Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

I found the original longer version of the Christmas Budweiser Clydesdales. Twice as long, definitely worth seeing again.


Friday, December 23, 2011

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Back home

I made it to the barn and back.  The only place I had any trouble was on my own street.  I got stuck just yards from my driveway, luckily I was able to back out of that one and try again.  And coming home I got high centered on the dam that the snow plows throw up.  I thought I had a path through it, but nooooooooo.   That one took about 10 people to get me out of.  Heavy little car, sunk down in the snow.  The roads around town were floating in mag chloride so even though the temps were in the 20s they were mostly wet, snow packed here and there.  I noticed that the E/W streets were more snow packed than the N/S streets.  Weird. 
Nina was glad to see her beet pulp.  The snow was deep and drifted at the barn, fortunately it was still powder cuz it was up to my waist around her gate.  The sun is suppose to be out tomorrow, I sure hope so.

a better view of winter

This looks like more fun than rush hour on C-470.



Yuck.  And it is still coming down.  My street is full of snow, you can't see sidewalks, driveways or anything.  yuck!
I am trying to move my lesson this morning to tomorrow and put off going to the barn until mid afternoon after they have had some time to work on the roads. 
I have lived in Colorado for 30 years without a 4 wheel drive, the last two winters are making me rethink that. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


on a cold cold cold day.  32 degrees and the wind blowing.  He is a sweetheart.  He is up on his toes, very concerned about everything going on around him, but not the least bit spooky.  (Unlike a nameless black mare who was spooking at her own blanket.)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

screwballs in the cold

Yesterday when I got to the barn it was cold and had just started snowing.  Nina was in a sheet because the day before was too warm for a blanket, but she was cold and needed her big Rambo. 
I had been going to get her out for a little exercise, but the ground was frozen solid and slippery so I decided to pass.  I also decided to just throw her blanket on over the sheet which turned out to save some rodeo time.  I threw the blanket up on Nina - I have to throw, she is 16.1 and I am 5-5 so it has to land UP there - and she skittered around and flung it on the ground. 
Not happy, I picked it up, made a slower approach and she not only did it again, but pulled away from me and ran from one end of her pen to the other, sliding into the ends. 
Now I was pissed.  She has been wearing this blanket since I got her.   I picked up the blanket, grabbed her lead rope, shanked her a couple of times and proceeded to do some yelling.  It has been a long long time since I yelled at her and I went on for quite a while about her parentage, appearance, intelligence and general behavior.  She finally decided that she was more impressed with my yelling than she was skittish about the blanket and I managed to get it on her without killing either one of us.
She was still giving me the evil eye while she ate her beet pulp and I stomped back to the car.

Monday, December 19, 2011

I know you are waiting for a weather report...

Saturday was nice, Sunday was beautiful.
Today - not so much.  27 degrees, snowing, blowing, icy icy roads.
Fruit loop of a horse spooking away from her own blanket. 
Glad I am home for the evening, going to watch Terra Nova and ignore the weather.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

contest for a wow! hunt coat on Get-My-Fix

If you want to enter a contest for a Hayward Hunt Coat, just visit Get-My-Fix and find out how to get entered.
Since my hunt coat is over 20 years old, I have my fingers crossed.  Here is one of the yummy options:

without words

we finally got a break from the weather

It was not the 50s that the weatherman promised, only low 40s but the wind quit blowing and the sun was out so it was pretty nice.  I had a couple of lessons to teach and we played with the new horse, who is a sweetheart and went to the feed store. 
Somehow in there Nina did not get ridden, hoping for time today.  And the better weather still wasn't enough to melt any of the ice that is everywhere. 
Hope everyone is having a good weekend.

Friday, December 16, 2011

more babbling... weather....

I am really discouraged with our weather.  Today I went out to the barn and the sun was shining, but it was 35degrees and the wind was blowing and the ground is frozen solid and covered with sheets of ice. 
I put Nina in a round pen and couldn't lunge her, half of the pen was a sheet of ice.   The outdoor arena is ankle deep frozen mud.  
Nina has had some time off because of her sore foot and she is simply not safe to ride without being lunged a little in this cold weather and there is no place to lunge. 
It's not the barn, they keep working the arena and breaking up the ground in the round pens, hoping that something will melt or dry or do something.
This is so unusual for here.  We have had old snow and ice - two weeks and more - on the ground.  We never do that here.  If you have ever been to the Denver area in winter you have seen the biggest snow falls just melt off in cold weather because of how intense the sun is.
But this year the wind is blowing non stop and it is offsetting the sunshine. 
I was determined to ride this winter and found myself just spending some time with a cranky Nina.  And I was totally frozen any time I got in the wind.
If this goes on through January and February - when it is SUPPOSE to be cold - I will have to learn how to ride all over again.
Vent over.....

more babbling, new horse....

The new CANTER horse arrived a little after 7am.  He left his awful track name of Admiral Dumyat at the Maryland state line and will be known now as 'Fawkes.'  When she told me about the name changed I thought she said 'Fox' because of his color.  I will have to find out more about the name.
He has a much prettier head than his field photo showed.  A little ewe neck, a little thick through the throat latch, all typical racehorse on pasture, upside down muscle.  Wait to see what he looks like a year from now.
He was known on the track as 'The Orange Horse' and judging by his winter coat I have to agree.  I wonder how orange the summer coat is?  Well, he will be easy to spot on cross country!

just babbling today....

I was reading Year with My Horse about the Hags on Nags holiday party. 
I suddenly remembered our over-the-hill group at the barn where I learned to jump.  A bunch of us started scheduling trail rides or trying to coordinate our jumping lessons together.  We called ourselves OFOF - Old Farts Over Fences. 
It got so bad that the trainer started putting OFOF lessons on the posted schedule.  She said it gave everyone fair warning.  HEY!!!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

new CANTER horse!

I am so excited, you would think it was for me.  I just like new toys!
Remember my client who got screwed over by the local (new) trainer with the nice TB, who changed the price after they had a deal?
Well, that client found a horse on CANTER that she really liked, and she was taking a business trip near the breeder's farm where he was hanging out so she went to see him.
He arrives at the barn on Friday!  He has been a pasture horse for a couple of years so he is a little rough looking, but he is built like a jumper.  His breeder says they bred way too many mares to his sire, all of them were flops on the track but lots of them have done well in show jumping and eventing.  (This is also the story of Scotty's sire, remind me sometime).  I wouldn't call him a total flop, he did win some money, just not enough to pay his way. 
He is on his way, arrives at a to be determined time on Friday and starts his new life.
His present life includes rolling in the mud.  His past life included some winning shots at the finish line.  See one here:

Nina's haircut

It has been so cold since I clipped Nina that she is in a blanket most of the time.   So here are her (delayed) pictures of her haircut.   It has been too icy to ride so I could have waited on the clip job, but at least it was nice to get it done on a nice day.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

and to create a little balance

Here is a new organization with the goal of educating people about the Thoroughbred horse.  The more educated the public is, the less chance of people trying to beat Thoroughbreds into acting like Quarter Horses.  And the more likely rehomed OTTBs will find the right new home.

Retired Racehorse Training Project website

and here they are on Facebook

here is a gag-me article

Horse training and horse riding is nowadays all about the gadget that can fix your lack of ability to ride your horse.  Don't take lessons, don't learn how to ride a horse into your hand or otherwise learn any horsemanship.  Just pull its head down, put on some bigger spurs and voila! you too are ready to show!

In defense of people who use a PROPERLY ADJUSTED running martingale - when it is properly adjusted it cannot be used to pull the horse's head down, it does not engage until the horse is above the bit and its purpose is to help manage a horse that will go above the bit and bolt or will knock you out of the saddle when it gets excited.  It is, in my opinion, a safety device and not a training device.

However, The American Quarter Horse Association is advocating martingales short enough to pull a head down (also known as a training fork) and drawreins in the hands of people who cannot possible know how to use them because getting the head DOWN is the total goal of training horses these days.
Excuse me while I go throw up and here is the link from the AQHA. 

Monday, December 12, 2011

Seriously Horsing Around

If you are not following the blog, Seriously Horsing Around, you should be.
Today she featured a coupon for $5 off SafeGuard.  
Awesome!  Thank you Bethkay!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Jim Graham Cross Country Clinic Part II

Here is a nice video of Jim Graham showing a BN horse and rider how to be calm on cross country. Just another day at work, ho-hum. Very nicely done. The wind noise is distracting but it is worth listening to.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

cranky in the cold - a grade horse rant

Since I haven't been on a horse in a week I have been getting my horse fix on some of the forums, chat rooms and blogs. 
I keep running into something that I think is a symptom of our extremely shallow, learn what's on the surface, everybody needs to be 'special' society.

When people are chatting about their horses, and yes, I do understand that everyone loves their own horse, the descriptions go something like.... my warmblood who is a Percheron, TB, QH cross; my warmblood who is Friesen, QH, Oldenberg and I'm not sure what else; my warmblood who is part TB and we think part draft.

These are not Warmbloods.  I suppose you could call them warmbloods in the dictionary definition of the roots of the modern Warmblood. 
These are GRADE horses.  GRADE horse is not a dirty word.  It is, or was, the accepted descriptive term for a horse that was not a purebred, eligible for registration with a breed registry.
Now all of these grade horses have a registry, if you can't find one then you make one up, breed a bunch of foals and voila!  create a breed!

Here is my problem with this - it encourages people to breed grade horses (who now have a breed name and a breed registry) and if you don't think that these horses are the stars of the FUGLY blog, you just aren't paying attention. 

In the dog world, legitimate breeders are very quick to point out to gullible buyers that there is no consistency in Peek-a-Poos, Labradoodles or any other made up cross breed because they are not being carefully bred by people with a vision of the future and a GOOD education in genetics, they are being bred by idiots trying to make a buck off of people who want to be 'special' and will pay a small fortune for a mix breed that they could get for nearly free from a rescue or dog pound.  

We are condoning the same 'get rich quick with your newly created horse breed' AND filling up the kill pens with pathetic, ugly horses who did not ask for their sad fate.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

cold cold cold

It is almost noon.  I wonder if we will break into the double digits by noon?  Apparently DIA is at a roasting 12 degrees but it is 8 here. 
daily disclaimer: I hate winter

Monday, December 5, 2011

weather report - 11 degrees

ELEVEN flippin degrees at the barn at 2pm with the sun shining.
Since it is Colorado sun at about 6,000 ft, it was evaporating the snow, not melting it. 

Nina seems to be handling it well, all snuggled up in her big ole Rambo.  She wants out of her run but everything is covered with ice and way too slippery.  She would be happier if we just went about our normal routine, the cold doesn't bother her.  ME, however, a little different.  I am not hanging out with her for very long at 11 degrees.  She was a little miffed but agreed to eat her beet pulp.
I think the high for the last 3 day has been around 20.  Tomorrow it is supposed to get near freezing - heat wave!!!
daily disclaimer: I hate winter

Saturday, December 3, 2011

my house will get cleaned

Stuck inside most of the time.  We were suppose to warm up after the cold Thursday/Friday.  The forecast was for up, up and up.  Nope, we are stuck,  20s during the day and single digits at night for a few more days.  ugh! 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

A little lucky in the cold

I got a little lucky today.  This morning I was watching the snow fall in my yard, piling up on the street, the wind blowing hard.  I was dreading my drive to the barn.  But I hate to make Nina go without her beet pulp and I really needed to put a winter blanket on her for tonight.  Yesterday evening it was too warm for anything but a sheet but tonight it is supposed to go down to 4 degrees and with the wind blowing it is going to be COLD.  So I really needed to make a barn run.
Surprise, when I left the house the roads were wet but not snow or ice.
I made it to the barn where Nina acted like a fruit loop while I changed blankets.  She finally skidded into a fence and that sobered her up for a minute.  Dumped her beet pulp in the feed bucket, gave her an unappreciated pat on the neck and left.
Right now I am in Starbucks making use of their WiFi to do some work.  I need to get home before rush hour, relax for the evening and watch The Mentalist.  Have I mentioned I hate winter?
Have a good evening.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Challenge #5 - the last time you rode your horse and what you did

This is a quick one.  The last time I rode was yesterday and we did nothing.  Walked around for a few minutes.  Nina has been a little off on her right rear.  I was thinking hocks until I discovered some thrush under the frog of her foot.  I have been treating it pretty aggressively and just wanted to get on her for a few minutes to see if it was more comfortable.  Definite improvement. 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Challenge #4 - A horse that impacted your life

Meet Shorty, aka General Counsel

When I started riding again in my 40s, after about 15 years off, I rode school horses for a while and then was offered the lease of Shorty, a 17h TB who had retired from a career of doing the Open Working Hunters.  
Shorty taught me how to jump.... and how to fall.  You do not lean on a professionally ridden 4ft horse.  You find yourself sitting on the other side of a jump on the ground. 
I taught him about trail riding (not hard, he was pretty savvy about the world) and cross country, which he had never done and LOVED. 
I full leased him for over 6 years and loved him madly.  He retired to pasture, kudos to his owner. 

Other than being a teacher, Shorty introduced me into a world that changed me from someone who enjoyed horseback riding into being a Rider.   Although I had competed my Quarter Horses in my 20s, I was a product of backyard training, occasional advice from helpful pros and no training facilities.  I trained reining patterns on the ditch roads in Albuquerque. 

The world where I leased Shorty was a world of serious Hunter, Jumper and Eventing competitors.  
I watched pros training and teaching all day everyday.  I was riding with people who rode 5-6 days a week, year round.  When I left Shorty standing for a week one time, I received phone calls to see if I was ok and a serious chewing out on my next trip to the barn.  
I had never been in this sort of environment before and I soaked it up like a sponge.  
By the time I bought my own horse (Scotty) my thinking about my life had changed.  I defined myself as a rider.  My daily schedule included time at the barn.  The horse became a priority, not a luxury.  
Regardless of finances, or lack thereof, a horse was a necessary part of my life.  Other things could be given up to make this happen.  

Hardships have come with this shift in priorities, but I have never regretted it at all.  I am a rider and will always be.  Thank you, Shorty.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Challenge #3 - a picture of your best riding

Not a show picture, looking a little scruffy in my sweatshirt and baseball cap, this is probably the best riding picture I have.  This was a cold, windy winter day.  The horse is Scotty, 17h OTTB.  There are also picture of me nearly being bucked off on the same day (which I will not share) and I have to say with some satisfaction that hundreds of hours in the saddle concentrating on correct position does pay off when you are riding an explosive horse.
In this photo my posture is good, my eyes are down a little but my head is not tipped forward.  My leg is wrapped around the horse, heel down, not braced.  I have a straight line from elbow to bit and my elbows are by my side (could be a little better, but not bad) and my arm looks relaxed.  The horse is on the bit and actively engaging his hindquarters, ears pricked and paying attention.
I am happy with this one, hoping for the day that I am fit enough to ride like this again.  That is what I am working on now.  Dinking around with Nina and not really working hard on me has left me slouched and soft.  I am fixing that over the winter.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanks to all of you who are sharing Nina's journey 
with me. 
Your thoughts, comments, laughter and visits 
have added to the experience.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


I decided that Nina had just too much hair and was heating up too much so today she got a haircut.  I have been going back and forth about clipping her because I am mostly riding in the middle of the day so getting her warm and dry before sundown is not a problem.
I was SO glad I decided to clip her.  Her hair in some places was TWO INCHES long.  The rest was about an inch and a half.  It didn't look that long but she has been trundling around carrying a big bearskin. 
I did a trace clip on her and she was very good.  The last time I took this much hair off I sedated her.  This time I just took my time, clipped her in her pen and gave her a couple of breaks.   She did kick a couple of times, not at me or even near me.  When she is totally frustrated she will pick up the hind foot on the side away from me and lash out hard, straight back.  I make sure that she is not near anyone else if I am going to do something that she considers picking on her, like clipping, and don't worry about it.
She did finally get just so ticklish and reactive that she couldn't stand it and just touching her with my hand made her twitch all over.  You just can't clip skin that is twitching so I have a little clean up patch on her flank to finish tomorrow and I will take pictures of her in her new 'do.

Monday, November 21, 2011

We have to talk about the pink

I have owned geldings all my life.  So Nina was the first mare. 
Coincidentally, I had (have) a tack trunk full of assorted blue or green or blue and green accessories for riding cross country.  Saddle pads, boots, vest, jacket, helmet covers and of course sheets and wraps. 
I went with blue and green because you can get ANYTHING in blue or green and at that time these colors were out of favor as being too common, everyone was switching to different colors as the gear became available.

Tucked into all the sea of blue and green was a pink, purple and black helmet cover.  Heaven knows where I got it and it has thankfully departed to a friend who loves purple. 

But it got me thinking. 
Dress up the girl in pink and purple.  It certainly would look good on a black horse, it would give me an entire shopping list to work on and it would be a way of saying that she is different from my other horses.

Fortunately, before I embarked on serious shopping I got to know Nina a little.
I discovered that she is like myself at around age 5, when my mother was in despair over trying to dress me in pink lacy froo froo girlish clothes, while I much preferred to get dirty with the boys.

Nina is only a girl when she is being a bitch.  The rest of the time she prefers to think of herself as tough and powerful and on a bold day, in charge.

The pink halter is in the bottom of a box.  It will someday go out to the therapeutic riding center when I remember to take it out there. 
Nina's current nylon halter is brown.  Her leather halter is brown. 

She looks very nice in green and blue, especially my xc saddle pad.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Challenge #2 - a picture of your horse

A picture of your horse, yeah right.  Here are several.  How can you post just one?
I do try to put some of my favorites in her photo album
For those of you who have read this blog and wondered why on earth I took on this project in the first place.... here are some of my first impressions of Nina.

It took quite a while to get her loosened up a bit.  She was gimpy and stiff as a board.  Her spine was so rigid is might as well have been fused.  And she still could move like this:

And she has always had a kind, intelligent eye.  The picture with the green halter is the day I picked her up and the one with the pink halter (which I have apologized to her about ever since) was about a month later.  

This shot was taken just a few minutes after unloading her the day I got her.  She was lame, skinny and wary, but she still had a sort of regal presence.  I saw it the first day I went to look at her and it was what drew me back for a second look. 

Friday, November 18, 2011

Challenge #1 - a picture of you and your horse

 This is my favorite picture of Nina.  You can see is all over the blog and my FB page.  It's not that it is the best picture of either one of us but this was a very important ride.  This was last summer and after hassling with this horse for a long time and thinking that I just did not have the skills to get her out of her tucked under, sucked back, resistant way of going... on this day she suddenly relaxed into the bit and for the first time I felt the power in her movement.  She was striding forward, relaxed, and just floating over the ground.  Five minute later she was back to her usual way of resisting, but that ride was enough to convince me that she was worth all the time and effort.  She is an exceptional and powerful mover when she is not worried.  Now I can get better movement than in this picture almost every ride, but this was the break through moment.

And below is Nina making faces at the person with the camera.  She kept looking gorgeous when the camera wasn't out, but she was apparently enjoying threatening my friend over the picture taking.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

30 day challenge

Looking for topics to post about as winter sets in and just getting on the horse is a major accomplishment, I found this 30 Day Challenge on Standardbred Excellence and it looks like a good project as we head into the end of the year.  Each of the topics will turn into a link as I complete it and it is in the pages bar at the top of the blog.  I am not going to try to do it in 30 straight days as I plan to continue blogging about anything else that comes up also.   I think this will be a fun project to get me through the darkest part of the winter.

1. A picture of you and your horse.

2. A picture of your horse.

3. A picture of your best riding.

4. A horse that impacted your life. 

5. The last time you rode your horse and what you did. 

6. Your most accomplished horse. 

7. Your best ribbon. 

8. A little about the barn/stable you are at.

9. Any injuries you have gotten from riding. 

10. How does your family and friends feel about your riding?

11.  Find a sale horse online that you want to buy. 

12. Favorite horse color.

13. A picture of your worst riding. 

14. Your dream barn/farm.

15. If you could say something to any one horse, what would you say?

16. Your most recent fall.

17. Your equestrian idol. 

18. Your favorite horse show picture.

19. A discipline you would like to try.

20. Your favorite horse show. 

21. Your favorite schooling outfit. 

22. Describe the importance of riding in your life.

23. First horse you rode. 

24. Your best riding buddy. 

25. Your dream trailer

26. Biggest riding pet peeve. 

27.  You know your an equestrian when.... list 5 things. 

28. Helmet or no helmet. 

29. Favorite brands... boots, breeches, tops, helmets etc. 

30. Your future with horses.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

this is too good to pass up

Another great photo from Rockley Farm.
Horses at the farm watching a fox hunt go past.
You need to click and enlarge to really appreciate it. 

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Essential Oils

This is a promotion for a client

Evening Star Essential Oils
This week, my Citrus Fruit Blend has been especially appealing. 
I love to spray it in the mornings for a fresh awakening. 
The shower gel gives me a boost when I use it, and the bath salts are divine.
I would love to share it with you!   (read the whole blog post HERE)
4oz Shower Gel (it lasts me about 5 weeks) is $8.95 + shipping
2oz Room and Fabric Spray is $5.95 + shipping
8oz Bath Salts $8.95 + shipping
Currently available by mail order; soon I will have pay pal set up so you can order from here.
contact me at to order.


She made the sport spray originally for cleaning up and deodorizing riding helmets, I use it and love it.  If you like essential oil products, check these out.

Friday, November 11, 2011

day off

Nina was a little off the last time I rode so I gave her a couple of days off.   She was much more cheerful today so I turned her out in one of the small pens while I taught lessons.  I tried to get a picture of her rolling in the sand, but would she roll while I stood there with a camera in my hand?  Nope.
And she stood and posed a couple of times, looked like an illustration of a Thoroughbred.  But the second the camera came into view she dropped her head and scuffed her way over to see what I had in my hand.
*sigh*  So this is all I got for pictures.  But she had a good afternoon anyway and yes, she did roll and roll and roll, as soon as my back was turned.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Doug Payne helmet-cam

Doug has shared some great rides with us via his helmet cam.  And like a good sport he is also willing to share the not so good ones.  Visit Horse Junkies to see this one.

Horse Junkies United - Doug Payne at the Royal Winter Fair

Monday, November 7, 2011

still grinning

I am quite sure that these posts are going to be endlessly boring for a while but I DON'T CARE.
I have finally got a trainable, teachable horse to work with and I am just delighted every day.   What follows is a long rambling babble about nothing much, I am just enjoying this new horse a lot.

We have been working a little in the indoor arena.  If the current weather is any indication of the winter to come, we are either going to ride indoors are not at all this winter.  
Nina has had a big problem with this indoor arena.  She has been ridden in two other indoors without a problem, but this one is different. 
To start with the other arenas were pole barns, wood, insulated and fairly quiet.  This building was never intended to be a barn, it is an old garage building owned long ago by a local dealer for servicing diesel engines and big trucks.  It is a metal building with a metal roof and every sound echos around in it and every thing that touches the roof makes noise.  Horses seem to either be very bothered by it or not at all, there aren't many in the middle ground.  Guess which side Nina is on?

Next, here is how she was introduced to the arena.  Standing outside one day getting shoes and a hailstorm blew in suddenly.  My farrier, Nina and I all ducked inside to avoid the hail.  What would normally have been a five minute Rocky Mountain summer storm turned into an incredibly destructive hail storm that rained down tennis ball size hail, tore through roofs and flattened enormous old trees in a long slow path of destruction. 
And we were standing in a metal building with a metal roof.  Sort of like being inside a drum at a rock concert.  The noise was literally deafening, the building shook with the hail and lightning and thunder, and there was no where else to go.  Nina was frantic, kicking at the walls, rearing, screaming.  She even managed to kick my farrier (which he forgave her for). 
Then, the next time I took her into the indoor we met mayhem inside, probably 15 people in an area smaller than a small dressage ring and of course some people needed to gallop no matter what and others were walking around talking on cell phones with reins draped on the horse's neck. 
Surprisingly, Nina did not like this either. 
When I tried to take her into the indoor by herself to get used to it, she got worse each time, ricocheting around at the slightest noise.   Eventually I gave up.

Fast forward to my new, improved Nina.  I rode inside yesterday and today.  Yesterday was perfect, there were two quiet horses inside and a lot of activity outside the open doors.   Nina was very good, a very small amount of spooking at noises but the new and improved Nina would settle down after a spook and look around to see what was happening.  She also seemed to accept MY opinion that we were in a safe place.  She walked around, looked at everything and did not once act like a fruit loop.
Today there were also just a couple of other horses, the doors where closed, the wind was blowing so there was more noise and she was perfectly fine.  No (over) reacting to every little noise.  

One of the big changes in her is that she seems to be looking to me to make decisions.  She has, I think, never looked to a rider for anything but a fight.  Her safety and her reactions were all hers, based on horse instincts, no other input allowed.   Accepting my opinion about things is a new way of paying attention too.
I am enjoying this a lot. 
For those of you who are moved to tears of boredom.... I will run up a flag when this phase is over.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

RIP Hickstead

Horse & Hound has reported that the fabulous show jumper, Hickstead, has died at a World Cup qualifying competition.  Article HERE.

Hickstead was a one of a kind horse, incredibly talented, ridden by Eric Lamaze.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

yuck and brrrr

It's not actually that cold here... low 40s but it is wet and cloudy and we are used to dry and sunshine beating down on you when the temps are zero.  It's a different kind of cold.
I got to the barn with every intention of riding, only to find Nina looking like a stucco hut, covered in dried, hard mud and very very very pissy.  Ears pinned and lots of teeth showing.  She was cold and miserable.  I waited a while for a round pen and then trotted her around until she was warm.  Spent about half an hour knocking the big chunks of mud off of her, found a little puncture would on her leg and treated it.  By now she was warm and cheerful and I was cold and shivering.   The outdoor arena was slippery and muddy and the indoor was crowded, mostly with teenagers chatting on cell phones and not steering.
I put a sheet on Nina, gave her her beet pulp and left.  Before I got home it was raining. 
The clinic tomorrow has had to move indoors and much as I enjoy Eric's clinics, I am not driving 60 miles for an indoor jumping clinic.... in the cold.... without a horse...... nope.
I am thinking about having something unhealthy and greasy for dinner, building a fire and watching a movie.  Sounds like a plan.

nothing here

Wednesday night we had another heavy wet snow and yesterday the arena was still ankle deep in mud so Nina has had a couple of days off.  Yesterday I took her to a round pen, which is sand and better footing but still full of water.  She walked in, looked around, poked me with her nose and looked around again.  She was telling me plain as day that THIS place was just as muddy as the pen she was standing in.  Did we need to walk all the way over here for THIS?
Since she couldn't find a dry place to roll she walked and being a Thoroughbred she kept walking.  I sat in a chair outside the pen in the sun and did some paperwork and she walked.  Every once in a while she would stop by me and stick her head through the fence.  I would tell her to keep walking and she would give a big sigh and start walking again.  She walked around for about 45 minutes.  Fairly good exercise in spite of the mud.  Kind of strange but it was a relaxing afternoon, no one else was at the barn and I just did some worked and we chatted. 
Hopefully things will be drier today and tomorrow if the weather and the footing is decent I am going to go and watch a cross country clinic with Eric Smiley.  Hope the weather holds.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

new snow and rethinking Nina

We do often have a big snow in the fall here, kind of a wake up for the coming winter, but this is our second storm, 7 days apart, more like winter than fall.  Does make us wonder what is coming.

While I am drinking coffee and staring at the snow - yesterday I was riding in nice weather - I am rethinking Nina.
Over the last couple of years I have gotten very attached to her on-the-ground personality.  She has gone from moving as far away from people as possible to inserting herself in every conversation and calmly hanging out, listening to people and enjoying the attention.  All good.
But I also was coming to terms with the idea that I was never going to be able to really train her.  I was never going to be able to trust her under saddle.  And the endless loop of starting over again and again was where she was stuck, apparently forever. 
So honestly, I slacked off.  I taught her little bits in little pieces.  I rode her for short periods of time and tried to avoid the nuclear meltdown that went with pushing her.  A big one is that I let myself get out of shape.  I am not able to ride the way I did Scotty. 
Apparently most of her problems came down to hormones because a couple of weeks on the red raspberry leaves have totally changed her.  She can still be a little shit.  Yesterday she threatened to rear a couple of times and tried to get her feet under her to buck at least once.  But she worked HARD for over half an hour, which turned out to be my physical limit for hard work and not hers.  And she was quite cheerful about all of it, including her obvious thoughts to unload me, which were just avoiding work and not a meltdown.
I suddenly have a horse to work/train/compete and I had gradually moved away from that mindset and relegated myself to sort of a babysitter.
Now I need to get my butt back in gear, get back in shape and come up with an actual training plan that does not revolve around just avoiding trouble.  I can start by building on the little bits of things that I have taught her and start creating more correctness and more fitness there.
I really need to come up with some money for lessons.  I have had kind of a wishlist of taking lessons with some of my favorite instructors, but since it was just for me and not for actually making progress with Nina it has not been serious planning.
I am feeling happy, excited and kind of at a loss. 

Sunday, October 30, 2011

dressage clinic

Celebrating the almighty raspberry leaf.

We had a little dressage clinic at the barn today.
I did not know the instructor and it was a group lesson so really the only thing I hoped for was that Nina would not have a melt down.

She didn't.

She was fine.  OK, we had a few moments.  She refused to trot a few times in her head tossing you-can't-make-me mode, which is always followed by a you can't make me walk cuz I'm trotting moment.   She punched her time clock at 20 minutes, told me she was done.   But this was all WITHOUT the nervous, suicidal energy running underneath that always makes me wonder if she is willing to kill us both to get her own way.   She was just a slightly pissy mare who needs more schooling and much of the time she was perfectly cheerful.   It has to be the raspberry, it is too many consecutive days to be just coincidence.

And we got an exercise to work on to improve the down transitions, which at this point are done solely off the outside rein or, if done with both reins,  involves a lot of grabbing and hanging - her, not me for once.

So the day was a double success.
The raspberry leaf also one of those double edged swords.  I am glad that I found something that works and I feel bad that her resistances may all have been because she has been uncomfortable, maybe all her life and I didn't find this earlier.
On the other hand, that should make me the hero and not somebody to fight with.  Right, Nina?

Saturday, October 29, 2011

I think I fixed my horse

It's sort of unbelievable and I have been putting off posting about it because I assumed that I was mistaken anyway.
Here's as short as I can make it.
Nina has always been TENSE.  Even on her best days, she can get into a lovely forward, back swinging trot and still there is an underlying tension.  On her not so good days she gnashes her teeth, pins her ears and glares over her shoulder a lot.  Most of her training issues are described in the last million or so posts so I won't repeat all of them here, just accept that TENSION has been a large part of our training relationship.  Tension that all the saddle fitting, massage, reiki, etc etc etc cannot fix.

A week ago Friday I put red raspberry leaves in her beet pulp and every day since.  I had never tried this because she does not act like the typical Jekyll & Hyde hormonal mare.  But I did a little research a couple of weeks ago and found that it works on all sorts of behavioral problems that apparently are connected to hormones.
So 4 days later I get on Nina and we walk around for an hour, on the buckle, circles and spiral and leg yields (which are worth WWIII) and she is just ambling around with no TENSION, none.
So I assumed she had a tough night and the next day prepared for my mare back.  Nope, did a little work, she was a little pissy about several things but without the underlying tension that makes her hum all the time.
Fast forward to today.  She hasn't been out of her pen for two days because of the weather.  She was higher than a kite and close to crossing the line to rude behavior.  She was spooky and silly, it was cold and windy.  When I got on her she was still silly and spooky but all that tension wasn't there.
She used to radiate a clear message  'I hate you and I am going to kill you.'
then that tapered off to 'I hate this, I hate this'
That is what is gone.  It's hard to explain.  It's not like she suddenly became well trained and perfect but is is like riding a different horse.  It's like everything came down to normal size. 
I'm excited about this.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

cold and wet

Our early snowstorm has turned out to be as much cold rain as snow, typical fall.  I have lost one big branch off my big maple tree but otherwise no damage.  I thought the cold and snow would strip the trees but no, they hung onto their branches and now trees all over town are big snow drifts.  We will see tomorrow when it all melts off how much damage was done.

I took Nina her beet pulp and found her cold, wet, spooky and making herself so tall I thought I was going to have to jump up and down to get her halter on her.  I went prepared and threw a cotton sheet on her followed by a waterproof nylon sheet and within about 10 minutes she was warm under the sheets, starting to dry and reduced to her normal height. 
I wish my internal heater was as efficient as a horse's.  Or even burned calories like that.  I could use either one.  
Spring and fall it is hard to keep horses that are confined warm enough without being too warm.  Fortunately, Nina is like me and always cold so she always appreciates a sheet or blanket and rarely gets too warm.
Gradually back into the 70s by the weekend. 

good bye Fugly

I have read Fugly Horse of the Day for years, off and on.  It can go for months without me and then I will follow daily for a while.  While I think that some of the criticisms were mean spirited enough to make you blink, once you heard more it was impossible to not feel that it was justified.

After years of documenting and raging against the stupidity in the horse world the originator of the blog turned it over to a new writer. 

I tried to keep an open mind and read and give the new writer a chance to make her own points in her own way, but I have had enough.

On her personal blog she stood up for the abusive riders in the reining competition in Stockholm that drew the ire of the world.  She didn't say it was good, but maintained that it was the way things are *shrug* and explained that the horses were not actually being hurt.

There have been several digs at training and disciplines other than her own.  Today was the last straw.  Publishing a photo of a horse with a flash noseband so tight that it was an instrument of torture she proceeded to blast the use of any 'noseband' as cruel, lumping them all together and making no distinction about proper use vs. abuse and why there are so many different ones. 
Since I use a "caveson" (or noseband to Western riders) and I have even recommended a figure-8 to a student or two and I have and have not used a flash...... since I understand the use of these pieces of tack and understand how they can also be used to abuse, since I ride in the English disciplines where they are traditional, I think I have had enough of her anti-English riding and have crossed her off my blog list. 

She is entitled to her opinions, I just don't have to support a blog anymore that I have previously promoted to friends and horse lovers.   I wish she had just stuck to her own blog and her own opinions (which I probably would have continued to read, I am not afraid to disagree with someone) and left the famous (or infamous) Fugly blog alone.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A taste of winter...

This is the cottonwood tree at the barn that makes shade for us to sit under and yak while we think about doing something constructive with the horses. Today it was vivid against a bright blue sky. By Wednesday we are supposed to have 12" of snow, which will strip the trees bare. We will have more nice fall days, but without the color show going on around us. As compensation - all the flies and hornets at the barn will drop dead.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

It's Sunday...

People who actually have a horse life are off somewhere at horse trials and shows and clinics doing horsey stuff. The rest of us are ..... not.
I hope they do write posts on Monday morning about their adventures for the rest of us.
*sigh* hint hint

I did teach a lesson today and it was a beautiful fall day so I can't feel tooooooo disgruntled.

Friday, October 21, 2011

if your horse was a dog......

What would it be?

a German Shepherd?

a Labrador?

a Poodle?

a Greyhound?

a Blue Heeler?


Thursday, October 20, 2011

feeling better...

This is just a vent about my frustration with Nina - long and rambling. 

I have been so discouraged about Nina.  She was off for so long and then for a couple of weeks she would be fine for 2 days and off for one and repeat.  She has been sound all week this time.

And she has reverted to one of her original resistances, sticking her head between her knees and bracing against the bit.  This was her first big resistance, OK second, I guess rearing trumps rooting.
I just get so tired of feeling like working with her is one step forward and two steps back, every once in a while I get to reverse that.

So I did a little thinking about what is going on.  Some of it is between my ears.  I tend to walk on eggshells when riding her because doing that worked when she was so mixed up and defensive.
Well, she is not mixed up and defensive much any more, I think asshat is a closer description.
So I decided that I might be better off treating her like a naughty two year old under saddle instead of an old wily duck-and-run expert.  That is the part that is hers, she has never learned the basics about being a riding horse and she has resisted learning this stuff all her life.

I decided to try to fix the rooting in the round pen.  I thought I had fixed it under saddle and she had not done it for a long time, but she is still a pro at it.
I took a nylon cord, put a snap at each end ran it from the bit through my grab strap and to the bit.  I made the length long enough that when she carried her head normally there was no tension, but it was too short to stick her head between her knees.  I put this on her two days ago and she fought it for almost two hours.  Not a big hysterical fight, just slow, calculating, using all her strength to pull the damn thing down to the ground.  I had her walk a little and trot a little but mostly I just ignored her and she walked around rooting and shoving, trying to surprise it, trying to force it, trying to paw at it, only rarely picking her head up and relaxing.
This was more than a little discouraging.  When she appeared to have given up I removed the cord and got on, she immediately dropped her head to the ground and stuck it there.  I got off, put the cord back on and another hour passed before she was walking around in a horse shape.

It did occur to me that 'submission to the bridle' was just not in her vocabulary, never has been and until we can agree on that - there is no progress.  No wonder we have been on a roller coaster.  We are at square one.  Only not the square one that I had thought we were at - no ------ way back before that one.
Yesterday she had off.  Today I did it again and in five minutes she was trotting around, carrying herself normally, NO rooting or pulling.  (She doesn't know it but giving in for one day is not success, she is going to spend a lot of time wearing this.)

I got on her, she rooting ONCE about 15 minutes into the ride, I grabbed one rein and hung on and after spinning around a minute she gave up.  No more rooting.

Then she was a tree, unable to move - we have been doing this too.  When I make her move she is spooky and crooked and so uneven that it is like a dingy in a high sea.  If I think about this too much it gets to be intimidating.
So I put on my big girl panties, told myself that I was at a competition and did I want to be the idiot on the bad horse?
I booted her into a joggy, crooked trot and from there into a more forward trot and from there into an actual trot.  She spooked and ran sideways at the poles that we had already trotted over and I growled at her that I was going to kill her and kicked like a six year old on a bad Shetland pony and suddenly I had a nice horse under me, forward, balanced and unbelievably, relaxed.
I worked her for a little while, walked over the the gate, stopped and then just to push a little more - went back to work.  She was fine.

I had a horse when I was 20 that fought me like the devil for the first 10 minutes of every ride and bucked me off a hundred times.  Next to him Nina is a pansy.  I need to make up my mind that she is going to be difficult for the first 10-20 minutes of EVERY ride and just kick her through it and get on with it.  Just because she doesn't act this way for a few days doesn't mean that she is fixed and going to be good from now on.

She trusts me absolutely on the ground and it is because I make her toe the line and I am a good leader and boss.  I have not been consistent about doing the same under saddle.  I think my whiney little voice wants an easier horse to ride.  But this is the one I have.

I feel better about this today, not so much tempted to quit and more sure that I can push her through this juvenile crap and get to where we are doing stuff that even she thinks is fun.
Vent over.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


I know that Nina is observant and smart, but sometimes she surprises me and makes me laugh. 
She is often turned out in one of the pens around the arena while I teach lessons.  Tonight I put her out in a pen and taught three lessons.  She trotted and rolled and stood around and slept and watched.  Feeding time was between the second the third lessons and she watched the gator roll by with the hay and feed and yawned. 
After the third lesson I started picking up the standards and poles and as soon as I had put several of them away Nina started pacing in the pen and yelling at me.  She knew I was done and it was time to pay attention to her.   A friend of mine was watching her too and said that it was perfectly clear that Nina could tell that it was her turn. 
When she is not infuriating - she cracks me up!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

saddle pad contest

Have you entered to win one of Kate's fabulous hand painted saddle pads?
It's simple - here is the post with the info The Adventures of Lucy - Win a hand painted saddle pad. 
Only a few days left.
Nina made me enter!

Another great helmet cam - this one from Fair Hill

I love Doug's helmet cam videos, sort of a combination of schooling lesson (big opening left rein and lots and lots of right leg) and a guided tour (and coming up on your left is...)
Thanks to Doug and DPEquestrian.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Seasons changing

The high today is supposed to be in the 50s.  There is a storm blowing in the mountains. 
At this time of year when I hear this forecast I have to remind myself that I don't really need 3 jackets, 2 hats and my Antarctic gloves. 
When the temps reach the 50s in January or February we throw our coats off and ride in T-shirts, maybe with a vest. 
Just have to get adjusted all over again.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

a little wake-up call for Nina

So Nina has had it pretty easy for EVER.  Ok for several, let's see...almost 7 months.  So now she appears to be sound, maintaining sound and ready to go back to work.  She has been sore here and there as she starts work and she has been getting short rides, maybe 20-35 minutes. 
Today there was a little wind and she was a spooky mess.  Nearly ran out from under me twice and was a jerk about transitions, rearing once and just being a turd.  I got irritated enough to push her through that and she settled down and did a little, very little, good work. 
I don't want to push her too hard, trying to build her back up slowly, she is not a youngster (neither am I!) but I decided today that she can just simply spend a lot more time under saddle, even if she is not working hard. 
So today I got off, picked up the jump standards that someone had left laying on their sides in the arena, chatted with a friend for a while, tightened my girth back up and got back on. 
I expected a hissy fit, which I did not get, but it was a laborious process to get her to walk a few laps next to another horse.  Exhausted, ya know?
I am used to working a horse for about an hour a day and while she can't work for that long she can pack me around for that long and get over punching a timeclock at 20 minutes.

beware unscrupulous horse trainers/dealers

Remember 'Hank'?
I told you about him last week, I went with a client to take a look at him.  He was priced at $2500, which I thought was too high for him, but my client liked him, made a full price offer and arranged for a vet exam.  The appointment was for today.
This morning the seller, Cayla Stone of Fort Collins, CO.  contacted the buyer and told her that she (Cayla) had decided to keep the horse.
The buyer cancelled the vet appointment and was disappointed that the seller had changed her mind, but that's the way things go.
Then - lo and behold!  Hank is back on Dreamhorse already, with an increased price.  Now she is asking $3000.
If you are shopping for a horse in Colorado, or know anyone who is - stay away from this one.  Word will get around quickly, but until then you are just asking to be jerked around.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Goodbye Gogo

Gogo died today.
Those of you who read Eventing A-Gogo know the story of Andrea and Gogo.
If you haven't read about her, Gogo was a lovely event horse who suffered a suspensory injury that, in spite of a long battle, did not heal.  Recently it had started breaking down and Andrea had to make the decision to put Gogo down.  These horses are not pets, it's a different kind of relationship.
They are friends and partners and teachers.
They are missed forever.


I got stepped on yesterday, silly me. 
Where we tack up trucks and trailers go by just feet from the horses, Nina is normally fine with them, sometimes gives somebody the hairy eyeball but is usually good.  Yesterday I was fastening her bridle when a stock trailer making a lot of noise went by.  Nina tensed up and I could tell she was likely to spook a little but I made the decision to just keep working and try to ignore her.  If I react then her reaction can be to blow up.
Well, I had it all decided that she would jump away from the trailer if she jumped at all.
Nope.  She jumped toward the trailer and toward me.  Trying to hide in my pocket maybe?
She landed on my right foot and even though it felt like all her weight was on it, she must have felt it and shifted her weight away because nothing was broken or even bruised.  But it hurt like *#($)@*$&!
AND I found myself standing with my nose inches from the side of a slightly frightened 1200# animal with my foot nailed to the floor!  I actually thought about this at the time and debated briefly my decision to stand still. 
Then I started yelling and she backed away and all was well.  After a little limping around and swearing while she cocked her head at me and looked puzzled. 
ANYBODY who does anything around horses in tennis shoes or flip flops - and I see it all the time - is an idiot.  I never go to the barn without leather boots.  I get stepped on about once every 10 years or so and that is plenty enough reminder for me!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Tevis Cup

The Tevis Cup was run this weekend. In honor of the brave and/or insane riders who complete this race, here is the best video I have ever seen of Cougar Rock. (aka- why I don't do Endurance)
You have to watch the whole thing. The first riders are the race leaders and just scurry up it like it is level. Then the mortal beings take a stab at it.

Monday Morning

Nothing new to report on the horsey front.  We had 32 degrees and rain all day Saturday, a reminder that yes, winter is coming.  By some fluke of timing I managed to teach a jumping lesson in the indoor without a single other horse in the ring.  That was nice. 
A friend posted this cartoon on FB.  I thought it was an excellent way to start the week.  Put your coffee down. Have a great Monday!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

regular work

Nothing exciting going on with Nina.  Trying to ride as much as possible and get her (and me) back into shape before winter gets here.  When she feels good she has started moving like this, with a level back and her nose poked out a bit.  It has taken a very long time to get her nose out from between her knees.
She is getting back into shape.  When she is tired or muscle sore she moves a little downhill, her rear is not really strong again yet. 
Pictures of her looking this relaxed in the neck make me happy.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Things you really didn't need to know....

I think we should all have a category on our blogs for when we find out things that no one could possibly care about - but we have to share them anyway.

A horse's diet consists mostly, at least in my mind, of generally tasteless stuff that takes a lot of chewing.  They seem happy with this.
So this morning I am reading about some alternative supplements for horses.  I use slippery elm bark for ulcers, works great most of the time, sometimes she seems to need a bigger blast of it.  It also falls into the tasteless group of food.  So this article says that fresh ginger can have the same effect and works better for some horses.
Ginger?  That stuff that can spice up your life.... or take the top of your head off?
There is no way that my super suspicious, WHAT DID YOU PUT IN MY FEED, picky horse is going to get near a pungent bucket of anything with ginger in it.
The recommended amount is a chuck the size of your thumb, chopped up small.  No kidding, small?  Does microscopic make the taste milder?  That is a LOT of ginger in a feeding.
But I decide to experiment. After all, I will just be throwing away one bucket of beet pulp, no big deal.
I walk into Nina's pen with the bucket and she nearly knocks me down.  Her manners around feeding are generally great and she will stand patiently and watch me play with her feed as long as I want to.  Not today.  I whacked her on the nose with the big plastic spoon a couple of times and she finally backed up a step.  I dumped the ginger beet pulp into her feed bucket, she dove in and I don't think she took a breath until it was gone.  She certainly did not raise her head or even open her eyes.  All her focus was on her mouth.  Unbelievable.
There now, totally worthless info but you can see why I had to tell you.

Brian O'Connor

If you want to REALLY know what is going on in Eventing, just watch Brian O'Connor. This one is also from the Eventing Nation website. Visit them at Eventing Nation.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Found on Eventing Nation...

This horse totally misread the jump and decided to carry on anyway.  I will pass along EN warning to put down any beverages before watching this.

Horse Shopping

There are two ways to find a cheap horse for yourself.  One is to buy a mature horse with the baggage that has made him into a cheap horse.  This is what I did with Nina.  These horses can get really cheap, depending on the baggage. 
The other is to buy a young horse and with Thoroughbreds that means that you have to hope that they will grow up into the athlete that you want.  And much of that growing process can be frightening in terms of the horse's later success.  And it can take a long time.
The horse we looked at yesterday is four years old and has good and bad.  On the bad side he is (hopefully) in the middle of a growth spurt.  His rear is straight everywhere from toe to croup.  It is also way up over his withers, making his back a long downhill slide.  His front end belongs to a different horse and is nice with good angles, a long shoulder set into a fair length upper arm.  The type of front that has a moderately good length of stride and the ability to fold up well over a jump.  His neck is of good length with a nicely set on head and nice throatlatch. 
He has a very baby head/face and no muscle which I am hoping means that he has still more growing to do.  If he grows enough for the front and rear to match he is going to be a very nice athletic looking horse.  If not...... that is the gamble.
He has a wonderful brain; calm, curious, willing but not a dead head. 
He is going to get vetted, I think he is going to be bought, he is a gamble, just like any other young horse, but that brain is worth a lot.
The trainer was what I expected, a twenty something trying to make it as a trainer without any help.  She has a couple of green horses, including this one.  I give her full strokes for not pushing this horse.  He does walk, trot, canter on a loose rein and not much else.  But he has been out on the trails and hauled to shows as a tourist to just look around.  She has not worked him hard because he appears to be growing, that is excellent. 
Here are a few pics from yesterday.

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