Thursday, July 28, 2011

UGH.

I got an email from the woman that came out to massage the horses. Basically, she had "talked", aka whined/lamented/bitched, about the "starved horses" at the barn I'm boarding at to the woman that owns the barn where I took Bobby for the dressage show. (Sidenote: This woman was obviously at the show and she walked past Bobby and I several times. I also waited in the officed for ten minutes to get my test back. She had plenty of opportunity to connect that the only girl in a black polo riding the only huge bay TB that's supposedly starved was standing there in a private place to talk with. But clearly she did not. Because Bobby is not near death.) She reiterated that I should call the SPCA on BO. (Sidenote: BO has had the SPCA out twice this year--because he called them to come pick up horses that boarders have stopped paying on. They are well aware of the condition of every single one of the horses in the barn. They know BO by name, and have worked with him in the past picking up horses.) The gist of the email was, BO of dressage barn "cannot stop thinking of those poor, starving horses" and she knows she "can't adopt the world and take on every starving horse", but she would be oh so kind enough to offer me discounted pasture board (normally $375/horse) if I could do stalls a few times a week.

Now, I know this is a really nice thing for her to do, melodrama aside. But there are several things wrong with this. A) Mind your own business. Massage lady knows that I am feeding my horses adequately. The fact that I paid $120 to have her out shows, to me, that I'm not oblivious to the care of my horses. It's a matter of hay from BO (which I'll get to later). B) Dressage barn is half an hour away from current barn. Current barn is forty five minutes from my house, making dressage barn an hour and fifteen minutes from my house. C) Pasture board does not include grain. I spend $220 a month on grain for both horses. $375 board for two horses is $750. Plus $220 is $970. I spend $10 in gas for one trip up to the current barn. Add at least $5 more to get to dressage barn. If I go to the barn four days a week, that's sixteen times a month, which is $240 in gas. Add that in and it's $1,210 total expenses a month. I don't work. Hubby makes $2,768 a month. Our rent is $700 a month. That leaves $850 a month for bills, groceries, and extra gas. I can tell you right now, with a student loan payment of $213 a month along with various credit card, phone, internet, and electric bills, that will not work.

Maybe I'm being a crazy person and I should just find a way to make it work. But I'm making it work at where I am now and I'm actually satisfied with the progress that's been made since Massage Lady has been out. BO made some really nice second cut hay and my horses have been getting it three times a day every single day of the week. Bobby is actually getting to be pretty hot off of it. Both horses have gained weight steadily since they've been getting their extra hay. (I've been weight taping them every time I go out and recording their weights.)

To sum up the week quickly, I jumped Red once over our newly built ghetto jumps. He was a superstar, not refusing or backing off once, and clearing them easily, just like old Red. All I got was one crappy video off my cell phone because I forgot the camera, but here's Red going over the 2'7 "coop":


video


Bobby and I escorted Madison and Eve on a mini trail ride Tuesday. Bobby was being his usual princess self about the bugs and he let out a huge buck that spooked Eve to try to get a fly off his stomach. However, when I jumped off to kill anything I saw, there weren't any bugs on him! But it might have been within five feet of him so I guess that justifies bad behavior. Riiiiiight. I set out to do trot and canter sets (which there really is no science behind at this point. I trot twice around the field each way, then canter twice around each way.), but it quickly turned into a crazy battle between me and hopping, bucking, galloping Bobby. He's getting plenty of hay now. He took off with me the first time around at the canter and I had to toss aside my lovely eventer canter/gallop position and revert back to my survival galloping a crazy racehorse equiation--which isn't pretty. After several strides of seesawing and standing straight up in my stirrups, we got back down to the cantering business and only had one baby bucking and head snaking play session that I just let go before we finished up.

Yesterday, I lunged Red in the round pen. We did a million and a half transitions from walk to trot, trot to canter, walk to canter, trot to whoa, whoa to canter, etc etc. He was a superstar again. He is for friggin' sure enjoying being back in work.

dear god! that horse is one day from death's door!

I warmed Bobby up on the trails behind the barn, which I hadn't been on before. Bobby was too busy sightseeing most of the time to pay attention to his feet so he stumbled several times over rocks, but we both came out unscathed. We crossed a stream with no fuss and got in some trotting and cantering before heading back to the arena to put in a quick jump school.

I should have learned from yesterday and put in alot of trotting and cantering before going to the arena. I did ten minutes of trot and canter work in the arena before starting to jump. I took him over the 2' "rolltop" first. He jumped it very willingly, though also very high. The second time around was spot on with him cantering up to it, jumping it very calmly, and cantering off on the correct lead. With such a good start, I was feeling great about how the rest of it was going....and of course stopped riding him like I should have. I went to the 2'7 coop next. Ears up, picked up a great canter by himself five strides out, I didn't give him any leg, any guidance at all, and he threw on the brakes with a sliding stop a reining horse would have been proud of. I went over his shoulder. Again. Rider error completely and I deserved to fall. I scraped my elbow up and bruised my butt again, but my head hit the hardest. No headache after, but I think I can say that's the end of using that helmet safely. I got back on and did several circles to get his attention back on me, then rode his ass into that jump like we were going into war. Of course he jumped it after that. And he jumped it twice more with no problems and minimal encouragement from me.  We also went over the gate twice, then over the rolltop once more.

He was still yanking my arms pretty good, so I worked a while longer on getting transitions within the canter--which is so much easier to ride in halfseat! We ended on a really good note with those, so even though it was a bit of a rough session, I was happy with the results in the end.

Hubby secured us a stall at a neighbor's barn for this weekend. Bobby's eventing debut happens to fall on the same day as Hubby's family reunion, so Bobby gets to stay in NY all weekend with us. He'll have a fat Haflinger to keep him company and all the hay he can eat.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Photos

to the rail, bobby!

fabulous.

my leg is either too far forward from galloping, or too far back from huntseat.
i can't win.

getting a stretch and trying to get a leg yield on the circle.

counter bent, but learning.

dreadful on so many levels.
pig dog thought wearing the sheet would be better than laying on it.

my 2 females had babies! hmm....

darcy wearing her mussel.

frame for half a rolltop

luan on.

light enough to dump in a field and jump then bring back in.

i didn't have any astroturf, so it got painted instead.

frame for a "coop"

we were running low on scrap wood so it's rather ghetto.
note the hell kitten lurking underneath.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Beating the heat

After watching the weather last night, I knew I was either going to have to skip riding or get my ass out of bed before eight. Bobby's canter drove me out of bed a six and I was at the barn tacking up by seven. It was 83 when I got, but there was a little breeze and it actually only felt uncomfortably warm at the walk. Needless to say, we did alot of walking. I put the draw reins on between his front legs today to really make him work. He also tried on his new royal blue saddle pad I got for $15 for his eventing debut. I think he looked pretty cute.

blue suits you, mr magee!

I warmed him up alternating between the walk and trot in both directions, not really doing too much bending yet. After twenty minutes, I started asking him to collect a little more and adding in some 20m circles each way. It took him a little bit to figure out the new set up with the reins, but once he did he actually went much better than with them to the side. He also got bending to the left at the trot quicker; whether this was because of the new way the reins were or because he was looser today, I don't know--but I liked it.

We had a water/walk break before doing a few w/t transitions to turn his brain back on. Because the BN test is trot to canter to trot, I asked him for the canter from the trot to the right. He rushed forward into a fast trot the first couple of times I asked him so I brought him back to a normal trot before trying again. I think those transitions between the trot actually helped because when he did get the canter, it was awesome! Very uphill and balanced, and he did the 20m circle perfectly. I couldn't have asked Red to do it better! Something to keep in mind..... To the left, we had the same issue, but only twice. His 20m canter that way super, too, so I took the plunge and ran through the BN test.

someone decided bathtime rocks when it's so hot out.

I had to run through the trot circle an extra time in each direction because he didn't get the canter transition, but when he got it to the left it was so fabulous. He was getting tired by the end and he started to lean on the draw reins and get heavy on his forehand for the trot circle to the right so his canter wasn't as great that way because I was just trying to hold him together enough to finish the test. I am feeling more confident about Bucks now. I think in two and a half weeks we'll be in good shape for the test. What I'm learning from him is that he'll need a really intensive warm up before his tests to help him bending and collecting, but still being careful not to cross the line on tiring him out.

While I was riding Bobby, Red was turned out in the big paddock by himself. Halfway through, he decided he was bored and took off like a total lunatic galloping and bucking all around the paddock. I don't know if he got stung or bit by something, but he was at it for a good five minutes. When he was done, he trotted up to the gate and let out a big snort, then looked over to see if we were impressed. We were not, though it was fun to watch him in racehorse mode. He walked off and started grazing again when no one came to fawn over him. Sorry, Red. I was too beat and he was sweating like he'd been swimming after that so I gave him a bath and he got off the hook again. I think my gameplan for him is going to be long, slow trot/canter work with him in the field so he doesn't get sour, but he still starts building himself up again.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

20m circle at the CANTER!

After Bobby's exploit yesterday, I was very watchful of him when I put him on crossties. I ran my hands all over him just to see if I can find anything obvious. Aside from the two minor scrapes on his legs from falling, there was nothing. While his lip was still tender, he wasn't drooling anymore and his lips weren't hanging down pathetically. I gave him a muscle-cramping (on my part) curry with my round rubber curry comb. I usually use a glove in the summer, but Carol (massage woman) told me to use the round curry instead to get into the muscles deeper. Well, I can tell you confidently that I worked up a serious sweat and Bobby was seriously loving it. He didn't grind his teeth a single time while I was currying his sides, back, and belly which he has always done before. He was also really pushing into me when I was currying the old injury site on his neck.

I put polos on all fours because of the scrapes; I didn't want to take the chance of anthing getting in there, superficial or not. I got his saddle and breastplate on before I saw any warning signs of going down. Unlinke Red, who tells you loud and clear the cement has won the battle, Bobby is the complete opposite. He looked like he was going to fall asleep. I gave him a little smack on the chest to get him to pay attention before I put his bridle on, but even then his eyes were closing and it just looked like he was about to fall asleep. I walked him right off as soon as I got the bridle over his ears and it seemed to take him by surprise and he kind of jumped into the walk like I had just woken him up from a nap. Narcoleptic horse? Cataplexy? Seizure? I'm not even going to finish the dreaded "E" disease.

The thing is, this is only the second time he's done this, yesterday being the first--and obviously worse than today because I was being very aware that something might happen. He doesn't do any of this while standing int he washstall, no matter how long I leave him there. He doesn't do it when tied in his stall and never has since he started tying as a yearling.

Here's what I can deduce about his sleeping habits: BO doesn't put alot of shavings in their stalls. There are rubber mats, and he gives them just enough to cover the surface. When first brought them to the barn, I know Bobby was laying down alot at night because he had some minor rubs on his hocks. Now, there are no rubs, but I've been there early enough in the morning a few times when BO is still cleaning stalls. He moves the horses to heavily bedded stalls where they stay until he's done scraping and putting in new shavings before moving them back. When Bobby gets moved to this new stall with the thick bedding, he lays down. I've seen him do it. So maybe he's not getting enough sleep because he's not getting to lay down? Of course, getting BO to just put in more shavings is not going to happen. (And on that note, I've gotten two leads for new barns. Fingers crossed!)

After I got him out to the arena, he was totally fine. Looking around, watching Red in the field, paying attention to me. He didn't grind his teeth when I tightened his girth, and he was completely attentive when I put the draw reins on. I decided I'm going to have to get over my fear of draw reins. I don't want to be constantly pulling at his mouth to get him to bend which I know I have a bad habit of doing, and he really understands the draw rein concept. I don't like using them, but I do know how so they're definitely a better alternative. I won't use them every day by any means, but probably twice a week.

We worked at the walk for a solid twenty minutes, mostly just getting him to come up and in and getting a nice forward walk going. When I did ask him for the trot, he went right into it with the first squeeze. We trotted for fifteen minutes working solely on bending and circles. As always, he was better to the right, so today I was really focusing on loosening up his neck to the left. Easier said than done. I was working on a 20m circle the whole time, so each time I got him to turn his face in just a smidgen--just enough to see his eye--I'd let him trot out 40m. I found I had the most success when I swung my inside leg really far back to push his hind end along with his front end, but it was hardly good equitation.

We both needed a breather after that, so I let him walk three times around the whole arena on the buckle while I drank some water. I was slow to bring him back in to the trot because I didn't want him to get tense. It payed off because when we started trotting again he was much easier to bend. I worked him to the left again for about five minutes and while nowhere near perfect, he was going much better than he has been.

I picked up the canter to the right first to give his left side a break. He picked up the wrong lead the first time, but got it the second time. I did the full 40m a few times before asking for the 20m. His first time was all over the place, his second time was strung out but better, and his third time was as good as I've been getting. I let him go around once more before switching directions. We did one 40m circle before asking for the 20m. The first time was counter bent, but the second time he was ON! I made a serious point of keeping my heels jammed down because I tend to let them drift up when I try to to get him to bend around my leg so I lose my balance and my leg gets sloppy, then my seat gets sloppy, then we both fall apart. But he did it the best he's done yet so I left it there. I originally planned on running through the BN test, but he did such a good job I didn't want it to fall apart.

I gave him a bath, painted his feet, put on a little TriCare, and gave him a monster load of hay. I didn't turn him out because the grass is short out in the paddocks and I didn't want to bother his lip.

Silly me, I put hay in Red's stall too, but decided I wanted his full attention while I weight taped him, worked on some massage moves, and groomed him. So I cross-tied him. HA! It started off well enough. He stood well for his grooming, and I did the myofacial release and the tongue pull with him. He looved the tongue pull. His eye was really relaxed and his ears were flopped sideways. I was basically just holding his tongue out of the way for him as he worked it all over the place. When I finally let go, he yawned and wagged it around a few seconds before letting out huge sigh.


And then I started to tack him up. I got the pad on fine. I got the saddle on fine. I got one side of the girth on fine. Then he started dancing and twitching and giving every indication he was about to lay down. I got him to stand still for all of two seconds for me to un-tie him. I walked him to the end of the aisle and back before putting his lead rope on and ground-tying him. I finished doing up his girth, put his bridle on, then I dared to ask him to step back off of the lead rope. He threw up his head, scrambled backwards, and fell down.


Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, there was no need for alarm. He stayed down without flailing around or freaking out. I got the reins over his head so he wouldn't step on them getting back up, then waited for him to decide he was ready to stand. He got up fine the first time without a scratch. I've been extremely luck so far that he's never hurt himself. And before anyone has a total "Oh Em Gee, your poor poniiieee!!!" moment, he has had a full run through on vets. Nothing physical or neuro is wrong with him! He just DOES. NOT. like cement.

I lunged him in side reins for a total of fifteen minutes at the walk and trot. He moved out fine and was reaching for the bit well. I gave him a bath too before I finally let him get to his hay.

I've gotten two maybe leads on new barns, but I'm still waiting to hear back. Hopefully the next barn is alot closer because my car is having some serious issues and I don't know how long she's going to last.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Red back under saddle....and Bobby on the floor.

So I get a call at 9:30 this morning from CL's friend Nicole. "Hi, Carly. It's Nicole. I'm down at the barn and Bobby just collapsed in the aisleway. Emily (CL's daughter) was holding his reins, putting her helmet on, and he just dropped. He scraped up his legs and his lip and it took us a while to get him up. He seems fine now, but what do you want us to do?" Ughhhhhh. I tell her to walk him around and see what their trainer thinks, but he should be fine and I wouldn't worry too much about it; I'll be down in forty five minutes.

Why not freak out, you ask? Because Red used to play this game every single time you tried to tack him up on crossties. After having a neuro exam done, a full blood panel done, and a full soundness check done for Red, the vet found absolutely nothing wrong with him and I just learned to cater to his silliness and tack him up in the stall. After getting there and talking to the trainer, however, she tells me Bobby just dropped with zero warning. Red would start to tremble and then slowly lay down. If you were standing right next to him, it was very easy to catch. Apparently there were no signs from Bobby, and I trust her opinion.

My guess is that the saddle was sitting weird and it pinched a nerve when he shifted or moved forward. Either that or a muscle spasm in his back or shoulders. He panicked when he hit the floor and tried to get up, but his shoes didn't allow much traction on the concrete and he bounced his mouth off the floor. He scraped up the outside of his lip impressively and his teeth bruised up the inside of his upper lip pretty good. He had a few very minor scrapes on all four legs, but they were barely noticable. I cut off the scraped up skin that was dangling and wiped some TriCare on that and his legs. I gave him some Bute after his lesson, then more for tonight and tomorrow morning since I'm sure he'll be a little sore.

the little dangling piece on his lip is skin.

"ooouch!"

I watched most of his lesson and he didn't seem stiff or sore, though he was drooling a good bit. The trainer kept it short and easy for him. He did six trot poles three times to the left. The second time he went through, he popped over the last one and cantered off, just lkike he's supposed to. The rider wasn't too impressed though. She tumbled forward onto his neck so he came back to a trot and continued going around, ready for more. He went over the next time beautifully, really reaching under himself and lifting UP with his back and haunches. He looked great!

His lip definitely hurt afterwards, but I mixed his bute tab up in a little bit of soggy alfalfa cubes and he ate it right up then moved onto his hay. I think he'll be fine. I'll give him a really good look over tomorrow and massage his back and hips again (I did it yesterday, too) and see if I get any reaction. Hopefully it was just a one time freak thing.

On the plus side to a crazy morning, I finally got on Red again! First time in three weeks. He practically bridled himself he was so eager to get back to work. He walked around a little pokey, but with ears up and looking around at Bobby and Eve working. He walked over the ground poles happily, then, after ten minutes of walking, circling, and leg yielding in each direction, I asked for the trot. His last ride, I couldn't get him trotting without a crop and lots of kicking and even then it was only shuffling. This time, he exploded into the trot with my first squeeze. He bounced along happily in each direction, picking up his feet tidily over the poles. The trainer raised the final pole to a tiny xrail for Eve, and I took Red over it. He jumped it from the trot and, even though he didn't canter after, he moved out just fine.

After we went over, Eve's rider pointed her for the fence at the canter, but she circled before starting the poles because she was coming in crooked. She made the circle too tight though, and when Eve went to correct herself, the girl lost balance and went right over her shoulder. She was fine, though pretty scraped up since she was wearing a tank top. Red decided this would be an opportune time for a break and we stood next to them for five minutes while the girl calmed down before getting back on.

I asked him for the canter to the left and he instantly responded. It wasn't super fast, and it wasn't totally off the forehand, but I was willing to let alot slide on our first ride back. I mostly just wanted to get a feeling for how he was feeling. I let him go once around the entire arena, then once halfway around. We walked around once at the walk before I shortened my stirrups and asked for the canter from half seat. He picked it up fabulously, so I let him canter over the baby xrail twice. His canter was much better after the second time and he was very balanced around the turn towards the jump.

However, also after the second jump, he was feeling so good he started hopping along. No bucking or anything, just playing with a few crow hops. I pulled him back up and let him go out to the field for a big canter down the long side of the field closest to the barn. He exploded into a gallop when I turned him around to go, but he came back to me easily and I let him have a good stretchy canter to the right. I walked him around the two fields after that to cool him out, but there's no doubt Red Pony is back for now. He spooked at a tiny puddle. He spooked at the burn pile. He spooked at the beans moving in the breeze. He spooked at a bird on the fence. "I feel good!!" he said! I think he'll be ready for Burgundy Hollow October 9th. I don't have anything planned between then and Bucks so maybe if a dressage show or hunter show comes up, I'll take him to one of those. Hopefully he keeps moving forward. I'm going to do my part and keep up with his massaging.

Monday, July 18, 2011

And other things

To catch up on other menial doings of the past week.....

Wednesday, I decided to try a new fun game with Bobby called grid jumping. Mr Uncoordinated himself did not think this was such a fun game. It ended with me on the ground and my ankle still wrapped five days later. But to get there! Really, I was asking for it as soon as I started jumping and as much as Bobby could have been more willing, I should have been smarter. We had a really fabulous warm up flatting. We did a lot of circling and suppling and he was really starting to move out and relax his chin and head, giving me his best "frame" yet. We worked on our canter circles each way, but still not too much success there. I really, really need to buckle down on them so we can at least do a real 20 meter circle without breaking into the trot by August 7th. It doesn't need to look pretty, but it does need to get done. I ran through our Intro B dressage test once, then did the BN Test A once. I let him walk for ten minutes, alternating between going along on the buckle and doing leg yields.

I had three jumps and a ground pole set up for our grid exercise. I started off with a pole, one stride, pole, one stride, x-rail, bounce, 2' vertical. Two times he ran out on the xrail because I had the poles set up on barrels for the standards. He wasn't very impressed. I finally got him focused and he did the in and out beautifully! The little light bulb went off! We ran through it once more before I raised the first ground pole to a 2' vertical as well.

At this point A) my stirrups were too short, and B) I was feeling dizzy from the heat and not having eaten breakfast that morning (living with low blood sugar for many, many years, you think I would have learned by now). He went over the first vertical well, then the ground pole, then dove away from the xrail again. I should have lowered the first fence to another xrail or just dropped one side down, but no. I tried him through it again. This time he didn't run out. He stopped. Because of me. I brought him up to it totally unorganized and with zero amount of forwardness. I went over his shoulder, but after many, many years of tumbling off of nutty Thoroughbreds, I happen to be a bit of a pro when it comes to falling. Seeing that I was about to fall back-first onto the wooden poles of the xrail, I pushed off of my left stirrup as I fell and launched myself over the jump to land safely on my butt. Unfortunately, I twisted my ankle pretty badly and untacking and cooling out Bobby with one leg to stand on and your mind only half there due to dizziness is not fun. I ended up calling Hubby and having him talk to me until I felt a little better so I didn't pass out. No harm done to Bobby, but I'm definitely going to go about that grid differently next time.

Friday, I had an equine massage woman come out to do both Red and Bobby. Before she even started to work on them, she berated me up down and sideways for how skinny they both are. I think by the time she was done four hours later, she had finally gotten the clue that I was doing my part and to place the blame elsewhere. But I'll get to that later.

She worked on Red first. He was not shy about showing how much he was loving it. I didn't get any pictures because she was letting me be really hands on with him so that I knew what to do to keep going with it. Her evaluation of him: His neck was the worst part, but most of it was very old, probably from his years on the track (which of course she thought the entire industry was pure abuse. Puh-lease.).

He had two vertibrae out on each side of his neck which she got realigned very easily. The muscle running along the top of his neck was very tight from him making a habit of being on the forehand and me fighting against him because of it. The pouches behind his throat latch were both filled and she showed me how to drain them. That will help him flex much easier and be more willing to give to the bit because he can bring his head in more. His shoulder was very loose and in good shape. His hips were tight and I explained to her the problems I'd been having with him. She worked back there for a long time, and by the time she was done, he toes were pointing forward before instead of toeing out. Honestly, I hadn't even noticed until she pointed out the before and after difference. Overall, she raved over his conformation, but said we both needed to work on riding upwards and stop letting him go along on his forehand.

red's new neck. nice and smooth!
Bobby: she wanted to evaluate my saddle on him since he is thin and he doesn't have any fat along his topline yet. However, my saddle is very heavily padded and it fits him really well all the way through, so she wasn't concerned with it at all once she saw it on him. The first thing she did was tongue pulls. She held his tongue while he worked it around and loosened the muscles in his poll and behind his throatlatch. (She commented on how he must have been twitched alot on the track because he didn't want to give her his tongue. Let me shove my hand down your throat and see how willing you are to let it stay there.) On his neck, she found that his C6 vertibrae on his left side had been knocked out of alignment upwards instead of outwards which was very rare and she'd never seen before. She said it was from an old neck injury, probably from getting stuck under something like a fence. A year ago, the girls at Cobleskill told me he'd hurt his neck and they were doing carrot stretches with him, but they didn't know how he'd done it. I didn't remember them telling me that until the woman commented on it. She said his muscle was very, very tight there and it was going to take alot of work to get it softer. This is probably why he has more trouble going to the left than the right.

me working on his tongue exercise.
His shoulder was nice and loose too from galloping, but his hunter's bump area was very prominent. She got it loosened up some and it did look a little flatter and smoother when she was done. She said that would take about a year to go entirely down. He was being very resistent and not very cooperative the whole time until she got to his hind end. He finally figured out that what she was doing felt good and he was hamming up his stretching and releasing of his hips, haunches, and stifles. He stands with his front feet very narrow and close together, so I have to make him stand with his legs wide at all times to keep that area loose and stretched.

Now for the weight issues. After I pounded it into her head that I was indeed feeding them enough grain (8lbs of Safe Choice a day), they had been getting wormed, and I was giving them extra to help (8-10lbs alfafa cubes a day), she agreed that BO not giving them enough hay was the only thing holding them back from gaining. She really ripped BO apart when he showed up, and between her, CL, and me all telling him the whole time he was there, I think it FINALLY sank in. Forget the past six months we've telling him they need more hay. Sunday, when we got to the barn at 8am to get Bobby loaded for the show, he had some hay left in his stall, and so did CL's yearling wo's too thin. I'm hoping this is going to be a new trend--him giving them extra hay when he's done cleaning stalls. CL, CL's friend and I are going to work out a schedule so that one of us is there every single day to give them noon hay, and alot of it. Right now, we're probably only getting there five days a week total. I'm still on the search for a new barn, but dang it's hard to find someplace both close and affordable.

Starting today, I'm going to use the weight tape on both boys each time I'm out and record how much they're gaining, if they're gaining at all. I told BO I'd hay for him tonight since he and his family are going to Knoeble's so at least tonight everyone in the barn is eating well.

WRC Children's Show and Elysian Fields Dressage Show

Well, my internet hasn't been working for the past week (which isn't really anything new since out here in the boonies you have to take what you can get) so I'm going to combine Bobby's hunter show and dressage schooling show into one post.

Last Saturday, CL and CL's friend took Bobby and Eve down to the Williamsport Riding Club Children's Show--under the supervision of their trainer and with me tagging along to ensure the mental well-being of one Bobby Magee. It was both Bobby and CL's daughter's first show and Bobby was a total superstar. I warmed him up outside one of the rings when we first got there. He was a little quick and looky, but he wasn't looking to spook or run-off. He just wasn't too sure what was going on and why there were so many horses. After everyone was done with their forty minute lunging sessions in the ring (oh, the joys of the hunter world), I brought Bobby in and walked him around for about five minutes, then did a lap each direction at the trot. He was much more calm after he'd figured out that no one else was too concerned about all the activity and I let CL's daughter get on him.

The trainer took over from there and CL's daughter walked and trotted him. He was striding out beautifully; looking alive and trotting big flatters him. I was standing next to a mom at the rail watching the warm up and she commented on how unorganized/unsafe the warm up was. No one was calling out where they were going, the trainers weren't paying attention to all their students, and kids were riding right in front of jumps as people were going over them. Yikes. Someone needs to teach these kids warm up manners! See this wonderful blog for how the warm up ring becomes the warm up ring. We went back to the trailer after about fifteen minutes to let them cool out and get ready for showmanship.

"look at me! i can be a show pony, too!"


CL's daughter had never practiced showmanship with him before and she didn't really want to do the class (neither girl did), but wonderful show mothers took over and entered them both. Bobby trotted off good for her (after much practice from trotting for his trainer and vet at the track, he's an old pro), but the girl backed him up on the wrong side of the cone, so the pattern was blown from there. They were unplaced in a class of twenty two. No surprise there.

definitely not winning any conformation classes any time soon

squared up nicely

"what's going on?"
We got him tacked up and hurried back up to the arenas, only to wait around for another twenty minutes while they finished judging the ridiculously huge showmanship and halters classes. Twenty minutes was probably the shortest time we ended up waiting between classes that didn't immediately follow one another. This show was soo poorly run; the pa system kept cutting out, the classes were way too big and should have been split, and the judges ended up calling out their own instructions because they had the western and english riders in different arenas but with only one person calling out directions.

His next two classes were walk/halt equitation and pleasure. There were twenty eight (!) riders in those classes. They divided the one arena in half for western and english and judged them seperately, but it was still a mess. Four year olds to thirteen year olds in a crowded arena trying to pay attention to their judge and try to figure out who the woman on the pa was talking to is never going to end well. There were a ton of almost collisions, especially in the western riders, but everyone was still on by the time it was over. Bobby got a second and a fifth.

Walk/trot equitation and pleasure were next. Another big classes--probably about twelve kids. This is the first time the PA system went out, and after the judge telling everyone to walk around for five minutes, he finally got annoyed/pissed enough that he started calling out what to do himself. We didn't know how anyone placed until they came out of the arena because we couldn't hear them; I was surprised the kids could. Bobby got a sixth and a third.


We had lunch break before finishing up the final class, another walk/trot that judged both horse and rider. Bobby was unplaced in fourteen riders. We sponged him off, let him graze a little, and loaded he and Eve onto the trailer to head home before any more madness went down.

size difference much?
Needless to say, Bobby got his gold star for the day and lots and lots of cookies afterwards.

"i've been a good boy all day. just let me eat my dinner!"
This Sunday (yesterday), Hubby, Bobby, and I popped off to Montoursville in the morning for a dressage schooling show. I only had enough money to do one test, so even though it was an easy-peasy one, I chose Intro B since that's what we're doing for his dressage test at his first event in hopes of getting some good feed back and putting us in a good place in two weeks. Bobby wasn't so sure why we closed the door to the trailer without Red or another friend with him, but he didn't scream his head off and was a very good boy by himself the whole time.

We warmed up for twenty minutes in their gorgeous indoor (ohhh sand footing, how I have missed you!) before heading out to watch the three tests before us and have a sneak peak at the flower boxes next to the dressage letters. We all know how scary and potentially horse-eating those can be.

bobby spots the other horses

me paying attention, bobby doping along.
Our test went....okay. He was pretty quick and tense and it showed in both my riding and our final score. He was bracing himself against the bit more to the left than the right, but he was very obedient overall and never once offered to spook or misbehave.

video

We ended up with a pretty measley 63.75%, but it put us in fourth out of seven. The judge told me after our test that he looked like he had a good brain and he was going to be a fun project. She told me to focus on overbending him, especially on circles, to build up his neck muscles because he was going a little U-necked. Her comments on the test were very helpful and it was definitely worth going to.

bobby not too trusting of the voices coming out of the scary monster cave/judge's booth.

goood pony!
 
looking cute with our first ribbon won together.
We were home by noon which was a fabulous result in itself. After giving everyone hay, Hubby and I grabbed some lunch at home quick before taking the puppies for a swim in true redneck style. Hey, just because you don't have a pool doesn't mean you have to suffer in the heat!

darcy and hubby cooling off in mahoning creek.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Getting ready for Bobby's 1st show

I got to the barn around 9am this morning to make sure I didn't miss CL (whose daughter will be riding Bobby tomorrow) or CL's friend (whose daughter will be riding her own mare and trailering up with Bobby in our trailer). However, even though I was at the barn until two, I didn't see either one of them. Which really kind of annoyed me. I bathed and braided Bobby, cleaned my tack (which CL's daughter will be using), loaded it in the trailer, cleaned out the trailer, filled the water buckets we'll be bringing, filled the hay net, checked tire pressure on the trailer, fixed the broken light, and doled out electrolytes. I wouldn't have minded braiding Bobby since the girl is twelve and has no show experience, but to me, the rest really seems like she should have done herself. I haven't seen them all week actually; not since they asked if they could use him. Obviously they're not taking my horse anywhere off grounds without me, so I'll see them tomorrow, but it really irked me.

bobby looking none to pleased with his dressage braids for his hunter show.

Before any of this though, I worked both boys. I still haven't found a blemish on Red, but I think he's enjoying our comprimise. He waits very patiently while I groom him and Bobby, then starts nodding his head like he does when he wants something while I tack Bobby up. He crosses over to Bobby's right side by himself as soon as we get out of the barn and stands patiently while I drop my stirrups and mount. I think he really enjoys getting out of his stall or just standing in his pasture and being a part of the fun ponying game.

I rode around the usual four fields, but each day I mix up which sides we walk, trot, or canter (on Bobby's part) on. So yesterday Bobby cantered one side of two different fields, trotted four sides, and walked the rest. Today, he trotted four sides, cantered three, and walked the rest. Red chose not to do a slow canter while Bobby cantered. Red's stride is twice as long even though Bobby is much taller. (Which is another reason it is so strange that he was doing such a slow, pokey canter under saddle--back pain from the saddle being too wide?) Instead, he chose to do a lovely floaty extended trot while Bobby loped along, ears up, easily keeping pace.

Bobby is much better to canter out in the fields than in the narrow arena. I've been keeping my stirrups long so that I can practice sitting the canter and I feel like we're both starting to figure each other out. I've been keeping the image of drawing my heels back to his hocks and I kind of grip with my calves a little bit to keep them there. My legs aren't swinging so I know I'm not gripping with my knees which I tend to do when I'm tense. I'm also really following him with my seat, but keeping my upper body very still. I'm happy with how I'm riding the canter, and I might even be helping him out some. I'll practice in the arena in the next few days.

After we were done with field work, I loosened Bobby's girth, took off his bridle, and put him in his stall to have a chance to drink while I hosed off Red and turned him out. Since it was soo muggy outside, I decided not to ride in the arena afterwards. Instead, I lunged Bobby for five minutes at the trot in each direction with side reins on. I really want him to build up his topline and neck so that I can get him to flex at the poll and bring his chin in a little. I think it will help him not be so strung out all the time. Big horse woes. Sigh. He got bathed, braided, and put in his stall with a big pile of hay to munch on while I did all my show readying.

I gave Joe a grooming when I was done with everything. I left the stall door open enough for him to stick his head out (with the chain up), but he was content to just stand there while I curried and brushed him. He wasn't as good with his feet today. He was fine with his back feet, but for his RF, he didn't want to hold it up for me. I dropped it once when he laid down (literally), but I persisted the second time and even though he was pulling a little and wiggling, I finally got it picked out and gave him a peppermint. He was good for the show sheen this time and munched on the bottle while I brushed out his tail. I managed to get his bridle path done, but he's definitely a little head shy. I had to sneak the scissors in in between showing him how nice it feels to get your ears scratched. I'm going to bring a disposable razor to trim his muzzle since I don't think he's quite ready for the clippers yet. He needs his ears trimmmed, too.

peppermints?

I gave him Bobby's hanging jolly ball that Fran had given me when she put Pick Off down since Bobby pays it zero attention. Joe thought it was a great toy and even though it was a little scary at first, he came around quickly and gave it some good bites and tosses.

"don't watch me check out this scary thing in case i freak out and embarrass myself."

"did you just move?!"

video

Thursday, July 7, 2011

New

I'm going to change the...mood?.....style?.....outlook?.....of this blog. I'm not totally sure where I want to go with it yet, but I'm going to try to be more specific and scientific with my riding. I'm going to post how long I do things for, when I do them, how they went step by step, etc. instead of just telling it like a babbling story.

But first I'm going to wrap up Saturday with a brief babbling story and a few pictures since I didn't make this decision until a couple of days ago.

Hubby and I finished off the gate jump we'd made and brought it down to the barn.

step one: left over boards we had and a piece of luan.

step two: unpainted, but put together

step three: white coat on.

step four: lattice we found in the house we spray painted black.

Red isn't getting ridden for awhile (more on that later), but Hubby was nice enough to agree to take some pictures and video of me riding Bobby and testing out the new jump. Bobby had to give the black monster in the middle of it a long look while we were walking around before warming up, but since it didn't jump out and eat him, he moved on pretty quickly.

He had a good warm up at the walk and trot. We went over four ground poles at both gaits and worked on flexing both on and off the rail, on circles, and doing leg yields in both directions. He's actually getting pretty solid at his leg yields. We then moved on to the canter. I warmed up with my stirrups in dressage length, so I did the canter sitting for only the third or fourth time since I've had him. While still kind of disorganized, it was his best one yet. He broke a couple of times doing circles (just over 20 meters--maybe 30-35 meters?) from being strung out and unbalanced on the smaller size, but he picked it right back up when he we got back on the rail. He also--in both directions--took two times to pick up the canter from the walk (which is how I was always taught and told to ask for it). He'd rush into a really fast walk or a really fast canter, but I corrected him quickly, brought him back to a walk, and asked again. I think I should do walk to trot transitions before asking for it just to get his attention back and bring him back on my aids; I usually let him walk and stretch out for five minutes after our w/t warm up before moving on to the canter. I'm also going to work on asking him to canter from the trot since that's the transition for the BN Test A dressage test (which we'll hopefully be doing for Bucks).

walking the ground poles.

changing direction.

he still needs to break at the poll. and i still need a bigger saddle.
I let him walk for another five minutes after cantering before starting jumping. I used the same three stride line as two days before with a ground pole as the first jump and the gate set at 2'6 as the second jump. He was pretty sure he was going to jump it the first time, then decided either the height or the black monster (or both) were too worrying and ran out. He did the same thing the second time, even with much stronger leg from me, and ran directly into the standard. I had Hubby put wings up on either side and tried again. Tah-dah! He jumped it great!

success!
We went over one more time with just the ground rail, then added a 2' vertical. He jumped it the first time great, the next time pretty good except I got fussy with my hands and brought him in too close to the second jump. He got the three strides and he jumped clear, but it was awkward. The next two times he jumped to the right at the last second, still going over, but smashing my toe on the standard and barely missing me knee the second time. Apparently that black monster was thinking about making a move.

eyes on the prize.

me jumping the center of the jump, bobby jumping the right side so as not to get eaten.
video

video

A quick Red run-down. I can't find anything wrong with him. There are a few things I suspect, but I really can't find outright pain/inflammation. His legs are clean. He has no temperature (100.7). The farrier hoof tested him and found nothing. I've poked and prodded all along his back, neck, and haunches and got no response. But when I tried lunging him with no tack on, he didn't want to trot, especially to the right. Again, he didn't look off, but he really didn't want to go either. And when he was getting his feet done yesterday, he was moderately pissy about pulling his left hind forward to put on the stand. To me, that says muscle soreness somewhere behind. I'm going to do flexion tests this weekend when I have someone there to jog him for me. Unfortunately, I just don't have $150+ to have the vet come out unless it's something really serious. And at this point, I can't even tell them what I think is wrong.

I ponied him off of Bobby yesterday and today. We walked around all four of the huge hay fields by the barn with some trotting. He was incredibly willing to go (he had had a week off at this point) and was even goofing off a little. We were out for exactly half an hour. He does enjoy having a job to do. He loves being with people and he loves being paid attention to, so even if all that's wrong with him is a riding overload/mental breakdown, until I can find something physical with him, I'm going to just pony him for awhile. It's a good warm up for Bobby too, without the boringness off ring warm up. And Bobby takes his ponying job very seriously. If Red tries to get ahead of him, he pins his ears back, and if that doesn't work, he nips at him until Red goes back to Bobby's shoulder.

Today, after the ponying, I took Bobby into the ring to run through the Intro B dressage test. We did five minutes each way at the trot, working on flexing in each direction. The test was pretty good for only doing it for the second time. Obviously it's a very easy test, but he wasn't bending quite as well on the 20m circle to the left than he was to the right (which is normal), he's not great at the free walk, and he broke into the trot for a step when I picked up the reins from the free walk to the medium walk across the diagnol. But overall his transitions are pretty sharp and his circles are getting better.

The farrier came yesterday. No more Bill the Farrier though. I tried a girl (literally. She's 19.) who just started shoeing by herself in March. She apprenticed under a show farrier in NJ, but when she first walked in I was like, Uh-oh. She's 5'6 max and tiny. But she did an amazingly awesome job and I'm definitely going to stay with her. She made sure to tell me what she was doing and why (different shoes for Bobby that were a little wider on the bottom) and what she thought about both boys' feet (great feet on Bobby, Red flares really easily and way too much) and what her plan was going to be for them (try to fix the weird shape on Bobby's LF and work on getting Red's flare-induced cracks back to lovely looking feet). She did spend two hours to put front shoes on Bobby which was a little frustrating, but another farrier was there and she (the other farrier) helped my farrier work through it and showed her what to do. Apparently Bobby's toe was wider than his heel in a weird way, so every time she tried to widen the toe on the shoe, the heel would widen too. Or something. Bobby was getting a little ansy by the end of it and as soon as I put him away, he peed. Sorry, Robert.

bobby hinds before

bobby fronts before

bobby after.
red rh before.

red rh before

red rh after

red rh after
There's a two year old colt at the barn that's some sort of Quarter Pony who's owner hasn't paid board in several months (like six or seven) and who's feet haven't been done in as long. He only gets handled when he gets tied to the wall when BO does stalls in the morning and that's it. Hubby really likes him and I feel bad for him. He's a total sweetie, not mouthy at all, and not as nutty as you would imagine for never getting out of his stall. Today I gave him a hard core grooming. I curried out a ton of hair that was just laying on his coat, picked his feet (which he was really good about picking up), and sprayed show sheen in his mane and tail (ooh, spooky) to brush it out. The flash on the camera was a little scary, and the spray bottle had to be chewed on a little after I sprayed him to make sure it was dead, but he was a really good boy for it. I wish we had the money to take him, but sadly not. Tomorrow I'm going to give him a bridle path and try to tackle his ears and maybe whiskers.

joe.

conformation wrecked by his horrible feet, but he is cute.

hind feet.

rh.

CL's daughter is taking Bobby (under my and their trainer's supervision of course) to a local Hunter show this Saturday. The next Sunday, he's doing his Intro B test at a dressage schooling show, then two weeks later is his first HT!