Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Final Day

So today is the last day I will see my ponies for just over a week. Is it weird that I get a little choked up at the thought of not seeing my ponies?
 Anyway they were very picturesque when we drove up to the barn.
The grey boys had legs cocked and we snoozing with Roscoe flat out on the ground between them. The girls were both asleep on the ground, Rosemary in her customary curled up position and Dottie flat out. I love to see them that relaxed and happy. As we went up the driveway, Roscoe rolled up and looked and so did Rosemary. Dottie was still flat.
Mom and I drove two cars since I had to work. She asked if I saw Dottie roll up or not. I didn't. So, I went and opened the barn doors leading to the girls field. Still no movement from Dottie. I don't know if it is the bad few years we have had, but no response really gets my heart pumping. I started to walk out the where she was laying and called her name. Mentally I am saying "come on twitch an ear, flick your tail, MOVE."
Finally about halfway to her she casually rolls up, and looks at us like saying "whats the big deal." Okay now I can breathe. Then mom said "here take my phone and get a picture of them together." Well Dottie decided that she was not waiting for me to activate the camera, so no pictures of her laying down. If I get the other pictures with Rosemary laying down I will post them.
I did not have a lot of time, so I went to each of the ponies and told them to be nice to Peggy. DaVinci decided to go out in the girls field and eat dandelions and I had to go out to him. I told him to keep Roscoe in line and reassured him that we would be back. Mom and I both like to let the horses know when things change or if we will be gone awhile. I dragged myself away to change for work, but looked back to see him watching. This is when I really wish he would fit in my suitcase.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Preparing for Departure to Venice

Before you get excited, let me specify Venice, FL. In 4 days we will pack us and the dogs into the car for the 14 hr drive to my grandparents house.                                                                                   
  But first we have to get the barn and horses ready for Peggy to take care of while we are gone. So my To Do list was pretty full this weekend. It helped that Saturday it rained so no riding. All the horses were mud balls, but DaVinci was a horse of a different color.

 In these pictures he had just come in when it started raining again. As you can see he is very good at getting even coverage.
Once the horses were in snoozing, I started my list.
First up Setting up Food for eight days
Each horse has their own bags for dry food, 1/2 cup ground flax, 1/4 to 1/2 lb of balancer pellet and lysine for some.
For each day there is a bag to be soaked overnight with about 2 cups of beet plup and a handful of alfalfa cubes.

I boxed up all the bags and can check that off the list.

Next up, Trimming all the barefoot horses. By this time the horses had dried some, but they were still filthy. So I trimmed and then scraped some dirt and hair off. Roscoe was in no mood to cooperate. We did get the trim done though. During Rosemary's trim we worked on her ground tying. She did really well and needed only a few corrections. The boys were great. I was creaky by time I finished. Its been a while since I did four horses in one day. Now they got to go out. And the first thing DaVinci does is roll in the mud...again. Why did I even bother brushing him? Oh well, another check on the list.
I decided that I would do the next bunch on Sunday. On the way home, I stopped at Peggy's to drop of sawdust and carrots. We get a big load of sawdust at our barn then bag some to share with Peggy. The carrots were overflow from Dad's shopping. Her horses enjoyed them though.
At home I had to work on the written instructions. I never realize how much we do until I have to explain it all to someone else. Luckily my horses are flexible so I can simplify in some areas. I had to put special Roscoe instructions, such as:  Do not trust the cute face, he can be trouble. This will be the first time we have left him long term since he was born.
Today, no rain so it was tempting to ride. I knuckled down and went to work. First was Filling Hay Nets. We use landscaping mesh to make our own kind of Nibble nets. The mesh slows the horses down and is more like grazing. Given a choice the horses choose the nets first. I filled up our Overnight size nets, so that maybe Peggy won't need to change them while we are gone. Just in case I filled four of the smaller nets to have a back ups. Still need to drop some more bales for giving hay outside so no check yet.
Then I had to make sure there was fly spray made up and bug balm readily accessible. This led to cleaning and organizing the cabinets where grooming supplies are kept. It is amazing how things migrate from where they are suppose to be.
Once I finished there, I fed the horses, cleaned stalls and cleaned and filled the troughs. Then I thought about riding, but we only have a grass arena and I did not want to chance tearing up the ground. So I called Peggy to see how her sand arena was after the rain. It was okay so I set off to ride Comrade the last time before we leave. He had the greatest walk when we started. I was really enjoying the swinging walk when the dogs started running through the woods. Then I had a poofed up, snorting Comrade underneath me. Oh yeah and I was bareback. So I started doing quarter turn on the forehands and transitions. He started to listen and really work well, then those darn dogs started up again. This time I asked Peggy's husband to nab Shadow. Then I made Comrade work. I used what we worked on last week to get his attention. Two steps and move on and repeat. Today I felt the move on part. There was a noticeable difference in stride. He gave it to me both directions and ended with a great stretchy walk. Now I have to wait until we come back to ride him again.
3 days of a crazy work schedule and final preps for the animals, then I have to get my horse fix from the internet.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Cool weather + Muzzle = Frisky Baby

I had planned to ride, but I got distracted by Roscoe playing with Winston. After this video he kept playing and moved on to DaVinci too. For some reason he thinks it is open season on Winston if the muzzle is on. Here are some pictures of the action that followed.

Ok how many rears did you count?

Monday, March 19, 2012

Wonderful Weekend

Okay, I told you about the great, if tough ride with Comrade. The rest of Saturday was devoted to putting away the heated buckets and putting up the cabinets in the feed room. With all the activity in the barn the horses stayed outside and ate alfresco. I went out to free their tails from the tail bags and Winston decided that he wanted to play "Catch Me." He ran into our runway area with DaVinci. In the past we have used this area to free lunge. So I walked up to him and he moved away. Mom stood at one side to "block" him (she would not have stood a chance if he really wanted to leave). I then proceeded to work him in the area doing transitions. After working both ways I had him halt and took his tail bag off. The whole time DaVinci stayed around watching. He knew my attention was on Winston. He was smart enough to claim some carrots that came later.
Sunday was a bit of a roller coaster. A high was that Comrade gave me some neck stretches at the walk. It was the first time he has offered to reach down. Maybe we will actually get a free walk.
Then at my barn I was greeted by a sweaty, sticky Rosemary who was on my ride list. So I set to work chipping her out of her sweat matted fur. A pile of fur later, she was tacked and ready to go. Oh wait, now Dottie starts protesting me taking away her girlfriend. For minute I wondered if I would even be able to get on Rosemary as she was dancing around, but she listened when I told her to stand. And off we went.
I put three trot poles out so that we could work on her not pacing. I probably looked crazy, riding and looking at our shadows to see how she was moving. At trot I believe we were doing OK, but at walk she seemed to still be pacing. On a positive we got both canter leads and she was able to complete the short side of the dressage ring at canter. I was strongly reminded that she IS only a 5 year old and still is very green. I really could have used eyes on the ground with her. Overall we still had a great ride. She did have to have a cold shower after. Even before her stall guard was up, she was down rolling in the sawdust.
Here are some pictures of the ponies, naked with no tail bags enjoying the spring grass.

I love this picture

DaVinci still a polar bear

I had to get a picture of his tail before he steps on it. It is on the ground by 4inches.

9 Month old Roscoe

"Can you open the gate for us?"

Rough Rosemary and Cute Dottie


Sunday, March 18, 2012

Eyes on the Ground

I have found over the years of riding that having eyes on the ground is invaluable. Which is why so many of us pay the prices we pay for lessons or clinics.
Today my mom finally had a day off at the same time as me, so she came to help me with Comrade.  Like many rider horse combinations, Comrade and I have unknowingly made compromises that in essence are cheating. Mom shined the light on the areas where I have let Comrade sucker me in. Like how he wants me to hold him in a frame instead of him maintaining it himself. The exercise brought out the worst in both of us. I was suppose to have Comrade step under himself two steps, then move forward. At the walk, pretty good. At the trot we got the steps, but forward was not so good. Comrade used his normal evasion of picking up canter. Mom decided to call his bluff and have him to the exercise at canter. We got a few good steps and forward movement. Then he got really strong and started stealing the reins from me. As I corrected him and made him do the work I got a couple of good bucks. This is where Mom's eyes came in handy. I felt unbalanced from the bucks, but Mom kept after me to keep him going. She could tell he was evading and I could not allow him to get his way.
He popped a few more bucks, but I was centered and deep in the saddle so he did not move me. So he moved on to running through my hands. About this point, I realized I really should have put on my gloves. Unfortunately, I also started to lose focus in the exercise. My steps were more like circles and I lost my straight lines that should follow. Mom saw that both of us needed to slow down an approach the exercise differently.
Back to the walk. Using the inside rein she had me lead him in two steps, then straight. Emphasis on straight. And repeat. Comrade responded well, maintaining a soft long contact. He has a tendency to get too contracted in his neck and body. Since the walk was going well, we moved to a slow trot. Finally we managed to do the exercise the way she wanted. Even Peggy who was watching was able to see a difference. Comrade achieved self carriage while stepping and moving on. I achieved timing and straightness. We both walked away sweaty, but happy. Comrade was treated to a nice hot shower.
I always appreciate when my Mom can help me with Comrade. There are times when I feel stuck. She has no qualms about kicking me out of my comfort zone and can see any holes.
Hopefully we will get to do this again some time soon. And maybe soon I will be able to pay for other eyes on the ground.

Friday, March 16, 2012


Okay this picture by Dana's Doodles is perfect for this time of year :) I brushed all five of mine this morning and came away multicolored. Mom was scratching Winston, making it snow, and Roscoe came up to investigate. Next thing we know Roscoe is grooming Winston and Winston is grooming Roscoe, but only if Mom kept scratching too. Assisted mutual grooming. Ah well I love my ponies even when I end up hairier than them. Enjoy.
Hmm, A bit more chrome and it could be Roscoe.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Beware the Ides of March

Though I do not have to worry about daggers in hands of friends, I do have fuzzy itchy ponies that want scratches. The 80 degree days have been a little too warm for their winter coats. Roscoe especially, comes inside and immediately starts rubbing on his stall guard or his walls. Dottie rubbed her butt on the wall and left a pile of hair behind. The grey boys leave "ghosty spots" when they roll. I think Rosemary and Roscoe are running around the field together (opposite sides of the fence). Both have come in covered in sweat. At night they get some relief with temperature breaks.
The warm weather and longer days allows us to make plans to get the horses on a riding schedule. With five of our own and Comrade that is not always easy. I am also trying to make a show schedule. Not all the places have posted dates, so that is still up in the air. More on shows later.

And it the spirit of being aware, here are pictures of Roscoe when he was about a month old in his "stalk and jump on you" phase. Don't let that cute face distract you :)
Here comes Trouble

Thinking... not good

And the picture I took, without knowing, when he jumped on me.

Monday, March 12, 2012


Spring forward time. I had one less hour on Sunday, but I managed to get 5 out 6 horses worked.
Comrade, I put in the balance system and worked him on the lunge. This served two ways: I got to see him move and he did not have to bear my weight. He was not as reactive along his back while grooming. While working I only saw a slight shortness in his right hind. He responded to my cues well and did what he could. Hopefully having this week off will be enough to get him back on track.
At my barn the boys greeted me with this:
Winston's ear and Roscoe and DaVinci playing

Roscoe and I did some work in hand. We had to have another conversation that when his halter is on it means it is time to work not play. We may have a teen aged boy that could run Roscoe in the shows. As long as Roscoe does not scare him off :)
DaVinci surprised me by seeming lazy, then giving me awesome work. I rode bareback and asked him for some shoulder in. Since he used to train 3rd level, he knows some of the fun stuff if you know how to ask for it. His shoulder ins were really good and he maintained them at the trot too. Going to the left I moved my leg back to the girth out of the shoulder in and he picked up a lovely canter. Of course I figured it must have been a fluke on my part, so I did it again. Same results. I swear it felt as good as having a great jump. To the right it was a little rougher due to me. I tend to lead with my left shoulder and effects my center especially to the right. Once I fixed myself we had another great transition.
Rosemary was still soft with the contact, so I increased the challenge by moving to uneven ground. Green horse and slight hills equal a really fun ride. She impressed me with how she learned to adapt. I did feel some funny things happening under me. Hard to describe and since I ride alone most of the time I had no eyes on the ground. So today I had mom ride her. It seems that Rosemary has picked up pacing. Really smooth, but not what you want in the dressage ring. She is better at the trot, though a running walk does show sometimes. At the walk it is completely obvious.
I researched how to stop pacing and transitions, pole work and bending lines came up. So I guess it is time to bring the poles out of winter storage. She did not pace before Roscoe was born. I wonder if she found pacing more comfortable during her pregnancy. I guess she figured we needed more challenge than just a barely backed green pony.
If anyone has any ideas to help Rosemary let me know. Rain is in the forecast so probably no riding tomorrow.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Pony Epiphany

Time flies. I wish I could say it was because I had been having fun, but no such luck. Work has been somewhat of a trial. The weather has been very windy and some days wet preventing riding.
So today I was determined to ride. Dottie had an appointment with the farrier, then my day was clear.
I headed out to Peggy's to ride Comrade. As I was grooming him, he flinched along his back. No obvious injuries, but definitely ouchy. I had already planned a low key ride and brought the bareback pad. Unfortunately, he was stiff and had an occasional hiccup. Probably someone that did not know him as well would not even feel any discrepancy. I went slow warming him up. Then moved into the trot. There was no unevenness and he really tried to give me what I asked, but I could tell he just could not maintain. He even pulled his old trick of skipping into a four beat canter to the left. The fact that even when I asked him to move forward at the canter, he did for a few strides then lost it, really told me that something was up and he was not just being lazy. After a bit more trot work, I ended the ride. He is at too good a point in his training to push him when he is not feeling right. Tomorrow I will lunge him and put the balance system on him so that he can work without me on his back.
By the time I got back to my barn the sun was beginning  to set. I decided to ride Rosemary and work on contact She has not worked since her lesson in the balancing system, so I really wanted to see how she would do. We had to have a conversation that just because all the other horses were outside did not mean she got to act like a demanding drama queen. Luckily she listens much better when I am on her back.
I immediately felt a difference. She did not fight the contact or do her giraffe impression. Her neck was long, soft and floppy (crest top moves with her motion). I did not have to do anything special with my hands, but stay soft. So then came the real test, moving into the trot.
Cue the Hallelujah angel choir. Rosemary stayed soft in the trot. I was so amazed. Never before has she quietly accepted the contact. I just went with it. She had some problems going to the right staying in the outside rein, but that is for another day. I have learned since riding Comrade, that cobs seem to do homework between rides. By the next ride it is like they have had an epiphany. Rosemary gets an A+ for her homework.
The worst part was that no one was around to see her working so well. Hopefully she will be just as good when mom is around to watch. After the ride, she turned into Barn Monitor. She raised the roof calling until all the other horses were inside. I swear she counts heads. Peace in barn.
After the week I had, Rosemary gave me the perfect ride. My quirky, drama queen pony made me so happy.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Comrade Video 2

At the beginning he is spooking at the sweat shirt on the fence, but then he starts to work. Griffyn, Kayla and Shadow are running around keeping things interesting.
Comrade still has a way to go, but for two rides a week he is doing great.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Short Comrade video

Well Comrade was not as full of it today, but he was moving well. His owner took some video. This is one of them.
His jump line was not as smooth, though he did make the jump. He is getting much more confident within the canter. If his owner loads the other video I will post it tomorrow.
My horses enjoyed a spa day. Wind and soft footing still prevented riding. They all got vacuumed and sprayed with Lanolin. The vacuum grooms and massages. Most of them cock a leg and snooze. Roscoe did not even blink an eye at the hose. but he has always enjoyed being curried.
Now I have to get ready for another crazy week.


Okay we finally got Rosemary's biopsy results. Her tumor was in fact a sarcoid. So far no sign of regrowth, but we have to keep watching. She is on a schedule for dosing the thuja, a holistic remedy. 3x a week for 3 weeks, then 1x a week for 3 weeks, then 1x a month for 3 months. Now we have to get my sister on the same schedule since she keeps giving Rosemary doses on off times. A little Vitamin E oil helps keep the scar over her eye soft and you can barely see where the stitches had been. Keep your fingers crossed that she does not get another sarcoid on her eye.

The Tiny Terror, Roscoe has started learning that we are not play toys. We have learned to make our point and mean it with Roscoe. Today he did his normal challenge poise, head up, neck arched and he looks down his nose like saying "Bring it." Mom carried our crop and stared him down like saying "Think again." Not long after his head came down and he decided he would go into the barn. Good idea. Tonight he did not even try anything. He is such a quick learner.

Lets see what else has happened. Oh yes, Winston decided that it had been too long since the vet had visited and came in with a nearly closed swollen eye. Dye test showed no corneal scratch. Cotton swab under both lids did not show any foreign objects. So we have no idea why his eye is swollen. Two days of eye ointment containing steroids and the swelling is down, but still around the bottom lid. That mystery is on going. While she was at the barn, the vet thought we had gotten another pony. Then she realized the "pony" was Roscoe. She can't believe how much he is growing.

We have had heavy rains 2 out of the last four days, so the ground was too wet to ride any of my horses. Since Peggy has a sand arena, I could work Comrade. We started at a great working walk, using bell curves to warm up. Then it got interesting. I have mentioned Comrade's dog distractions before, but today they reached a whole new level. Shadow and Kayla we racing around through the puddle in the arena, outside the arena and through the woods. Comrade decided he really needed to keep track of them. His head went up and he snorted and pranced. Okay this is normal. I start bending him to try and get his attention. He is not going for it today. Instead he gives me bounce. Seriously, I had to look down and make sure I was still riding a Welsh Cob, not an Arabian. Peggy said he looked like he was trying to passage. I decided to use all that extra energy he was providing. So over the cavaletti and little "X" and into canter was next on the agenda. He did get a bit strong in the canter but the poles brought him back. Boy did his canter have impulsion. With the great canter, I pointed him at the line: raised pole, little "X" and 2' or so vertical. Last week he could not even canter the first two parts, let alone the jump. I would ride what ever he gave me. Today he cantered over the pole, maintained the canter over the "X" and surprise, surprise continued over the vertical. It was probably the best jump line he has ever done and his first all the way through at canter. We ended doing trot work around the arena. The trot he gave me must be what a "Cob Trot" feels like. It was amazing. Comrade will probably wake up tomorrow and wonder what the heck happened to him.
Hopefully Sunday will bring better footing so I can ride the others. Oh well, we'll see.