Thursday, December 31, 2015

Looking Forward 2016

My main goal of 2016: Buy a new pony!! Everything else, shows, clinics, lessons, my life, is going to be on hold till that happens.

Only current source of horsepower 

McKenna left on Sunday and for the first time in almost 16yrs I don't have a horse. It's very weird to not have to go to the barn every day, to not think about who is going to take care of her when I'm on vacation (currently visiting family in NorCal), and not trying to plan lessons or what our riding schedule will be for the week. 

I had planned to look at a horse while down visiting my family but the seller never emailed me back. But there is a gelding about an hour from home that looks promising so when I get back trainer and I will try to coordinate schedules to go look at him. Another girl in the barn has been horse shopping for a few months now and she and trainer have weeded out a few I was potentially interested in. A is looking for her first horse so she needs more of a packer while I don't but we'll probably be looking at a few of the same ponies. But pony shopping for others is just as much fun as pony shopping for yourself. 

Friday, December 25, 2015

It's a Christmas Miracle!

McKenna's vet check didn't go so well. Their vet said she tested positive with the hoof testers on her front feet. And in his report the vet said it was possible navicular and he recommended X-rays. They didn't want to put that money into her and backed out.

 I was a little pissed that he went right to a possible worst case scenario when it could be a dozen different things. I know her feet are super soft right now from all the rain, and my farrier said almost all the horses he's done lately have been that way and some have been tender footed because of it. She doesn't look lame when I lunge her and feels fine under saddle. I'm also not super fond of this vet as I used him years ago and he butchered Phoenix's teeth so I'm trying not to hold that against him.

I dropped her price because I WANT HER GONE and even posted to Instagram and FB that I was willing to give her away. My mom, who has offered to help finance my next pony, told me to give her away and not worry about the money.  They saw the post, and thought it over, and said they'd take her home if I was serious about giving her away. I thought it over and I know they're a good home and considering I got her for free I thought it was fitting that I pass her on for free. So they'll call me tomorrow and we'll work the finer point out.

I'm just so happy to have her gone. As much as I like her on the ground and her personality and her talent but I absolutely dislike riding her. I don't have to dread riding her or feel guilty for not riding her anymore.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

This, That, and the Other

Mckenna has her PPE scheduled for Wednesday and I've seriously considered wrapping her head to toe in bubble wrap. I haven't done a whole lot with her this week, the weather has been awful; windy, rainy, and cold. Even with the indoor it's not exactly weather I want to ride in.

I've slowly, nor not so slowly, started perusing DreamHorse and may or may not have set an appointment to go look at a horse when I visit my cousin in NorCal at New Years. A little premature but hey, a girl's got to do something when it's 38* outside with 30mph winds and sideways rain.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Finger and Toes

My friend's client came to try McKenna yesterday. I had had a short and sweet lesson in the morning but we figured the mare would have plenty of energy to go twice. My friend BS got on her first, to show McKenna off and so I could see her ride her. She's ridden the mare a couple of times when I was on vacation and it's always nice to see it.

Unfortunately the mare was a bit of a twit and was getting upset with BS. I think part of it was "You're not mom!" and part of it was that BS was getting after her about things I don't. But McKenna has to learn how to handle other riders. The client, a 16yr old girl who is currently eventing novice/moving up to training, wasn't discouraged at all and eagerly climed up.  She was a very soft rider and McKenna seemed to like her. The mare was a bit jazzed and took off a couple times but the girl handled it really well. Apparently her mare is a huge bucker and she's got the ultimate sticky seat. 

I was slightly pissed at the antics the mare pulled but as I was untacking her the girls mom started talking to about scheduling a pre purchase exam. I guess the girl likes fiesty horses and already loved McKenna. So they'll call their vet tomorrow and hopefully we can schedule the PPE this week. I'm currently crossing all fingers and toes and praying to the gods of PPE!!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

She is Herself

In the days after Phoenix was put down I was pretty numb. I had things planned and friends to take me out, but all I wanted was time alone with my horse. I wanted to just sit in the saddle, dink around, and generally not do a whole hell of a lot. I got on McKenna three or four days after that day and I know I can't expect that kind of ride out of her. She's just not that type of horse, especially after almost a week off at that point. But I had a lesson scheduled for the next day and figured I should maybe prep for it.

I turned her out while I did her stall and then lunged her before getting on. She didn't play as much as she usually does and was actually really quiet on the lunge line. I got on thinking that maybe, just maybe, on the day I needed it most she would be that quiet easy ride. We walked around on the buckle and picked up a pretty poky trot. She was soft in my hand, just putzing along and I started to relax. Then we came around the corner and she took off like a bat out of hell. We circled back around at the walk and again she bolted out of the corner. Brought her down again and came back to it and she started to go up. I called her some very, very bad names and jumped off. Put her back on the line where she proceeded to try and relive her racing days. I'm not proud of it, but I might have let my anger and grief get to me and chased her a bit with the lunge whip. 

She ran for a solid 15mins and ended up blowing and covered in sweat. Some part of me was grateful that I had clipped her the week before but most of me was furious that she wasn't Phoenix. The ONE day I needed an easy ride and she turns into crazy mare. Luckily the fury had me fired up and not in tears so I got back on and proceeded to immediately put her to work. Lateral work, transitions, changes of direction, serpentines, name it we did it. It wasn't our best work ever but I got a good 20mins w-t-c out of it. 

Over the past few weeks we've had some good rides and some like the ones above. It still saddens me that she's not Phoenix or Buddy, that she's not the solid broke horse that can take care of me when I need it most. After having her for two years I would have thought we would be past this point. But it has cemented the fact that I want her gone; that she's NOT the horse for me. I have been going back and forth because she is an awesome horse but not MY awesome horse.  I've come way down in her price, basically taking offers at this point. I do have two people wanting to see her this weekend, one of which is my friend's student which would be great because I'd could keep tabs on her. 

It's weird thinking that I won't have a horse of my own once she sells. I've either leased or owned a horse for almost 16yrs straight, and 6 of those I had multiple horses at a time. I still have goals and want to show; I don't want to take a break even if part of me thinks I should. But I need something more like Buddy or Phoenix. I need that steady eddy, not a wild child. 

Friday, November 20, 2015

March 21, 1995-November 17, 2015

I got the call that no horse owner wants to get Tuesday afternoon.  Phoenix was down and thrashing. I flew out of work, called my regular vet, and tried to think positive thoughts during the 45min drive between work and where Phoenix lived. 

Phoenix lived with my dental vet, PO, but it was her husband who found him down.  PO wasn't at home but he called her after calling me.  Husband isn't a super horse savvy guy, but he knows enough.  He got Phoenix up and walking while waiting for us to get there.

Once I got out to their place, I knew.  Phoenix looked absolutely miserable, covered in mud and sweat, shaking, thick green snot in both nostrils, straining hard to poop, and his breathing sounded like a rattle. PO got home just after I got there and while she's a vet, she only does teeth so she didn't have all the supplies to treat him.  My regular vet who was on his way said it was fine for her give him banamine so she did.  He was so dehydrated that it took her multiple tries to get his vein. We then put a sheet on him, as it had started to rain, and walked him for the next 20mins till my vet showed up.

After examining Phoenix, my vet wasn't optimistic.  He did give him more drugs and tubed him and left us with the instructions to watch Phoenix and call him back if things got worse.  PO's husband brought folding chairs out and we sat in the run next to Phoenix drinking beer and waiting.  Even with a full dose of meds on board, he never stopped straining and the spark never came back to his eyes.  I went in to his stall a few times and cuddled and talked to him but he never acknowledged me.  Phoenix was always the biggest attention whore in the barn.  He would leave food to come over for kisses and scratches, would hang his head on your shoulder while cleaning stalls, and generally loved to be around people.  There was absolutely no evidence of that.

After talking with PO and working myself up I finally called the vet back after about an hour. We talked about how Phoenix wasn't a surgical candidate, but that I could take him to the OSU vet school and put him on fluids and see if he got better.  Both my vet and I agreed that doing that would most likely only postpone the inevitable, and I didn't want Phoenix in pain any longer, so he came back.  Normally my vet is advocates fairly strongly for doing everything possible before putting a horse down, but not that night.

He went down peacefully and I was able to hold his head and thank him for being my best friend for the past 10 years. I was incredibly humbled when PO said that they would bury him in their back pasture, next to two of her horses that have passed. After my vet left PO, her husband, and I went into their party/game room where they have an actual full bar that used to be in a restaurant and drank some more while reminiscing. Phoenix had only lived out there since January, but they loved his as much as if he was their own. 

The past few days have been hard and I haven't slept much but I'll be ok.  I had a long visit with my BO who had been gone for two weeks the next day and then yesterday some other friends took me out for dinner.  I've mostly stopped crying when I think about him, expect for writing this. I'm sure it will hit me at random points, but that's ok.  I'm just happy that he's out of pain.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Sign Us Up

Continuing in the "just do it" mindset, I've sent in an entry for McKenna's first show. Right now we're just entered in two trot pole classes. But if all goes well and we don't completely loose our shit I'll add a cross rail class or two. 

My trainer may or may not be able to make it but my BO's dressage trainer BS is taking her gelding, who seems much happier as a jumper than a dressage horse. We're going to haul up the day before and school the ponies as it's the gelding's second jumper show and he's still green. So if McKenna kills me I'll have someone to haul us home! 

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Just Do It

Just do it's been my theme for the past month. That and "long, active legs". I don't know what it's coming from but I've been more motivated (for the most part), more confident, and more committed to getting baby McKenna trained.


We had a dessage lesson with TS and that's where the long, active leg came from. McKenna loves to hang on my right rein and blow off my right leg. I got dinged in the lesson for holding too much with the right rein (hence why she loves to lean on it, funny how that works) and being too nice with my right leg. I wasn't supposed to completely drop my right rein, just give and release every few strides. Once I got the more right leg thing into my head McKenna seemed to really respond just need to make sure my heel is down when I'm getting after her. Still working on the whole holding too much with that rein though. 

We've only had one jump lesson lately, and while it poured rain and we were forced inside, it actually was a pretty damn nice lesson. I had set up a baby grid a few days before the lesson, a cross rail one stride to a pole one stride to another pole and taken McKenna thru it. While she got a big rushy she handled it well. 

For the lesson trainer set a one stride starting with two cross rails. McKenna decided that the baby grid was super exciting and we didn't have brakes coming out. She got run into the wall a time or two to remember how to stop after the fence but as soon as trainer raised the second fence to a vertical she was much more calm and relaxed coming out. 

Trainer kept raising the second fence and then made it an oxer (McKenna's first under saddle!) and then raised it more. We ended up with a solid 2'9" oxer coming out. McKenna did rub it, but considering it was at the end of the lesson and she's never jumped that high or an oxer under saddle before I was super thrilled with her. She never once hesitated thru the grid, jumped everything easily, and once the fence went up she was quiet and manageable on the off side. Almost makes me want to rethink selling her.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Two Years

Wednesday was McKenna and my two year anniversary. I really can't believe it's been that long. In many ways I feel like a slacker and that we should be farther along in her training than we are but all I do is have to look back at where she was and I realize how far we've come.

First ride.
Two years later

We had a lesson that night and apparently I had my big girl breeches on because we jumped the boxes for the first time! I think it was a combination of the new bit, trot poles, and actually feeling like I had brakes because I was much braver than I have been for months, if ever with her. It felt like we were on the same page and I could relax a bit and let her go. Especially after the fences I was able to get up in a half seat and let her cruise right along. It was a very, very nice feeling. 
I got this mom!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Growing Pains

 We had a lesson last Wednesday, and will hopefully continue to have weekly lessons for a while, and we rode right during feeding time.  The mare was up and not super happy to be working at first but we held it together.  But when we started jumping all she wanted to do was run at the baby crossrails. We spent close to 45 minutes trying to get her to trot the fences without running at them, sucking back behind my leg, hanging on my hands, throwing her head, or going sideways.  Both my trainer and I were really happy with how I handled it.  I didn't get mad or upset just kept on asking for a decent trot, straightness, and connection. Even a couple months ago the antics McKenna pulled would have A) freaked me out and I would have have my trainer get on her and/or B) sent the mare into outer space.

Strike a pose
Saturday I wanted to jump again but this time I set out trot poles before the jumps to try and slow down the beast.  After we warmed up on the flat we started jumping and the mare decided that trot poles are really supposed to be cantered.  We attempted to trot nicely but she was completely ignoring my hands and plowing thru the pole and fences.  I stopped her hard in front of a couple jumps and circled around to come again which usually gets thru her go-go-pony brain but it didn't work.  I decided to pull out the big guns and got off to switch her bit. 
I don't like big girl bits

I've been riding her in a French link but obviously that doesn't have enough brakes.  I grabbed my slow twist and got back on to see how she would do with it on the flat. Other than stopping once when I half halted strongly she didn't seem too upset by it. Sunday we attempted the trot poles to jumps again and what do you know?  I had a pony with brakes!!  She was still wanted to go go go, but came back at my half halts and listened.  I think I'll leave the slow twist on this bridle and set up the French link on another so we can have a jump bit and flat bit.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Finding Our New Groove

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind. I had my last day at my old job on Labor Day then left on vacation. My mom and I spent a few days in NYC before going to New Jersey for a cousin's wedding. We flew home a week ago and I started at my new job on Monday. So far I'm loving it!! The people are great, they pay more, my commute and gas has been cut in half and I basically get paid to play with dogs all day!
What Dollar Rent-a-Car gives you when you reserve a compact. Not the first or last time I'll drive a truck in a skirt and heels!
The only downside, if you can call it that, to the new job is that it's full time vs the three quarters time I was working before. But with my commute going from 50mins to 25 I'm actually doing about a half hour more a day.
If you ever get the chance to see Kinky Boots do it! It was fantastic!!

Between that and some new boarders moving in I've been trying to figure out my new barn schedule. The barn is a lot busier than it was this summer when, for the most part, I had the place to myself. Right now McKenna is still outside 24/7 but once it really starts raining she'll come in and I'll be battling for arena turn out time.
McKenna also turned into the thing from the black lagoon and earned herself a bath today.

While I was gone I had my BO's dressage trainer ride McKenna for me a couple times. She's seen me ride and we've talked quite a bit so she was familiar with the mare. She absolutely adored McKenna, saying she has much bigger movement under saddle than she expected and that she has tons of potential. I was really happy that when I got on this week McKenna was a lot softer on the right rein than before. I think I've worked a deal with BS to have more training rides in the mare's future.

Monday, September 7, 2015

New Jumps

About a month ago there was an add on a local FaceBook group for jumps for sale. We have plenty of standards and poles, but not a whole lot of filler so when I saw that they had multiple boxes for sale I claimed two of them.  After driving up and getting them I set them up in arena with a plan to lunge McKenna over them and jump them with Tia.  But then the girls went lame and that never happened.

Obviously they were terrifying
McKenna's all healed up and sound after the abscess and has PLENTY of energy from her two week vacation so I figured it was time to introduce her to the boxes. I started by free jumping her over a crossrail then move it up to a vertical. Once I dragged the box over she thoroughly inspected it and took a taste test or two.   I asked her to trot around and she immediately went right to the jump and popped over with no problem.  I had her do it a few times at the height set in the pic then put it up a few holes.

This time the mare was all over it.  I barely stepped back from readjusting it and clucked to her and she took a few canter strides and jumped it the opposite way I had set.  Then she landed, went around the corner, did an awesomely tight rollback and came directly back to the fence.  I'm so upset I didn't get it on camera!  It was something out of a jump off, they way she sat on her hind end and flipped around.  And best of all, I just stood there and watched her, I didn't have to do anything.  The mare has definite talent as a jumper.
 She probably went around on her own 3 or 4 times before I actually had to ask her to stop.  She was happy to keep on jumping and didn't need any encouragement from me. I guess I didn't need to worry that she's be scared of the boxes or fill.

Free jump
I really like how the gif slows down and you can see her form.  She doesn't normally have that much hang time.

make animated gifs like this at MakeaGif

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Two for Two

The vet was out Wednesday to check on the lame mares and, surprise surprise, both of them weren't lame anymore.  Damn it girls!  But on the plus side my home diagnosis for both of them were confirmed by the vet.

We started with Tia who was walking normally but still had some sensitivity on her suspensory.  Both the vet and I thought that she probably got worked up in her paddock last weekend when we had some thunderstorms roll in and re injured herself.  So she's on stall rest with hand walking for another couple weeks then recheck.
If you look close you can see it

With McKenna I told the vet about the on and off lameness and the slit on her coronary band.  When we pulled her out of her stall she had a very obvious spot of blood on it and when the vet pushed more blood/pus mix came out.  He did put the hoot testers to her and she wasn't reactive.  He recommended a few days of Epsom salt soaking to draw anything else out then switching to an iodine spray to dry it out.

We did her first soak later that night and she was surprisingly good for it.  She didn't want to stand still for very long but happily put her foot in soak.  She likes to put both her front feet in her water trough in the pasture and splash around so I was expecting some that to happen but she didn't. 
At least she's cute!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

What Plan?

I'm pretty sure I should just give up trying to plan anything equine related. McKenna is still still off and on lame and Tia, who was doing better, lost a chunk of hoof, had to go barefoot for a cycle because she doesn't have enough of a right foot to put a shoe back onto, is now three legged lame. Of course she lost the chunk of hoof on her good front leg but somehow is three legged on the bad front leg.  The vet's coming back out tomorrow and at this point I'm just like whatever and am perusing DreamHorse and FB groups for sales horse.  

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Hi There!

Not much as has happened in the month or more that I haven't been blogging.  Some really good rides on the mare, some not so good rides.  We were sticking with our once a week jumping lesson for a solid month but have gotten off the rails for the past couple weeks.  First it was super hot, like 108* hot, then the mare was sore, then she got better and I took dressage lesson, and now she's sore again.  But it looks like she blew an abscess in her right front and the farrier will be out tomorrow to take a look at her.

New fav pic of McKenna
I have had two teen girls out to look at her.  One really liked her, but I was worried that she was too inexperienced of a rider for McKenna, but I haven't heard from her in a couple weeks so..... I have really lowered her price because I'm at the point where I want her gone now.  I don't want to have to keep pouring money into her, I'm going on vacation and I feel guilty having her sit and asking a friend to take care of her, and most importantly I'm starting a new job on the 14th (the day after getting back from NY) with increased hours so I'm not sure what my new schedule will be.  It feels like this will be a good time for a whole new start.

The plus side is that I'm super, super, super happy about the new job and can.not.wait! to leave my current one.  I know a lot of my lack of riding/blogging/general unhappiness is due to stress from my job.  I fully expect stress and issues at the new one but it can't be as bad as where I am now.  And it's going to shave 30mins of my commute each way so that almost equals out the extra hours.
A good 95% of our field rides look like this.  Whoa crazy mare!

I was starting to do some ride on Tia, including three or four really nice and relaxing field rides with friends, until she came up lame and wouldn't work out of it.  We had the vet out and she was very reactive on her suspensory.  Our vet doesn't have a mobile ultrasound so we didn't see what was going on but he felt like it wasn't something major, probably a strain.  She never had any heat or swelling in the leg and was only slightly more lame then she normally is when she first starts out.  She's on 15mins of walking with twice daily Surpass for another week and then we'll recheck.  If she's not better we'll take her in for the ultrasound.  The plan was after I sell McKenna to lease Tia thru the winter but we all know how the best laid plans with horses usually turn out.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

WW: We Can Canter Fences Now

The whole weekly lesson/trainer ride thing has been good for us.  We've started cantering fences now!  Apologies in advance for cell phone camera videos.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Because of Course

Since I've put McKenna up for sale I've had the best rides on her yet.  I don't know if its because I feel like the pressure is off to make something of her, to get to a certain point, to show, and I'm feeling more relaxed or what but she's been awesome this past week.

Saturday we had a lesson/trainer ride while trying to get some video of her.  I opted to lunge her first, not that she's been wild, but because they were harvesting the grass seed fields across the street from the barn and wanted McKenna to get a look at the equipment.  She barley batted an eye.

Trainer got on her first and it was pretty ugly.  McKenna is very much a one woman type of horse and she was mad that mom wasn't riding her.  I was going to video but gave it up as she had short, choppy strides and was pretty resistant in her head and neck.  After 15 mins or so I got on and she immediately relaxed.  We just focused on going forward with a nice soft trot.  She was really nice going left, but more resistant right.  We did a little bit of canter then trainer wanted her to jump before she got too worked up.
Trainer said, after seeing the pics, that she needs a bigger fence to jump

We started with a crossrail and it was like the mare had jumped every day of her life.  Trotted up nice and quietly, popped over it no problem, and cantered away quietly.  I actually had to push her forward after the fence because she wanted to break after only a couple strides.  We did the crossrail a few times then trainer put it up to a little vertical.  We haven't done verticals since last summer and even though it was only 18" it seemed huge to me and I was sure she was going to turn into a fire breathing dragon and kill me in the process.

Trainer got on and the first time McKenna wanted to leap at it, but she made her wait and while McKenna wasn't exactly sure where to put her feet jumping close to the base, she did it.  She was good on the off side and cantered away quietly.  They did it a few more times, waiting for the close take off, and then I got back on. The first time thru I really didn't ride or help the mare, and she was unsure of what to do with her feet again but she went over anyways.  Second time over felt really, really nice; probably our best jump yet.  Never did she feel forward or explosive.  I was so, so happy.  Almost makes me reconsider selling her.  Almost.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Q2 Goal Review and Q3 Goals

Hahahahahahahaha.  Oh man this is going to be rough. Here are the goals I put out for us:

 Since I started riding Tia and hope to show her my Q2 goals are going to include her.

For McKenna:
  • Get her out and go places!  My plan is if/when I show Tia to get a stall for McKenna and park her in it at the shows.  And time/space/energy permitting I'll hand walk/lunge/ride her around the show grounds as well. Pretty much a fail.  We did haul out to a friend's house on Monday but that was after Q2 ended. 
  • "Jump" more.  She gets so excited over the little crossrails that it makes me nervous doing them outside of a lesson.  I guess that just means I need to lesson more!  For the most part we did lesson and jump more.  She still  scares me jumping.
  • Work on clipping her ears.  Did do this, but she still hates getting them done.
For Tia:
  • Continue grid work, adding in bounces.  I don't exactly remember when I rode Tia last, but we did do some grid work and bounces. 
  • Work on more eq/jumper style courses Haven't been riding the mare so this didn't happen
  • All the counter canter! See above
  • Show in the 2'6", either hunter, eq, or jumpers.  I'm not picky See above
For Phoenix:
  • Stay happy, fat, and adorable!Win!!  Old man is super happy and super fat! 
Q3 Goals: 

  • Sell her!  Hopefully sooner rather than later because for the next two weeks I'm going to be utterly swamped at work and won't have much time/energy to put into her.  Sorry in advance mare!
  • Trainer rides.  My BO has a dressage trainer riding one of her horses 4-5 days a week at our barn and I'm hoping I can afford to have her do a ride or two a week on the mare.  I really like how BS rides and it'll be good for McKenna.  And I'm hoping to have my jump trainer rider her a couple times as well.
  • Stay happy, fat, and adorable
  • Ride some of the other horses in the barn (I'm riding a friends two mares while she's gone, they're reiners but super nice and super well trained and/or Tia) to get back into a happy riding place.  Riding has become work and something I don't look forward to with McKenna so I need to change that!
  • Buy a new pony after McKenna sells.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Ten Years

Ten years is a long time. Ten years ago I was some silly little kid just finished with my first year of college, catch riding for my old trainer, thinking I knew everything and could ride anything, when she asked if I wanted to help with a project horse she had coming in. Phoenix had been sitting in a pasture for four years, and while he had had some training put on him he was still a bumbling green bean. The first time I rode him, July 5th 2005, I thought " What the hell did I just agree to!?"

I had never worked with that green of a horse before. Looking back I know I made mistakes, and would have done a lot different but these past ten years and that special pony have turned me into the horsewoman amnd rider I am today. There were times I wanted to sell him, and probably should have as we weren't the greatest match, but I'm so glad I didn't. I know him inside and out, forward and back, and he is my heart horse.

In many ways McKenna and Phoenix are very similar. McKenna's more bold and take charge were as Phoenix was much more timid and submissive. I've done a lot of looking back lately, and I think it's helped make my decision to sell McKenna. I've done my bringing up baby trial by fire, and right now, have no desire to do it again.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

This is Supposed to be Fun, Right?

Riding is supposed to be fun. We all love horses and find great enjoyment from being around them. That's why we spend thousands of dollars, and pour our blood, sweat, and tears into this sport. But what happens when its no longer fun?

Part of my silence lately has been because, for me, riding McKenna is not fun. I love her on the ground; she's sweet, cuddly and has so much personality. But under saddle she intimidates me. She's hot and bold, and at times feels like a ticking time bomb. For the most part riding her is hard work and not something I enjoy.

For the past few months I've gone back and forth about selling her. Why keep subjecting myself to something I don't like when I'm going broke doing it? And it's not fair to her to be trained by a nervous amateur who's afraid and scared. She has so much potential and I'd never tap into all of it.

So yesterday the mare was put up on DreamHorse and a few Facebook groups. A couple friends have mentioned that they know people looking, including her former owner so I'm hopeful that she'll go someplace where I can get updates on her. I am more concerned about where she goes than price. She needs a confident rider that can bring her up, not someone like myself.

I'm in no rush to sell her and will continue on as we have been till she's sold. And then the search will begin for the next pony.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Your Monthly Update

I didn't really mean to go almost a month with out blogging, oops!  Not a whole lot has happened, good rides and bad rides, some good lessons and some not so good lessons, some very grown-up big kid work out the mare, some complete baby moments where she lost her mind. 
I'm a big kid now...maybe
We had one lesson where my fear and insecurity took control.  Mare felt spooky and was convinced she had to run in one particular spot in the ring.  It was tracking left, as we came around a corner and went on the rail between a jump on the quarter line and the arena fence.  Every single time she'd drop her butt, throw her head, and try to leap forward.  I regressed to a complete beginner, including curling up in the fetal position while grabbing her mouth, thinking we were going to die.  My trainer ended up hand walking us around the ring till I was completely mortified and calmed down.  We did eventually manage to trot twice around the arena without any hysterics on both the mare's and my part before calling it a day.  The big thing that helped, when I remembered, was to breathe and not grab her face when she wanted to explode.  If I let her go a stride or two without getting on her case, she would stop on her own.  It's just so very hard to break that instinct to hold on for dear life.

Soon after that lesson her favorite spot to spook became next to the tree of doom!!!
But since then, minus the spooking at the tree of doom, we've had a couple good lessons.  We've set up placing poles before and after the jumps to help slow the mare down and make her think instead of just hauling ass to and away from the jumps. I'm splitting my rides between the jump and dressage saddles but I think McKenna's learned that the jump tack = jumping = fun! so I'm going to do more flat work/non jumping rides in the jump saddle.  Have to mix it up and keep her on her toes.  We've had some nice dressage work and got our first steps of actual leg yield in the trot going left.  Hopefully in the next month we'll be able to have a lesson with TS and continue on.

It always makes me laugh looking at his big belly and super long stick legs. He really should be hand shorter than he is.
Phoenix is very fat and very happy. I've been out to see him a few times but hadn't run into PO for awhile till this weekend.  She apologized for getting my horse fat but I'd rather him be that way than skinny, especially at 20. I talked with her about cutting back his feed and poor pony is only going to be getting half the alfalfa he was getting before.  I'm such a mean mommy.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

New Horsepower

Since my truck has been slowly dying electrical part by electrical part, with some random overheating and falling off of mirrors thrown in for fun, I'm proud to finally say I've upgraded!
Go home rear view mirror, you're drunk

Welcome to the family big blue!! She's a 2012 Dodge Ram 2500 5.7 liter Hemi with all the bells and whistles.

Bluetooth, navigation system, and best of all a backup camera! It took me about two seconds to back up to the trailer using it! I'm sure I'll love it even more (if that's possible) when I'm trying to hook up in the dark on early horse show mornings. 
I do want to give a huge THANK YOU to my parents for helping me afford this beauty. You guys are seriously the best!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Jump ALL the Things

I think McKenna's latest meltdowns have been in part because I'm asking her to work harder like a grown up pony and adulting is hard, and that we've been focusing on dressage and haven't done any poles/jumping in I can't remember when.  The mare's brain has been slightly fried so this past week was focusing on jumping all the things.

Last Monday I decided to lunge her first in the vienna reins then over a cavalletti. I started it small, about 6", then moved it up to 18" then 2'.  Back and forth each way trotting and cantering at each height till she was able to chill and do it nicely.  I then adjusted it to make an oxer, going right since that's her easier direction.  She didn't bat an eye at it and while she tends to go from the long spots, she had no trouble over the baby 2'3" fence.
I like this one because it looks like she's doing some fancy jazz dance step with her hind end.

Tuesday was our now weekly jump lesson.  I'm committing to at least one lesson a week thru the summer.  I definitely realize that I need help figuring out a well rounded riding plan for Miss McKenna and in the two I've already had there's been great improvement.  Like last time we started inside with some w-t-c.  She was a bit strong in the canter but really turning my body to the inside and lots of little half halts helped.  We then went outside and trainer had me immediately go over the little crossrails set up from the previous lesson.

The first time McKenna didn't know what was coming and trotted over them no problem. But once she realized what we were doing she promptly ignored me and attempted to run at the fences.  We did some circling before the fences to make her think we weren't jumping and it kinda worked.  Trainer then had me walk down the rain and start trotting once we turned onto our approach.  The mare was still strong, but waited for the most part. 

McKenna got Wednesday and Thursday off and Friday I set some poles up in the indoor since it was raining.  We trotted back and forth and she was great so I added a crossrail after the poles.  Again the first time she was caught unaware by the jump and hopped over it no problem.  The following times she wanted to get strong and stumbled a bit through the poles.  She ended up figuring it out and I think I'll continue with the placing poles before the fences.  The more I can get her thinking about her feet and slowing her down, the better!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Kick On

McKenna and I had a lesson Tuesday night with our jump trainer that was a continuation of McKenna's current "I don't wanna, I don't like it" trend.  Poor mare seems to be going through some teenage rebellion and growing pains. 

We were put right to work on a circle asking for a forward trot.  Trainer thinks I've gotten too worried about where her head is and getting her round, and that we need to take a step back and get our flow back.  The trot was actually pretty decent, she was just a bit harder to get going and soft tracking left than right.  The training wheel really came off in our canter work.  We'd canter a circle or two then McKenna decided she was done and would break to the trot.  Being the nice mom that I am, I would let her, then trot around till we had a nice soft trot and ask for the canter again.  Trainer said McKenna was very easily taking advantage and I needed to nip it in the bud.  As soon as I started to feel her break in the canter I was to kick on and boot her forward.  Forget about it being pretty, or soft, or where her head was, she needed to go until I said stop.

But she's too cute to get mad at
It's not like she's out of shape or unconditioned to canter more than two circles in a row.  She just doesn't want to.  She did protest with some head flinging and a couple little hops the first time I got after her, but got over much better than she did her tantrum on Sunday.  Baby steps for the teenager.

We had been riding inside (and sharing the ring with a western pleasure rider) but trainer wanted to see how she'd be outside and work on some trot poles.  It had been raining off and on all day but was currently not raining so we headed out.  The ring was wet, with some little puddles but McKenna's a PNW born-n-bred pony so she didn't care at all. We started trotting around and of course it starts sprinkling but trainer made us stay out there.  McKenna was more up and alert outside but I was told to not worry about it, just get her going forward and focus on the trot poles.  The poles were set at about a stride and half and my job was make her wait and add for the two.
Gimme cookies

It for sure wasn't our prettiest trips through poles but that wasn't the goal.  We did four or five trips through the poles, fitting in the two steps, and each time got better.  McKenna was still not as round and soft as she could have been but she was listening and not taking off or being naughty, even when it started raining harder and we were going directly into it.  She did lay her ears flat back and hump her back up but I kicked on, and she went through the poles and halted nicely after. Yay mare! 

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Happy F-ing Mother's Day

I find it fitting that I so completely pissed of my pony on Mother's Day she had a tantrum of epic proportions.  She was acting like a total teenager and was in a snit our whole ride but instead of making me upset I was able to laugh it off.
We attempted to canter but it was more flailing and leaping
I haven't done much with McKenna this week.  We were supposed to have a lesson on Tuesday but she was just so slightly off.  The inside of her left front shoe had slipped a little, creating a tiny gap between it and her hoof.  Trainer thought that there were some pebbles/sand stuck in the crack making her sore.  The farrier was already scheduled for Thursday so the mare got a few days off till her shoe could get reset. Just to be safe the farrier took the hoof testers to her, but she didn't react at all and when I lunged her afterwards she looked normal.

Friday she got lunged as I was completely exhausted after a long work week and barely had the energy to clean my stall and feed. We did have a pretty decent ride Saturday considering she hadn't been ridden since Monday.  McKenna was full of energy, but it was controllable.  Lots of transitions, lots of circles, lots of keeping my calm and focus and riding her through it.
The dressage bridle I ordered came this week so I decided to test it out today.  I really just wanted to try the flash, as McKenna like to grab anything that comes into range of her mouth and stick her tongue out when she's upset or doesn't like something.  When I first got on I could feel her confusion about the flash; she attempted some head tossing and shaking but seemed ok with it.  During our trot work she would get upset mostly during changes of direction/bend and try to open her mouth, hit the flash, and then fling her head.  She wasn't super bad and it was easy to ride past it so I kept going. 

About five strides into our first canter she gave me the equine middle finger and took off. Her head was as high as my martingale would allow, she had the bit between her teeth, and I had very little brakes.  I pretty much had to run her into the wall to get her to stop.  She's taken off with me before, but it's always been an "I'm so full of energy and baby OTTB" explosion involving some bucks and/or leaps. This was an "I'm pissed off and f-you bitch" type of take off. She had let her inner witchy mare come out to play and she's never done that with me.  I got off and took of the flash and she immediately rubbed her nose on the wall of the arena. 

I got back on but she was having none of it. She would hop up and down in the canter, try to take off in the trot, way over bend and go sideways when I asked for leg yield, and almost ran my leg into the wall multiple times.  We did another 20minutes or so and I just asked for some nice, soft work but she was beyond reason.  We finally quit with some somewhat relaxed walk leg yields.  So note to self: The mare does not like flashes and we'll probably never rock a figure 8 in the jumper ring.

Monday, May 4, 2015

To the Left, to the Left

Sorry if that song is now stuck in your head but it's been stuck in mine all weekend so I thought I'd share the wealth!  I had a last minute dressage lesson Friday night where we focused on all things left.  Mainly getting McKenna off my left leg and moving more into my right rein.

Looks almost like a legit dressage pony
I might have had an impulse eBay buy that came Friday morning.  I found a good deal on a barely used Collegiate dressage saddle that I put a low ball offer in that won. TS checked the fit of it before my lesson and it actually fits McKenna pretty darn well.  TS recommended some reflocking in the future, after the mare finishes growing/filling out but the Ogilvy helps for now. I did have to punch a couple holes in the stirrup leathers it came with, but being a shorty I'm used to it.  I do have a black dressage bridle on the way because I hate mixing brown and black tack.

As for the lesson, we only did walk-trot but it was some of the best and hardest work we've had yet.  TS was really getting after me about not getting after McKenna.   I'm being too easy on the mare and it's time to up the ante. We really focused on our leg yields going left.  The mare absolutely doesn't want to move off my left leg, or will move her shoulders but not her hind end.  I was given a dressage whip and told to lightly tap her with it.  McKenna had the predicted melt down, "OH MY GOD MOM IS BEATING ME!!!!!!!!" but after a couple half hearted hops up and down she gave it up and went back to work. I was really happy with the fact that she could come back to work after losing her little pony brain. That almost felt better than the leg yields we ended with!
Nom nom time
She got the day off Saturday to think about what she learned, then we went right back to it on Sunday.  I didn't drill the leg yields as much as we had in the lesson, and I didn't get the whip out, but we still had some good work.  I also cantered in the dressage saddle for the first time and holy crap do I love it!  I could actually SIT ON MY HORSE during our canter, wrap my legs around her, and not perch on her back.  It felt like I was cantering bareback.  I am so so so happy with my impulse buy!

Friday, May 1, 2015

I Need Another Hole in my Head

You know the saying "I need a (fill in the this case it would be horse) like I need another hole in my head"? Well I need another hole in my head.  For the next month I'm going to be working with a friend's mare.  BB had shoulder surgery a year ago, and then again two weeks ago, and hasn't been able to work with her 6yr old QH mare much.  They were able to do some trail rides over the fall and winter but BB was pretty upset that she still can't ride.  I'm not exactly sure how it came about that I'd ride the mare, I seem to remember a BBQ and lots of wine, but it did so here we go!

Meet Dally
Dally's a well started rope and mounted shooting horse, but BB says she gets strong and needs to learn to give to the bit.  She moved in last night and I've just lunged her so far.  She seems nervous and worried, but not naughty.  Her one big quirk is that she's majorly ear shy, but we'll work on that. Since she hasn't worked much in the past year she's pretty out of shape and needs to go on a diet.

It's hare to get pics of her, she keeps following me around
I figure the plan is to start slow with some walk-trot till she gets more in shape and we get used to each other. I get the sense that she's a tryer and wants to please so hopefully once she knows me she'll relax and soften.  She's a very cute mover, lofty floaty trot that looks super smooth. Even though she's a western pony I'm pretty sure I'll have to put my jump saddle on her and see what she's like as a hunter pony. And I think she's very close to being an actual pony; she's maybe 15 hands.

She has the prettiest mane.  Blond, gray, and liver chestnut all mixed in.