Monday, November 30, 2009

The mare called Fox

We came up with a barn name for our lovely Show Stopper. We decided to call her Fox.

My lesson on Friday with Adam was great, and I definitely came home with lots to practice. The main focus of the lesson was forward and straight, and making sure to keep her happy. I kept her on a fairly loose rein, and focused on forward, so that later it can be forward into light contact. 

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Turkey Day!

Happy Thanksgiving all! Miz Thang' (barn name to be determined) as Grayson would call her, is actually quite comical. The more I get to know her the more I like her. She is just my type - sweet, but mare-ish in the sense that she will let you know as soon as she is unhappy with what you are doing. She hates having her belly touched in any way, though if you leave your hand there, she gets over it pretty quickly. She is also very mouthy, but not in a way that she actually wants to bite. If you aren't careful she will grab your zipper, and undo your jacket. She also chews on the cross ties, and is very interested in everything going on around her.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The new Miss Thing

Today was my first ride on Showstopper, and boy is she fun! And adorable! We just walk trotted, and cantered, and her transitions need a whole lot of work, but she is only three. Marilyn and I went down to Horseman's after the ride and bought her a new bridle and halter. Also a baker sheet. I'm going to treat myself to an early christmas present and get a wool cooler, and have my name embroidered into it.

Here is the link to the video from today's ride -

Monday, November 23, 2009

The excitement continues

Edit to add: Here she is!!

So I just talked to Anne for a while about the possibilities for the spring, and we are both really excited for everything that might materialize. I told her about my class schedule, which will allow me to spend the days working in the barn, and she is hoping to split her horse Brownie with me so that I can do the 3'3- 3'6 jumpers on him. She really thinks he would do great in the amateur stuff, and she wants me to get that same experience too.

She is also excited about Showstopper, and that I will learn more about the finesse involved in the hunter world, but glad that she can keep me moving up into some of the bigger jumpers while I bring her along. We are going to work out a deal where I will basically be a working student with lots of riding time, and showing opportunities. She is willing to have the mare come down before New Years, and keep her in training while I'm in London. I will work off that fee.

Tomorrow I have a presentation on Cognitive and Behavioral Theory in my counseling class, and then an Econ exam before I drive home. And because I'm such a good friend, I will be driving my friend Erick to the airport before I actually head home. I won't be home until late, but it will all be worth it to get up early to go meet Showstopper. On Wednesday I think I will go ride early, get photos and videos for all to see, then come home to see New Moon with Evan before I go to the auction with Stef and Kaitlyn. Excited for Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Moving forward

The past two days have been the best rides the pony has had, and I'm really happy with how she has been behaving. We are still only walking and trotting, but she seems to be settling into the expectations I have of her. I don't really expect or ask much from her at all. My priorities are forward and straight. I do ask her to bend to the inside when she starts looking to the outside of the arena, but yesterday and today it hasn't been much of an issue.

I loosen the tie down about an inch each ride, and right now its in a spot that really isn't tying her down much at all. It really just functions to keep her from throwing her head, which is what leads to her rearing. She will be ready for a regular martingale soon enough.

Sitting on a young green horse is interesting because you must be aware of your body at all times. Even at the walk I have to consider where my legs are, is my weight distributed evenly, am I providing even pressure on my seat bones, and where are my hands. Each of these things provides a cue for her. She has a sensitive mouth, and so I use my body and voice to ask her to slow before I use any hand. She does tend to rush though, and I have found that I do need to keep a constant feel on her mouth. Its clear that Heath emphasized headset with her, because the second I take up any contact, she drops her head into a frame. I don't mind this, but I don't want it to become an evasion tactic, which I'm sure it was with him. I still have her in the French Link full cheek snaffle, so I know its not that I'm using to much bit. I plan to continue to establish rhythm and relaxation with her, and I know that each day she likes life a little bit more. To me that is success.

All went well with Showstopper's vetting (she will need a good barn name). I believe she will be brought home tomorrow or Tuesday, and then we will trailer to Adam's on Wednesday for our first ride. Even though I haven't met her yet, I'm so glad Adam and Lacy called me about this horse. I'm really excited to meet her this week, from everything that I have heard, she seems like she will be a really fun project. She won't be shipped to NC until the end of December, where she will be in light training with Anne until I get back at the end of January. Since she is only three she doesn't really need to be ridden all the time. She has only had 12-14 rides on her at this point, but with her breeding, she has the potential to be something really special. It will be interesting for me to get a feel for the hunter world as well. Oh the possibilities!

Friday, November 20, 2009

After the down comes the up.

Since the week was so bad, there was no way to go but up. This morning M went to try out a mare for our next project, and she liked her so much that she is getting vetted in forty minutes. Her name is Showstopper and she is a 16.2h chestnut Holsteiner mare by Superman, out of a mare that did the small GP's. As long as all goes according to plan, hopefully she will be ours sooner rather than later. Its another one of those days that I'm so thankful for the opportunities I have been given. When Adam and Lacy heard about this horse, and found out she was in our price range, she called me right away because they thought of me. This horse was not listed for sale online, only advertised through word of mouth.

The mare will be a hunter, her sire is a champion conformation hunter. I'm super excited because this will be something new and different for me, and I will hopefully have an opportunity to bring along a really fancy prospect. I also think I'm going to have the opportunity to work with some really great people to help me bring her along.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The amount of zero's at the end of the number in the bank account

I feel like life lately has just been saying, "things have been too good for you lately, let me see what I can do to screw it all up." It has been a week on lessons about people. For the most part everyone is out to get you, out to screw you over. If they don't screw you over they are looking for your money. Now, here, I know you are saying, she's just bitter and cynical.

Maybe I am, okay wait, no I'm not. I'm not talking about our everyday relationships. Friends, family, etc., those are the people who are there for us. Those are the people that protect us, when all our other defenses seem to have fallen apart. Dealing with people within a business context, whether they do business with you, or you do business with them, there are always motives. If you can't see the motives right away, they are just good at what they do.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

On how to bail

Anyway, it has been a long time since I have bailed off a horse. Today was one of those days. The pony had her teeth done, so that means we are back to using a bridle with a bit. There was no rearing during bridling, but once I got on that all changed. She gave me a small rear in the second corner, but then in the third corner she went straight up, and I had to bail. She went up so high that I thought we were going over backwards, so I jumped off to the side and proceeded to try and pull her over backwards while she was still up in the air. When that didn't work, I went towards her trying to get her to rear again, so that I could try and flip her. But, to no avail. When I finally let go of the reins she proceeded to gallop around the ring for about 15 minutes.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A brief excerpt on the simple truths of life.

I've been doing a lot of thinking lately, but to no avail. Now I'm not talking about the kind of thinking that gears towards a math test, or Econ paper, I'm talking about the kind that makes you really consider life in its entirety. There are several simple truths I believe in.

I believe that hard work is rewarded.
I believe that those who work hard will get what they desire and deserve.
I believe gut instincts are worth listening to.
I believe that there is more than one mean to every end.
I believe that money does make the world go around.
I believe that patience and honesty are two of the most important qualities one can possess.
I believe that perfect timing is everything, and perfect practice is crucial.

But most of all I believe that there are exceptions to every rule, including each and every rule that I so desperately believe in.

Monday, November 16, 2009

No more excuses

So Saturday ended up being one of the best lessons I have had in a while. I wish I had the money to lesson more often. I rode Anne's "masterpiece" a Hanoverian/TB named State, that she did the big jumpers with. Once I got him to back off of my hand, and really balance back on his hind end, we got to work. We started with some gymnastic work, the same line we did last time. Bounce, two, one, one, bounce halt.

 After that, Leah continued to work with Huxley on the gymnastics and more IHSA type courses, and State and I did some jumper stuff. We did some really steep broken lines, jumping the line on a 30 degree angle. and then two rollbacks, and one really steep rollback, where I had to shorten State's stride to a five or six foot stride to make it. Overall it was a success, and in my next lesson we will do some big stuff, and jump him 3'6-3'9. Anne wants me to get a feel for how cool he really is, and how well he can really jump.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Rain rain go away, come again some other day.

Its been raining ALL week. I haven't ridden since MONDAY. Poor pony, and poor Kelsey!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Two steps forward, two weeks back.

I have tremendous respect for everyone I have been involved with thus far in the NC horse world, especially my vet. He is extremely knowledgeable, and really knows horses. That being said, there are certain horses whose minds you must be careful with, regardless of the circumstances. Today was a bad day for the little beast, just as we were beginning to get somewhere, with her in the cross ties, she started her little rearing charade.

When the vet began looking at her teeth, her reaction was to stand up on those hind legs of hers. I haven't figured out the proper way to punish her on the ground yet, but my vet sure figured something out. I have only ever seen one horse get punched in the face before, and it was a stallion with a habit of striking out at people. Today that was what the filly got for rearing. Each time, he gave her an opportunity to quietly open her mouth, when she didn't, he let her have it. Two big rears in the aisle warranted a location change to the stall. He did the same thing. Each time she reared he let her have it. This is not something he would ever do to a horse of a client's, but he and Jim Bob have a friendship beyond that relationship.

Monday, November 9, 2009

A long weekend with several realizations

I think its fitting that I have this little palomino now, while I have been spending time in the classrooms at Head Start. My volunteer work and my riding feel like they are on the exact same page. I work with 3-5 year olds in a pre-school environment several times a week, and sometimes I feel this kids are the human form of this palomino. It reminds me that its just not fair to really expect much, but that its important to have a firm guiding hand in the education process.

 Many of these children come from extremely impoverished households, with many whose parents are involved in gang life. Often during Bingo these kids can't identify the number they draw, but they can match it to the ones on their boards. I find that it is the same week after week as well. In the time that I have been working with these kids, and the time that I have been working with this pony, I feel as though both have made the same amount of progress.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Well, what DO you know Baby?

So Kaitlyn wants me to name the little one "Golden Opportunity" if she ever makes it into the show ring, but I already know a Goldie so I can't call her that. Plus she is more yellow than gold. I think from now on she will be called Baby. Its fitting I think, at least it seems that way now.

It's interesting to begin seeing the difference in the pony now that I have eliminated some obvious pain issues. I'm still riding in the raw hide side pull bridle, with a halter underneath, in my english saddle. I also keep the tie down on her, this time attached to the halter. I'm starting to get a feeling for what she knows, and she seems to be a fairly quick learner, though that cow pony in her is extremely stubborn.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

PONY is SOLD - and the new one is settling. GOOD DAY.

So I know I have been keeping you all in the dark about Zena's progress in Virginia. Her vet check was Tuesday, and she was 100% clean. She had no changes in the flex test or hoof test, "excellent" x-rays, clean straight legs, clean ultra sound when checked to be sure she could reproduce. The only things she was able to find were that her feet needed to be done (she is going on seven weeks, so truth, and her teeth need to be done, its been ten months, so truth.

 She also found that at the seated gaits, sitting trot, sitting canter, she may be a little sore, which makes sense since I'm a little too big for her. She also is has Equine Metabolic Syndrome which in everyday terms means "easy keeper". Basically it means that because of where the fat deposits are on her body she may be a candidate for laminitis down the road. To me these are all very cosmetic issues. There are no fundamental issues in her conformation that will keep her from being successful at the upper levels. The Equine Metabolic Syndrome is something that will never be an issue as long as she remains on the exercise/feed program that she is currently on.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Hey truth, where did you go?

So the guy who broke this beastie, Heath, came out to ride her tonight. I wasn't able to get out until class was over, so I missed the first half of the ride. Grayson sent me short texts to keep me posted. Apparently the little one reared on him while tacking, and under saddle. This guy just over powered her, as he is a 6'+ 190 lb+ man. To me that is not breaking/starting a horse, thats breaking a horse's will. He said eventually she stood still after he beat her up a bit. My guess is that he didn't notice that she was probably shaking and terrified at that point. She has a tendency to do that.

Under saddle she resisted him a lot too. By the time I got there she was dripping in sweat and still fighting. He had a thin corkscrew snaffle in her mouth, and a tie down that works like a running martingale. He basically used all that leverage to force her down into a frame and get her bending back and forth to each side in a way that I have never seen. After watching him for about ten minutes, I asked him to steer her in a straight line without worrying about the bend. Oh wait, there is a hole in what should be basic training. Several other holes came up when he said he had never seen her rear before (oh really?), and again when he had to run her into a canter.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The beauty of round pens

So today I round penned the snot out of this little pony. I've started closing the doors behind her when we tack up so when she backs up she can't just run backwards. And so she went up, and high this time. Its a good thing she isn't malicious because if she wanted to come at me and strike out when she goes up she could seriously hurt me. I also tried putting the tie down on before trying to put the bridle on so that I could keep her from going up, but she figured out how to rear with it still on. I decided to switch from the halter into a rawhide side pull bridle with a chain curb underneath to attach the tie down to. I took her out to the round pen and sent her around until she was ready to accept the bridle. It took about four tries of her stopping, me trying to bridle her, and then if she backed up I sent her back around the circle. I used the limited knowledge I have of round pen work to drive her forward, and change directions, and pace without using a whip or even noise. All my work with her today was based on body language, and establishing my position as the "alpha male" in this herd of two (her and me).

After the fourth try she finally let me bridle her without much fight. I showered her with praise and patted her all over body. Some other issues I have found with her are that she has a tendency to cross canter to balance herself in the round pen. She also refuses to pick up her feet, and will lock the leg that I'm trying to pick up. And if she does give to it, she begins to fall over so I drop it.

Monday, November 2, 2009


Today after speaking to Jim Bob about the pony we came up with several ideas for little pony's future. For one he doesn't want me riding her until we figure out what she has truly done. Heath is supposed to come out tomorrow or the next day to show me just how "broke" the little one is. Grayson and Jim Bob both know he is being dishonest, and there are many things that are just not quite right. Grayson was able to witness much of this today. I had her hang around while we got the little one ready. She saw some rears, she saw how bad she was when she went to tighten the girth - as if it had never been done before.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

I HATE rearing

This mare has not been broken, and if she has I'd be surprised if she has had more than five rides on her. She reared twice in the cross ties today while I was trying to bridle her, and then one huge one under saddle when I asked for a one rein stop. I had to grab her neck just to stay on. I'm going to have a friend out to video her, so I'm sure I'll get some of these rears on film :-/

I think I have to go all the way back to square one with her. I think her teeth need to be done, and I'm only going to be walking for at least a week. Today I got off after I convinced her to walk calmly around the ring once with steering and no stopping. More tomorrow.