Friday, July 29, 2011

I am now the real thing!

I am SO excited, I just hope it doesn't bite me in the butt!!!  This weekend I am going to pick up my first ever boarder!  It is a 12h pony of the girl I used to give lessons to.  He is an easy keeper and his only bad habit, I am told, is that he is an escape artist.  I am really hoping that doesn't bite me in the butt as the woven wire fence is not super secure, the fence posts are not nearly as secure as they should be, but it is 5 feet tall so hopefully he doesn't test any of the fencing.  The electric I am not worried about because of how hot the fence is, even if he was determined I can't imagine him being willing to touch that fence with as hot as it is.

I am going to pick him up on Sunday afternoon so I have a good bit of work to do.  I am going to move my stall gate on Chip's stall over to the empty stall and put the stall chains on Chip's stall.  I can't imagine Chip will test the chains, it's just been so long since he had them.  I need to also lower all of the buckets as they are horse height and clean the newly formed spider webs but other than that I am pretty ready.  Yay for my new business!!

On another piece of great news I rode Chip yesterday bareback and I am back in my groove.  The ride a couple of weeks ago where I was depressed after riding bareback?  I am great now.  I had my balance and everything back.  Walk, trot and canter as well as some dressage movements without a saddle, yep that was me.  Very happy with myself, this is how I used to ride and I am disappointed in myself for letting myself slack off.   Ready for anything (good) right now!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

All about rhythm and leads

Am quite pleased with myself this week.  I haven't ridden an extravagant amount as I would have liked however I have gotten a good bit accomplished this week.  I got the pasture scooped before the (blissful, wonderful) rain came last night, I have mapped out where our pasture extension will go this weekend and the house is pretty clean.  I need a ribbon or something.

I did ride last night with RB3 and worked with the TWH.  Our next show is Aug 21 at a hunt/jump fun show and need to get him consistent over fences.  When jumping he regularly swaps leads making it difficult to be a serious contender.  Now that I am confident he is fit enough to do this again, back to arena work we go.  After a warmup I placed two poles on the ground three 18' canter strides apart and cantered over them without an issue.  Oh boy, I think, this shall be super easy!  I grabbed a couple of standards and made the first pole a 12" jump, just enough to lift it off of the ground and make TWH "do" something.

Alas that was the trick and suddenly the TWH couldn't keep his lead anymore.  He lands on the wrong lead or lands on the wrong lead in the rear.  He also kept going faster and faster, making my 3 stride a 2 or 2.5 stride.  Hmmm, I went back to cantering around the arena and lengthened and shorted his striding.  He doesn't have a collected canter, only a working and extended canter so I worked on shifting his gears and went back to our poles.  I very sternly informed him that he shall not speed up over the fences and shall remain in a nice working canter and that seemed to do the trick.  TWH went over the jump and pole and did not switch leads.  Victory!  We did this three more times and called it a night, at least I found the loophole in the training.  I just keep him "in a box" while jumping as he doesn't have either the strength or experience to carry himself over multiple jumps.  I can do that.

While riding the TWH, the App pulled a stunt I haven't seen him do in years.  He offered a mini buck!  Yikes, not sure if RB3 was doing something that caused this behavior or if it was him being moody but it is not acceptable.  I had her ride him a little harder and App was a bit too forward for her and she said he wasn't listening to her.  I had her jump on the TWH to cool him off and I gave the App got a quick schooling.  He had to be reminded that canter does not equal almost gallop and trot does not mean stop whenever you feel like.  Also when a transition or halt is asked for, I expect it within 2 steps and not 10-15 and a second or third reminder.  This is my fault, I haven't been riding the App in the arena so he isn't as sharp with his cues as he should be and RB3 isn't familiar enough with the horse or my cues to know exactly what to expect so the App is fully taking advantage of her.

Next course of action?  I didn't get to ride this AM as, despite getting up on time, I got sucked into reading blogs at 6a this morning (bad me, bad, bad, bad) and didn't go outside until 630a.  I may ride tonight if SO rides his bike else I have my sights set on tomorrow morning.  Going to ride App and remind him that being obedient is the acceptable answer and challenging or flat out ignoring is not.  I have a fun trail ride scheduled for Sunday morning, am meeting someone that is a member of ACTHA for the first time and RB3, myself and the new gal are going on the trail I rode on last weekend.  Here's to hoping for nice weather and few bugs!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Trail rides!

This past weekend I had an Ohio horse friend come up and we went trail riding and had a great time.  Thankfully the heat wave broke on Friday and while it was humid, the temperatures only got into the mid to high 80's and all was good.  On Saturday we hauled out to the local high school and picked up a rails-to-trails trail with the intention of riding as far south as we felt and then calling SO and having him come pick us up.  Unfortunately there is a bridge that has to be crossed that was completely impassable so we instead turned around and rode home since the trail passes much closer to my house than I thought.  Overall we had a 2 hour trail ride and the horses handled it very well.  They got a well deserved hosing and lounged around in the pasture for the rest of the day. 

The best story of the day was around the App, my friend wanted to use her western saddle and it only fit the App so that is who she rode.  He was, not surprisingly, quick and ready to go-go-go at the start of the ride so I used the TWH as a road block and we ran the App into the TWH's butt when the App wouldn't slow down by being asked nicely.  About 15 mins into the ride the App was still not listening and, in perfect timing, at the same time the TWH gave a hard swish of his tail to rid himself of a bug and his tail bag bopped the App pretty hard on the forehead.  The App backed off, shook his head and settled down for most of the ride.  It was too funny, karma reprimanded the App for not listening.

Sunday before my friend left I gave her a lunge lesson on the TWH and I helped her overcome the mental road block of riding without reins to develop an independent seat.  The TWH is much more forward than the western horses she normally rides but she did really well and was able to successfully walk, trot and canter without reins.  I am very happy for her and hope she keeps practicing.  She has a newly broken 3 yr old she is riding in a Dr Cook, if she develops her independent seat I think that mare will really develop into something nice. 

RB3 came out Sunday after my friend left for Ohio and we went riding on the long loop and picked up the trail until we reached the bridge.  It was about a 1hr 45m ride, not bad at all.  Think that we may ride on the road until the next road down to get around the bridge and keep riding south some time.  That should be fun, the trail is fairly well maintained and isn't nearly as bad as I expected.  I had to dismount a few times and do "trail maintenance", moving newly fallen trees out of the way, but the trail seems to be semi regularly mowed as the grass/weeds were less than knee high.  I may look into joining the group that helps maintain the trail, meet more people and have some fun.  If only there were more hours in a day I could do so much more. 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

On the plus side

Like more than half of the country, we are experiencing a massive heat wave.  Today is the hottest this area has seen in 16 years.  Personally I've seen my outdoor thermometer go higher than it is right now but that's what they said.  The biggest downside is I do not have air conditioning where I live.  I know, right?  What kind of freak are we?  And all of the places we looked at to purchase didn't have air conditioning so it wasn't bad luck.  Normally I keep all of the windows open at night and let the cool night air in and then close the house up between 6-8a and it stays reasonable all day.  Last night, however, it got down to 81 degrees.  81!!!  How am I supposed to cool anything down with 81 degrees with 79% humidity?  Needless to say I didn't and the house has been basically unbearable for the first time since we've moved in.  It is currently 89.2 degrees with 71% humidity in my office with 2 fans going.  I think a window air conditioning unit will be purchased come the next payday for sure.

On the plus side, however, the TWH is sound and isn't showing any residual lameness from Tuesday night.  Very strange but I am glad it is gone.  He has had no bute today so I will check him tonight but am calling him riding sound.  Hopefully it will be cool enough at 8a on Saturday I can go riding with my friend from Ohio else it is going to make for a long day lol.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

You need four remember?

I had a really good weekend last weekend, we went to Chicago to see Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers and had a fantastic time.  Spent more money then we wanted but we had a great time so it is okay.  They are coming to Michigan in Sept so we will go see them then too, very excited.  They play country rock music and put on a great show, music is very catchy and upbeat, would recommend them if you were looking for a new band.

RB3 is proving to be a great gal, we are getting along really well and she likes to ride multiple times a week. She came out Monday and we took the "long loop" which is riding a round the "block" but going south instead of north.  It was a comfortable 1.5 hour walk ride and I found part of the trail I will be riding on this weekend.  We even walked under the interstate overpass and both horses behaved very well.  I was afraid they would get super spooky and while they were alert and the TWH was slightly spooky, they both handled it very well.  It was a nice ride even though it was still pretty warm and humid when we rode at 730p.

Yesterday RB3 came out and we rode the short loop, going around the smaller "block" to the north and again had a good time.  We did some trotting and cantering to get away from the swarms of deer flies and when we got back we gave the boys a much needed bath.  TWH's tail had gotten so dirty and icky, I was happy to finally get it washed so I took the opportunity to bag and braid it back up so I won't have to mess with that again.  That's what I get for being lazy, TWH pulls out almost a quarter of his tail, it gets filthy and I have to brush it all the dang time.  It definitely needs to stay bagged lol.

The downside of the day is that the TWH was lame when I went and did night check.  I noticed him resting his right hind which is rather uncommon for him and he rested it for a while so I drug him out of the stall and sure enough.  Lame.  He looked fine during the ride and looked fine for the bath and even fine when I bagged his tail so who knows.  I can't find any heat or swelling except for maybe the tiniest swelling by his ankle.  He didn't want to pick up his foot when walking, more of dragging his toe and then stepping on his toe and not wanting to extend his heel to the ground.  I covered him in liniment and gave him bute and he looks better this AM.  Not normal, but definitely better so I gave him another gram of bute and threw him out.  Will give him a half gram tonight and see how he looks tomorrow.  Silly horse, doesn't he realize I need 4 hooves to go trail riding this weekend?  It will really blow my weekend plans if he is lame and my horse friend from Ohio doesn't have a horse to ride after coming up this weekend.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

When the going is good

It may only be a week but things are still turning up roses for me which is so great considering the slump I've been in the past couple of months.  This weekend I am going on a mini vacation and going to see a concert and out to dinner.  Hoping it becomes a great "date night" with the SO and the weather cooperates.  Will be taking our Wrangler so with good weather it will be a topless ride (the vehicle, not me).

Riding is going great, I've ridden three days this week which is more than I've been doing in a while.  Yesterday I rode Sinatra and working on some small jumping and he did really well considering.  He didn't meet our little fence perfectly each time but was pretty close and didn't give any problems.  We are also really close to getting flying lead changes, something I started to work on before my riding dropped off.  We can get a canter, pace, pace, canter opposite and we can get canter, pace/canter, canter opposite.  So close!  It was funny, when  I tried a direct change he kept doing a little jump in the front like he was jumping a pole on the ground but didn't swap leads.  He's trying at least lol.

I also found ACTHA does in fact host rides in my area, something that wasn't advertized back at the beginning of the year when I was looking.  There are two rides coming up in Aug and Sept, you have to be a member to ride so I am debating but think I may do it.  Unfortunately the ride is the day before my hunt/jump unrated show I had planned on going to, there are only 2 more left in the season and I really wanted to go to them so I have some planning to do.  Also found a trail rider through ACTHA who wants to meet up and go trail riding the last weekend of July so yay!  Hoping this networking keeps it up and I keep meeting people to ride with.  Now if only someone would hurry up and come board it would be about perfect.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Keeping with good times

I am cautiously going to say the arena treatment is a success, at least so far!  It has been 3 days since I put MgCl down and my arena is still dust free (yahoo!!!!!!).  We built our drag and I need a weight on it to help it dig in better but it did a fairly decent job by itself.  Tonight I will drag it with some cinder blocks on the drag and put down a couple more bags of MgCl and see how things look.  How awesome is it?  Pretty awesome

RB3 is proving to be a fantastic partner, she is so thrilled to ride she feels she is taking advantage of me and wants to clean my stalls lol.  I told her I am just thrilled she is coming and riding so often I think we are more than even.  I guess a good relationship is one where each person thinks they are getting more than they are giving.  RB3 came out Fri, Sun and Mon and is set to come out Wed with someone for me to give a lesson to.  So not only will my horse be ridden, I can make money at the same time.  If she continues to ride this much I think I am going to be back to my old self, both mentally and physically, in no time.

This weekend I will be out of town go see a concert and we will have the in-laws house sitting.  Not really happy b/c they aren't animal people and don't seem to have much common sense when it comes to animals but it is what it is.  I am going to leave the horses out overnight while I am gone and I went over/made them practice the feeding procedure twice while they were up for the 4th and they seemed to understand.  I hope to have made it duh-proof, tie each horse up, dump a premeasured, labeled bag of feed in the appropriate bucket for horse on label, un tie each horse, hang 2 hay bags, be done.  They have to do this twice, once at night and once in the morning.  Hopefully it goes smoothly.

Next weekend I have a horse friend from Ohio coming up to visit and am quite excited.  Are planning on going on a nice long trail ride with the boys and now that I have RB3 coming out they should be fit in time for it.  Yay!  Am so happy things are looking so well right now and hoping it sticks around.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

From bad to great, a complete turnaround

It is funny how things go sometimes, you are completely depressed and feel really crappy about yourself.  You realize the things you enjoy doing aren't being enjoyed and you are too busy with stupid stuff to do anything about it and then something happens and things do a 180.  This, my friends, was Friday.

Riding buddy 2 (now going to be called RB2) was supposed to come ride on Friday so I spent most of Thursday night prepping the arena, I watered it and dragged it and even brushed the horses all the while feeling a bit depressed and lonely.  SO had "helped" feed the horses and ran inside to watch TV because his show was on and even though it is a rerun he had to watch it.  Friday morning I got an email from RB2 saying she had to cancel our visit because she had a work emergency, her storage area became partially flooded and she had to see what she could salvage.  Grrrrrrr, was irritated not because she cancelled, as I understand, but because it meant I didn't have any one to ride with again AND I had spent all that time on the arena and wouldn't get to use it.  Thus at lunch I didn't take the time to water again, something I've been doing because the arena dries so dang fast.

I got an email about another item I was selling on Craigslist Friday afternoon and they decided to come look at my item around 530p.  530p rolls around, they show up and at 540p I get a call from an unrecognized number.  The conversation went like "Hi, this is going to sound really weird but I just cut your SO's hair and he told me you were looking for some to ride your horses?".  Uhhh, yeah?  Who are you again?  I told her I'd call her back, sold my item and called her.  She is a hairdresser where SO went to have his hair cut that night and in chatting found out we had horses.  She had one that tragically died 4 years ago and she hadn't ridden since.  After some talking she asked to come out that night and so out she came.  Riding Buddy 3 (now RB3) is fantastic!  She wants to ride a minimum of 2 times a week, is willing and insistent on cleaning stalls in exchange for the privileged and while chatty, is very pleasant.  YAY, go me!  The only downside was that despite working the arena, it was dusty.   Argh!

After complaining again that the arena is always dust we bit the bullet and are trying magnesium chloride on our arena for dust control instead of the nonstop watering.  We had to go over an hour away to get it because it is out of season (sold as an ice melter) but bought 25 bags and brought it home.  We put 4 bags down last night and it has already made a pretty impressive dent in the dust level.  We are making an arena harrow as we speak to dig up some of the packed dirt and then will put more down.  If this works I won't have to spend so much time watering the arena and MgCl isn't supposed to dry out hooves like calcium chloride does and is much cheaper than some of the other arena treatments I had looked into.  Being able to ride in the arena without dust AND having someone to ride with me?  If this keeps up I just may break out of my funk yet!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Terribly, horribly disappointed

I feel like such a slug, I am so busy every day I barely have time to sit on the couch with SO and yet I feel like a lazy lump.  What did I do this morning that made me so horribly disappointed?  I rode my horse.  Bareback. 

I've tend to do it once every few months, either because I am lazy or because I want to tune up a balance issue or what not.  Back when I was younger and broke, I rode bareback for over 2 years because I had outgrown my western saddle and couldn't afford to buy a new saddle (and can't bear to part with my old saddle).  Eventually I bought an english saddle from a friend for really cheap and the rest is history but I have always had fantastic balance and strength and I think it was from all the time I rode bareback.

So I figured I should ride a horse in case I decide to try the horse show on Sunday, I should ride at least once before I make my decision right?  Yesterday I watered some of the arena (another reason I don't ride all of the time, dang dusty arena) and this morning I watered more of it.  Since I didn't have a lot of time left I hopped on the App bareback.  He is out of shape and has dropped about 50lbs more than I wanted with his diet so I was just going to do some easy walk/trot.  Walk was fine, he was alert and forward, quite swingy and relaxed.  After almost 10 mins of walk I trotted and I am ashamed.  Horribly, terribly, horrifyingly ashamed.  My balance was off, I had to grip much harder than I should have.  My stamina was off.  After a lap around my little arena my legs were telling me stop.  I went around a couple more times in one lap/half lap increments and called it a morning because I am so disappointed in myself.  There is absolutely no way I would pass any instructors glance, I felt like a new rider.  Blah!

So I am again trying to renew my gusto for riding, SO is coming home late tonight so I am going to ride tonight and I have riding buddy #2 coming out tomorrow night so I will ride then.  Maybe I will ride on Sunday and next week I will have to drag my butt out of bed at 530a to ride.  My next "real" show is Aug 21st at an open hunt/jump show, I need to be better prepared.  It isn't fair to the horses or to myself, I have to suck it up and stop being a slug.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


Very little time to write, extremely busy but did not want to neglect my blog.  I survived the mass of people who descended upon my little farm this past weekend and all went fairly smooth, better than expected.  Not as good as it could have been, but better than expected so I am happy.  I got to be a "parent" for a weekend to my niece and it wasn't too bad.  She is 5 and only had 1 meltdown and I took her away from the group and refused to let her return until she stopped crying.  It took almost 20 minutes but it worked.  Why was she so upset you ask?  Because she had SAND on her LEG that wouldn't brush OFF since it was slightly damp!!!!!  OMG end of world!

The niece had a great time here and I hear she is still talking about her visit.  Daisy really took a liking to her and was very good with her.  Niece had no trouble catching her or leading her, something that surprised me since Daisy can be so standoff-ish with new people.  I've heard donkey's like kids and it looks like Daisy is staying with the stereotype.

The boys are doing well, not being ridden much at all though.  I finally watered the arena this AM so hopefully I can ride tomorrow.  I am on the fence about going to the same open show series I went to a couple of weeks ago, it is this weekend.  I haven't done anything in terms of prepping or even trying to recondition a horse.  Don't even know who I would bring, Mr Steady who couldn't do things like a flying lead change or Mr Pogostick who could do a flying lead change and could be fantastic if he felt like it?  Decisions, decisions.

Hopefully I will have more time to write later this week.  I just read how Fugly is shutting down/selling her blog due to lack of time.  I already don't ride often due to lack of time, hopefully this doesn't fall by the wayside too.