Monday, February 28, 2011


I think I have talked earlier about the big middle finger my Appy likes to give me?  That has become more and more regular, despite groundwork and pretty firm insistence on good ground manners?  I do hope that we hurry up and get to the point where I enjoy riding the App alone again, right now I really hate riding him by himself.  Constant screaming for his buddies with a total disregard to what I am saying or what is going on (like a car driving by a-hole!) is getting old.

Had a pretty good weekend and decided to end it on a trail ride, trail rides are riding on the roads around our "block" which is a 3 mile loop.  Not a bad ride, all dirt roads that is only moderately traveled.  Some days we see 5 or 6 cars in our time out, other days we see 1 car.  Despite my wanting an easy ride, I knew I had to ride the App and chose the pelham so I could have a snaffle rein and a curb if/when things went badly.  It started well, as in getting out of the driveway and out onto the road.  About 5 minutes in the screaming started.  Gave a hard kick (forgot the "encouragement stick") told him to put his head down.  Continue forward, do some lateral work and another scream erupts and he turns/bounces the other direction.  Yanked hard on the curb chain and made him stand with his head at my knee.  Turn the right direction and continue forward.  After a few minutes of him being relaxed I am thinking maybe things are going to be okay and we stop to let a car drive by.  As they approach the App screams his head off and jumps about 2 feet sideways into the road.  OH. MY. GAWD. HORSE!  WTF is wrong with you!?!  Put him back on the side of the road and let the person pass.  Continue forward and he screams again.  Yank as hard as I can on the curb to get his head down and stand with his head at my knee again.  Release and kick him forward in a trot.  Of course, he screams again.  I smack him as hard as I can on the neck and spend the next 10 mins making him walk with his head down, doing laterals, circles, anything I can think of.

Finally get to the first stop sign and we have only gone .7 miles but he seems quiet.  We walk in relative peace for another 10 mins and we pass the second stop sign and the screaming starts again.  In the thought of making the right thing easy and the wrong thing hard, I kicked him into a canter.  Safe?  Mostly, while the the road is snowy it is in the mid thirties so it is soft snow and not hard, slippery and compact.  I made him canter collected and didn't allow him to fall into his forehand or go faster.  Made him continue until he kept the canter himself and he was good and tired so I then allowed a walk, we had went a little over a half mile in a canter but success!  We were finally able to go the last third of our ride in relaxed peace.  

Am so over this separation anxiety BS he is pulling, we dealt with it when we moved here and it went away after a month.  It reared its ugly head again when the donkey arrived and was turned out with them and we are now on month 2 of this BS.  Grrrrr, he is turning 18 and knows better.  Really wish I had another place to put him or other horses to turn him out with for a while but alas I don't.  I guess more and more groundwork it will be.  Am very happy the TWH doesn't do this crap, at least I can enjoy riding one of my horses.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Some sarcastic humor and a quick update

Borrowing from COTH forums, I find this too funny.

A day in the life of an equine vet

I have boarded with so many people like this.  I don't call the vet out over every tiny thing, I am part of the wait and see crowd on a lot of issues, but come on.  It made me smile so I wanted to share.

On another note I jumped the TWH last night and he did SO good.  Since he isn't super knowledgeable about it still he would get his distances off when he wouldn't extend or compact his stride to meet the pole but he tried really hard and did very good over the fences.  The funniest part is when I put up a 1 stride at 18 inches.  The first time over, when he got over the first jump, he took a good pause as he looked at the second jump before going over.  Was sure he was going to simply stop, he just couldn't figure out what it was all about and massively overjumped it.  Despite having gone over it as a pole on the ground and he has done this exercise before last year.  Oh well, he makes me happy with his progress.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

What does an eventer need? Jumps!

Had a pretty good lesson last night, I opted to jump instead of doing dressage because who really wants to do dressage when you have brand new jumps.  Since I now have 5 poles and 2 sets of jump standards it was a perfect time to break them in.  I rode the App and he showed his experience well.  He has been jumping since around 02 and has been schooled extensively over gymnastics, he knows his stuff and it showed.

We started out trotting and cantering over a pole on the ground, I have definitely lost the ability to see strides during my time off from jumping.  I was getting the strides about 90% of the time and now I am back at 50%, I guess now that I have poles I can practice again.  We then went over a crossrail and the instructor seemed genuinely offended that we trotted after landing instead of cantering.  I told her he has been trained to trot after jumps because of his hot nature in the field, I guess we will be working on that.  She wants to "redirect" that extra energy into something productive and not eliminate or prevent the behavior.  Yikes, that will be interesting.  Need to remember to bring a stronger bit on that day.

The only nit-picky thing she had was she did have me change my two point position slightly, I have push my lower back too far down towards the saddle making my back not be actually flat.  I guess it is a better problem then having a crumpled, haunched over look but now I have many years of fighting muscle memory to correct it.  When she says my back is flat it feels like I am rounding it, getting a new feel I guess.

We finished out the session by going over a 2ft one stride without instruction so she could evaluate us.  It was near perfect, she really likes his jumping and said he looks like he knows exactly what he is doing.  Even though he hasn't done a one stride in (I really don't know when) a long time, he was perfect.  It was very obvious that even when I put him at the wrong distance he knew how to correct it to make it work.  Love my Appy's jumping and she did too.  Now if only we could put that enthusiasm in his dressage he could still be a great show horse.  Can't wait to jump again!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Lunging with beauty

Finally found time to lunge the TWH for the first time in ages this morning.  I honestly don't remember the last time we've done a lunge session, a year?  Maybe more?  It's been a while, I don't normally lunge for exercise.  All in all I am happy with the way things went, I got what I asked for and he tried hard.

We started with some basic walking without side reins and he proved that his neck can be very bendy and he couldn't possible keep a tempo.  After about 5 minutes of this display I attached the side reins and fixed the "I'm looking at you with both eyes but I'm walking on a circle so I'm not in trouble" issue.  It took a while for him to relax in the walk/run transitions, he kept step pacing.  When being ridden and he step paces he gets a bop on a rein, every time he started step pacing he would throw his head expecting a bop, funny he realizes it is not the gait he is being asked for.  Any sort of pace is very strongly discouraged as while I have a pacey horse I do not want a pacey horse.

After we had solid transitions I asked for a trot, I am pretty positive I was getting a rack and gaits I don't have a name for but once we got the trot it was amazing.  I need to take a video sometime, I really really hope that is the trot I am getting/will get under saddle.  It was beautifully forward, balanced and had complete self carriage.  He totally looked like an upper level dressage horse about to go into an extended trot with that trot, totally amazing.  Even got it the other direction, I wish he felt that balanced under saddle.

Worked on canter/trot transitions, one of the (other) reasons I cannot show him in "normal" classes yet is because we do not have a canter/trot transition.  When he comes out of a canter he goes into a hard pace (or a walk if you give a strong enough half halt).  I am hoping that if I can't get a canter/trot transition then I can get a canter/one stride of pace/trot transition.  If I got that I would be happy enough, right now it is a work in progress.

Have a lesson on the App tonight, here's to hoping my legs don't fall off.  The instructor doesn't want me to use my whip anymore because he has become dead to it and mostly ignores it unless you really smack him, she wants me to use leg-lots of thumping, thwacking, kicking leg until he starts respecting the leg again.  Let the fun begin!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Snow returns

I woke up yesterday facing a week alone as the SO is out of town all week.  It wasn't too cold, mid 30's, and was looking to be a pretty nice day.  Turned on the news and caught the last part of the weather that made me stop and do a double take.  Storm coming my way starting at noon and hitting hard at 4p, maybe 6 inches with some rain?!?  How come this is the first I am hearing of this?  I had a lot of things planned to do today.

I did the chores and tried again to fix the leaky gutter that keeps trying to flood my barn.  Since there is no snow anywhere I figured it was a good of a time as any, we will see how it holds up when it starts to thaw again.  Dump the poo trailer, fill the water trough, fill hay nets, clean stalls, get new sawdust, run into town and get necessities for the week.  I finally headed home at 4p and the radio said where they were it was snowing hard and were expecting 6-12 inches.  WHAT?!?  That is a lot more than they told me on the news!  As I start watering/dragging the arena and it starts to snow.  Stop and bring the critters in, as the Appy is already shivering since he has gotten wet in the snow, and keep working the arena.

Finally at 630p I finish my chores and there is already 3 inches on the ground and I get an ill feeling about where the night is headed.  Feed everyone and start inside chores, at night check there is almost 5 inches of snow.  Less than 6 hours before I had no snow and now I have this?  Went to sleep as I realize I am powerless to fight mother nature this far north.  I awake to 10 inches of new, white, fluffy snow.  10 inches!  Since I have people coming over every night this week to ride I realize I have to plow everything by myself.  Drag the tractor out and plow for over an hour before finally giving up and throwing everyone out in the pasture.  Clean stalls, fill water buckets, fill hay nets, drag myself inside and turn on the news.  What does it tell me?  More snow possible later today.  FML.

Friday, February 18, 2011

You are not pulling your weight

I live in the country, in the woods.  There is some farmland, however it is mostly woods.  As a result there is a lot of wildlife here, it is normal to see deer in our yard eating our cedar trees or watch the pack of turkey run across our driveway.  We also have a huge mole problem and we now have a small mouse problem.  This is a concern because I have a total of 5 cats.  2 cats are great, they are cold, calculating, merciless killers who normally bring me 1-2 moles/mice a week.  These cats are spoiled with canned cat food every night and as much dry cat food they want.  These are my barn cats, they were born in a barn, have never known a warm house and are the best barn cats I could have ever wished for. 

I also have 3 indoor cats that I have had for numerous years.  These have never been outdoor cats, except my little tabby who we adopted from a rescue and probably lived outside.  They live the life of luxury keeping the house safe from vicious birds that perch upon the birdfeeder by the window, sleeping in sunbeams and staying available for being disturbed.  Until lately, the house cats' job was to be disturbed for my entertainment.  Sleeping cat?  Disturbed.  Cold lap/toes and warm cat belly?  Disturbed.  Look lazy?  Disturbed.  Since we have moved in the country and we now have some mice that have taken residence, I figured the problem would be automatically solved.

How mistaken I was.  These lazy indoor cats may attempt to chase gerbils that are in cages but they do nothing for mice in walls.  Or mice chewing the dog food bag and stealing dog food.  Or mice that steal pieces of toilet paper, napkins or tissues.  Alas I finally broke down and bought mouse traps, despite having 3 (obviously not) mouse killers.  I have now caught my third mouse within a week and am patiently awaiting a new catch.  I have no idea how big of a problem I have, but am expecting the worst so I will continue my hunt.  Which my lazy cats are not doing.  Come spring, some can become indoor/outdoor cats and they can learn to earn their keep, they need to be schooled by the real killers I employ outside.  Lazy cats.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Wonderfully warm

Except for mud, I do like spring.  I like spring a lot.  The fact it is in the 40's today and the 50's for the next couple of days makes me super happy.  I took my time going to the mailbox today because it was so nice out, I didn't need a jacket or anything.  Am not looking forward to the weekend simply because it will be back in the low 30's, why can't it be spring already?  The horses are shedding like crazy, that means spring right?!?

Had another good ride with the riding buddy, she isn't as fit as a perfect world would allow but she likes riding.  She rode the TWH and was trying to get him trotting, he requires a strong asking aid then lots of inside leg to get him going, then plenty of leg to keep the gas going.  It was very hard for her to keep her leg on him that much, funny as it is such second nature to me as I rarely know I am doing it or realize how much I do it.  He did give it a good effort and tried for her so she was happy with the progress.  Also showed her some of his cool buttons and helped her learn how to push them correctly.  She kept raising her hands when asking for turns on the quarters so he was getting all confused and upset.  We got her all situated.

My App was a good boy too, though it is hard to admit that he is out of shape and fat.  I have now cut his grain back and plan on riding him more (always the goal though).  He was SO stiff even after a walk warmup, I couldn't get a good forward trot so I took the recommendation of the dressage instructor and went into a quick canter to finish warming up.  It seemed to work okay, he was pretty tired and still a little stiff when we were done though.  Gotta get him back in shape, old man creeks are setting in.  Would be easier if it wasn't so cold and it got dark so early.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Introducing Daisy

So special thanks to my first follower achieve1dream, I have finally figured out how to post a picture.  As a result I will now introduce the newest of my cast of characters:
Meet our newest addition, Daisy the donkey.  Here is a picture of her the day we got her, notice the slipper feet.  Here she is today:
Now some pictures of her feet, before:.
After 2 trims:

This is a good picture of her hind foot, to show how much heel is still left after 2 trims.  The first simply took the slippers off and now we are working on reducing height then will work on angles.
She still has a sticky parking brake but is coming along very nicely for a donkey that hadn't been handled until Dec 22.  More to come!

Back to work for all of us

The weekend went pretty well, all things considering.  I put a nice dent in my arena thanks to partially melted snow throwing the tractor around, was NOT happy.  Still not happy, actually.  Didn't hear back from a craigslist seller who wanted to meet over some heated buckets they were selling, really could've used those buckets but oh well.  Did get a double wheeled wheelbarrow for valentines day, yay me!

Had fun with my riding buddy on Saturday, she putting me in touch with a friend of hers that used to show walking horses.  This new girl is supposed to be very excited about coming and seeing my TWH and wants to offer help with getting his gaits better, if I want it anyway which I do.  Am very happy we are getting along so well, was getting very lonely not having any friends up here.  Sunday was chores, chores, chores and a lesson. Was up working on things from 830a until about 9p and still have to move sawdust tonight because I ran out of time.  Was so tired when I finally went to bed. 

The first lesson went pretty well, The App was much better than the first lesson despite his relentless screaming for his buddies.  Got very irritated at him over it as he did it even at the end of the lesson.  Argh!  We are trying to find the right buttons to push to get a nice relaxed horse as soon as possible so I don't have to school for 45 minutes when I go to shows.  The only time I have a good horse is when I have a tired horse so we are experimenting to try to find a better way to get to that point.

The lesson with the TWH went okay, the instructor is recognizing that there isn't much she is going to be able to do with the two of us as she isn't flexible enough in her skills to teach us much.  I told her my highest goal is to have the TWH trot a dressage test this year so she has been having us trot most of the lesson however she forgets that we don't have balance.  Multiple changes of direction is very difficult, as is leg yielding and she acknowledged she doesn't know how to help us more without using those tricks.  I advised her that our next lesson I want her to pick apart the dressage aspect of things and not worry about gaits, we'll see how it goes.

I did realize I need to get the App more fit, due to my lack of riding since being in Michigan he has gotten soft.  I am starting a workout program for him which will include lunging on the days I can't ride.  Lunged him first thing this morning and it went fairly well until the end.  He suddenly decided it was unacceptable to go into a trot from a canter, instead it was acceptable to simply canter slooowwwly and do a WP lope.  While very cute and amusing, it was not what was being asked for.  Then it was unacceptable to go into a canter from a normal trot but instead he had to badly rush and maybe get a canter.  After many adjustments to the lunge line and side reins I finally got him back under control and listening but of course he was then completely sweaty and icky.  Got the cooler and walked him out, threw in him the stall while I threw everyone else out and cleaned stalls.  Maybe if I get back to working him most everyday he will be the horse he used to be again.  Happy Valentines day!

Thursday, February 10, 2011


The donkey decided she DID remember how to lead (YAY!) and bringing her in from and then back out to pasture took just minutes.  That makes me happy as I got so frustrated yesterday when it took so long and she was being so stubborn.  She was a little sticky with her parking brake when we tried to walk through the pasture gate this am but it wasn't too bad.  Here's to hoping it lasts more than a few days.

My riding buddy and I got along very well, I am so pleased!  She has pretty good form and could ride the App without any issues and even said she would come back.  She did all him "The Thigh Master", as he requires a lot of leg.  I reminded her that I did give fair warning, the downside of the App is lots of leg and insisting on him listening, the downside of the TWH is the random spookiness and random gaits.  We had a fairly good amount of things in common and she knows the few people I know.  I must be knowing the right people lol.  She will come back out on Tuesday then hopefully will start riding a couple times a week.  Yay me!  Here's to hoping this good streak continues

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The donkey and other ramblings

Has it really been a week since my last post?  I am very bad and will try harder to post more often.  I think of all kinds of things to say when I am cleaning stalls but by the time I come inside I've said my piece (in my head) and don't write it down.  Ugh.

The donkey is doing well, we are successfully able to pick up and clean all 4 feet.  The farrier was out on Saturday and was able to take a half inch of hoof off.  That is great but we still have probably an inch and a half still to go.  Despite someone new working with her feet, she only kicked out once and was remarkably well behaved.  I did give her some Calm and Cool beforehand and I think it helped too, but shhh.  No one needs to know lol.  Worked much better than the calming paste I bought at TSC the first time she was trimmed, this time I could actually see she was slightly dulled.  While I don't advocate drugging your critters, sometimes it is helpful.

I have had a recurring setback, which is very frustrating.  The donkey goes from leading well for 3-4 days and then the last day she forgets she can be lead and acts head shy.  WHY do you walk out of the stall, (most of the time) out of the barn and then decide you aren't going anywhere?  At that point I can't get her turned around any easier than forward, all I have is a stubborn donkey that refuses to go anywhere.  It took me almost 20 mins this morning to get her to the pasture.  Not cool donkey.  Not cool at all.  Treats don't work, trying to scare her doesn't work, slapping her butt with my hat doesn't work and neither does twirling a rope or acting like the boss mare.  It comes down to a pulling contest, put a fairly significant pull on her head and then release if she steps forward.  Fantastic, except we have to do this every 4-5 days.  She remembers and is great, then forgets.  Argh!

On another note I am having someone come ride with me tonight, hopefully all goes well and I will have found a new friend.  It gets so lonely riding by myself, I work from home and have my horses here so I don't see anyone and don't know many people still.  Am working to change that, but it is a slow process.  Hoping this girl is friendly, can ride and we mesh personality wise.  If nothing else it has gotten me riding again.  Now just need to get some jumps, this flatwork is boring me to tears.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Getting appytude

Finally did have a lesson on Sunday, it was from someone who is very young and very inexpensive but I think it went well.  I really am not sure how long I will be able to take lessons from her before I outgrow her knowledge but we're going to try.  I should be able to extract good info from her until at least the start of show season.  If nothing else I can afford to take a lesson on both horses almost every week which is something I've never been able to do.  And I can say that on Monday my legs HURT.  I admit, I am pretty out of shape but man.  That's what I get when I don't ride much for a few months, nothing a few hard rides won't fix I suppose.

True to form, the TWH was an angel who tried really hard to do what I asked for.  He was loved by the instructor for his honesty.  She really wanted him to break from a canter to a trot, one of the items on my wishlist.  I advised I had to teach him to trot and he's not balanced with much steering but we tried.  We failed, but we tried.  I'm going to insist we work on something else next time though, that goal is more of a wish as I have a gaited horse and a trot is not natural for him.  Baby steps.  At least he is fun in that he really tries to do what you ask, it's so nice to have that sometimes.

The Appy was the complete opposite and was accused of giving me the middle finger on a regular basis.  Yep, that's my baby.  If I asked him to do really hard work then he would be pissy.  If I let him relax he would be pissy.  Gotta love appytude.  Am going to try putting him back on Isox to see if that helps, as he was still stiff even at the end of our ride, but even the instructor didn't think it was due to pain.  He was being an *(@$ because he didn't want to work and couldn't see his donkey.  He started the ride pretty well, with a nice flowing trot and good gaits.  We changed direction and he became the pogo stick I am so accustomed to, he takes short, choppy strides that are higher than they are forward.  Worked on fixing that for most of the ride and finally got it at the end.  What you get when you ride him can be such a crapshoot, you have a 50/50 shot of having a good ride and you never seem to have input on if it will become a good ride or not.  Been living with this for 16+ years though, I'm used it.