Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Holiday shopping

Okay, so during my brief, free moments, I like to horse-shop. Much as a gardener is proud of and enjoys their personal creation, it's fun to look at other ones.

I'm not a fantasic judge, but certain thing still appeal to me.

I like to check out the ones in my market range, close enough to MN.

Here's one that struck my eye but not in an I want it kind of way. Now, please correct me if I'm wrong- I didn't think foals are supposed to be THIS skinny. Maybe it's just too new, or just of the variety I'm not used to. Or maybe this one's healthy but just very tucked up? $450

All their others seem plump enough. There is a special, as many of the horses are "as-is" meaning haven't had vet work! Don't worry, the incentive fund babies sure are registered.

Going to their site is interesting. Don't worry, they also sell Railroad ties and highway cable. Apparently both are good for making fences !!!

Then I saw this one. I'll admit I love the coloring, and maybe if it lost some weight and built up some muscle... it'd be worth spending the 400 on. Normally I like my solid colors, but I've had an appy fetish lately. If I had a barn and money, I'd risk it. Rolly polly pony. 400 dollars.

Finally I have three bargain-bin ponies I'd say are more likely worth the investment.

First is this one:

He's 399 dollars. Not broke, but just cute, 2 years old, and has a pedigree, is registered.

This one just appeals to me. 500 dollars, cute, probably the first paint I've really liked, pedigree is full of point earners, even though they're halter.

Ad: Beautiful head, soft eye, huge hip, short back, straight legs, great feet and super disposition! Holly’s dam is a versatile mare who has earned 6 APHA Open Halter points, an APHA Grand Champion in Halter and 16 Pinto Halter points with very limited showing in 2003. She has also proven herself to be an athletic and willing partner under saddle. Her sire is Mainly Marty, a grullo son of Jacs Little Pine (NRHA earner of $55,000) by Hollywood Jac 86, out of Mainly Martha (NRHA earner of $22,000). Marty has produced foals that have earned AQHA points, NRHA money and NRHA Youth points. This filly should be able to handle any type of competition: APHA World Show - Solid Paint Bred, APHA Top Twenty, WSCA Championship Show, Snaffle Bit, 4-H, Trail or just be your Best Friend! Her price is a reflection of the current market. Don't miss a great opportunity to own a horse of this quality.

This last one is a retiree. Hanoverian trained in jumping and dressage, but they seem to be subtley recommening the end of a jumping career. That said it's a capable pleasure mount and still sound for dressage. Late teens. WANT!
600 dollars.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Poor :\

Well, as a graduate student I've always been poor. However, my time as a grad student is ending with the new year, and so I'm about to be poorer. (Hopefully ending with a Masters degree I'm trying to eck out, but possibly not even). My priorities in life have changed: I don't want to do science all the time ever forever. I'm considering getting a real-person normal job, or becoming a high school teacher. The teaching position would allow me to still play with science (and ponies all summer!), but the normal job would pay more, especially over time. I do love teaching; I had wanted to become a professor at a small college but I can't get over this hurdle of being that dedicated to research during grad school, and the idea of chasing grants and papers for the rest of my life is..... tedious, as is moving all around for a job. I do still love science but I don't want to be a lab tech for 10 bucks an hour for the rest of my life either. I can tolerate teenage exuberance well, but licensing requirements are midly obnoxious and may take a bit of time anyways to obtain.

So yes, I can relate to all the heartbroken people I see who in financial times cannot keep their horses. One must give up luxuries in hard times.

I would like to affirm that I am prepared for harder times. This is how:

1) Dante has always been paid for out of my secret second job. I work two days a week at Blockbuster, 6-12am, and his board is 210 a month. That's about maybe 30 hours of work per month, and at 12 hrs a week, this is easily covered in 3 weeks, with the extra money taking an edge off vet/farrier costs. This doesn't intrude on a normal 9-5 work day for me. His feet are thankfully pretty easy and slow-growing, and I give my own vaccinations (he gets just about all of them available). His teeth haven't needed to be floated yet (he eats fine, too trust me!- I made the vet check each time), and since I kept him all summer for under 200 dollars (excl. farrier) by letting him munch at my in-laws, he can be a cheap horse. I don't show, well okay my showing costs were 16 dollars this year! (15 for the fun show with a dollar for the ride-a-buck event). I did spend money on building supplies for saddle stands and cavalettis (which need buildin), and I did buy Truck. These were all extras with money I had from BB.

2) If my hard times get really hard- I have the following option: I can bring him to my in-laws, buy hay, and wait till it warms up and give him the winter off (MN is frickin cold to ride outside, and often dark, and other than practicing some yeilds in a barn the size of a round pen.... eh). I can always borrow a horse for free where I'm at now and keep up my skills, Dante will not forget everything by waiting a few months.

3)I have paid for Dante's board through to January. I have the next month's cash ready to be given to keep him through to February. He has not damaged his blanket.

4) Were there some sort of colic-emergency type thing: I have credit. Veterinary stuff is not to be skimped. Ever. Nor is farrier work. Our tack is all manageable, if something broke I could borrow. Truck can break, car can break, I'm okay. I also own half of my brother's house, and he's getting antsy to buy me out so if I need money for a while I have that option.

5) All of this does not involve my husband's income, which is steady. However I generally support myself- we don't fight over money. Grad students only make 20K a year where I am, so nearly any full time job will more than compensate what I was at.

6) I can if spending a period of time unemployed, work at the farm for 10/hr and apply that directly to board.

I do not have the option of leasing him out. He failed at that. I could to the right person, but do not want to deal with such worries.

So maybe I will be on a Ramen/multivitamin diet, but he's all set!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Cowhorse :)

Friday night we decided to play cowhorse. Sarah and I dragged a cow from the pen to the indoor arena (fat little bugger). We then got Dante and a horse I had once done team penning on (slowly and rather poorly for fun) as we knew that horse wouldn't flip out over cows, and was a former pasturemate of Dante.

As soon as we got in there, Dante's eyes were only for that cow. We let the two of them run loose with it, and as soon as we did it was farting bucking fun down the arena at the cow. They were EXCITED!

They then proceeded to gang up on the cow and chase it around for a while (we wanted them to work out any uneasiness or extreme excitement before getting ON them!). Then while the cow hid in the corner I tied Dante and picked feet, groomed, saddled etc. His head was yanked around and he would not stop staring at the cow.

I did cheat and give him a handful of grain to distract him for saddling. Yes I know there's better ways to desensitize and we work on it all the time. His saddles DO fit, he's not tender afterwards, etc. He just learned it hurts and won't forget anytime soon. Maybe someday.

I got on and man was he dancey. I decided to trot some circles away from the cow and ended up having to hop off and remount (Rebooting Dante is realy that easy, it's a mental reboot for the both of us I think). We then played with cow.

I had a blast. Not only does Dante know what to do with a cow, he likes it. I think he was mad that I didn't know what to do with a cow. Having been busy by studies and work I didn't push too much learning on his part. I tried to get him to sidepass (something we can do normally) and was very adamant that cowhorses do not sidepass and not only was I being silly but cruel and how could he possibly be expected to know these things? We did a weenie bit of cantering, mainly after the cow and there was no flip-outs. Afterwards his trot was gaining little hops as he was encourageing me to cut him loose, but I wanted to keep this a pleasureable ride and fun time for the both of us since it's been a while.

I know the pics are horrible but what do you expect from a phone at a distance in an arena at night?

Eventually the cow (as it did when I 'halterbroke' it a couple weeks ago) decided to lay down and not run around, even when Dante kicked it. Lazy little bugger. After a few rousings we let him go back to his friends. I bet he won't let me halter him again. :)

We'll have to do an open team penning. I think he'd love it. He should have gotten in the trailer last time and I wouldn't have had to ride Jack instead. :)

Monday, November 10, 2008

Thrown :(

Okay, so that's not me. I wasn't prepared to get that photo.

First off: the Doop moved back to the boarding barn for winter, and I've been super busy with school. Loading was good, and in our OWN trailer, which is a plus.

We were riding around in the indoor arena, I had another rider check him out, and she was cantering him around and he was fine, albeit she could tell he was very tense.

Later I end up in the outdoor arena, and he's being soo good (even windy out) that when she suggests I canter him, I quiet that sniggling voice that says "bad idea" and go.

4 strides later: dirt.

I landed about like photo person, on by back fat. Dante stood perfectly still with an "oh NOES!" look on his face. We rode around for a while but I wasn't about to push it again.

Saving some pennies to buy him some training to make cantering not worth tensing over. I may have fixed his trot on my own, but I was comfortable trotting before he was. I think I'd trust him in the indoor, we will likely try more short bits of canter until he's comfortable doing it. We did in the beginning of the summer, I'd canter him up a small hill (since he couldn't do that very quickly anyways it was less stress).

I still think he tries too hard and gets flustered. Whether it's because he really wants to please me or because he thinks I'll beat him like some other lady did, I don't know.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Good morning!

So my barn owner calls me at 8am- when I'm sleeping in- to ask when he's coming back and to tell me about a new TN Walker she got.

Only one problem: I use my phone as an alarm clock and nobody calls me that early.

So I sleepily grab my noisemaking phone, mash buttons to shut it up (snooze), and shove it under my pillow (which is convenient for finding it when it goes off again, especially if the room's cold). I hear muffled through my pillow,
" Robyn?"
"It's Marla!"

I think I "hid" under the blankets and hung up on her a couple times before muttering some "yeah" and "uh-huhs" before rubbing my eyes and getting dressed!

Crazy barn folk!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Thanks, Doopy!

So, after all that riding all weekend and horsie stuff, even I (!) needed a break. I hadn't harassed him all week, and then this weekend has been beautiful, high 60s and I just still didn't feel like riding. I figured I'd get some much needed (MUCH) needed housework done, and harass the Doop during the week. He doesn't know he now has only one week left before move back to boarding barn.

Saturday morning, just as I'm deciding to forgo the equine adventures this weekend, I get a call. From the property owner. Crap. Is he sick? Is he missing?

Nope. He busted out. The other two horses went on a trail ride and my special guy didn't want to be alone. Their barn has a run-in (like a jumbo stall) and so he was locked in there and stamping around in a tizzy while they went out.

I go there, and surprise my silly guy. He's pretty calm. I take him out to my car and begin grooming. He presents me with the following:

Who DOESN'T love burrs? So now he has a fro-lock and the mane looks okay. I added liberal show-sheen to prevent futher snags, but good luck to me. I sat on him for a bit and his friends came back. I then asked where the break in the fence was so I could go fix it.

There was no break. He was following them to the end of the pasture, and they hadn't turned the electricity back on. He touched it with his nose a couple times, and convinced it was off in the area where there's only one wire, ducked his head and snuck under it!

I gotta admit I'm looking forward to the boarding facility. We NEED to work on harder things than just "please don't flip out today, please be sane, and I don't care about your friends." I mean more technical, not harder!

He's making me an arena baby too!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


Okay, let me stress one more time that this is a fun show, nothing fancy pantsy.

Also, let me reiterate the goals I had for the event:

See if Dante remembers his old friends.
Safely transport our retard horses.
Try to convince said horses to be friends so further trailer mods are a nonissue.
See if Dante rides better back there- plan financially for any further training needed. I have a feeling he's an arena baby.
Have fun.

So, Friday I get out of work later than I wanted, go to where Truck and Trailer are parked in an abandoned parking lot near school (quite amusing next to all the little foreign cars that park there), pick my way to Sarah's to pick her up before going to her barn to get the wild Ay-rab.

Interesting moment #1: I turn down a residential street picking my way to the highway from school, and see that I have to squeeze between two other trucks with enclosed trailers parked on opposite sides of the street, as someone's getting some remodeling done. I manage not to hit anyone.

Sarah and I get out to her barn. It takes about an hour to get Lahana in. The trailer is now an open stock, and while before she went in, this time (of course) she doesn't want to. So people help us, as we're both noobs. Lahana does little girly rears. Like .5-1 feet up. She also has her head in the clouds and resembles a giraffe (sorry Sarah but your horse does not rear majestically). One girl there really gets on Lahana's butt making her work, tries using a rope to "tie" her to the trailer and let her rear it out, nada. We get a friend in there, still no dice, but then putting a rope around her butt she goes in with her friend. Sw33t!!

Lahana stands perfectly for the ride to the barn, about an hour and a half. She even enjoys a gas-stop. We get her in and settled in a comfy stall, then leave to go get the doop. It's dark.

Dante generally gets in, and the challenge is only closing the doors before he decides to leave. Unfortunately this involves two situations. 1) I can lead him into the trailer. If I get out to close the doors, he follows me out. I can't get mad at him, because he's following me. Or: 2) Someone else is there to shut the door, and he is so worried about that person he now won't go in. At this point he backs out, swings around, and tries to hide on the side behind a door. Oh, Doopy!

So we're in the dark, I had magnificently turned around the trailer around a boat, and we're faced with both situations. Once he realizes Sarah wants to close the doors, uh uh. I try "getting into him" making him back and (heaven forfend) trot around. Everyone says you make them work outside the trailer and inside is rest and peace, outside it rains pain.

Riling up Dante makes him... retarded. He can't think. He's SO worried that everyone's mad at him he panics. He's like a small child frustrated with math problems so they throw their pencil on the ground and red-faced yell "I CAN'T DO IT!!!!!" I've come to realize that he very rarely wants to be a jerk. Like I've said before, someone F'ed up this horse badly, and I call her the Face Yanker (the one who leased him and is rumored to have beaten him and made him flip over on her. There's a reason her own FATHER won't let her ride at his barn, and she is banned from ours). So. After about an 1.5 hours, he's shutting down. He roots his feet to the ground, glazes over in his face, and pretends life is not happening. Now he's not only frustrated, he's put his hands over his ears and he's pretending he can't hear me. Sigh. I figure okay, we'll get Mary's trailer in the morning, I've gotten him into that. Or, since where he is we don't have a Person to get him in for us, we'll find someone to bring who knows what to do.

Interesting moment #2) While "riling" him up as suggested, he starts to get all panicky. I'm telling him to trot to my left. I'm using the word "trot" a carrot stick, the click click, and pointing with my lead rope hand to my left. Suddenly formerly easy things like "which direction to go" and "whether or not to go faster than a walk" are too much. But like I've noticed before with my idjit, if one has the good timing and as soon as he starts to panic in the right direction they say "goooooood" then he instantly relaxes and trots calmly. He really does worry about being wrong.

So we sleep in the house cuz it's frickin cold, and in the morning take Mary's trailer. The only difference between it and ours is it's slightly wider and has one big swing door instead of the two halves, so it's easier to close up. BO says we should do it on our own, but if we fail too hard, to call and we can get her or someone to help us. We go fail for a half hour. The show starts in 15 mins or so, but it's not like we care if we're late. I call. She says "why don't you just ride Awesome" I consent. We then try for another ten minutes and lo and behold, he's in!!!! Sarah was at the big door 90 degrees open from trailer with the stick, and I was leading him in. We're thrilled.

So we get there, and I give him 10 mins in the stall to eat, drink, poo, and chill. Then we saddle up. I ride him for a few minutes in the indoor, and he's really really good. Even stook perfectly still and not butt swingy for mounting. I then walk him out to the "trail" event.

Interesting moment #3) As I'm walking him out to the event, his bestest horse friend is being ridden by. The girl on him does not understand why her horse is now coming over to me and ignoring everything she's telling him. Wiley is thrilled to see him!

We get out to trail event, and I sit on him waiting for my turn. He's mildly fidgety, but otherwise fine. It's our turn. You go over a block, then trot over poles, then move a blanket from one to another barrel, then around a corner, weave through barrels, jump a small log, then around and open and close a mailbox. Simple. Dante and I have gone over said block tons of times when it was over by the barn, and I've trotted him over poles for hours, longing AND riding, and those are the poles we jump as well. A log's not too frightening, and we've gone round and round these barrels dozens of times working on flexion. Mailbox is last but he'll stop and let me lean over to use camera, get beer, etc so shouldn't be a prob.

We get out there (it's in a pasture), and the block is now TERRIFYING!!! Won't touch it. Fine, miss it. On to poles. At the poles he begins REARING at them. Little rears that I could sit easily. My reins are loose (confirmed with Sarah), he didn't have a bit, just a rope halter as he goes better in it and I was being as gentle as possible with him. I can't get him over the poles. Okay, next obstacle. He then won't go ANYWHERE.

Interesting moment #4) Not only will he not go anywhere, but he's having a conversation with me. Whenever he's acting up under saddle normally, I direct his nose to my boot and we can circle and chill until he's good, I then tell him he's good, or at least okay, and then we try again. He's a worrywort and I need to curb the worry. It's fine for him to be wrong, just as it's fine for me to correct it. He wants to be right, gets very proud. This can be anything that unsettles me, from too fast of a trot for no reason to tripping to shying at going away from friends to whatever. Anyways, I have my reins LOOSE and I'm squeezing to get him to go anywhere. Either back to the trail or back to the gate to scratch, just move. He won't. He puts his nose to my boot and looks wide eyed at me like "I'M emergency stopping YOU!" I can't move his head back to center. He's not biting my boot, just sticking his nose right to it. I tell him it's fine, hop off, and walk him back. Poor guy.

We then go to the outdoor arena, do a few events without much riding (sarah rode on the ride-run, bribe a horse just makes them follow you for grain). He's calm. We do egg and spoon and do pretty well, ride a buck (which should have been more strictly enforced, but I gave sarah my last dollar and was riding a 1 dollar check made to cash which was a bit more slippery (also no chaps)). He's good. Calm, nice.

We then get to do barrels. Everyone's thrilled another speed event. I personally would have killed for a little more obedience-based but hey, it's MN and everyone's westerny. So I decide to give the walk-trot barrels a try (speed people in another class). I figure we can trot a pattern. We get around the first barrel, and he immediately WANTS to canter. I say "no" but I'll admit it was a smooth transition, and I'm thinking he's forward, relaxed, and so on the homestretch we lope. There's a very cute picture someone took I need my hands on. We need to do more loping... I forgot how smooth he is when he's relaxed in it.

So we go to do one more round of the trail event. This time for a prize, must do all obstacles or DQ. I go. Some people go in first to do a practice run. I figure with friends around he'll be fine. We go, not too keen on the step, but not stupid either. trots over poles like they aint no thang. Time to start so we go to clear out, I figure we'll hop the log, he's doing well.

Dante does not just hop the log. He SAILS over it like it's HUGE. Then begins to either buck or gallop or something with his back feet. He's done this once over a jump before. I think he gets excited- he loves jumping. Anyways I think he was happy, but I decided not to do a timed run. We had success in going over it so we were good.

Evening comes, he loves his stall. We put him with Lahana in the round pen- see adorable photo. She was in heat, and um, excited for him. He was... castrated. Poor Doop. He likes mares.

Dante enjoyed his stall a lot. We decided to bring him home first Sunday morning. He's never been hard to "catch." Catching is just walking up to him while he looks at you, maybe moves his head if he'd rather eat. He backed up and did not want to leave stall. Sorry guy. So we go out and decide just to use Mary's trailer, we've got to get them both home and me home by 5 to go to work, so we go to load him. He falters once, but with Sarah at the door with the whip and me inside, he goes right in!! We get him home, then go to get Lahana.

Lahana is reary again and we try for about 20 mins and then do the rope on the butt thing and in she goes!

She's much stampier this time on the drive. Probably because she wasn't tired.

Funny now, but terrifying then!: We're going down the highway, and notice that her tail is sticking out of the escape door. Panicky trailiering noobs that we are, that while we suspect the hair's getting sucked out and she's fine (no stamping), we pull over to double-check. I exit then pull over on an entrance ramp. Sarah gets out to check, and then comes running back to the truck with her panic face: "TURN OFF THE TRUCK SOMETHING'S SHOCKING HER!" I do so. I then go over to see her and while Lahana seem sto like her butt pointed at the door, she's not flipping out or looking distressed aside from rather not being in a trailer. Sarah instructs me to touch the trailer telling me that it's shocking. I touch it, and get a mild zap. Hmm, bare wire maybe? I then go unplug the trailer from the truck, still shocking. Break-away battery? Truck doesn't shock me. Then Sarah goes "Could it be those power lines?" and I look up. We're pulled over under high-voltage power lines, so yes, we can feel a tingle through the STEEL trailer that I can't feel on the Aluminum truck. I sigh. Yes. "Close it up, let's just get out of here!" So I reconnect the power, we redo a signal check and we leave.

I then explain what a Faraday cage is and why Lahana wouldn't have been likely shocked even if a lighting bolt hit the trailer. Lahana continues to alternately stamp around facing forward and put her butt up to the door sticking her tail out likely causing a few people to think we're abusive and neglectful and shut her tail in the door.

We get there and indeed, no shock. Lahana is happy to be home, and I get to work on time, even showered so I don't stink.

So again goals:
See if Dante remembers his old friends. YES, he did! And they remembered him!
Safely transport our retard horses. Done!
Try to convince said horses to be friends so further trailer mods are a nonissue. Look at that pic!!
See if Dante rides better back there- plan financially for any further training needed. I have a feeling he's an arena baby. Um, yes our barrel moment was fantastic. Trail course was zany but we can work on that!
Have fun. Super done!!!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Growing Excitement

So. Trailer is back at my house tonight, hooked up and ready to go (I think my neighbors know I'm weird). Moving it from an hour away at Sarah's barn, the left wheel locked as soon as I tapped the brake. So we had towed not using the trailer's brakes (4wire instead of 7).

We were also thinking of removing all the separating stuff and making it just an open stock trailer. Why? Because we have horses people have made horrible at loading. We can just convince them to become friends and then ride open and it would be much better than all this fear that they'll get caught up on all the falderall in there.

Mechanic looked at it, adjusted trailer brakes, then adjusted truck's brake controller, taught me now to adjust it, and removed the pole with his fancy saw. What did this cost? 40 dollars. Yeah. I love my mechanic. Tonight I will cover the areas where pole was so that trailer is good and safe for a stampy anxious horse. When they get very bored with trailering, then maybe we'll introduce some solid dividers, instead of the bars and chains that were there and that bring to mind vet bills.

Why is it important to get trailer ready to go?

Okay don't get too flabbergasted. It's not THAT kind of show. Dante's winter barn is having a fun show. Egg and spoon race, ride a buck, western game, trail, etc. Not an official show. No points earned, and cheezy prizes maybe. It's also pot-luck. The people there are about as competitive as I am. Sarah and I are trailering in our horses (hers used to live there, too), stalling for the night, showing Saturday, then bringing Lahana back Sat. night and Dante back Sun. morning. And we're doing a frigid sleepover in the barn Friday night. We will probably have the most-groomed beasts there. Entry fee: 15 dollars.

See if Dante remembers his old friends.
Safely transport our retard horses.
Try to convince said horses to be friends so further trailer mods are a nonissue.
See if Dante rides better back there- plan financially for any further training needed. I have a feeling he's an arena baby.
Have fun.

Even if he rides like a wildebeast and I have to borrow a horse, it'll be a useful experience.

Pictures forthcoming!!

Friday, September 19, 2008

State Fair (like a month ago) part II

So, I did end up attending the State Fair. The first was to see show jumping and harness competition. The jumping was fantastic, the cart competition... kinda dull.

I then returned with my barn to exercise horses and spend the night. I figured I'd be thrilled to ride the smooth-as-butter mustang, but instead I find I've fallen for the appy pony. Now this would make a killer polo pony, I won't lie, but he's also a fantastic pleasure mount, and has a home for life so he doesn't need to be a polo pony. His name is Awesome and he's the herd boss of the whole 70 horse farm.

After I left our "barn brat" (not really bratty but I guess that's what the barn kids are called, age 17) who had brought her horse goaded a 14 year old (who's learning to trot) to ride her horse, who most able-bodied adults are leery of mounting in the home indoor arena. The horse then tore ass out of the coliseum, dumped the girl, and nearly stampeded into the crowd but the BO showed up and caught him because BB had called her on her cell to brag. The girl riding was the BO's granddaughter.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

State Fair

Last weekend was cr-a-z! It took me quite some time to get around to writing. 
Minnesota has the largest State Fair in the nation.  It is a two week+ event and I have stores, but it has been a while and I have a few things I want to talk about:

The first is the belief that horses have "jobs." I see it time and time again where a horse is punished or carelessly sold because the horse was failing at his job.  I'll admit- it's very satisfying to see a horse enjoying his work and performing well. However owners tend to forget that they have jobs, and that's to see that the horse goes somewhere that will work well for them. This also means setting realistic expectations from a horse. Who hasn't seen an ad for a horse saying "he needs a job" which basically just means he's squirrely and they don't know what to do with him. They figure chasing cows or running barrels would probably calm him down when odds are they're just overmounted.  

I also hate seeing "prospect" on an ad. "Dressage prospect" "Barrel prospect" "Cutting prospect". Not wanting to be caught does not a "barrel prospect" make. 

It's like hammering nails: if you use the wrong hammer, or hammer incorrectly, you bend the nail or scuff the surface. It's not the hammer's fault. 

But it's also not like every horse has to be the best. Most horses are pleasure mounts. A decent trail horse is just fine for the job. You don't have to tell me that I'll get my next world champion out of this broodmare because I don't need a world champion, and if that were true she'd at least be broke. 

The other thing I wanted to talk about is equine chiropractors. I'm thinking of getting a session for the Doop. It's 100 bucks. I'm thinking this because of his sway back, ill fitting saddle past, as well as the possible beating, carrying a 300lb rider on bad saddle, and leasers using a saddle that made his shoulder swell up so that the vet needed to be called. Also he was stocked up  a bit last winter. 

Any advice? 

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


So I finally got my free time back, and I had another longeing lesson for the Doop.

First, I called them because I always end up running around the pasture only to find them chillin in the barn. Nobody came up to see me except the old arthritic Cody. I thought, "Well, if Cody's happy to see me, I'm happy to see Cody" and gave the old boy a good grooming and grazing.

During which the brown faces appeared and made moony eyes at me for ignoring them. Serves them right. I released Cody to go roll in muck and un-pretty himself, find more stickiburrs and etc for his mane, and snagged Dante. Dante, of course, behaved very well. No problems grooming and even tacking wasn't bad. He hated the saddle as always, but once I get that first buckle on it's not so bad.

We went and worked near friends. Having been away, I didn't see just how bad his feet got, so he was a bit trippy if cantering downhill, which sent him into a frustrated worrisome buck. So I did my best to get him to trot down the very slight hill instead. I'll get a video up soon. I took one.

I still think he needs to develop his canter like he did his trot. It's just been a while and he's out of shape for it. We'll add that to the list of things to work on. Afterwards, I hopped on and we rode up and down the drive, which was apparently within the limits now. Better, but not exactly down the road better.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008


Hello, One Red Horse!

Peeking at who's looking at me, I see you're into feet. Well we have four feet and pictures thereof, so I thought I'd share.

Dante was a normal pasture-trim horse. After getting him, I had my friend Kelly start trimming him. She's a little cheaper, and just super into feet and barefoot trimming etc. I told her to go nuts.

So here's some before and afters:
3/14/07 before special trims: underrun heels and flare


And 6/19/07


And 12/23/07

His feet are even better now, I just haven't been photographing them! I'll be sure to update that.... after my exam!

Bad, busy owner.

I have been pretty good about riding and hanging out a good 2x a week (one weekend day of pony fun, and one evening). Sometimes more, rarely less.

However, I have a huge exam for my degree in a week, and I'm trapped studying and preparing. Doopy has to wait. :'(

So in leiu of that, I thought I'd throw in a picture of a while ago when I did his mane all purty. I'm a sucker for a long mane. I don't show so this was simply for fun. And I ran out of bands or I would have kept going. Yes, this was my first time doing it.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

He can't even be a proper punk!

So I had bought Longe Whip (people at Fleet Farm gave me a "why would you need a BIGGER whip" horse-abuse look) Wednesday, and had a longe line because they were on sale before, and was all prepared for hell to break loose. I had had a bad day at work, was ready to be no-nonsense and de-stress. Didn't mean I felt like beating him, just that I was too drained from the stress to put up with B.S. and too tired to get all that rough on him.

Luckily Kate was around so I explained what I was going to do. She's very no-nonsense, but also very Western. She does not longe, do ground work, etc. Her horses do not hold their feet well, do not tie so well, and one does not catch well (may have been abused in a previous home, though). However her horses do tack up and ride exceedingly well. Nothing fancy, maybe a little side pass, but can canter through the woods without a fuss, stand for saddling and mounting and bridling, etc.

So anyways, I explained what I was going to do so that she didn't think big whip= big retard. She knows I'm a noob and just might think that. I get him out, and after a few "quit"s and light halter jerks he didn't graze. The horses had just come outside- they have a run-in shelter they hide in during the day away from the bugs, so he probably DID want to graze. He stood like a rock for grooming. He was cocking a back leg pretty far when I wanted to pick it, but a fwop to the belly stopped that. I'll clarify: a fwop is a kick. Some people freak out about that. I point my toe and strike with the whole surface from the toe of my boot to just below my knee. It's very blunt. He has a pretty big, fat belly to kick. I'm rather certain it doesn't hurt. Were it painful, he would probably move at least a step and not just look at me like "Aw, crap. Fine," give a big sigh and then behave.

So he's being good. Too good. I showed him Whip and he tried to eat it. I rubbed it on him and he nearly napped. His friends were watching. We began longeing and he was being perfect. A few touches with the whip and he stopped trying to eat and had a positive work ethic. Decent working trot. I was so impressed I didn't realize his friends moved away so we then followed them. He was worse behaving on the grass where they were than on the drive where they had been. He'd be distracted or try to grab a bite, trip, then flip out like it was somehow my fault. Or, he'd trot faster and faster, canter, then gallop and flip out. Big farty bucks. We haven't worked too much on downward transitions on the longe, because usually it's hard enough to get him to go, and they aren't a problem under saddle. So sadly, I thin he was probably just trying to please me by actually going faster, but then frustrated because he hit a peak. I let him have enough line to finish it then asked him again to trot like it never happened. Heck that's even more work for him, and it's not getting him out of anything. Wasn't going to whip him for it because he'd probably not figure out why, again it doesn't happen under saddle, and it would just make the rest of what we were doing harder for him to learn. He'd be all "OMG she BEAT me!" and ignore all the "good"s and "atta boy" etc. for things he was doing right afterwards.

So then we walked into the woods and chilled. For all my riling up, he was ready to nap in the woods. I think he was tired. We walked back, worked near friends, then chilled in the woods again. At this point it was getting dark.

So, successes:
1) He stood well non-grazing. He was a bit pissy for saddling, but that's an ongoing thing. I did sit on him for a little while and he was good for that.

2) He longed very well, for him. He really was trying. He was not heavy-headed, and I was good at being fair. Maybe a little weak on my part, but better than crude.

3) He was being so good I didn't notice his friends leave. Hmm, maybe that's a failure. He was respectful of my space. I could tell his friends were gone when I went to sit on him.


1) He did not flip out when leaving his friends. Makes the problem harder to fix. He didn't want to leave them, but stood with me perfectly fine in the woods.

2) He needs his feet did. He was trippy, which he wasn't last time I saw him. I'll call Kelly, they'll be taken care of. They're also chippy, which he's never had before. Dry, I guess?

3) We need to do some down transitions. I'd give them, but he didn't act like he knew ones other than "and ho."

Always always, a work in progress. He did get a decent exercise though; I think he and his friends are being lazy.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Herd bound: need help!

So... I think today was a breaking point. For me, not the horse.

When we were at the big, boarding facility (70+ horses, 200 acres), and he had his buddies, we didn't really have herdbound issues. Usually, since I rode at night alone in the indoor, I'd snag a mare or something to mosey around while we rode just because I didn't want to be "that person who makes me work alone" to him. Sometimes we rode alone. It wasn't an issue. I wasn't into riding trails alone, so never really tried. We also usually didn't ride on the road. So we were if not within sight of another horse, were not terribly far.

When we first moved, and he lived alone before he made friends, we would ride a good half mile down the road, but I didn't want to do trails alone in case something happened (nobody would be around). Then he made friends. Now we can't go down the road, into the woods, or according to today, down the driveway.

He was moved to my in-laws with the other two, and we worked on it. We would make expanding circles, and he would go around the barn not seeing them just fine. We had our little arena and a good section to play so I dealt with it. With a friend going, he'd go anywhere.

While I was away, Kate moved them back to her property. Fine. He's fat anyways. I did notice riding with Sarah, that saddling was worse than normal. However once we were following George, all was well.

Today, he was nutters. OMG kind of nutters. I have scissor-clip reins that I use on his rope halter and it's how we usually ride. If I'm lazy, I unclip a side and use it as a lead rope too.

Dante steps on lead ropes with as many feet as he can all the time. I have taught him that when this happens to back up. He knows this. He has to stop and back up while grazing with a rope at least 20 times a week. Today, he stepped on it, stepped on it worse backing up, and then yanked his head up and broke the metal scissor clip. This was before riding, so I went and got his padded halter until we could ride with a bridle. I was worried about him having hurt his face. I was barely going to ride, so it wasn't anything I worried about. Usually, he's calmer without a bridle. He seemed unfazed, so we saddled (he was obnoxious, so I used a tablespoon of grain to distract him- yeah it must hurt really bad, if that's all it takes for him to stand for it, right?). I got on and he was so dancey.

Whenever we tried to leave the area, he would back up, swing around so that I was in the branches, yank his head down and eat his feelings in the maniacal crazed-grazing, where he just keeps taking bites and not chewing, pausing, or swallowing. Any prevention of grazing made him yank his head all around and threaten to blow up. I hopped off and longed him. He had one flip out on the line, then was pretty good, although still crazy-grazey.

I've tried walking him back into the woods alone, but he just gets on supreme alert, tries to step on me, bowl me over, etc. Also the bugs were really,really bad, and bothering the both of us.

So what does one do to undo herd-boundness? He's going back to the big barn for winter in mid to late October. Then in the spring he'll be moving back again.

Saddle racks!

So I like being handy with wood and such, so I decided to make myself a pair of saddle racks that fit in the truck. Very convenient. So I did!

They turned a messy truck with saddle mess everywhere to a neat and organized truck! Now I can also quickly remove the horse stuff if I want Truck for other purposes besides ponies.

I did learn today, though, that I need to find a way to secure them, because they become quite top-heavy with saddles. I wonder if I just turn them the other way, if they'd be more stable. Otherwise a bungee'll do it.

If you have it, they will come.... eventually.

So I have been trying to convince my friend Sarah to come riding with me since Dante's move this last spring. George is perfectly suited to her- flighty and fast like her arab, but reliable like a QH (and with the smoother gaits as well- love arabs, but haven't met a smooth one). She kept making excuses.

So FINALLY I convince her to come. She had NO idea how gorgeous the trails out back are, and I haven't been able to really explore because of Dante's herd-boundness (more coming up on that). So I only get to go back there with others, and I usually end up riding by myself. Last time I went to ride he was so nutty for his friends and I didn't have my helmet so we just had a fun time of grooming and petting and grazing. I hadn't done one of those in a while, he missed it.

So we go back out on the trails, she cuts George loose through the meadows on the other side of the woods, and luckily there there were fewer bugs.

The two southern pastures belong to the neighbors, the northern pasture (which is actually the grassiest) belong to my in-laws, and you can see that we go west into the woods and then into the meadows. These are rolling hills all over. Gorgeous time.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Lesson time!

Okay, so I had my first fancy Englishy lesson. It was the barn down the road I had oggled since age 12, as stated in my first post.

I've had other English lessons, but the barn was in obvious disrepair (school part anyways), the horses were well-mannered but all old, the instructors young (ger than me), and the fencing serviceable, but not fresh. It was good, but not fancy. For this I wore my pull on jods, short boots and half chaps with a t-shirt. I didn't want to be made fun of.

First impressions of the barn: good. Nobody was snotty when I didn't know where to go (where to find instructor). Fencing: nice- wood with hot wire. Horses in good condition, friendly, well-fed, supplemented and most were stalled. Feed room had door AND a stall chain. I've NEVER seen horses wearing so much while out in pasture, even my mom noticed! I didn't think anyone had their horse wear front boots and bell boots just to be out in pasture, plus the fly mask, and halter. They were still very impatient with flies. No longing before lesson, but as a pokey, steady horse, makes sense. I did groom, noticed had all four shoes. Pastures had shelter, or the horses were brought in for the evening. Indoor arena had rubber tire shredding footing. Outdoor arena in good condition, no rocks and even. Jumps available. Cross ties, wash stall, etc.

We were in the outdoor, and began by walk-trotting around, focusing on my hands being lower and closed. I then worked on beginning the canter, and some mini-jumps with a focus on my jump position. She took away my reins in the position, one arm at a time before both (I warned her western taught me one handed just fine). She had seen me riding western, so she was surprised that in English my legs moved back and didn't stay forward. She commented that my canter did not look like I had only done it a few times (in honesty- twice in English lessons previously, once on a longe in a NH lesson, and maybe 10x total on my horse in practice for a few strides each. Oh, and one time I race piggums against my friend's horse Lahana, whose story and transformation I will tell later. )So not terribly practiced, despite the praise. It was the first time a canter felt good, controlled, and that I was in control. I think it was because I was so focused on my seat and not looking like a doof (some of the kids came out to watch the noob) that I just performed well. Go me.

We did do mini-jumps, but the horse I was riding was not into jumping and she knew it. She invited me back to come to a second lesson this week. She mentioned a more active horse and the indoor, where more jumps were set up. At 40 bucks for a half-hour, I'm leery. I can do an hour for 30 in MN/WI. I think I may do more of those, and not more here. I was also told I can come visit etc. while here no problem. I guess the barn had changed hands a few tims since built, and these seem to be the most friendly.

My legs are tired. My horse's trot requires little posting, he does the jog, or I can post but it's so solid. I'm spoiled by him, and used to him. His movements are familiar. Also, jump position got tiring, riding around the arena in it.

So, no regrets. I had fun, got my pony fix, and learned a bunch of stuff to practice. Also doing some cantering successfully has made me decide to work on my doodle with it. We had practiced, but should practice more. I was able to let go of the saddle, and "push" whilst understanding.

Totally fun! I can't wait to see what Dante thinks of all this. Afterwards, I thoroughly enjoyed jumping in my pool though, where I spent my childhood dreaming of ponies!

Thursday, July 10, 2008


I had a decent ride on Dante Wednesday evening. Longed okay, but was a bit spooky- didn't like the chickens in the bush.

Good news: his English saddle now fits better NOT having the back-boosting pads I sewed to help the saddle fit better (rock wise).

We rode around, he was a little nutty over eating, but not absolutely nutso.

I'm in CT right now at my parents' place. Monday, I have a lesson at that fancy place down the road. I'm totally stoked! I'll report more then.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Ah, there he is!

So last night, I went and intruduced Truck to Horse. Horse liked Truck, mainly because at the old barn they used to hay from one, and trucks mean food. Same reason he'll never be afraid of 4-wheelers, bobcats, or any other number of motorized equipment. If your horse spooks at general flurries of activity, just board at a big place for a few months (preferably winter ones) and they'll be over that soon enough.

I never thought that Husband could/would be jealous of Horse, but I think he ever-so-slightly resents my evenings, ramblings, expenditures, and "barn dirt" (with accompanying odors) all for the sake of something that may or may not kill me by accident. I did get job #2 for horse, truck for horse, talk about horse, spend weekends with horse, plan my weeks around visiting the horse, and get ticks on his clothes (he did not appreciate).

For not complaining TOO much, I do try my best to be nice, rearrange things like riding and such to spend time with him, and do things like make it a short evening so I can go home and shower and we can catch a movie, which we did last night.

So, longing was quick, I set low goals for that after last time, it only took one stride of canter to get a "good boy" and not have to do it anymore. I also forgot my stick at home, so I was just swinging rope which is generally less effective. He was a little OMG we need to eat like crazy NOW!, but was otherwise fine. We rode around at walk-trot and he was perfectly behaved. He wanted to lope, I did not. The Yellow flowers were definitely in his mind, and we had to eat all of them. Yes, I let him get away with it a little, he would move off when asked.

I've always felt that for a horse you've ridden 2-3x weekly for a year and a half, a day or two of him "getting away with" something is not a huge deal. I still have no idea what spooked him the other day. I really think he may have seen a bear or something and just been on alert for it.

To make up for not having a fun pic, I'm including his latest "conformation shot". Compare with the ones below it. Those are a 6 month difference with cavelletti exercises. Now that we have Truck, I can buy lumber to make some new ones (check out link), as the previous ones belonged to the barn.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008


Yes, I am now the proud owner of a 1994 Chevrolet Silverado 2500.

It is huge (a 3/4 ton pickup). It gets maybe 13 miles per gallon. It is 4-wheel drive.
It has 154K miles, some rusty spots, and a mechanic-confirmed, innocuous oil leak.

Best part: It has a plug for trailer, and brake controller.

Now I'll have to make sure I get that horse to load! Poor horse really has no idea how much money I spend for him.

Hopefully someday this truck will be the visage of an angel of mercy to save a poor pony from the meatman.

If you're in the MN area and have a rescue and need transport, give me a call. I will provide the ride, but I can't guarantee I can afford the gas!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

What happened to my horse!? If this is Night and Day, I think I'm a Night person!

Well, at the auction I had bought a (cheap, yes) western saddle. I'd been on the hunt for a FQHB, WIDE gullet, well-swayed saddle that was also round-skirted, brown without flowers or acorns on it (WTF western people?) or too much basketweave (plasticweave if you ask me, ick!) on it.

I found something acceptable and won it, along with a nice thick pad. I meant to try it out soon after, so swung by Fleet Farm after work to get a cinch. Then realized "LOL, no billet straps" and had to wait until another trip to FF after work to get some. Finally, ready to play with saddle. Boots=check, bel=check, spurs=nah, hat= helmet? In the meantime we used our English saddle, and I had stuck this one on him to see if it was worth trying (width and rock etc). It was.

Dante gets pissy if we don't have ample snacking/grooming/love time before any work. I'd rather let him graze while grooming, so we do. I also dewormed him, which he does well. The barn he was at had dry lots most of the time, so even though he lives in food, he gets more here too. Summer coat=shiny horse, so there's little to accomplish besides feet picking, quick brush, and handling the mane and tail.

I let him continue to graze while I adjust everything, attaching new parts, adjust stirrups , and cinch up. Well F me- he didn't budge while cinching! Maybe he is a Western boy!
So what do I do? I take a photo!

We then longe a quick WTC-ho-back in each direction, I helmet-up, and we go to our mounting bucket, and up we go.

We walk, we trot, we even do a couple strides of canter. He's an ANGEL. Very responsive to seat still (I was paying extra attention), and I had an epiphany moment where I was like, "hey, he really DOES turn much better if I look where I want him to go with both eyes!"And our reinless stop was perfect. Neck reining- check. Our couple strides of loping are crappy, because I'm still developing a seat in it (I waited until I could trot w/stirrups and feel balanced). He is smooth, it's not his fault. He isn't used to it though, and is a little head-tossy. Had I a decent arena, we'd practice longer lopes and he'd get used to it, and is then much better about it. Being in an arena-like grassy area without fencing and with Nature, we don't. Maybe in winter ;)

Go video! I tried to trim it because I realize watching us is not exciting. :\ Yes, I'm still learning. Any observations (heels down) are appreciated, and hecklers (your riding sux!) are not.

I unsaddle, and note that the sweat marks are purdy.

(no that's not a dry spot in the second one just combed a different way)

It was getting late (hence the flash) so I hosed him off, squeegeed, gave a treat, and put him away. He's always had good gate manners (I made that happen right off the bat), and this time instead of galloping back to his friends, he stuck by me and slowly sauntered over to them as I walked away.

That was Thursday.

I figured Sunday would be nicer weather, so I was all excited for another Western day. Sun shining, low 70s, gentle breezes, great! I'm stoked. I show up, and this time he was standing under a tree swatting flies. I get him, and walk him back to my car. Normal, normal. Very mellow

Hint #1 that he did not want to play today.

I let him graze and groom him, and all of a sudden while I'm currying his fanny, he BOLTS! Sinks his butt down, and takes off 20 ft. The horse that never spooks. I was like "okay, that was odd," No bee stings, nothing. Maybe he JUST noticed the chicken? Odd. Really odd. I tell him he's fine and we continue grooming. Finish up, and I saddle him like before (well, I didn't have to build the saddle on him, but nothing slapdash either). He did move a little on cinching, but he hates girths so I figured maybe there isn't a miracle cinch/girth that he'll love. Some days I hate bras, so go fig.

Hint #2

I go to do our quick WTC longe routine. It's more of a NH longeing, but I like it as he hates dressage whips (I think face-yanker used to beat him with one), he can feel more of the rope because it's heavy, and I like the flexibility in gestures with the stick. I click-click for a trot and fine, and then a short kiss and ask for canter and all of a sudden HE IS IN THE AIR. He looked like this:

Only his back legs were pointed down more, and his back was arched. Like he was standing on an invisible pedestal.

I was understandably nervous. Where did MY horse go? Who was this? Thought, okay, weird, let's try this again (and simultaneously decided no riding today... unless he became perfect).

We try again, more bucking farting crazy. I take off the saddle thinking maybe he's not okay with it anymore, same thing. Take off my hat (I had a horse that wouldn't let me catch her if I wore a hat), same. He gets worse and worse about got grazing on our work surface. I move us to the gravel drive. Behaves, but certainly not calm. Back to grass, farting rearing bucking stupid.

At this point I'm not counting hints.

I figure that's our new goal for the day, a WTC. Nothing fancy, not even for very long, (half a circle? An attempt). I "reboot" him by instead playing with our new fly mask- I was going to leave it on him today but not if he's not thinking clearly. I give him a treat and tell him he's fine, I'm not mad, lots of hugs. Let's try again. He's usually easy to reboot.

Because of the face-yanker in his past life, Dante is very worried about doing the wrong thing. He will try and try and try, and LOVES praise. If not, he will get more and more worked up until he spazzes in a great big "I CAN'T DO IT!" moment. Occasionally I'll have to get him through one of those moments to rile him up enough to do what I want. (He thought he couldn't trot on a longe when I first got him). After failing, I must have him do something he CAN do to perk him back up. To work with him, one MUST commend him the exact second his intent is there, then he calms down and performs. You say "goood" as his weight shifts back to back up, not when a foot moves, or when his head raises before entering a trot/canter, when hes head moves before turning etc.

I have a friend who had a dog where you wouldn't tell her to go out and piddle, but to go do "good girl"s. He reminds me of that. Sometimes it's better if you praise him so he can relax and get it right.

Hint#- oh I'm not counting, I get the hint that it's not a fun riding day!

The encouraging "gooood"s are not working. The hugs are not working. He keeps giving up and either eating, or coming at me (big no-no, desperate to get out of the work "pet me instead and tell me I'm still good" and also too animated for my liking) He is not lame. He is not ill. He is not hungry- he lives in a pasture full of food, which he wasn't even EATING when I took him out.

In the end, I gave up. He was ALMOST done, we had one direction down and just a quickie in the other one, and then he did a BIG REAR, managed to rope burn my fingers, on yacht rope. I did release the rope because I was paranoid he'd flip over and wanted him to have his head for balance. I was like, "Game Over." I calmed him down some, and walked him back to his gate. Thank God we established good gate manners from the get-go. He was prancey, stampy, irritable. I get him in the pasture, released him, and after begging for a cookie that was not forthcoming (I needed to be ready for him to bolt), he took off towards his friends at a full gallop, and I believe there was a flying start in there.

WTF happened to my horse??? I figured there was no way I was going to "win" either by force or coercion, so I quit. The day did not need to end in some sort of medical bill for me to pursue that option. I had several hours of patience and then decided there were funner things to do with my day, and nothing to gain by fighting. I'm not thinking it's going to be a "now-you've-taught-him-to-avoid-work-by-being-naughty problem, because it was so random and off for him. Considering how he does not favor longing and how much longing he got do to from being naughty, I'd say it didn't work out in his favor. Did I do anything wrong?