Sunday, November 29, 2015

Bad Blogger

I'm back!

I stepped away from the blog because I didn't feel like I had anything to contribute, and like I hadn't really made any training progress with my horse.  I'd open the blog to start a post, then shut it down again.  We've done lots of things since I stopped blogging, couple shows, trail rides, but it all felt like 1 step forward 3 steps back.

I took Stella to an open show where she showed in one halter class and one under saddle class as our canter skills weren't safe for a group outing.  She dealt with the waiting and the crowds great, her first flat class was in an arena of 18!!!! and she didn't put a foot wrong.  There were mules, people out of control, horses and carriages, and pretty much everything at once.   However, she became totally attached to her trailer buddy and was a screaming mess in her stall half the day until she gave it up.  She also reared when I decided to ride her past her stall to see some friends at the end of the barn aisle.  I ended up getting her past it and circling her stall for the next 20 minutes so she knew it wasn't a good idea.


She attended the fall HT at the facility I take lessons at.  She had a meltdown on day one out on the XC field because she didn't want to go past the scary brush and jump the teeny tiny log.  Ended up rearing out in the field until I got her past it and over the log.


The next day she had a half rear in stadium not wanting to go back away from the barn, and then went around in what I thought was a really nice XC round by jumping all the fences on course until she decided she'd rather be done early and go home and went totally vertical in front of the very last fence on course.  I ended up vaulting off as I was afraid she was going over backwards, and I was halfway off anyway.  Honestly it scared the shit out of me and there was no reason for it.  Yes, I recognize that my skill and reaction time isn't fast enough, but a full out almost going over rear over a log isn't acceptable behavior period.   I really thought of it and balanced how much was my fault and how much was a horse personality issue.

After that I took some time to regroup and decided to just go on lots of trail rides where she could work on being really forward.


That turned out to be a disaster and her behavior went from good trail horse to me getting off and leading her a dozen times.  My friend's horse who was green on the trail but had just come back from 4 months of training wouldn't go in front at all, and when Stella started acting like an idiot and backing up her horse did the same thing combined with trying to bite Stella.  Second ride, same deal.  I got off and walked a lot.   I admit I just wasn't feeling overly confident to push her hard enough especially when I felt her get light in front.   I also really had to watch my retaliation because the other horse was right on top of us the entire time trying to bite and just refusing to move.

I regrouped, spoke with a friend who said that horses will come to rely on  you getting off and leading them and to pick a fight and win it.  So I thought about it and went out with a stick the next time.


I went to war with her and when she started rearing and acting like an idiot I got off, lunged her, ground drove her down the trail, and got back on. She even got tangled up in some weeds backing up and acting like a fool and almost came undone.  It seemed to help a bit, toward the end she was less reluctant to go forward and I was hoping that she would continue to improve.   Unfortunately at some point she kicked herself in her stupidity and ended up lame for a week.


During that week she was off we decided to see if the problem was the two mares together, my friend took out her reluctant trail horse/dressage horse and I rode her horse.  No problems.

The next week Stella looked back to normal so we took out the dressage horse and Stella


This ended up being a real eye opener.  While at first Stella was reluctant to leave the trailer and be in front about 10 minutes in she sighed and I was able to get her to go past the other horse and take the lead. The other horse only had to take the lead a few times.  The other times I was able to use my stick and she moved smartly forward.   She was content to walk or to motor, and left her companion in the dust several times.

So the answer to trails clearly had something to do with both a reluctance to go forward combined with a hatred of her trail riding buddy.  Not sure how to fix it.

At home I have not been riding much.  I have been doing lots of bombproofing.  It's not that Stella is spooky, it's that when she doesn't want to do something she isn't going to do it and she doesn't respect my forward aids enough to be obedient.  On the ground she is usually chill with things.  Under saddle she prefers to stop and contemplate things for 10 minutes before deciding it isn't a big deal and moving on.  If you push her she reacts, and if you get forceful she reacts big.

I am hoping that by presenting her with things that might cause her to not go forward, and ending up going in the right direction I can back track her forward problem to the beginning and fix it like I should have originally.  Like I said, she came with the grow roots and say no issue when I bought her but I wasn't really that worried as it's not like I have not dealt with horses that don't want to go forward.  She had been making progress and was much more forward at home.  So what's different?  A different type of horse personality?  A stubborn reluctance instead of a fear of what happens when they do go forward?  Bad match?  Pushing her past her comfort zone before she was ready causing regression?


It's a problem she came with, a problem I have been working on, a problem that has been getting better, and a problem that isn't fixed.

So that is why I have not been blogging.  I have been in a slump.  Doubting my skills as a rider and trainer, doubting if she is the right horse for me, and basically feeling sorry for myself.  I have not taken any lessons since the October show since I feel like it's a waste of money and time.  Not that I don't value the instruction and that it isn't quality training, but more like I don't deserve to go take a lesson when I can't get my horse to do something simple.  Like I'm wasting my trainer's time and the time of those in my lesson.   I thought trail riding would be a solution to the forward, but then we backslid with that even more due to the dynamic with her and the other mare.  

She has these moments when she's going under saddle and she's utterly connected and through and I have this big stupid smile on my face because she is the absolute best moving horse I have ever sat on in my entire life and I feel like anything is possible in the saddle.  Like she could really smoke the competition at show.

Then she has moments where I want to get off, tie her to a tree, and leave her there.

And that is where we are.  Where we go from here I do not know.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Magical Polo Wraps

After Stella's athletic and naughty display on Friday I decided I needed to get her in the proper frame of mind for a productive riding session.  In order to encourage the dressage horse within I broke out the polo wraps.  WHITE ONES.  How can a horse possibly do anything naughty wearing a set of fancy polo wraps?



Sunday, September 20, 2015

Good use of back

Stella looked a wee bit bright eyed on Friday so I decided to free lunge her, let her stretch her legs a bit.  She had been turned out in the arena with access to the pasture that morning with a few of her friends due to some incoming rain that never came so I wasn't expecting this!

She has shown a tendency to buck when in any sort of side reins or contraption 'tying her head down" but I usually don't lunge or free lunge her so this was a surprise!

Wanna come ride her?


Saturday, September 19, 2015

Horse Basics 101, tying your equine.


I've been youtubing some basic horse care videos, it's amazing how many bad ones there are out there and how many different ways there are to do exactly the same thing!

I really liked this video on tying a horse, it doesn't have a 4 minute intro or a long lecture, it is easy to follow, and it gives you several different options.

Check it out!


Thursday, September 17, 2015

Unitaskers

One of my favorite TV shows is Good Eats Staring Alton Brown as a cook/historian/scientist.  I love the history behind the food, the science behind the food, the yeast puppets, and of course the food!


One of Alton's biggest pet peeves are unitaskers in the kitchen.  Those gadgets that clog up your gadget drawer because you only use them once every 4 years for that very specific task they are made for.  I tend to agree, I hate buying things for one purpose only.

However, I think I am willing to change my mind for this really nifty unitasker.  This Fly Spray Holder
is a smart idea for hanging on your stall door or near your wash stall or cross ties.  I found it available at Equus Now but if you really hate unitaskers you can purchase it from the manufacturer without the fly spray label and use it to hold any number of bottles on the front of your stall.


Sunday, September 13, 2015

Teeth

Stella got her teeth done last week, the vet said she had several sharp points, a few ulcers, and some high low spots. She hasn't really given any indication of trouble eating, and I think most of her connection issues are just a lack of training but as an important part of routine care I bit the bullet.

After seeing my bill, she had better put her head down on the bit and never ever pick it up again!

Here is Stella beginning to regret her life choices that brought her to this moment


Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Stella's First Horse Trial

Stella went to her first horse trial a few days ago and she did great!   

She has already proven herself an easy traveller and I have been really pleased with how blase she has been given how little experience she has going places and doing stuff.

This was a tie to the trailer kind of show so we got there that morning, about an hour before my ride time.  I knew Stella wouldn't need much warm up.  She doesn't seem to get fresh or spooky, and she really doesn't have enough dressage skills to warrant an extensive warm up!  It was going to hit the 90s that day so we made sure Stella got a nice shady spot under some trees, two hay bags, and her bucket of water.  Which she emptied 4 times by stuffing her hay into it and snorkelling.  Oh well, at least she's a good drinker.







Dressage was first, the warm up area was filled with other riders as well as the jumps for my division so marking out an even area to school in was difficult.  Realizing that no amount of circling would get her head down in this environment (since she had just started going on contact at home) I decided to work on her response to the forward aids by weaving her in and out of areas I thought could be potential "stop and look" spots.  Our dressage was about as expected, score under 60% to put us 4th out of four.  I was ok with that.

We went straight to stadium from dressage which I actually prefer to do, I was in my jumping saddle anyway, and Stella was already warmed up so I just jumped a few warm up fences.  The course was TINY so it was a very positive experience for Stella as far as going over stuff.  However, the ring was small and the course was very twisty, I jumped a few fences off of an angle or almost on a 20m circle and lots of other people that went faster had trouble making the middle of the fences, or slipping in the very dry grass.


We were done with dressage and stadium by 9:30 and XC wasn't until 5:12pm (last ride of the day!) so we did an awful lot of standing around.  I took Stella on a few walks, and held her lead rope while I sat in my chair for a change of pace being tied to the trailer.  Here she is eating a tree.



Cross Country was much more difficult than it seemed if you looked at the height of the fences.  Fence one, although small, was very bright and many horses had trouble with it.  I gave Stella a good hard crack on the shoulder right out of the start box and another crack 2 strides away from the fence, I sure didn't want to have a stop at fence one and set the tone for the rest of the course.  Stella responded really well, too well!  She LAUNCHED over fence one and landed in a nice novice speed gallop and I had her head up in my face trying to get her to slow down so we had a ACK!! at fence two.  We have not done much cantering fences and I wasn't sure if I should let her canter to it and risk an error at the canter but I clearly did not bring her down to the trot in time to jump it well.

You had to make a crazy U turn to get from fence 4 to 5 and then the angle between fence 6 and 7 was almost impossible to ride well, given the angle and fence 7 being a skinny it had a lot of problems, us included.  I just couldn't regain control and get her lined up straight in time so we had a stop.  It was more of a WHERE the heck are we going???!!! so rider error and not horse saying no.

GAG/Starter course walk

Given our couple problems I just about died when I was handed a second place ribbon!  Frankly the fourth place ribbon was really pretty and I would've been happy with not being eliminated, but to move up two spots after cross country?  AWESOME!!!


So I went home super happy (and hot, and stinky, and exhausted) and Stella's ad off  Craigslist can come down.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Super Scientific feeding method


Bam right there.  Stella gets that much Strategy twice a day.  No idea how much it weighs, but my barn considers it quite a bit of grain for a horse her size and breed.

Does your barn have a more scientific method?

She also gets two scoops of


Dumor Hoof` which is the same thing as Farrier's Formula Double Strength


and the TSC version of Omega Horse Shine


Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Even more feet

More pictures of Stella's feet, this time the day after a trim.  I have not been able to get anyone to help me with the measuring tape so I took pictures without it, and she's in the wash rack after I took care of her scratches so her feet are wet and not totally clean.




Right Front

 Left Front


Sunday, August 9, 2015

Stella goes camping

I had originally had this weekend off for Leg Up horse trials which is a one day, three phase, event at the Hoosier Horse Park.  I knew that Stella wasn't going to be ready for an event of this magnitude based on her experience so I elected to very wisely not enter.

I let my trusty endurance friend know I was available to do something horsey and she decided that we should go camping at Whitewater State Park.  Located in Liberty Indiana this state park features something for everyone.  It contains Whitewater Lake, access to Brookville Reservoir, hiking, swimming fishing, and horseback riding trails.  There are over 300 camping sites, some with electric and some without as well as 37 primitive horse camping spots.  For folks not in the know, primitive means no electric hook ups for your trailer and in this case pit toilets.

It seemed like almost everyone had also decided that this was a great weekend to camp, in addition to the regular camp being chock full of happy campers, people in the horseman's camp even had extra vehicles equipped with boats.  Something for everyone in the family.

The only downside to a busy camping weekend were all the people.  Not everyone is considerate about following park rules, such as keeping your dog ON A LEASH.  People also like to play their country music as loud as possible.  I will also NEVER understand why people on gaited horses insist on racking them around camp on the asphalt as fast as they will go.  Besides that we really had a great time.

There is one horse trail in a loop, making it impossible to get lost (cough, some people I know would find this a bonus cough).  There are probably 1/2 dozen small creek crossings and one large creek crossing and plenty of hills as well as flat stretches.  There were several areas that were graded with gravel and large rocks so I'd suggest boots if your horse has flat feet or feet in progress or shoes.  Stella came up with a bruise on the second day, cutting our second ride short.

There are no stalls at this facility, so your horse needs to tie to a hitching rail overnight or you need a spot with the ability to highline.  Trusty friend is an endurance rider so she had her trusty electric corral, which gave us the option of not leaving our horses tied overnight.

This picture shows some of the setup of the corral which is a Zareba Electric Corral (shop around for the best price).We used the hitching rail to divide the corral into two separate "stalls."  Stella is used to electric fence but has never been in a corral before so I was a bit concerned.  It is a small area and only one strand of tape, but I had nothing to worry about as Stella stayed put all night.


This picture is a bit of blackmail, Twigs has never been known to groom another horse being the alpha mare but she was caught on multiple occasions grooming Stella.



Stella is posing here to show you a close up of the corner posts.  Each post was a sturdy sleeve with little feet that you stamped into the ground, then anchored with tent stakes.  This way you can string the fence fairly tight and not have it flapping in the breeze.  You can also see the self contained electric charger, powered by batteries to keep the horses away from the fence.  This system does not need a ground rod sunk as it is built into the tape.  The tape rolls up into 4 little cubes that sit on top of the main posts, and there are also standard t posts to add extra support.  The entire fence took about 20 minutes to set up (longer than normal due to the odd shape of the area to work in) and comes in a carry bag.


Here's a video showing the initial setup, you can leave some of these things hooked together to make it faster to set up.

Overall I'd rate Stella's trail experience as "green but improving"  She's navigating hills going up better, picking her path more carefully, and even sat on her butt a few times going down hill.  She's also crossing water without hesitation, including the big creek which was up to her belly.  She lead most of the way, mostly because Twigs is the slowest arabian on the planet.  Her ancestors would be ashamed.

Stella in the big creek, eating.  She got two compliments on her "hat" today.



Stella also did lots of trotting in front, and even discovered her trail trot.  She pulled a little bit but was fairly easy to rate back, and if I was in a runaway situation I know a NO HORSES ALLOWED sign would bring her screeching to a halt.   Leave it to a horse to spook at the unnatural things in the nature.  We even found a good spot of footing and went for a little hand gallop.  I think she struggles in the arena because her natural canter is very big and rolling and she can't package it at home.

There were still several places where Stella got "stuck" and I had to go to my whip or have Twigs pass us. It was worse on day two, when I know she was a bit tired, and when she balked going back into camp (at someone packing their trailer) and I whacked her she popped up in front.

She stayed sound on her scratches infested legs, and I was sure to hose them off throughly after each ride, let them dry carefully, and then avoid her kicking while I applied the ointment which seems to be working well.

She did come up with a bruise on day two, her feet are still kind of flat and splatty and she hit a lot of rocky parts.  She was %100 sound without rocks and trotted out strong so I don't think it's serious.  I might try boots if we went here again, or see if improved hoof quality helps out.

Overall it was a great weekend, and Stella proved to be a good camper.  Her friendship with Twigs was made permanent and they both vowed to call each other often.

Stella on the ride home, still eating.

Twigs, trying her grumpy look

Friday, August 7, 2015

SCRATCHES!!!

Stella has had this raised scabby thing on her pastern for awhile now.  I noticed it, then figured I was just not very observant (bad owner) and that it was scar tissue from a long ago injury.  Then it looked like it grew.

Yep, definitely grew and was all scabby.

Oh no!!!  Scratches!!!!



Off to google Scratches remedies I went

Scratches is a skin problem caused by a fungus.  The affected area becomes crusty, scabby, bumpy, and causes open sores.   It usually affects white legs and is often caused by exposure to damp conditions that already contain the scratches fungus Sporotrichum schenki.

Treatments usually contain some sort of astringent, fungicide, an antibiotic, and some sort of water barrier.

Astringents are usually something like Listerine, Selsun blue hair shampoo, Microtech, or barbicide (the blue stuff hair dressers dip combs in)

Fungicides are usually athlete's foot powder, a fenbendazole horse wormer such as Safe Guard, or a feminine yeast control cream such as Monistat.

Antibiotics are most often simple triple antibiotic cream, or nitrofurazone (other sources suggest tea trea oil as Furazone states that it can cause cancer).

The water barrier is often Zinc Oxide (Desitin for you baby folks).

DMSO is sometimes combined to help reduce swelling and inflammation and help the fungicide penetrate deeply.


Some of these things are used in combination, others are used separately.
Some people bandage, others do not.  Some people clip, others do not.

Now, off to see which of these works the best!!!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

IEA Benefit Derby


Last weekend I took Stella to a benefit for the new water jump at the Hoosier Horse Park with all proceeds going toward funding the new obstacle.

The new jump will be in addition to the current water jump and will provide many exciting options for schooling and showing, containing two peninsulas as well as simple trot ins. Due to the location of the new jump construction has been difficult and the cost has been higher than anticipated.  After completion spectators will be able to see the water jump, the Pan Am Banks, as well as both the start and finish line, a feat not achieved elsewhere on course due to the thick woods and winding cross country paths.

You can see a picture of the jump in progress at the Indiana Eventing Association webpage.

The current water jump looks like this (this picture is several years old), some of my blood and sweat is involved there as I volunteered a few times and personally dug one of the holes for the drop in!




This event drew quite the crowd with divisions from step over poles to Training.  Photo courtesy Dorie Leigh Mayfield via the  Indiana Eventing Association Facebook page.


And consisted of both XC and showjumping fences in and around the current water jump, here's a great round at BN taken from the vantage point of the Spirit's Descent.




Unfortunately Stella was a little overwhelmed with the business of the course and had a mare sized meltdown at one particularly offensive fence, I got her over it (and this fence seemed to cause problems for several people, I'm not sure if it was the color of the fence, the fact that it was going away from the crowd, or it being near the water jump) but was eliminated when we had to jump it for a second time.  On the upside she jumped most of the other fences, roamed around the dressage arenas with no problems, and hacked to and from the XC course like a pro so there's hope for her yet.  Just a few million more miles under saddle, developing a work ethic, and learning to go forward.  As well as a rider that rides more aggressively BEFORE there is a problem.

Here's a picture of Stella jumping one of the fences on course, photo taken by Lee Ann Zobbe who also organized the entire event!  Please feel free to ignore my "Urrrgghhhhhh" face.


If you are feeling generous, please feel free to journey to the IEA website and make a donation to help complete the water jump and you'll be cantering through it sometime next year!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Patent perfection

I've been window shopping patent leather dressage bridles.  Aren't they pretty?  I thought something a little shiny might look really nice against Stella's solid black head.  Thoughts?  Is patent easy to take care of?  Does it last?  



Toulouse platinum performance dressage bridle, a padded patent leather crank style caveson and brow band, padded crown, and removable flash attachment with rolled leather cheeks and rolled leather fronts on the included rubber lined reins with hand stops.

I really like the removable flash, I don't tend to use flashes and I like the option of not having that little tabby thing leftover.  I also like the rolled cheeks, a little something different.


The Premier Athena Dressage Bridle


The Premiera Athena is a luxurious, handcrafted snaffle bridle. Stunning leather, a wide soft patent leather noseband, a dazzling curved bling browband, and near invisible closures make this your perfect competition bridle.

I like the innovative design of this bridle, notice how the cheek pieces all buckle behind the ears leaving a clean line along the horse's face?  I also like the droopy browband.

What do you think?

Any other options out there for the rider on a budget who really has enough bridles already?

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Moving forward


Today I had another lesson on Stella, I was full of anxiety and doubts as soon as I scheduled it.  I didn't want another struggle of a lesson where all I felt like I was accomplishing was ruining her for all future use over fences.  I've been working hard at home on getting her in front of my leg, getting her forward, getting her to pick up her canter. Still, when I see fences my brain tends to go on a vacation.

My trainer and I had a talk about this ahead of time and we started out working on flatwork.  How do you steer a horse?  With your reins?  With your legs?  I use my hands way too much.  I think it's because I consider Stella very green to more refined aids, and she doesn't turn very well at home.  Or pretty much anywhere.  And I think I use my legs.

Trainer had me hold my whip in my hands, about 8 inches apart.  I wasn't able to give Stella any wide opening rein like I thought was necessary.  Instead I had to use my hands for Direction and rely entirely on my legs and my seat aids for Steering.



Errrmgerrrdddd

Hardest thing ever to mentally wrap my head around.

When I get busy and frantic there go my hands.

Instead I had to think ahead of my turns and use my legs to not only control pace, but control my steering.  I even had to hold the whip this way OVER THE FENCES.  Surprisingly, I did not die.

We also worked on who was in control.  Who was in control of the pace?  Of the direction?  Over the jump?  Over the direction we took after the jump?

I also had to stay behind her.  Do you want to be driving the horse from his neck or tail or do you want to be driving the horse from his tail?

I was finally able to take a step back and realize that everytime Stella wasn't forward enough, I crawled up her neck and swung my legs back and forth.  Stella promptly stopped.  Every Time.  Stella isn't stupid. Apparently I am.

Staying behind Stella also helped me not jump ahead so much.  Here I am sort of considering folding at the waist.  Holding that whip between my hands.


Here I am thinking about keeping my lower leg in the same zipcode as my girth.  Still holding that whip between my hands.


Finally, here's a video of one of our courses, as well as some nice canter work at the end.


Friday, July 10, 2015

More Feet


More Feet Pictures!  Here are Stella's front feet after another trim.  This trim was about 4 weeks after the last one as she's growing a ton of foot and at the 4 week mark they go pancake.  You can still see the chip in her right foot, if it doesn't split again it should be gone in the next trim cycle.  Improvements? 

Left Front






Left Front




Right Front




Right Front



Sunday, July 5, 2015

A timeline of Stella

I'm trying to make a consistent habit of taking timeline photos of Stella to monitor her progress or lack there off.  I thought I had a conformation photo of her when I first got her but apparently that vanished into the ether so here are two photos of her about a month apart.  Do you notice any difference?



 Stella May 17th 2015



Stella June 29th 2015



Friday, July 3, 2015

Folding Wagon




I thought this was a pretty cool thing to store in your trailer to use at shows.  It's available at Wal-Mart for $54.97 and comes in blue and red (sadly no purple).

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Cowboy Challenge Photos

My computer was having coniptions with the size of the photos on the CD I got so I had to wait to post the rest of them.  Here are a few more!!

What do you think?  Could your horses do this?







NOPE


NOPE.



NOPE.

October HT wrap up

My BIG MOVE UP at the October show was a big fat fail.  This is me, dismounting off of Stella in the middle of a massive XC melt down...