Thursday, March 31, 2011

more wind!

I got Nina out to lunge her and was going to ride in the wind anyway.  It was warm and sunny, how bad could it be.  But the wind kept picking up and throwing sand and dirt around.  A few people tried to ride and found themselves blinded by the dirt and eating it too. 
So we lunged a little in a bitting rig.  I wanted to get a picture, she is finally gaining some weight, but I knew if I went to get my camera she would roll in her tack. 
So no pictures.  No riding.  That's my accomplishments for the day.  Hope some of you did better.
At least it was warm. 

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

no riding today

It was really windy when I got to the barn.  
When it is windy enough to rock you off your feet, it is too windy to ride.  
My own rule.  Tomorrow is supposed to be better.  Hope so.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

we have a few kinks to fix

I rode Nina for about 5 minutes on Sunday.  Did not ride yesterday, too windy, too cold, too wimpy.
So today we had a few serious discussions.

First, she would not let me get on, she wanted to GO RUN!  Unfortunately for her I managed to arm wrestle her to the round pen and let her run.  After a couple of laps she was done.  After a couple dozen more I was bored and declared us done.

Then she told me that she had not been worked in a VERY LONG time and she no longer felt like working.  She offered to walk and trot around at her discretion as long as I would be a nice passenger.

"OMG!  Is that your LEG?? TOUCHING me?? STOP IT!!"

I couldn't get my leg to stop touching her and eventually she gave up, but now she no longer wanted to play at all and started rooting hard at the bit.  Quite a while ago I had ignored that, it was the least of our problems, but not toooo long ago I started correcting that with a quick, short kick in the ribs, which she hates and it had all but gone away. We played that game for a while.

She finally gave a big sigh, put on her happy face and was very nice for the rest of a short ride.

She has been ridden, but Ali did not have the time and I did not have the energy to delve into the nuances of the behavior of this horse.  I really just wanted her to get saddled and somebody get on her, which got done.  But Nina spent most of those rides trying to figure out if she could intimidate Ali into getting off without actually throwing a fit.  Lots of head slinging and teeth gnashing and balking.  It didn't make Ali get off, but it was always worth trying.
She had forgotten that she and I don't do that any more (well, rarely) and I was glad she gave it up today, although I'm sure she will try again.

It does feel good to be riding again.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Yay, riding!

Sort of.  The weather was cool/cold and windy this morning and I sort of turned off my plan to ride.  I went and taught my lesson (cool horse BTW) and turned Nina out. 
I realized that the sun was out, the wind had quit and no one was riding at mach10 in the ring so I tacked her up and got on. 
I was concerned about the getting on and off part.  Like most TBs Nina has small tolerance for the mounting part.  Get on or get off and do it now. 
This may actually improve my riding; I have always dropped my eyes as I get on, I made sure not to do that in hope of not losing my balance and it was fine.  The 'on the horse' part was fine. 
All I did was walk around for about 5 minutes and get off.  I was glad I did, the wind kicked up hard a few minutes later. 
So tomorrow, depending on the weather, we will get back to work.  I am so out of shape.
The weather may be iffy... the wind is blowing hard from the west, the normal direction, but some big black clouds are moving in from the east, we may get something out of this. 
At any rate, it felt wonderful to be back on a horse, looking forward to spring again.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

one more today....

I am gabby today. 
Hoping for good weather tomorrow, I have a lesson with a new student and afterward if the wind stops I plan to ride. 
On the grooming front we are making progress, now Nina looks even WORSE. 
I worked on her with a rubber curry for a while, chunks of hair coming out.  In fact in a couple of places all the winter hair fell off with slick shiny black hair underneath.  In spots the size of a dime.  So now she looks moth eaten.  Or maybe mangy.  Or leprous.  Great.


If you have a Facebook account please go to the Thoroughbred Broodmares page and click Like to show your support for their endeavor.  They are trying to help place Thoroughbred mares that need a new home after their racing or breeding careers.  They are not a rescue, they are trying to match horses with prospective new owners. 

Finding new homes BEFORE these horses end up in a feed lot is good for everyone.  Supporting their page helps to spread the word.  A link to their website is in the left hand column of this page.

Nina says 'thanks'

News video from earlier this week

This is a short clip of the video that I was watching live during the fire out in Parker.  What you can't see from this one, but I saw it on another clip, is that right next to the fireman and behind that building is a pen of goats, the fence on fire is the fence to their pen.  The horse that was running loose was caught by a neighbor after the fire was knocked down.  One fireman and a helicopter.

Friday, March 25, 2011


So my goal for this week was to get back on Nina and see how it goes.  I am still having some minor balance problems and it has been not quite 5 weeks since I got run over, but not riding is making me crazy.  I find that when I drop my head and look down, my balance is a little iffy and I am more dependent than normal on my eyes. 
I kind of thought that not looking down would be something that would waken my first jump instructor from the dead in celebration that FINALLY I quit doing that. 
But trying to use a small amount of common sense I decided that I needed a nice calm day; decent weather and no reining riders tearing around all over the arena.  Just in case my balance sucks and this is a bad idea it would be a good idea to have Nina keep her feet on the ground.
So this entire week has been crazy with wind... see my post on the surprise arrival of a blanket overnight... and Nina, who is not normally bad in the wind, even with stuff blowing in the wind, has had enough of it and gotten spookier everyday.  So I guess we will wait for the weather to calm down.  Suppose to rain or snow tonight, maybe that will be it.

Today Nina threw a snorty fit and tried to climb in my back pocket over a pile of grooming stuff by a trailer.  I usually just ignore her dramatics and they go away in about 2 seconds, but this one was really big so I decided to call her on it.  I went and stood next to the stuff with her lead line paid out.  She snorted and braced herself (not against me or the line) and snorted and snorted and kept looking at me.  I ignored her, looked at the stuff  (hoping the owner wouldn't show up and think I was shopping) and waited for her reaction.  She decided that there was something good to eat on the ground - IN THE GRAVEL? turned her head away, left both ears pointed toward the scary stuff and ignored me back. 
I led her away and right back and by now she had forgotten what all the snorting was about and just walked up to, over and around the stuff. 
Silly mare.

More fire news....

The fire out in horse country has burned 1600 acres with NO buildings or animals lost.  Unbelievable and it is mostly contained this morning.  A little bit of luck and they will have it controlled today.
There is still a fire burning, the Indian Gulch fire, just west of Nina's barn, we can smell the smoke from there, but it is in the mountain canyon and while it is harder to fight and contain it is mostly vertical on the canyon walls and not moving like the fire did out in Parker. 
I am going to try to find a clip of the news I watched last night where a fireman with a firehose stood between the fire and a house and a panicky horse and beat back the fire with the help of a water dump from a helicopter.  Horse was unsure whether to run or hide behind the person. 
Colorado Horse Park reported on FB that there was only minor damage to the cross country course, jumps were ok.  Earlier they thought there was more damage when the fire went through there. 
They got a lot of calls from horse owners.  I can't imagine being at work and hearing on the news that a wildfire was heading toward the barn where my horse lives.   Good work to staff and trainers there who got all the horses out. 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

fire in horse country

A big fire is burning right now near Franktown, Colo.  Don't know it do you?  How about Colorado Horse Park or High Prairie Equestrian Center?
It is right in the middle of the evacuated area, the news just reported that they have evacuated over a hundred horses from High Prairie.
High Prairie is the premier show and boarding facility in Colorado with huge venues for shows, multiple wonderful rings, a derby field and a 2* cross country course.  Also big facilities for human gatherings.
Besides this one facility - this is horse country.  Barn after barn, horse farms, boarding, competition venues.  Rolling hills with pine trees and lots of grass.  It is on the edge of the mountains north of Colorado Springs so there is some rough terrain also.
When barns, show barns and training facilities began to be forced out of the Denver metro area many many of them moved to this area.  It is really the hub of horse activity.

I am watching the news and right this minute is appears to be a very fast moving ground fire, the winds are 30 mph and very high gusts.  It seems to be whoosing through the trees and they are not burning everywhere yet.  Maybe the wind will push it past... oops, a new news helicopter just found an area where the trees are burning hard.

8500 people have been evacuated, mostly because the winds are so strong and changing direction often so where this is going nobody knows.   There are housing developments scattered in this area between horse farms.

Keep the people and the horses in your thoughts tonight.  Everyone needs to get out safe and hopefully the horse facilities will survive also.

More pics of High Prairie...

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

ok Wolfie, you were right (sort of)

One of my students stuck a Furminator in my hand today and talked me into trying it.  I did not think there was anyway that Nina would put up with it.  But I thought that at least I could work on her legs, which she will let me brush/comb with anything and which have about 6 inches of hair (slight exaggeration). 
Nope, not the legs.  Not the belly, not halfway down her sides.  Furious dancing, head tossing and teeth grinding for all of those areas. 
However..... on her neck, back and butt she loved it and I took a ton of hair off of her without eating/breathing clumps of hair.  Kind of cool.

We have had a LOT of wind here the last few days.  Yesterday and last night there were wind gusts up to 75mph.  Nina inherited the lid off of someone's treats, a heavy winter blanket (which she left alone and did not destroy) and a large galvanized aluminum tub, like an old wash tub.  No telling how much stuff passed through her run, that was what got stuck there.   The blanket does not belong to at least 4 horses that are upwind from her so it must have traveled a long way.  I wonder if it was airborne? 
More wind tonight.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Nina's Sunday

oh look!  someone to let me out of my room (and maybe wash my face)

casual wear

exercise class (boring)

looking for just the right spot...

here it is

it's hard to get up after all that exercise

a little snack before dinner

good night

Saturday, March 19, 2011

winter ears

It was nice and warm today with a hard wind blowing.  I stood Nina out in the wind, stayed upwind myself and curried and curried.  Even with the wind blowing we were soon suffocating in a cloud of horse hair.  Huge handful of hair were coming off from everywhere.  Everywhere except for one place.  Her ears and neck.  Her ears look like little bear ears, covered with lot of fur.  What is worse is the upper part of her neck.  That hair is so long and so old that it is nearly bleached out to blond, but is it coming out?  Nope, securely fastened, every hair. 
I am telling myself that the winter coat all over her body is getting thinner, if it's not - I don't want to hear about it, I am happy in my delusion that I am making progress. 
But those ears.......

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Ali and Tino

One fun thing this week is that Ali brought her young Thoroughbred down from Fort Collins for spring break.  Tino (aka Valentino) is a late foal and about to turn 5.  We found him in the fall when he was 3.  He was very cute, well built, had a baby face and was about 16h.  He looked like he just needed to fill out a bit.  Now he is 17h and looks like a different horse.  His face has grown, he has muscle definition and he finally looks like a TB.  A nice TB.
We have tried off and on to introduce him to jumping, x-rails and stuff, but every time he grows I swear his legs are different lengths and it has never been a good experience.  He is now much more coordinated and confident.  While he is green and everything is new he has control over his legs and is jumping small gymnastics beautifully.  Saturday he was a little tentative, today he acted like he was just warming up, doing an easy exercise.  I think he is going to be very cool.  He is heading for eventing.
The pictures were taken on Sunday, working on a gymnastic.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Temper tantrums and furazone

This is Nina and Ali today.  Notice the big band-aid on Nina's hind leg?  That took two of us to do. 
On Saturday Nina threw a temper tantrum in the round pen, threatened to run over me and generally acted like a jackass.  Once she finally settled down enough to lunge she took off like a rocket and managed to stick her leg through the fence.  Later when I cleaned it up I found a chunk of skin gone and a scrape leading up to it.  That looked about right and I cleaned it up and left.   The next day her leg was as big as a tree trunk, hot and sore.  The swelling allowed me to see a narrow, shallow cut about 6 inches long above what I had found.  And dirty and sore.  So I slapped on a furazone wrap and within hours the swelling was gone.  She has been sound on it but she is living in a wrap for a few days.  It is healing fast, she was even ok with the farrier yesterday. 
So her temper tantrum and me being in a hurry.  We were bailed out by the wonders of drugs. 
This mare is just not careful when she gets mad.  I have to wonder how much trouble that has gotten her into in the past.

Sunday, March 13, 2011


I watched the DVD of Secretariat this evening.  It was a lot of fun, but I have to admit that I am old enough to remember the story and I watched him run - on TV, not in person.  It was nice that at the end of the movie the DVD has the actual footage of the real races. 
I can't remember if I actually watched the Derby and the Preakness that year, I was working weekends.  I do remember watching the Belmont, it was unbelievable.  No horse has ever run that race that way. 
Listening to the announcing in the actual race footage I was reminded that he did not win against weak fields.  Besides Sham, horses like My Gallant and Forego were in those fields.  Those horses also became legends and top producers. 
With all the emphasis on producing sprinters today I wonder if we will ever see another Triple Crown winner.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

things to do when you can't ride...

This is what I am reduced to, fussing over grooming Nina.  I curried her today until we were both bored.  I was covered with hair, she was covered with loose hair, the surrounding area had disappeared under hair.  There appeared to be NO difference whatsoever in the amount of winter coat she is still carrying.
I did wash and trim her filthy, dry, dirty tail.  Looks quite nice, better than the photo.  Still needs a little touch up on the bang.
Maybe tomorrow I will teach her to sit up and beg or rollover...... *sigh*  We are having nice weather and I am not riding.  I am really feeling sorry for me.... so enjoy the fascinating photos.

filthy tail

cleaner tail

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

sort of better weather...

The sun was out and it was 50 degrees when I got to the barn.  If not for the icy wind blowing it would have been great.  Nina is pretty laid back about the wind, even a cold one, but while she was behaving a strange trailer got a big snort and some prancing in place.  Got to enjoy that cold wind somehow.

We worked on her manners, especially the adrenaline rush she is giving herself as she goes in the round pen.  When she wouldn't stand still I let her walk - a tiny circle right around me while I just stood and ignored her.  I think she finally stopped because she got dizzy.  After she eventually stopped and took a deep breath and I undid the lead, she had forgotten her rush and just followed me around.

Reving herself up like this is going to be an annoying habit to break and I have no one to blame but me - I created it.  Just hate that!  Oh well, we will work on it until it is fixed.  It gives me something to do with her.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

One Perfect Moment

I'm sure I have posted this before.  Probably won't be the last time.  It is my all time favorite eventing collage.  Trying to stay motivated - not riding - still winter.

Monday, March 7, 2011

got lucky today

Today was supposed to be in the 40s with a possible snow storm blowing in tonight. Nina was supposed to get shoes today. So I get to the barn and the wind is blowing, it is trying to snow and it is 21 degrees. I have my warm boots with me but I am not really dressed to stand and hold a horse in a 21 degree wind. Sucky. Plus Nina has only a sheet on and she is cold and spooky. I am trying to decide whether to throw her heavy blanket on her and make my farrier work around it or get Nina out and lunge her just enough to get her warm. My farrier pulls in about then and he really does not want to shoe my mare. He has been dodging flying hooves all day from the "I'm cold, leave me alone" mentality of some horses today.  He says if I want it done he will do it, but since I am freezing just standing and talking to him for a few minutes and Nina is not getting ridden much so I am all for a few days delay.   So we rescheduled for later in the week and after blanketing and feeding Nina I got to go home.  MUCH better idea.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Nina, trotting

Ali rode Nina again today, they were both happier with each other and had a better ride. 
Some very short videos...

What the horse sees....

Here is another interesting video from Horse & Country.
I have always been taught that the horse cannot see the jump in the last stride (another good reason not to screw around and 'fix' things at the last second). This video says that they can see the jump, but depth perception and focus are limited. Either way, it is always useful to know what your partner is doing.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Nina, walking

Ali rode Nina for me again today.  Nina was resistant to working and spent some time blowing out through her shoulder so they did a lot of walking and working on being straight.  Since just a short time ago the first day of riding after a break was horrific, this was good. 

H&C Academy: How to prepare your horse for cross country with Sharon Hunt

 Getting ready to start schooling cross country this spring?  This is a good little video with Sharon Hunt going over the equipment you and your horse need to be safe.

Thursday, March 3, 2011


I managed to start driving again today.  Nobody died and I made it to the barn.  I was planning to do a lunge session with Nina, complete with tack and do an actual work session.  But when I got the the barn some clouds came tearing over the mountains blocking the sun and the wind was blowing hard enough to keep clouds of dust and dirt in the air. 
I turned her out to run around for a few minutes, she needed me to be within sight in order to run and buck, when I went away she just stood.  I don't have to chase her, just be present and appreciative of her athletic ability. 
She decided to throw a fit over a piece of paper on the way back to her pen and I am just not moving fast enough to deal with a flighty TB.  I let the lead out til it was slack, glared at her and in a conversational voice said 'stop acting like a twit.'  She glared back for a minute, apparently over the name calling, fell into line at my right side and walked quietly back to her home.  I  swear this horse speaks English.  
So she got some exercise, my plans for work and a little spa treatment (that gross tail!) blew away with the wind.  I am disappointed, I don't think Nina cares.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

let the shedding begin

I made it to the barn for a short time yesterday to restock Nina's feed and turn her out for a run and a roll.  I took a brush and ran it ineffectively over her and was surrounded by a cloud of hair.  The brush was full in one stroke, hair everywhere.  Winter is far from over, Colorado gets its major snowfall in the spring, in March and April, but the really cold weather should be over and it is two plus months since winter solstice so the shedding begins in earnest.   Shortly the sleek shiny horses will emerge from their worn out winter hair, many will turn a different color.  Shedding much at your place yet?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

a different ride

Nina 2010
Scotty 2007

I realized not too long ago that I was getting comfortable with Nina's frame and relaxed carriage.  For a long time I felt like I had no horse in front of me and while she will, like any horse, fall on her forehand and drift along downhill, when asked to work she pushes hard with her hindquarters and carries herself level and is not heavy on her forehand.
The 'feeling' of the frame of a horse can be so deceptive.  I look at these two pictures of Nina and Scotty and I am surprised by the fact that while he is more compact, he is not a huge amount higher in his neck and head carriage than she is.  He is somewhat higher but in my mind I felt like I had Scotty's ears in my face all the time (I did on occasion while jumping) and I have felt that Nina's head was down between her legs.  Nina's head carriage has come up to a more natural position without someone yanking on her mouth every step, but I think the main difference is in the use of power between these two animals.
Scotty was such a powerhouse.  While he could trip over a dirt clod while walking he could fly through 4ft bounces looking entirely pleased with himself and not at all challenged.  He put effort into every stride when working and his shoulders were always high and light.  He could half halt off of me lifting my shoulders, hesitate in mid air and never lose the rhythm of the gait.  He had a relaxed 14ft canter stride and could jump off of one foot at a bad angle, he was so confident of his own athletic ability.  He was a great forward thinking horse for me, I would always rather 'whoa' than 'go' in a combination.... my inherent chicken nature.
Nina, despite her bad training and well, girlishness... is a totally different type of mover.  A few years ago she would have been a star at hunter shows, classic looking, big floaty daisy cutting action, frame lengthening as her stride does.   It is a totally different feel, more level than up.  As I was watching her with Ali on Sunday, while she wasn't really forward except here and there, her carriage looks natural, her head does not seem forced down and her movement is more balanced.   I was pleased, I don't get to see her without me very often.
I also realized that at least for now my days of peering at the world from between my horse's ears are over.
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