Saturday, February 23, 2013


Spring is coming to Oregon!  In the past week we've had a sun, rain, wind, and today we got hail.  It was sunny when I headed out to the barn, with some clouds and it had rained a little in the morning.  The footing in the outdoor was great, so I set a few fences for Buddy and I to work over. It's been a few weeks since we really jumped, so I put up just two single verticals.

He warmed up ok, but a little sticky in the canter transitions.  I didn't push it since I wanted him happy for our over fences works.  We started over a cavaletti trotting back and forth.  He felt good and seemed to wake up. I then went to the two verticals.  They were on the diagonals, and the left to right one was not working for us.  He kept drifting to the left, when he normally goes right.  We had a couple ugly fences till he figured out that he had to move off my left leg. 

We had only done maybe 6 jumps when it started raining, lightly at first then pretty hard.  I had a couple hard drops hit my face before I realized it was hailing.  We were headed to a jump when the sky opened up and hail the size of peas started coming down. We took the fence then high tailed it to the barn to wait in the barn aisle till it stopped.  Buddy really didn't seem to care about the hail, he only shook his head a couple times.  Even though we were only out in it for maybe a minute, we were both soaked.  Once the hail stopped we went back out, but the footing was soup so we called it a day.

You can see the hail in his mane.

The hail covered arena

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Riding the powder kegs

I got back home late Monday and ran right out to the barn after work on Tuesday.  Amy had ridden Buddy over the weekend, and said he was good so I hopped right on him.  He was pretty good, just a little cranky over his left bend in the canter.  We had a little discussion, but he ended well.

Anna had been gone over the weekend as well, and was still feeling a little nervous about riding Phoenix after a few days off, so I rode him for her yesterday.  We did a 20min lunge first; he was pretty good, no bucks, but cantered for most of it.  It wasn't raining, yet, so we went outside.  He was a little up and looky but held himself together well.  We went back and forth over a cavalletti working on stopping right away.  There were a couple times he felt like he could buck, so we took a break and worked on some leg yields and half pass at the walk and trot.  He calmed down, and I decided to quit with that.  Anna watched me, and I think we'll try to do that once a week so she can see him be good and also see what I do to redirect his energy.

I had time after Phoenix and still wanted to ride, so I got on one of Connie's horses, Wednesday, the mare that has bucked her lessees off.  I did ride her a couple weeks ago, western, to ride out her bucks, but rode in my jump saddle last night.  Wednesday is 14yr old unraced TB mare, and can be pretty hot.  She likes to leap/jump/buck into the canter and will buck/fling herself into the air on the off side of jumps.  She's deceptive, she's forward and gets wiggly when you put leg on her, but as long as your leg is there and not asking her to go forward she'll relax into to.  You also really need to sit down on her and make her work her hind end so she can't do silly things with it.
She's a very cute, well put together mare.  If I could/had the $$ I would do a breed lease on her.

We worked on transitions since that's where she tends to be naughty.  The first time into the canter I asked from a collected sitting trot and could tell she wasn't sure what I was asking for.  She likes to leap into the canter, but couldn't with me sitting down and with my leg on her holding her in a nice frame.  She finally got it, and we schooled that a few times till it was nice.  We ended trying to do some leg yields at the walk, but she really doesn't like moving off of leg pressure so they were pretty pathetic.  We'll get there!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Shop till you drop

I'm down in San Diego for a wedding shower this weekend and have had my trip planned for months. Imagine my joy and surprise when I saw that my favorite tack store ever, Mary's Tack and Feed, was having their yearly tent sale the same weekend! I told my parents that I had to go, even to browse.

Mary's is next to the Del Mar Showpark, a huge show and boarding/training center. For the sale, they make you park at Showpark and walk over as the Mary's parking lot is covered by a huge tent. It brought back some fun memories of showing at Showpark.

My plan was to just get new paddock boots as mine have been patched once and have holes in them. Their boots were 15%off, so I got a pair of Ariats that lace up the front and zip up the back. My mom and I then walked around for a bit while I drooled over all the pretty tack.

When I was just about ready to check out, Mom said she'd get me something for one of the boys, if I really needed it. Buddy is using an old pair of EquiFit boots that I got for Phoenix like 6yrs ago and they are starting to wear out. So we went to look at open fronts for him. The horse boots were also 15% off. After an agonizing 15mins comparing boots, I went with what I know and like, the EquiFit. Thanks Mom!!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Catching up to take off

I've been sick all week so there hasn't been much to report but last Sunday I hacked Phoenix during a lesson Jen was giving. He was surprisingly good and we jumped 2'3" for the first time in three years!

We started by trotting a 2' vertical and stopping on a straight line. We did it back and forth a few times till he felt calm then I let him canter off. From there Jen had us trot in and canter out of a 4 stride line. The first time was ok, I actually had to convince him to go down the line; he was expecting to stop like we had been doing. The second time thru he got excited so we stopped and backed in the line before trotting a circle then going to the second fence. Third time was better.

We took a walk break while the lesson girls jumped around a bit more. When they were done we trotted the line again and did it nicely so I decided to be brave and canter a single fence. Again he felt explosive on landing so we stopped and backed again before trying a second time. He was much better so I called it quits with that.

Anna got back on him on Monday and while she was nervous she did well. You could tell Phoenix knew and he packed her around very quietly.

I'm out of town this weekend and so is Anna so one of the other boarders is taking care of the boys. I felt bad about her having to make up their grain since its kinda complicated, so last night I made up a dozen grain baggies. By the end I had quiet the system going!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Feeling a little too good

Anna has a lesson on Thursday with Jen.  I was only able to watch the first ten minutes before I had to leave and from what I saw, Phoenix looked good but excitable.  They had just started trotting an x and he was offering lead changes on the off side which is something he hasn't really done since he started work again.  When I was showing him, his changes were almost automatic but he hasn't done that for Anna.

I had assumed it was because A) she wasn't doing much with him in terms of jumping and he didn't have to and B) his arthritis was hurting him and it was hard.  I have schooled changes on him during the few times I've ridden him and they've been good.  We have changed his herbs around, and he's on two strong anti-inflammatory/arthritis herbs, turmeric root and celery seed.  I've noticed that he's moving better and is off daily bute. We've also added dried nettle leaf which is a vitamin/mineral/all around good herb.  I've also started taking it myself to see if it helps my general health.  The caveat with the nettle is that it makes them feel a little too good sometimes and unfortunately Phoenix hit that point.

I had told Anna this, and suggested that she lunge him a bit if he had a couple days off.  Well she didn't ride him Tuesday or Wednesday and didn't lunge before her lesson on Thursday.  He bucked her off twice.  Naughty, naughty boy.  The second time she landed on her hip and ended up going to the ER. Nothing broken, just badly bruised. 

My initial reaction was to ride the snot out of him, but then thought that maybe he was sore and that's why he was bucking.  Checked him out Friday, and he seemed fine so I got on.  He was moving great and really worked up a head of steam at the canter.  We had to do lots of lateral work at the trot and walk to calm down, but we ended on a good note.  Today the massage therapist was out and I had him checked just in case.  She said he felt fine, just his normal level of soreness and suggested another herb that tends to work well on TBs, skullcap.  It tends to level them out and focus them a bit.  I'm going to order some and hope it works.  And on Jen's orders I'm going to ride Phoenix during lessons tomorrow and school him over fences under supervision.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

So far so good!

Amy came out today to try out Buddy.  She seemed to like him, and really enjoyed that he has lead changes as the past couple horses she's leased didn't.  They just did some flat work today and she'll ride him again on Friday.

Yesterday we did a flat hack with the draw reins.  I was expecting him to be cranky since I rode during dinner time, but he was really good.  He was soft and responsive and felt great.  We worked on transitions and had some nice upward ones.  A few times he actually picked up the canter on his own!  The only problem was going from a free walk with a long rein to a medium walk with connection.  He would either trot or canter off when I picked up contact or stop and not move.  To work on that, we did about 100 transitions.  We ended by walking around with contact till he relaxed into it.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Rolling in the Deep

Amy wasn't able to try Buddy out today, and since jumps were set, I decided to play around with Buddy. We had a nice, quiet, warm up and hopped over a crossrail a few times.  I had the jumps set at 2'6"-2'9", with 3 verticals and a Swedish oxer.  We did the verticals a few times each, not really putting them together just trying to maintain a good rhythm and have a nice flow to the fences.  We has good fences but I could only seem to find the short, deep distances.

How NOT to ask for the right lead over the fence.  No wonder Bud likes to drop his right shoulder.
Deep yet again.
Decent distance to the oxer

Once I worked up the nerve we tackled the oxer.  The first few times were pretty nice, but our last attempt found us almost out of pony power and way deep to the fence.  Bud drifted to the right trying to fit the last stride in and as we were jumping I was apologizing to him.  My friend who I had talked into take pics for us was cracking up.  Bud got a couple big pats and was told he was a good boy.  I am so lucky he saves my butt when I completely screw up.

Very short, off center distance to the oxer.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

They're home!

My barn owners have finally come back after their month long vacation.  I'm hoping that now that I'm not doing a ton of chores I'll have the energy to have a regular schedule with Buddy.  While I love the fact that I worked off my entire board for the month of Feb, I really want to have the energy/time to ride my horses again. We haven't done much since our lesson last week, a couple quick hacks and yesterday we popped over a crossrail a few times. 

I might also have one of the college girls at the barn start leasing Buddy, 2-3 days a week.  Amy is currently riding one of the advanced lesson horses, and is a very nice, quiet but firm rider.  The mare she's riding has developed some very naughty habits (bucking after almost every fence) and Amy isn't having fun anymore.  She's going to try Bud on Sunday and we'll see what happens. The mare is scheduled to see the chiro next week, but I think the plan is to sell her a dressage horse.