Wednesday, January 29, 2014

John Turner Clinic - Day 2

It seemed like we rode longer on day two than day one.  My group was right after the lunch break and all of us had gotten on about 10 minutes early to start warming up.  John came out and started talking to us and giving us exercises to do during warm up so I think we did get an extra bit of time.  He didn't have us do a lot of trot work, mostly walking with turns on the haunches and forehand and sidepassing.  We went almost straight into canter work, doing walk-canter-walk transitions then doing canter-halts. 

Moving right along John had us start jumping with a skinny brick wall set along the outside, with no standards.  The first time through Buddy veered left two strides out and we had to come again but we got the standards put up.  Not a problem then.  A few others had runouts as well, so we went back and forth over the wall a few times. 

The other fences were set up along the center line in a zig zag pattern.  John had us do a bunch of different bending lines, starting with some longer ones and ending with an incredibly short one. I got yelled at for using too much left rein and not enough right rein.  At one point as I went around all John was saying was "No left rein, no left rein!". 

Then we switched up the lines and did a short, hard line bending to left he turned to me and said "You can open your left rein here, but only here".  The line started off a short right hand turn from a skinny bending left in 4 to an oxer.  The first time I did it we totally missed the turn, but then so did almost everyone else.  Second time, we got the turn but Buddy was pretty tired and we pulled up at the oxer.  You can hear on the video John saying he was ok with that, then he had the oxer put down to a vertical and we got it (mom missed getting that on camera).

I never realized that I'm a lot stronger with my left rein before.  Buddy's gotten most of this week off, his lease girl did a flat hack with him today, but when I ride this weekend I want to set poles and practice the same lines, not using my left rein. John was a great clinician and I'm hoping they'll have him back down because I would love to ride with him again.

Monday, January 27, 2014

John Turner Clinic - Day 1

Friday afternoon getting ready for the clinic was a bit of a disaster.  My truck wouldn't start despite the fact that I took it in 3wks ago because it wasn't starting then and had supposedly been fixed.  That combined with the fact that I have been majorly overextending myself at work and the barn (12-14hr days/5 days a week for 3weeks combined with not being able to sleep more than 5hrs a night) led to a panic attack/sobbing phone call to my mom, the second one in a week.  I was all set to cancel the clinic and spend all weekend in bed until another boarder at my barn, who I don't know super well, said she'd lend me her truck.
Nice F250 diesel that hauled really smoothly
My mom ended up flying up to meet me Friday night and joined me at the clinic both days.  No one else from my barn went, even though auditing the clinic was free.  It was awesome to have her along to take videos and make sure I ate and drank and to spoil Buddy with apples and peppermints.

I was in the 2'6"-2'9" group and we started right after the lunch break.  There were 6 of us, one 17yr old junior and the rest of us were ammys. We started out by going back and forth from a two point to a deep seat at the walk, finding our balance and stretching down in our heels. In the trot John wanted us to flex our ankle and nudge the horse with our heels every time we sat.  We added some trot-halt transitions, making sure they stopped straight and didn't move once stopped.  A few of us (me included) had horses that stopped crooked, so we were instructed to halt with the haunches in the opposite direction they wanted to go.  Buddy likes to stop haunches left, so I had to make sure to stop him haunches right.
Introductions day 1

This led to turns on the haunches and turns on the forehand.  John said he does a lot of this with his horses, and that the key to successful lead changes is turn on the forehands. I got dinged for going to fast and trying to rush through them. He kept telling us over and over that nothing we do is a race, and to keep everything slow and in control.

We didn't do too much canter work at first, just a few transitions to lighten them up. Again he said "It's not a race, it's a departure. You prepare them, then ask for a canter departure." For jumping we started by trotting a small vertical with one side dropped and halting in a straight line. The jump was the first in a 4 stride line so that made it a bit more challenging. Buddy was offended by stopping and not going down the line and was pulling me forward. John had me take off my figure 8 noseband and martingale, saying that he thinks they are just decorations and he thought Buddy didn't like the flash. We then moved onto cantering a small vertical on a diagonal with a long approach and stopping on a straight line.  The first time sans noseband and martingale was pretty awful.  Bud was flipping his head so much I was afraid he'd rear.  Almost everyone in the group had problems so we did it a few times, and each time through got better.
Way to over jump Bud.
The jumps went up and we added the 4 stride outside line after the vertical.  It was a long four, and some people got 5, Buddy was feeling forward so I pushed for the four. Again we had to stop on a straight line and despite having to move him up, Buddy halted well.  John then had us reverse the exercise and go up the line to the diagonal, halting again.  A few of us were having issues following our horses mouths and relaxing our elbows so we finished the day by doing some canter work  and jump the single fence with our reins in a driving position.  As weird as it felt, I did notice I could follow easier and had to unlock my elbows.
It took me a while to figure out how to do this and hold a crop at the same time.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

High Maintence

In true OTTB fashion Miss McKenna is hard to put weight on. Part of her problem is that she's not very interested in her food. She's a slow eater, and gets distracted easily and then will forget about her hay. She's better about not forgetting her grain but still eats it ridiculously slowly.  She had her teeth done almost a year ago, so maybe she's due again.
Gain weight now!!

I've started giving McKenna her hay in hay nets. We feed on the ground, and she'd pee and poop on her hay when she wasn't paying attention and ended up wasting about half of her hay. We have some metal wall feeders to install but my BO's are on vacation and I don't feel qualified to try and hang one by myself.  I just used the nets I have for the trailer and make sure to have her morning one filled so the AM feeder just has to swap out the nets. It is a pain in the butt to remember and set them up every night, but she is eating all of her hay now.

She did rip a huge hole in the side of this one...probably going to need to get a new hay net.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Speed Racer

Had a lesson with Buddy yesterday morning, the first lesson on him in 2 months, I think?  I had been trying to get one in sooner, but my availability never meshed with my trainer's.  Since we haven't been jumping much lately (the last time I jumped him was on New Year's Day) I was bit worried how we would do.  With our clinic next weekend I been feeling like we aren't prepared.
Our lesson was first thing in the morning and usually Buddy can be crabby when I pull him away from his breakfast. I shouldn't have worried he was excited and forward, ready to go.  We worked on transitions and at one point I asked for a trot from the halt and he lifted into a beautiful round, soft canter.  Trainer said to just go with it as it was one of the nicest transitions she's seen him do. Even our trot warm up fences were good.  He was jumping them nicely and cantering away quietly.  Normally he either just trots the fence without jumping, or kinda hurls himself over.
Oregon State, fight fight fight!
We moved on to figure 8ing a couple diagonal fences and while he was forward and going, he was pretty stiff to the right. Had to do a few circles in front of the right-to-left fence to get him thinking right bend before jumping it. Once he was bending I could see our distance and the fence flowed easily.
Turning into speed racer here.
From there we added an outside line, a five going uphill. I tend to have to ride him more forward to these lines since he looses impulsion going up the hi. Not today!  I just had to make sure he was bending right and soft and it worked.  The third time thru, for whatever reason, he decided to turn into speed racer and completely blew through my hands.  Got way deep to the first fence, pulling the rail, and galloped down the line.  Also got way deep to the second fence, pulling not just the rail but one of the standards down too.  Trainer rolled out the ground lines in an attempt to back him off the fences and we tried again.  He learned his lesson and when I half halted he waited and did the line like a normal horse.
RIP Zipper

We finished off doing some rollback turns over the diagonal fences and an outside Swedish oxer.  Buddy was still going strong and I was starting to pick at him a bit so we worked on being soft and riding the forward pace.  It was such a change from how he normally is that it threw me a bit, but I liked it. 

About halfway thru the lesson I felt a pop on my calf then started hearing a flapping noise.  During a walk break I looked down and saw that my left boot (the one that lost it's zipper tab this summer) had split and my boot was wide open.  The only thing holding it on was the tab on the top.  Trainer asked if I wanted to stop but I said no, it would be a good calf exercise to try and hold it on!  Now I just have to decide if spending $100 on a new zipper for an 8yr old boot that only cost $200 to begin with is worth it or if I should just get new boots. 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The $100,000 Question

What would I spend my $100,000 on?  Most of it would go pretty fast.  Right now what I would love to get the most is a new truck and trailer.  For whatever reason, knowing that I can hook up the trailer and take my horses anywhere at a moments notice has been a relief.  I don't know if its because I hate asking people for help, or that I was dependant on others to haul for me for years.  Probably a bit of both. 

Truck:  I'd get a new Dodge one ton diesel dually.  I absolutely love my barn owner's, and I know if I need it they will let me use it, but having a big rig of my own is my dream.  $55,000

I would prefer it in a different color. White/grey is so boring!
Trailer: I'd keep my 2 horse, for local hauls or if I'm only taking one horse somewhere.  But for going to shows I'd want a GN 4 horse.  The GNs are so much safer than the BPs (from an auto accident perspective) and after hauling the 4 horse this summer I liked how it handled better than I thought I would.  $25,000

Saddles: I'd get custom saddles for each of the ponies.  It's not practical to get a 19yr old semi-retired horse a custom saddle, but damn it Phoenix deserves it!  I'm leaning towards County, as I rode in one a few years ago and loved it!  I've never ridden in a CWD so I'd like to try them out, and the Antares I've ridden in I didn't like.  Granted it was made for someone 6in taller than me and 10yrs old at that point so I'd do another test ride first before making up my mind. $5,000/horse for $15,000 total.

Clothes: Complete show clothes make over!  Custom boots, new helmets (one hunter ring approved and one fancier for the jumpers), shadbelly, white breeches, new shirts, new coats.....the works! $5,000.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Rest of the Story

When we got McKenna my barn owner friended on Facebook the barn owner of the place where McKenna was.  That BO, and the western trainer who was working McKenna, then friended me to follow her progress.  I got a little info from them, mostly basics like what they were feeding her, when she was shod, got vaccines and dewormed. 

Yesterday I got a message on FB from the McKenna's old owner, the one who got her off the track and put her in training.  I was under the impression that she hadn't done much with her....had put her in training for 8 months without going to see her.  I was kinda worried at first, thinking that she wanted her back or wanted $$$ for her.  We never signed any paperwork for McKenna, and don't have papers on her, so legally we're a bit screwed.  But then a friend request popped up and I started to breath easy.

J, the former owner, just wanted to know how she was doing and gave me some more background on McKenna.  I guess she got her a week after she came off the track in April 2012.  I get the impression that she might have been at a feedlot, or on her way to one.  J said they spent about 4 months putting weight on her and letting her chill before staring to work with her.  Her vet said when they got McKenna she was 200lbs underweight, even for an OTTB.

The day she came to J's
McKenna was in work for a bit at J's barn, a nice H/J barn in Southern Oregon for a few months before going to the western trainers.  I didn't ask why she decided to send McKenna to a western barn, and J didn't offer.  She did say that if she had been able to train her, she would have kept her.  J has a mare that's rehabbing from a leg injury and is leasing a gelding and showing in the 2'3" hunters on the A circuit, so I don't think money is an issue.  I got some cute pics from her FB page of when McKenna was at her barn.

Three months off the track
I'm glad that, for whatever reason, J decided not to keep her and was willing to rescue her, pay for training, and then give her away.  I hope one day I'm financially able to do the same!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Planning Ahead

I've started getting some fun stuff scheduled on the calendar for me and the ponies.  Next weekend, the 25-26 I have the John Turner clinic.  Ride times were sent out this morning and thankfully I ride midday.  I'm hauling Buddy back and forth each day so I'm super happy that I don't have to get up at the crack of dawn to drive down for an early ride.  I will got early to watch the group before so I can get an idea of what I'll be doing.

I sent in my yearly registration for OHJA and registered both Buddy and McKenna. I have no idea how this show season will go, but it's only $5/horse to register them so why not? I would love at least have McKenna go to a show and do flat classes by summer. I need to see if as a rider I can cross enter trot-a-pole and the 2'6"-3' jumpers.....

I also asked for and was approved for a few days off work to go down to my parent's in San Diego and take a road trip to watch the Thermal Million.  I'm already planning to ask for time off next year to go to the FEI World Cup Finals in Vegas!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Blog Hop: Show Me Your Barn

I've been at my barn for 7yrs now, and I can't imagine being anywhere else! 

View of the Barn:

I don't have a pic of the front part of the barn.  We have three parts of the barn, the old barn (original barn on the property built 40+ years ago and added onto), the upper aisle (3 10x20 stalls, 6 10x12 stalls, tack room, wash rack, hay and grain storage) and the lower aisle ( 10 10x14 stalls, groom stall, two tack rooms, grain storage, leather shop, and apartment).  The indoor arena separates the upper and lower aisle, with the old barn being off the west side of the indoor.  The outdoor arena is on the east side of the barn.
Looking towards the barn from the fields.  The lower aisle is closest to us, and the old barn is the shorter part on the left.

The lower aisle was added to the barn in 2010.  This was mid construction. Sliding door opens into the indoor.

 Horses Living Space:

My ponies live in the lower aisle now, but before 2010 Phoenix lived on the upper aisle. All the lower aisle stalls have custom made v-shaped gates, except for Buddy. His gate rusted off the hinge and had to be replaced with a regular gate. All the horses have boxes in front of their stall provide by my BOs. I usually keep grooming supplies, treats, and wraps in mine.

Buddy and Phoenix are next to each other, McKenna is a few stalls down.

In the summer all of the horses get turned out 24/7 on pasture.  Most are out in groups of 2-3, but we have a couple larger fields that can have 4-5. 

View of the Tack Room:

The lower aisle tack room.  Mostly the English riders.  The second tack room on the lower side is for the BOs and the upper aisle tack room is for the western riders. My western saddle does live in the lower tack room. My trunk is the big wooded one in the corner.


View of Where We Ride:
The outdoor from the parking lot

McKenna in the indoor, looking towards the upper aisle

Summer grass field!
My Favorite Features:
Being able to gallop up the hill on the grass!

The fact that the ponies can be ponies and live outside in groups for at least part of the year. 
I do think my favorite thing about the barn is my barn owners.  They are family to me, and without them I wouldn't have Buddy or McKenna or be able to afford three horses.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Mini Me

The more I work with McKenna, the more I'm convinced she's going to turn into Phoenix's mini me.  She's chill and relaxed (minus the baby brain moments), wants to please, has similar conformation and movement.  They are both built up hill, have big shoulders and relatively short backs.  For her height McKenna has a slightly longer back the Phoenix.  She's about 15.2 hands now and wears a 75 blanket while Phoenix is 17 hands and wears a 78.

I think this is my favorite pic of Phoenix.  My former friend holding him as I walked a course in 2009.

As much as I love Buddy and am so thankful for everything he's taught me, he will never be Phoenix.  The old man was/is my dream horse; light, forward, big strided, able to turn on a dime, with one of the best canters I've ever ridden.  McKenna has the light and forward down, and while we're still in the  legs-flailing-everywhere stage of canter work I can tell it's going to be very similar to Phoenix's.  They both tend to have a more up and down stride than super long/forward but I hope that once McKenna relaxes and finds her balance she'll get a little longer stride.
M and P in turnout together.  She tried to kick him.

My friend Corie got on McKenna last night at the end of our ride, the first time someone else has gotten on her since I've had her. I of course forgot to take pics/video. It was good to see her go and see how some of the stunts she pulls look like from the ground.  She was very well behaved for Corie, they just walk trotted, but did a couple head flips where she pop up her front end and then tried to pretend she can't steer.  Corie rode her well and said that she loves her and thinks she's going to be an awesome horse.  While Corie's never ridden Phoenix she agreed with me that they are very similar in their way of going.  I really, really hope McKenna turns out like the old man; it will be like having a piece of him back.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

2014 Goals-Quarterly Edition

Right now, I'm going to set Quarterly Goals, instead of Yearly Goals.  Since I'm not 100% sure McKenna will be the jumper I want and Buddy's longevity with me is up in the air, I don't want to commit to year long goals.  We'll reevaluate after March and go from there.


Work back to the 2'9"-3' and maybe show at that height.

  • There's only 1 jumper show on the calendar so far in February but I'm hoping to make it.
Work on his manners.
  • His lease girls have let him get away with a lot, (yanking the reins out of your hands, being pushier when he doesn't want to do something, not standing still after you get on) and manners like that are unacceptable.  I'm going to have to get after the girls too.


Work her (lunge or ride) at least 5 days/week.
  • She's so high energy that she needs to get out more than I'm currently working her.
Refine our canter transitions and develop a balanced canter.
  • I know the balanced canter part will take longer than 3 months, but we got to start somewhere
Continue working over little jumps and cavaletti.  Free jump her again with more height/spread to see how she does.

Phoenix (the only one with early goals):
Keep him as sound as possible and to continue to pack Anna around.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Mental Game

The weather for the past few weeks has been great for this time of year in Oregon.  Usually by the time I get off work and do chores its starting to get dark.  We have some lights along our outdoor, and I don't worry about working  Buddy as it gets dark, but I've been doing McKenna inside. She's too ADD and I don't trust her enough to work her outside in the dark.

I got out to the barn midday on Saturday and it was bright and sunny, if a bit cold.  Two other people were working inside so I made the decision to ride McKenna outside.  I put her on the lunge to let her blow off steam and to let her take a look at the sheep that are now in the field across the street.  She ran, bucked, jumped, spun, ran more, snorted, reared, and ran some more.  I let her be an idiot till she started dropping her head and paying attention to me.  We walked around the ring in hand to let her see everything and catch her breath before I got on.

She was still pretty keyed up and pretty tense under saddle.  We worked at the walk trying to get her relaxed, doing lots of circles, bending, and baby leg yields.  My friend came out with her mare, spooking McKenna and we started our relation work all over again. Some of the sheep moved closer to us and McKenna decided to become a statue and wouldn't move towards them.  Luckily my friend's mare didn't care and walked along side of us to show McKenna the sheep aren't scary.  We went back to circles and loops at that end of the arena till she relaxed again.
Poor tired baby after our ride
We had been working almost 30 minutes at the walk at this point.  I decided that getting a nice, relaxed, soft walk out of McKenna was all I wanted.  Once she gave that to me for one lap around the arena each direction I called it a day.  I figured we had won a huge mental battle, considering what a maniac she was when we started.  I'd rather her get a positive experience in the outdoor arena then try to work and set her off.  With babies the mental wins are just as important as the physical ones.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

New Year's Rides

I had to work on New Year's Day, but manged to get out early and go for a ride on Buddy.  He's been lazy on the flat, not wanting to engage, ignoring me, and just plodding around.  I switched him to the pelham for a little wake up, and while it was great for our flat work it was too much brakes over fences.  He was listening to me and moving out well during warm up, felt really nice.  But once we started jumping any time I held even the tiniest bit he would back way off and get pissy.  I guess we'll jump in the slow twist and flat in the pelham.  Isn't it usually the other way around; jump in the bigger bit and flat in the milder one?  Once again Buddy proves he's an odd one.

What is with my eq??!!
We worked on having a rhythm and going to the fences, trying to have soft, soft, soft hands and impulsion.  He got tired which I was expecting since he hasn't jumped this much in a month or so.  We did manage to do the 3ft fence a few times and I was pretty happy with our ride.

I finally got back on Miss McKenna after 2 weeks, oops.  I've been lunging the snot out of her and we had a low key ride on Thursday.  She was understandably up and excited, so we did lots of circling and transitions.  Friday she was much better and we had moments of soft, round trotting.  Cantering is still a bit wild, she has a hard time balancing and swings her head up and down.  She's getting it and at times I felt like I could soften and relax instead of trying to hold her together.

She did try to take off with me once (we have stalls that back up to the indoor and a horse kicked the wall as we went past) and using the reins to stop in those situations only makes it worse with her.  Head shoots straight up, hind end drops, and she leaps forward.  But a strong "Whoa!" and she'll halt completely.  I know it's not the normal H/J thing, but I really do love the horses with a western background that stop like that off voice commands.  Pretty sure all my ponies from here on out will learn this.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2013 Goals

Our goals for 2013 were as follows:

Keep showing at 2'6", preferably in the jumpers and eq, and hopefully move up to the 2'9".
  • Partial success.  We did the 2'6" all year, in the jumpers and eq but didn't make the move to 2'9".  We schooled 2'9" (and I jumped Tia 3'3"), but we haven't done that for a few months.  I also found out that even though we only did 2 shows in the jumpers, we ended up 8th place for the year in the OHJA .75m beginning jumper regional division against horses that competed at both schooling and A shows.  Unfortunately OHJA only gives year end ribbons to 6th...grrr!
Long shot, but qualify for Medal Finals
  • I was hoping to qualify for the OHJA Mini Medal finals, but we only got 8 out the needed 10 points.  But we did qualify and compete at the Lake Oswego Hunt Nancy Wild Medal Finals!!  And even with a major rider brain fart we came home with a 4th on the flat and a 6th over fences.
Show 1st level dressage again and redeem ourselves
  • Total fail
Go XC schooling, to the beach, or ranch sorting at least a few times.
  • Feb 1: Ranch sorting
    May 10: Mini XC school at Inavale
    July 21: Trail and river ride in the mountains
    July 27: Cutting horse clinic
  • Win!
I'm having some trouble with our 2014 Goals, so stay tuned.  I'm thinking of doing half yearly goals....