Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Day One: Adult Camp Comrade

Saturday Comrade and I went to Adult Camp at Sprieser Sporthorse and melted. Seriously, it was crazy hot after the cooler temperatures we have had recently. But through the sweat and red faces, we had a great couple of lessons.

"Uh, how can I break out if I can't reach the clip?"


The first was with Natasha and Comrade really impressed me. All photos are from the second lesson because Mom and Peggy were too engrossed to remember to take pictures. He was willing to work from the beginning. I told her he was out of shape and his issues with his canter departs. She wanted me to work on getting him working from behind by pushing him with my legs forward into the outside rein. Comrade does not want to carry his back and activate his hind legs. Just behind the saddle he has that weak spot which gives him away. I needed to put my shoulders back and ride his butt. Plus lengthen my leg and put my calf on him fully.


At first, I really felt like I was carrying him. Then as he started to lift his back, bend through his body and stretch his neck, he began to carry himself for periods of time. His trot felt amazing and full bodied. If that makes any sense.


We also worked on his downward transition to walk. This too has been a tough one for Comrade. He was western broke and did the sudden, immediate stop when I first started working with him. We have worked that out of him, but he still hollows his back as soon as I ask for walk. So she had me slowly ask for the transition, while wiggling my ring fingers to try and keep him softer. Over the course of the lesson they improved, but definitely need more work.




Finally we attempted canter. I opted to work the right lead first while he had some energy left. It was not a total train wreck, but it took some time to set him up. Comrade was getting sucked into the wall and I was not quick enough to catch it. We had to come to an inside track and try again. Once we managed to get the right lead, she wanted us to do a smaller circle to get him to step under. He still inverted, but that will come. Left lead was better. We worked the transitions for a bit before moving on. She ended the ride with having us ride a big three loop serpentine both directions. That trot was so cool and he was carrying himself for about 75% of it.
Natasha was glad I came back and thought she would see Roscoe again, but was thrilled with Comrade. Comrade was happy with all the people he got to show off for since some of the other riders came and watched. Both of us were dripping in sweat, but what a rush to finish the best ride we have had in seven years.


After lunch and a break, it was time for cavaletti with Lisa. We were paired with the WelshX paint that came the last time. His owner is working toward Second Level this year and he is a cute guy. I had no idea what kind of energy Comrade had left. The heat was taking a toll on me, but we pushed on.




We started out over a fan of poles. Comrade had his moment of "why are there lines on them" and kept going. At first we kept to the inside with the shorter distances. He wanted to pop up a bit and pull through inside of sit and push. A reminder from me helped him start to adjust. As we added the partially raised poles along the perimeter, he tried to be a bit daisy cutter. Lisa wanted him to bend his hocks. Before the poles she had be tap him with the whip to activate his hind end. If I felt him suck back in the poles, I was to tap him. They are great about asking and then letting them be.


Comrade wanted to be lazy, but did not get upset when I said to move on. His work ethic was superb. We ended doing a big figure eight: over the fan, long side poles, middle poles to end poles and reverse.


I had some rider errors that Comrade sucked up well. He felt great and Mom said he was showing great step under. Lisa gave him the love and props he enjoys at the end. She took a picture at some point and sent it to her Mom saying that this was the dream pony of her youth. Comrade gathers fans anywhere he goes. Such a good Cob ambassador.
I was excited to see what our next lesson would bring. Comrade was giving me so much more than I ever expected. He got another shower and a roll in the sawdust afterwards.

"Where is the sawdust?"

"More please, keep going"



Though he complained more than Roscoe about the lack of sawdust. Mom took pity on him and moved some more down. We left him with his hay net and his dinner. His neighbor was a cute Connemara. I guess he was on the pony side of the barn :)

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Eventing Bingo

Sorry I dropped off. It has been a rush to get my work caught up before taking vacation. Then this random snow/slush mess came along and I spent the night at the barn. After dealing with no heat, darn furnace, I was ready for an early finish. Which means I get to work on my Eventing Bingo story.

So for Bingo Card D, some of this is based on true stories

Owning multiple horses means that some shows have me riding more than once. And this crazy show was no different. DaVinci was up first doing his dressage test. Everything was going well during his training level test and for once my nerves were behaving. Then out of the blue, when we picked up left lead canter, DaVinci jumped out of the arena at A. Why is it again that we don't have a panel covering the opening like the upper levels? As my jaw dropped I circled and reentered to finish. Yeah, a great start.
 Next up was Barry. After the first test I was not surprised we got "Tense" on our judges card. Ah well cross country was our best part. Dressage is just a way to get to jumping. We had a first jump thing though and sometimes Barry took it big. This time I landed on his neck in a heap with glasses askew and stirrups swinging. As I continued on, I realized my chest felt a little jiggly. It seemed I also had a wardrobe malfunction with my zip front bra. Bless my protector vest for keeping the girls somewhat contained.


 We finished well despite my issue and moved onto stadium. My little speed demon seemed to have left his brakes on cross country. Luckily he was highly maneuverable and came back to me in the middle of the course. Sadly, we had a cheap rail at the end. I swear he barely touched it.

So for Bingo Card L

Comrade got to go to a small one day event. My nerves were not great since we have had some rocky rides before the show. And sure enough he became "that" horse in warm up. He was bucking every time I asked for canter. This was going to be a fun dressage test. Surprisingly he must have left all the crazy in the warm up and we walked away with straight 6's on our test. My relief was short lived as we hit the cross country course. First jump good, second Oh HOLY LONG SPOT, so I tapped him with the whip and my lazy Cob decided to fly forward with no brakes in sight. I managed to get him to the next few fences, but he was rolling and went right by one of the fences. Dang it, I had never missed a fence on cross country before. Obviously, Comrade's head was not in the game and we were so far in the hole, I retired.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Jump School Revelations

Roscoe has been working hard since camp and I wanted to give him a mental break. Last weekend our plans were foiled by a storm, but we were able to play today. Mom set up a line and two single jumps.



We warmed up over ground poles and figured out what distance worked for Roscoe. Surprisingly, the best ones were the "stretched" poles Mom set. I guess our short legs make pole setting a little more fun. Once Roscoe was warmed up, Mom put up a couple little "x's," which Roscoe saw as raised poles not worth much effort. We had to tweak the ground rails to suit Roscoe, but overall he adjusted to the distances.
Since that was not a challenge, Mom raised the "x's" and made the second jump in the straight a vertical. The center jump became a baby ramp oxer.
Finally we succeeded in finding Roscoe's jump. He amazed me by smoothly jumping the "x" and cantering forward over the vertical and cantering around the bend. He felt great, but I still brought him down to trot before going over the ground pole - "x" - ground pole series where he gave me another great jump and cantered out.


Of course when we videoed, it was not as smooth. Roscoe would jump in, but get crooked going toward the vertical. What I liked about how he worked was that he made it work. Long spots, close spots, me jumping ahead or being left behind, Roscoe was steady. Video 1
When I pointed him at the baby ramp oxer, he just trotted over it. Lazy pony! When I changed directions, he was not inclined to canter. That's okay, I just tapped him with the whip to keep him active. This time when we approached the oxer, he gave me a jump. Video 2



I was thrilled with the jump school revelations.

Roscoe is super handy
He is not bothered by changes
He is not worried by my missteps
I need to work on reading his intentions
Time to bring out the flowers and decorations
Time to push for more
He is super fun to jump

Hey guys I may have a jumper pony soon!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Green Horse Battles

As expected emotions have been strong in the barn. It is hard when so much brings memories. With all that, there are still horses that need work. And Roscoe seriously tested both Mom and I. He was a spook with Mom when she worked ground driving the day after we lost Winston. I really think he was feeding off of  Mom's emotions. So when I rode him on Friday, I did not know what to expect.
He came out resistant. I tried to to stay firm, but zen. It was tough. Roscoe gave me his foot stomping, high headed giraffe impression. Plus he decided to try and run through my aids.

So I threw canter transitions at him. And he threw bucks at me.



Going to the right he seemed to forget he had a right lead. That created another battle. I tried spiraling him in then asking as I pushed him out. Over and over he kept giving me left lead.


I seriously had to dig deep for that unemotional ride I had at camp. I needed to think and examine. Roscoe was bulging that left shoulder. A bigger bend did not help, so I tried for straighter. He still gave me left lead. I ended up slightly counter bending him to get the right lead.


After that I decided to end on the left. Roscoe gave me one left lead and then just to stick his tongue at me, he picked up right lead going left. Well I just kicked him forward, did a ten meter turn and cantered right.

These green horse battles will happen. Roscoe has figured out it is hard work and he is going to test my insistence. I think things are going to be ugly for awhile. That's okay. Growing up is hard to do.


Sweaty Boy


Saturday, February 25, 2017

Explaining Colic To Non Horse People

Mom and I are fortunate to have long time employers who know how much our horses mean to us. They know if we call out or leave early due to a horse call that it is major. They also try to understand our worry, but sometimes who can just see the question in their eyes.
Peggy and I had this discussion about how to explain colic to non horse people. I think when they hear colic, they think about cranky infants.

They really cannot wrap their heads around the depth of fear that comes with saying colic. I told Peggy that for horse people colic is equivalent to hearing "cancer" in the people world.




Just like cancer, colic can vary in severity, require surgery, be easily fixed or result in death. And no matter the type, just saying the word in conjunction with you or yours brings fear. It elicits a feeling of helplessness, but also a deeper hope that this to shall pass. It is not choosy in its victims. There is no rhyme or reason.

Am I blowing this out of proportion because I have lost 4 horses to colic? I had the same feelings when we lost my grandfather to cancer and a close friend too.

Anyone else have to explain horse problems to non horse people?

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Still Lost, But Some News

I still can't do his last post because I am not ready. I'm not ready to put his blankets away. I'm not ready to change his status of current to past. It is too soon. We are all still lost in the thoughts and memories. I nearly cried at a picture of a pony and horse with a leg raised forward on Facebook. Poor Rosemary is definitely missing her night buddy even though we have her with the older guys. I know how she feels.


I really appreciate every one's support during this time. That is a definite benefit to being a blogger.

And now I am changing the subject with some news before I get teary again.
Monday, after a day working all the Cobs, I saw another notice for Dressage Camp. I immediately messaged Peggy and she asked if I was taking Roscoe again. As much as I would have liked that, Winston's vet bill from last month left no extra. So Peggy told me she would pay if I ride Comrade. That was definitely okay with me. I can't wait to see what they can do with Comrade.
This time I will be on vacation the two weeks before and will have ridden more. Hopefully Comrade will be in better shape by the end of March when the camp is happening. He has been working really well and the other day he gave me one of his best canter transitions.
Camp will be something to look forward to.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Loss of All Heart

Those of you who follow me on Facebook and Instagram know what is coming. This morning as I left for work I grimaced at the drop in temperature. The horses were naked due to the warm weather last evening. I immediately thought of Winston who hates to be cold.





Then almost three hours later, Mom called and said it was bad. Larry found Winston down and rolling covered in sweat. He got him up and put a cooler on before starting laps while Peggy called the vet. Mom and my sister already on the way, floored it. My Mom's voice warned me this one was not one she thought would end well. I told my boss I had to leave and headed out. Nearly there, my sister called and said the vet confirmed it was not good. It looked to be a colic similar to Sherman's, a strangulation colic. Either caused by bands or fatty lympomas. The vet was not ready to give up yet and proceeded to pump fluids into him.
Unfortunately, as the sedation wore off his pain returned and not his gut movement. The vet said he was stoic and that settled our decision. One more palpation confirmed he was not improving.
The best ears ever
After 11 years we were losing Omnis Cor (All Heart), with everyone who welcomed him into the herd around him. Roscoe stood sentinel at the fence line, giving Winston and us his strength. Of course even at the end he was a challenge. We wanted him to lay down, after hours of telling him not to, so he stood firm. When most horses fall back, he came forward knocking the vet down. Winston always did have his own style. DaVinci was really upset so the vet told us to let the horses say goodbye. Rosemary breathed into his nose, then moved down his body. DaVinci too touched his face and legs, but added a squeal. I don't think he appreciated being left in charge of the girls. DaVinci thought hard about leaving Winston. He wanted to stand by him, but soon followed us back to the sacrifice area.
By 1:15 he was resting peacefully in the field, under the trees. Bless the back hoe guy who Dad said treated him like a Viking king.
I nearly lost it when I saw his food bowl with his container waiting inside. He was such a big personality and presence in the barn. As Peggy says, he is still around, just not in sight.

The out pouring of support online is always appreciated. Carly made my day by saying she loved his posts the best. His memorial post will come soon.