Monday, December 30, 2013

Christmas Catch Up

I have been such a bad blogger!! The week before Christmas was super busy at work, then I left for five days to visit family, then had to immediately jump back into work. And my phone didn't want to play nice with out hotel's wifi so I couldn't update on the road.

Right before I left I got my Blogger Gift Exchange from Amber at TB adventures. It was awesome to get the package and rip into it. I had asked for anything pink for Miss McKenna, and we got a new pink brush, pink vet wrap, the trial pack of show sheen, and a bunch of horse treats. Thanks Amber, Jetta, and Misty!!

For Christmas I didn't get too much horsey stuff, other than the money to pay for the John Turner clinic next month. All of my families animals (my three ponies, my two cats, and my parent's dog and cat) gave me a new iPhone cover with horses on it.  I found at 25lb bag of carrots at the grocery store so the ponies are getting a holiday treat!

Since I've been so busy I haven't done much with McKenna and Buddy.  I did manage to sneak in a couple rides on Bud, and had a little jump school in which he was great.  We only worked over a vertical and oxer a few times each but he pretty much nailed it so I didn't push it. McKenna's been getting lunged and I did light ride yesterday.  My trainer was giving a lesson to a couple pony kids and basically told me to hop on McKenna and just work her around the ponies.  We did a little walk/trot and mostly just hung out in the center of the ring while they played Simon Says.  McKenna held it together pretty well, considering the girls were excited and lacked some steering skills.  At one point Jen was standing right next to us and started clapping her hand to help one of the girls who was having trouble getting her pony to trot.  McKenna jumped back and snorted at the clapping, but calmed down and was ok when Jen walked around us clapping.  I'm hoping to have more time to work her this week.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Off The Rails

Considering how little I've ridden or worked the horses in the past few weeks, McKenna was awesome in our lesson last night.  I lunged before getting on, making sure she got her bucks out.  To warm up Jen had us do some baby leg yields at the walk.  Usually I do leg yields from the quarter line to the rail, but in doing that McKenna would pop her shoulder and fake it.  But going from the rail to the quarter line, she would stay connected and actually leg yield. 

In our trot work McKenna's been a bit sassy, flipping her head to avoid contact or bending.  Every time she did that, I was to circle her and ask for bending and softness.  As soon as we turned away from the rail she would quit the head flipping and become so soft and round.  We did a lot of circling, sometimes only going two or three steps straight along the long sides before circling again.  Right now her biggest issue is that she leans to the outside and wants to use the rail as a crutch and not bend her body.  By working her off the rail and doing random circles she has to listen to me as to where we are going and how to bend and use her body.

Along with that, we did some changes of direction across the diagonal lines.  Going right to left, she'll move off my left leg and change the bend pretty well.  Left to right is much harder.  She wants to pop the outside shoulder and when I put my right leg on to ask her to move over she gets excited and tries to canter.  We went back and forth working on having a strong half halt with both reins, then asking her to move over with the right leg while opening the left rein. It got better but it's definitely something we'll have to work on.

I had asked Jen for some pole exercises to do since I know I get bored with baby flat work and I'm pretty sure McKenna does too. She set up a baby 6inch crossrail in the center of the ring at X and told me to circle over it.  We started to the right, McKenna's better side, and the first time she looked at it but wasn't scared or worried.  More of a "Huh, that's new" type of thing.  I admittedly was a bit nervous of how she'd handle it so I didn't give her the best ride and let her get crooked and a bit behind my leg but McKenna just trotted right over it, no problem.  We came back around a few times till we could get the right approach and every time she just stepped right over. 

Proud of her first "jump"
We changed direction and the first time going left we had some steering issues after the crossrail and almost ran into the wall.  Oops.  But the second time was much better and by the third time I had her exactly where she needed to be.  We'll start working that exercise into our routine and the next step will be to figure 8 over it, making sure to get a nice change of bend.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


Why does life get in the way of everything? I've been so overwhelmed for the past week it's ridiculous. Except for a snowy trail ride (my first ride in the snow!) I haven't been able to ride in over two weeks.  Come hell or high water I'm riding both Bud and McKenna today!

Last Wednesday I took a ride in the frozen, snow covered fields with a couple other boarders. It was in the mid twenties and I couldn't feel my nose, ears, or toes by the end of the ride but it was awesome.   We just walked around for about a half hour, and it was magical.  Like something out of a movie. 
What was once our summer gallop track between the pastures
That beautiful sunset wasn't heating anything up

It finally started thawing Friday and warmed up enough to start working the horses again.  I lunged both Buddy and McKenna and they were wild.  I had to work over the weekend and was only able to lung both of them Saturday and Sunday.  My plan was to ride at least one of the them yesterday, but my barn owners are gone, so between chores and helping with the 4H ride I lost all my time and motivation to ride. But tonight's the night, especially since I have a lesson on McKenna tomorrow!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Five Day Challenge - Day 4

16. One thing I would change about my horse
I'd make Buddy younger.  I wish he was 10-12 so I could keep him longer and wouldn't feel so bad about pushing him to the 3'.

17. Your future with horses
I plan to ride for as long as I can.  Phoenix will live with me forever, and long term if McKenna works out I'd love to breed her and raise a baby.  My barn owners talk about me taking over the place once they retire, but who knows.

18. Worst show ever
There's been a few with Phoenix that were pretty bad.  I think our worst was in 2006 we went to our first A show and it was a disaster.  We started by getting to the show grounds (4hrs away from home) at midnight (we got lost), found horses in our stalls and had to find two stalls together and threw the horses in them. By the time we got to the house we had rented for the week it was close to 2am and we had to get up at 6 to get back to the show.  The hot water heater at the house broke so for the whole week we had to take cold showers. As far as riding goes, we were warming up for a 2'6" jumper round when another girl crashed her horse into a jump in warm up ring right in front of me. They had to take her away by ambulance.  It freaked me out and I locked up and couldn't seem to go faster than a crawl.  We ended up scratching our jumper rounds and switched to the 2' hunters, but I was still freaked and we still barely made it around. It was not a fun week.

19. Favorite horse show venue
My all time favorite is the Del Mar Fairgrounds in San Diego.  I only showed there once in high school but it was awesome.  The fairgrounds is also home to the Del Mar Racetrack, and they use the backstretch of the track as the warm up rings. Some of the OTTBs have a hard time with that, but it was fun.  My trainer let me do my first jumper class there, and they held the jumpers in the giant Del Mar Arena where they hold $100,000 GPs.  It was late at night, and we were under the lights, and it seemed like a fairytale.
The cover was added after I rode there
20. Show day routine
Usually I try to have the trailer packed the night before, if I can.  I'll wake up too early, get dressed then head out to the barn to hook up the trailer.  Grab anything I didn't load already then load the pony and go. 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Five Day Challenge -Day 3

There's still a ton of snow on the ground and it hasn't gotten above freezing since Thursday so there's not much to report with the horses.  They've been getting some turn out time in the indoor, but it's too cold to do much more than that.  I did let Phoenix free in the barn aisle with all the door closed Sunday to help "clean up" the loose hay.

Perks of being a good old boy

11. Critique your horses conformation
The most recent confo type pic of have of him.  He's also muscled up some from when this was taken.
Buddy is very long backed for a horse his height.  He's slightly downhill, but seeing as he was bred to be a cow horse that's not necessarily a bad thing.  Cow horses need to be able to get down low to move the cows.  He's solidly built, and has great feet.  The pic makes him look a little camped out behind, but it's just the way he's standing.

12. My horses favorite exercise
Eating!!  For as lazy as Buddy can be, he loves to jump.  Anything and everything.  He's never refused with me and get excited when he knows he jumping, especially out on the grass or XC.
13. Favorite spa day products
I really don't use a lot of products on the ponies.  Usually whatever horse shampoo is on sale at the tack store.  I do like the EQyss brand of products, especially the marigold spray.
14. 3 best things about your horse
1) He's a been there, done that machine.  When I first got him I had lost a lot of confidence, especially over fences and no matter what I did before the fence he would still jump it.  You point him at the fence and he'll go over it.
2) You can do whatever to him.  He loves getting clipped, both body clipped and his ears done.  He'll lean into the clipper and starts pawing when you stop.  He also loves getting hosed off, except for his face.  In the summer when he hears the water tanks getting filled he'll come up and paw to be hosed off.
3) I trust him under saddle more than any other horse.  There's been times when he's had weeks off and I can hop on bareback and he's fine.  I've ridden him bareback with a halter and he'll just go around. I know that when he's pissed, he won't buck or bolt, he'll stop and won't move.
15. Favorite picture of my horse
This is my favorite shot of both of us. 
I think this is my favorite action shot.  You can't tell, but we were jumping on a pretty decent angle and landed with a tight left rollback.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Five Day Challenge - Day 2

6. Favorite equestrian book/movie
Book is without a doubt Snowman.  I cried so much when reading it.  My other favorite horse book that I've reread many times is In & Out by Barbara Moss. It's a fictional tale of FEI level jumpers and the A circuit.  It's got some intense NC-17 rated scenes in it, so not for the unprepared. It was supposed to be the first in a series but the author never put out any other books.

7. Most common riding misconception
That it's a hobby.  To me, riding is a lifestyle.  It is something I will do for the rest of my life.  I've had people make comments that it's so cute that I ride and am able to maintain my childhood hobby.   My horses are my children, not some set of golf clubs or tennis racket to be taken out whenever I feel like playing. "Riding a horse is not a gentle hobby, to be picked up and laid down like a game of solitaire. It is a grand passion. It seizes a person whole and once it has done so, he/she will have to accept that his life will be radically changed.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson

8. 2 riding strengths and 1 weakness
I tend to underestimate my riding ability, thinking I'm not as good as I really am.  Which is both a strength and a weakness.  I won't ever over face myself or my horse, but at the same time I tend to not want to push what we're capable of unless I'm in a lesson.  I think another strength of mine is my leg.  I've got super strong thighs and calves, thanks to both of my boys.  My trainer used to call Phoenix the thigh master as it takes of lot of thigh to half halt him, and to get nice lateral work out of him.  Buddy, being super lazy and disliking spurs, requires a strong lower leg to get him motivated.  He's super wide, and will stretch your legs.  Riding him bareback has really helped keep my leg quiet and grippy.

9. Least favorite thing about riding horses
As with everything else, $$$$$.  I also wish being able to show while having a full time job was easier.  It's fine to have one or two day schooling shows on the weekend and work, but trying to take five days off to go to an A show (if/when I have the $$) is hard. And trying to explain it to my boss is even harder.

10. What does my horse eat
Phoenix- Grass hay, 4quarts Strategy, turmeric, celery seed, BL solution, nettle. Both am and pm
Buddy-Grass hay, alfalfa, 4 quarts Strategy, half cup Amplify, turmeric, nettle.  Both am and pm
McKenna-Grass hay, 4 quarts alfalfa pellets, 2 quarts Strategy, 1 cup Amplify, skullcap, MagRestore, both am and pm.
This is the their winter ration, in the summer when they're on 24/7 turnout they get less of everything and don't get fed hay for the first month or so when there's enough grass in the pasture.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Five Day Challenge - Day 1

Because this is the current temp:

And the front of my house looks like this:

I am stuck inside.  We got between 6-9 inches of snow yesterday, and because I'm considered essential staff at the university where I work I had to go in.  It normally takes me 45mins to get to work, but yesterday it took over an hour and a half.  By the time I left work driving conditions had gotten so bad that the state police had required chains for the main freeway between work and home.  I spent over an hour at the local tire place trying to find chains for my car, which they didn't have because the tires on my Scion (which are the original tires from Scion/Toyota) are a very odd size.  I then had to take the two lane highway home, which normally adds another 30mins.  It took me almost 3hrs to get home, and it's a total of 48 miles. I didn't make it to the barn yesterday, but I'm hoping to make out today. So onto the Five Day Challenge!!

1. Most influential person in your riding
My parents!  Without them there is no way I could afford my ponies.  They have gone above and beyond in helping me financially when the easy thing would have been to tell me to sell one of the horses. Thank you thank you thank you!!

2. Piece of tack you would splurge on
Everyone is saying custom saddles, and yes I would do that too.  But what I would really love is considered tack.  I would love a big one ton dually pickup like my barn owner's.  I've been lucky enough to use it to haul and I love it!  It's so smooth and handles like a dream.  Of course I'd love a big 4 horse gooseneck trailer to go with it.
Come to mama!
3. Top 5 riding playlist
We usually have a radio playing the local country station in the barn.  And sometime my barn owner's husband will practice playing guitar in their apartment and you can hear it in the barn.  I usually don't listen to music while riding other than that.

4. Most important part of your barn
Its my second home. I'm pretty sure I spend an equal amount of time there as I do at home.  My barn owners have become family and even talk about when they retire from the barn that it will become mine. I've basically become the assistant barn manager, and when the BO's are gone I'm in charge (which is still somewhat intimidating and stressful!). Our barn isn't the fanciest, and we don't have winter turn out, but our summer pastures and field riding are awesome!!  The footing in our outdoor is some of the best around; it can pour rain one day and be rideable the next.

5. 3 winter riding goals
With Buddy our main goal is to get back in flow with each other since I haven't really been riding him for the past 6 weeks.  I want us to be doing 2'9"-3' and see how much of physical toll it takes on him.  With McKenna our winter goals are to be cantering more consistently and I want to start her over some small fences by spring.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Plan

For the short term, the plan with Buddy is to work him up to 3ft during Dec/Jan.  His lease girls are gone starting next week, and then he'll only have one half lease from January-March.  After that things get a bit hazy, as I'm assuming his other half lease will want to lease again when she comes back from studying abroad.  If not then our time line gets moved up.

For Christmas my dad is paying for me to ride in a John Turner clinic at the end of January.  I sent in my registration form this week, and while I really, really wanted to check the box on the 2'9"-3' section I signed up for the 2'6".  It's a two day clinic and don't know if Bud will be ready for two days of 2hr rides at that height by then.  Which leads to the long term plans....

I want to move up to the 3' jumpers this year with him. But he's going to be 18, and while he doesn't have any soundness/joint problems I don't want to break him.  I have McKenna, who in theory should be more than able to do the 3' (not this coming show season, but 2015?).  Long term I can not afford 3 ponies and Phoenix is my forever horse.  So my long term plan for Bud is to put him up for sale sometime in the spring/summer.  I think he'd be an awesome first horse, for either a little kid or an ammy looking to do the 2'-2'3".  No one ever believes he's 17 and he's got years left in him at the lower heights if he's taken care of.  It will kill me to see him leave so I'm going to be super picky about where he goes and a good home is much more important to me than his price. But that's a bridge we'll cross when we get there.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


Both Buddy and McKenna were out of whack and needed adjustments when the chiropractor came yesterday. We started with Bud and the first thing she said was how good his top line is looking.  I had been thinking he was a bit thin, you can see a hint of ribs, but she said he looked fantastic. We talked as she worked on him about how he's been and what my plans for him are (which will be another post soon). He was dropped left in the hip and pretty out in his poll, but a few days of easy walk trot and he'll be better than ever. 

Tina had me take McKenna out and lunge her before working on her so she could see her move. Said she's pretty balanced and put together well. I told her about the bracing in the canter and she said that McKenna's neck was out, but that's a typical OTTB thing.

McKenna was very well behaved for her adjustment and took it like a champ. Tina kept saying how nice she was, and that she's got a good brain. She know my BO, and that our barn has a way of finding nice horses cheap/free, and complimented us on finding McKenna. McKenna will also get a few days of light work, then we'll start lunging in Vienna reins, something that Tina suggested. 

Monday, December 2, 2013

Proving Me Wrong

For the past couple of weeks McKenna and I have had problems cantering.  She either gets hoppy in the trot and tries to canter when I don't want her to, or won't go when I ask.  When I can get her into it, especially to the left, she braces against my inside aids and twists her head to the outside.

Yesterday our ride was one of our worst yet.  I had lunged her for a while, then set out some trot poles.  When I got on she was distracted and antsy.  We started with some walk trot transitions and every time I would ask for the trot she'd flip her head up and jump forward.  So we did many, many transitions.  Once she would go forward nicely we went back to the 10 posting 10 sitting exercise we did in our last lesson. When I went to sit, she'd get hoppy and try to jump into the canter.  I also did lots of circles and changes of direction to keep her guessing but she never really settled.

We took a walk break and as we came around a corner she took off across the diagonal bucking.  She's given me some mini bucks before, but this was way different.  I thought I was coming off, but managed to yank her head up and get her stopped.  I immediately asked her to back and I could tell that she knew she was in trouble.  I walked her forward until she kind of relaxed then got off and lunged her.  She ran, and bucked, and ran some more.  Once she finally was dragging her head I got back on her.  We finished with more trot transitions and some sitting trot.

I sent a somewhat desperate text to my trainer last night asking for a lesson this week as well as making a chiropractic appointment for both McKenna and Buddy for Tuesday.   I want to make sure that she's not acting out because she's in pain.

Today when I rode, after a lot of lunging, I had no expectations.  There was a horse being lunged at one end of the ring and another being ridden.  A lot of activity for the baby horse to deal with, but I figured we would just do some walk trot and keep it low key.  McKenna was a rock star. Almost no fussing in our sitting trot, coming on the bit, bending well, and best of all, not caring about the other horses.  Once the one horse was done lunging I even braved the canter.  She picked it up well, and was almost balanced.  She still wants to brace against me but not nearly as bad as before.  We were even able to canter while the other horse being ridden was cantering!  I think my new plan for our rides is to not have any expectations and assume the worst.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Black Friday

I am not a die hard shopper, unless it comes to all things horsey.  I wasn't planning on buying much today besides grain and supplements for the ponies.  But this morning I saw that JenJ was selling some tack so I took a look.  I'm taking her 76 fly sheet for McKenna.  I've noticed in our times working the outdoor arena that McKenna really doesn't like bugs flying around her.  She'll shake her head and focuses more on being annoyed than on me. I was thinking that she'll probably be a bit of a diva about bugs in the summer so I was planning on getting her a fly sheet, fly mask, and probably the ear nets for when we ride.  I'm so happy to get a sheet from a fellow blogger and for only $10!

My second unplanned black Friday deal was from SmartPak.  I was looking at fly masks and ear nets and decided to check out their sales, just in case.  They had their Bradley breeches on sale for $27, so I snagged a pair in tan.  I have a pair already in the charcoal and I think they're pretty decent, if a little long for my short legs.

All the ponies got yesterday off, and today I turned them all out in our gravel paddocks for a bit.  I lunged McKenna in the side reins again, and she was good. I shortened the side reins and other than a few head tosses of annoyance she seemed ok with it.  She still has a way to go, but looks so cute when she's round!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Weekend Warrior

Sunday was a busy, busy day. I started by lunging McKenna in the scary part of the outdoor. Normally we don't lunge at that end since the footing is a bit deep but I figured she needed to get over whatever was scary.
There's scary things in the bushes mom, I swear!

She ran and ran, throwing in some good bucks and tried to drag me a time or two. I just let her go till she was tired, switching directions every few minutes. She got very sweaty and was hot so I threw a cooler on her and walked her out. We were able to walk around scary end multiply times with no bad behavior.

My original plan for Sunday was to do a trace clip on Phoenix but since McKenna had gotten so sweaty I decided to add to her clip. I started with Phoenix and he was great. I switched to new blades and it hardly took me any time to do a trace.
Old man's looking a bit pudgy

I pulled McKenna back out and started on extending her clip. She was pretty good, had one little attempted kick the first time I tried to clip her belly. She got a smack and a "Knock it off!" and didn't try again. 
Stage 2 clipping

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Expect the Unexpected

It's been cold, cold, cold but sunny for the past few days so on Friday when I finally had time to ride McKenna I had to take advantage.  We lunged in the indoor then tacked up with the western saddle and headed outside.  She was pretty good walking around the upper half of the outdoor, a little up, but I figured it had been 5 days since she'd been ridden so it was expected.  When I decided to open up our circles and move towards the lower half of the arena all hell brook loose.  Apparently there is something incredibly scary in the bushes along the fence and we had some fun rearing/spinning/jumping backwards moments.  I got her calmed down and moved back to the other half when she started it again. 

I decided to not take any chances and went back inside and lunged again.  She really didn't run around a lot so I got back on.  She was still up, but settled into trot work nicely.  Unfortunately right when I wanted to start some canter work a bunch of people showed up, making a ton of noise, and that fried baby's brain.  She forgot how to canter to the left and was hoppy and cranky going right.  We worked through it but it was definitely not our best work.

Saturday I got to the barn right before a lesson was going to start and asked if it was ok if I took McKenna out during their ride.  I was hoping having another horse show her the outdoor wasn't scary would calm her down.  Nope, not even close.  Back to the rearing/spinning fun. I got off of her and ended up just hand walking her around the scary half of the arena during the whole lesson. Luckily the lesson horse, Tia, didn't care at all and barely glanced at McKenna freaking out.

I mentioned to Jen during the lesson that I was planning on jumping Buddy that day, the first time I've jumped him in a month and she asked if I wanted a lesson.  So I hurriedly put McKenna away and got Buddy ready.  I had put Bud's BoT sheet on when I had gotten to the barn and I think that helped as he was pretty loose and forward during our flat work. Usually when it's in the 30-40s he's slow and cranky to get going. 

We worked on getting Bud in front of my leg, while still packaging him and not letting him get fast and flat.  We did a line that was a forward three or a waiting four going back and forth between the two strides. He wanted the three and every time we had to wait he would fling his head and try to snatch the reins from me.  I think his leasers have let him get away with a lot, so we had a little discussion about it.  He gave in, but I could feel that he was pissed.

We then did a twisty, turny jumper course with some tight rollbacks and angled fences.  Again the point was to having him moving forward but packaged.  He was awesome and listening really well.  We were able to do all the inside turns and fit through a couple tight holes between fences.  He even got every lead over the fence or gave me a clean lead change.  I was so happy when we were done!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Nothing Much

I haven't ridden or done much of anything with the horses since Sunday. I've been working more, covering for sick/injured coworkers and have just been too exhausted to work up any enthusiasm for riding. Today I asked my boss if it was ok if I left at my normal time so I could get some sleep/pony time/time with my dad who is up here for a night for work from San Diego.  I ran off to the barn and got a quick western hack in on Buddy.  It's amazing what just a 20min ride can do! I feel so much better!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Change of Plans

Saturday morning I get a call from my friend a few hours before we were to meet to do the trail course saying she couldn't find a trailer and isn't coming. My first thought was why do you agree to go school someplace 2hrs away with two days notice without arranging trailering? I thought she had her own trailer, but I guess she had been borrowing/renting one and can't use it anymore. I was supremely ticked, and considered just taking Buddy and going by myself but couldn't work up the enthusiasm.

So instead of going somewhere new for the first time, McKenna got a trace clip. She was surprising good, didn't care at all when I turned on the big clippers. She didn't like them up along her neck so I switched to my small ones. I only did her neck and chest for now, I might do more later depending on how much she sweats. 

Her head looks huge, but I promise it's actually pretty petite.


I also decided to free jump her. If there's a possibility that she could be my next show horse I want to know what she looks like over fences and how high she could go. If her form o/f was horrible, the. I'd sell her as a dressage prospect. Her first few tries over a crossrail and small vertical were meh, but once I put the jump up she was great.  Apologies for blurry phone video.
She was having so much fun as well, she kept going and jumping until I told her to stop. I think I'll try to free jump her a bit more with grids to see what she does. 

Thursday, November 14, 2013


Today was full of challenges for Miss McKenna, along with the promise of future challenges.  I only managed to turn her out in the arena for about 3 minutes before a few people wanted to ride since it was raining.  She seemed tired from our lesson last night, so I figured I'd just get on and see what happened.

We started our ride by walking around next to my friend and her mare who has been rehabbing for 8 months from a stifle injury.  After a couple minutes we came around a corner and the other mare lost her marbles.  She jumped straight up and took off bucking and farting. McKenna lifter her head and pricked her ears at Bess, but that was it.  No freaking out, no nothing. I was so proud of her!  Through out the ride Bess kept having moments but it never phased McKenna.  Good baby!!

Our challenge tonight was the right lead canter.  McKenna didn't want to pick it up when I asked but kept trying to jump into it when I didn't ask.  She started having a bit of a meltdown as we were trotting around, so we switched to going left and went till she calmed down.  Once she was back with me mentally we switched directions again and worked on lateral work at the walk till she settled down again then we picked up the trot.  She kept twisting her head and trying to hop into the canter but once she gave me two nice circles in a row we called it quits. No point in pushing the baby any more than I already did.

 I made plans tonight to take McKenna down to a mountain trail course with my friend on Saturday.  The course is at a local show ground (they have an A rated H/J show there every year), they turn their main arena into a mini mountain with trees, logs, water, hills, and all sorts of things.  They have a big mountain trail show every fall (my barn owners had one of their horses show in it last week winning reserve in her division) and leave the course up for about a month for people to haul in and practice on. I took Buddy a couple years ago to school and had a blast.  My plan with McKenna is to hand walk her around everything and if she's good to ride in the western saddle.  I have no grand plans for anything, I just hope she's calm and able to relax.

Buddy and I goving over a giant bridge
Other sie of the bridge.  That's a water fall going in the background.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Nothing Like Jumping Right Back Into It

Why are vacations so short?  Four days in the sun relaxing, eating, and drinking is not enough! 
All you can drink margaritas are surprisingly strong, like half tequila and half sweet and sour. 

After 5 days off, McKenna and I had our first lesson with Jen tonight.  I lunged her last night, and she ran and ran making me somewhat nervous for tonight.  Tonight I turned her out and let her run herself around.  Then we went on the line with side reins for another 10 minutes before the lesson. Poor pony was tired.

We started by trotting a circle at each end then crossing the diagonal line and repeating. I tend to loose connection in my outside rein so we focused on having a good feel on both reins and pushing her into my outside rein.  Jen had me exaggerate turning my body to the inside to get McKenna to follow me and bend her body.  We got some really nice trot and Jen kept commenting how cute she looked.

Every time we changed direction, when I sat to change my diagonal, McKenna would pause and hesitate.  I've tried some sitting trot with her in the past, and she's never sure what to do.  Tonight Jen had me do 10 steps posting and 10 steps sitting.  At first McKenna would stiffen up and suck back during the sitting trot, but after a few minutes she figured it out and had the same soft trot if I was posting or sitting.  Our homework is to continue that and start adding in 10 steps of two point.

In our canter work we went back to exaggerating turning my body and scooping her up with my inside leg and rein.  We kept her on a circle, letting her figure out the bend.  She wasn't too sure what to do with the added inside leg at first but started to get it towards the end.  Surprisingly she's gotten a lot better to the right.  Our problem going right was that she wanted to over bend and drift out on one side of the circle.  I had to relax my inside leg a bit to catch her with my outside leg.  She got a little worked up, and had a mini buck about it, but settled down and got over it.   We quit with that, since it was obvious we were close to baby's mental limit. 

I am so happy that even with time off McKenna can come back and work really well.  I'm hoping to have another lesson in two week and maybe, if we work on our homework, we can start doing some trot and canter poles. 

Tired baby is tired

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Better and Better

Miss McKenna keeps getting better and better.  On Monday we had a great ride, able to canter a few circles each direction without bucking and she felt fairly well balanced.  I was even able to sit and put leg on when she wanted to break to the trot and she was great about it.  I've been riding her western, but decided to put her back in the English saddle on Tuesday.  I tried my standing martingale on her, but even adjusted all the way it's still too big for her.  One of the lesson horses has a cob sized martingale that I'm going to try on her.

I wasn't able to turn her out before I rode, and was only able to lunge her on the line.  She tends to be better if I can let her run around vs just lunging her. It was raining and everyone wanted to use the indoor so it was a bit busy. When we went to ride there were two other horses in the ring, the most we've ridden with. McKenna started out ok, but got a little nervous and uppity when we tried to trot. We went to the middle of the ring and parked ourselves while the others rode. When they took a break we went back out and managed to have a decent trot.  At one point one of the other horses passed us, with plenty of room to spare, and McKenna pinned her ears flat back and snaked her head with teeth bared at him.  She's never done anything like that before, and hopefully wont again!

Baby was tired afterwards.
Wednesday I was able to let her run and put her back in the jump saddle.  Again, we rode with the same two horses as the night before but she was much calmer and didn't seem to care about Cheyenne being close to her. I put her back in the running martingale and I think, for now, I like it better.  She was good and relaxed so I asked for a canter.  She picked it right up and was balanced enough for our first time cantering outside of a circle and down the long side.  We didn't do too much more and I got a phone call I had to take, but she was content to walk around for 20 minutes while I talked.  She's now getting a few days off while I escape to San Diego and Mexico for a weekend with my parents and friends.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

One Down, Two to Go

I spent most of Saturday body clipping Buddy. He's been getting sweaty during his lease rides, and I worry somewhat about him getting put back wet or warm. Bus's odd in that he loves getting clipped so it was an easy decision to make. 

I've always wanted to clip a design onto a horse, but lack any artistic talent. I decided this year I would try it and if it didn't work I could always clip it off. I used a neon dry erase marker and sketched a "B" on his hip. I had to use my little clippers to get inside the B and to clean up the edges so it looks a little funky. Oh well it'll grow out. 

I usually body clip Phoenix every year but I think I'm just going to do a trace clip on him. Since he's older and not working as hard he doesn't need to be totally naked. Anna wants me to try and clip a heart on his butt so we'll see how that goes. McKenna gets pretty sweaty so I'm planning on just doing a trace clip with her too. I might use the little clippers, she's still nervous of them and I think the big clippers will freak her out. 

Friday, November 1, 2013

Leaps and Bounds

Last Saturday I started McKenna on MagRestore, a magnesium supplement that she was on with her old owner.  Magnesium deficient horses tend to be hot, unfocused, nervous, and can't stop moving.  Basically all typical OTTB traits.  When McKenna came to us, she was so calm and relaxed we thought she was drugged.  Since then she's gotten hotter and more ADD when being worked.  They told us that she was on this supplement, but I wanted to see how she was off it.  While she's not "bad", I do think the MagRestore really helped quiet her down.  My barn owner wanted to try it on a couple of her horses so we went in together and bought a big tub of it.

Right now they are on a loading dose, but I can see that McKenna's starting to respond to it.  She doesn't need as much lunging before we work as she did a week ago.  She still tends to be a bit ADD, and isn't as relaxed as she was the first day, but I can see a difference.  Hopefully she'll continue to get better.

And as far as working her, she's been great.  I lunged her in my barn owner's lunging draw reins for the first time this week.  The lunging draw reins are tighter and work them a bit more than the side reins so I was a little nervous at to how she'd react.  She didn't care at all and seemed to figure out what was expected of her pretty quick.  We'll start working them into the weekly routine from here on out.

A bunch of poles had been set up in the outdoor arena so after our work in the lunging draw reins I took her outside and lunged over poles.  A circle of death was set up and we started with that.  Again, McKenna didn't care and while she got a little rushed and wasn't totally straight or in the center of the poles she went around really well.  We then moved on to a set of three poles and she rocked it.  Went over then like she does it every day.  My friend convinced me to set up a little vertical and see how she did, so I did.  She obviously isn't sure what to do with her legs, and got a little nervous and rushy after the jump, but relaxed after a few tries.
I promise she has a head


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Bad, Busy Blogger

The past week or so has gotten away with me. First I was battling a cold/sinus infection which has decided to come back, then my dad came up from San Diego, and finally we had a show last Sunday.   

Last week McKenna came into heat, and was pretty amped up for a few days. She also wanted nothing to do with her hay for two days, which had me worried, but she was pooping and peeing normally. We did lots of lunging, and I decided that I'm going to have to at least trace clip her this winter. She doesn't have that thick of a winter coat, but she sweats a lot and takes a while to cool down. 

Last Friday we had a great ride in the outdoor. She was a little more animated in the canter, but was paying attention and starting to soften. 

Sunday we took a couple of the lesson girls out to a small schooling show. Since there was going to be an empty spot in the trailer I decided to take Buddy even though we haven't done a whole lot lately. 

All last week the weather was sunny, if a bit cool. So of course show day it's raining and cold! At one point I had breeches, jeans, tank top, sweater, helmet, gloves, and a snow jacket on and was still cold. 

The girls did great, and Anna and Phoenix did awesome! She did walk trot and trot a pole, coming home with a second and two thirds. Phoenix was mister reliable and was half asleep for the whole thing. 

Buddy and I did ok, a second, third, and fourth, but only because everyone else had worse problems than we did. To me, it was obvious that we hadn't put the time or effort into prepping for the show. We missed a few lead changes, and I was picking at him too much, but he gamely went around. 
        The boys bonding at the trailer

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Sunshine Award

Thanks to She Moved to Texas for the Sunshine Award!! The Sunshine Award is for people who “positively and creatively inspire others in the blogosphere.” The nominee must do the following: thank the person who nominated her, nominate ten bloggers of her own, answer the ten questions given to her, and post them and the Sunshine Award button to her blog.

The Questions: 
  1. Mares or Geldings? Usually geldings.  The only mare I've ever worked a lot with is Zoe, and while I like to ride her, on the ground she leaves something to be desired.  I've told McKenna that she's not allowed to be a "mareish" mare, so we'll see how that goes!
  2. English or Western? English. I do like Western, especially since Buddy's been able to teach me how to play with cows, but I'll always be a hunter/jumper at heart. 
  3. Do you prefer “younger” or “older” horses? Historically I've done better with older horses.  The horse I leased in high school was 18, and I bought Buddy when he was 15 and he's peaking at 17 right now.  McKenna's the youngest horse I've had or worked with.
  4. Have you trained a horse from ground zero? Not from completely green. When I got Phoenix he hadn't been ridden much in 4 years, and while he had training on him, we had to start from almost scratch.  Zoe was the first horse I worked with that had never jumped before, but she was a broke western horse. 
  5. Do you prefer riding or groundwork? Riding. I do like groundwork and lunging.  I'm also one of those people who can feel a horses' lameness better in the saddle than see it on the ground.  
  6. Do you board your horse or keep it at home? Board.  One day I'd love to have my own place.
  7. Do you do all natural things or just commercial stuff?(in sense of products) Whatever works. The boys are on herbal supplements that I think work just as well as more traditional supplements.
  8. All tacked up or bareback? Depends on the horse.  Phoenix-saddle, Buddy-bareback.
  9. Equestrian role model? Beezie.  She always seems so classy and professional.
  10. What’s your one, main goal, while being in the horses world? I really want to move up to the 3' classes.  I'd love to show more in the rated shows, but that takes $$$. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

We Have a Canter

I finally got brave enough to canter McKenna yesterday. On the lunge line she tends to be a bit expressive in the canter, and it's also where she gets the most nervous so I've been hesitant to canter under saddle. I had worked her for  three days in a row, and when I lunged before my ride she was perfect. 

She was pretty good for our trot work and didn't feel too up, so after a little walk break I asked for the canter. We started left since that's her better direction, and while the transition wasn't pretty she picked it up well. She felt really unbalanced at first but figured herself out without too much input from me. She has a nice rocking horse canter and it's going to awesome when she's fit and balanced.  

We stayed in a circle doing a couple laps before I asked her for the walk. I was afraid she'd get hot and uppity after the canter but she walked away perfectly fine. We did some lateral work at the walk before I asked again. The second canter was a bit more forward, and she threw in a tiny buck, but I was able to sit it.

Again I did more walking lateral work before we attempted to canter to the right. The upward transition was pretty ugly, and she was only able to canter half a circle before falling apart going right. We'll just have to work more at it both under saddle and on the line. 

My farrier should be out tomorrow to take a look at her feet for the first time. I think she's got pretty decent feet so it will be interesting to see what he says. 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

One Last Hurrah

I sent my entry in for a little schooling show next Sunday.  We're taking a couple of the little lesson girls, including Anna and Phoenix, and since there was an empty spot in the trailer and it's a cheap show I decided to take Buddy.  We're going to just do a few 2'6" classes, and while I don't feel totally prepared, I think we can pull it off. 

I jumped him on Friday and other than being a bit flat he was great.  He just wanted to get long and strung out and ended up pulling a couple rails.  We were making the strides in the lines, but I decided that waiting and adding would set him up better.  Once I got him listening and waiting his jump felt much better and we weren't landing like a freight train.  This week will probably be out last full training week together as I've decided to part lease him to Amy and another college girl this term.  Amy's going to be studying abroad next term, and obviously won't be leasing, so having the second girl lease will be great financially.  It's basically the month of November that they will both ride and I figure I can give him up for a month.

McKenna's been a bit more wild child this week.  Didn't help that with my cold and trying to catch up at work she got two days off in a row followed by a couple quick lunges. I did manage to ride her both yesterday and today.  I figured that I'd rather be safe than sorry so I put the western saddle on her.  The trainer she was with was mainly a reining trainer so I know that she's been ridden western.  She was pretty good, but is still ADD.  She is harder to steer going right, and tends to be spookier and more up with her front end as well.  Both days we did a lot of walk lateral work in between our trot work.   

Friday, October 18, 2013

HP Blog Hop: Favorite Exercises

I have different favorite exercises to school for each of the boys, since they are so different in their way of going. Phoenix used to be your typical TB; quick, sensative, nervous while Buddy is lazy and slow. 

For Phoenix I love schooling lateral work, with lots of changes of direction and bend.  Leg yields, figure 8s, and circles used to be our best friends.  For a while I couldn't take him down the long side (especially in the canter) without it feeling like he was going to take off. He also used to be pretty heavy on my right leg and rein, so we did a lot to get him to pick up his shoulder and move off of my right aids.  Once he was more schooled, whenever he would get worked up and felt hot, a few minutes of leg yielding and figure 8s would calm him back down.  It was pressing a reset button.  I've been working with Anna on this, and she's just starting to figure it out.

For Buddy, I really like an exercise my old trainer from high school had us do.  She called it the momentum pattern and its basically a hunter course without jumps.  You start by trotting across the diagonal the pick up the canter and go down the long side.  Come back to the trot along the short wall and trot the diagonal.  Pick up the canter again and repete.  It helps build impulsion and momentum in both the trot and canter, plus it's a good exercise for working on transitions. It really seems to help build a nice flow and rhythm for us.

My last favorite exercise is more for me than the horses.  Its also from my old trainer.  Instead of posting up-down, you post up-up-down.  It works your balance as well as strengthening your two point muscles.  I've been doing this when I ride Bud for the two point challenge.  Today we hit 4:09!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

One, Two Punch

Trying to work two horses after work before the daylight's gone is tough!  The past week it's felt like I've been on the go non-stop, at least till yesterday.  I've been batteling a cold that's been going around both the barn and work but I finaly succumbed. Headache, sore throat, sinus pressure...all the fun stuff. 

Following our breakthrough with the martingale, McKenna got a day off while I rode Bud. A couple other girls were out so we set fences and had a pretty decent jump school. Buddy's still out of shape, but was forward and willing! We didn't do too much but I was happy with him. 

Saturday was the first day I started feeling pretty sick so McKenna got lunged in the side reins and Bud got the day off. 

Sunday was evaluation rides for new college team members who ride at our barn. Buddy was being used, and since I felt a little better I got in McKenna. She was pretty good inside so we ventured outside. Fences were being set, and she was fine with that till Jen moved a standard right when we walked past. Cue baby freak out. She spun around then stopped and started shaking. We walked around a bit more but I could feel her still shaking so I got off and we stood in the center of the ring till they were done setting jumps. 

Monday Amy rode Bud and I lunged McKenna. She's fine foing left, but has trouble in the right lead canter. She'll jump around and tends to buck a bit. We will defienetly not be cantering under saddle for a while! 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Baby Steps

McKenna and I had our best ride so far tonight.  I put a running martingale on and lunged her in it first so she could figure it out.  She's obviously been in one before, she didn't seem to care at all about it.  After about 10mins on the lunge I stopped and hopped on.

She's gotten so much better about standing still at the mounting block.  No more moving or wiggling around.  We walked around for a bit, working on bending and softening.  She'll drop her head and start to stretch down at the walk but it's not consistent yet.  She felt quiet and relaxed enough that I could work on my two point.  We did two, two minute sets at the walk.

The martingale helped tremendously in the trot.  No more head flipping or lightening of her front end.  The upwards transitions were pretty decent and we were able to maintain an almost normal pace and rhythm.  She does try to stop/slow down passing the gate, but we trotted twice around each direction without stopping, the longest we've gone yet!  She felt much more consistent in my hand and not nearly as reactive to my leg. 

We did a few laps at the trot then another few at the walk and repeated.  She got a little upset when my barn owners started feeding dinner so once she quieted down and walked nicely we quit.  I am so happy with how much better she was today.  I know the martingale helped, and that it's not a permanent fix, but hopefully we'll be making a lot more progress now.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Baby Brain

While McKenna's one if the quietest 5yr olds I've seen, she is defienetly a baby. Every new thing she sees has to go in her mouth. When she walks up to something or someone, she'll nibble and lick. She doesn't bite, but I've decided to not hand feed her treats to discourage that behavior. 

She's remarkably  calm about new things on the ground. We walked around the ring while another horse was getting lunged and was being crazy. She barley batted an eye. We also rode during one of the little kid lessons and she was fine with other horses moving around her, no race horse flashbacks. 

We're still only walk trotting, and will be for a while. She's too inconsistent in the trot for me to feel ready to canter her. She's pretty well balanced right vs left, especially since she raced 20 times! I've been lunging her in very loose side reins and she'll be getting a martingale on soon since she likes to go around with her head in my lap. 
McKenna got to meet Phoenix in turn out. He followed her around like a love sick puppy. 

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Back to Buddy

Over the past few months I've felt like I've been neglecting Buddy.  First when he pulled his shoe and went lame there wasn't a lot I could do with him.  Once he got the shoe back on I was getting ready to show Tia and had to spend most of my time getting her ready.  Now with McKenna here I've been more focused on the new pony. 

Luckily Amy's back from summer break and wants to part lease Buddy again this fall.  She's been out a few times over the past two weeks and has been getting Buddy back into shape.  I told her that he's been out of work, but she didn't seem to mind taking it slow with him. 

I did manage to ride him twice this week, once just a flat hack inside and yesterday we jumped a bit in the outdoor.  I switched him back to the slow twist from the pelham since Amy's never ridden in a pelham and he seems much happier.  The two times I've ridden he's been soft in my hand and stretching down into the contact.  I think the pelham will be our big bit for when he's naughty and we'll stick with the slow twist for every day use.

I got my baseline for the Two Point Challenge on Buddy during our inside hack.  2:53, not great but it's a start.  I dont' know how much two pointing I'll be able to do on McKenna so hopefully the challenge will force me to ride Bud more to work on it!

McKenna has started to show her 5yr old OTTB self.  She's been a little ADD and high, but not necessarily bad.  She'll look at things and tends to focus more on what's going on around her rather than me. She hasn't spooked at anything, including the donkeys and the mechanical cow our barn owners use as a roping dummy. The old trainer had her on a magnesium supplement that they said helped her focus, so I'm going to order some of it and see.

Baby's first time in the outdoor arena

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Many Little Kisses

We didn't get McKenna's papers but was given her registered name and all other relevant info. She was born February 14, 2008...Valentine's Day! Her registered name is adorable and fitting, Many Little Kisses. This is one of the few registered names that I like. And since she has a cute little nose with a snip of white she'll be getting many little kisses.
I had our first ride on her last night. I took her out right when dinner was being fed so she was a bit wiggly in the cross ties. She also is a little mouthy and turned her head to nibble on my shirt when I picked her front feet. 

She didn't want to stand still for me to get on, and we had a little discussion about it. She eventually stopped moving and I was able to get on. She felt a little revved up, but after a few minutes of easy walk she started to relax. There was a lot going on as we rode (feeding, stall cleaning, people riding outside) and she was looking and paying attention to it but never spooked or did anything naughty. 

I asked for the trot and we went about 3 steps before she quit. Tried again and same thing. Lazy baby!! After some leg thumping I was able to keep her going. She's a little inconsistent in her trot but started to relax and give to the bit. When she really gets the concept she's going to be so nice! We didn't do too much but Anna managed to take a couple pics. 

Monday, September 30, 2013

She's Here!

McKenna got dropped off around 1 this afternoon and settled right in.  I was at work, but Connie said she came off the trailer cool and calm and relaxed right into her stall.  When I got there we put her in the arena and she just walked her around. I had to chase her around with the whip to trot and canter and even then she was totally relaxed.  She's got a floaty trot and I think once she relaxes and learns to use her body she's going to be a nice mover.

I put her halter on and we stood talking to Connie and another boarder as she rode around.  McKenna looked at the other mare, then promptly fell asleep.  She's just so relaxed and calm. 

Our vet was out to check another horse so we had him do a general exam on McKenna.  She does have a big splint on her left front.  The vet said it was old, and in a place that won't bother her.  She didn't flinch at all when he was listening to her heart, or checking her legs. Our vet used to breed TBs and said she looks great and is put together well.  Hopefully tomorrow will be our first ride!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Reason #647 I Love My Barn Owner

My barn owner has a habit of collecting horses, especially hard luck horses.  Connie also has a great eye for horses so most of the horses they have are pretty nice.  Last week there was an ad placed on a Facebook group both her and I are part of.  It was for a 5yr old, 15.2 hand OTTB mare asking $1500.  She's green, but going w-t-c and lightly started over jumps.  Connie tagged me in the post, saying she'd be a good project for me.  I texted her backing saying only if I got free board.
Awkward angle, but she looks cute
Apparently Connie contacted the trainer the horse is with and they are willing to give her away.  The owner bought a big fancy warmblood and wants to find the mare a good home.  You can see where this is going, right?  Connie and I texted back and forth about it today and the mare is coming up on Monday.  The word is that the mare's mine as a project (Connie thinks her husband might freak if he found out she got another horse sight unseen), but Connie's not charging me board.  I'll pay for her feet, which currently have shoes but the trainer says she could go barefoot. Officially Connie will own her but I'll be training her and making the decisions.  Hopefully she can be used in the lesson program.  If not, she'll go up for sale.

Her name is McKenna, but I want to change it.  I don't know her registered name yet so maybe I can get something out of that.  I guess when she comes on Monday we'll see what she's like and go from there.