December 28, 2012

These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things: Grooming

Might include random tips at the end. Most of us have our favorite tools to use and grooming is pretty standard so this is going to be more for the oddities I've found in grooming that I love and work for me.

Brushes & Tools
  • Slick n Easy - I've used these things ever since I got Dakota. I recently learned a lot of my horse friends have never used one. Great for getting that extra bit of rain rot out or getting out difficult loose hair and dirt.
  • Hoof Brush - I have two of these per horse. I have one I've designated for hoof use and a second I've designated for leg use. They're great on winter muddy legs. I've found regular hard brushes to be a pain. This is small enough you can be more thorough on the legs.
  • Horze Softgrip Brushes - If you're a fan on synthetic / non wooden backed brushes these are great. Especially if you can find yourself a 50% code for the website, you can't beat the price.
  • Roma Tote - Lots of pockets and room to hold all tools.
  • Clipper Bag - Love mine - I feel need for more clippers so I can buy more bags.
There are a few other brands that can't be found with online stores. There is one in particular I plan to try in 2013 at least for pre show use.
 Coat Care
Mane & Tail
Hoof Care
  • Riders Rasp
  • Hoof Polish - If you're going to use a polish... use this one, the other ones are more likely to dry out hooves.
  •  Corn Starch - use on white legs for showing.
  • Don't use spray on conditioner and shine products on a chestnut coat before a show. Use natural oils from your hands and rub down coat. Looks much more natural.
  • Coconut oil - My new number 1 way to condition mane and tails. Leaves hair super soft and easy to work with.
Part of my new brushes I bought for Echo.

Next I'll be reviewing "Apparel" - From show to schooling.

December 20, 2012

Quick Updates - 12/20

So I'm currently waiting for my connecting flight to North Carolina. Looks like I will be one of the lucky ones to get out before our snow storm starts. They're already canceling and adjusting evening flight times here in Chicago.

I saw the ponies Tuesday and last night. Still not feeling well but wanted to see them before I took off.

Here are a few pics of Echo to hold everyone (including me) off until I return next year. Also had to include one of my cat protesting my packing.

December 17, 2012

Quick Updates - 12/17

No I haven't forgotten about you blog world but it sure feels like it.

Friday night was overall uneventful. I lunged Dakota since field was muddy. He was having a good time so instead of making him stop to give Echo some time to run around, I had the brilliant idea to put them in arena together. Considering the last time I did this Dakota kicked the crap out of Echo I was a little afraid but things couldn't have gone smoother.

They took turns playing leader and I think Echo found it comical to make Dakota canter to keep up with her trot. Since both are now pro's at my que to halt while lunging, I signaled them and both came up to me and nuzzled on me at the same time. It felt good to have them both getting along and not fight over me. I started walking around and both followed me with their head over my shoulder. If only it wasn't super dark out or I had someone with me to of taken pics on my good camera - next time though!

Saturday - Monday = sick me. I haven't seen the ponies since Friday. Since I'm leaving Thursday morning, there's no way I'll be able to get enough 'pony time' in before then. Sadface. I plan to go out tomorrow evening after work with one of my friends from high school though who wants to meet Echo. I hope to have enough energy to groom both horses and play with Echo a little.

December 14, 2012

These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things: Supplements

  • Finish Line Thia-Cal
  • Calm and Cool - Great product but it test positive for showing.
  • Mare Magic - The miracle supplement. Love. Love. Love. Dakota had to be taken off of it because it worked too well. Plus it doesn't test!
  • SmartCalm - I've used the Regular and the Ultra version of this. They now make it in pellet form too which is nice. Worked really well when I used it.
  • Calm and Cool Paste - Favorite one time use calmer.
  • Finish Line Quia-Cal - Favorite non testing one time use calmer.
  • SmartHoof - The only hoof supplement I've ever personally seen results from. I've used all forms of Regular or Ultra, Powder or Pellet. Improved hoof quality, growth, basically everything!
Joint / Tendon
  • SmartTLC - If you couldn't tell yet, I love SmartPak supplements. I'm sure all of the products in the SmartFlex line are great but the TLC is what I've tried out on Dakota as a prevenative mostly and to help keep existing problems from getting worse.
  • AniMed MSM - My favorite MSM to use.
  • AniFlex Complete - Dakota didn't really like eating this one. Smells strong of yeast, but still have to include it because 1) I tried it for nearly a year 2) I noticed -some- improvement and it would be great as a prevenative for the price.
  • Liquid Motion - Switched to this when Dakota stopped eating the AniFlex Complete. I noticed better results with this one.
  • Cosequin ASU - If you have th emoney to spend, go for a Cosequin product. I've never personally used it, but I've seen it work miracles on horses.
  • SmartTendon - I'm pretty sure this is one of those supplements that is controversial. Surely no supplement could really help tendons. Well I know one horse that always bows a tendon if he's not on this one. When Dakota bowed his tendon and was off over a year, I gave this to him starting 3 months after the injury and fed it for 6 months. I noticed significant tendon improvement in that time.
Multi-Vitamin / Multi-Mineral
Ulcer / Digestion
  • ProCMC - Used this a long time ago on a whacked out thoroughbred. He was definitely improved when he was on this.
  • U-7 - By far my favorite!! One of my previous horses was on this and her coat improved, behavior, etc. We tried taking her off and she deteriorated almost immediately. Worth every single penny.
  • SmartGut - Haven't tried it but would be willing to give it a go based on reviews and the fact I trust SmartPak supplements.
Skin / Coat
  • SmartDark & Hansom - SmartPak version of Dark as Knight, which I prefer. Keeps dark coats dark! But sadly it test in drug testing.
  • SmartShine
  • The oils listed below always help too!
Energy / Blood Builders
  • Red Cell - Can add energy to a horse, but I've noticed a good difference at same time every time I've used it.
My supplement chaos that I have previously gone into detail about.

Next I'll be reviewing "Grooming" - perfect timing for winter mud!

December 12, 2012

2 Down 1 To Go

AHHHHHH Finals... I hate you finals, and love you at the same time. You make my brain feel like an over fried piece of... something. At the same time, semester is nearly OVER. Tomorrow by 4:00pm I will be DONE. Finite Mathematics exam is done today.. Finished my bogus Intro to Excel class last night that I took for the lousy 1 credit so I was considered 'full time' student. Tomorrow is Accounting exam which should be a piece of cake. The fact I'm comparing my Accounting class to cake is a miracle in itself since I failed my online attempt the first try and had a horrid instructor the second. I guess third time really is the charm and equals a 4.0 (YAY).

Monday night I got everything done and had both horses in. I started with Dakota first... It was super muddy and gross so I let him in the arena to let him run mud free for a few minutes and he was super happy about the opportunity. I think I saw 10-15 bucks and he had to of jumped 5-10 times over the non existing pole between the cavalletti stands. Typical Dakota dorky fashion basically. Cooled him out and returned him to his dinner.

Echo I decided to take her in the arena and have grooming time in the arena so she doesn't associate the arena with being bad. She loves being groomed so I figured it was a good chance to take since she was caked in mud. I bribed her into the arena with 'cookies' - yea probably not the best way, but it worked. She was a bit antsy at first but calmed down and let me groom her and she started to stand really well toward the end.

Last night I got to the barn earlier than normal so K and I decided to go for a ride. Worst part? It snowed the night before and was only a high of 35 yesterday. Second worse part? We rode outside. Yep, we're smart. I lunged the feisty 12yr old Dakota before I tacked up. It's been years since I've had to do this with him but he just all of a sudden seems to have this... fire in him and he's ready to go. If I don't lunge, it takes him way longer than normal to settle in and get to the point he's willing to work. We warmed up in the arena and after a good 10-15 minutes headed outside. Ground was a little firm from being so cold but it was soft / giving enough still we weren't worried about it being TOO hard. K jumped the log and big scary blue barrels a few times. I tried cantering again on Dakota, got a few good strides in but we were not connecting with each other last night at all. He was hungry and I was frozen. Over all it was a fun ride, but nothing overly productive.

Dakota's lessons have been cancelled for the coming weeks since his student broke a couple of fingers. Gives me an extra night to ride the brat and work Echo so it will work in the long run. However tonight the plan is give Dakota the evening off and work with miss Echo on some ground manners.

December 10, 2012

Cold Cold Go Away

I hate this time of year. The limbo between fall and winter fully starting. By 5:00pm it's usually mid to high 30's and if it wasn't for moving around and doing chores I'd be frozen. At least when it's snowing it's a little better and doesn't feel as cold. Speaking of snow, it was actually snowing today when I came into work... Only the second snow fall of the season so far which I think is a Michigan record.

After Friday's Echo training antics I've decided it's time to take a step back in her training. I knew the time would come. A horse can only handle a system overload of new training for so long. Great to know she's accepting of some things like saddle, bridle, etc but I still have no intention of trying to ride her until spring so those things can go away for awhile. Plus with her 10 day UTI break from training and 2 weeks off coming up over the holiday's she will have to mentally restart after the first of the year anyway. There's zero need to rush her and I'd rather take my time and get the horse I want under saddle. We've already come this far in 9 weeks and I'm not about to make training a frustrating, evil experience.

So we're going to go back to ground manners. Leading, taking walks around together and a bit of desensitization. She's gotten a lot better about being lead - walk when I walk, stop when I stop - still gets anxious and tries to keep walking but world of difference than she was 9 weeks ago. She doesn't rush in and out of her stall like she did, and she doesn't freak out coming out of the pasture at night. We still need to work on things like standing when we're stopped while leading, being tied to be groomed (and not breaking ropes and halters), more work on picking and holding all 4 hooves up so she's even better the next time the farrier visits. I have a load of things to still introduce to her to try and desensitize so we'll have plenty to do for the coming weeks! 

December 9, 2012

Dressage Work & Unicorns

Friday night I really had no interest in going home so I spent a solid 5 hours at the barn. K had to go play in band at a high school basketball game so I was in charge of feeding all the horses. I decided to be super productive and I cleaned some tack, raked the loose hay up (and tossed it to the beast in the fields), cleaned stalls, scrubbed feed pans and buckets and just did some general tidying up of my things. Brought both Dakota and Echo in. My intention was to lunge both... Dakota in saddle and side reins and Echo on the lunge line.

I made the mistake of starting with Echo. Lets just say by the time I was done with her, there was zero chance of Dakota entering the arena that night. Echo and I had discussion after discussion to the point we were both physically and emotionally tired and frustrated. I feel like I 'won' a few of the battles. I walked her in and out of the arena making a big deal out of how good of a girl she was each time. I know we were both pushed beyond our breaking point but she kept pulling little stunts I felt like I couldn't let her get away with and end the night on a bad note. Each time I was ready to call it a night she did something completely idiotic and we had to work through it.

Dear Echo:
  • The arena is not, I repeat - NOT, a scary place that should be avoided. The arena is a place to get down to training business and not to sleep but this does not mean it's bad. You need to remember the times we go in the arena and just walk with me feeding you cookies and bonding. Yes I ask you to lunge and work few times a week, but you're a horse and you will be ridden one day so you better get over it.
  • Once you're IN the arena, it is not necessary to hover by the gate. The gate is a horse eating scary thing. It is unwise to hunker by it and try rearing over it. Beware, it will eat you one day.
  • When you're on a lunge line, it is not advised to stop and become a reining horse spinning the opposite direction and wrapping the line around your neck. I am trying to get you to see that when on the line, it's much better for you to move in a bigger circle. It's more benificial for your muscles and joints. If I have to keep you in a small circle to prevent spinning I will but its not THE goal or point of lunging.
I finally got Echo cooled out and fed both horses and went home for a long, well deserved bubble bath.

Saturday was a much better day. Megan, my non-horse friend / neighbor was going to the barn with me. I once again was in charge of feeding all horses so I knew we'd be there for a little while. We both had goals for our time at the barn. Mine were 1) Give Echo the day off and let her know I still love her despite her previous night antics 2) Ride Dakota and work on our walk/trot trot/walk transitions. Megan had alternative ideas in mind. Her plans included the grey near 'white' mustang gelding at the barn and a foam sparkle unicorn horn she had bought.

She had a different friend of hers that lives in Washington DC proclaim to her that she wanted a unicorn for her birthday. These were the resulting photos to be sent to her friend.

Megan and the unicorn
Megan also proved quite 'helpful' with barn chores.
After our unicorn encounters I got things ready for the night and brought Dakota in to get ready for our ride. Considering he was feisty getting ready, he was incredibly well behaved under saddle. I think we made some great progress and were productive in our walk to trot transitions (usually sloppy and in need of refinement) and he was actually listening to my ques to go from trot to walk (very unusual and usually requires excess queing). Also was able to keep him in a decent circle through a few transitions AND without him swinging his head out or dropping his shoulder. I was also able to get him to maintain a circle while changing the size of circle without loosing his headset. We need more of these kinds of nights!! Last night really got me pumped and even more motivated for our hopeful 2013 show season.

I'm off to the barn shortly and giving both horses the evening off. Mostly because I'm sore, tired and need to study / finish homework for my math course tomorrow. Tomorrow night I'll work with Echo some more and hopefully have a productive evening with her!

December 7, 2012

These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things: Blankets

We kick off my new Friday mini series with a popular topic for this time of year, blankets! I've had some awful experiences with horse apparel and some equally great. Here are the great ones, most I've had personal experience with or have seen them in action among my closest horse friends.

Turnouts - Sheet, Mid and Heavy Weight
  • StormShield NEW BRITION - SOOO excited that Schneiders came out with a new line of this blanket. I was bummed when the others went on closeout and crossed my fingers it meant a new one was coming. Cannot wait to get my hands on this one. 
  • DuraTech Viking II - Haven't tried this one yet myself but at that price and at 1200D it's worth a shot.
  • StormShield EXTREME - Horse Journal's pick of 2012 and at 1680D it's an unbeatable price. Plus a 2 year guarantee! 
  • StormShield CLASSIC EURO - I can't tell you how many of these I have bought. I love them. Great color choices and holds up will at 1200D.
  • SmartPak Ultimate Ballistic Nylon Turnout Blanket - A 10 YEAR guarantee on a blanket?! I'm thinking whoever came up with this idea is both brilliant and insane. There are some horses I'd love to put this blanket on and let them give it a true test run. I'm thinking this is going to be my blanket of choice for Echo once I know I'll be able to consistently blanket her.
  • Riders International - I know many people that like these blankets. I have yet to try them myself. For their price and at 1200D, I always end up on a Schneiders blanket.
Stable Sheets
  • Centaur Basics Stable Sheet - Love this sheet. Dakota has had one for 3+ years with very little wear and tear on it. They also make same sheet in solid colors for your plaid haters.
  • Baker - Of course you have to include a Baker. Who doesn't love Baker?
Stable Blankets
  • Masta Stable Rugs - Hard to find in the United States but I managed to snatch one when I worked for State Line Tack and it's held up amazing, I can't tell you how many times I've washed the thing either! Dakota stays nice and warm with it.
  • Riders International - Good all round Stable Blanket.
  • Schneiders Stable Blankets
Fly Sheets & Accessories
Dakota sporting his Schneider's New Briton blanket!

Next Friday I'll be reviewing "Supplements" - one of my favorite topics!

December 6, 2012

Quick Updates - 12/06

K had a band concert so she wasn't able to feed last night so I went ahead and fed everyone. By the time I was done I was way too tired and wanted to get home to finish homework for today, so I didn't ride Dakota. Finals are next week so I'm hoping to get a few good rides in before I leave for the Christmas holiday.

I gave Echo one final night off from work. Tonight I plan to free lunge her 10 - 15 minutes just to let her know her mini break is over. Tomorrow I'll see how she's feeling after tonight and hopefully work her some more. If K's up to it, might go for a ride - I really dislike riding alone for simple reason of 1) if something happens there's no one there 2) Dakota hates being in the arena alone.

On a happy note, it's Thursday which means its my 'short' day of work and I'm done with work / class by 4:00 this afternoon and to the barn by 4:20. I like Thursday because it is proceeded by Friday, plus my favorite TV shows are on Thursday nights.

Tomorrow morning before work I have to go back to dentist to get fitted for some mouth thingy to try and improve my jaw pain / discomfort caused by my 'TMJ' - which started years ago after getting kicked in the head by Dakota (yes I still own and love that horse). So not sure when I'll get off work tomorrow and be able to get to barn for some pony time but with no major plans over the weekend the horses better be dreading the torture I'll find for them.

December 5, 2012

Chaos of a Week

Monday night the farrier came out for regular trims on all horses. Dakota hadn't been trimmed that long ago so he needed a quick rasp. His front right, his problem hoof grew a lot faster than the others but at same time we need it to grow so it was decent news. 

Echo... Echo was back to herself. The concept of holding a leg up longer than 30 seconds baffles her mind still. She wiggles every direction possible and wants to see everything going on to her hoof.

Tuesday (last night) marked the official one week mark of Echo being on antibiotics. She still is showing excessive urination, but does not appear to be in pain when she urinates. I'm leaning more and more toward the theory of erratic heat cycles. Avoiding social convention of heat cycles calming down this time of year and only having one cycle a month. She'll be super easy to breed when the time comes, in fact it's been suggested to me I breed her to get her to level back out. That however is going to have to wait.

Echo also got a new field mate, Turbo. Turbo had been at the barn before and was owned / ridden by K. However after it was decided he didn't have the heart and power to hold up to eventing, K sold him to a friend of the family for trail riding. Since the guy who bought him doesn't have a good winter set up, he's back for a few months and is turned out with Echo, Glitch and Indy the pony.

Brought both horses in to feed and groomed Echo. I kind of wanted to ride Dakota but decided to wait until tomorrow or Thursday for a ride. I put up my 'ghetto' style stall guards, aka lead ropes. Dakota broke his in the past so I have none at the moment. I think I'll be investing in a few though since Echo seems to like to be able to look out when she is in her stall. I proceeded to give Echo as good of a grooming as possible... It was rather difficult considering the amount of mud on her. The dirt had dirt on it. I wish I had a before picture!
Watching all the other horses outside.
My failed attempt at an artistic leather picture.  I'll try again someday!
Love this face!
I promise I cleaned stalls after the pictures were taken!
Trying to sniff each other.
Tonight Dakota's lesson has been cancelled so I will probably go for a ride on him. I need some Dakota time after my stressful week. Classes wrap up next week for the semester which is a complete YAY meets freak out. Work on our walk / trot transitions. Hopefully with his recent trim he won't be such a jerk on transitions. Going to give Echo a thorough groom. Tomorrow hopefully Echo will be ready to work a little bit. I don't want to push her but she's looking more and more like herself. 

December 4, 2012

Blog Mini Series

Winter is upon us as we turned the calendar to December this week. I fully admit as it gets colder and colder, my spare time is less likely spent in the barn. I'm sure I won't be working with Echo 3-4 times a week like I want once she's healthy enough to be worked. I want to keep writing post so this is part of my way to take up that missing time.

All 'series' will be 8, 12 or 16 weeks long. If this works out and people seem to like it, I may find things to continue with.

December - February: These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things - I've been going through all of my horse stuff since I found out I was getting Echo, trying to reorganize for 2 horses. It the process I found a lot of things that I had a "Ick that needs to be thrown away" or "I love this" reaction too. So this series is my way of sharing the good reactions. From everything from tack to supplements and apparel to first aid.

March - June: Echo's Stallion Selections - What mare owner doesn't love browsing stallions to potentially breed your mare(s) to? These will be my top picks for everything from Thoroughbreds to warmbloods and sporthorses.

August - September: Under the Influence - More favorite things, but this time it will be more industry wide and along the lines of "these are the top 10 racehorses that have influenced me..." or top riders, trainers, etc.

Future Ideas - Comments or Suggestions Needed! These could be a weekly / bi-weekly / monthly post. I don't want anything more frequent than weekly for fear it'd take away too much time from post about Echo and her training.
- Industry Trends - Economy, Legislation Passing, etc could be covered here. Whether it be racing, eventing, dressage, etc.
- Organization Spotlight - Equine organizations I've come across in my years as a horse owner that I feel actually do good for the horse world and ones I've seen actual results from.

December 3, 2012

Healthy Echo on the Rise

Echo seems to be on the mend. She's more and more like herself every day. I saw her running in the field a bit and is back to being feisty in her stall. 

Friday was a bad night for me. I went to the farm, fed fast and went home. Echo bit me in the process of giving her the syringe of apple sauce and antibiotics. Ouch. Then the emotions of the week between Echo and work caught up with me. After a good crying session over the phone with my Mom we got my plane ticket purchased for me to go see her over Christmas in North Carolina.

Saturday I went to the barn super early for me, around 1 in afternoon, and got stalls ready for both Echo and Dakota. I discovered Echo will eat her antibiotics if they're mixed in with her hay pellets. Yay for no more getting bit. I think had to go home and spend late afternoon and evening tortured at my 5yo cousins birthday party.

Sunday I went shopping and out to lunch with my Dad. We finally got him a new computer! First one since 2001ish. I was ready to take a sledge hammer to the old one - so frustrating. Now I get to learn Windows 8 because my Dad is technology impaired and I'll have to walk him through almost everything.

Few pictures to hold everyone over until I get new ones of Echo.

Dakota being naughty and refusing to go back out in the field.
My cat Holly enjoying feeding time in my aquarium.

November 28, 2012

Vet Updates

So the vet came out Tuesday around 11:40 and started giving Echo an exam.

All of her vitals were normal and didn't appear to have any physical problems. The vet was a little stumped and suggested we do blood work.

Then after taking one more look under her tail to make sure there were no obvious problems Echo urinated in front of the vet. It made me happy because I'm pretty sure the vet thought I was lying about her straining. Vet ran to her truck and got a tube and was able to get a half vial of urine to test. She agreed it was definitely more milky and white than it should be.

She drew blood to test and make sure her kidneys are functioning well. She doesn't believe she has kidney or bladder stones because there was no blood to indicate one.

Tuesday afternoon I got a call from the vet that all her levels were normal. She told me to stick to the plan of 7 days on antibiotics and see how she does. 

As of Wednesday night she's eating normal and acting ok. Still not done worrying. I found out today from some reputable horse people that this particular vet has had many complaints. The main vet with this clinic is amazing, but this girl seems to not be as... trustworthy. If Echo isn't feeling better or is still having problems by tomorrow night I may be looking at calling a second vet for a different opinion. Until then, she keeps getting her antibiotics and is out of work until she's better.

November 27, 2012

Quick Update - 11/27

Soo after calling into work yesterday not feeling well I got a phone call from my barn owner that Echo wasn't feeling well.

She finished her dinner the night before but showed no interest in her breakfast. I got out there as fast as possible. After messing around with her a little I could tell she was off. After a call to the vet and ruling out colic I gave her some bute to see if it would help. I feed her as normal per vet instructions and she started nibbling on her grain.

Went home and ate dinner then went back to barn around 8. She was eating better but still looked to be in discomfort.

She has been straining to urinate and it isn't like her being in heat because she looks uncomfortable in the process.

Vet is coming out late morning to check her out. Fingers crossed we find the problem!

November 25, 2012

Bits Bridles & Side Reins

I got to the barn early yesterday, around 3 and got stalls cleaned and unloaded my bags of grain and hay pellets.

Brought Echo in and groomed and lived on her. She seemed much more interested in me over the 1/2 flake of hay I gave her to munch on.

I saddled her up - she was a little fidgety for being further but handled it pretty well overall and stood still by the time I was done saddling her.

I put her bridle on and put her halter on over. This way she could learn the feel of a bit with no pressure on the bit.

I free lunged her w/t/c which she loved! She was full of energy and managed a slightly pathetic buck. I then put her on the line since K was going to be riding Glitch. I also decided to put my side reins on my saddle. Main reason being so she could feel something on the bit. I'm not a huge fan of side reins since I've found horses can become reliant on them way too fast. I kept them on the longest hole tonight since the last thing I wanted them to do was pull on her face.

She didn't mind the side reins at all. I walked and trotted her on the line with them on. She has improved a ton on the lunge line! The last few sessions I've been able to walk / trot her, ask her to stop, switch directors and change from walk > trot and trot > walk. She still doesn't live moving to the right but is much better about it and doesn't throw her butt into the one corner.

I ended our training session by making her stand next to the mounting block. I stood on the block and wiggled the saddle, just pet her and pushed a little on the saddle seat. She just stood there playing with the bit and sticking out her tongue. Ended the night with another grooming and lots of cookies for the good pony!

November 24, 2012

Luck of the Irish!

I've had a few rather uneventful days since my ride on Thursday. Yesterday Dakota's dressage girth and Echo's new girth arrived. Both fit!!!! Ill actually be able to ride with a properly tightened girth on Dakota again and ill be able to get a girth on Echo without straining every arm muscle to get it to buckle.

We've had snow and COLD temperatures since Friday morning and it has killed my motivation to work Echo. I plan on doing some ground work with her later today.

If you dislike football, stop reading now - no horse content from here on!

Love. Notre Dame. Football.

I remember being 3-4 years old and having my grandparents over on a Saturday afternoon to watch Notre Dame football. I remember requesting to watch the movie Rudy over cartoons. I also remember breaking down crying at a young age after hearing the words "when you grow up you'll go to Notre Dame" one too many times and proclaiming "but I don't want to play football" - safe to say I was born a Notre Dame fan. Yes Kentucky is my #1 basketball, ND will always be #1 football .

South Bend is only a 45 minute drive from me so I've been on the ND campus many times. I wish I had gone there simply because of how gorgeous the campus is.

If I happen to stay in Michigan after my bachelors degree (which is far from the plan) I would have to consider getting my masters degree from Notre Dame instead of Western Michigan. Time will only tell - for now I'm just anxious for the BCS Championship game!!!

November 23, 2012

Best Thanksgiving Ever!

I had gone to the barn owners house for an early afternoon thanksgiving dinner. After eating and dessert K and I went out to ride. It was oddly warm out for this time of year - 65F to be exact. I thought few weekends ago was going to be the last of our warm weather but this time I'm even more sure since we are getting snow today.

I got Dakota in and could tell he was going to be grumpy so I put him on the lunge line and W/T/C him for 5-10 minutes to get the kinks out of him which really helped and he seemed happier after.

K and I warmed up in the arena and then hit the trails. We walked around few times and then began trotting around. Dakota being sorta hyper jumped into the trot and took a few awkward strides of his trot / canter oddness that he likes to do. I laughed it off and trotted on.

My knee was feeling good and he was responsive and I got the crazy idea to ask him for a canter.

Now... For those that know me are probably in shock. It has been, at minimum, 8 years since I've cantered. After my 2nd concussion in high school and constant problems with my equilibrium cantering was not an option for me. Any time I'd ask for one in an arena, it was as if I had never rode and would slide right off into the ground any time I cantered a corner. So this is a bigger deal than it would be for most.

K trotted while I asked Dakota to pick up a canter, he was kinda hesitant but we got 3 strides before I pulled him back to the walk. It felt absolutely amazing! He has the best rhythmic rocking horse canter when he gets in stride. K and I trotted around some more and I tried a new spot to ask for the canter, this time I got in a good 10-15 strides and I was grinning ear to ear. We rode back up to the barn to get my iPhone so K could video the proof of my canter.

We went back out for one more go at the canter, see it for yourself in the video before :D right after the video ended he put his head down and started to round his back and not look like a giraffe with.his head in the air. We cooled out and K went on to do some cross country work with Glitch.

Lots of work ahead of me on cantering but had to start somewhere - it'll be awhile before I gain the courage to try turning again. I can see some lunge line lessons in my future.

Echo got yet another night off. Tomorrow is back to our schedule of training. Her new girth should be here tomorrow so it won't be such a pain to saddle her.

November 22, 2012

Turkey and Thanks

For Americans, Happy Thanksgiving. For my non American readers, Happy November 22 2012.

Canada celebrates in October, which that concept is just... odd to me and Europe, you probably don't even know what I'm talking about. So with that, I thought I'd take today to reflect on what I'm thankful for, since you know... that's the point of Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is always one of my favorite holiday's. Maybe even second behind Fourth of July / Independence Day. 

First and foremost, I'm thankful for my amazing family. My Mom is my best friend. Even though we only get to see each other a few times a year we remain as close as ever. My little sister is following in my footsteps of learning to love horses, I only wish I could get to know her better by living closer. I love my Grandparents, two great people that I can never get enough of. My Aunts, Uncles and Cousins are equally as important to me and enrich my life that much more. My Dad even though we go head to head and irritate each other on a regular basis does more for me that I can ask and a lot of times I forget what all he does do for me. Also thankful for my barn family :)

Most people would call them only friends, but I consider my friends to be my second family. Family doesn't mean blood and more times than not, my friends know and get me more than my family. My closest friends, you know who you are but in case you don't - Amanda, Amy, Colleen, Erin, George, Jenny, Lindsay and Lyssette among others. Thanks to you, my second family, you make every day a better life to live.

My four furry creatures, Holly, Abu, Dakota and Echo. 

Finally I'm thankful for the small things in life; The education experience I'm receiving - my job and coworkers - healthy self, family & friends.

So everyone go eat a slice of pumpkin pie and enjoy all of the things you are thankful for!

I'm going to see the horses this morning and have a lunchtime meal with my barn family. I'll go spoil both Dakota and Echo with plenty of treats and give them their 'dinner' before I leave. They'll get the day off from work.

Taking care of my friends animals - 2 dogs cats and a horse, neighbors dog and still staying the night at my Grandparents. Hopefully getting a chance to see 2 of my best friends over the holiday weekend as well.

November 21, 2012

Pre Turkey Hangover

Dakota's lesson has officially been cancelled tonight. Now if I can only get the college close due to lack of interest of employees my day would be better.

I didn't see the ponies last night :( By the time I got done with homework, my hair done, packed up and everything + cats moved to my grandparents it was 11pm. Not to mention in the car Abu (one of my cats) decided to get car sick while I was driving, all over my lap. And I mean ALL over. The real kicker? I had just pulled onto the drive my Grandparents live on and the car would of been stopped within the next 90 seconds. Damn cat. Thankfully all my Grandparents neighbors are old and most were in bed already because I ran in the house, threw (ok not throw but tossed... lightly) Abu into the bathroom and shut the door, got my Grandparents cats locked up so they wouldn't go outside - and took my cat puke covered sweatpants off. Thankful for boy-shorts right about then because all my clothes were in the car still and I had to run back and forth to get stuff in the house.

Finally got all the animals settled and a clean pair of sweatpants put back on and I crashed.

I feel like a zombie that hasn't come back to life yet. So I'll be sitting at my desk all day waiting for the text to come through that reads "College Closed Due to Unsuitable Work Conditions" because of the lack of beds and pillows provided.

I have to run to Tractor Supply and get Dakota more MSM and then I'll fumble through doing chores tonight - at least stalls are clean since they've been outside almost every night now. Bad weather is coming again though so its back to stalls at night! Hopefully I'll be seeing one of my best friends tonight so we can hang out all day tomorrow. Fingers crossed.

November 20, 2012

Supplements The Lazy Way

Before I start... I'd like to say I love SmartPak and if they carried the 3-4 supplements I use I'd probably get SmartPak's for both horses. I love their services, supplements, all of it so this is nothing against them. But alas, I don't see the point in SmartPak's if I'm still going to be scooping supplements for ones that they don't carry. Also for the record, I've contacted SmartPak about carrying this particular brand of supplements.

So I bought 8 packs of the Gladware 3oz food containers, 4 packs for each horse - 32 individual containers for each. The 8 packs came out to roughly $30. Then I bought 2 drawers to store the containers in which came out to about $16. So for $46 I have reusable containers that the amount I spent, makes up for what I'd save in using all SmartPak supplements in about a month and a half's time.

Before I made this decision - I took a step back and looked at my combo of supplements to make sure nothing would interfere with each other by being mixed together. I do this anyway before I decide what supplements to feed at what meal but being mixed together adds a new element. 

Months worth being prepared.
Finished off with a therapeutic dose of psyllium! 
Pretty layers
30 fitted pretty in the drawer. I can squeeze 32 in there but it ruins the pretty-ness.

Starting tonight I'm staying at my Grandparents. One good, or bad depending on how you look at it, about holiday weekends is it never fails I'm asked to pet sit. This time though, I've got my hands full.

Tuesday to Tuesday - Grandparents house. 15 min from my house, 20 to the barn and 35 to the college. Taking my cats with me since I'll be there a solid week. Yay for a house of 4 cats!

Thursday afternoon to Sunday afternoon - Neighbors dog and cat which means driving from my grandparents to her house multiple times a day.

Thursday night and Friday morning - Friends 2 dogs, cats and horse. At least this one is on my way to the others!

I can see already my time with my horses will be limited with my running around but I plan on doing some work with them at least Thursday and Friday afternoon / early evening.