Monday, January 30, 2012

A Special Moment

For a while now, Peggy and I have been trying to get together and ride. Weather, work, and lost shoes have all impeded that goal. Yesterday we finally managed a ride. We tacked up Comrade and Addie (her cob mare) and went for a trail ride. Comrade and I tried out a few new jumps she had built while Addie watched. Typical male, Comrade always tries to show off when Addie is around. So we had a short, but great ride in the woods. We did not do much since Addie is out of shape. As we walked back to the arena, Comrade was jigging underneath me and posturing. Did I mention he is a show off?
Any way once in the arena, I had Peggy ride Comrade. She has not ridden him in a while so it was great to see her on him. Comrade likes me, but Peggy is his person and the only opinion he really cares about. As I stood watching them both, I felt a moment of pride that the work I did with him was transferring to Peggy. She mainly walked, but at the walk she asked him to do quarter turns on the forehand and haunches. Comrade did as she asked while maintaining a soft contact. When she did ask him to trot, the jigging pony from my ride, felt her hesitation and did a quiet jog. Happy pony and happy owner.
Comrade did remember that I had sugar in my pocket and made sure after Peggy praised him that I gave him his due.
On facebook this morning one of my friends shared this picture. The saying says it all. Enjoy :)

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Ah, Back in the Saddle

Today was a long day that started early. My mom had to work today, so we had to plan an early trim appointment for the appies. Luckily they decided to cooperate and their trims went smoothly. Then I had a little time to get my horses fed before my farrier came to do Dottie's shoes. While he was there, I had him look at Roscoe's feet to get guidance on trimming those baby feet. It is nice to be able to reassure myself that I am not messing up his feet. Hoof care done for the day.
Next, I just had to ride. 50 degree day and only a little mud meant riding was a must. But who to ride? I looked over at DaVinci, normally my first choice, but he had a leg cocked and was sleeping. Too windy to ride Winston. Dottie is still on R&R, so Rosemary it was. I chipped the mud off. Thank god for blankets she was clean underneath. Rosemary stood by the mounting block, a good start. Then we started walking out to the field we ride in. Rosemary decided that she wanted to go down a hill to a part of the farm she has not been to yet. Well she was not thrilled by the pile of old logs. We got bulge out the shoulder and ignore the rider each time we went by the pile. Not happening. I ended up doing circles by the piles until she decided to remember she has a brain. These are the times that I remind myself she is only 4yrs old and really green. It is always a challenge for me to find ways to teach her what I want. The tricks I use while riding DaVinci or Comrade don't work with her because she has no clue. Today I just tried to stay consistent asking her what I wanted, then just let her figure it out. We worked for about 45min with okay results. I at least burned some that crazy cob energy.
Then it was onto the next cob, Comrade. He was a mud ball. His owner and I double teamed grooming to find the pony. We were both amazed at how long his mane has gotten. If a horse can grow a great mane I am all for it.
I basically just put Comrade through his paces. Peggy, his owner, took a few pictures with my camera, then she played with her new camera. Comrade and I had to deal with Shadow the german shepherd. Shadow follows us and then decides to go in front. Someone really needs to tell him that Comrade is much bigger and can run him over.  So here are a few pictures from the ride.

After my ride, it was back to my barn to feed dinner and help my dad with the feed room renovation. We now have new walls and a ceiling. Next he has to put the counters and cabinets back in. I will post before and after pictures when it is all finished. Now  lets hope tomorrow goes as well.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Minor Surgery

Over the last 3 weeks Rosemary has developed a bump on her left eye lid. We have been watching it closely. Unfortunately it continued to grow, so today my mom called the vet to set up an appointment. And of course, they had a open time today at 1:30. Mom and I were scheduled to work at noon. So we called in late to work and began chipping the mud off of Rosemary.

The bump on her eyelid. The scar behind is old.
I vet came and poked a prodded her bump. She believes it is a sarcoid, but a biopsy will tell for sure. Rosemary got a nice cocktail and a numb eyelid. The vet and I both took some before shots so that we have a reference.We will be conferring with a holistic vet about treatment to avoid expensive surgery.
Once Rosemary was snoring, literally, the vet began cutting into the bump from the top. The dense core supported her sarcoid theory. She cut a slice out of the bump and then she manipulated it to see how to stitch it back up. As she was doing this she found that she could roll the tumor out of the skin. I swear it was like watching a nut come out of a shell. All of were amazed. But now we should not have to put her through laser surgery. Our vet then carefully stitched her eye so that she did not give her an eye lift.

After stitches
Rosemary will have the stitches for two weeks and hopefully by then we will know more about what we are dealing with. The hard part about treatment is the fact that it is on top of the eye. We dealt with a sarcoid on the belly of one horse before with good results and recently a carcinoma on Winston's face.
Keep your fingers crossed that we can find a reasonable treatment for Rosemary.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Pay it Forward

My blog was tagged for the Liebster award by Cob Jockey. My thanks to her, especially since her blog inspired me to start my own. I think this is a great way for blogs to be recognized and shared. So in keeping with the rules I will pay it forward to others.
The rules: Liebster means “dearest” in German, and the award is intended to help up-and-coming blogs get the attention they deserve. Here are the rules:
1. Copy and paste the award on our blog.
2. Link back to the blogger who gave you the award3. Pick your five favorite blogs with less than 200 followers, and leave a comment on their blog to let them know they have received the award.
4. Hope that the five blogs chosen will keep spreading the love and pass it on to five more blogs!

Adventures in colt (filly) starting This blog is about an experienced rider bringing along a green mare, interspersed with reviews.

Own a Morgan & QH I could not resist a blog about Morgans, having grown up with one for 15yrs.

Little Keebler A canadian blog that covers life, work, husband, horse and the trials and rewards of all.

Go Lightly Sporthorses  A blog by a fellow east coast eventer

Dressage Pony A blog about a dressage trainer and the ponies she rides including her wonderful Welsh Cob mare.

It was hard to pick 5 blogs out all the great blogs I follow.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Circle, Diamond, Square

Although icy conditions grounded me this past weekend, I did get a good ride in on Comrade earlier in the week. Comrade's barn is about a half an hour away from mine, so a lot of times I will go to my barn early, then go to Comrade and then back to mine for dinner feeding. The day of this ride I was running behind causing me to try and beat nightfall. For times sake I put on the bareback pad and off we went.
Comrade tends to be lazy, so I have to remind him to activate his hind end. Transitions and lateral work both help achieve the activation. With the light going I also needed to keep his attention on me and not the bogey monsters. I dug into the bag of tricks and decided on the Circle, Diamond, Square exercise. This is a great exercise my old instructor taught me that is highly adaptable for any horse.
For this exercise you can start on a 20m circle, then you can move to a diamond by making corners at the points of the circle, then you can square the circle. With in each of this shapes you can ask for transitions, or lateral movements while maintaining even pace. Comrade and I started with finding the working pace on the circle. Then I halted at each point of the circle and asked for a partial turn on the haunches, creating the diamond, and trot in between. This allowed him to step under and push with his hind end. Riding bareback allowed me to feel his back come up under me. From the diamond I could move to the square and work corners. The best part of this exercise is that you can constantly change and adapt it while your riding depending on your horse. By the end of the ride I was able to do transitions with in the trot gait while Comrade was coming through his back and maintaining a soft neck. Quality and response, nothing better than that.
I have always gotten good work when riding this exercise even in its simplest form. Now if only it would dry up so I can ride my other ponies.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Winter Frolics

Our area got about an inch of snow, followed by rain creating a nice layer of ice. The horses spent the night inside so they were ready to go out today. I brought my camera thinking I could get some video of them playing. Well, I got some video, but my battery died before the good stuff started. Such is my luck.
This is a short rough video of them being turned out.

About five minutes after this the boys started to run around, which started Rosemary again. There is nothing like watching her cob trot around, then stop leap in the air buck and take off again. At one point she even did something like a capriole. During her airs above ground show, the grey boys were using the runway (area at the start of video) as a race track. Roscoe could not keep up with the arabs, but he was close behind.
They all played for about 15 min and finally settled down. I love watching horses be horses.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Non Equine Pets

Although I love my horses, I also have other pets. Right now I have two corgis, a long haired calico cat and two birds at home. At the barn we have three barn cats and a barn dog, owned by the farm. I cannot imagine life without pets.
The corgis are perfect for our lifestyle. They travel well and are trainable. We do have some issues with the herding instinct around the horses, but solve that by putting them in a stall. Kayla our female sable is 8yrs old and we have had her for 7yrs. Griffyn our male red is 3yrs old, Today :) and we have had him since he was 6 weeks old.
Kayla and Griffyn playing

Kayla relaxing

Watching the ponies

The "red" boys :)
After a day at the barn, the dogs are couch potatos at home. But a day a home has them racing around the house. I now understand why corgi rescue prefer to place dogs in homes that have had the breed before.
Welsh corgis and now Welsh Cobs, I guess we like what Wales produces.

Nia thinks the tree is for her every year.
Now our cat Nia has short legs like the corgis. She is a beautiful calico with soft long fur. When we adopted her she had a major attitude. Later we found out she had really bad teeth. Once we treated her teeth, she became a cuddlebug. Unfortunately we lost our other cat last year, so she is a bit lonely. We have had her 3 days longer than Kayla. In fact when we brought Kayla home, Nia chased her around the house. The dogs get even by drooling on her fur and giving her tangles. My dad uses her to tell if lunch meat is good or not. If it is bad she won't touch the meat. I just shake my head every time he does that. She absolutely loves ham, though. Have you noticed they never make ham cat food?  She also keeps track of the birds, Louie the parakeet and Kiwi the sun conour.
Bailey sitting on Roscoe

Tabby protesting the feed room renovation
The three barn cats, Bailey, Sunny and Tabby live in the feed and tack room. Poor Tabby as the only female gets pushed around by the boys, but she has learned to deal with them. Sunny her brother never misses a meal and is called "the pig." Bailey has been at the barn since before we came. He is  a fluffy opinionated cat, that lets the horses ruffle his fur.

So along with the horses, my cats and dogs balance my life and give me something I hope I give them too. I hope everyone enjoys all their pets.

Monday, January 16, 2012

OMG My Colt is Getting Big

Roscoe and 11month old Lily and Me
7 month old Roscoe and 18month old Lily
            While I was slaving away at work yesterday, my brother brought my niece to the barn to see Roscoe. Lily my niece came the day he was born to see him and was fascinated by him. Ok whose kidding who we were all fascinated by him. Anyone who has felt a newborn foals coat knows just how soft it is. So 11month old Lily and Newborn Roscoe hit it off.
 It is crazy how big he has gotten. My brother is 5'7" if you need a scale.
If you look closely you can tell they woke Roscoe from a nap. He has hay in his hair ;)
And to cap off the visit and show how good my boy was...
Have I mentioned how much I love my Ponies. Well it can never be said enough.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Pony Therapy

This weekend is inventory at the store I work for, so I get to work late and count lots of things. One day done and another long, late one today.
Luckily my mom, who works at the same store does not have to work late. This means she is available to feed the ponies in the evening. I decided that even though it is below freezing outside, I was get some pony therapy before work. Comrade was elected.
I bundled up in my five-in-one jacket and put on my head liner under my helmet and off we went to brave the weather. Gotta love it when you step in the sand arena and hear "crunch." Once both of us warmed up we did not notice the lunar landscape anymore.
Comrade has a bad habit of trying to skip into canter when he does not want to work trot. Today I decided to blow his mind by asking him to do walk to canter transitions since he wanted to canter. I made sure from the first time I asked that he knew I wanted a response. Only once did I use the dressage whip to reinforce my leg. After that I got quick responses and really good canters. Although he still needed a couple trot strides before canter, I was happy for his first time. We ended on some stretchy trot work and a walk on trail.
A good ride and scratches on all of my ponies has set me up for the long night ahead.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Hairy Day

I have been hoping that Rosemary would not need a trace clip this winter, but no such luck. She goes on these crazy cob runs out in the field and comes in so sweaty. Since we keep getting these 50+ degree days, I finally bit the bullet and clipped her.
During her hair cut Dottie stayed by her side

I added a bit more hair after this picture

Clipped away winter fuzzies on her face

Dottie too
 For a trace clip, I only do a narrow path along the neck, go between the legs and clip part of the belly. She was a really good girl considering this was the first time she heard the big clippers.  Dottie stayed with her the whole time I was clipping. Dottie got her trace clip early December so she knows the process. Once I finished the trace, I decided to clean up her head. It is amazing how trimming a little hair makes such a difference. Then Dottie got cleaned up. The girls went back out and I decided that I would trim the boys too. Might as well get hairy only once.
No pictures because it was too dark, but they all look really good. Though I had to convince Roscoe not to eat the clippers. So now I have five less hairy but muddy ponies. It's off to the shower for me to de-hair :)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Snow Ponies

We got about an inch of snow Monday. A surprise for us since rain was forecasted. Yesterday we went to the barn and saw snow covered fields and trees. So pretty and  ponies make it perfect.
Winston in the corner field

DaVinci and Roscoe

Dottie made an ugly face at Rosemary

Snow covered mulberry tree

The boys with the appies snoozing in the background.

The girls enjoying the corner field

Monday, January 9, 2012


Transitions are something every horse/rider combination have to practice. A small step that connects so many parts. The power of transitions is greatly underestimated. Many riders focus only on gait and miss the nuance of a transition. As I have grown as a rider, I have learned how a transition can help a horse balance and connect the rear to the front. Correct transitions improve the quality of the gaits. There is a reason why in dressage there is a score for the transition alone.
Yesterday I worked three horses of varying levels and all of them benefited from simple transitions. I started with DaVinci. Nearly four months ago, DaVinci suffered an injury that caused an infection in his knee joint. He was put on stall rest for two months and then had to take two more weeks before beginning to work. Since he is 23 yrs young, the time off caused some muscle loss along his top line. I did not plan on anything beyond a stroll around the property, but he wanted to work. So we did walk trot transitions while working long and low. For DaVinci  the transitions gently exercised and softened his back muscles allowing him to round nicely beneath me. He was even able to maintain the softness during the transitions. In his case the transitions are more theraputic and will aid in regaining his fitness.
Next I worked the greenie, Rosemary. We joke that Rosemary could not walk a straight line if she wanted. Her education was delayed due to pregancy and nursing. Transitions help Rosemary figure out that she has a front end and a back end and that they are connected. This ride we did transitions on a slight hill on a loose rein. Rosemary had to learn to use her hind end effectively without me holding he head. Since driving is in her future this is an important lesson. She still needs some work trotting down hill, but the transitions helped package her and balance her on the flat.
Finally, I worked Comrade. His owner has cleared some nice trails on her property and using the trees cut down has made some jumps. Comrade enjoys jumping but he tends to be a little lazy over the fences and will get on his forehand. So he got to do a combination of walk, trot, halt transitions on the trail around the jumps. Also I included transitions following lateral movements such turn on the haunches or shoulder ins. His responses were quick and correct connecting the back to the front. Following some trot transitions on a hill, I aimed him at two jumps on the same hill. Proof that he was working well, a really good couple of jumps. No laziness. His canter work was much better because he was using his hind end. Another aspect is that transitions keep a horses attention on you. It is hard for Comrade to spook when he is waiting for me to tell him what to do.
So in the end I had three great rides with the help of transitions. The devil is in the details and transitions are details that should not be overlooked.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Renovation, Riding and Ring Bone

Random, not quite.
We have been at our current barn for almost 10yrs. Over the years we have added a tackroom, adjusted stall sizes and put cabinetry and counters in the feed room. As with any barn we have our project list. Today my parents worked on renovating the feed room. The walls were a bit airy so they put new panels over the old walls giving it a bit of a face lift. End of day one has cabinets in the spare stall and feed in the tackroom. It is going to look great once it is all done.
While work on the feed room was being done, I was getting all our barefoot ponies trimmed. I also trim two appy's that live on the property. Those two are a challenge on the best of day. One of them has ring bone in both his front fetlocks. Drugs help but he still lives up to his name, Rebel. Last weekend was their scheduled trim, but just before they got loose and ran up to our barn. Normally, this would not be a problem but Rebel gets very sore when he is on hard surfaces such as the driveway. So even with drugs we could not get him to pick up his right front. We have learned that it is counter productive to fight him and in the end he went off with one long foot. Today we tempted fate and worked on him with only bute in him. Thank god he cooperated. One done, four to go. With dad banging away in the feed room, Rosemary, DaVinci and Winston each stood in the cross ties and let me get their feet trimmed. I love my ponies. Then it was Roscoe's turn. Well the banging combined with Rosemary running around outside was way to stimulating for a 7month old. So I issued a stop work on Dad and closed the barn door on Rosemary. Then I was able to give him his first complete trim. No more long toes, at least for a month or so.
And finally I had to enjoy the rare 60 degree January day by going for a ride on Comrade. After a year of riding him, he comes right into his stall ready to work. For time's sake I just threw the bareback pad on and headed to the arena. We warmed up with some walk lateral work to loosen up his parts. Comrade likes to cheat, but my mom ratted him out last week. When we moved onto trot work, he was really soft through his back. I was pleasantly surprised when even with a long rein he picked up the contact. Then we did a canter both ways. A short but effective ride. Comrade always goes to his owner for confirmation of his excellence, which she readily gives. I can't wait to see how he is tomorrow.
And that is how Renovation, Riding and Ring Bone fit into one  post.

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Trouble with Smart Ponies

Hmm, is that where they are hiding the cat food?
I really enjoy smart ponies, but they can cause such trouble. In April '11 we moved Rosemary to our friends farm for the latter part of her pregnancy. They live on the property and have an apartment that we could use. The only issue was that they had 4 horses of their own and the barn only had 4 stalls. So Rosemary shared a stall with the other cob mare Addie. To give them more room, we let them roam the barn aisle. Everything was fine until Rosemary found the cat food. Oh yes she loves cat food. Well to keep her out of the cat food, we moved it outside the barn.

Smart girl figured out where we put it. Next thing we knew our friend was calling us saying that Rosemary was out in the yard. And this started the  try to out think Rosemary tactics. We tried using the big fan to block, but she is little and could fit by. She figured out that a board across the opening would go up if she pushed. Finally we tried putting an 18in bench in front of the door. 10 months pregnant Rosemary gave us all a laugh by carefully putting her head under the rope then slowing climbing over the bench. So we finally had to go with a vinyl picket fence. It worked, but she still looked for ways.

We found out later that her dam was the same way. Which is why we are not surprised that her son is showing the same inclinations. Not long after he was born Rosemary slipped under the rope and took Roscoe for a walk in the woods. My friend said she walked him out then brought him back. When they both came back to our barn, he figured that stall guards we meant to go under. Cue the wide mesh stall guard. Next he focused on going out the barn under the ropes.

To discourage his explorations, my mom used some step in posts and some hot wire across one door. We have vinyl board fencing so the hot wire keeps the horses honest. They all have a healthy respect for it. The cocky little boy walked right over to the door and pushed under the rope. If only mom had the camera when he hit the hot wire. Poor boy could not figure out why it did not work out like it always had before.

Can you see the trouble in that face?
 Can you believe that when he came in for dinner he actually went straight to his stall? Lesson learned for now. Smart ponies certainly keep you on your toes.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

"Manny" Duties

The oldest, DaVinci and the youngest, Roscoe
 At my barn we joke that DaVinci is Roscoe's "Manny." Since we moved Roscoe to the barn when he was almost 3 months old he has been drawn to DaVinci. His dam came first and he would play with Winston, but for some reason DaVinci was his buddy. We did not realize how much DaVinci disciplined Roscoe until DaVinci had to spend two months on stall rest due to injury. Roscoe was a holy terror during that time.

Once DaVinci was off stall rest, we bit the bullet and weaned the monster. Since he was already familiar with the grey boys, the transition was very smooth. The picture on the right is a familiar sight in the field. Sometimes we see him standing with Winston and figure DaVinci was taking a break.

The last few days DaVinci has seemed a bit tired. I think between the cold weather and trying to keep up with the colt has worn him down. We bumped up his food to provide a few extra calories and maybe I should whisper in Winston's ear to have help out with Roscoe a little more :)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Best Laid Plans

Yesterday my friend and I had plans to ride in the afternoon. Unfortunately when I opened the barn door, I found Dottie, our draft cross, had lost her shoe. We have a great farrier who will come and put the shoe back on at no cost. The only problem was that Dottie wears a size 5 new balance shoe that our farrier makes clips on for her. Not something he keeps on hand. So once the horses were fed and turned out, I started walking the fields. No luck.
After about an hour, I needed to head out to my friend's house. No one can symphasize about a lost shoe like another horse person. When I told Peggy, she immediately said "Let's go back to your barn and look for the shoe." So instead of the horses working, Peggy and I walked the fields for 2 hours, with me dragging a rake and her a magnetic bar. I swear there is a grass fairy that delights in hiding shoes. Darkness was coming and we still had one field to check. Of course the horses were wondering if they were getting dinner any time soon. So for time's sake, I went to feed the horses and get them ready for the night and Peggy started walking the field.
Another half hour passed and I was losing hope. This time of year night comes too fast. Peggy decided to make one last pass, then she was coming in to play with our 6mth old colt. Where they is a will there is a way. She found the shoe at almost the farthest point in the field from the barn. Peggy said she could almost do a happy dance when she saw it on the ground.
In the end we did not get to ride, but we got to spend time together and some exercise too. Friends like Peggy are priceless.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Eye of the Beholder

I always enjoy seeing the types and colors of horses that different people connect with. Personally I have always been drawn to grey horses or ponies. Mom told me that when I was little I said I wanted a grey pony. Why? I have no idea. To this day a grey will draw my eye.
Breed wise, I have never been specific. I believe that stems from growing up a military brat and depending on school horses for my education. I learned to ride a variety of sizes and attitudes. When my parents leased me my first horse, it was a grey Arabian mare. She was beautiful, but in retrospect ditzy. Next my mom bought a bay Morgan gelding. He was an awsome horse and gave us years of happiness. Soon after his purchase, another grey Arabian moved to our barn, this time a gelding. Little did I realize that this scruffy, little Arab  would be my partner for 13 years. Barry, pictured above was a 13.3h ball of energy. We evented for years through ups and downs.
Circumstances again influenced our next horses. We moved the horses  to a private barn and had room to get more. So scanning ads, a grey horse (of course) popped out at me. I have to say again I am not a breed specific person. But this horse was again an Arab. The bigger draw was the small price tag. So Winston joined the group. Later the same year our friends sent us their horse, DaVinci. By chance a grey Arabian.
All these horses are smart and quick to learn, which kept our interest. Then we took a chance and bought a Perch/Tb cross bay mare. She is a completely different kind of horse, but in a good way.
Last year after losing Barry and the Morgan,Sherman, I took the biggest chance and purchased a 3yr old black Welsh Cob mare in foal. I had never heard of a Welsh Cob before our friend purchased one, but they seem very sane. Rosemary, the cob, blessed us with a chestnut colt this summer.
I am still amazed at the horses that have come to us, but they all fit our life and personality. I guess things happen for a reason.