Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Tent Sale, Hay and Coyotes...Oh My!

Did you miss me? Life kind of got busy.
Saturday was the annual Dover Saddlery tent sale, so we drove up with Peggy. As we were driving our hay supplier called and said he had 3 hay carts ready for us. Mom tried to get the first cart for Sunday, but a chance of rain caused us to schedule it for after the tent sale. Now we had a time constraint.
The tent sale decreases in size every year and it becomes more of a rummage sale too. Even with that, we did find some deals.
1. 10 18inch lengths of keyhole jump tracks, 14 keyhole jump cups. All of this was $50. We will use these on plastic barrels we have already. I can't wait to have more jumps available.

2. A Riding Sport pull on show shirt, that can be collared or have a choker. The collar has light blue/black plaid and it also runs down the sides of the shirt. This was $10. Peggy got a beige plaid one for a little more.

3. Halter fleeces, lead lines for about $5 each.

4. Peggy found a bunch of things that I did not see the price of, but the best deal of the day was definitely the textiline Weatherbeata fly sheet, with belly band and removable neck cover we found for her mare Addie. Regular price was $125 and she got it for $50.

We also picked up some fly masks and Cowboy Magic Yellow Out shampoo at regular prices. All total, we spent about $170. Not too shabby.

Well of course we were running late which meant Mom had to drop me off at our barn, then run Peggy home. I madly hurried to clear the center barn aisle, dig up gloves and sweep up old hay before the cart showed up. Dad arrived just before  our hay guy. I went up in the loft to stack and Dad put the bales on the elevator. Our hay guy just had a pace maker put in and could not do anything much to his dismay. We were doing okay and then it started raining. I had to climb down the elevator to help Dad move the remaining bale forward in the cart out of the rain. Whew! These bales were not nicely stacked. They were tossed in as they were baled in the field. We had to watch our footing while we pulled and shoved bales around. Then I climbed back up and started stacking again. Mom showed up soon after and all 121 bales were finally stacked. Two more loads left to do. I always breathe easier when we have a fuller loft.

And finally Coyotes.
I am unfortunately at an off site for work and working morning hours. As I lose money, I try to be positive with the fact that I get to go to the barn afterwards. Well Monday and today, I rode Rosemary. She needed to burn some carbon yesterday, so we flew across the field with a lovely cob trot. When she settled I headed toward the path between the corn fields. The corn is so tall this year it blocks her sight of the girls allowing her to focus better. To my surprise as we topped the hill, I saw two grey, dog like animals rolling and sniffing the ground near the middle of the downwards side of the hill. I knew they were not foxes and eventually it came to me, coyotes. All the cute little rabbits have drawn them into the area. Rosemary and I sat there for ten minutes watching them before turning around. I finished in the arena instead. Today Rosemary was in the mood to work and we accomplished my goals pretty quick. Again I went to walk the same path. This time the way was clear so I continued down the hill. The closer we got to the area they had been yesterday, the slower and more aware Rosemary became. Suddenly, I saw a whirl of grey motion in the grass next to the corn and Rosemary spun to run. I kept her spinning until she stopped. I patted her neck and waited. Then gradually I was able to get her to walk by the area and turn around to go back up the hill. The whole time her ears we on that spot. I have never seen Rosemary so on edge. Bless her she still listened to me, but she did not like that area.
College girl showed up to ride Dottie, so I warned her. She seemed to slough it off. Hmm, this is the girl that says Dottie spooks at rabbits. You would think she would take this more seriously. Anyway, the coyotes make me count cats more often and change my riding patterns. Hopefully once the corn is harvested they will move further afield.

On top of all this excitement, if it does not rain I will ride Comrade in a lesson with Peggy's trainer, Robert Meyerhoff on Thursday. So more on that if it happens.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Confirmation, in a Good Way

"Be not afraid of growing slowly; be afraid only of standing still." ~ Chinese Proverb

I saw this quote posted on Facebook and it was apt for what I will talk about.

At about 330pm, my cell phone rang and it was Peggy. Her lesson with the eventer was today. She was so excited about how it went and what he had to say about Comrade she had to call as she drove home. I held my breathe because most of what Comrade knows he and I learned together over the last two years. We had a few lessons, two years ago and Mom has helped a lot, but I was still nervous at what someone of this instructors caliber would say.
Well it was good news. He feels Comrade is at a great point in training and is very willing. Whew! His biggest fault at this point is that during right lead canter he leans strongly on the inside shoulder. Yep, totally knew that. His canter work is still progressing since he has only been able to do the work the last 3 months once the joint medicine kicked in. I guess the problem can be fixed, but is technically hard because of the steps involved. Peggy quickly asked whether he could teach me how to work the correction. He said yes, so she will be arranging a few lessons for me. I am a little worried Peggy has overstated my abilities, but I guess I need to take the fact that he thinks Comrade is well trained as a positive for my riding abilities.
Peggy said he rode Comrade for 15 minutes and patted him when he did well. Can I say I feel like a teacher that has a student do well on an exam? When he blocked Comrade's right shoulder for  right lead canter, Comrade said okay that is too hard and he gave him left lead. This made me think about when Mom rides him, he says the same thing: too hard. Then he either does nothing or like with the instructor picks up left lead.
And as good as the confirmation of Comrade's progress was, the best part was Peggy rode her pony walk, trot AND canter. Sometimes I feel our growth and development is slow compared to others, but times like this show that getting things right is better then rushing and missing steps. Plus it gives me hope for bringing Rosemary and Roscoe to their potential too.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Slow Day

It has been a slow day for me, so I am just going to talk about some random stuff.

First, Thanks to everyone for your comments about the CT. Some of you know the struggles Comrade and I have had during shows especially at the canter. I am still jumping up and down, mentally, over our achievement. For those who thought I did not look too tense, this would be what helped me that day:
Rescue Remedy products are the best for managing nerves. They also make an alcohol free version that can be used for animals. I took the Pastilles every couple hours or so before warm up, then I chewed a piece of gum while riding. That gave me the remedy and kept me from clenching my jaw. I have used this stuff for years now and it has helped me through final exams, shows and stressful times like Winston's laminitis. Now they do not score high on flavor, but the results are worth the taste.
Tomorrow Comrade and Peggy will go to their first lesson with an eventer Peggy met a few years ago. She is ready to ride and this instructor will help her push past the limits caused by her fall. I wish I could go watch, but I have to work. She is considering having this instructor ride Comrade and work him cross country. It will do him a great service. I know that, but part of me wishes to do those firsts with Comrade myself. Aw well I will just have to wait for Roscoe to grow up.

Second, Roscoe always amazes us with how quick he picks up training. The other day, Mom was scratching his withers. He was making funny faces and lifting his head. While that is cute, it does cause him to hollow his back. Not good for future riding. So Mom asked him to put his head down. When he complied, she would scratch his itchy spot. If he lifted his head beyond normal resting height, she stopped. She again asked for his head to go down before scratching. It did not take long before he was putting his head down while being scratched. When she stopped, he would immediately lower his head. And the next day when I scratched him he remembered right away correcting his head position. Positive reinforcement is always a great training tool.

Third, We had a new cat wonder to the barn a couple weeks ago. He must be a drop off, darn people, because he is friendly. Out of the blue Jenna's owner decided to take him in to get neutered and for shots. She calls him Freddy, but we call him Ray so I guess his name will be Freddy Ray. He likes to follow our long hair yellow cat Bailey around, much to his dismay. But when Ray was locked in the other tack room for a bit, Bailey laid right outside the door keeping him company. So here is Freddy Ray, with the awesome copper eyes:
See why we call him Ray?
Fourth, Remember Swayze? Well he has not improved since that last ride I wrote about. His owner had the vet out to get him tested for Lyme's disease. He had a sore back and underside of his neck which can be signs. Today the results came back negative. She has basically decided to sell him thinking she does not have the time, she is a nurse, to work him as he needs. After two years, she has not made the progress she would have liked. It is sad, but only she can say whether it will work or not. I offered to work with him on weekends, even if just to make him a better sale. So we will see how this goes along. If you know anyone who would like a 17h+ TB who is a sweetheart, but needs rehab work, let me know.

Finally, Rosemary's eye has been really looking good. It got to a point not long  after the piece fell off, where it began to recede inwards. The size has decreased and the area is looking really good. She has another sarcoid on the opposite cheek that is decreasing too, but she rubs that one raw sometimes. Plus I think the medicine is making her photosensitive as her face looks a bit poc marked. We have started putting sunscreen on her, which seems to have helped. So at just about 9 1/2 months of treatment, here is what her eye looks like:

The little white spot is where it used to be opened. Below you can see it has a much slimmer profile. Her whole face looks better now that the big hairless area is gone.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Morningside CT, Success

My crazy early day was totally worth it. Not too hot, no rain and an awesome pony. Warm up brought a chatty distracted cob. Slowly using bending lines I got him to focus. I kept it light, so he would have energy for the test.
Ah, the dressage test. I really wanted good transitions, accuracy and no bucking. Goal achieved. My nerves played there part causing some tension in both of us. Our biggest mistake was that Comrade started cross cantering during our right lead circle. I should have transitioned down, but did not so we took a hit for that one. His free walk is a weak point, but he did better. Overall the judge said he was obedient and consistent. We have to work on suppleness and relaxation. I am really glad I went with the BN-A test. We were ready. No pictures, but here is a video of the ride:
At this show they gave a window of time for stadium to be completed within. I went towards the end of the time after letting him go over the warm up jump a few times. Now back when I evented Barry I always had a bad case of "first jumpitis." It normally cropped up during cross country. Well this time it happened in stadium. Comrade stopped at the first jump. I decided he could jump from a standstill rather than circling around. He jumped, bucked and proceeded to wiggle and stop at the second jump. Again I made him jump from a stand still. After that he looked but did not stop. During the final combination, I let him canter the line. Unfortunately, the second jump did not have a flower box below the X so Comrade went over lazy pulling a rail. He finished well and I was totally happy. At that point I figured we had 1 or 2 refusals and a rail. Considering it is only his second course, I was okay with the results. I was able to have fun with this course. It was great to do this kind of jumping again. Here is the video (a little rough):
Afterwards, Peggy hopped on for the walk back and worked him a bit in the warm up ring. He was a super star taking care of her. The day started to heat up. When we realized the scores would take awhile, we decided to bring the pony home. We would return later for scores.
I fully expected to be going to get my dressage sheet and nothing else. Well we were surprised to see the listing when we arrived.
We got second place!!!
If we did not pull the rail we would have won on our dressage score, 37.5%. The rail tied us for first and we lost by one collective mark in the tie breaker. Since I was not expecting such a great result, it was like icing on the cake. I am really glad I did not know we were leading before stadium as it would have raised my nerves.
After all the rough shows over the last couple years, this show will go a long way strengthening our partnership.
Now it is time to crash. 330am was a long time ago.

Friday, July 19, 2013


I really hope the old adage of "a bad time before means a good show day." My nerves were already kicking in for just the thought of showing. Then Peggy called and said her husband though the day would be too hot. I ride at 813am so I think we will be done before the bad heat comes along.
Then she called to say that her truck battery was dead. Okay no big deal. I told her she could pick up our truck and trailer from our barn. Oh wait, that's right after Roscoe's visit on Wednesday the truck needs gas. And of course the gas prices have just jumped 30 cents in the last few days.
So far no more calls. I guess they picked it up okay. Now I have to go home and get my stuff together. Hopefully everything goes smoother tomorrow.
I am packing all my Rescue Remedy products, that's for sure.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Collection Achieved

Ok, how many of you read that title and pictured collection work under saddle? Not surprising, but this deals with Roscoe. After a couple of months of failed attempts to coordinate mare seasons, shipping and holidays, we FINALLY kept a collection appointment.
Of course Wednesday was one of the hottest days yet that we have had, so Roscoe was covered in sweat when we brought him in from turnout. We decided to hose him down before loading to make him feel better. I knew it was really hot when he actually stood on a loose lead while I hosed him off. Mr. Hydrophobic said that the water felt pretty good.
He loaded well, a good sign. Then we could not find our printed directions to ERC. I put them in the glove box and I think my dad or brother took them out. Luckily I remembered the street name and used my phone. Traffic cooperated and we made it just before our 1pm appointment.

Mr. Sunburn Nose waiting for his turn

Murphy's Law, we were ready, but they were not. They were just finishing an embryo transfer and trying to load the mare. She, a very big girl, was not in the mood to get on the trailer. 20 minutes, grain, a blindfold and some candy later she eventually got on. Roscoe chilled in the trailer calling occasionally to the other horses.
Once they had the area set for Roscoe, we unloaded him and handed him off to the doctor. He handled having the chain in his mouth great and walked with her like a gentleman. Mom and I decided to watch the process safely behind a metal rail in the shed. When Roscoe entered he remembered what this place meant. They provided him with a draft mare for his stimulation. I think the doctor forgot that Roscoe had special needs as to where the mare is positioned. He got excited with the mare behind the tease rail, allowed them to clean him, but he would not mount the phantom. At times he would get distracted and soften. Eventually the doctor remembered that Roscoe prefers the mare to be by the phantom and that he has a tendency towards mounting sideways.
The mare was moved to the side of the phantom and the handler tried to aim Roscoe for the opposite side of the phantom. Tried being the key word there. Roscoe mounted faster than they expected, then proceeded to follow the mare when they moved her away. They tried a few more approaches, but no success. The doctor called a break and sent Roscoe out to graze.
Mom and I were impressed with the way they handled Roscoe's behavior. They corrected him when needed, but always gave slack when he listened. He has definitely been a super star for us at home, when we see what he could be doing to us around the girls.
After the break they put the mare closer to the phantom. Roscoe was a bit frustrated at this point and got nippy. He knew what to do, but could not seem to put it all together. So the doctor had the handler bring him to the phantom and then he put the collection tube onto him while he was on the ground. That stimulated him to thrust and eventually to mount. He mounted straight and stayed in the tube. They used the larger phantom, so Roscoe looked a little silly when mounted. I guess the smaller one would be too small for him. Then they let him dismount. Poor boy, his muscles were quivering and he was sweaty.
The doctor had to check that A. he ejaculated and B. the quality was good enough. The handler walked him out to the grass and we changed to our lead line with out a chain to let him graze. He settled right back into gentleman mode more interested in eating than the girls. That kind of behavior is what we hoped to get from him. Fortunately he did ejaculate and his quality was good, so he was done. Collection achieved.
We walked him over to the barn to use the hose before loading him again. Roscoe got a bit wiggly as Saphiro was looking at him. I guess the big boy still scares him. We had to remind him that this time he gets to go home.
I sent a text to the breeder saying Roscoe did his job. Now it was the mares' turns. She called today to say both mares had been bred. The wait and see begins. He might have one more mare this year, but I am not sure.
Overall the process was enlightening and worth going through. It certainly made me glad Roscoe is on joint medicine already. I am also glad he is getting this training young. His manners around the mares truly benefits us.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Into the Fire

Well I did it.
Comrade and I will go to a Combined Test on Saturday. Just cross rails, but it will be interesting. Plus I decided to go for broke by doing the BN-A dressage test. I could not see doing Intro A. It was to much of a step backwards. Maybe if they offered Intro B, I would have done that test so I only had to stress about the jumps.
So we did some cross rail courses at the canter. He tried to get strong and strung out, so I shortened the distances to the jumps for some and put a nine rail by another. That helped him compress enough that he jumped the jumps instead of taking them in stride. He knocked down one jump and busted one PVC pole before he finally started listening to my cues. We ended by completing the course entirely at canter while he waited for me. The show will see how he reacts to painted poles. I just have to keep my head and ride him right.
Today I rode DaVinci and ran through the dressage test. He is a completely different horse, but the ride allowed me to see how the test flowed and where the transitions happened. We have a dressage arena at our barn which was another reason for the ride. DaVinci was a little confused by the weird start, but soon figured out it was a test and clicked into dressage pony mode.
Then I went to Peggy's to put Comrade through the test. He greeted me covered in sweat already warm due to the hot day. Can I just say, I am already missing my dressage whip? This heat made for a very lazy pony. So for the show, if I get sluggish canter transitions but no bucking I will be happy. I did pull out the Spursuaders to help make up for not having the whip. They help get him stepping under and pushing. The run through was not horrible, though I felt like I was working really hard. Hopefully the show day will be somewhat cooler.

Hot pony

Monday, July 8, 2013

Some People...

...I will never understand.

Two months ago when Winston was diagnosed with Laminitis, Jenna was three legged lame. Our vet later dug out the worst abscess she had seen recently and recommended stall rest. Jenna's owner left her in one day and then refused to leave her in anymore. Poor mare could barely walk, but we had to put her out.

So last Wednesday, I get to the barn to do feeding and put them out in muzzles before heading to work. I was greeted with this when I went to put on Jenna's muzzle:

With her fly mask on I only saw the massive swelling on her nose. Then I lifted and saw the lovely gash going up her face. She also had some kicks on her chest and ribcage. Probably during the bad thunderstorm the previous night the girls got into it. The kicks are on Jenna's side that she basically is blind on.   I knew she would need stitches, so I called Mom who luckily was on her way to the barn. When she arrived she called Jenna's owner at work to tell her she needed to contact the vets. Her owner wanted to wait until she got off of work before calling. WHAT!!! We told her it would be an emergency call that late in the day. I ended up having to send this picture to her work email before she told us to call our vet to come. Mom handled the vet visit and took care instructions. Jenna's owner did not come until the end of the day.

7 stitches later and a couple days
She ended up with 7 stitches, to come out in 10 days, and doxy twice a day. The vet did not put her on stall rest, but much to our surprise her owner did. Yep that's right when she is three legged lame we were told to put her out, but stitches on her head that needs stall rest. We gritted our teeth and dealt with it.
Well Saturday, I finally lost my cool. We had been spending 30min + cleaning her stall in the morning all due to trashed hay. This mare pushes all the sawdust from the middle to the sides from pacing. When her owner showed up Saturday, I put my foot down. I told her she was giving too much hay and too much food. She is not working, moving or even swishing flies. Jenna did not need that much energy food. She still insists on giving sweet feed even though Jenna has had a bought with Laminitis. I said "If she is going on stall rest, NO MORE SWEET FEED." It has been proven to give sugar highs and this mare will beat the stall walls. She would be worse, but we had been turning her out solo for short periods.
Sunday showed I had gotten through to her. Jenna only had hay cubes and bran in her feed bucket and Hallelujah, her stall did not look like we bedded with hay. 5 more days, Ugh.
We have thought about making a separate area for her, but it will be a lot of work for us in the long run. Considering her owner thinks moving two bales of hay in a wheelbarrow is too hard for her back, building a fence will fall all on our shoulders.
I wonder if she could go out with the new Quarter Horses out in the big field. Maybe she would respect those geldings better. If only. Oh the joys of sharing a barn.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Finally Believing

I waited to write this post because I did not want to jinx anything. Part two of the weekend deals with Comrade.
With the heat and humidity mixed in with the storms, my Comrade rides the last two weekends have taken place just before dark. Not a problem for me as I love that time of day. Two weeks ago I changed Comrade's bit from a 5" loose ring 3 piece snaffle to a 5.5" 3 piece loose ring KK. I was not sure if the KK would work, but I knew he needed a larger bit. Immediately after putting it in his mouth,he really started playing with the bit and chewing. The KK is much heavier than the other bit. Plus the middle peanuts are a little different.
old bit on left, KK on right
So our first trial ride was bareback, since rain was threatening. I was surprised to have a working pony underneath me. He felt really invested. Comrade did not seem to have any issues with the bit and had so much foam, giving sugar was sticky. We were both dripping after our ride but I was starting to be excited. The next day was a repeat. This time Peggy was there to watch and she saw what I was feeling. The boy did not seem blocked, he was flowing. He did one canter transition so smoothly and quickly he caught me off guard. Who was this Pony? Was it the new bit? Was it because we were bareback? I decided to see how he was the next weekend.
Saturday I put the saddle on to answer that question. Well I can say he was still moving really well. I pushed him hard during this ride. We did more canter work than trot work, but he did not protest. Canter bell curves worked a little counter canter and made him move out to the rail. That was really tough, but only once did he buck and I think that was more a tool to push than a comment. We did shoulder in to canter both ways. A little bit of walk to canter transitions, mostly to outrun the horse flies. With all this his canter was awesome. He had push behind and lift through the shoulders. The dam that has been holding him back for so long seems to have burst.
Finally on Sunday, Mom came out. She looked at the bit and gave approval to the fit. Due to time, I was once again bareback. Comrade showed  Mom his long open trot and lofty canters. Even after the tough ride the day before he gave me everything I asked for. Mom rode him a little afterwards and felt that Comrade was finally comfortable with his body. He believes that the pain is past. I am so glad to feel this new level of work coming from Comrade.
I have wanted to bring him to a CT so much this year, but a niggling feeling kept me from sending in the entry. Looking back now, it was that blockage I was still feeling from Comrade. Now after two months on Corta Flex and dropping some weight he is a different pony. Maybe now is the time to talk to Peggy about a show.

Monday, July 1, 2013

A Sunday Drive

So much happened this weekend that I will do a couple posts to cover it all. We have been cursed with high humidity and storms off and on for the last week. Mom finally got a Sunday off, so we were determined to harness Rosemary for her first drive since, geez, I think last summer. New harness and a much smaller sarcoid means she is ready.
The horses were inside and Mom was putting the driving bit that came with the harness on the headstall to try. Rosemary's petite head forced us to poke some more holes into the cheek pieces. We will probably have to cut some of the ends off so they will fit in the fancy channel which hides the sides. Mom was about to start grooming her when the skies opened and it started pouring. Damn weather!!
Fortunately like a lot of summer storms it passed quickly. Now the question was whether or not the footing was be okay? Mom decided to try it. She put Rosemary in the center aisle for grooming and harnessing. Rosemary has gotten good at standing for this part.

Good Pony
Hey! Where did she go? I am ready to go.
Fancy headstall with driving bit
 Before trying to hook her to the cart, Mom ground drove her to make sure Rosemary could deal with the bit. Previously we have used a 3 piece loose ring just like we ride her in. This bit is a ported bar with a curb strap. Once before during training Rosemary did not really like this kind of bit before so we definitely wanted to check. The reins we put at the softest setting, to the rings which means the curb is not engaged. Rosemary ground drove like a champ even with a big flat bed for of stuff being unloaded right by the barn. Mom said go get the cart.
Hooking her to the cart took a bit of time. One, Rosemary wants to get to driving and does not stand as well and two figuring out the new harness arrangement. Finally she was ready. We walked her out and Mom mounted. That pony clicked right into work mode. She loves to drive. A couple laps around the arena at walk and trot were all she needed to go for a stroll.
Warm up laps

I hitch a ride

We set off down the road which is lined by corn fields. Rosemary avoided puddles, they might eat her and tried to drift close to the corn. Fast food drive through attempt. Overall she listened and adjusted really well. The maturity we have seen under saddle was apparent in harness too. She trotted up the hills, sat back on the downhills and almost always turned when asked. At one point she tried to run into the corn. Nope sorry girl, back your butt up and turn. I am always amazed at how the figure out how to push the cart on tight turns. Then is was a trot up the big hill, and onward down the road. Mom drove her up another hill and one rabbit bounds away. Then I looked down to see another fuzzy butt take off nearly under Rosemary's feet. Pony girl just kept going.
This side of the field has long grass which helped to keep Rosemary honest. It was here that I took the reins. I did better about keeping my hands together and using more subtle signals. Rosemary needs very little to know what you want her to do. Unlike riding, all you have is your hands and a whip. Kind of a heady experience to drive.
After I played with some turns we headed back to the arena for a final lap. Long grass and humidity make for a tough work out. As we went down a little hill, Rosemary walked then stopped. She picked her head way up and would not move beyond a step or so. I knew something was wrong. I passed the reins to Mom and went to look. Sure enough Rosemary had her tongue over the bit. This type of bit can cause this to happen. She stood still as I tried to help get her tongue back were it should be. I love that her reaction was to stop. Better that than to react with speed. Once that was fixed, she walked on for me no problem.
The last turn, she decided to take advantage of my inexperience and pulled toward the barn. Again I gave the reins to Mom, checked her mouth, no issue. I told Mom to make her complete the turn. With me standing between her and the barn she decided it was easier to do as we asked.
So despite the rain, we had a great Sunday drive. You would never know she has not driven for such a long time. Her steering, bending and straightness have all improved. She was so good, Mom said "I actually had fun." When you can just enjoy the drive and not worry so much about what she is doing, the experience becomes more than training.