Thursday, December 30, 2010

Snowing, cold.....

I made it to the barn on icy roads to give Nina her beet pulp and change her medium weight blanket for a heavy one.  There were starlings sitting on her butt when I got there.  They were not happy to be shooed away so I could switch blankets.  I took this pic as I was leaving, all you can see through the snow is the blanket walking around. 

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The cold is coming.

We have had a couple of really good days of schooling.  Working over poles, working on transitions.  Nina likes having something interesting to do.  I was riding today in a sweatshirt, no vest or jacket.  Very nice.
Tomorrow the cold arrives, high of 20 and snow and Friday it gets really cold, high of 13.  Below zero for several nights.  Then over a week in the 30s, but the sun is supposed to be out so we will play it by ear.
There is the indoor arena, which will at least be dry, but the kids are out of school and it is hard to do anything in the huge outdoor arena with them galloping around with little steering, the small indoor would be suicide.  Besides the indoor isn't heated so as soon as the snow is gone, outdoor will be better anyway.
Nina will get at least a few days off, bundled up for the cold.  Time to dig the big purple Wug out of storage.

Rambo Wug

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Trot poles

photo from Horse & Rider (UK)
We are trotting poles. Like in this photo, slightly raised off the ground to encourage Nina to find her feet and use her butt. It will make her hindquarters stronger. She couldn't do this a few months ago, she kept kicking the poles. Now she is going through it well. Several times during our ride for the past few days and I can feel the improvement already.

Monday, December 27, 2010

It is, after all, winter

I will have to get some riding in early this week. 40s and 50s Monday through Wednesday, snow and 34 on Thursday and a rip roaring high of 13 degrees on Friday. I need to find the heavy blanket for Nina, she has been getting by with a medium one.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

I hope you are all having a wonderful day. Nina and I want to say 'Thanks' to everyone who has visited our blog and especially to those of you who take the time to comment.

photo courtesy of Denny Emerson at Tamarack Hill Farm

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas and Horses

Rockley Farm posted this for a Christmas greeting and it is so great I wanted to share it.  You can find their blog on my blogroll in the right hand column.

Happy Christmas! from Nic Barker on Vimeo.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

I'm excited

I really needed this.  It has been a long time coming.  Nina is finally to the point where I can get back to taking lessons, improving my own riding and bring her along with goals and help.  I love taking lessons, but it's like just setting your money on fire to try to take lessons on a horse that will not cooperate one little bit.  And there is no point in getting so far ahead of yourself when the realistic goals for the horse are walk without a fight, trot without a fight, stop without bolting.
Nina is finally consistent enough about the very basics, move off the leg, keep moving, stop arguing about every little thing, no spooking when the rider pats you etc etc.
I am looking forward to getting some sort of regular lessons with Amy, setting some goals and working toward them.  It keeps me motivated.  The new year is just around the corner.... it's going to be a good one.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A lesson with Amy

I finally got a lesson on this horse, my first lesson in over 3 years.  This is my previous jump instructor, Amy. I have talked to her about Nina but she had never seen her.   Her barn is in Longmont, over 40 miles away but she has agreed to come down a few times a month, as the weather permits, because I think Nina is ready to be pushed a bit and as you can see from the videos, I look like crap and need to get back to regular lessons.  The results of riding on my own all this time.
Amy took my spurs off, she said that I had always had a good leg and trying so hard not to touch Nina with the spur was making me stiff through my legs.  She suggested that if I need the spurs on any given day, go get them and use them, but they are ruining my leg.  We mostly just did some walk trot and talked a lot about this horse and how her progress has been going and where to go from here.  It's a start.  I like this instructor, I always enjoyed my lessons on Scotty with her and made progress and she knows me which will help in figuring out what the horse is causing and what the rider is causing.

EDITED 12/25
I was looking at the videos again, specifically looking at Nina's movement. Amy commented several times that she thought Nina looked kind of locked up in the rear, not anywhere specific, just not quite right. We talked about the fact that she was overdue for a chiropractic visit and I said I would try to get that done before our next lesson, which I will. But I was looking at the videos and she is certainly mincing along on her rear, not striding out like she has been. It occurred to me that she has been barefoot in the rear for almost a month. Her feet look in good shape, but I wonder if she is footsore. It can take a several weeks for their feet to get used to not having shoes. My farrier will be back out in two weeks, we will have to take a good look and make sure she is not sore anywhere before I decide to leave the shoes off.

Winter portraits

A friend wanted to take some pics of me and Nina, not a good time of year, but what the heck.  This was on Sunday and it was COLD.
I asked Nina to do three things....1. stand still ...2. don't kill anyone ...3. put your ears up.  She said I could have two out of three.  So here we are, me wearing approximately 10 layers of clothes and Nina wearing 2 inches of hair, standing straight up.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

two great rides and I violated the 40 degree rule...

I had a good ride yesterday and survived riding in the cold.  It was 36 degrees, but the sun was out in full force - that makes such a difference especially at this altitude - AND I put some foot heaters in my boots.  I am so miserable when my feet get cold.  Warm feet and I can handle the colder temps. 
I tried the snaffle on Nina, overall she was very good and I liked the way she was carrying herself better in it.  There were a couple of minutes where she grabbed it and started to take off, leaving me thinking 'oh...this is not a good idea'  but she was fine.  I think this bit will be a step up for her.  She did throw a bit of a temper tantrum before I got on, her ground manners seem to be optional when it is cold, have to work on that.

Today it was nice and warm which meant chaos in the arena so I put the gag back on her and had a great ride.  When I get frustrated because progress seems so slow I have to remember that this horse did not want to WALK a year ago and today she was doing halt to trot transitions with no head flinging, moving strongly off of her rear for a big first stride and happy to do it.   We also worked a little on whoa.  She has a nasty habit of grabbing the bit as she stops and rooting hard, trying to pull you loose.  I have been trying several different things to work on this, the main one being that I remember to use my body and not my hands to halt.  I got several nice balanced stops from a trot with no rooting and decided that was well done and called it a day.  I am very happy with her.  And my timing in getting off was good because about 10 minutes later a horse being led by a very small child (don't ask, I will sidetrack into a full blown screaming rant) got loose and went tearing around the arena, scattering the other horses like chickens.   Happy not to be in there too.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

rethinking history

I am going to ramble a bit here (ok, a lot) and hope by putting things down in writing that I can sort them out for myself. Bear with me.... or just skip this one.

The little bit of history I have gathered about Nina is, to state in mildly, incomplete and I always assumed not totally accurate. When I picked her up I figured the chances of having a riding horse or putting her down were 50/50. I was just drawn to her and couldn't leave her in the conditions were I found her. But now I am looking back over the last two years and re-evaluating what is going on.

1. She was presented as just difficult. Bolted when ridden, reared when pushed, nasty on the ground etc etc. And I certainly experienced that myself, but I found that she came around pretty darn quickly and I just figured she had been owned by people who agreed to fight with her, which is always a loser.

2. She had a deep infected cut on one hock which I was told was from a kick. Odd that a kick that hard didn't break bone, but one thing I have learned with horses is never say never. When this healed she was very weak on this leg, which seemed like muscle or ligament weakness. This leg is now almost normal, not quite.

3. She had a huge swollen area along her spine on the neck and another smaller one near the poll, very hard, not painful. Both vet and chiropractor said they would not touch either without lots of x-rays but they appeared to be scar tissue from an old injury. Spending a thousand dollars on my $200 horse who might not be with us long seemed like a non-starter so I never got around to that. Massage, Rolfing and Reiki have reduced these two spots to one very small and kind of soft area.

4. Her rearing problem was solved in ONE session where when she threatened to rear, I threatened to pull her over backward. End of rearing. Come ON, really? One confrontation?

5. Her owner rode her in a big honking western bit with a bit port and long shanks and tied her head down with a training fork, which is a running martingale adjusted about 10 inches too short. When I put a metal snaffle in her mouth she was fine with it until I moved it around and then I got a BIG pain reaction. Vet found the same thing and said it might be nerve damage to the bars of her mouth which would be permanent. A rubber bit did not cause problems so we have worked in a rubber bit.... more on this in a minute.

6. Her first chiropractic treatment indicated that she was all out of whack, not unexpected since she moved like a board. She was especially touchy in her withers and poll. Perhaps like a horse that has gone over backward?

7. And along that theme, I have never seen a horse so body sore and stiff. Much worse even than racehorses just off the track who have been racing too hard. Stiff, painful to even turn around, head carried almost to the ground with a hunched look. Again, massage, rolfing and Reiki loosened things up over a few months.

8. No matter how nasty she can get over something when ridden, I have always felt that the underlying cause was fear.

So where is this going? I have been mulling this over a lot the last few days. It started with the bit. I have been riding her in a rubber gag, which a lot of ex racehorse like as the cues feel different and they are less likely to lean on the bit. I have also ridden her in a rubber pelham, which I am not fond of because I am thinking ahead and jumping with two sets of reins is a PITA, I know people do it all the time, but I hate it. What I found with both bits is that she would either grab the bit and pull, trying to pull me loose, or she would go behind the bit, which I think she was trained to do. Both of these bits can encourage this as they are poll pressure bits. They work best with bold, forward horses who do NOT have a tendency to curl up. I have ruled out a plain metal snaffle because of all the above but yesterday I decided to try it anyway. I dug through my bits and found an eggbutt three piece snaffle with a big fat bean in the middle. This is a mild bit without a lot of movement. I stuck it on her and lunged her in it with sidereins adjusted to all sorts of different lengths. It not only did not bother her, but when I adjusted the reins long she stretched forward to find the contact herself. She did pull down a little but not too much.
3 piece eggbutt snaffle has nerve damage in her mouth healed? How has scar tissue disappeared? How has a stiff, restricted horse become supple and athletic without the amount of riding that this normally takes? How did she give up chronic rearing so quickly?

While I still don't know how long she has been a problem to handle and ride, I have come to the conclusion, ok a guess, that she was in a serious train wreck shortly before I bought her.  Perhaps she was pulled over or threw herself over backwards.  I have seen horses ridden with their heads tied down to their chest do this when they have either just had enough or they panic.   Maybe on very hard ground or maybe she landed in a fence or equipment or something that she got tangled in.   Or maybe she bolted and ended up in a wreck. What I have assumed were chronic problems that I would have to deal with forever were actually traumatic injuries, never addressed and they are healing, getting close to being completely healed.

This helps a little with changing my attitude and giving me more hope that I will have a horse to compete with in the spring and that I am not wasting my time, which is a thought that creeps in often.

This assumes that we don't have such a cold winter that my 40 degree rule doesn't ground us both for months.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Thursday, December 16, 2010

40 degree rule

I like my new 40 degree rule.  It was 38F when I got to the barn, little breezy.  Not too bad but the little breeze was creating some wind chill because the little dusting of snow at the barn, in full sunlight was not melting. 
Nina got turned out and practiced bucking for quite a while.  Got some good ones in.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


I was teaching a lesson today and the temperature just dropped like a rock.  It was 52 when I left work, 50 when I got to the barn and 37 when I got back in my car about two hours later and 34 when I got home half an hour later.  Whew, really feels cold when it does that. 
It was also spitting rain by the time I was finished with the lesson so Nina got fed, blanketed and patted on the head.  fini
She has been very good this week, hopefully I will get to ride tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Kate asked about an indoor arena and THAT is a whole other issue.
Last winter we were at a different barn and Nina was ridden in a heated indoor arena nearly every day.  There were lots of distractions, doors, windows to the aisle and she might spook a little when someone appeared in a doorway, but overall she was fine. It was a solid old pole barn and you really couldn't tell what the weather was doing when it was closed up tight.  Here she is indoors last winter.
The indoor arena at my current barn is a different story.  For one thing it isn't heated so it is at least as cold indoors as out.  It is an old metal building so it is a bit of a refrigerator.  When the wind blows the roof rattles and the doors slam and the wind howls, much worse than outside.  A lot of people going in and out do not bother to close the door behind them so the doors swings and slam. All the noise and echos and the building itself rattling drive Nina crazy and it is just one spook after another.  About the time she starts to settle down somebody slams a door hard enough to deafen you and off she goes again.  She needs to get over it and I will do some riding indoors with that in mind, but all in all I don't consider this a good place to work, regardless of the weather.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

wind wind wind

I managed a ride in the wind today, although I have to confess that it was not the biting freezing cold wind we have been getting. It was fairly mild, I was in several layers of clothes but I was comfortable.  That icy wind we have been getting isn't stopped by any amount of clothes. 
So Nina was pretty good even when a horse blanket blew off the fence in front of her and a tumble weed blew right between her feet.  She discovered quickly that part of the arena was out of the direct blast, sheltered by a shed row building, and the rest was not.  She wanted to stay in the sheltered area and our circles got kind of flat when we stuck out noses out into the full force of the wind.  Not stellar, but not bad.  I used a new conditioner on my saddle last night that made it slippery so it's a good thing that Nina wasn't throwing a fit.  I need to clean that off tomorrow.
I feel like I'm in the winter groove now - I hope.

Saturday, December 11, 2010


That icy wind was blowing again today and the no-steering riders are out on Saturdays so Nina got turned out.  But today she had a playmate, Tino.  Tino is a 5 year old TB that belongs to a friend and he lives at the barn when he is not in Fort Collins, where his owner is going to school.  We turned them out last year and they were ok so we turned them out today.  Nina had fun, not so sure about Tino.  She was chasing him around and herding him.  He was a little intimidated, he is still kind of a baby.  Hopefully she will be a little nicer to him next time, they both need a turnout buddy.
Here they were last summer, grazing in two little paddocks on the hill.
I love how they mimic each other's body position.... it's that herd thing. 

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Get my head back in the game

I have been spending way too much time whining about the fact that I am cold (I am) and the wind is blowing (it is) and I already want winter to be over (I do and it isn't here yet). 
I need to pay attention to what this horse needs to keep moving forward with her training.  She goes really nicely for a few days and I forget how neurotic she can be and start pushing her to the next step and the next and the next and she can't handle it.  So I give her a few days off.  When she has had a few days off I am a little nervous and tense when I get on her because she is a little explosive and she is nervous and tense because of her history.  I realized yesterday that I was riding with my shoulders hunched and kind of shoving and pushing at her when she was spooky.  So she got stiff as a board and resistant. What I need to do is ride every day or as close as possible, but not train every day.  Or at least not train anything new or push her along. 
Today I made sure of my own position, was extra aware of my hands and legs and worked her for about an hour... all at the walk.  I gradually asked her to bend more and turn better and walk out more and she did.  She gradually relaxed and ended happy and with no resistance.
I know that it is tiny little steps that keep her moving forward and I forget because when she is going nicely she is as nice and responsive as any horse I have ever ridden.  She just can't maintain it yet because she starts to worry.  I can't just zone out and take a mental day off and expect her to carry on.  She has come a long way, I don't want her to get stuck now.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

back to work

Here is Nina is her partial trace clip.  Last year I had to tranq her to clip her and as soon as the drugs wore off she tried to kill everyone nearby.  This year she stood quietly in her pen while I clipped her.  She was being so good that I decided not to push my luck and when I was this far done with a trace I just evened up the edge by her flank and quit.  Then over the next few days this seemed to work fine, she wasn't very sweaty and dried fast.  I firmly believe in only taking off as much hair as you have too, unless you are in a barn where someone else is doing blankets twice a day.  The more you take off, the more you fuss with blankets.
But when I clipped her, Nina wasn't through growing hair, now she is getting too hot again so I am going to finsh the trace clip in the next day or two.  She will look like a patchwork quilt with differnt length hair - but it's not like we are going on the winter circuit.
Finally got a good ride in today and she was pretty good considering how much time off she has had the last two weeks.  I think I'll leave it there.

Monday, December 6, 2010

completely sound - unbelievable

So, I just got Nina out to roll and lunge a little in the round pen and unbelievably she appears to be completely sound.  I would have thought that would bruise enough to make her at least a little off.  I did cold hose it within minutes and wrapped it as tight as I dared to, so maybe that helped.  I got to the barn too late to ride today and assumed she would be lame anyway.  Tomorrow - back to work.

I think this is such a classy job on the bandage.  *insert rolleyes here*  
Skin colored vet wrap, which looks gross, a bell boot adjusted to be loose and 
....drum roll.... duct tape.  

 She is apparently unconcerned about her fashion image.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

One out of four?

Nina now has ONE leg without issues.  Poor thing, or maybe I should say poor me since I'm the one that obsesses over it.  She is very weak on her right rear, getting stronger but not quite right.  Not lame, just weak.  Her right front is where she had the abcess that blew out and left a humongous hole.  It just needs to grow out, but until it does it makes a weak area in the hoof wall so I have to keep an eye on it and still keep it cleaned out.  Yesterday while being a twit on the lunge line she managed to over reach, step on the back of her left front foot and partially glove the pastern.  At first glance I thought she had done serious damage and sliced it but it turned out to just be missing skin.  Nothing left to stitch so I will keep it bandaged until it heals.  I am so thankful that she was wearing bell boots and that I pulled her hind shoes last week.  It could have been much much worse.
I believe that leaves the left rear with no problems.  At least she isn't lame, not even on the latest injury which I would have thought would be bruised enough to make her at least a little off.  Nope, trots out fine.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Beautiful day today

Today was gorgeous and NO wind.  However we are supposed to get 80mph gusts tonight so I hope everything is nailed down good.  I had a lesson to teach this afternoon so I couldn't take advantage of the nice weather to ride.  I turned Nina out and she trotted around for a while and then got a good grooming.  Here she is all snug in her shed, eating dinner and ready for the night.

She do like her window.  Unfortunately, right after I took this shot I closed and latched the window because of the winds tonight.  I'm sure she is miffed.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

We may end up taking the winter off

Seriously, I cannot handle the wind.  November is usually my favorite month, cool days with sunshine, cold nights, not a lot of winter weather.  The wind has been blowing and the clouds have been hanging around ALL month.  Colorado boasts over 300 days of sunshine a year, this November may have flushed that record.
Today I get to the barn and it is 50 degrees.  Wonderful!
Except that the clouds keep rolling in and the wind is blowing with gusts that rock you and it feels like the wind is blowing straight off of a glacier.  Step out of the wind and a sweatshirt is too warm, step back into the wind and a winter jacket complete with scarf and gloves leaves me shivering. 
Nina was tired after her antics yesterday, I fed her and left after dithering around for half an hour, watching the dirt kick up in big clouds in the arena. 
I used to give horses the winter off and not even try to ride, if Nina was further along in her training it would be really tempting.  But she's not, so I will ride as often as I can and not be miserable.  I'm too old to make myself miserable doing something that I do for fun.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

wake up call

I was putting Nina's blanket on her tonight and something spooked her and she charged past me. Just barely brushed against me and sent me staggering across her pen. That's how you get hurt messing around with horses, just not paying attention for one minute. It was a good wake up call. It is easy to get complacent and forget how incredibly fast and strong (and big!) they are. She was on high spook alert today - I was warned.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Since it is 19 degrees and windy....

Since it is so cold and windy today, I will have to get my horsey fix via YouTube.
This is my all time favorite eventing video, just watching it makes me grin. I have it on my business site on the blogging page. We will never get to this level, but Nina and I will be out there next year doing the itty bitty version. Turn on the sound to enjoy this one.

Friday, November 26, 2010

I really wish the wind would stop

I taught a lesson this morning at another barn and the plan was to get in a quick ride on Nina before my farrier showed up.  But he had another appointment cancel so he was early and I didn't get to ride.  Just as well, by the time he was done the wind was howling and I was frozen stiff.  I wouldn't have wanted to have been out there any later than we were. It's an icy wind that just cuts through you and right through my formerly windproof jacket. 
Nina was pretty good for him, even when a trash can lid blew under her feet.  She spooked but didn't explode and he got her shod before it got so bad we had to go inside, which none of us wanted to do. 
I am trying her barefoot on her hind feet, which I have never done with a thoroughbred, but her hind feet seem to grow slower and not flare as much as the fronts and I really need to save some money so we tried it.  If her hind feet wear too fast we will put shoes back on.  It saved me almost half the normal shoeing so it's worth a try. 
It started out nice today and was fine until the wind started, tomorrow is supposed to be a repeat so I am going to try to get out to the barn early and ride before the wind starts. 

Sunday, November 21, 2010

I wanted to share this...

This was posted on Jane Savoie's Facebook page last week and I thought it was worth sharing.

Somewhere behind the rider you've become,
the trainers who pushed you,
the people who believed in you,
the long hours of schooling,
the falls you've taken,
the ribbons you didn't win,
the tears and broken bones,
and the horses you've given your heart to,
there is the little girl
who fell in love with the sport
and never looked back.
Ride for her!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

my curly coated TB

My curly coated Thoroughbred~!
We had a couple of prolonged discussions today ranging over topics such as...
Is Nina allowed to buck Barbara off just because?
Does Nina have to trot when asked or is she allowed to throw a dramatic fit over it?

By the timed we were done we were both literally dripping with sweat and now I had to deal with the familiar cold weather riding problem.  How to get her dry before putting her away for the night.  It was 5pm and getting dark, temps in the 40s and falling fast.  I threw a cooler over her and walked her until the cooler was soaked.  Then let her roll, then walked some more.  She was no longer wet but still damp so I started back brushing her hair to get it to stand up and dry faster.  As I back brushed it - it started to CURL!
I couldn't resist, I back brushed it all and took these pics.  My curly horse!
She did eventually dry, got a blanket put on and had dinner.
I think I need to clip her this week.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

back in the groove

I spent the last week making excuses for not riding and persuading myself that if I just waited one more day the warm temps would come back.  It wasn't hard to find reasons not to ride.  I was getting to the barn after 3pm and it was grey and drizzly everyday.  yuck.  Today it was cold and a little windy and I sucked it up and rode.  Nina was a butt, which I deserved for not riding all week, but all and all it went fine.  I have good winter riding gear and I know how to layer and be comfortable.  It is cold and miserable getting tacked up but once you get on you warm up fast.  So it is not a big deal, but every fall I go through this.  Once it gets to be normal it's fine.  Unfortunately if you huddle down in your clothes trying to stay warm and still you are likely to get tossed on your head.  There's nothing like a cold wind blowing up a horse's butt to make them silly.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

from my Facebook status...

I am going to ride in the cold, I am going to ride in the cold, I am going to ride in the cold. OK, I am not going to ride TODAY in the cold, but I am going to ride in the cold. *sigh*

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Looks like our gorgeous fall is over, at least for now.

When I got to the barn it was 37 degrees with a nasty icy drizzle.  I trotted from the parking lot to Nina's pen, checked to make sure she was warm and dry, dumped her lunch in her feed bucket, trotted back to the car and zoomed home.  brrrrrrr
I used to ride when it was really cold, down in the teens.  Colder than that is hard on the horses although I have gotten on and just walked around at temps near zero.   Then I decided that 32 was a nice number.  No riding below 32 degrees.  This year I am thinking that 40 sounds good.
My hat's off to the Brits, who apparently ride in this wet crap all the time.   I am holding out for either warmer or drier. 

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Cross country clinic

Eric Smiley (Irish event rider) has been coming here regularly in the fall to do a three day clinic.  Two years ago I had Scotty entered and he died just the week before the clinic.  Last week I audited the show jumping day of the clinic and enjoyed it.  This year I drove up to Loveland to watch the cross country day of schooling and really had fun watching.  Eric is such a great teacher besides being an awesome rider.  One of my goals for Nina is to do this clinic with her next year.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Sunday drivers

The next time I go to the barn on the weekend and the place is crowded I am just going to leave.  Normally if I wait until after about 1pm the place is cleared out.  Today I got into the arena at about 2pm and it was a zoo.  I don't mind (too much) adjusting for the little kids with no steering.  Generally those horses are on a set trajectory and they aren't too hard to dodge.  And the adults with no steering aren't too bad, more annoying perhaps.  But I found myself riding with one of the teenagers with little steering, NO idea that there is anyone else around and the bad habit of ripping her horse to a halt anytime he does something she doesn't like without being aware of who else is close by.  She cut across my path and slammed on the brakes twice today, leaving me no option but to stop, there wasn't time to go around.  The first time Nina was really pissed.  The second time she snaked that long neck out and was about to take a big bite out of the other horse - yes, we were that close - I caught her in time to stop her, barely. 
Some of the problem is that being a big TB and being asked to go forward, she covers more ground and with a lot more power at a trot that most of the little Quarter Horses do at a lope.  Most of those riders don't realize that if they cut right in front of her and don't leave her a way out she is willing to power right over top of them.  But mostly this is just people riding staring down at their horse's mane and oblivious to anyone else in the world.  They probably drive their car the same way.
Earlier in the week I found myself in a crowd in the arena with more experienced riders and it was so pleasant to be able to work around each other with no effort.  *sigh* 
On the other hand, we have had several days of perfect riding weather and Nina has been great, working hard and really paying attention.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

They are promising better weather today...

whoever 'they' are.  I haven't ridden all week.  I will ride in the heat, the cold, rain, even snow, but I will not ride with the icy wind blasting down off the mountain at 30-40 mph.  Gusts of wind that knock you sideways outside and rattle the roof, slam the doors and deafen you inside.  Nina's shed, out of the wind and in the sun was quite warm and peaceful.  We spent some time there. 
Today... back to work.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Icy icy wind

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.  Nina and I both decided to have an early dinner and skip the riding stuff.

Friday, October 22, 2010

time to act like a big girl

I had a good ride on Nina today and I introduced her to spurs.  I am tired of kicking this horse.  It's not like she doesn't understand and needs encouragement.  When I touch her with my leg she either goes forward or pins her ears and gets all stuck and nasty.  Kicking only works when she gets tired of me annoying her.  That was originally the idea but she is willing to go on with this longer than I am.  So today I put some spurs on.  She was highly displeased.  It is much harder to ignore someone poking you in the ribs with a spur.  After a few pissy moments she decided to go along with the program and she was fine, better than fine.
I do have to be very careful not to touch her with the spur accidentally but I am used to that when wearing a spur on a TB anyway.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

my obligatory 5 minute ride

When Nina has been off for a few days she is a pig, no other word for it.  She apparently thinks that it was her idea to get the time off and if she is enough of a pig she will get more time off.  I used to get into a big fight with her and then the second day she would be fine.  After a while I realized that it did not matter one bit what I did the first day, she was going to be a jerk and the second day she would be fine.  So now I sidestep all the aggravation of getting into a fight with her and the first day after a break I just get on for five minutes and get off.  I only get on so that we can move things along and get to the second day. 
Today was no different.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

found it!

Well, I didn't find it, but somebody did and hung it on the fence where the farriers work.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

need a metal detector

I am 99% sure that the shoe is in the round pen.  Unfortunately for shoe hunting, the round pen is very deep in sand, which makes for good rolling and trotting, not so much for finding a shoe.  Just to be sure I have walked over every inch of ground that we covered yesterday and thoroughly searched her pen and shed.  I really hate to have to pay to have a new shoe fitted and put on ($40) instead of having the old shoe tacked back on ($5).
I am going to give it one more day to turn up.  I really don't have $40 to throw away.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Friday, October 15, 2010

fabulous ride today

When Nina decides to be cooperative, gets out in front of my leg and uses herself, it is like riding on air.  She is just fabulous.  And she is becoming adjustable.  We trotted around like a metronome, avoiding the reiners and the riders with limited steering.  Bend, shorten, lengthen.  She gets pissy about being asked to change anything once she gets going, but she does it and without resistance... if you ignore the ears pinned back.  Hard work for about 25 minutes, about 40 minutes total ride.  That's pretty good for her.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

dressage experiment

Well, the new dressage instructor experiment is over.  I had one lesson that I was less than impressed with, but thought to be fair that I needed to give her a little time to get to know us.  And my second lesson.... she didn't show up.  She sent out an email the night before canceling but it was after I had turned the computer off for the day.  She wants at least 24 hour notice if a student cancels a lesson, well so do I.  It costs me time and money to get to the barn on time.  She didn't call or try to make sure I knew my lesson was canceled. How rude.  She canceled because one of the riders canceled at the last minute and so she didn't have her required number.  Sometimes when your schedule becomes inconvenient you just have to suck it up so you don't screw the people who are paying you.   That's two young trainers in a row who say they want to build a clientele but just don't get it that they need to treat their clients with some courtesy.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

first cold windy day

Miserable day, cold with a steady cold wind blowing. Nina was sucked back, on her forehand, disenchanted with the whole idea of working. *sigh* Sometimes it's two steps forward and one step back.

Monday, October 4, 2010

free jumping

I set up a chute today to free jump a little appendix mare and see what she thought of it.  While we had the chute built I decided to run Nina through it.  She hasn't free jumped since we left Seabreeze.  She nearly tore my arm off when I led her up to it by the halter.  Then she jumped through it a few times while I raised the jumps and tried not to get run over.  She was jumping in perfect form, then she got bored and started bouncing it.... an 18 foot one-stride.  After a couple of times of that I knocked the poles down so she would stop but  she went through it and did the broad jump over the scattered poles.  I had to pull all of the poles completely out of the chute before she quit running through it.  Then she followed me around while I put the stuff away.  Man, can this mare jump!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


We did our first dressage lesson today.  It was like when you take your misbehaving car to the mechanic and it runs perfectly.  She was pretty darn good.  She has improved daily for the past few days and it showed today.  She was a tiny bit off so we didn't do too much, but lots and lots of transitions.  Every time she sucked back at the trot, it was walk and then trot again.  I haven't done much of this because it has been so hard to get the forward trot in the first place, I have been inclined to let her keep going. She was very good about it until she got tired, we quit before she could decide it was worth fighting over.
We even did a few canter strides.  She is so unbalanced at the canter that I have been trying to get her stronger at the trot first, Sara (dressage instructor) suggested that we just go ahead and canter and let her figure it out.  So we will try that.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

break through

We have had some great break throughs in the last few days. Change of rein on a big figure 8, bending through her body. Today she was really forward, in front of my leg and actually stayed there, no dropping out the back door. And for the first time, a little leg asking for a little more got a little more instead of a hissy fit.
Also did some cloverleaf patterns over a couple of poles on the ground, making the turns tighter and harder and she dug in and made the turns and let me help balance her.
For a horse that has a fit when you touch her mouth or use leg at all, this was incredible.

Saturday, September 25, 2010


I think I have a schedule figured out.  Nina will get Mondays and Thursdays off.  I did that this week and it worked well.  She is beginning to work hard enough to be a little tired or sore while she is building some muscles to go with her attitude.  Had a fabulous ride today.  Little bit of a rocky start, normal for her, and then a wonderful swinging trot.  Did a big figure 8 for the first time, nice changes of bend in the middle without tooooo  much hysteria.  After we did it a couple of times she got the hang of it and was nice and forward. 
This is the first TB I have ridden that I don't have to worry about boring.  For her, the more repetition the better, it makes her feel like she knows what is going on.   Next week, new shoes that are overdue because of the abscess and a dressage lesson on Wednesday.  Yay!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

I'm almost afraid to post...

... it seems like everytime I report that things are going well Nina finds a new way to make herself lame. 
I am happy to report that since the abscess blew and she got a couple of days off, I have ridden everyday but one.  She has been wonderful under saddle.  Little bits of resistance here and there but constant improvement.
This week for the first time I was able to use a little leg and hand together and get her straight, her stride was instantly a foot longer and she liked it a lot.  Much easier to get her to go along with the program the next day.
Again, I am amazed that this horse has NEVER had anyone take the time to teach her how to carry a rider. 
She still takes an occasional ouchy step on the right front so we are not doing much, but a month of standing in a stall has made her stiff and weak in the rear so I want to do as much as possible to get her moving and loosened up.  It's all  good.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

New footing at the barn

New footing in the indoor arena, woohoo!  Scraped all the old stuff out and distributed it between the outdoor arena and the turnout and put nice new stuff indoors. 
The guys working on it were awesome, leveling and moving stuff around.  Fun to watch.  I think Nina was unhappy that the big mounds of sand in the turnout got spread out, it looked like a good rolling spot.
She is still a little sore, but I am going to ride tomorrow, just walk around for a while.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


I was pretty happy that the first foot wrap I have done in about 10 years nearly took a chain saw to remove.
But I am even happier that the wrapping is over.
Nina's abscess blew out today and it blew out at the coronet band so no stuffing and packing on her sole.  Nine miserable days for her.  I didn't realized how stressed I was by it until this afternoon when it was finally opened up and she could walk again.  I felt a huge weight lift off me.
We walked (slowly) over to the roundpen with the best rolling spot and she rolled and rolled and rolled.
Life's little pleasures. 

Sunday, September 5, 2010

like falling off a bike

I was a little concerned about wrapping Nina's foot.  When I tried to soak it she destroyed two buckets (wouldn't you love to be that strong?) and acting as if I was attacking her. 
So I layed out everything I needed within reach, stuck a bucket of food under her nose and proceeded to pack and wrap her sore foot.  She stood like a rock, no fuss no muss. 
She delights in reading my mind and making me feel foolish.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

up and down week

Last Sunday Nina was three-legged lame (again).  When I got there she was balancing on the toe on her right front.  It looked like the tendon to me, she had a wide range of movement in the leg and foot, but didn't want to put weight on her heel. Since it was the right front I was afraid that it was caused by turning her out and letting her run.  I figured that right front was not completely healed, was weak and resulting in a bow.  I really cannot afford a bunch of diagnostic tests right now so I decided to wrap all four legs, give her some bute and see how it looked after a few days.  Today it was very slightly better, the puzzling thing was there has been no heat or swelling in the leg.  She really was starting to look like she had an abscess.  So I got the hoof testers out and I did find a tender spot on her sole.  I am going to soak it and see if it breaks through in a few days.  If it is an abscess I would prefer not to have to cut it open.  I also switched her to aspirin which she will eat in her feed instead of going through the half hour fight over bute.
It will be great if it is an abscess, a few weeks off instead of a year.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

a rough patch

Nina seems to be going thru a rough patch, part klutzy and part bad luck.
First she scraped up her front legs, then she bruised her knee...both healed by the way.
This week she was going along fine and yesterday she broke out in hives (?) or maybe a severe case of fly bites.  AND she apparently got attacked by the nearby hornet's horde.  She had three enormous swollen patches on her belly and between her front legs and a couple on one side and flank.
So she has had Benadryl every 12 hours, 3 doses now.  The little bumps are the same but the big swellings are almost gone.  She got a Vetrolin bath and a fly sheet... and more Benadryl.
And the hornets got killed.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

finally riding again

Finally got to ride Nina today.  She was nice and forward at the walk, bit of a flat tire at the trot, but I think she is just a little stiff from standing around.
Her attitude amazed me.  She was relaxed and positively cheerful, even playful.  I had to look to see if I was on the right horse.
She has been a pest this last week, confined most of the time to her stall.  Following me around and begging for attention.  Could it be that she is starting to actually enjoy having a job and the attention that goes with it?
Her normal FU attitude has been missing lately.  I like it.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

ready to ride

Nina was pretty sound today, both directions.  She even threw in a couple of canter strides and then decided that wasn't a good idea.  I think that now she is just very stiff.  This is the least exercise she has had since I got her.  Even when she was skinny, body sore and nasty, she still got out everyday for quite a bit of exercise. 
She has only been out to walk around for a few minutes and roll in the sand for over a week, she is kind of creaky. 
But it was 100 degrees as I pulled into the barn and tomorrow it is supposed to be more like 83 or 84, so I think it can wait one more day.

Monday, August 16, 2010

almost there

Pretty sound today, trotted both ways.  Just a little bit of NQR, which is a long way from 3 legged, head-bobbing lame.  I will give her tomorrow off, just let her out to roll and see how it looks on Wednesday, when the temps are supposed to get back into the high 90s again - of course.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

much better today

Even a little trotting.  Sound one direction, a little off the other.  Sound walking both ways.  This is day 7, about right for a nasty bruise.  She is starting to get cranky.  Don't tell me that riding is better than boredom... can't be.

Sunday - ditto

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Better today. She was walking normally on soft ground, gimpy on the hardpack. Acting normal so I am assuming it doesn't hurt all the time anymore. Still on arnica and rhus tox.

Thursday - ditto
Friday - ditto

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

better today

She was eating better, feeling better, just a little limping off and on.
Whatever it is, it is healing.

Monday, August 9, 2010


Yesterday I went to the barn a little after noon and found Nina standing on 3 legs. The barn manager said that she was in her stall around 11 checking the feeder and she was fine then.
We think she may have bashed her knee (right front) sometime in that hour. The way she was walking looked like a sore knee. I couldn't find any heat or swelling anywhere. Prodded and pushed up and down her leg and on the sole of her foot. Nothing.
She hobbled around for a while and was walking better in about 20 minutes. So I put her magnetic wraps on her, gave her some Arnica and left her eating her dinner.
Today she was much better. Walking fine if she was walking straight and carefully. Turning or speeding up made her limp. That still looked like a knee, but still no heat or swelling.
I tried to walk her around a little and hand graze her but she wanted to march off at top speed so I put her in a round pen. She rolled and walked around a little and again was walking better after she moved around a little. Sublingual arnica and rhus tox are her friends for a few days.
If it is just sore it is going to take a few days to go away and a few more before I ride. If it doesn't keep getting better fast I'll have to get the vet out to tell me that she is lame....on her right front.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

New pics - Me and Nina

I finally got some pics today of me and Nina.

This was a nice moment...

This is the head-down stuff that I hate...

More head-down, behind-the-bit avoidance. I would like to strangle the person who taught her this...

I think the pinned ears and mouth wide open while I throw the reins at her is a little over dramatic, but she is still moving along...

A stuck moment here...

All in all not bad.
Thanks to Deb for standing out in the heat to take these pictures.

Friday, August 6, 2010

apologies to Nina

hey, she speaks English, she might be reading this blog.
I have been trying to set a routine for our rides. Lunge for a few minutes, walk around on the rail at least one lap, then ask for a trot, trot at least one lap and then start asking her to work a little, bend, a little lateral etc. She doesn't need variety, she needs to know what is coming up next and that is it nothing to worry about.
Yesterday I was hot and tired when I got on and within about 10 steps I was hustling her along and demanding that she trot. Horses much more tolerant than she is would have been ticked off. *sigh* Well, at least she is learning to be a little forgiving.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

keeping me guessing

Just so I don't take anything for granted....Nina was a *#)$*@*@+#*&!^!_ today.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

new digs for Nina

A nicer stall just opened up and I am going to move Nina to it. Much bigger shed, it is in a shed row so there is more protection from the elements. The pen is about the same size, she only has a horse on one side of her and she gets a window! The feed door doubles as a window for the horses, she LOVES this set up, or at least she did before.
The pen she is in now is fine, but she is fed outside in a feeder, in the new stall her food goes in the shed. Much better for winter. She pretty much avoids her neighbors so she should be fine with this change.
No riding today, I got to the barn late. Had a great ride yesterday. It was way too hot to ride for an hour but I rode for about half a hour and - I timed her - I got 20 minutes of continuous trotting, circles and figure 8s and around on the rail. Steady footfalls, she still feels like she is lurching because she is thinking about stopping every step, but she also knows how to put her feet on auto pilot and maintain a nice rhythm. The best she has done so far, with CJ or with me.

Monday, August 2, 2010

hot again

It was just too hot to do what I wanted to do, but I did get on her for about 25 minutes. I think she wants to please, her attitude of 'the best defense is a good offense' is just so ingrained.
Only a few minutes of fighting today before she was trotting along. If I leave her alone instead of trying to push for more trot, it gradually gets better as she relaxes. Any encouragement from me and she sucks back again. At least now I can give her a pat on the neck, that used to cause the brakes to lock up.
We worked on a long narrow figure 8. Couldn't get through the turns without a fight for several attempts and then she just started doing it practically on her own, nice balanced turns with the rhythm never changing through the turns and the long straight stretches.
CJ was beginning to think that she had had some good training at one time, it is just overlayed with abuse and fighting. If I can get her to relax and breathe she does start to feel like a well trained horse.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

ride today

I took off yesterday. I don't know what Nina did for the day but I did work around the house, goofed off, updated blogs and didn't go to the barn.

Today she was a little stuck, she did have a week off and her eternal hope that she will never have to work again is always hard to give up after a break. But she wasn't too bad.
Of course, by the time she gives in and starts cooperating I am tired. But I looked at my watch for the first time today and I was on her for about half an hour. I was surprised, if feels like only a few minutes.

I think maybe it's because we don't have a repertoire of movements to practice like you do with a horse that has had some training so just trotting around and arguing about it beforehand doesn't seem like much.

I am going to start pushing both of us this week, trying to ride for an hour and get her to actually work for most of that. I think she is figuring out that the argument is more tiring than the work and she is not going to win. The temps are the enemy right now, high 90s and low 100s are brutal to work in.

Friday, July 30, 2010

new feet !! shoes!!!

Nina's hind feet have been trying to fall apart this week. Might have something to do with standing in water one day and 99 degrees and dry the next. Anyway, they got so bad that I didn't ride this week, yesterday I didn't even take her out of her pen. Her feet looked like the ironworks stage of a skyscraper. I have no idea what was holding the shoes on, but I was afraid that if she pulled one off it would take some of the good hoof with it and if I took it off I might do more damage.
No worries. She got new shoes today and had grown so much foot this time that my farrier was able to cut a lot of the bad part off.
So now no clenching little feet to keep the shoes on and back to riding tomorrow. yay!

Monday, July 26, 2010

This is ridiculous

I didn't get to the barn until almost 3pm. Driving by banks with signs proclaiming that it was 100 degrees, 99, 98, 97, 107(?), 99. My car said it was 101.
It has to be hotter out in the middle of 10 acres of sand and dirt. Even Nina seemed discouraged by the heat. I trotted her around a round pen for about 5 minutes just to get some circulation going, filled her water trough with cold water and that was it. Yippee.
The official temperature was 95 at DIA, maybe I should ride at DIA.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

day off for her

Nina was quite cheerful today, of course, she had the day off and got to supervise repairs to her shed.
I went out to the cross country course with a student and she did some hill work. We all spend too much time riding in flat arenas and hills get to be intimidating when you are trying to ride them at a forward jumping pace.
I had already decided not to ride today when I agreed to go out and teach, but I was really glad I had. I think I got too much sun yesterday, I was sick yesterday evening and really really tired all day today. A good night's sleep should take care of it for tomorrow and it hopefully won't be so hot.
I really want to get Nina a little more reliable....she had a couple of stuck moments yesterday that seem to go on forever.... so I can take her out to the cross country course. Even if all we do is walk around, it is easier to teach from horseback instead of walking for miles.

Friday, July 23, 2010

95 degrees

It had to be over a hundred in the arena.
Way too hot to be riding a cranky mare. I wish she was motivated by the heat to just get on with it and get done. I know I am. 20 minutes of riding and I was exhausted.

time out for a blogger question

The Cutest Blog on the Block had supplied the background to this blog. They changed hosts and then had technical difficulties getting the new codes out to their many fans. Maybe because we all tried to access the site at once.
In the meantime I decided to play with the brand new designer tool that Google built for the blogspot sites and came up with this new design.
I like it, I am not sure I like it better than the previous one, which I can get back in a day or two.

If you have an opinion, let me know.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


Got a ride in today. Enough trotting to make her breathe hard. I wish I was in better shape. Just about the time she starts to finally relax and get into the trot, my back starts hurting. I have to be so quiet on her and my core strength (lol) isn't up to it yet.
But she was fine. A couple of strides of canter with her nose straight up in the air, which I decided wasn't a good idea, because her nose was straight up in the air. But wow, what nice gaits she has.
Now if we could just find a happy medium between trotting with the the head between the knees and cantering with the head up in the clouds, we might actually get somewhere.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


I couldn't beat the weather today.
It was raining when I drove to the barn, but quit when I got there. It was still cloudy and cool and looked like a great afternoon to ride.
I got Nina out and trotted her around the round pen. It was nice to see her acting normal, trying to cut the circle instead of running around on the fence. Her knee looks good and she was sound on it. About the time I decided to tack her up the thunder started booming and the clouds got darker. So I fly sprayed her, fed her, hauled some water to top off her water tank and about that time the clouds left and the sun came out. Now it felt like walking around in an aquarium.
And the thunder started again. Time to go home.
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