Saturday, September 27, 2014

CPEAP Trivia Contest: Win an Equi in Style Shirt

Ok, I said a contest would be forthcoming and here it is. You do have to work for this one, but considering how hard Wound Warriors work during therapy it all works.
Recently Larry came to have some Equi in Style Shirts that could be used for the Caisson Platoon program. Unfortunately the shirts were only female, making that hard to do. He gave one to me and still had more on hand. So I offered to do a contest. In order for CPEAP to benefit, I told him I would make it a trivia contest. This way the program gains awareness. You all know how I great I think the program is and now it is your turn to share what they do.

How this works:
1. Answer 4 questions and an optional Bonus question. Answers can be found at

2. Post the answers on YOUR Blog there by spreading the knowledge. (If you don't have a blog, please share on a social media site and let me know)

3. Post a link to that Blog on my post in the comments.

4. Extra entries added if you make up trivia questions of your own in your Blog post. Anyone who answer's your questions can leave a comment here to be entered too.

5. Contest ends Oct 10, Winner picked by random drawing.

Pardon my bad modeling

The prize is a long sleeve red EIS Cool shirt from their site:
Cutting edge fabric technology combines body cooling IceFil with the most advanced moisture control and the equivalent of SPF 50 UV protection.
Reduces Body Temperature by 5 Degrees
• Highest Level of Skin Protection – equal to UPF 50+
• Light Weight - Breathable             
• Moisture Wicking - Quick Drying
• Great Fit - Easy Care
• Cooling Mesh Panels                       
• Anti-Microbial - Odor Control
• Travel friendly
Now for the questions

1. When was the Caisson Platoon Equine Assisted Programs started?

2. What are at least 3 benefits of equine assisted therapy?

3. Students complete _____ ______ twice each lesson which helps record the therapeutic effects.

4. This picture shows on important facet of the program. What is it?

Bonus (answer not found on the website, must think about it)
Recently arena letters were purchased for the program. Why did fence letters work better than letters on cones?

These are the letters they use in the program.

I will announce the winner and the trivia answers on Oct 11th. Good luck and thanks.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Red Letter Day of Firsts

This was one busy weekend. My farrier came early Saturday to do Dottie and DaVinci. Then Peggy and I took DaVinci and Rosemary out for a trail ride. We took them down to the creek and let them walk around in it. Rosemary had to make sure it did not eat DaVinci before she took the chance of walking in it. Neither minded the dog bounding about splashing water everywhere. On the way back we had to do some trailblazing through some overgrown portions of a lesser used trail. The ponies were game though and trekked right on.
Then originally we were going to take out Dottie and Winston, but Peggy decided to just watch. So instead I tacked up Winston and Comrade. I started out with Winston, who was a little spooky, and then went to Comrade. Peggy ended up warming him up for me. Once Winston settled I let him be done and took up the reins on Comrade. I knew from Peggy moving him around that he was in a lazy mood. With no whip, I went with transitions to get him moving. Trot to canter to walk to trot to canter to halt. Then when he was quick with those, I went from walk to canter. Comrade did really well. I helped by picking the same spots for the transitions. Considering all his time off I thought he had some smooth transitions.
Finally I ended the day with putting the western saddle on Roscoe for the first time. He of course did not care to the point he tried to take a nap. I came back to his stall to find the saddle almost sideways and him covered in sawdust. Silly boy. I spun him around to see how he was. Roscoe seemed a bit lazy after his time out with Comrade. That was perfect for what I had planned for the next day.
Sunday was warmer and my Mom was off work. So the plan was to work Roscoe round penning to get him thinking work. Then I would get on. First we had to put up a barrier so that we could use a smaller part of the arena. So up went a row of jumps with a row of cavaletti height poles in front. Toss a few cones and voila, a barrier.
Mom and Larry started doing the free lunging for respect with him. Having him change direction and quicken his pace. Most of the time Roscoe behaved, but he still had moments where he resisted. They had to find the fine line of working him enough to gain respect, but not too much to wear him out. Roscoe for all his rebellious times was awesome. At one point he let out a big breath causing the saddle to slip to his side. Mom told him "whoa" and he stopped right away. The saddle continued to slip under his belly. He stood right there like he did not even notice. Larry undid the saddle and let him move without it before putting it back on for the ride.
I took a few deep breaths before I got on. This was a big step for me. I seriously thought I would be paying the breeder's daughter to start him for us. She probably could get the initial steps done quicker and better, but we will try it slow with me. When I got on, I flexed him side to side. Once I was moving that would be my "emergency break." I would essentially be a passenger. Roscoe actually takes his cues from Mom on the ground. More and more I will start asking him to listen to me, but this is a nice way to transition him from groundwork to saddle work. My actions support what Mom is asking him to do.
Roscoe went right to work with no issues carrying me. He definitely has his Mama's big walk and it is starting to look like he has her work ethic.

 After changing directions and checking the brakes, we asked him to trot. It was an "AWE" moment. All that movement we have seen in him since the day he was born, I was finally feeling first hand. Roscoe actually had rhythm and push. Plus he felt like he had carried someone before. His self awareness was surprising.

 I guess all the ground driving and work Mom has done has really helped. Rosemary did not feel this put together at 3 and she had already been started. Roscoe also reached for the contact. I could have trotted him longer, but he was tired and we needed to end on a good note. After going both ways he halted and I got off. That was so cool. When he was born 3yrs seemed like such a long time, but it went so fast.
And the full video

Now the plan is to ride him the next two days and keep working on his canter from the ground. I am not ready to push him there while on his back. Today we did push him more trot wise. I cued him more with Mom adding the gas. At one point he moved forward on my cues, then stopped and looked at Mom like "Uh oh was I suppose to do that." We dealt with mare distractions and I posted on him for the first time. He still felt as good as he did the day before. What a super pony!
We capped off Sunday by fulfilling one of my goals for this year, driving Rosemary solo. Since the ring still had the barrier up, Peggy drove her down the driveway (a big downhill) and around the corner to come in the arena from the other side. Other than protesting the new gravel on the road, she went right to work. Mom moved the two ends of the barrier closest to the fence to allow the cart to fit through. Peggy then burned some energy off Rosemary by letting her cruise around the arena. On some of the turns the cart slid. Peggy laughed and said that was okay. Then she handed the reins to me and jumped out. It was my turn.
I forgot the pictures, but here is the video

I have to say, I felt good. The contact and my position just clicked. I was not overly worried about my wheel location or the gates. Rosemary and I just went for it with fun results. I did not ask for the pace Peggy got out of her, but we did cruise around and change directions. When I finished, Mom drove her back to the barn. Such a good day. We are so lucky to own the horses we have. I am doing more than I ever expected to do and that is all due to owning the Cobs.

Stay tuned, I will have a giveaway soon. Will probably involve trivia questions and sharing on your blogs, but I think the prize is worth the work.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Cob Boys Collide

Before the show we wanted to make sure that DaVinci could go out with Sonny. That way no one was alone on the show day. So I turned out the Arabs together and watched. There was no drama. They all started eating grass together like they had done it for years.

Since that went well, I decided to put the Cob boys out together. This was the first time they have gone out together at this barn. They did go out a couple years ago at the old barn. I was alone, so I was hoping it would be okay. Well, Roscoe immediately felt like Comrade was his toy. And Comrade squealed nicely every time to reinforce that thought. Like typical boys they started biting at each others legs almost going down. I thought things would be fine, but then Comrade started kicking. Roscoe was like a tick and just kept after Comrade. They reared, pushed each other and kicked.
Comrade getting a taste of his own medicine

 A bit too exciting for the week before a show. I ended up going in to move Comrade to the Arab side. Roscoe even had muddy hoof prints on his fly sheet. Yep, definitely not the time to let this play out.
Now fast forward to today. DaVinci does well handling Roscoe, but he does pay a price, which can be bloody. He comes in with bites all the time. We decided with a month until the next show, it was time to try again so DaVinci can get a break. This time we put them in the big field, well away from the girls and any close quarters. The girls and Roscoe have not been in that field recently, so he had no possessiveness towards it. We took off Comrade's muzzle to even the playing field.
Right away I saw a difference in both. Roscoe took the time to look around the field before going to Comrade and Comrade did not immediately start squealing. They did eventually get into the body slamming, rearing and nipping, but not with the same intensity I saw the first time. Comrade did not kick like crazy either. I don't mind them playing or even rough housing. The dominance battle was always going to happen. I just am glad they both came to an understanding sooner rather than later.
Spotted Comrade after his walk around

"Wanna Share?"

Still going after each others legs

Cob Collision
First came this...

Then came this

And we ended like this

When we left to go to work, they were eating grass side by side. I told Peggy to leave them out overnight if they continued to be civil. She just posted a video of them sharing a hay bag, so I guess things are still going well. I am so glad. Now all the older Arab guys can relax without the sometimes annoying Cob boys bothering them. DaVinci and Sonny both check in with their respective red boy over the fence.
As much as I would like DaVinci to live forever, we have to take the steps to give Roscoe a buddy. His "Manny" is unfortunately getting older. I don't want him to be isolated because he is a stallion. Plus if Peggy has her way Roscoe and Comrade will be pair driving in the future :) so they need to get along.

Monday, September 15, 2014

2014 Welsh MidAtlantic Show Recap

Finally I have a chance to type this up. First thing I have to say, it was so much easier having all the horses in one place for show prep and clean up. I did my normal routine of taking off on Friday to devote my time to loading and bathing. Mom came out in the morning to hook up the trailer and get most of the morning chores done. It was a bit of a rainy day, but we still got everything worked out. While Mom was there we banged Roscoe's tail. Mom holds it at the level he carries it and I cut. Well this time I did the big cut and when I went to clean up  a portion Roscoe moved and the scissors cut my hand too. It was a definite "OH SHIT" moment. Right in the fleshy part below my thumb was a quarter inch deep cut bleeding pretty good. I went and put in under water while Mom found a bandaid. It probably should have had a stitch, but no way was I going to the doctors. Antibiotic ointment and a bandaid, that's it.
At least I cut my bad hand and already was handicapped by it anyway. Peggy did have to do more of the two handed scrubbing during the boys' bathes. They cleaned up great and got tucked into their stalls.

The only thing that did not go right was that Lisa was not able to get a flight out. She shows the boys better than I do, but I can make it work. Peggy buys me in hand clothes so I got to wear one. This time I did not oversleep. I made sure the alarm was set for AM this time not PM. We gave the boys some food and tossed hay to the rest. Larry would keep them happy during the day. Then we booted up the boys and started loading. Roscoe walked on like a champ and so did Comrade... minus a boot. I looked down and laughed. Sometime between getting his boots on and Peggy bringing him out he had pulled off his front boot. Ah these Cobs.
And now for a comparison: Roscoe and Comrade trailer butt shots
April 2012

Sept 2014

I had to reassure DaVinci that Roscoe was coming back since he was a little worried seeing the trailer. We were about 15min late leaving, but that's not too bad. Luckily parking was fairly easy. Since it was 730 and the show started at 800, I had Mom put Roscoe's bridle on in the trailer. That way all we had to do was unbraid his tail and polish him up when he got off. Peggy did the same for Comrade because his class was right after Roscoe's two.

We all battled the gnats and the wet grass to get to the arena. Super view, but so bad in the morning. My pants were soaked 4inches by time I went in the ring. Roscoe was super. He trotted out for me without running over me. We made the turns without him bulging into me and he stopped when I asked. Then came the standing still part or the trying to stand still part. He is always wiggling during these early classes. When I would finally get him to settle, he went too far that way by cocking a leg. Seriously I think he was laughing at me. Good news is that I remembered to change the connector for the lead line to one that did not slip over his chin, so at least he could not eat that. That was fun at the last show. Roscoe in the Grand Champion Cob Class did not even realize that he was standing next to a mare. I almost wish he had so he would stand up... sigh. Well even with his hip shot stance, he came away with Grand Champion under one judge and Reserve under the second. The judge that pinned him Reserve, pinned him that way 3yrs ago at his very first show when he was 3months old. So at least she is consistent in her opinion of him.
Mom's pictures of Roscoe. The Pro's must have taken a break just when it was his turn. They got the other 3 classes of Cobs, but none of him.
Love his shine

"Hey I hear a camera clicking"

"Okay, I will chill out"

Mom's pic, my editing.

The Judges
Then is was time for a number change and a pony swap. Unfortunately Comrade's competition did not show up. With the Welsh point system that makes a difference. Roscoe suffers from that too, being the only C/D stallion. So Comrade's class was all about him. He trotted out well for me, but he too gave me that hip shot stance. Pain in the butt, he knows what to do. Of course I did something I never do, mixed up pony ages. The judge asked his age and I said "7...uh no wait that's my mare. He is 9." They laughed and said I was a typical parent :)
The Pro's got some great shots of Comrade. This is my favorite.

Comrade's Ribbon above, Roscoe's below

After those classes I was dripping because the humidity was hitting hard. I stripped off my show top and put my tshirt back on for the waiting portion. Originally we tied the horses to the tackroom side of the trailer, like we normally do. But we were a bit close to the next trailer. Then Peggy got the brilliant idea to put up our canopy at the end of the trailer. She hooked the trailer ties and hay bags to the butt bars. We walked the boys under and hooked them up. Even though it has been over a year since we last walked them under it, they had no problems. They bumped their ears looking out, swished their tails brushing the nylon like they do it every day. As the day got hotter, they stayed cool in the shade. Plus the bugs did not bother them. We sent a message to my Dad saying we needed a 2nd canopy for us now. People kept walking by shaking their heads at the ponies. We heard "spoiled" more than a few times. Definitely the wrong "s" word. "Smart" was more apt.

The best part was when the mares at the next trailer got into a kick fest and they brought one over to the side closest to us, Roscoe got excited. I told the lady that he was a stallion and she moved the pony further away, but still on the same side. Then I turned to Comrade and said "Help us out, Block him." That wonderful pony pushed Roscoe back and pointed at the bag like saying "Get back to eating." And Roscoe did. They stayed happily eating hay and watching the surroundings for almost 5 hours.
Then it was time to get them ready again for the Supreme classes. Comrade was up first. Of course with 90 temps and high humidity, the judges decide to have people run in each class. Normally they run in for the individual age/type class, then just present for the rest. Not this time. I got my running in for this show. Comrade went in with the other geldings, but he did not place. Since he lost weight he has not won. He pinned when he was obese, but not now when he is looking really great. Oh well, we know he is awesome.

Roscoe got all excited by the gelding running around, so I was not sure what I would get in the ring. We trotted in great, then just before the first turn he acted like a Royal Welsh contender by leaping into the air. I wish I could have seen it. Mom and Peggy said it was impressive. I just caught the flash of white and then asked him to move on. He did and we continued around the bend. That of course woke him up and made him wiggly again. He was somewhat better when we moved to the reserve position and he had better scenery, a mare's butt. Like Comrade, he did not place but it is always good for him to have to do work after a break period.
A great Pro picture here
Just before his leap
My favorite of Roscoe

Afterwards when we were both back to our casual wear, we went for a walk. I did not even have a chain on him, just his leather halter and normal lead line. We strolled over by the barns where finally after nearly a year, I got a check for the dressage saddle I sent to someone. None of my saddle sales have been easy. Roscoe was great though. He never pulled against my hand and never really got crazy stallion like. Now the question will be whether or not to do the show in October. Virginia added a show this year and Roscoe probably will need the points.
So ponies were wonderful and behaved and I did not hold them back, too much, running them around.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Foreign Exchange: Part 2 The Lesson

The couple from Israel were really impressed with Roscoe and Comade. Last year Anita rode Comrade and this time Giora did. Anita has an eventing background and Giora a dressage and reining one. As I mentioned before they run INTRA, in addition to their own riding. Now they mentioned they were happy we cleaned our smaller turnouts daily. For us, that is just the best way to deal with lots of horses on a small area. For them it is a must. They have 20 horses on 2 ACRES. Can you imagine that? They make it work though.
I am not sure whether he offered or Peggy asked, but the results were that I was able to get a lesson from Giora with commentary from Anita. Peggy and Mom were suppose to ride with me, but that was the day Mom cleaned the old barn. Peggy decided to ride the next day. So I had to decide who to ride. Dottie and Winston, at this point, don't have the fitness for a lesson. DaVinci or Rosemary could handle it. But which one to pick? I decided to go with Rosemary in order to get some help getting her on track.
Eye on the prize :) Photo credit Bonnie Foster

I tacked and went to warm her up. Giora came out and I explained that she was really green. Her education was well behind where she should be. While she has walk, trot and canter, she does not immediately respond to cues. He decided to watch her on a circle. Rosemary gave her nice big walk. She also decided looking to the right suited her mood. When we picked up trot, Giora told me to slow her down. "There's no rush." He wanted her even slower than what I expected. Some times she felt as if she would break gait, but when she did not rush she listened to what I was asking better.
Giora had me hold my hands about shoulder width, with the outside steady and the inside massaging her mouth. Rosemary impressed me by never hollowing out completely like she has in the past. She had some really great moments of softness. When she was consistent, Giora had me put her on a smaller circle to engage her hind end in preparation for canter. He really wanted me to move her hind end inside, but without spurs she was moving into the pressure rather than away. Definite note to self, wear spurs.
Giora told me to sit the trot. I have a fairly good seat. After working with him, I have a better seat. He constantly reminded me to stay soft and grow upwards, not forward. Plus he really wants you to feel the horses motion beneath you. Left side, right side, left side... Then the hard part came, asking for canter. In the small arena Rosemary is hard to get into canter. After tough trot work, it was even harder. Giora closed the gate when Rosemary tried to make a run for it. She would literally leap into canter, then run for the gate.
"See I can Canter...When I want too" Photo credit Bonnie Foster

He really wanted me to swing my inside hip forward to help her canter, but both of us were not connecting. I know what movement he wants and have done it on DaVinci, but with Rosemary the pieces were not there. I could tell Rosemary was getting tired and knew I would not achieve the exercise, so I asked if Giora wanted to get on. He said yes.
This is when the fun really started. Rosemary tends to surprise people with her movement. I don't think they expect what she can give from a pony. Giora had to take a bit to get used to her before trying the exercise. I will say Giora could not get her to do it either. That just means she needs more prep work to be ready for what we ask. Rosemary decided that showing off her huge Cob trot was better than cantering. Then Anita stepped in to give him advice. She put up a small cavaletti to see if Rosemary would pick up canter over the jump. Ha, ha I should have told her Rosemary would rather go around or through than over. Giora did manage to get her to trot over twice before Rosemary protested. The husband/wife dynamic was hysterical. "Giora, look up" "Keep her going, give her her head" Eventually Rosemary would trot over the jump and then pick up canter right after. Her transitions did improve and Giora ended by completing a lap at canter and going over a pole.
Pony girl was tired, but looked satisfied by the challenge. I got back on and cooled her out.

Giora recommended using a hill to help her pick up canter. It naturally puts her on her rear and makes her push into the canter. We have used that technique with Dottie before. I wish I could have joined them for dinner because Peggy said he talked more about Rosemary and how to help her. It figures I would connect with an instructor that lives across the world. At least I have some direction to go with Rosemary and some manageable goals.

Up next Show Recap :)
 A Picture of Roscoe looking Sweet, Amazing
Photo Credit Bonnie Foster

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Laminil Offer, Please Share

I have not forgotten Part 2 of the Foreign Exchange. It is in process, but this popped up on Facebook and I think it needs to be shared.

Laminil has offered one free future treatment to those who donate $20 or more to their fund. Without funding they cannot finish the FDA process. To me and those who have experienced Laminitis in the past, this is a great investment. And for dollar comparison, when Winston received treatment during the trial we paid $100. Makes $20 seem a lot less now right?

Laminil Offer link

Laminil came into my life the day before we needed it and I thought "How wonderful." Then the next day Winston would barely walk and was diagnosed with Laminitis. When the doctor said Winston would be able to be part of the trial, we had hope. His was not the most severe, but he still had pain. Even though he would have healed without the drug, I think his pain level would have been higher.

Winston is a happy, healthy boy now. He gets to go on trailrides and learn to Spanish Walk. Explore the Laminil website and see the other success stories. They even worked with a more advanced case too.

Please share this on your blogs and Facebook pages, so others can help. You never expect to deal with Laminitis, but if you own horses the possibility is always there. $20 can bring peace of mind for you and less pain for your horse. We have all heard the term "No hoof, No Horse," this drug helps aid the process of preventing that saying.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Foreign Exchange: Part 1 Therapeutic Riding

I have mentioned before that Larry, Peggy's husband, is connected to a therapeutic riding program for military personal with brain or physical injuries, Caisson Platoon Equine Assisted Program. In this rough time, the number of patients is high. The program utilizes Clinton Anderson methods so that the horses and people have consistency and achievable goals. The benefits of the program have been amazing. I love to listen to Larry tell stories of the men and women who come to therapy.
They start out bareback, with a surcingle if needed, and with side walkers. Physical injuries, like amputations are in one group and TBI's are in another. Each of their individual needs are addressed. Those that gain skill and confidence move onto saddle work. All do ground work exercises. Larry said it is wonderful to see these people work with the horses gaining confidence as the horses do as directed. The ground and riding exercises are therapy, so they do try to challenge the patients. This aspect is hard on some therapeutic certified instructors because they box themselves into only the methods that got them certified. They are challenged in the process too, to adapt to the needs of their students. Mental exercises help with focus and trail rides and ring work help build core strength. They even worked to desensitize the horses to working dogs, so that those patients with dogs could have the security of having the dog next to the horse.
Some of the men and women come so stressed out, but leave relaxed and able to do things like read after their sessions. Families seem to find the effects last about 3 days. One guy would come and ask to groom the horses for hours when he was having a bad day. The exercise calmed him. Another guy was a double leg amputee and I think he even had some arm amputation too, but Larry said by the end of his time he was able to ride out on trail with great balance. Might even be him in the picture below. Inspiring right?
Photo from Horse and Humans Research Foundation

After seeing great results, a medical board was developed so that the improvements could begin to be documented and measured. Documentation could lead to better funding in the future. Plus it gives Equine Assisted programs a place to share and learn.
Larry connected with a lady from Israel who started therapeutic riding in that country and has her own program, INTRA, Israel National Therapeutic Riding Association.
INTRA shirt front with Hebrew

Shirt back with her Son's design

 For the second year she came to stay at  Peggy's and went to confer with the specialists connected to Larry's program. She is also working on getting documentation, but funding is hard. She would love to split the number of patients needed between the US and Israel. Then both sides would benefit and gain needed information. She has worked and developed her program over 20+ years with the help of her husband. Peggy looked her up and found a number of articles written about her and even a CNN program.
The value of the research would benefit the kids and other non military adults with injuries or diseases too. Therapeutic riding helps provide positive events and successes which helps patients heal and adapt to new realities. A quieter mind allows for new pathways to develop and may eventually help restore lost functions. Horses are sensitive and help caretakers read how a patient is on a particular day. Beyond the patients, caretakers have to be able to make sure the horses are happy too. Their healing powers are wonderful, but not at the expense of their hearts.
Even with the challenges, all the people involved around the world continue to work with patients and share the knowledge to better the equine assisted programs. With continued research hopefully funding will come so they can get the amount of sessions needed to not just maintain, but to improve too.
I love that horses are helping the men and women who try to keep our country safe. Horses have been my therapy for years, so it is great that others are seeing them in a new light.
Stay tuned for Part 2.