Saturday, April 30, 2011

schooling show

Well, I had a kind of crappy horse week, but today I went up to Fort Collins and coached Ali and Tino through their first hunter schooling show.  It was cold, windy and there were some very spooky horses.  Tino is a lovely young TB who is developing and coming along nicely.  I think he is going to be very good and very fun.  Today he did the 2ft hunter course, simple lead changes and except for a slightly sticky first fence he clocked around very nicely.  I was very happy with them and Ali was very happy with her young horse.  Here is a FB link of a round.
Ali and Tino

So the week was not a total loss.  If the icy wind will slow down for a bit I will ride tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

a trying two days

Yesterday about 10 minutes after I got to the barn it started hailing.  I tried to just outlast it but it was sooo cold, I gave up after about 30 minutes, put Nina away and got in the car.  I was cold all evening. 

Today the sun was shining but the wind was blowing right off a glacier, icy cold. 
I decided to work Nina in a bitting rig in the round pen.  She was very good at first.  I lunged her a little with no tack, then put a surcingle on her then put her bridle on. 
She pulled the same crap she did about a week ago, waited until I was fastening the straps up and stuck her head up in the air.  Then she took off.   Since she was in the round pen there was nowhere to go but my very-expensive-and-I-can't-afford-to-replace-them woven rubber/web reins were dragging in the dirt -- right after she caught them on a section of fence and pulled them off her neck. 

I was furious, I told her if she stepped on them I would kill her and I was mad enough to.  I could not get her to stop, she whirled away every time I went near her and trotted around like an idiot when I ignored her.  Then she apparently decided that I was really angry and not playing some stupid game and she stopped and stood still while I finished tacking her up.  No damage to anything. 

Now that it has been almost 2 months since she has had regular work she is turning into an idiot over being tacked up.  I think part of it is that she knows that it pisses me off and she is always about Let's Play World War III.  She may never get over it and she baits me all the time trying to get a fight started.  I think it is her comfort zone in dealing with people.  Everything successful has hinged on my refusing to get mad no matter what she does but now she has gotten an angry reaction out of me several time over putting the bridle on. 
I need to make sure I have control of her and let her act out and be an idiot while I ignore her, it's the only thing that defuses her.  I think I need to just leave the halter on and put the bridle over, that way if she jerks away or starts dancing around I won't be trying to get something - anything fastened so that I can hold onto her.   That's where I get mad and she just eats it up. 

I thought we were past all this, it is very discouraging that after all the good work she has done she would still rather start a fight. 

Monday, April 25, 2011

we made it

New shoes!  The sun stayed out until we were done, it was trying to rain a little as my farrier drove out of the driveway. 
Left her barefoot in the rear.  She finally had enough hoof to trim a little, her soles are looking better and she is tracking up like she did with shoes, so I am going to give it a little longer. 

So tomorrow we can have a 'first day back to work' day and on Wednesday we can actually get back to work.  Her 'first day back' days have gotten kind of schizophrenic lately as she alternates between liking working and feeling obligated to resist.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

rain rain go away

We are suppose to have thunderstorms tomorrow afternoon.  No. 
No thunderstorms until night.  My farrier will not shoe Nina in a thunderstorm, we tried it once, it took months for them to forgive each other. 
I really need this appointment.  Nina's needs to have hooves trimmed so that her legs are approximately the same length and shoes applied in even numbers instead of odds.
Then we can stop acting like a batty old lady with her gigantic black dog and get back to acting like horse and rider in training. 

Saturday, April 23, 2011

question about colds, flu and fitness

I have got either an incredible cold or the flu.  Since I ache all over I vote for the flu.  It has been going around this area for a while and until my stay in the hospital I think I was immune, but I think I overtaxed my immune system fighting off all the creepy crawly hospital bugs.
That and my boss at my part time job decided to help out with an order last week; he didn't help, he just make a mess, but he did manage to cough and sneeze all over me.  Not my favorite person right now.

ANYWAY..... I get easily sidetracked when I am whining.

I have just started working on some fitness trying to get in shape for jumping, soon, I hope.
So here is my question.... I have been coughing almost continuously for almost 2 days and my entire ribcage and abdomen and even my hips ache... a lot.
Does this count toward core strengthening?
Please say yes.

Friday, April 22, 2011


Nina and I are starting to yawn at each other.  Waiting for Monday.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Three more days and I can ride this nag....., lovely horse, lovely horse who probably reads my blog.
Nina has been off all week.  That swelling on her leg has persisted all week.  Since she is sound I am sure it is not a tendon, but I remember a horse that cracked it's splint bone and the swelling acted like a cast and until the swelling went down that one was fine too.
So she has been confined mostly to her stall and one of the small round pens.  I had some laser work done on it and it reduced the swelling a lot.  Today is it finally down to where I can see that it is just what I thought, a bruise, on the front of her cannon bone, about halfway.  When I saw signs that she had gotten cast I figured that's what it was, but I didn't want to ride her and find out different.

Now her feet, remember one shod and one missing a chunk, are soooo out of balance that I think she would manage to hurt herself if I rode her.  Farrier is coming on Monday, we can wait.

All this time off messes with her head.  At first she is impatient and bored because, against her will, she is starting to enjoy having a job.  Then she gets into this being a pet.  You get groomed and hand walked and get turned out in the round pen with the deep sand to roll, there are treats, life is good.
Then the wicked witch announces that play time is over - back to work - put on your pissy ears.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Sunday, April 17, 2011

good thing I had a lesson to teach

While I was driving to the barn the wind kicked up again.  Let me describe this.  Moderate wind blowing, warm day.  Suddenly the car, and all the others within sight, lurched sideways, leaves, trash and unidentified objects create a dust cloud in the air reducing vision to about 20 feet.  The trees start whipping around shedding any small branches that they have been desperately clinging to for the last few weeks.  I get to the barn and can hardly get my car door open, have to hang on to the tack shed door to keep it from crashing into the edge of the building and tearing itself off of its hinges.  ALL of the horses are inside, having more sense than any people in sight. 
We are SOOOO sick of this nearly constant wind. 

So, after a while the wind turns into just wind without any lethal objects hurling around and I go get Nina.  Her right front leg feels like a sock full of mush.  Yuck.  But she is walking sound and doesn't object to me poking and prodding.  I can't find a sore place or a weak place.  I get her out, put her in a round pen and watch her walk around for a while.  She rolls, gets up, trots a little, walks a lot with absolutely no sign of lameness. 
I decide to wrap her front legs in standing wraps and see how it looks tomorrow. 
After I get her wrapped and put back in her pen I was grooming her and found two places on the inside of her hind legs with all the hair very neatly scraped off. 
A HA!  I think she got cast against the fence.  So unless she did something really stupid, she may have bruised her leg rather than doing something to the tendon.  Yay!  Tomorrow will tell. 
On the plus side, the wind quit while I gave a lesson and it went very well, so the day was not a total loss. 

Saturday, April 16, 2011

some days I am a sucky rider *sigh*

Nina seemed to have benefited from the massage, she was half a loony tune. 
Since she has been off most of the week and I have been feeling like crap my plan for today was to turn her out to run or lunge her to get the edge off, then ride for 30 minutes or less and work at the walk mostly and on leg yields, which she is coming to think will not kill her after all.

She was a little fruit cakey, but not bad, but for some reason I got all inside my head.  Worrying that she was going to be a jerk over being tacked up - she wasn't.  Worrying that she was going to be a jerk because her nearest and dearest friend was calling her - she wasn't.  Worried that she was going to be spooking all over the arena in the wind - she didn't. 

But my tension had her wound up like a spring, with ears a foot tall and rigidly looking for something to spook at.  We walked passed her friends stall and she was happy to see that her friend was there, where she was suppose to be. 
We did a little leg yielding and even worked without using the rail like a gigantic magnet to pull her to the side.  She was moving back and forth nicely. 
A reining rider went by doing a rundown and she spooked and tried to take off - this was a total over reaction, he was moving at a brisk canter and 20 feet or more to our side. 
This was just my tension looking for a way to make her tense. 
We went back to work and ended up working about 20-30 minutes, mostly on leg yielding and walking as if we were going somewhere - just what I planned - and I feel like the day was a disaster. 

This is what happens with a reactive horse and an unfocused rider.  When I get on her with a plan, go to work and spend my time figuring out how to get a good reaction and praise her when I get it, the ride is fun, she is relaxed and we make progress.
When I get on with no focus and a dozen very vague worries about how she is going to be bad, she will do her best to live up to her billing. 
I shouldn't have ridden today, I didn't feel very good, the wind was blowing AGAIN, adding to my 'I don't want to be here' mood.  I only got on her because I feel like she is getting bored out of her skull. 
She is not that hard to ride, but she needs a rider who is focused and in charge not lolly-gagging around looking for things to spook at. 
Tomorrow will be better.

Friday, April 15, 2011

we all survived the horsey massage

 Nina was surprisingly good for her massage in spite of high winds, blowing dirt and a tendency to spook.  All of the horses were restless today, I think they are tired of the winds, so we worked on Nina in her pen, which is where she is most relaxed.
She was a little defensive at first but just a little and then stood quietly until she got her neck stretched and then she was all in.  Do that again! and again

The original plan, since she can be a little difficult, was just to do the front end today but she was good and enjoying a lot of it so she got the whole body done.
She was more demonstrative about what she like and what she didn't like than poor Ned was.  That's what you get for being polite and well behaved.  The dramatic girls always get what they want.

Monday, April 11, 2011


Nina is going to get a massage this week.  A friend of mine just finished a course in the Masterson Method of equine massage and needs some victims horses to practice on.  Masterson was (or is?) the massage therapist for the US Endurance horses.  The method is more about releasing tension than muscle massage, although there is some massage also. 
My friend worked on Ned today.  Ned is a TB/Dutch cross who belongs to a new student of mine.  He is her new horse.  He is a very cool guy but very tight and body sore.  I rode him yesterday and was surprised at how stiff he felt.  Anyway, he really relaxed nicely with this massage.  He was resistant in his shoulders, which is where he is the stiffest, but still got some done.  She will do him again next week.  We will see how Nina does.  My friend is familiar with Nina so she isn't expecting her to just be the nice polite guy like Ned was today.  Hopefully Nina will cooperate.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

much better today

Yesterday Nina kind of caught me off guard.  I am always prepared to deal with her being over reactive and I expected her to be a little high, but OMG, it went on and on and on.  I don't know about her but I was sore last night. 
So today I took a little different approach, although to be honest, she initiated it.  While I was grooming her she took a head snakey nip at me, staring me right in the eye. 

So, I thought, perhaps this isn't just about feeling high, perhaps there is a little bit of mares in the springtime - let's see who's the boss.  

From then on Nina had kind of a hard day.  Don't want to stand still?  Let's back for a while... a long while.  Want to trot in circles around me?  OK, go ahead and then when you want to stop you can do it the other direction for a while and NO, I don't care that it is a 6 foot circle - it was your idea. 

Everything wrapped up very quickly and I had a good ride and even did a little trot work..... I am SOOOOOOO out of shape.  Ugh.

Friday, April 8, 2011

lunatic on a string

All week I have been restricting Nina's exercise to give her foot a chance to grow out and not crack and fall off.  So she has been walked and worked a little in the round pen in deep sand.  The pole in the round pen was to slow her down so she wasn't tearing around and damaging things.  She is still healing on her right rear where she stuck it through the fence, her right front where the abscess is nearly grown out and the fragile left front.  I think her left rear is ok, maybe I should go check.

Trying to be gentle on her foot can cost both of us our lives.  Today I was going to trot her around the round pen and then just get on and do a little work at a walk.  We did that - 3 hours after I arrived at the barn. 
First she would not walk into the round pen and stand still with any semblance of manners so we spent a while walking in and out with her adrenaline level building.  I finally went and got a whip and threatened her into standing still. 
She cantered around quietly, not at all loony, did some trot work and we were done.  (insert hysterical laughter here)
I tacked her up - sort of.  Standing quietly until I had saddle on and bridle on BUT no straps fastened on the bridle.  Her head shot up and she started trotting in a circle around me - bridle only staying on by gravity.  I walked her into a hitching post, a wall and a fence to no avail, trot trot trot head up in the air.  Look mom, I'm a (faded) black giraffe. 
Honestly, there is really no stopping them when they don't want to stop - that is something to keep in mind. 
I finally tricked her into a difficult position where I was able with lightning speed to actually fasten the bridle on her head.  Slapped my helmet on and walked to the arena surrounding by a trotting (faded) black giraffe. 
We walked around for a while and I put some poles out to work over and she gradually defused and seemed fine.  So I headed for the mounting block and suddenly I was in the middle of a whirlwind of galloping horse.  Now it was starting to get a little dangerous.  I was out in the middle of the arena and she was trying to take off at a dead run.  I managed to drag her head around and put a stop to that but now I sort of have her head pinned to the saddle and I am on the ground.  This is not working. 
I got her attention enough to lead her out of the arena and took her to the turnout, which is probably a half an acre.  I tied the reins up and let her go.  She probably ran about 20 laps, reaching, stretching, taking longer and longer strides.  At least she was paying attention and slowing through the turns. 
When she was done she came to me with a cheerful look. 

None of this, by the way, was pissy.  Ears up, happy expression, literally exploding with energy and feeling good.  Either that or she is a meth addict and took a double dose.

I got on her and had a very short but nice ride, she was obedient, we worked on leg yielding which is hard for her since she thinks that I should not be allowed to touch her with my leg, she tried hard and did fairly well.   She was totally calm and quiet in the wind. 

Two things - she had WAY too much time off, to hell with the foot, get her out and moving around.
AND  - I wonder if she was skinny when I got her because the only way anybody could ever ride her was if she was sick and skinny and had no energy. 

This is going to be an interesting summer.

Thursday, April 7, 2011


This one shows how bleached out her winter coat is.  It goes from dark brown at the tips to almost white at the roots.  It is coming out fast enough that a little bit of shine is starting to show through and where she was clipped the black is starting to look like hair. 

Got her a little exercise in the round pen without too much speed by throwing a pole in the way.  I took a bunch of shots this direction, when I tried to get some the other way she would stop as soon as I looked at the camera.  I guess the other side is not her good side.  Despite these pictures she is actually tight with her knees when she jumps, this was just cantering over the pole.  She proves that she is a TB here.... LOVES the long spot!

Found a little bit of something green to snack on.
I just noticed that the date on these pics is April 26, 2244.  Better go fix the camera.

I had a nice afternoon at the barn and realized that although I always enjoy being around Nina, I haven't let myself relax and just enjoy her lately.  I have been pushing myself to get back riding and then upset when she ripped the shoe off and just generally putting pressure on myself that doesn't exist.  This afternoon I groomed her (if you can call standing inside a hair tornado grooming anything) and fed her treats, put the pole in the round pen which she enjoyed hopping over, groomed her some more, gave her some more treats and just hung out and talked to her.  It was very nice, she was very social today. 

winter is back

Well, cold, wet and windy anyway.  Possible snow tonight. 
Just as well, I suppose, with the technical difficulties that we are having right now.  I have to keep looking at the bare trees to remind myself that it is not really spring yet.  No need to feel like we are wasting time.  I am going to try to get some pics today, depending on what the weather is like when I get to the barn.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

borrowed from PH

“That thrill when we realize our horse is starting to understand is what separates competitors from horsemen. When we get the feeling that our horse is improving, the color of the ribbon pales in significance.”
~Jim Wofford, Practical Horseman, March 2009

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


So here is the plan for the next week or so. 
Nina's foot did not self destruct.  I was a little concerned that a sharp edge would turn into a big crack and I didn't have a boot to put on it.  All the rough little pointy edges are gone, she is sound on it and it just needs to grow out a bit.  I cannot afford to try assorted glue-ons or adhesive fill or whatever.  I just paid for a shoeing.  I don't have a shoeing a week budgeted.  So it just need to grow a bit. 
I trotted her around in the round pen with the deep sand and that went ok. 
I am going to get her some exercise in the round pen, put some duct tape on the edge of the hoof to protect it for.... oh about 15 minutes and ride her at a walk in the arena. 
She gets ridden, I get back on her everyday (it's been since February) and hopefully she grows hoof fast.   After he gets over the shock of it, my farrier actually should be happy, he wanted to take a little more toe off of her last time but couldn't.  This way he will trim her about a month apart so he can do that.

Now to the important stuff.  I think I am starting to make progress in the grooming area.  Her face looks less hairy, she loves having her face brushed.  The winter coat is starting to come out in chunks instead of loose hair.  And the bits of her that were clipped are looking nearly black instead of light tan.  So she is now two toned in a different way.  Light body and black sides and chest.  Instead of dark brown body and tan sides and chest. 

This is the best I can do right now.

Words of wisdom from Rockley Farm

Monday, April 4, 2011

Look what I found!

Pictures from the dark ages!
These are some pictures of the Albuquerque Police Department Horse Detail.  I was one of the original squad.  We worked special events, did crowd control and patrolled the downtown area.  The horses were all donated.  Mine was a bay Thoroughbred gelding called Beretta.  He could be silly at the barn but he was awesome downtown in traffic and in crowds. 

Sunday, April 3, 2011


Yesterday I did not even go to the barn.  It was almost 80 degrees, beautiful and I stayed home.  I got some cleaning done and watered the backyard and tried to decide if it was going to stay warm so I could put my big pots of basil and tomatoes and stuff outside.   I was not into riding or horses. 

So today, of course I feel very guilty about not taking Nina her beet pulp yesterday.  Today I had a lesson to teach and I wanted to see what the shoeless foot looks like.  And I am back in my normal horse mode. 

So today, right now, it is snowing/raining.  33 degrees.  NOW I need to spend time at the barn. 
Nina was happy to get her beet pulp, the lesson went ok, I am home and ready for coffee. 

I decided to make it spring here on the blog.  Those horses at Newmarket in their quarter sheets were making me cold just to look at them.  It is now officially spring, or at least green.  I don't seem to be able to control much but I won this one.

Friday, April 1, 2011

I'm going to bed until June

Today was beautiful, warm, sunny, no wind.  Everyone behaving in the arena. 
And Nina managed to pull off a brand new shoe (9 days since shoeing) with clips and took off a big chunk of hoof. 
I swear it is one thing after another and I don't seem to be able to ride this horse 2 days in a row. 

Riding Position. Anchoring the Riders Lower Leg #1

Here is a quick tip for fixing your lower leg. I think that in a jumping saddle the problem can get even worse. The foot can get more out in front of you and then swing way behind you when you use it. Less swing in a dressage saddle like in the video, but the same problem.... loose lower leg. 
I am fixing everyone's lower leg that lessons with me, I have been working on this a lot lately.  You can't learn anything else with focus until you are secure.  I like Sally Swift's 'stubby legs' and I find it fixes the leg and the posture in one swoop.   This way of concentrating on one contact with the thigh might work better for riders who need to fix one thing, one area, one point at a time.  

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