Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!

Just a quick note in honor of Halloween.  This year I didn't get to go to my trainer's barn Halloween party so I thought I would share pictures from the one a couple of years ago.

Yes, I took my male mini horse and turned him into a flower.  He should put all mean mini horse stories to rest as he was so tolerant of our shenanigans.

My friend's little girl was a bumble bee and Cotton was her flower.  How cute are they??

And then when it was all over we had the bright idea that Cotton needed to jump...

Such a good pony!

Have a fun but safe Halloween!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Catching Up

Last week got away from me and I never found the time to do any posts (I need to get into a better routine).

The horses were good for the most part. Mid-week we had a front blow in some cooler weather.
In FL we don't get to enjoy the beautiful fall colors but the crisp evenings were a reminder fall is upon us.  We actually dropped into the 50s at night.  I put sheets on the show horses when it gets below 60.  This adds time to my routine so this isn't my favorite time of the year.  Cooler weather also brings out the friskiness in the horses so they were all feeling a bit full of themselves.

Last week I heard through the grapevine that a local trainer was on hard times and was looking for a place to keep his horse and work.  I made contact, thinking I could let him keep his horse at my place in exchange for helping with stall cleaning.

I love having my horses at home, however at times I feel a bit overwhelmed trying to ride, feed, blanket, turnout, clean stalls, etc when I get home from work.  It makes for a long day.  It wasn't bad when I had 2 horses but since my brood has grown it's now quite time consuming.  The problem with hiring someone is that it gets costly.  It has to come from somewhere so it would have to cut into my horse show budget (which I don't want to do). So this seemed like a good situation.  I talked with the person and they came out for us to discuss things.  They were more interested in telling me about their situation and also their past riding accomplishments than learning about my horses whom they would be caring for.  Huge red flag for me.  When my S.O. came home I told him no way.  He was disappointed because it would have freed up my time but he understood.  I shared this with a friend of mine who accused me of being too controlling.  Maybe I am, but my animals mean the world to me and I give them the best care that I can possibly give them and expect nothing less of other people.  Having the horses in my back yard means knowing EVERYTHING about them.  You learn every little habit.  This helps to cue you if they are not quite right.  I like knowing these little things.  I get upset when I get home from an away show or vacation and I find a horse without a shoe or a blanket not strapped correctly or things not being put away, or not throwing enough hay, or... I could go on. Other people's perception of "good care" is not your own.  In 30 years of riding I can only NOT complain about the last 2 barns I boarded at.  However the amount I paid in board at them was probably more than most people's mortgages.  Good care is hard to find and it comes with a price.  The person texted me a couple of days later and said they found a barn to rent.  Whew!

So, for the time being I will continue to do my own care.  Maybe I am controlling but I just want the best for my four legged loves.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Jumping Babies

As I looked at my calendar yesterday it occurred to me that I am showing Ketel in 2 weeks.  Eeek!  Baby's first show!!!  Now, we are just doing cross rails but I've been focusing on his flat work and poles so I haven't jumped him in quite awhile.

I last rode him Friday so last evening I stuck him on the lunge for a few minutes.   He had a couple woohoo bucks but other wise was like getting molasses to move on a freezing day.  On I climbed.  He was good, continues to want to "jog" versus trot.  It takes soooo much leg to get him going.  He does go but goodness does he wear me out. 

I set up a small cross rail and he trot stepped over it.  Ok so the pole work is making this unimpressive.  We tried it again and when he tried to trot step again he knocked it down.  The poles hitting his legs scared him and he bucked a little but came right back.  I had to get off and fix the jump which also gave me time to wonder how he will deal with this.  With babies some will go back and jump it again like no big deal.  Some feel traumatized by poles hitting their legs and don't want to play anymore and some will way over compensate and jump the moon. 


 I whispered a "please don't kill me no one is home" prayer and tried it again.  He trotted right over it like a champ and cantered away nicely.  He did the same a couple more times and I let him be done.

Such a good baby.  Though he is not my preferred kind of ride his good brain keeps winning me over.  His naughty moments aren't even really that, more like baby moments.  He gets past them and really just seems to want to please.  I try to reward him for this and keep our sessions short.  As he gets older I will challenge him more.

As for my plan for the show, I will take him over the day before to hang out and school.  I will have to see how he handles everything so our plan will need to be flexible.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Hunter Princess Blog Hop- Favorite H/J Exercises

What your favorite exercise is to school at home?

It varies slightly for each of my horses.  I definitely incorporate poles into everyone's warm up exercise.  Both at the trot and canter.  Sometimes I also set up a line of poles too.  Cantering poles is a great way to develop and tune your eye.

For Poppy I also practice the counter canter.  Right now we are working on maintaining it over poles.  It's hard to resist the urge for a flying change over that pole!  She's getting it though!

With everyone I try to now and then wcork on leg yields, turn on the haunches, etc.

Grid work is also fun.  Especially when you can build the height and crank up that last jump and see what your horse has got.  

My exercises at home don't get very exciting.  When I go to my trainer's for a lesson it is usually more pole work.  Poles in front and landing poles.  We also work on adjusting the stride.  Take a line and add up, then the number, then add up again, etc. We also do a lot of technical courses with roll backs, off set lines, tight turns, and so on.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Throw Back Thursday

Thought I would do another TBT photo.  This is Hobbs showing in Tampa.  I can't recall the year but since I was wearing a non approved helmet I am guessing 2002.  I can't even remember when the hemet rule went into effect.  Was it 2003 or 2004?  I also have a video from a show there where at the end you can hear Don Stewart commenting to my trainer how damn fast Hobbs was.  In the winter Barnum and Bailey's circus would stay at the Tampa Fairgrounds and kept the elephants on the other side of the jumper ring.  You can see and hear them in the video too.  Fun times.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Harrisburg Mania

The Pennsylvania National Horse Show is going on right now in Harrisburg, PA.  It's on live feed people!  Which means I am watching and not being a good productive worker.  But yesterday I had to watch one of my trainers compete in the Second Year Greens on a friend of mine's horses.  It was so awesome.  She came in Reserve Champion on one.  She won her final over fences round and the hack the day prior.  I was squealing from my desk at work!  I will be unproductive again tomorrow as I watch the A/Os.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Promoting the Thoroughbred

I grew up in Maryland in an area that is horse country.  Lots and lots of thoroughbred farms.  Between that and growing up in a time where the Americans rode Thoroughbreds in the Olympics it was never a question of owning anything but a thoroughbred.

Sometimes you bought them straight from the track and we had several in our area and sometimes you bought them straight off the farm.  Not all showed enough promise to even be sent for race training and these were great to pick up.  

Somewhere through the years things have shifted and you see mainly Warmbloods filling the rated circuits.  And we read about the tens of thousands of thoroughbreds that ship to slaughter.  Forgotten and unwanted.  About a year ago George Morris was quoted in The Chronicle about bringing the Thoroughbreds back and recently I've seen the quote circulating around again.  With statements like this, the TIP classes, Stuart Pittman's challenges, big names like Jennifer Alfano buying TBs, etc more attention is being drawn to them which is a wonderful thing.  

But what about you?  Are you advocating?  Or are you hurting this movement?  What upsets me and drew me to write this post is the people who think they are advocating for the TB or the OTTB and are actually doing the opposite.  Promotion means being positive.  Yes you should talk about why you love your OTTB and how great they are but the moment you write or say something negative about other breeds (WBs in this case) you are no longer an advocate for the TB.  You see by putting down my WB you are challenging me.  And to prove a point I'm going to take my WB into the show ring with our A game and show you how great WBs can be too.  Once you say something negative people stop listening.

It's no different than when I got sick of hearing people says OTTBs have no use.  I needed another horse like I needed a hole in the head but I went out and bought a TB so I could do my small part of bringing one along and into the show ring to help change people's minds.  As advocates for the TBs that's what we need to be doing.  Being positive, not putting WBs down.  Instead let's try to open people's eyes to a great breed with a huge heart to give.

Gorgeous Weekend

It seriously could not have been a prettier weekend.  I spent all day Saturday in the barn with the horses (does it get any better than that?).  

Poppy was good.  She continues to be full of herself.  I just think she believes she is Ms. Thang and is bored jumping my stuff at home.  She is manageable, but zooms around like she is in a jump off.  I can usually back her off by putting the jumps up but I don't see the point of jumping big until we get closer to a show.  For now it's just about keeping her schooled and fit.

Tank was absolutely perfect.  I hadn't jumped a course on him in awhile and he was so good and feels great.  I might just bring him along to the unrated show I am taking Ketel to in November.  We will see.  

I saved Ketel for last and really wished I had ridden him first.  He is sooooo slow.  My legs were so sore after riding him.  What a good boy though.  I actually don't think he was off the other night.  He wasn't wanting to move forward on the lunge and taking itty bitty steps so I think that's what I was seeing versus being off.  Regardless, though slow he felt great Saturday.  I hacked him in the draw reins and he is really starting to use himself with them.  Again this is the only aide I use with greenies as I can control the length and can immediately loosen them if needed.  My S.O. watched me ride him and said he thinks he's going to be a hunter.  Is it that obvious?  Then he asked what I'm going to do with him.  I don't do the hunters and really don't want to.  It's been about 2 years since I last had one.  I don't find hunters fun and hate riding anything I have to kick to go.  Ketel is still young so time will tell.  He has such a good brain, laid back, and no spook at such a young age.  It's only going to get better as he matures.  

This was after Ketel's bath on Saturday.  He no longer looks like a racehorse.

Friday, October 11, 2013

2 Point Torture

Yes, that is my very shameful 2 point time.  I didn't get my baseline done in time to enter L.Williams' contest but still wanted to participate for fun.  Poppy was way too wild on Wednesday to try and do it.  After finally getting some ride time after the rain we've had she was full of herself.  A big hump in her back for most of our ride kept my butt sitting firmly in that saddle!  So last night I rode my big comfy couch named Tank.  Being that he is like lounging on a couch it is tough to get up out of my deep seat jumper saddle and do a 2 point.  I gave it a go.  With jumpers I typically sit back and deep.  The only time I do a 2 point is on course when I want them to gallop in between jumps.  This might be in a speed class or when there is a long distance between jumps and I need to make time.  So my horses assume if I'm up out of the saddle it's time to hustle.  Last night Tank thought that was so fun. So much fun that when I let him gallop over a pole he started bucking.  More like the hopping woohoo type bucking but still enough to make me sit back down.  I loved seeing him having fun so we will do this again and try for longer.  I will go ahead and say that there is not a chance in hell I'm doing No Stirrup November.  

Update on Cotton.  His diarrhea is all cleared up. Yay!  Now he has thrush in his back feet.  Likely due to his hind being yucky and it being rainy this week.  So working on clearing that up.

On a not so good note I lunged Ketel last night and he was slightly off on his front left at the trot.  I couldn't find anything on him indicating the cause.  He was sensitive when I messed with his foot so possibly a bruise or abscess brewing.  Doctored his hoof so we will see how he is this evening.

Happy Friday!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Rainy Week

It's been a rainy week so no riding for me the past few days. Which also means I didn't get my baseline for L. William's contest.  Fortunately the rain has stopped each night so the horses haven't missed their turn out.  Maybe they will be slightly sane when I finally do get to ride.

Poor Cotton has a case of runny stool.  Minis are little garbage disposals so I immediately treated him for sand.  That didn't clear it up so I started him on Probios.  Still not better so today I picked up some Panacur to do a power pack.  After that I am out of ideas and will call the vet.  Otherwise he is completely normal.  It's just gross and the poor guy is covered in it.  He got a good bath tonight and fingers crossed it goes away.

With the end of the show season around the corner on Nov 30th and indoors going on there aren't a whole lot of rated shows going on in my area.  My trainer is going to one about 5 hours away mid-November and I'm undecided.  I hate showing around the holidays and I have a bunch of company coming for Thanksgiving at my house.  However not showing isn't going to get me NAL points.  There are 2 rated shows in December.  Even though they are around Christmas they are close enough to me that I can make it a day trip and trailer in for the classic.  I hate to wait until December to show though...

It is supposed to be sunny tomorrow. Fingers crossed...

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Hunter Princess Blog Hop- Why Do You Love Showing?

Why do you love showing?

For me it's probably easier to state what I don't like.  That list would be simple.  The cost.  Other than that, what's not to love?  

I have been competing for over 30 years and have always been addicted to it. I love putting into action what I practice daily.  I love the excitement I feel the week of a show, taking a showcation from work, using all my pretty show tack, spotless horses, the plan, the strategizing, the camaraderie, seeing my friends, spending ALL day with my horse(s), I could go on and on. In show jumping at the A rated level you do not get to school over the jumps.  So when you go into a class your horse is looking at the course and jumps for the first time.  Since there is no practicing you come up with a strategy and you ride your plan.  Most of all, there is nothing like the thrill of winning.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Boredom...I Think

This week Poppy has been so full of herself.  She is always a little funny about her mouth.  She will yank at the reins, pull down, open her mouth, etc when we school but this week it's worse.  And you have to be careful because if you touch her mouth she over reacts so you just apply leg.  And on top of that she has been a bit wild.  We've had cooler weather this week (it's FL so I am talking mid to low 80s) and I gave her a week off after the show so I thought maybe it was that.  Last night I jumped her a little and she never really settled down.  Conclusion?  I think she is bored.  She is no longer the young greenie that needs baby steps.  She's tired of poles, she tired of flat work, and she's bored jumping anything under 3'3. So what do I do to spice things up and challenge her?  I don't like to do a lot of jumping at home and certainly not big unless we are prepping for a show.  I think I will change my jumps around this weekend.  I will probably set up a gymnastic.  The last time I did this she kept jumping the ENTIRE bounce.  Yes.  She found it annoying and decided to make it a 9ft oxer.  I lost a few years off my life...

Ketel and Tank have been good this week too.  I started working Ketel in draw reins.  He needs to learn contact and to lower his head.  His is doing really well with it and seems to like the draw reins.  A few more times with them and then I will ride him without and see how he ties it in.  I did this with Poppy as well when I was training her.  Tank so far has been the only horse I've ever had that literally goes into a frame when you hit the saddle.  No martingale needed.  He even frames himself on the lunge.  Such a cool horse.

I am a little obsessed with watching Capital Challenge on the live feed.  I got to see one of my trainers complete in the Young Professionals Challenge.  She finished in the top 6. I also watched my friend in the 3'3 A/Os.  She did awesome.  And another friend who finished just out of the ribbons in the CH/AD Jumpers.  Watching that class made me want to be there so badly. As much as I want to move up I think I am going to stay in my current division and try to qualify for NAL Finals next year.  The qualifying period started Sept 30th.  It means a lot of showing and finishing probably top 3 each time to acquire the needed points.  So a long shot but I think I want to give it a go.

TGIF.  Looking forward to some riding time this weekend.  Fingers crossed the rain stays away.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Throw Back Thursday

I see many people doing this on Instagram so I thought it might be a fun post. 

1.  My throwback picture.  I think I am 7 years old.  L. Williams are you cringing at my breeches?

2.  This is Hobbs in 2001 (he's now 24yo and retired).

This was our last show in 2006, he was 17yo at the time still competing in the High Adult Jumpers.

3.  This was my second show with Tank in 2008, just a few months after I bought him.  High Adult Jumpers.

This is 2009.  High Adult Jumpers.

4.  Poppy at her first show  May 2011 in .85m

November 2011 3rd show.

5.  Last but not least.  Cotton in 2010, 9 months old.

I didn't do a throwback of Ketel since I have only had him since March.

What about you?  Share some throwbacks!!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Ho Hum

Nothing really exciting going on in my barn since the show.  Last week we had a lot of rain so I didn't get much riding in. Due to that I decided not to take Ketel to the little local show last Saturday.  I am soooo thankful for that decision.  It rained all day and 2 rings were not usable so lots of schedule changes.  They are having another one in November so I will aim for that one.  Although I am excited for baby's first show he is 3 yo so there is plenty of time.

Otherwise it is just my typical scramble of getting 1 or 2 (if I am lucky) horses ridden each day after work.  It is now a race before the sun goes down. This isn't my favorite time of year because of that. S.O. ignores me when I ask for lights... 
This also makes me sad that I can't find a nice reliable person who wants to come help me ride.  I have tried this several times and either people don't show up or they don't clean my horse or tack they used, or dont ride at the level they told me they did, or other issues.  So after feeling taken advantage of many times in the past I have made a "rule" that I don't let anyone but my trainer ride my horses.

Capital Challenge starts this week and has live streaming.  I have a few friends showing there so I am looking forward to watching!

Since I have nothing really exciting to share how about a cute mini pony picture!!  This is Poppy's turnout pal Cotton.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Hunter Princess Blog Hop- An Annoying H/J Trend

A trend I am seeing more and more in the jumpers is riders wearing their pony tail down. 

I would never even do this riding at home.  It shocks me that people go into the jumper ring at an A rated show like that.

Next on my list, why does EVERYONE wear these?
They are ugly.  And they come in like 5 colors so everyone looks like twinsies.  I will stick to my polo shirt on schooling day at the show thank you.

Lastly, colored breeches in the jumper ring.  Tan or white should be the only colors seen.  Period.

What’s a trend/pet peeve you have about hunter/jumpers?  Share your opinion and join the blog hop!