Sunday, September 30, 2012


About a month ago one of my Mom's old students contacted me saying she would be in the area this weekend and she wanted to come to our barn. So after doing the appies feet, her Mom dropped her off to spend the day with us. It was like the time we had not seen her had not even happen. We quickly settled into conversation while grooming the horses. The only horse she knew from before was DaVinci and she saw how different he is now. He was roaming the barn while I groomed him and they worked on the girls. Kathleen was so impressed with how quiet he stayed. Once we sorted out what tack each horse would use, we all tacked one horse. I figured I would have to put DaVinci into his stall, but he stood still as I put his saddle on. Then he followed me, waited for me to put my helmet on before putting on his bridle. Five years ago, he would become stiff and nervous if we even approached him with tack so the change was wonderful. He and I walked out to the arena with a step ladder so we would be able to switch horses later.
Kathleen started out on Dottie. Dottie can read people well and would give us a good idea as to where her skill level is now.
Dottie was already relaxing
She was a little tentative at first riding Dottie, but after mom told her to get her moving the ride got better. She got Dottie moving through her back and rounding. Eventually Mom told her she could ask for canter. Dottie lifted her shoulders but could not complete the transition. With more encouragement she did pick up canter only to run into a stiff resistance from Kathleen. I have never seen someone so stiff in her hips and back. Once we recognized her problem, she was able to keep Dottie cantering better. Kathleen we found looked good on a horse, but did not know how to be effective when needed. The best aspect of Kathleen is that she took our guidance and improved greatly. Plus she asked relevant questions.
Now she was ready to try Rosemary. If her stiffness did not relax, Rosemary would not give her that big wonderful walk so this would be telling. Rosemary is also good at recognizing who is riding her and behaves for new people.
Kathleen and Rosemary
Mom did a few stretches to loosen her hips that seemed to help. Rosemary walked out covering ground. Kathleen was great about handling the fact that Rosemary does not steer well, but still making her move on at the trot.
Not bad for her first ride :)
While Kathleen worked Rosemary, Mom rode DaVinci doing lots of lateral work. She asked him to lengthen across the diagonal. At first he got fast, but just as I put the camera away DaVinci did an awesome lengthening. He was round and forward and happy. Even Kathleen saw his joy. And boy did he have a great canter which I felt when I rode him. He is an amazing horse. I rode Dottie and got an awesome canter out of her. She had those great happy floppy ears. Then she was like "Are we cantering again?" I love when my horses offer more and are happy doing it.
Then it came time for Kathleen's final exam: DaVinci. We told her he is sensitive and that tension would not go well with him.
Kathleen and DaVinci
She walked him well and even trotted. Then he got fast and she tried to use reins instead of weight aids to slow him. Wrong answer for him. The situation never got out of control and she never got tense. Completely different from when the college girls tried to ride him. After a chat with mom and I,  she tried again. She trotted, then DaVinci smoothly picked up canter. I did not realize at first that it was not her idea. We told her to half halt with the outside rein and saw that she was using too much inside rein, so told her to soften that arm. She initially pulled the rein back, but we talked her through rolling her shoulders back and down for the half halt. She also had the tendency to lean back, which is counter productive since it drives the horse forward.
See her shoulders and inside rein
During all this excitement DaVinci took it all in stride. He never got bent out of shape or tense. Yeah he inverted but that was to be expected. Changing direction kept him at the trot and gave her time to figure things out.
Moving better
Then she worked canter again with better results.
Happy pony
I do not know if Kathleen realizes how much she achieved with her ride on DaVinci. She did more than most people and she improved her aids so much. Seeing DaVinci so happy without tension even with a new rider made me ecstatic.
My horses were wonderful during the round robin and never got cranky. We let them all munch on their hay while we took Roscoe out to work. He was so quiet we had to look to make sure he had not been possessed. Kathleen was impressed as he figured out going over 3 trot poles for the first time and when we let him loose to move around. He of course put on his cutest face and gained another admirer. Winston showed his talent at clearing a hay bag and his cute face.

He was chewing on his bit in every picture
Then we decided to hook Rosemary up to the cart and take Kathleen for a drive. This was the first time we have driven her without Peggy, so we kept her on the lead line. Rosemary did not question working again and happily settled. She trotted up hills, supported the cart down hill and walked out so well I had trouble keeping up. When we got back to the arena, I drove her solo for the first time. She was great and did not take advantage of me at all.
As we walked her back to the barn we saw a bunch of vehicles taking up the drive way. There was just enough room to unhook her from the cart. Once we turned the horses out, then came the fun part. I had to move our truck so my mom could drive my car through the barn. The guests' cars had us completely blocked in and the only way to leave was to go through the pastures. I told Kathleen we were showing her the scenic route out of the barn. Luckily the horses were too busy eating and did not try to go through the gates with the car.
What an end to a wonderful day. My horses were super, well behaved and happy. Man, what a high.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

More Rebel Hoof Shots

Today has been a great, but busy day. It started with a trim appointment for Rebel and Jenna which is a week late. This time with the aid of a bag of carrot pieces, Rebel was much more cooperative and less tense.
I still have a lot of work to do on his feet. Here are some pictures:

Left front rear, He steps heavy on the outside

Left front bottom (before rounding)

Left front before and after. In the after shot you can see where I had to file more where some gravel caused a crack.

Left front inside before and after

Left front outside before and after

Right front rear

Right front bottom

Right front before and after

Right front inside before and after

Right front outside before and after
And here are a couple pictures of the actual horse, Rebel and one of Jenna.
Pardon my finger


My other challenge, Jenna
More about the rest of my day later...

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Wardrobe Malfunction

For Comrade not me.
Peggy purchased a dressage treeless saddle which I have been attempting to test. Attempting being the key word in that phrase.
The first ride we realized that we needed a much smaller dressage girth. The 26 in girth went all the way up on both sides and was still slightly loose. I don't know what size horse they expect to use this saddle, but they need to make girths specific to these saddles. Balance test anyone?
Next I cursed my short legs. The saddle came with those leathers that have no buckle and adjust from the bottom. Unfortunately the shortest setting was a hole longer then my normal dressage length. That ride I muddled through, but did not feel like I could get a good read.
The second ride Peggy was able to provide a 16 in girth, which still only left a couple holes on each side. This time I used normal leathers, only to find that there was no place to tuck the extra and the buckle would cause pressure under the thigh. So we moved the buckle to the bottom and let the extra hang. All good now... Right?
Not quite. Comrade was a little sticky, but I was able to go through all his gaits. Then as I was trotting along I felt a pop under my right leg and then my leg got longer. I looked down to see my stirrup leather fall to the ground. OOPS...
Peggy put it back on and off we went. BUT it happened again. After that I pulled off the left one too and rode a bit more without stirrups. Time for another plan.
The third ride we figured we had it all put together. Peggy bought another set of stirrups similar to the first. She spent half an hour poking new holes so they would be short enough for me. I hopped on and we had to adjust the length to play with where the metal piece landed. It ended up low, but as I rode I felt like a horse being ridden with spurs. The peg which locks the length was right under my calf. Just imagine engaging your leg and getting a jab. It just got worse as the leather settled. I had to call an end to extensive work or I would have been badly bruised even with half chaps. I decided to go out on trail a let him have some fun. I let him jump some jumps and move around the trail. He was frisky and I really wish I could have let him go, but then I felt a familiar pop under my right leg. Darn it!
Frisky pony and trick stirrups don't mix. Another lost ride.
He moves so well in the treeless saddles that working through the kinks is worth it, but man is it frustrating. The dressage treeless has the option of moving the stirrup bars. We are going to try to move them back, so they are more under me and similar to the how the Wintec Isabel is set up. If that does not work... who knows.
My next ride I am putting the Isabel on so I get do some work. Maybe we will put the widest gullet that comes with the Wintec Wide into the Isabel. Something has to work for Comrade and me.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Locks of Love: The Cut

After a couple weeks delay, I finally made it into the salon to cut my hair.

I left how much to cut to my stylist. Locks of Love stipulates at least 10inches at the longest point.
After she measured and decided she braided the length before the cut.

The hair ended up being about 13 inches in length and I was much lighter. You never realize the weight hair has until it is gone.
Once my stylist took all her pictures, she cleaned up the cut into a great style. I have been going to her for 8yrs so she knows my lifestyle and needs.
So now I can package and mail my donation after 3yrs. Timing worked out actually as my sister's birthday was this week. And the after shot...
She dolled me up for her pictures. I never look like this normally. I took my newly made up self over to Peggy's and went for a ride. Hello helmet hair :)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Space + Pony + Cart = AWESOME

Over the weekend we moved our little cart from Peggy's to our barn. So today we had Peggy come over and try driving Rosemary in our arena. Mom and I wanted her to work her first before we tried on our own.
We hooked her to the cart by the barn and led her to the arena. Then Peggy got in and we did a couple laps around before I took off the lead. The video was taken after Peggy warmed her up. Peggy asked her for more today. With the open field, Rosemary could really open her trot better than in the small arena. She was a bit sticky on the end nearest the barn, which she does even under saddle, so Peggy had to engage her mind before coming to the area. Mostly she set her up to make the turn. It was amazing to see Rosemary have to figure out turns without a fence to guide. In a short time she was able to drive the end without Rosemary sucking back or bulging her shoulder.
Almost the whole time she was working either Dottie or Roscoe were calling. You can hear Roscoe in the video. It distracted her some, but she did well focusing on Peggy. Peggy soon handed the reins to Mom. She was a bit of a drunk driver at first until she found her contact and timing. Rosemary got into cruise mode at one point and decided she did not want to walk when Mom asked. Fortunately with the large area, she could let Rosemary move while continuing to ask for walk. Later Rosemary took advantage of Mom's inexperience and decided to refuse to move on the end of the arena by the barn. Peggy took the reins and Mom got out to go to her head. I noticed part of her breast collar was caught around the shaft and fixed that. That could have been part of the problem, but mostly it was just Rosemary's normal evasion.
Around this time the farm owner's wife and daughter came out to watch. The wife looked at me and asked "Are you guys going to buy that horse?" I think my jaw might have dropped and it took me a minute to respond. I told her it was Rosemary and she was amazed. They are not horse people, but I could not believe she did not recognize Rosemary. They really enjoyed the view and I agree, nothing like a horse and cart in a field of green. My brother even said it made him think of England, pony, cart, green grass and corgis.
Mom and Peggy will play tomorrow with Rosemary ground driving while Addie,Peggy's Cob mare, drives. I will be at work, bummer. Can't wait to hear how they both do.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Uncertain Times

I have read a lot of blogs recently either about people considering moving their horse or actually moving their horse. Well that question has risen at our barn.
We have been here for 10 years with no big problems. No place is perfect so some strife is expected. Lately, the owners have restricted what tractors we can use to the point that none are allowed. This means nothing to mow the fields or arena with and having to wait for them to have time to mow. Then the farm manager, really he is retired, comes by and says that the owner wanted to put the manure spreader in the barn's center aisle. Big problem since it takes up too much room and we would have issues moving horses or dropping hay. Plus we have no way to move it with no tractor. We solved that by buying a little spreader that can be pulled by our truck or by hand. Maybe we could even hook Rosemary to it to pull :)
He also made a statement that we use a lot of electricity and that the owner could save money if we were not here this winter. Uh oh, what the heck does that mean? That elicited many feelings of panic. With five horses, one a stud colt, you do not just pick up and move easily. Peggy and Larry immediately said that if we had to we could bring them all over to their farm. 4 stalls and 8 horses should be interesting to work out. Peggy also started asking around her neighborhood for people who have open stalls or barns.
One of her neighbors has a four stall barn with heated wash rack, H/C water, tack room, rough pasture, a small arena and a turnout with a run in shed. It is not perfect, but it would be workable. I think DaVinci would just get to roam the barn. Unfortunately, her daughter is bringing horses home from school in December, so it is not available any time soon.
I hope this will all blow over as I really do not want to leave. It has had one good effect in that it has Dad thinking more about getting our own place. That may not happen soon either though because my parents just refinanced the house and there is no way to sell for what they owe. We have put a lot of work into the barn that would be wasted if we have to leave. The horses on the property allow the owner to get a tax break. If we leave they would put cows in the fields to meet the requirements.
So right now we are waiting, but looking. Hopefully he won't decide after we get our hay order and sawdust in to call it quits.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Abs-Solutely Fun

After all the fun with the show, I wanted a ride I did not have
to think too much. So I chose to ride Dottie.

Her College Girl has left until the winter and her work load is much smaller. Already she has put on a few pounds. I decided to do some intervals with her around the big field. My foot was really sore and the thought of a stirrup hitting hit made me cringe so we went bareback.

Dottie, from above (photo credit to her College Girl)

Dottie's least favorite gait is the walk, simply because it is too much work for her. 14h Rosemary could out walk her. We warmed up at walk as much as she would, then went to the trot. The first side of the field is all slightly up hill, so Dottie had to push from behind. When we go to the corner she, of course, wanted to cut it so  I had to bend her around my leg, then move her forward. This side is a short side that is right next to a barb wire fence. Dottie trotted right along. At the next corner I again set her up for the turn and for a downhill section. She actually maintained the trot well and only slipped in the back end once (weak stifle). Since Dottie tends to be heavy on her forehand, I have to really think about sitting up and keeping my shoulders back and down. A slight dip, then it is a bigger up hill section than the first. Dottie responded and carried herself up the hill. All the while her ears were happily moving in rhythm. I love happy ears.
Once at the top, we made the turn and came back to walk for another short side. She was looser and more willing to walk after the trot lap.
Dottie got a bit lazy with the College Girl, so we have had to remind her that with us she needs to move forward. She will only give what you ask for which makes her a great baby sitter. For some reason the College Girl was a bit nervous with Dottie and really was a timid rider. Dottie does have a buck in her, but overall I find her a quieter ride.
Well after we walked the short side, it was back to trot to repeat the track. This time I asked for a little more trot. I had to be careful because she is due for shoes and I forgot to put her bell boots on.  She again balanced back on the down hill with one slip and moved forward to the up hill. On the hill, I moved her on and left it to her whether or not she would like to canter this time. A quarter the way up, she smoothly picked up canter for about half the hill and came back to trot for the last quarter. She enjoyed it making the ride even better for me.
I had to end the ride after a cool out walk since I still had to go ride Comrade.
His ride was the complete opposite of the ride with Dottie. He was really "up" and spooky. Being bareback was fun in a "Lets see if I can stay on" kind of way. He did eventually settle to end on a longer rein with a really nice trot opening both directions. I think he got kicked again because he was sticky with right lead canter. Hopefully it will not be like the last time where he was off for weeks.
So I ended the day with two good rides and a memory of happy ears. When I woke the next day, I realized not only did I make Dottie work, she made me work my core. I could feel a slight soreness, like I had done a ton of sit ups. To me that is a good feeling to have. It means I was riding correctly and supporting Dottie. And I will take that exercise any day :) 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Rosemary Driving: View from the seat

Rosemary did her 2nd drive down the road today. This time I took the passenger seat since my foot is sore from Roscoe. We had Mom and Larry walking with her on the ground. Rosemary loves Larry so she kept track of where he was at and would not pass him. Made for some slow moments, but it was fun to watch their interaction.
There were about five vehicles that passed by, some going way too fast. Another ATV and shortly after this video there was a woman dragging trash cans. She handled it all great. And she did it all without having a lead line attached.
Peggy let Rosemary trot three times during the drive. This video shows her second trot. She was a bit lazy today and Peggy will probably bring out the driving whip next time. Once she is trotting, it is an awesome feeling. Her downward transitions were prompt, but smooth. When we got to the corner, Peggy had her do the tight turn which makes her push against the shafts. Unfortunately a truck was coming, so she had to stop three quarters of the way through. Rosemary seems to like those turns and is like "Look I can do this." Peggy had her do another tight turn heading back to the arena. Only this time it was a right hand turn. She had to think about it, then executed it so well.
In the arena, Mom took the reins and did her first solo drive, WHOO HOO.
Nothing better than a drive with great weather and friends and a SUPER PONY. So proud of her.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

100th Post: Mid Atlantic Welsh Show Recap

Okay, I am sure you were wondering how the show went. I was way too tired to type it up yesterday so I am a day late.
Let me start with Friday. Mom and I got the trailer parked by the barn before she had to head to work. Then I had to figure out whether the horses were going to stay in over night or go out. A look at the weather showed a nice clear night, so the horses were going out. That decision meant giving baths early so they could dry.
I started with Roscoe. Owning him has made me decide that greys are easier than horses with a lot of chrome. If his white is not clean it is so noticeable, but a grey can hide off spots much better. I used Orvus shampoo straight on his legs and scrubbed like crazy. Then I rinsed and shampooed with Cowboy Magic's Yellow out. I find this works better on true white than regular whitening shampoo. While that shampoo set, I used a bucket of water with Cowboy Magic shampoo diluted to use on his body. Rinse it all off and start on the mane and tail where I used the Orvus again. Finally I used Cowboy Magic Conditioner on his mane and tail and a diluted version on his body. Roscoe hates water by his ears so while I rinsed him I worked on that little problem. Well at one he pulled back and then stomped on my foot. Cue the curse words... At least his foot is small. Overall his behavior was much better during the whole bath considering he used to run from any water.
I had to hold him awhile to keep him from rolling in his stall, but eventually he stayed up and dried. I curried and brushed him, applied Cowboy Magic Show Dust spray and detangler. Whew, Done.
Beheaded, he was eating hay but looks great
Rosemary was less difficult, ie less chrome and took much less time. I went through the same process with her minus the foot stomping :) She did manage to great a grass mark when I had her drying on the wash rack. Luckily it rubbed off easily. She was not cooperative for picture taking.
Shiny Girl

Ponies ready, trailer loaded Mom and I were set for Saturday. We left home about 430am, got to the barn about 530am and had the ponies loaded by 6am. The drive is fairly straight forward so we arrived about 715am. Now we had to see what damage the night brought. Roscoe of course had marks on his chrome. Shower in a bottle to the rescue. He was distracted am stepped on Mom. Enter chain lead line. Roscoe needed the reminder to listen to us.
I connected with the lady who would handle him before his class. She decided to try him in one of the white halters. These halters look really good, but have no bite if the pony misbehaves. We told her she could do whatever was needed to deal with Roscoe. Rosemary's class followed his, so I led her down to the arena too.
Well she made it to the arena, then Roscoe turned into crazy show off pony. He tested her any way he could. She did great, through all his theatrics. Before the last show, his breeder worked with him for about 2hrs to gain his respect, so I knew this handler would have a hard time. They both survived his class and next was Rosemary. She is also a big show off, but she has the added problem of keeping track of Roscoe. She trotted out great, stood a bit crooked but I was happy with her. There was only one other mare in her class and the results were similar to the Spring Fling.
Under one Judge, Rosemary was second place yeld mare, reserve champion senior mare and 3rd place Section C/D cob
Under the other Judge, Rosemary was first place yeld mare, champion senior mare and grand champion Section C/D cob.
Roscoe was alone in his class, so he automatically was first place yearling + colt and champion Jr stallion under both judges. Under the first judge he was reserve grand champion Section C/D cob, beating Rosemary.
Both the ponies qualified for the Supreme class, where they would compete against the other Sections' grand champions. We decided right away that Roscoe would not compete. He did his class and then the Grand champion cob class where he stood nicely after all his drama. His handler did end up putting his halter with the chain on for the second class, but he behaved so we were happy. The supreme class would do nothing for him and the handler was not available. We later decided not to compete Rosemary either. Due to some trailer parking drama, long story, they were loaded already. So we just had to claim our prize money, turn in numbers and thank the handler profusely.
It turned out to be a savvy decision because we got home and had time to care for horses and clean the trailer before a massive rain storm hit.
Here are some of the pictures I was able to take. The show photographer did not come until after our classes, so no professional pictures. Bummer.
Getting ready to enter the arena

Show off trot

Presentation to the judges

So handsome

Walk away from judge and trot back

Someone took off

Tantrum Roscoe style, Love his handler

Back to work, after blow up

Everyone loves the forelock, Nice halt

Good boy tied to the trailer wearing his Reserve Grand Champion 'ribbon
(he is tied with a normal lead line, not the chain)

Rosemary with her Grand Champion ribbon eating our baby barrier hay bale

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Show Prep Begins

As the rains falls we have started getting Roscoe and Rosemary ready for the show on Saturday. I took advantage of the holiday and used my day off to trim both their hooves. This way any file marks will have a chance to smooth. Of course it was just my luck, Roscoe had a lovely clover drool happening. My back was a nice towel for him to rub drool on. At least he did not drool down my neck.
Next we clipped them both. Neither even need a halter on during the clipping of face and whiskers. We still need to work on clipping around the ears, but it is easy enough to use scissors. It is amazing how a trim cleans the head up so much. I will probably have to touch up whiskers tomorrow.
All my horses have started shedding, so we are making sure to curry them daily especially the two cobs. Even dirty, they have an awesome shine to their coats. Gotta love flax seed. Roscoe is getting a great copper color to him that I hope he keeps. I almost hate to give them a bath an lose those oils.
As long as it does not rain, they will get bathed tomorrow. They at least need all their white cleaned. Darn chrome! Then they need a good curry and brush with a spray of show dust to keep them cleaner. I still have not decided whether to leave them in stalls or turn them out. I think Mother Nature will help decide.
Then it is on to loading the trailer and filling hay bags. I really need to make my list.

Rosemary's white show halter is cleaned. Plus her leather halter is clean and polished in case she is too much for the white. Not much stopping power with the white halter, it just looks good. I polished the brass and cleaned Roscoe's show halter for the last time. He just barely fits in it, which works out great because next year he will have to be shown in a bit. Considering it is a weanling size, we have gotten a lot of mileage out of it.

And best of all, I found someone to handle Roscoe. She owns a section C colt a little older than him, so she is familiar with Cobbie attitude. Roscoe will be all alone in his classes and Rosemary will compete against two other  mares. Then Roscoe will go against the two or three mares in the Grand champion cob class. Then depending on if either of my two place and the weather will decide whether we stick around the hours until the Supreme class where they will compete against the other sections' grand champions.
Keep you fingers crossed for a mostly dry day on Saturday. Rain could make our 4am wake up call much more depressing.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Life's Little Reminders

I have had some bad days recently. Just a summer slump and times when things never seem to go right.
Luckily owning my horses can serve as comedic relief. It is hard to feel depressed while watching Roscoe play with DaVinci, or Rosemary running her crazy Cob laps in the field.
Two times I saw a clear sign that I should see a more positive side to life.

I walked out into a part of the turn out area that the horses use as their bathroom and found a sunflower growing. We give the horses sunflower seeds as a treat and it seems that two times a seed survived the digestion process to grow out of a pile of manure. This is a picture of the bigger flower. The second one was smaller and in another area.
So I guess good things can come from crap :)
I am still looking for my sunflowers, but I know good things will come eventually.

As for the actual sunflowers I saw... well they lasted about two days before the girls decided they were perfect afternoon snacks. They served their purpose while they were around.
Keep your eyes open for life's little reminders that good can be found even in the worst moments.