February 22, 2013

New Stallion Series Starting Next Week

It's spring - well sorta, it's officially just around the corner. Anyways, every new year I get the breeding bug. I love the excitement of the new foals arriving, colt or filly, seeing how a new mare / stallion combination turn out and seeing what mare owners decide to breed their mares back to for the following springs foal.

While I'm a ways away, at least a year, from breeding Echo, I can't stop myself from searching possible future stallions for her to be bred to. I have no intention of breeding her every year or turning her into a foal machine, but every few years I'd like the option of breeding her. After all I find it to be one of the biggest joys in being a mare owner.

So starting next Friday, March 1st, I plan on posting one of my possible stallion selections every Friday for at least a few months. There are a lot of gorgeous stallions out there after all!

There will be three 'categories' of stallions. Thoroughbreds (Racing & Sporthorse), Knabstrupper and Warmbloods.

February 20, 2013

Happy (Official) Fifth Birthday Echo

First of all, Echo officially turned 5 on Monday and I failed to realize that until yesterday. I like taking extra treats to the horses or spoiling them a little extra on their birthday but with feeling like crud it completely slipped my mind. Technically she was 5 on January 1st because of Jockey Club standards but shes officially 5 calendar years old :)

Second, as predicted I did not go to the barn yesterday and will not be going again today. I broke down and went to the doctor yesterday and was told I have strep throat, bronchitis and the start of an ear infection to top things off. Glad I went to doctor, sorry I didn't go sooner.

Finally a friend of mine posted this on Facebook and I thought the timing was quite fitting after Sunday's events with Dakota. I'm pretty sure this is my personal motto, otherwise I think I would of gave up riding long ago.

Hoping to feel well enough by tomorrow or Friday to venture to the barn for a short visit with Dakota and Echo, fingers crossed!

February 18, 2013

I Like Dirt

Not very much to update on as I'm still sick and stuck in bed with a fever.

Yesterday I did have to feed all the horses however. S went to the barn with me, despite being warned about my illness. Before heading to the barn I loaded myself with EmergenC, Advil and DayQuil and brewed a thermos full of tea and honey.

First mistake was taking all of the above things. By the time I got to the barn, I felt great. Second mistake, believing my sudden burst of energy meant I was fit to ride. So S and I pulled Dakota in, groomed and tacked him up. I was planning on letting S ride since it had been before the holiday's that she had been able to have a lesson but first I wanted to get on him to make sure he was going to behave. I got on, warmed up great, worked on walk / halt transitions and tempo changes at the walk. Started a little trot and Dakota wanted no part of it. Majority of the ride until this point he was fighting keeping his head bent into the inside and was completely unfocused but he was doing what I asked at the same time. So I pulled him back to a walk and figured it was best if I did what my trainer had me do last week and pull my legs back and really focus on keeping my knees off of his sides and not worry as much about what he was doing. As I was fidgeting with my position, a giant chunk of snow fell off the barn which Dakota normally doesn't bat an eye at. Nope not yesterday... he jumped forward and sideways seemingly all at the same time and I stayed with him almost the entire time but in the end I kind of rolled off him. I actually didn't land that hard, almost landed on my feet. After catching him (pretty sure he knew I was not overly happy) I climbed back on, with a crop this time and he threw me a few threatening kicks and after a few reminder smacks of the crop he finally got through and we had a few good rounds of a trot. I jumped off and let S cool him out. 

Echo sat in her stall being a good pony while we worked with Dakota. I cuddled her for a few before heading home for a much needed hot hot hot shower.

K fed and brought in my horses today since my fever is fighting my attempts to get it to break.I have a good feeling I will not be going out again tomorrow.

February 16, 2013

2013 Show & Clinic Schedule Posted!

You may notice there's a new page up there at the top of this blog. I finally compiled a list of the available schooling shows, shows and clinics of 2013 I'm interested in going to. I will NOT be going to all of these. Well maybe if I suddenly become employed again, win the lottery, or suddenly get some sort of showing support from my family. 

Clinics - I won't be riding in any clinics but I figure its better to get out there and audit  than not to go to any at all. 

The jumping clinic, while I clearly have no interest in jumping, I figure it might be beneficial for me to hear the whole lecture about sports psychology since I have mental riding blocks from past experiences. DEFINITELY going to the Charles de Kunffy clinic. Not too far away and will be worth the drive. The fourth clinic on my list is the day after their show and if you compete in the schooling show you get to ride in the clinic so maybe?

Shows - I won't be riding in any clinics but I figure its better to get out there and audit  than not to go to any at all. 

Most shows are through the Great Lakes Area Show Series - Educational Dressage organization that is a group member of USDF. There is a Hunter/Jumper schooling show first weekend of May that's through the LMHJA and another 'fun / open show' in October at the same farm that are not on the list yet since I don't know exact dates. We'll be going to these though since they're right down the road and always good for the experience.

While I intend to start doing canter work with Dakota throughout the year, I've decided I will stick to competing in USDF Intro Level and do test A & B and toward end of the season consider the idea of test C - which includes tiny amount of canter. A & B are walk / trot only. I may also do walk / trot dressage equitation classes with him depending on how we progress. The more 'local shows' - less than a half hour drive - I may take Echo for the experience and possibly an In-Hand class here and there. I don't want to plan on riding her through it then be disappointed later.

Show's I'm 90% sure I'll be going to are the Burlwood Benefit, Willow Tree and Chardon Valley. The Burlwood Benefit show is for K's trainer (my trainers former trainer as well), Margret Spencer as she is paralyzed from a riding accident about 4 years ago. The other two locations are super close to me, about a 10 minute and a 20 minute drive. While all the shows are within an hour and half from the barn I know these are most likely. Next most likely are Derbyshire, Mystic Ridge and Equine Line.

The only goal I have from this year of showing and clinics? No falling out of horse trailers!!!

February 15, 2013

These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things: First Aid & Health


Kool Out Clay - Hands down the fastest working poultice I've ever seen.

Wound Care
Betadine Surgical Scrub - There are a lot of betadine washes but stick to the original...
Vetericyn - Haven't used but heard good things.

Leg Care
ColdFlex Vet Wrap - Love this stuff
DMSO - Another no brainer to have. BUT if you can find the roll on bottle, get it - so much easier to work with!
Fura-Free - Same sweat application without a cancer causing ingredient! Can be use for non sweat things... but I've always used it to sweat legs.

Hoof Care
Hooflex Thrush Remedy - Good preventative of thrush.
EZ Ice Hoof - Don't have it, but now that I've seen it, I want it and it seems like a good thing to have ready.

First Aid Tools
3M Vetrap - No brainer... the other brands flat out suck.
Utility Bandage Scissors
Digital Vet Thermometer - Waiting for non digital sucks too.
SureGrip Syringe - Love the grip thingy.
Oral Meds Syringe
Stable Tote - I keep all my first aid / health stuff in this. 
Box of randoms - QTips, Toothpicks, Epsom Salts, Flashlight, scalpel (extreme emergencies obviously), needles and syringes of different sizes, pill crusher, safety pins, gloves, rubbing alcohol, peroxide, twitch, plastic wrap, pile of old newspaper for poultice, etc.

February 14, 2013

New Half Pad Pictures

I was way too tired earlier to take photos of the new half pad so here's a second post with more pictures :)

Kelly Green Saddle Pad - Swear the color is much brighter than this!
ECP Air Ride Pad
The reason my pad may have appeared 'lumpy'.
Underside of the sheepskin half pad.
Demonstration of the proper use of the air ride pad.

Outside Rein, Inside Leg

I feel like I need to get a tattoo of "Inside Leg" somewhere that I'll be constantly reminded. Better yet? Lets freeze brand it on the top of Dakota's neck or on the back of his ear so I see it when I'm on his back. 

I have no problem keeping my outside rein, I engraved that in my head early last year. However, I'm having to remind myself, that I can't cater to Dakota's wishes. He hates leg contact, HATES. So over the years I've learned to que him in our own little way. After a lovely post my friend Lyssette recently posted, I realized I need to stop catering to him. 1) If I don't stop, it will effect my riding and training on Echo. 2) My accommodation of the brat head Dakota has ruined my usually good equitation. As someone that while growing up riding, equitation classes were always my strong point and I want to get back to that since I know it will improve my dressage riding.

So to recap yesterday... I couldn't resist going to the tack store. I waited for K to get out of school, picked her up and headed to a tack store I'd never been to, but stalk their website regularly. It's about 35 minutes one way to get there so it's by far closer than the one I regularly visit.

I bought four things. 1) A fly sheet for Dakota that was on clearance for $29.99. 2) A KELLY GREEN saddle pad with white piping. This made my day. So unbelievably hard to find a dang kelly green saddle pad that isn't custom ordered. 3) ECP Air Ride Pad that I plan to start using on Echo. 4) Engel half pad in natural sheepskin color with black quilting. Planned on getting an ECP half pad since those have the free space along spinal column but this will work for what I need. The pad I got does have a few open spaces along the spine for ventilation.

So K and I got back to the farm and rounded up her mom (the barn owner) and the three of us headed out for a ride. I brushed Dakota as quickly as possible but he was caked in mud along with him starting to shed his winter coat (yay). I decided to use the new green saddle pad and my half pad. May as well test them out right away right? Half pad fit my dressage saddle perfectly and I love the green on Dakota. I also realized Dakota's dressage girth was at home (I had no intention of riding yesterday) and had to borrow a girth but their smallest girth was still about 4 inches too big for Dakota. Yay for midget sized horses! Seriously though, my 15.3 gelding wears small boots, cob bridle, 20" dressage girth, and 10" leg wraps.

New AP Saddle Pad & Half Pad w/ my Courbette
So I warmed up working on keeping my legs back and actually making Dakota work through it and have my legs ON him. He was rather... pissed (no better way to put it) but after 3-4 rounds of the arena he started to relax and bend into the bit. I worked on some walk / halt transitions and some tempo changes at the walk. 

Then my trainer / barn owner pointed out that because I'm knock-kneed and I have endless knee issues, my toes point out way too much instead of my foot being parallel to my horse. At the same time my knees are turning into him (because of my previous accommodating his finicky ways) which in turn limits his shoulder movement. She had me riding in a half seat at a walk, keeping my legs in right spot and keeping my feet in better spot. My legs were shaking because I have zero strength when my foot is parallel to the horse. I was able to make it few circles and I could definitely tell he was moving more free in the front and started rounding better and faster. Trainer told me to call it a night but I felt like my legs could handle a lap or two at the trot so I gave it a go maintaining my half seat. I was in shock. The trot I got out of Dakota was what I usually have to trot for 20ish minutes and lots of fighting to get him into. Which means the 20 minutes I spent before is probably wearing me out and my muscles relax and don't restrict his shoulders with my knee squeezing. After the trotting my legs felt like they were going to fall off. I ended with a nice trot to walk transition and a few more halt transitions.

Pictures make this post seem less long right?
I turned Dakota back out and said a quick hi to Echo. Suppose to be a milder, snow free night so I let both horses spend the night outside. 

So now... extra calf stretching before I ride. I am going to also have to be even more conscious of how I walk on a daily basis. I forget now and then how bad I 'toe out' - one good thing snow is good for, letting you see your footprints and remember these kinds of things. Also time to Google some exercises to try and strengthen the proper muscles to help 'cure' my toed out / knocked knees.

Kudos to anyone who followed this long drawn out post of my rambling. Today I plan to work and ride (maybe) Echo. Depending on what K has going on I may ride Dakota again.

Wintec Isabel = Mine

Well as of now I'm officially getting my friends Wintec Isabel. It's only had one previous owner and is in good shape. My friend is putting in the Medium Wide gullet for me so I should be able to put it right on both ponies. Not sure when she'll be shipping it but I hope to have it by the end of the Month.

I have to delay my Courbette getting reflocked until next week as the saddle fitter is out of town until next week. Fingers crossed she can fit me in Monday and I don't have to wait until later next week. The tack shop I'm taking the saddle to also has an awesome sale on half pads. I'm planning on investing in either a black or white one, haven't decided what will be best in long run. I figure since I'll already have the Courbette there I'll be able to fit the half pad to make sure I buy the right size.

Didn't go to the barn yesterday but plan to head out today and spend some quality pony time. Suppose to be in the low 40's and not too rainy so I think I'll be working Echo in full tack + side reins. If K is around possibly ride her, if not I'll lunge Dakota too. If K is up to more, maybe I'll ride Dakota too and see how he feels after being trimmed.

February 11, 2013

Possible New Saddle & Video

Sunday the farrier ran late as usual. Good thing its basically expected of farriers. S and I brought in the horses as soon as we got to the barn. Both horses I think knew what was up and were total jerks to catch in the field. Finally got Dakota in and then I went after Echo. S and I lunged Dakota and let him get out some of his attitude in the arena. 

Echo was throwing a fit in her stall so we swapped out horses and put Echo in the arena. I decided to let her just stretch and run since she had two days of tack + riding and I don't want to over do it.

Both horses actually stood great for the farrier. After one look at Dakota's hooves he just shook his head and agreed that they were screwed up. We left him barefoot and will be putting his shoes on next time he's out. Echo did not grow as much as Dakota and he pretty much just filed her down and fixed her angles a tiny bit.

On a different note, my should-be-sister who I've known since before I owned Dakota has an extra Wintec Isabel dressage saddle. She's double checking the seat size for me and if its the right saddle size she's sending it to me! Anyone have any additional input on a Wintec saddle? I've never been a big fan of synthetic but for the short term it would be great. Plus I can put a MW gullet in and make it a little better fitting for Echo. Also I'm taking my Courbette Husar dressage saddle in to be reflocked this week! Cannot wait to ride Dakota in it once it's reflocked, I think he'll be much more comfortable in it.

Video From Feb 9 and 10th - Both pre-ride lunging - Definitely wait for it to load in the highest quality of video otherwise it is very grainy.

February 10, 2013

First (TWO) Rides!!!

So I clearly failed to update throughout the week. To make up for it, I have a ton of pictures and video from my first two RIDES on Echo!!!

Monday / Tuesday went pretty much as planned last week. No working the ponies, just chores. Wednesday and Thursday I played a little with both Dakota and Echo but nothing major. 

Friday morning my friend Erin came to the barn with me. I wanted to back Echo again, this time with a saddle on. I also planned on cleaning stalls and getting everything ready so all I had to do was bring in the horses in the evening since I had things to do and wanted to be semi presentable after coming from the barn (aka no hay in hair or on clothes). Also Friday (Feb 8th) marked 4 months of Echo's arrival in Michigan so I wanted to take new 'progression' photos.

I lunged her and put side reins on loose to get her use to a little bit of pressure and wiggling on the bit. Just to get her use to things. She went amazing around the arena. It was the most comfortable I've seen her move with tack on. She even was kind enough to do her extended trot and let me drool a little. 

After letting her burn a bit of energy, Erin leaned over her and backed her a few times for me before swinging herself onto Echo. Echo was unfazed. Next it was my turn. I backed her and took a few steps around with me laying over her. Still... unfazed. We lined back up to the mounting block and I got on her! She flinched once, when I put my foot in the iron to get on. By flinched I mean, took 1/2 step and looked at me funny. I dropped my stirrups so that I could move my legs around on her sides and be able to escape fast if needed. Erin led us around 2-3 times around the arena. Next she walked next to use but loosened up on the lead rope so I essentially had control. Finally, since we had a long lead rope on her I walked Echo in a few circles around Erin, got off and had a major party with my rock star mare.

Friday Pictures
My new view!
1) Yes I basically rolled out of bed before going to barn 2) Yes my paddock boots are not even tied 3) Yes those a roping reins... - Don't judge.
Yes her mane is a nightmare. It was greatly improved Saturday after our ride.
Saturday I wandered to the barn around 3:00 and was hoping K would be willing and able to help me again with Echo. I wanted to get on her two days in a row to make a point with mare face that this is the new goal of our training sessions. I put my real reins back on her bridle, put side reins on again and lunged her around. She definitely had more energy than Friday so I lunged her a little longer.

K came in arena and we put a lead rope on her bridle but so it wouldn't interfere with my rein holding and pressure. Worked on starting and stopping, which went REALLY well. I barely had to close my fingers on the reins and shift my weight back and she stopped perfectly. My biggest challenge, which was all me... She feels strange to sit on! Dakota is VERY narrow. I almost feel like I'm sitting with my legs straight down. These two rides on Echo are leaving my hips thinking I'm trying to speed up the replacement process. Next time I ride = lots of stretching and pre-ride aspirin.

Saturday Photos

Video is still rendering and processing on YouTube so it will be in tomorrow's post! Farrier is coming early this afternoon to trim both horses. As I think I previously stated I've reverted back to my old slow guy. He has done the best job with Dakota since moving back to Michigan. He is just super, super slow at trimming but its for the best in long run! I'm anxious to see what he does with Echo as well. 

K will be gone so I have to bring everyone in and feed tonight. S is coming out with me for the farrier appointment and to help with chores. Depending on how Dakota feels after his trim I may lunge him and let her ride him lightly around. Echo - I plan on doing more of her mane, it's about 1/3 way done. It will still be longer than 'show ready' but much more presentable than its previous state.

February 4, 2013

Good Groundhog

So the groundhog actually saw his shadow, meaning spring is closer than not. This is of course, according to a groundhog. Does anyone know that thing's accuracy in predictions? It probably just lies and we will have many more weeks of snow to come.

Wrist update: Many people have sent me much appreciated well wishes on getting my wrist healed so thought I'd throw in a quick update. Once I finally got the radiologist report, I learned the fracture wasn't in a significant place of concern, didn't have to change anything and was free to start using my arm a little. I'm now almost back to normal function. It is still a little weak but much better. I still wear my splint when I'm out and about as a reminder not to go overboard with it, but home and sometimes at the barn I want nothing to do with that thing.

Trying to plan my week for Echo. As I said in my last post, part of my new free time is going to be spent devoting extra time to the barn and more specifically, Echo. Dakota will be back to work soon, but since the farrier had to be cancelled last week due to weather / road conditions, it will be a little longer. Not really sure how it'll go but I'm going to give it a shot based on the weather. I try not to do much in the way of physical work if its colder than 30F. Too hard on their lungs!

Monday - High of 23F. A much much needed grooming! I was in a rush last night or she would of gotten it then but for a second I thought she was a giant pig with all the dirt on her. Going to spend time working on her mess of a mane and trying to pull it some more to make it look 'normal'.
Tuesday - High of 28. Desensitization time! At least once a week now I hope to introduce Echo to big scary things and ensure her they won't eat her. I think I'll go for either an umbrella or a giant yoga ball being kicked around the arena.
Wednesday - High of 29. One more degree please? Maybe a second day of desensitization? I've already gotten her use to different colors of tarps and different things around her feet. I think I'll have to start getting creative soon because she's not overly spooky to begin with. Once we get a non snowy day I'll have to do it all over again outside.
Thursday - High of 35. Finally. Tack her up, saddle, bridle and possibly extremely loose side reins to introduce an ounce of rein pressure. Free lunge.
Friday - High of 34. Repeat of Thursday. Possible backing with saddle on depending on who all is around to assist in holding and walking her around.

Yes that is five straight days of work for mare face. However 1) It's likely to change due to the insane Michigan weather 2) I don't know what the weather is going to do over next weekend / next week and I need to get in training time wherever possible.

So check back for updates through the week of our progress. Also check back for some possible exciting pictures!