June 29, 2014

26 Non-Horse Things About ME!

I'm 26 today. Since I'm driving to Michigan for the week to spend the week and holiday with family and friends I figured I'd leave you with a list of 26 random facts about me. 

  1. I have a phobia of clowns. Full blown phobia, not just a dislike. Mimes and things in mask / costumes are a not so far behind, but I can tolerate them. Halloween is not my favorite holiday. 
  2. My mother put me in the lake my grandparents live at for first time at 6 days old. Needless to say I have zero fear of water and feel at home in a lake or pool.
  3. I use to think that when my family told me I was going to one day go to Notre Dame University it meant I had to play football. Clearly I was a brain washed 3-4 year old. 
  4. Favorites: Color = Green. Number = 6. Food = Really anything Italian or Mexican. Dessert = Ice Cream. Green Bay Packers, Detroit Red Wings, Yankees or Tigers. 
  5. Only child for 15 years. Now have a half sister that's 15 years younger than me.
  6. Youngest of 3 cousins on Dad's side of family, oldest of 11 on Mom's side of family. Dad's side did screw it up by my only uncle having a kid 5 years ago, but that's ok, he doesn't count. Still determined to be the baby of the family on that side. My next oldest cousin on Mom's side is more like a brother to me, we're just under a year apart and always were a force vs the other cousins.
  7. I can convert time and time-zones in my head way too easily. Standard to military and vice-versa to knowing whats what time zone wise and have a pretty good understanding of who is in what time zone and can convert it to whatever necessary in my head. My co workers love me when we do Japan and South America racing. 
  8. I love technology. It kills me to not have the most current electronics available. My laptop, iPad, iPhone, iPod all need updating. 
  9. I've never had a tooth cavity and never needed braces. Both my parents have terrible teeth. I'm convinced their bad teeth genetics cancelled each other out.
  10. Backstreet Boys > N*Sync, Justin Timberlake Solo > Backstreet Boys. Backstreet Boys + New Kids on the Block Tour > Anything. That shit was epic, enough said.
  11. I've been told I could be a celebrity's best friend. Unless you were in a boy band or part of the cast of Grey's Anatomy, Friends, or How I Met Your Mother, I'm probably not going to recognize you from a lineup of 10 people, let alone know your name.
  12. I love a cheesy romantic comedy movie. They all have the same story and outcome, but regardless I still watch them. I'm hopeless on my movie taste.
  13. If I didn't have horses, my spare time and $ would be all dedicated to traveling. My dream is to be able to travel AND have horses but so far that hasn't gone so well in life. I'd probably be the top rank for airline miles if I had the chance. 
  14. As a kid I use to love watching bowling on TV. Which was probably started by my grandpa and mom being in a Friday night bowling league and tagging along. I was on a Saturday bowling team when I was 9. That did't last long.
  15. I made the 7th grade basketball team. However my parents forced me to choose between riding lessons and basketball. I chose horses and got Dakota months later. One of my biggest regrets in life is not going for basketball because I love the sport and it was fall / riding lessons were ending for the winter so I probably could have done both if I had pushed my parents hard enough. 
  16. I was suppose to play tennis in high school starting in 10th grade after going to camps etc. Then I tore my ACL ending my tennis run in high school. Still love to play though! Also nothing beats a Sunday afternoon of watching a round of a particular series. 
  17. I was THAT kid in high school. That one that 'overachieved' in community service stuff. I was part of SADD and PALs and was head of 2-3 mini-committees for SADD my junior/senior year. All 4 years of high school I had 100+ hours of SADD community service hours. 
  18. Never missed a high school varsity football game from 7th grade on.
  19. I love HTML.
  20. I hate odd numbers. I'm all about symmetry, I don't like things uneven. Odd numbers can't be split in half into a whole number and it annoys me.
  21. I was tested for MS at the age of 16 - super early for symptoms to display but I had multiple. Test came back negative but I've been tested an additional 3 times by various doctors since. One of my biggest fears is for the day the test comes back positive. 
  22. Love to cook. Baking is ok but I love testing new combinations of seasonings / spices / flavors!
  23. Super shy and quiet. I'm a much better listener than talker. Unless you successfully pry me out of my shell, then I don't shut up.
  24. I'm not a fan (putting it lightly) of clothes shopping or shoe shopping. Anti-girly in this way. I'll go clothes shopping if it's for riding clothes though!
  25. I can sorta sew and use a sewing machine. I can knit too. Put them together it makes me sound super old! Thankfully both have come in hand for horse things. 
  26. Procrastination is my best friend. 

June 26, 2014

Spurs and Video

Yesterday Lauren didn't work so she took Echo out without me there. Something we're trying out for many different reasons. The other times I've not been there she looks for me and isn't completely focused. We all know how attached she is to me so we're trying to break the umbilical cord a little when it comes to riding at least. I can't be there throughout an entire cross country course so she needs to know it's ok to leave me. However by the sounds of it, yesterday she was much better about my absence. 

Lauren also added spurs and said she became much more responsive to her leg. For a horse that likes to be pushed around and usually pushes into pressure, it's 0% shock to me that she does better with the spurs. Glad she switched to using them now rather than later, especially if it's going to help. 

As promised, here's additional video from our schooling day on Monday.

June 25, 2014

Cross Country School - Round 1

Monday = no work day for me and Lauren got out of work fairly early so we decided to take Echo and Dakota to Masterson Station. Masterson = free access to hundreds of acres to ride on. They hold events so there are jumps everywhere, arenas to use, etc. Neither horse had gone before and it was my first time riding there so I had no clue what to expect. 

I beat Lauren to the barn by maybe 20 minutes so I was able to get both horses groomed. Lauren got there as I was ready to tack up so she took over Echo and I got Dakota ready. We decided to tack up and trailer over instead of tacking at the park because we didn't know what kind of traffic would be at the park and how the horses would behave. Both horses loaded like pros and we were on the road by 5pm. 

20 minutes later we were parked, and unloaded. After Lauren made me go hug a tree when I made a rather stupid comment about falling off, we bridled the horses and off we went. Both horses stood to be mounted - no catastrophes.

We rode around one of the fields letting the horses settle in and Dakota and I trotted and did our own thing while Echo and Lauren warmed up. We regrouped and Lauren took Echo over the tiny fences to get her use to the idea of the jumps not being just standards and poles. Second time around they tried some additional fences and jumped the mid height ones. Echo seemed to love it, and had zero stop to her. If Lauren pointed her to a fence, no questions asked, Echo went over. 

Next we wandered our way to a different field where there were ditch jumps. We encountered a bike group and both horses minds were blown by all the bicycles but remained calm in their confusion. Echo jumped the ditch the first couple of times without hesitation but then began to question it and had a few moments of hell no, but got over it and jumped the ditches again without problem. While trying to film ditch jumping, Dakota decided a full body shake was necessary and my crop and phone went flying. I had to dismount, recollect my items and find a place to get back on. The unsteady pile of mulch didn't work so I led him into a covered pavilion and lined him up to the picnic tables.

Onto the next field. This required going through a creek. Dakota had conquered a creek once before but it was sandy on both sides and he leaped over it mostly. Echo had never been through it. Lauren ended up dismounting and leading her through. Once she realized it was water though, she didn't bat another eye at going through water. Dakota took some encouragement, but got through without leaping like a special horse. 

Echo's initial reaction to going through water and the creek. 
In the field were mostly training and prelim options for jumping but the water jump still was great to school both horses on. Echo walk, trot and cantered through the water like a pro. I held my breath the first couple of times because she started wanting to play in the water and knowing how much she loves to swim in water tanks I was afraid of her laying down in it. After watching Echo play, I decided to try Dakota in it, he actually went in! Proof is below!

Finally Lauren took Echo for a gallop and I decided to try cantering Dakota - something that doesn't happen often. After one more jump round, we headed back to the trailer, riding over a Dakota eating bridge that Echo had be his security blanket for. 

Tired ponies, ready to go home. 
I'll have more video of Echo on cross country by the end of the week. It's just taking me longer than I planned to get it uploaded. Dakota pulled a shoe yesterday after going to Masterson so he bought himself a few days off until I can get it back on. 

June 20, 2014

Pony Grow Up

Getting off work for a half day could have easily turned out to be the best part of my day. Echo could have been a complete nightmare refusing to load on trailer, been a mess to tack up, spooked at unknown horses, and lost her mind over a new arena. However she did none of these things, instead she was perfect, maybe too perfect.

I got to barn about 12:35 and headed over to find Lauren after a quick hello to both horses. Plan was to be loaded and ready to leave at 1:15 so I took Echo to the arena to groom since our wash stalls were both in use. She was a little confused by her early afternoon attention but wasn't about to refuse it. Lauren went off to hook the trailer up, I finished grooming MareFace and took her out toward the trailer in perfect timing since Lauren had just finished hooking everything up. 

Now I half expected Echo to not load in her normal well behaved fashion. Her last trailer experience was rather horrifying. After having her front hooves on the ramp and taking approximately 30 seconds to sniff the trailer divider, she walked right on and munched on hay while we secured her for the short trip. On the road, no problems so far, and on time. 
Snacking before loading.
Arrived to Team CEO, unloaded just as uneventfully as loading, took her into the grass and after letting her look around for a minute or two, tacked her up. We walked her over to the arena, the 'scariest' thing was a bush by a creaking gate. I say scary because Echo's nostrils flared once... She definitely was looking around, taking in all the new sights and sounds but was far from reacting to anything she saw. Got to the arena, which is huge with all weather footing, giant windows, and fans I was in heaven to get out of the sun and be able to watch the lesson. On a 90+ degree day I was worried about the heat but it was much cooler in the arena. Lauren got on and started introducing MareFace to the arena. Other than a quick WTF moment at the coiled up hose, which lasted about 90 seconds, she didn't blink twice at a thing. 

Lesson started - some more warm up so the instructor could see what she was like on the ground and get a feel for her since this was their first introduction. She w/t/c both directions with doing trot transitions at the canter to switch leads. Lauren got some pointers on exercises to do with Echo at home and then it was time for jumping. After all the circles and new exercises, Echo was tired but still willing. 

Considering this was her third time going over any jumps, the general consensus was she was great. Just before the first cross rail, someone came through the arena with their dog. Echo's mind was completely elsewhere going 'over' the first jump, and it shows in the video below. The second time, she was more focused but the dog was over by me and she still seemed to be concerned that the dog was around or that I was giving something other than her attention. Regardless, she knocked a rail pretty hard the second time over which seemed to refocus her because the third time she was perfect going over. Next jump to try was the pink/purple straight rail, Echo's first time going over anything not a cross rail. She got lazy going up to it and knocked it by not picking her feet up high enough. Definitely getting more tired. Tried it again - knocked it with her hind. Third time was the charm and she went over without problem. Finally was time to try the green/yellow rail which she went over without touching a rail and it was followed up by one last successful hop over the cross rail. 

Finally to finish off the day the instructor had her do a series of three jumps in a row which by that time Echo was officially tired and lazy. Still, she jumped all three without touching a rail.

After all was said and done, I fully understand now why Lauren takes 30 minute lessons. They both looked exhausted. We walked back to the trailer, untacked and gave MareFace a well deserved cold hose off. We walked her around a few more minutes and then loaded back up just as effortlessly as when we came and drove back to our barn after a quick Diet Coke pit stop. The confusion on Echo's face when she got off the trailer and was back home was priceless. I've never seen her more confused. The concept of leaving and getting to come back home may take a while to set in but with her now weekly off-farm lessons and her first show coming up in July I'm sure she'll get use to it!

Tired mare...

June 18, 2014

Side by Side

So a few of you may know, but my two besties, Colleen & George have left the farm where I board for bigger and better things. Over this past weekend, all their horses were moved, leaving the barn empty in more ways than one. However, one of the bright side things is two stalls side by side opened up. Dakota and Echo have had another boarder's horses in between them so I took the opportunity to move stalls and have them back together. 

George also had been given a hand-me-down tack trunk. He didn't need it with where they moved to, so I now have two tack trunks after getting his hand-me down. 

I'm working a half day today because it is Echo's first off farm lesson with Lauren. When we first planned it we didn't know it was going to be an on going thing with the retirement of Lauren's horse. Anyways, I figure I may as well go to the first one to see how it goes and offer extra hands to help get her ready if needed. I already have my camera charging and memory card empty so I intend to have lots of video and photos to share!

June 17, 2014

Outdoor Jumping, Updates & Pictures

One day world... one day I will get back to near daily post! Catching up hoping that maybe this will be the week... 

Lauren had to unexpectedly retire her eventer last week. Echo is going to be taking over her normal Wednesday lessons that she was taking on her horse. Most likely she won't have another horse until August to focus on so Echo is about to get bumped up in priority standings. 

Last week I took Dakota out with Echo and Lauren and we set out to ride around the outdoor jump field. She jumped the barrel cross rail jump in the picture below. 


Called it a day, cooled her out and then Lauren and I switched horses. The switching was a struggle for both of us. Lauren... is tall and Dakota is short. Dakota is a jerk and only likes me... Myself... switching meant sitting in Lauren's Voltaire. Which means intense blocks and knee rolls. I didn't know what to do with myself. On positive / funny note... I decided I'd ride her at a trot to remind myself what her trot felt like. I was laughing because I couldn't remember how to post and kept saying 'what's wrong with her trot'? Apparently I've forgotten what a real trot feels like after these years of only riding Dakota...


In a last minute decision yesterday, I switched farriers for Echo only (for now). I may switch with Dakota too after the next reset. I used Lauren's farrier and FINALLY Echo's hooves look like well... hooves. No more boxes. Also her hind hoof has fully grown out!! The heart bar shoe is GONE!

Finally yesterday was Dakota's birthday! Happy 14th birthday to the worst best gelding of all time. Hopefully here's to another 14. 

June 12, 2014

The Belmont Blunder

Took me longer than I hoped to put this up but here it goes... 

I'm far from disappointed that we didn't get a Triple Crown winner. It wasn't meant to be. To be honest, I had been extremely optimistic about California Chrome's chances until I wrote my Pre-Belmont blog. Writing out all those trends he'd be breaking put a pit in my stomach. They have been trends for a reason and somehow writing them down made them seem even more impossible to break. 

Things I didn't include in the Pre-Belmont blog were things like... he'd be the only Triple Crown winner to win on lasix. Since that's a current battle, part of me didn't want him to win on it for the fear it'd make the pro-lasix case stronger. 

I won't get into the owner's post-race comments because I have lots of mixed emotions and thoughts and it's unnecessary controversy in my opinion. 

In other news, I had a good ride on Dakota last night and we beat the rain with doing a couple of laps on the trails!

June 6, 2014

The Tongue

I've shown the videos before of Echo and her tongue obsession. She just wants people to grab it and when she gets bored it's her go-to vice. It never carried over into riding when I first started her but now it's become a problem.

I know her teeth are good, and this is the bit she's been in since day 1.  It's a French-Link D-Ring.

Ideas to help stop her? 

We very briefly tried a different bit to a rubber snaffle but she was such a nightmare L dismounted and switched bridles after 5 minutes. I also finally found my flash attachment, very loose on what hole it's on right now because she got pretty angry over it. However the amount of time the tongue was out was reduced by maybe 20%. 

June 4, 2014

The Belmont

It feels different. I've been in this spot eight times since I've started watching horse racing, but somehow, someway, this feels different. Maybe it's the first two I didn't understand the history that was on the line. Maybe it's because the last two times a Triple Crown was on the line I didn't want it to happen. Whatever it is, the hype, the excitement, the nerves - it's different this time around. 

The owners get it, the trainer gets it, the jockey gets it. They know the importance of the Triple Crown. It's not about the money. They've turned down millions thrown at them to buy California Chrome for the experience. They get it, they deserve it - not something that can be said for all of the past eight attempts I've witnessed. 

The horse is right. People say his pedigree is obscure but I see the opposite. He's simply one generation removed from what people would consider a 'blue blood pedigree'. His sire, Lucky Pulpit is by a Claiborne stallion. His dam is by one of the best active broodmare sires in country and one of the best Maryland has ever stood. He's California bred, not Wisconsin bred people - lets stop acting like a horse from California is some strange concept. 

Feeding California Chrome's grandsire, Pulpit, peppermints at Claiborne farm. 
The track announcer. Tom Durkin is possibly one of the most recognized voices of the sport and he is retiring. This will be the last Belmont he'll get a chance to call. While he's been the voice of many amazing races from the 1995 Breeders Cup Classic to the 2007 Belmont Stakes - he's a track announcer that'd be sure to give us chills, goosebumps and tears with his Triple Crown winning call. 

The gods aren't angry. It's something unspoken in the sport, the racing gods. They're cruel and they're kind. They aren't easily Google'd I tried. You know when they're angry, you know when a great horse passes that they're now in the care of the racing gods, etc. California Chrome's connections haven't ticked off the gods yet. They're old school, outspoken against wrong doings in the sport, etc. The last thing you want to be against you on race day are the racing gods. Maybe the gods spoke this morning when they gave him the post position #2. Secretariat was the #2 horse as well when he took the Triple Crown after a 25 year drought. 

The superstitions he'd be breaking:

  • The color trend. Sir Barton in 1919 was a chestnut colt. Ever since his Triple Crown sweep, the winners colors have alternated between chestnut and bay/brown. Affirmed in 1978 = chestnut. So in theory the next one should be bay. This... I have justified in my mind after talking to my Mom. She simply said 'maybe this means there was a bay that was suppose to win that didn't get the chance'. To me immediately, it means Barbaro. Barbaro was the closest I felt to this year's hype and he obviously never got the chance. 
  • The Belmont trend. All 11 winners have previously raced at Belmont Park before they won the Belmont Stakes. Big Sandy is a Big Beast and is possibly the most difficult track in the US. 
  • No Triple Crown winner has ever faced more than six opponents in the Belmont Stakes. California Chrome might be taking on 10.
  • From the time Sir Barton won in 1919, there was never a period of time a Triple Crown winner wasn't alive until the passing of Seattle Slew in 2002. Some people, me included especially if 'Chrome looses, believe this indicates there will never be another Triple Crown winner. Only the racing gods really know. 

June 3, 2014

Cross Rails, Lessons and Showing

Echo... is a beast. I've said it before I know but I just have to reinstate her beastlyness. It's good and bad. When she's being a naughty mare... she's a beast, when she's in heat it's the most embarrassing thing possible. However, the rest of the time, she continues her beast ways. Healing fast, taking stall rest like a pro, and now under saddle, she remembers her previous day's lessons and is making huge strides so fast in her under saddle training. I keep assuming I'm just partial to the MareFace, mostly to keep myself from getting too high on a kite of her potential.

Last Friday, I set up the tiniest cross rail possible for L and Echo to tackle. Echo was... almost insulted by the tiny challenge. After trotting over it a few times, L asked us to raise it two holes. Echo still barely flinched at the difference but at least made an effort to pick her hooves up and jump it. Of course in typical Allison fashion, I didn't get my iPhone out until the very end and missed all the jumping. 
Busy with dinner, but MareFace has filled out finally. 
In 2 weeks, she is going to an off farm lesson at Team CEO Eventing, which is who L trains with. Her horse is going to a jumper show that evening so Echo is taking his lesson spot. 

She has lead changes down to switching within two strides and is picking up both leads 98% of the time correctly both directions. On occasion she jumps into a turbo canter or just trots really fast but once L brings her back to Earth and ask again she gets it right. 
After cooling out post ride. She also got her mane pulled. No more mustang mane.  
L is already talking shows, which just is blowing my mind because I'm still in the 'her hoof was gone 3 months ago' phase. The first of the Kentucky Horse Park shows options would be Kentucky Classique on August 29th. From there, Jump Start September 26th, Hagyard Midsouth October 16 and Oktoberfest Horse Trials October 25th. In addition there will hopefully be a Thoroughbred show again this fall and maybe some schooling shows out at Masterson Station
Shiny copper penny pony.