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