thru a 1ftx2ft (ish) window and got stuck at his hips.

    Thankfully Rick and Connie were home, as well as Red's former owner Jake. We called the vet and she came out within 20 minutes and sedated him. Luckily Red didn't struggle too much in the 20 minutes. I ran to the boarding barn next door and got the owner Carl to help. They were trying to take the door off the hinges when Red's current owner Sharon and her boyfriend showed up.  I took Sharon away because I knew she wouldn't be able to handle seeing it.  Between everyone else they managed to push Red back thru the window with some ropes and pulleys.

    The only obvious injury was a scrape on Red's right hip that the vet wasn't too concerned about.  She checked him out thoroughly and while he was still sedated he seemed fine.  She gave him some banamine and said just a bran/senior grain mash tonight for dinner after the sedation wears off.  Obviously there's a chance of internal injures as his pelvis was constricted for about an hour.  We'll all be keeping an eye on him over the next couple of days. 

    Horses never fail to amaze me at how inventive they are.  After everything settled down I made sure to go kiss each of my ponies (including miss Zoe) and just spent a couple minutes loving on each of them.  It was hard enough watching Red struggle tonight, I couldn't imagine if it had been one of my own.
    Phoenix in his old stall.  This is the size of the window Red got stuck in.


    Friday, October 26, 2012

    Naughty, naughty mare

    On Tuesday Zoe bit me.  And not just a nip or something somewhat innocent, it was a deliberate strike.  I had be petting her, with her head hanging out of the stall door.  I turned away to answer a question another boarder asked and Zoe reached out and grabbed my shoulder.  I immediately turned back to smack her, but she moved to the back of her stall.  I had been planning on riding her, but I thought she needed immediate work so I grabbed my lunge line and took her out in the rain.  I worked her butt for a good half hour, until she was nice and tired.  Then I made her stand in a cooler in the cross ties while everyone else was fed their dinner. 

    By that point my shoulder was starting to throb a bit, so I went in the tack room to take a look at it.  She managed to break the skin in a couple spots while biting thru a long sleeved t-shirt, sweatshirt, and vest. It was already starting to bruise and had swollen up.  Unfortunately I like to sleep on my side so I didn't get much sleep Tuesday night. Wednesday I was pretty sore, but made it into work where a couple of my coworkers turned green when they saw it.
    Wednesday morning
    It doesn't hurt anymore, unless I bang my arm into something.  The bruising on the top of my arm is already going away and all the swellings gone.  Today Zoe got her feet done, and after warning my farrier I put a stud chain on her.  She was very well behaved.  Buddy also got his feet done and I had his shoes pulled for the winter. I'm giving him today off to get used to being barefoot then will take him out for an easy hack tomorrow.

    Monday, October 22, 2012

    Switching it up

    Yesterday I had Corie, another boarder at the barn, ride and jump Zoe.  Since I'm the only one whose ever jumped her I wanted to see her go and see how she does with someone else.  Corie's a really nice quiet rider who worked as an assistant trainer at one of the big hunter/jumper barns in Portland for a couple years.

    I gave Corie a brief rundown on what I've been working on with Zoe, and left them alone to warm up.  After they warmed up, Corie and I talked about what Z still needs to work on; going forward at the canter and improving her bend and flexion. 

    I set some fences up at 2'-2'3" and let Corie work on whatever she wanted to.  They did some single fences then went down the outside line and the bending line.  Corie let Zoe figure out most of and tried to stay out her way and it was great to watch!  Zoe looked so nice and steady.  I put a couple of the fences up to 2'6" and except for once when they got too deep Zoe jumped each one very nicely.  Corie really liked her, and said she thinks Zoe could go up to 3'!  I'm hoping Corie will be willing to ride her a couple more times.

    Look at those knees!!

    I love Zoe's expression!

    Saturday, October 20, 2012

    Tack Sale

    Twice a year there's a huge 4H tack sale about an hour north of here.  I went today with some of the 4H girls and another boarder, and scored a couple good deals.  I was looking for a western bit for Buddy, draw reins, and a figure 8 (either just the figure 8 or a whole bridle.  Jen suggested putting him in either that or a flash for a bit and I've always wanted a figure 8).  I didn't find the draw reins or a figure 8, but we did find a nice western bit for $15 and a very cute new set of polos for $9.

    Green argyle!

    Buddy proudly modeling the new wraps.
    Anna got a pink set for Phoenix.  I'm sure he's going to look fabulous in them!

    Thursday, October 18, 2012

    Good Ponies

    Both Anna and I had lessons tonight.  Anna went first, and I talked with Jen about what I've been working on with her.  They started doing circles at the trot and canter and Anna was able to get Phoenix round and soft.  He looks so much more fluid and sound when he's round, and it makes me feel better about letting her jump him.  Jen had Anna start with some trot poles then moved her to a little line of x-rails.  Phoenix was happy to just trot along and not jump the fence, but  Jen had Anna give him a little squeeze and cluck at the base.  He finally jumped the fence and Anna was able to canter down a line for the first time.  They did a couple times and called it good.

    For my lesson, we started with the draw reins on Buddy and worked on the flat on a circle.  While he's defiantly improved, I was still having a bit of trouble getting him soft and round going left.  He was a lot less combative and I felt like I didn't have to work quite as hard. 

    We took the draw reins off, and Jen set the fences up.  We really haven't jumped much in the past couple weeks, mostly focusing on our flat work so the jumps were around 2'3".  After a couple warm up trot fences, we started down the line trying to have a nice rhythm and maintain the softness we had during the flat work. Once I figured out the distance to the first fence, the line flowed really well.  We then added a couple other diagonal fences fora little course. 

    The right to left diagonal fence was our hard spot for the night.  It was on a slight downhill, and Bud really wanted to fall on his front end and pick up speed.  Jen had me half halt with a lot of thigh, while being fairly soft with my hand.  It worked and he backed off, but then he was too behind my leg.  We finally figured it out, and were able to have a couple decent jumps.  By that time Buddy was pretty tired so we ended with that. 

    I'm glad that I can see the progress we're making and hopefully it can continue!

    Tuesday, October 16, 2012

    Posting Canter

    I rode Phoenix on Sunday, and we worked on getting him to go forward and build impulsion.  Anna had been sick and hadn't ridden him in four days, so I thought I would hop on and see how he was.  Considering it's been cold and wet, and he went from being outside 24/7 to be in all the time, he wasn't too bad.  He was pretty stiff warming up, so when I picked up the canter I went into a posting canter to help build impulsion.

    For a posting canter, you two point one stride, sit one stride and repeat.  During the sitting stride, you push with your seat and leg to encourage forward momentum then let them come up to you while in two point.  It takes a bit to get it figured out, but once you do it really helps get the horse forward without too much work and it develops a nice rhythm.  I felt a difference in Phoenix by the end of our ride.

    Yesterday, Anna was back out and I was hacking Zoe while she rode.  I demonstrated the posting canter to her on Zoe, then had her do it on Phoenix.  She didn't quite get it, but his stride still lengthened and he was moving better.  I also showed her how to ask for leg yields, and since Phoenix does those really well, she was able to get a couple nice ones out of him.

    Saturday, October 13, 2012

    Being a bad blogger

    Not much has happened this week.  Had a couple ok rides on Bud.  I worked him in the draw reins again on Wednesday and he was better.  Still not great, and still resistant to the left but I was able to see some improvement. By the end of our ride I was able to drop the draw reins and he would carry himself at the trot nicely both directions. 

    Tuesday I had my last field ride with Zoe.  There were some x-rails set out that we worked over, and I ended up giving Anna and Phoenix a little lesson.  I've been pleasantly surprised with how sound Phoenix has been and he looked great working out on the grass. 

    Yesterday it started raining, so we brought all the ponies in for the winter.  Luckily I only had to do a half day at work, so I was able to make it out to the barn by 1 to bring them in.  Phoenix and Zoe were utterly offended at being out in the rain.  Both of the trotted up to the gate to come in and Zoe was nickering the whole time.  Buddy could have cared less and seemed offended that he was left in.  I put coolers on all of them for a couple hours and gave each a pile of hay.  We got a new load of timothy this week, and it's super rich.  I'm slowly starting to wean them on it so hopefully no one gets colicky! 

    Once I had their coolers on, I realized that I have bought the boys matching black ones with blue trim.  Wasn't my intention and I'm slightly embarrassed. 

    Phoenix....he makes the 10x14 stall look tiny

    Saturday, October 6, 2012

    Ranch Sorting

    I took Buddy to a ranch sorting practice last night.  Another woman from the barn was going, and I thought it would be a good change for Bud.  I've never sorted before, but when Connie had Bud she did a lot of it with him.

    Ranch sorting is basically taking a group of cows, one at a time, from one pen to another.  There are two round pens set next to each other with the middle panel taken out; the opening is called the hole.  One rider blocks the hole while the other gets the cow and runs it towards the hole.  The riders then switch and go back and forth every other cow.  There are a dozen cows and ten of them are numbered 0-9.  You have to go in numerical order and leave the two unnumbered or "dirty" cows in the first pen.  And you have to do this all in 60secs.

    Bud was pretty tired from his workout on Thursday, so we did a light warm up when we got there.  Once they had the cows set up, he perked up a bit but was still pretty laid back.  Which was a good thing since Dar, the mare who came with us, had never been around cows before and was nervous.  Laura, her owner, and I walked around together and let Bud show Dar that the cows were nothing to be afraid of. 

    There were about 20 people, and we wanted to watch the others go so we waited awhile till our go.  The man running it was very nice, and gave us about 5 minutes just getting Dar used to sorting the cows out.  We didnt' worry about getting them in the correct order, just moving them from one pen to the other.  Dar did pretty well, but Buddy got a little hot and bit one of the cows when it wouldn't move.  Bad Buddy!

    The cows, and part of Dar's head.  You can see the while numbers on their sides
    While we waited around for our second attempt, the barn hosting it opened up their kitchen and gave us free dinner!  There was a big pot of spaghetti, salad, and cake.  I held the horses while Laura grabbed a bite then she held when I went to eat.  Apparently they host the ranch sortings about once a month and always serve dinner. The food was good, and I thought it was awesome that they feed everyone who comes.

    Our second and third tries were much better.  We were still slow, and didn't always get the correct cow in the correct order.  Dar gained more confidence and only had a couple little spooks.  Buddy didn't try to eat any other cows, and I was able to work on getting him to focus on a particular cow and move it where I wanted.  It was a lot of fun and we'll defiantly go back!

    Thursday, October 4, 2012

    Breaking out the big guns

    So in our lesson tonight, we basically stayed on a circle to the left the entire time.  Jen had me start trying to get Buddy soft and bendy by doing some figure 8's at the trot.  He was ok, but not great.  I was really having to thump him with my inside leg to keep him going. Same thing in the canter.  I dropped my inside stirrup to try and thump him and push him out to create the bend.  Still not working.

    Jen got on him for  only the second time in the two years I've had him. She really got after him and boy was he pissed!  They duked it out for about 5 minutes with him occasionally giving in.  The whole time Jen was cussing him out and calling him names.  She had me grab a set of draw reins and we tried again.  I hopped on him again, and after figuring out my reins (it's been such a long time since I've ridden with two reins!) we tried again. 

    I started with the reins loose and slowly started shortening them and asking for flexion.  He gave it to me to a point, then decided to fight me.  I was able to get him back and we moved up to the canter.  He was still pretty fussy, but better.  Jen decided to hop back on and took no mercy.  Once Bud gave in, they had some beautiful trot work.  He was moving forward and really stepping out and Jen was able to loosen up on the draw reins and have a light, quiet contact.  His canter was also miles better.  He was a little over bent to the left, but he was using his hind end and really driving forward with little effort from Jen.

    The plan for now is to keep using the draw reins, but do short 20mins or so hacks mostly at the walk and trot while he builds up his top line.  Hopefully he won't fight me as much and I won't have to use the draw reins but we want  to make sure he gets the point.

    Tuesday, October 2, 2012

    Back to the drawing board

    Unfortunately my ride on Sunday didn't go so well.  I couldn't get Bud to have a nice, soft, round, canter to the left.  He kept fighting me the whole time.  He was high headed, and every time I tried to drive him from my seat to my hands he would flip his head and speed up. 

    I decided to try to keep him on a circle and try to spiral him out and create some bend. It worked and we got a couple decent circles but as soon as we tried to go down the long side he would loose the bend and flip his head up.  He was better to the right, but still not as nice as he could have been. 

    On the plus side we had some really nice trot work.  He was stretching down into the contact and was moving off my leg pretty well.  We have a lesson Thursday where Jen can hopefully give up some pointers.

    Saturday, September 29, 2012

    Catching Up

    I haven't ridden much this past week.  One of my coworkers has been out for 3 weeks due to a sprained foot and I've been working a lot more (11 days in a row) to make up.  I've just been way too tired to do anything with the ponies besides grain them after work.  I did lunge Bud on Monday and did a quick bareback ride on Thursday.  Thankfully my boss gave me Friday, Saturday, and Sunday off!

    Yesterday I took Bud out to the field planning to do a quick ride and maybe pop over a couple fences.  He was slow to warm up again, but once we started jumping he was great!  I had to push him and really get him in front of my leg to the smaller fences but after I reset some up higher he turned into a go pony.  I set 3 fences at 2'9", one Swedish oxer and two verticals.  We worked on some turns and rollbacks, and he felt great.  I did have to sit and pull him together thru the turns, but he moved right up to each fence and gave me every lead change I asked for.  I can really feel him starting to sit on his haunch and use himself more over the bigger fences and it feels like he's having a lot of fun.  It was exactly the kind of ride we both needed after a hard week!

    Monday, September 24, 2012


    A couple weeks ago a won a contest on Facebook with ThinLine. I had submitted a photo of Bud and I jumping with our Trifecta half pad. We were picked for Ride of the Month, and won any saddle pad of our choice!  I of course picked the most expensive pad they had, the Sheepskin Comfort half pad.  I got it this weekend, and Zoe got to be the test pony. 

    It's a little big but looks super fancy

    It felt great!  I really like the look and feel of sheepskin, and the ThinLine material really helps to absorb the shock.  Yesterday we just did some flat work.  We did some leg yields and worked on her flying changes.  They are definetly getting better!  Today we jumped and she was great!  I used bigger spurs than I normally do because I could only find one of mine.  She was really in front of my leg and willing to move forward.  We schooled a couple 2'6" fences and she felt really good.  She even jumped one of them pretty big and jumped me out of the tack a bit!

    On Saturday I jumped Bud.  We did a nice and easy flat warm-up and I tried not to pick fights with him.  We just cantered all the fences, trying to have a nice rhythm and flow.  Some of the fences were 2'9" and he jumped them with no problem!  We only schooled everything once or twice, and since he was being good I decided to quit while we were ahead.


    Saturday, September 22, 2012

    Reset Ride

    For the past few weeks, Buddy and I have picked little fights with each other and just not connecting.  It felt like all the work we've done last winter and spring has disappeared.  He's been hollow, behind my leg, we can't find distances to the jumps, and just generally butting heads on everything. 

    Normally I would think he's sore, or had sometime of body issues but he was checked by the chiropractor a few weeks ago, and was declared fine (if a touch thin) so I can rule out body issues.  He had his feet done the day after the chiropractor and while I wasn't there, my farrier didn't leave any word that anything was wrong, so again I can rule his feet out.  I will admit that I haven't been spending as much time with him lately as I usually do and I know he can get snarky after time off. 

    On Wednesday I took him out the grass field to jump.  He was pretty lazy to start but I had a dressage whip and after a couple whacks he started moving better.  We actually warmed up pretty nicely and trotted a few little fences before tackling a couple bigger ones.  Bud tried to rush a couple of them, so tried to stop and back him after the jumps.  This is where things started to go wrong.  He threw a fit about having to back.  I'm glad no one was close enough to see because it was ugly.  Head up and swinging side to side, mouth gaping, me cussing him and trying my hardest to back him up.

    Since I couldn't get him to back, I thought, well we can go forward. I made him gallop around the field  and then used our momentum to try a couple fences again.  He was better, still fighting me but waiting to jump.  I walked him for a bit, then tried one last jump and got a nice stop and back after.  I called it quits with that.

    Yesterday I hopped on him bareback for a quick hack around the sand arena.  He was so good!  Trotted nicely and actually offered to canter before I asked.  He was more round and connected than he's been lately and was softer in my hand.  I'm hoping that our nasty ride reset everything and I'll have my regular Bud Bud back!

    Saturday, September 15, 2012

    What a good girl!

    Zoe was great today!  We got a 1st, two 4ths, and a 5th. She had a nice rhythm, got almost all of her leads, and was complimented by many people too!  Yay mare!

    When I got to the show this morning, I was the first one there so I wasn't sure where I needed to park.  I left Zoe in the trailer while I went to the office to ask.  When I came back, my trailer was rocking side to side and Zoe was throwing a major tantrum.  Apparently she doesn't like be hauled by herself.  Once I re-parked and unloaded her, I  notice a big scrape on her head.  I checked the inside of the trailer, but couldn't figure out what she hit her head on.  She mostly just scraped of the hair, but right under where the browband would go there was a tiny little cut that was oozing blood.  The barn owner's were nice enough to let me use their washrack and clean it up.
    Don't believe that innocent face.  She can throw a mean tantrum.

    Despite her knock to the head, she warmed up really well. We had about a half hour to school in the ring before the show started.  There were a lot of flowers, shrubs, and bushes by the fences that I made sure to let her look at.  She didn't seem to care at that time.  We didn't do a big warm up, just a little walk, trot, canter, and I popped her over a couple fences.

    We had a couple hours to wait till my classes went, so I got off and we hung around watching and talking to Deb, her owner.  The barn owner came by to check how her cut was doing and said he had seen us warm up and said she was very cute and liked how chill she was waiting to go.  He was so nice!

    I got on about 15 mins before my first round and took her for a couple times around their grass ring to warm her up again.  In our first round she looked hard at some new flowers that had been added to one of the jumps and cut way in to the right.  I could see that we would be getting a very awkward, off center distance so I circled her and came back to it.  The second time around I used a lot of right leg to keep her centered.  She still looked, but went over.

    Our second round was much better; no looking or trying to fall in.  I did get her pretty deep to one fence and she ended up knocking it.  Our third round was perfect!  Nailed every lead, had a nice steady rhythm and got good distances to each fence.  Unfortunately she tired out for our fourth and final round and decided that trotting a couple fences would be easier than cantering.  I also had a brain fart and forgot to collect her to the first fence so about two strides out I realized it was going to be really short.  Oops! 

    I am so pleased with how she did!  She felt really good and each of the little bobbles we had were minor and mostly rider error.  There was a pro photographer there, so hopefully we can have some nice pics in a couple days.  Since this was probably our last show of the season I'm glad we ended on a great note!

    Not pictured the bag of treats we got for getting first.

    Thursday, September 13, 2012

    It's a go!

    I hadn't heard from Rick all day, so as soon as I got out to the barn I grabbed Zoe out of the pasture and saw that she had 2 shoes!  Yay! 
    Seriously...the only thing I would change about this mare is her feet.

    I tacked her up and we headed out to the sand arena to see how she felt.  The arena had been watered, and there was a couple little puddles left so I made her walk thru even though she tried her best to wiggle out of it.  We went back and forth a few times before she gave up and went through them nicely.  I picked up the trot and she felt fine.  We worked on transitions again and some spiraling in and out on circles.  She was little fussy, but not bad.  I'll take her out to the field tomorrow for a little jump session before the show.

    Wednesday, September 12, 2012

    Up in the Air

    I'm supposed to take Zoe to a little hunter show on Saturday, so of course she pulled her shoe today.  I rode her Monday, just worked on transitions and going forward.  Someone had set up a couple sets of trot poles so we worked over those.  At first she was pretty confused about where to put her feet and kept trying to either jump them or canter over them. I channeled what we worked on in our lesson last week; keeping my hand up and having a nice steady rhythm.  She finally figured it out and after a couple nice times thru I let her quit.

    There's a farrier who supposed to come out tomorrow (not my normal guy) and Rick's going to ask if he can put the shoe back on.  If he can, and she feels good we'll go on Saturday.

    Thursday, September 6, 2012

    Wiggle Worm

    I had a lesson on Zoe tonight, and she was a total wiggle worm.  I pulled her out right at dinner time and she was pacing back in forth in the cross ties while we were tacking up.  She was pretty forward in our warm up, and kept trying to pop her shoulders both directions.

    We started jumping over a couple x's, working on me riding her from my leg/seat to my hands and keeping her straight.  Jen had me go deep and a really leg yield her off my left leg to try and straighten her out. Zoe wanted to go any direction except forward. It felt like anytime I touched her with my right leg she would just blow out my left aids and go sideways. We probably did that x a dozen time before we finally got it. 

    After a walk break, we went back to the x but added a vertical 8 strides away.  The first time she was a little confused about going to the second fence, and we got an awkward half stride where she had to launch over the second fence.  The second time thru was better; I just have to remember to immediately pick her up on the landing side of the first fence and ride her forward to the second.  We did the line a couple times before moving on to another line. 

    I had to ride her pretty forward to the first fence.  Again she was wiggly to the first fence and I had to keep my seat on her to help keep her straight. She jumped the first fence pretty big (for her) and I had to scramble to put her back together for the second fence.  We got a short 7 but the next time thru was much better and we got the correct 6 strides. Once I remember to package her and ride her forward she really starts to open up and feels much nicer.

    We'll keep working on putting line together since that seems to be her weak spot.  I've decided to take her to a little hunter show next Saturday, probably our last for the season.  We'll do the 2' long stirrup again.  I was given a video camera that needs a new battery, so hopefully I'll get one before the show!

    Saturday, September 1, 2012

    Gymnastic Fun

    A couple weeks ago I stumbled upon this site, Get My Fix.  Their 5-minute clinic section (while not having been updated recently) has some great articles.  I've bookmarked the one on grids.  Today I decided to set up Amy Millar (Captain Canada's Ian Millar's daughter) basic trot grid.

    After warming Bud up on the flat, I started with a single x-rail trotting it back and forth trying to have a strong trot and make him canter away from it.  He was a bit behind my leg and lazy so I had to go to my crop a few times to help wake him up.  We started the grid with 3 ground poles to a vertical.  I tried to stay out of his way, but again Buddy was lazy.  I remembered what I learned all those months ago at the Kevin Freeman clinic about keeping my hands up and really making Buddy work to the base of the fence.  Worked like a charm! 

    After a couple times thru I added the two stride to the oxer.  Let's just say I'm glad no one was around to see our first time thru.  Buddy was way backed off and had to take a flying leap over the oxer.  I just grabbed mane and tried to give him his head and not catch him in the mouth.  The second time thru I sat deep and pushed him thru the 2.  After that Bud seemed to get it and it rode well; I could concentrate on my position and not have to worry about the distances.

    Adding the last vertical challenged us.  By this point Bud was getting tired, and not wanting to trot in well.  I had to go to my crop at the base of the first fence and push more thru the grid. We only did the full grid twice before I called it quits.  I didn't want to push him too hard, and I felt like one decent time thru was all we were going to get today.  Hopefully I can set up more of the grids before it starts to rain again and we can't use the fields.

    Friday, August 31, 2012

    Easy week

    All the ponies have had it easy this week.  Bud and Zoe got their feet done yesterday, and boy did they need it!  In the past week or so, Buddy's fee have exploded and I'm actually surprised he kept his shoes on.  Zoe weren't as bad, but when she gets long her feet look almost foundered.  I talked to my farrier about it and he said she has basically two clubbed feet up front.  As of yet they haven't caused her any problems, but I do wonder if in the long term they will.

    I jumped Zoe today and she was great.  I switched her bit, from a plain loose ring snaffle to a D-ring french link.  She some times will shake her head and grab the bit  for a stride or two in the snaffle, so I wanted to see how she'd do with the french link.  So far so good!  She didn't try to grab it at all, and I seemed to have a little better control of her shoulders with it.  We worked on going forward to the jumps today and we added two 2'6" fences in.  She jumped everything well, moving forward when I asked so I called it good while we were ahead. 

    Monday, August 27, 2012

    ADD Pony

    Buddy has decided dressage isn't for him.  While he wasn't bad at our dressage show on Saturday, he wasn't good either.  He was very ADD and wouldn't focus on me for more than a couple strides at a time. We warmed up pretty well, but once we were doing our test everything seemed to distract him. We had some nice moments but overall our tests lacked focus.  We received a 57% in training test 3, and a 56% in First level 1.  In the comments, the judge called him very cute and willing, but did mention that he needs more impulsion and swing thru his back.  We'll keep working on it, and hopefully do better next time.

    Thursday, August 23, 2012

    Getting there

    After our couple giraffe-esk rides, I put Buddy back in the German martingale.  It helped so much!!  He didn't even protest that much other than being a little behind my leg in our upward transitions.  

    Yesterday we did a little longer ride, working on some of the movements in our tests.  We worked on our trot lengthenings, and had a bit of breakthrough.  I usually post during the lengthenings and Bud usually just speeds up.  I tried sitting yesterday while keeping my hands up and set.  It seemed to work; I could feel him start to lengthen his stride without rushing.  I tried again today, and while it wasn't as good, it was still an improvement over before.

    We did a little shorter ride today, as he was more compliant and moving off  my leg better.  We schooled more transitions today and after our work we wandered out to the field and popped over a couple jumps.  We have one more ride tomorrow before showing on Saturday.

    Sunday, August 19, 2012

    Someone enjoyed his vacation

    I haven't really ridden Buddy since our show 2wks ago. I've done a couple easy bareback hacks, but no real work.  It's been really hot here in the 90's and has gotten over 100 a couple times.  I've just been too tired and hot after work to convince myself to get into the saddle.

     I rode Bud yesterday in a different bit, a mullen mouth that I've used on him before.  It used to work great on the flat, but didn't have enough breaks when we jumped.  We started out doing some loops and turns, trying to have a nice round trot.  Buddy had other plans....namely trying to impersonate a camel.  He was moving forward off my leg well, but I couldn't get his head down.  In our canter work he was pretty strong and I had to really sit deep to try and keep him with me.  We definitely won't be using this bit again.

    Today I put my magic bit on him; it's a French link D-ring that I've had for 12yrs and used on every horse I've owned.  Phoenix goes in it right now, and I used it for a while on Buddy before.  While he was little better about his head today, he still wasn't where I wanted him.  He's really resistant to the right, which is usually his good side. I would think he's out in his neck or back, but usually when he's out he won't go forward and he's moving off my leg really nicely right now.  I think I really need to get after him this week since we have our first dressage show on Saturday!

    Sunday, August 12, 2012

    More pretty new jump!

    We've been painting fools all week. Kylie has finished the first side of one of the new planks, I did one side of the other today.  It's been so was 99* today.  The good side is that the paint dries fast but on the downside I'm too lazy to ride which is why I've been paining.  Enjoy the pics!

    Kylie freehanded these!

    My fun new plank! 

    With matching purple poles!

    Barn dog Missy approves!

    Thursday, August 9, 2012

    Easy Week

    The ponies have had a pretty easy week.  There's a 17yr old FFA girl from L.A. whose been coming out the the barn the past week to learn about horses and an actual farm.  She said there is only handful of FFA kids in L.A., and no real farms down there and she wants to learn as much as she can.  She's the niece of a friend of Jen's, so Jen has been bringing her out and giving her lessons on Buddy. 

    Kylie's had a little bit of riding experience, but so far she's doing really well. She's got him cantering, but they still need to work a bit on steering.  Today she and I took Bud and Zoe out for a long trail ride thru the grass seed fields.  I haven't ridden Zoe since the show, but she was great on the trail.  At one point, we went past an old run down house and barn that's been taken over by blackberries and Buddy refused to go forward.  He's been past the house many times, but today I had to grab his reins and pony him off of Zoe till we got past it.  Then he was fine and went wherever Kylie wanted.  Silly boy!

    We've also been repainting some of the jumps.  We've got some of the 4H girls to help, so it's been going pretty fast.  Kylie is a bit of an artists, so she's going to paint some flowers and vines on one of our plank jumps.  Hopefully she'll finish that tomorrow!

    What we've done so far!  I really like the red and black standards.

    Sunday, August 5, 2012

    Not our day

    So before we even left for the show yesterday morning things started going wrong.  My truck overheated at 5am as I was hooking up the trailer.  It was in for an oil change 3wks ago, and I had driven it Thrus and Fri without any problems.  So after a frantic phone call to Jen, I woke up Rick and pleaded to use his truck. Understand that this truck is Rick's baby.  Connie doesn't even get to drive it that often.  I have driven it once before, but had never hauled with it.Rick's truck is 2009 1-ton dually....which compared to my half ton pickup is a whole lot bigger! 

    Once we switched trucks and loaded up, we were only a half hour later getting started.  The drive up was nerve wracking since I was worried about wrecking the dually.  I must say, it's a dream to haul with.  So much smoother and powerful than my truck.

    Never get between a man and his truck

    Once we got to the show, things started ok.  I got on Zoe to school her first while Nik got on Buddy.  Both warmed up well, with only one spook from Zoe when one of the jump crew lifted a brush box above his head to move right as we walked past. We did a few circles in the now scary corner and she got over it. I hopped on Bud a did about 10mins of warm up with him, jumping a few things just to get a feel of how he'd do.  He was excited, but good. Nik's classes went first, and while they were small she did awesome!  She got a first in her walk trot class, and a first and second in her trot-a-pole.  Ended up walk trot champion! 

    It was probably 10am when I went in with Zoe and it was close to 90*.  She was so tired and we couldn't seem to find a rhythm.  About half way thru the course she stalled out going past the gate and we couldn't come to a decision about a distance to the next fence.  She stopped and almost ran into the standard.  I was up on her neck, trying to get back in the tack when she went sideways trying to make it over.  I did a slow roll over her neck and landed in the dirt on my shoulder.  I'm fine, and got up right away.  Zoe looked at me and seemed like she was upset.  I told her it was my fault and we walked out.  In our next round, she really backed off that same fence, so I went to my crop and smacked her about 3 strides out.  After that she was much better.  Our last two rounds were ok; she was still pretty slow and tired.  We didn't place but I was happy with how we ended.

    After a quick break to put Zoe away, grab a quick lunch consisting of beef jerky and a milkshake, and get Buddy ready, I went back to the ring.  By this point it was closer to 100* and I was pretty much done.  Feeling like puking is not how you want to go into the ring.  The first round with Buddy started with a short approach to a vertical on a short diagonal that Buddy knocked.  I don't think he realized we were jumping it to about a stride away.  He landed strong and we had a bending line to a single outside fence that was all brush boxes and flowers.  I couldn't see the distance and we ended up having a refusal but at least this time I stayed on!  We came back and got over it ok.  In the next round we had a stop there too.  I was just too tired and was getting psyched out.  Luckily in our last round, and eq class, we didn't have to jump the flowers.  It was decent round and somehow I ended up third.  I was just so happy to be done I didn't care.

    So it wasn't our day, but at least we made it thru!  I am happy with how Zoe recovered.  Her owner came to watch and said she looks great, and wants me to keep showing her.  I know my problems with Bud were my fault, and as much as I want to beat myself up over it, it only hits 100* once or twice a year.  I think if it hadn't had been as hot, and if I hadn't spent the morning freaking out about the truck swap I would have been in a much better head space.  I am proud that I made it thru the day without crying or puking!

    Thursday, August 2, 2012

    Good news!

    I took Phoenix in to see Dr. Ben today, and after looking at his leg Ben agreed with me saying it could be fractured and that we needed x-rays.  Luckily Phoenix was cooperative and we didn't have to sedate him.  Ben took 3 views, and they showed nothing, no fractures or chips.  There is still some soft tissue swelling and Ben gave me Surpass cream to put on it once a day.  We also got the ok to do some walking under saddle and we'll see how he's doing after a week.

    I had a lesson tonight on Zoe, and little mare was awesome!  We warmed up in the sand arena, them moved to the grass to jump.  They were harvesting the grass seed field directly behind the grass arena but Zoe didn't care at all.  After a couple warm up fences, Jen had us start working a little hunter course.  I really need to make sure to keep my inside leg on and push her out thru the turns.  She really likes to drop her inside shoulder. 

    We ended by schooling a bending line, her first.  I had to really drive her to the first fence and ask for a lead change over it which didn't go so well.  We schooled the change a couple times but Zoe was getting tired and once we got it we quit.  We ended up doing the line on the wrong lead, but it was nicely balanced and we got a decent distance to the second fence.  What I love most about Zoe is even when she doesn't know exactly what I want, she tries so hard.  She also seemed pretty proud of herself too!

    Tuesday, July 31, 2012

    Getting Ready

    I started getting the ponies ready for our little schooling show on Saturday.  I'm taking Zoe in the 2' long stirrup and Bud in the 2'6" pre-adult hunters.  Nik will also be taking Bud in walk trot and a couple trot-a-pole classes.  If I have energy and its not blazing hot (the forecast calls for 91*) I might enter a couple jumper classes in the afternoon.

    Both ponies had their manes done yesterday as well as getting clipped.  Zoe is still horrible about having her ears done, but after  a come-to-Jesus talk, she's getting better.  Unfortunately my clippers started dying as I started her ears, so I'm charging them tonight and we'll try again tomorrow. I also washed and conditioned both their tails and they'll get bathed on Friday.

    I'm excited because my friend will also be showing in the 3ft hunters.  We showed together a ton a few years ago, but she moved back up to Portland after she graduated.  We haven't managed to show together since, so hopefully Saturday will bring back all the good times!  I'll also have my own little cheering section; Zoe's owner and possibly her daughter will be there, Rick and Connie are coming to watch with the 4H girls, and Jen's friend is coming back to take pics.  Hopefully I can get someone to video as well.

    Looking as cute as can be!

    Friday, July 27, 2012

    Boys, boys, boys

    The boys have been tying my stomach in knots this past week!  Last Friday Phoenix was kicked by his pasture mate, a little 14.2hand QH/Arab mare.  She nailed him just below his shoulder and in the middle of his cannon bone on his left front.

    I saw it happen, so I was able to pull Phoenix out right away and clean and wrap his leg.  I kept him in for a few days, with the leg wrapped, then turned him back out (in a different pasture!) to see how he would do.  He's sound at the walk, but off on both fronts, at the trot.  He still has a large lump on his cannon bone.  One of the other boarders at the barn, who graduated from vet school last year and has spent the last year in an internship at an equine surgical clinic, look at his leg and told me to get x-rays  since it's highly likely his splint bone is fractured.  So we have an appointment next Thursday with Dr. Ben. 

    I had a lesson last night with Buddy and he was super lazy.  Jen had me get my spurs.  He was more awake, but a lot more pissy once I had them on.  We were having a pretty good ride, working on having enough pace and rhythm, when we went up a 2'6" vertical landing and turning right to a rollback when  Buddy slipped on the clover and went down to his knees.   All I could see was the ground coming at me and thinking "Oh this is going to hurt". I don't know how I stayed on, or how he righted himself, but he did.

    Both of us were pretty shaken, but once my adrenaline was under control, we tried again but instead of landing and turning, we landed and stopped.  Buddy seemed sound, but he was very cranky so after a couple nice fences we called it quits.  Jen suggested getting him drilled and tapped for studs, so I'm going to call the farrier on Monday to see when he's available.

    Sunday, July 22, 2012

    Lazy Sunday

    After running around at fair Mon-Wed, then busting my butt at work Thurs-today, I didn't have the energy to do much with Bud today.  It's cooler than it has been, so I had the engery to move the jumps around in the field to a somewhat hunterish course.  But by the time I tacked up, my motivation was gone. Bud and I went out and just played around on the flat then took a nice long walk around the field.  He didn't seem to mind an easy day!

    I took Zoe out for her first jump school in the field yesterday.  I've ridden her on the flat out there a couple times before.  Again, the whole no fence line thing came into play; she really wants to pop her right shoulder and not pick up her left lead. She was better once we started going over fences, but we still have problems getting her to open up her stride and move up to a distance.  I haven't been using spurs, but I think I will next time.  We kept getting a shorter waiting distance, which now that the fence are going up doesn't always work.  I did take her over her first 2'6" fence, and she hit it pretty hard her first time.  The second time, she really sat back on her hind end and made it over fine.  I'm so proud of her!

    Wednesday, July 18, 2012

    4H Fair

    Sunday thru today was our county's 4H Horse Fair.  The three girls from our barn did awesome!  They had showmanship and trail on Monday, western eq yesterday, and English eq and dressage today.

    Anna (the girl leasing Phoenix) earned a red in both showmanship and trail.  She forgot part of her pattern in showmanship, and unfortunately was 10pts from qualifying for state fair.  The judge also noted on her score sheet that Phoenix was too thin.  To me, he needs muscling but is an ok weight.  Except for last summer when he was on pasture 24/7 and hadn't been ridden in 6 months, he's always been on the lean side.  The judge is a QH halter horse breeder, so I'm trying to not take too much offense at her comments.

    Their trail class was actually pretty nice for Phoenix.  He was one of the few horses to walk right over the bridge.  Anna was able to open the rope gate, but wasn't able to get Phoenix to turn and back to close it.  They also had trot poles to do, and they were set too close for long legged Phoenix, so he jumped a couple.  Whoops!

    I was happily surprised when they earned a blue in western eq!  While Phoenix didn't exactly jog or lope, they had a nicely done pattern and unlike a lot of the kids, were able to get the correct leads.

    Crappy cell phone pic
    Today in English, Anna nailed their pattern (which involved counter canter, which they practiced for the first time yesterday) and were called back to the premier class. They were given another pattern and about 2 minutes to learn it.  This time they had counter canter and hand gallop. Anna was pretty nervous, but held it together and earned a medallion! They ended the day by doing Intro Test A and she got a 68.6% and another medallion!  I looked over the comments on their tests, and they earned a lot of 6s and 7s, with one 8.  They got points for having a nice steady rhythm and were called a well matched pair.  I'm so proud of both of them!

    Monday, July 16, 2012

    Sweet Sixteen

    While doing some summer cleaning, Connie finally found Buddy's papers.  I haven't been upset by not having them; I'm not going to be showing him in any APHA shows and he can't be bred but it's always  nice to have them.  We were under the impression that he was a 1997 baby, but he's not.  His birthday is May 20, 1996 which would make him 16.  I gave him a carrot yesterday as a belated sweet sixteen present.

    Saturday, July 14, 2012

    Lesson on the Grass

    Our lesson on Friday kicked my butt!  After trotting a couple fences to warm up, we started working on a bending line going to the left.  Since there's no rail to guide us, Buddy really wanted to hold the right bend and throw his haunches to the right.  Needless to say, we had a hard time getting a nice distance to the first fence.  Jen had me go back and work on a circle for a few minutes, spiraling him out and having me really sit deep.

    Once we had a bend we went back to the line. I could get the first fence, but would loose the bend and rhythm to the second fence.  At this point Buddy was getting pretty pissed and reluctant to go forward. I really had to sit down and get after him.  We nailed the line once, and called it good.

    After a walking/water break Jen had us change it up and do a fun, twisty course.  Buddy was much happier!  The course involved a couple tight rollback, taking an oxer on an angle and a long gallop uphill. We were able to do it pretty well right off the bat, but had a little trouble on the rollback to the angled oxer.  Buddy was tired by this point, and doing a tight turn uphill wasn't something he wanted to do.  We went back and schooled that turn a few times, and on our last attempt, about 2 strides from the oxer I bridged my reins and hauled off and nailed him with my crop.  Boy that got his attention!  He moved forward to the long spot and cantered off in front of my leg .  We decided to quit with that.

    Poor tired pony!

    Wednesday, July 11, 2012


    The weather gods have decided to finally allow summer to grace Oregon.  It's been hot (90* today) for us, so I've been a little lax on working the ponies.  Zoe pulled a shoe, but hopefully one of the other farriers who comes to the barn can put it back on tomorrow. 

    Rick mowed the fields yesterday, so today I convinced my parents who are up visiting to help me move the jumps out.

     I've saved some old courses from shows, and found a couple online so today I set up an eq course that looked fun.
    I took Bud out to the field tonight, and he was pretty distracted during our warm up.  Every time we passed the gate, he would pop his outside shoulder, drift toward the gate, and slow way down.  I kept my crop in my outside hand, popped him a couple times, and we worked a lot on transitions and turns, trying to keep his attention on me.  Once we started jumping, he seemed to focus more. I kept the jumps small, just some x's and 2' verticals.  I tried to focus on having a nice rhythm and keeping him straight. I know I was holding him a bit, but the more I jump out there the more I will relax.  I have a lesson on Friday so that should really help.