Monday, January 31, 2011

dithering around

Can't go to work, gridlock on the icy roads.
Can't go to the barn, gridlock on the icy roads.
Worked for a while.
Worked a little more.
Watched Ghost Whisperer.
AHA!  I'll change Nina's blog so that I can add even more blogs!  Yes!
So it got a little scrunched.

going nowhere

We are getting an Arctic blast of winter today and tomorrow, the temperature forecasts keep getting lower and lower.  Wind chills today are supposed to be down in the -30 area and actual temps for the high tomorrow are around zero. 
Today I left for work and it was just below freezing and starting to rain.  Not bad, I thought, I will make it to work before the roads get too bad and by the time I get off the sand trucks should have been out 'fixing' the ice.  Wrong.
I had been driving, on wet streets for about 15 minutes and I noticed that the temps had dropped within minutes to 16 degrees and still heading down.  Over the space of a few minutes the black, wet streets turned grey and then white as the water froze.  It was like being in the special effects segment of a disaster movie.  Unbelievable.  Fortunately traffic slowed to a crawl.  I pulled into a side street and opened my door to see what was going on with the ground.  Solid, smooth ice, too hard to chip with my boot heel.  The roads had been wet just minutes before.  I could push my car sideways with one foot sticking out the door. 
I called work, told them I wasn't coming in, turned around and crawled home.  Traffic moving at about 2mph, everybody freaked out.   I don't think I am going out today.  I would like to go and check on Nina, but it is 17 miles through town.  Unless they just pave the roads with sand this afternoon, I will stay home. 

Countdown to Spring

Sunday, January 30, 2011

What is the point...

...of jodhpur boots?  Really!  The most useless piece of footwear ever invented, including 5" stilettos.
I had a new student show up in jodhpurs on Saturday.  She went into a store (western boot store) and asked for a pair of English paddock boots and walked out with brown jodhpur boots. 

Saturday, January 29, 2011

weather forecast for this week, keep in mind that the temp today was 65


Jan 30


 Jan 31


Feb 1


Feb 2

Partly Cloudy                
Partly Cloudy
Blowing Snow                   
Blowing Snow         
Partly Cloudy
Partly Cloudy





Friday, January 28, 2011

62 degrees

Nina was a bit of a witch today (substitute any first letter that you like).  Apparently she just forgot to misbehave after several days off so she substituted today.
On the other hand it was 62 degrees, sunny and beautiful and a great day to ride. 
Of course it is supposed to snow on Monday but to quote the lady who knew how to deal with problems:
"I can't think about that right now. If I do, I'll go crazy. I'll think about that tomorrow." 

Thursday, January 27, 2011

this is nice

Two days of fabulous weather and fabulous Nina.
Shhhhhhh, don't want to jinx it.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

substitute reading for riding

Ever get the idea that some cosmic force is just screwing with you?
For the last few weeks I have watched the clouds roll in and the temps drop as I drive from a part time job to the barn.  So when the owner at my job asked me if I could come in earlier I was glad to agree.  Now I could get to the barn before the bad weather hit every day. 
So today I am at the barn 2 hours earlier than usual.  It is cold, cloudy and a little windy.  Nina is full of herself so I decide to lunge her before riding.  By the time she quit spooking and bucking she was sweaty and I was frozen (except for my feet in their yummy new winter boots) with numb fingers.  I threw a cooler over Nina and walked her until she was ready to blanket and feed.  Now I am thoroughly cold.  BUT..... by the time I feed her, lock my stuff up, get in the car and pull out of the driveway.... the wind stops and the sun comes out.  I look at my watch, it's just about the time I would have been getting to the barn before my schedule change.  ha ha, very funny. 

So.  I have a copy of Conditioning the Performance Horse by Hilary Clayton and I think I will just read about conditioning and quit trying to actually do it while on a horse. 
This looks like a great book, I'm starting it tonight.

Monday, January 24, 2011

more of the same

Nina has had so many days off that she is BORED and begging for attention... even.... GASP!... petting!
This makes for a nice change but I'm not sure it's useful.  If she gets a week off every time I ride we really will be 100 before we get to compete.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

don't ya love the weather service?

If I look on my computer, it says that it is 36 degrees, cloudy with a 7mph wind.  If I look out the WINDOW, the skies are clear, the sun is shining and the wind is blowing so hard that it will knock you flat on your butt.    I have three lessons to teach and a horse to ride.  I was looking forward to a horsey day today.... I wish the wind would tone it down a bit.

update:  I got 50% done and I'm satisfied.  One lesson postponed.  I did two indoors and both went well.  The second was a green appendix mare, her first lesson and she jumps soooo cute.  I just love her.  Her owner wants to do regular lessons so I will try to get a picture to post.   She is also for sale if you are looking for a green, pretty, opinionated, athletic appendix mare.  :-)
I didn't get to ride Nina, I just hate the wind.  I put her in the turnout and she ran and bucked and screamed for about an hour.  It's a different reaction to icy wind than mine.

Friday, January 21, 2011


No horsey news.  Wind, cold, ice and late work schedule = days off for Nina.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

well, crap...

When I left for work this morning I was wearing a sweatshirt and carrying my jacket.  Sunglasses in my hand.  By the time I got to the barn, THIS is what the day looked like.

Nina was glad to see me for about 2 minutes.  Then she realized that instead of hustling as fast as possible to give her her beet pulp, I was actually setting it down in the snow and screwing around with a camera!!!  The smile turned into a frown, to say nothing of pinned ears and slitty eyes.   I think I may be fired.

trot sets

If I am going to get serious, and I am, fitness is the first step.  I could just make up a program, but I think I tend to progress is a haphazard fashion when I do that, besides getting bored.  I used to own Kursinski's book and Wofford's but they went the way of lent books.  Does anyone have any online resources on fitting up a horse?  I am not interested in buying a book right now.  List em here!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

oh look, awards!

OK, it is really only one award but it came to me from three different fellow bloggers so that makes it awardS, doesn't it?
Much thanks to A Horse and a Half, Riding from the Ground Up and Calm Straight & Forward for passing this on to me.  These are three blogs that I read every day and recommend that you do too.

Like every good thing in life, there is a price to pay.  The requirements of this award are: 

1. Thank and link back to the person who awarded you this award
2. Share 7 things about yourself
3. Award 15 recently discovered great bloggers
4. Contact these bloggers and tell them about the award!

Seven things about myself: 

1. My first horse was an off the track Appendix who literally ran out from under me the first time I rode him.  We did everything from games to western pleasure and on to reining.  There was no team penning or any such competition but we sorted rodeo stock back behind the chutes at the Little Britches and Junior Rodeos.  Wonderful horse.

2.  I quit showing horses because it got too expensive, took up dog showing where I managed to spend even more and 25 years later was back in horse showing.

3.  I always wanted to learn to jump but did not have the opportunity.  I lived in Albuquerque when there was ONE barn with English riders and jumping is something that came to the state fair.   I mentioned casually to a friend when I was 46 that I regretted never learning and now I was too old.  He made an appointment for a lesson for me, dragged me to it and I have never looked back.  Totally addicted and loving it.

4.  I own and show (used to breed) Afghan Hounds.

5.I live in Colorado, which I like a lot.  But wish I lived in New Mexico, which I love.

6. I was a skinny little thing until I was almost 40, since then I fight my weight constantly.  I want to be skinny again AND eat like I used to when I was 20.  Not going to happen, I know.

7.  I had NO FRIGGIN business buying Nina, practically a derelict and nasty to boot.  After Scotty died and a lease of a very nice Dutch Warmblood did not work out the WISE thing to do would have been to save my money and wait and buy a nice, broke horse and continue on with my training. 
HOWEVER, I have learned a lot and it seems to be working out in the long run.

Monday, January 17, 2011


 No work today, had an appointment with the farrier.  New shoes on the fronts, still barefoot on the backs.  I think my farrier is almost glad to only shoe the fronts, in spite of the lower fee.  Nina has a habit of standing quietly for 3 feet and then being less than well behaved for the last one.  Her timeclock runs out.  This is much faster, happier all around.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Mellow Sunday

There was a high degree of craziness at the barn today.  LOTS of people and activity, a horse trying to colic, another one giving his young owner the big finger in the roundpen and rolling in his saddle.  The 4-H kids and instructor trying to do their regular Sunday thing, limited riding in the outdoor arena, lots of wet still.

I have the place almost to myself Monday through Friday if I get there early enough, so why stress with the traffic jam.  Nina and I took a walk.  Around the barn, around the parking area, the trailers, up and down all the shed rows.  She was a little excited when she first came out of her pen but then she chilled and just marched along, looking at everything, unfazed by a muck bucket that blew out in front of her, a swinging rope hitting her on the butt, lots and lots of water to walk through.  (Remind me of this, please, when we start schooling xc and she doesn't want to get her feet wet.)  All in all she acted like an interested tourist watching the locals.  We walked for about 40 minutes, I borrowed some beet pulp from a friend because Nina's is STILL in my kitchen sink.
Good bonding time.  Tomorrow, weather permitting, back to work.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

weather forecast

45 and cloudy is NOT 52 and sunny... just sayin....

Gamblers Choice

The Gamblers Choice was lots of fun and a packed stadium.  Karen Cudmore and Southern Pride won it, that's two or three years in a row.  Karen lived here at one time and is considered 'local' so she always gets a lot of crowd support.  One of her competitors this year was her daughter.  Here is Karen and Southern Pride winning the same competition last year at stock show.

Friday, January 14, 2011


I managed to get in a quick ride on Nina this afternoon.  The outdoor arena is not rideable, or walkable... I nearly got stuck walking out to check it out.   So we went in the indoor. 
Now, Nina was ridden all last winter in an indoor arena and was fine, but she hates this arena.  She has thrown hysterical fits and spooked like a runaway freight train at who knows what. 
Today there were others horses in there, which helps and we walked around for about 15 minutes.  Since there were other riders and there wasn't room for her to throw her first day back temper tantrum we just walked.  She was very looky, but absolutely no spooking.  I wasn't much help as I was waiting to see if I could hang on and was probably tenser than she was.  It was a good first ride indoors.  I will try to find a time tomorrow with just one or two other horses and put her to work. 
Oh, and I won another round of the battle to re-install her ground manners.  I don't know where they went but it has been a battle lately.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Gamblers Choice!

It's Stock Show time.  You can tell because it's been snowing.  Tomorrow night some friends and I will go to the Stock Show early in the evening, wander around and look at the exhibits, make sure to walk through the fancy shmancy (50k+) horse trailers and the barn interiors nicer than almost any home.   Admire the art and the clothes, watch the kids watch the livestock.  Then we will go and sit down and get comfortable and watch the pros go to work riding in the Gambler's Choice Jumping.  Lots of fun and great riding to watch.
Check it out here, National Western Stock Show, Gambler's Choice.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

warm up ???

I got Nina out of her pen for the first time in 3 days.  She just went in turnout, still bundled up and spooked and jumped at everything including the tractor that she sees... oh... 10 times a day.  Got some circulation going.

But as far as it warming up .....

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

warm up coming

Tomorrow it is supposed to be in the 30s and Thursday in the 50s.  While this warm up is much appreciated by people, it is very hard on the horses.  Fortunately (knock on wood) Nina seems to be able to take these temperature swings in stride. 
Looking forward to riding weather, and for all of you in the path of this arctic blast.... at least it is moving fast. 
Rita, I'm sure you get these arctic blasts too, you just can't tell because once you are cold cold cold, you can't tell. 

Monday, January 10, 2011

mile high heat

The radiate power of the sun in a clear sky at over a mile high is impressive.  It can turn skating rinks into relatively drivable streets in just hours.  But it does nothing for the temperature of the air in an arctic cold front.  I was reminded of this when after unzipping my jacket because I was pleasantly warm in the sun, I got the finger tips of my gloves wet and they instantly froze to my fingers.  Ouch!  Sun or no sun, it was still 13 degrees F.

Nina was making do in the boring cold, scarfing down a bucket of beet pulp.

And what is this?   Despite the fact that it looks like snow in the pics (I did my best) this is actually a cluster of tiny tiny spiral icicles on her cheek.  She has them on her cheeks, chin and ears.  I think they must be just the moisture coming off of her body and freezing into little icicles.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

ballet on ice

I have lived in Colorado for almost 30 years as a car driving adult and never had a lot of trouble getting around.  I have never owned a 4x4.  I have had some white knuckle drives and more often, slow slow drives where you wish you had packed a lunch and a book.
Today was a very scary drive to the barn.  The weather report said that the snow was coming into the area in 'bands' which is kind of normal I think, but this was a little different.
I left the house around noon to give Nina her beet pulp and change her blanket,  in light snow, the side roads were slippery and the main roads were not too bad, there was enough traffic to keep the snow mostly churned up into slush.  It was 25 degrees.  I stopped at Walmart to pick up wiper blades....long overdue, and when I came out it started snowing hard.  The temps dropped in a few minutes to 18 degrees and suddenly the roads were solid ice, no snow to be found. 
I found myself driving down a four lane road in way too much traffic and suddenly one at a time we were all hitting a frozen rut in the road where a big vehicle had changed lanes while the snow was wet and soft.  A couple of vehicle bounced off at angles, hitting curbs on BOTH sides of the street.  I found myself doing lovely slow motion pirouettes down the road with no more control than if I had been sitting on the roof.  Eventually I got enough control to swing off into a side street where the deeper snow helped me stop.  Miraculously nobody appeared to have hit anybody.  We all regrouped and proceeded on, now at about 5mph, down from our speedy 20mph that we were travelling before.
I drove all the rest of the way to the barn on this thick layer of polished ice.
I then spent much more time than I needed at the barn, feeding Nina, changing her blanket and talking to her about the feasibility of walking down to Burger King for dinner and spending the night in my car.
I REALLY did not want to go back out on the skating rink.
Then the heavy snow stopped, the temps bounced back up to around 25, the cars started churning up the ice into slush again and the roads were fine.  I made it NEARLY home and the cycle started again.  This time a couple of roads were blocked off by police where traffic had spun out and come to a standstill on hills, not very big hills.
I mentally computed the most flat route and crawled safely home.
I am having a cup of coffee, reading and writing on blogs and trying to decipher the cryptic directions on the package for changing the wiper blade.  I think I will bag the directions and just do it myself, I'm feeling fairly invincible.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

here it comes...

It is very mild out right now but the front is moving in and the cold weather is coming.  We are supposed to have about 3 days with highs in the teens and then another warm up.
Nina has been working well all week.  She felt a little stiff today so she is ready for a couple of days off anyway.  I will catch up on things around the house and hope it doesn't get toooooo cold.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

almost routine

It would be getting routine except that once again, next week will be time off for the horses.  Bad weather is rolling in on Sunday and next week the highs are going to be in the 20s.  No riding for me.
Today, however, I rode in a T-shirt and hoody.

Nina was very good, very relaxed.  Yesterday she was a little grumpy, today she was quite cheerful.

AND we managed to not get whacked in the head by the carrot-stick wielding NH guru who rides with the damn thing, swinging it over her head and chasing her horse through turns by whacking him on the shoulder.
She is a menace, but Nina and I just kept one eye on her and were able to stay out of her way.

Nina and I have been working on getting a nice forward trot from a halt by starting just a few strides from some trot poles.  She has figured out that she is supposed to stretch through the poles and not mince along so she has to power up from a halt to make the striding work with only a short distance to find her rhythm.  She seems to think this is a good game and gets better each time we do it. Today she was bouncing in place, ears pricked at the poles, waiting to be told to go.  She is so enthusiastic about anything that hasn't been ruined for her, it is such a shame that no one took advantage of that attitude instead of, apparently, trying to beat it out of her.  But then we would never have met so I guess it turned out well for me.
She is making such progress, I wish the weather would hold.  But at least we are having several nice days in a row and then a few days off in a row.  I guess it is working out fine.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

yay me

When I got to the barn it was about 40F, the sun kept going behind some clouds and the wind was blowing.  I just heard the news report and it said breezy in Denver.  Well, it may be breezy there, but right up against the foothills that breeze is a full blown icy wind.
The first person I saw at the barn said "are you riding today?"  "I dunno" I replied.  I'm not riding in this, I thought.
Walking back to Nina's pen another boarder said "are you riding today?" "I dunno" I replied.  My feet are cold already and the wind is blowing down my neck, I thought.
I got Nina out of her pen and walked up the the area where I tack up.  I'm not riding in this wind, this sucks.
I tacked her up and another boarder said "are you riding today?"  "I dunno" I replied.   I will just lunge her and be done, I thought.
So I lunged her (and we had the first of what promises to be many discussions about her disappearing ground manners).  Walked over to the arena and got on.
As a reward, the wind dropped to almost nothing and the sun peaked out between clouds.  We worked for about 20 minutes.  The wind picked up again and we quit for the day.
Now this might not seem like much to those of you who are much tougher than I am, but I HATE being cold and I never did warm up today, even riding.  My feet are still cold as I sit here and write this.
Now I am going to have a hot cup of coffee and go watch TV.
Somebody pat me on the back.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


Seems to be getting better, although we still need to discuss her ground manners when she is excited.  I got to the barn yesterday at 3:30 and did not, in spite of my best intentions, ride.  It was cold, windy and since the barn is right up against the foothills, about to be dark.  I fed, patted and ran for home.
Today I got there in time to ride.  The first few minutes of balking, head swinging and teeth grinding had me grinding my teeth.  But in a reasonably short time she was trucking along nicely.  Turned into a good ride, did a little work over poles on the ground and I was happy with it.
I did have to tell another rider to get the hell out of my way.  There were four of us in an enormous outdoor arena and within 5 minutes of getting on her horse she had managed to stop directly in front of me twice.  At the time I was trotting a circle, about 30m, off the rail, digging a path in the damp footing.  We had been on this same circle since before she came into the arena.  How can you not know where I am going!  She did get better although she seemed to have to work in exactly the same area and when I moved over to the other side she did too.  This is lemming-like behavior, this lady is a nice person not somebody trying to get in the way, just clueless.  Nina pinned her ears at the poor horse a couple of times and he got out of her way.   I don't want to encourage that behavior but it does seem to work better to have her talk to the other horse than to have me talk to the other rider.
Still a good ride and a good day.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

all things are relative

After spending most of the fall whining about how cold and miserable I was at temps in the 30s, 40s and even 50s.... I had to giggle this afternoon.  I was shedding jackets and scarves and gloves at the barn like I had been transported to Florida.  The sun was out and it was a balmy 34 degrees.  After a few days at 13 degrees we were all enjoying the heat wave.  And I think most of the snow evaporated, there isn't even a whole lot of mud.
The turnout arena is the one exception.  While it was so cold (and dry!) the snow was powdery and fluffy.  The dirt and sand was also frozen and powdery and fluffy.  Walking in there was like walking in a foot of brown and white sugar.  Now that it is warm enough to melt the snow it is a muddy mess.
Nina got a little exercise in a round pen and was considerate enough to chose a dry spot to roll.  She has lost a little weight over the weekend, they burn a lot of calories staying warm and the wind chills were -25 overnight for 3 nights.  They have to eat round the clock to maintain their weight when it is that cold and she is kind of a slow, picky eater.   Horses are really efficient at maintaining body temps, as long as they have food.
I eat more than my share and it doesn't help me keep warm one little bit, hardly seems fair.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

January 1st and Thoroughbreds

On January 1st all Thoroughbreds and Standardbreds (and probably others) celebrate their communal birthday and turn another year old.
In this age of computer records the actual birthday is usually available as well.  At the very least most horses have a verbal record of their history that follows them through life.  It might not be terribly accurate, but it tends to be fairly consistent.
Nina has none of these.  Oh, she has a tattoo on her upper lip, a combination of letters and numbers that indicate that she is a Thoroughbred and at least went to the track even if she never raced.  It also tells her birth year.
The problem is that the tattoo is illegible.  Several vets experienced with track tattoos have given it a good shot.  Many others have tried.  As one vet put it.... she was apparently never considered a potential star, it's a cheap tattoo, not done to be long lasting.
Horses can also be aged by their teeth, which changed drastically every year until the age of ten, when they don't change much except for wear. 
Her previous owner told me that they did decipher the tattoo several years ago, when she first bought Nina and sent the info off to the Jockey Club to get her history.  The information came back on a "dark bay or dark brown" filly.  They discarded this info, assumed they got the number wrong and forgot about it.
They didn't know that most black Thoroughbreds are registered as "dark bay or dark brown."  The JC is reluctant to register a horse as black because black is genetically a different color and getting it wrong could mean questions of parentage in future generations where a horse turns out a color it shouldn't be.
Nowadays you can do DNA testing and find out the genetic roots of your horse's color, but "dark bay or dark brown" is the well used and safe option on JC papers.
Her previous owner also handed me assorted Coggins tests on Nina (or not) that make her anywhere from 12 to 19 at the time I bought her.
So why is this an issue?   It's because I am making plans to compete with her later in the year and competing means filling out entry forms and that means entering an age.  Horses with an unknown date of birth and over the age of 10 are considered 'Aged' (another horse specific term).  But, again, in the era of computers...'aged' doesn't fit in that slot for a one or two digit number. 
I think Nina and I are a pair of dinosaurs, caught between traditional descriptions and modern (unforgiving) computer records.
When it comes to actually filling out forms, I will just ask a couple of event organizers what their solution is.  I have a feeling that I will need to pick a reasonable age and stick with it.
I wonder exactly how vain Nina is.....this might be a good bargaining chip.  A flattering age for good behavior?
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