Monthly Archives: July 2008

Is there something to his name?

I never thought much about it but perhaps the name Dixie Rumble has something to do with a storm rolling in with rumbling thunder and lighting whenever I ride Dixie? This humidity has got to may be only 90 degrees but the air feels so thick and nasty. I ride anyway but I also complain a lot 🙂

I don’t have much to really write about but wanted to put up some video from yesterdays ride. I am not a fan of the jumping part. I need to spend some more time in that area both for his sake and lord videos of yourself are revealing!

We jump

The right side

Last week was a major improvement in Dixie’s right side. When I first started riding Dixie we worked on a loose rein and just began to build fitness but when we went right he leaned in and got totally flustered when I would ask for him to just stand up going around turns. I didn’t press the issue to drastically because just like a person who is one sided a horse can be one sided too. You have to build up the strength in those muscles before pushing the horse to do something they are physically unable to do. Yes, we didn’t have much of a right lead and the canter left a lot to be desired. I was confident that with the correct work we would even out his body.

I can now say the right side is drastically better. We no longer run into the canter and then pick up the wrong lead. He is able to rock back and strike off and maintain a good canter. I lecture myself about riding the proper canter. At this stage, he has a lot of displeasure with being asked to half halt and balance up. It tends to show in him wanting to flatten out and open his mouth to pull against me when I half halt. To an outsider I bet it looks a bit ugly still because I have to strongly half halt and ask him to organize the canter and then soften and allow him to stay there and then repeat as much as necessary. At times I have to give a very strong half halt by stretching up tall, closing my hand on the rein and holding my seat/core until I feel the hind leg come under and then I soften and allow him to rebalance. With time this has gotten smoother and now I just slow my seat and he will come under me. It is still physically challenging for him to hold the right lead canter especially being asked to bend around the inside leg but he tries so hard. We are no longer falling in around the turns. It is a lot of work on my part to make sure I am riding correctly enough that I prepare for each turn. I apply my half halt and then ask him to move over from the inside leg and maintain a slight inside flexion feeling my inside rein.

I am also focusing on keep the proper tempo and not allowing him to rush. He wants to run away when the work gets hard so I have to focus on riding the hind legs and asking him to stay in the correct tempo. I do a lot of lateral work moving him back and forth and he has become much more accepting of the fact that leg means sideways and not go faster. At this stage of his training he wants to rush if you let the reins way out so I also work just riding on a loose rein and teaching him that we can keep a slow rhythm on a loose rein as well as when we are working into contact.

It was humid as can be after those storms rolled through yesterday and the workout was intense. Dixie got lots of treats and a nice cool bath. He has those weeping sores on his back legs again. I have no idea what they come from. They don’t look like bites but almost a rash. They scab up and then look wet underneath when you pull off the scabs. It must be something in the field?

Field Trip

I am jealous that all my fellow bloggers get to ride together and get such cool video/pics. I run a small training/sales/boarding barn with just eight horses and no “real boarders.” All the horses boarded are there for training so I love to get out and ride with other people when possible. When I move to my new place I want at least one boarder who rides. I take a lot of trips off the farm to different places but mostly a few friends and my mom’s farm.

I haven’t talked much about the other horse I have in for training. Morethanalittle aka Mick, Mcsexy, mchotty or the black horse is a lovely 4yr Tb that was donated to CANTER MA but fostered by the most wonderful supporter of CANTER MA. She is a champion for ottb’s and her mission is to help as many of them as possible find new careers. She sent Mick to me to get started after he had two months to just be a horse at her lovely farm. I am not sure what her exact plan was since he was a bit of an unknown. She had not even seen him trot around since has been combating abscesses in several feet since his arrival. I get pretty excited about horses…really just about any horse can make me happy but working with this guy has really been giving me something to look forward to. It is a good thing she ended up buying him for herself or I would have bought him..heck there are several people right now that would buy him in a second but I would fight them for him and I fight dirty so no doubt I would win. I am not sure what it is about this horse..well he is a dark bay with white and that right there is up on my list of favorite colors. He has an extremely intelligent eye. Lovely mover, brave, athletic and about the sweetest horse I have ever had. He would totally get in your lap if he could.

















Today, was a big day for Dixie and Mick. I loaded them up by myself. Dixie walks right on and stands quietly while I go get Mick. Mick likes to stand at the bottom of the ramp giving me the finger. I have to threaten him and then he walks up with no issues. Head over to my mom’s house. Unload both horses. Dixie gets turned out in a field with a big pile of hay. Mick loads back up on my mom’s trailer.

We head off to take Mick and her horse Flint Hills (CANTER MA horse) to Carousel Park. Carousel Park is a gorgeous facility in Hockessin, Delaware where they now hold starter trials and will eventually hold recognized events there. Despite being in Delaware there are actually big hills 🙂 The course is a few years old and is really beautiful. They have a full elementary, baby novice and novice course with well designed fences. Mom and I had so much fun. It really is nice to do you first school with somebody who rides responsibly. I find that having the right partner makes a difference in the outcome. We took turns jumping and making sure we didn’t leave each other which is a big no no on the greenies. Flint is a rock star and jumps anything mom points him out. For 5yrs old he is darn near a packer and it has been fun to see her gain her confidence back. Are you reading folks..this is a 5yr ottb tb that totally rocks it. Quiet, safe, honest and just a total blast to ride. I think she has a permanent smile when she rides him.

I sure had a smile riding Mick who never looked at a thing and jumped everything I pointed him at. Never once got rattled or acted out. Well he was a tiny bit silly over the first three jumps and landed letting me know he was having fun but really if that is the worst he does then I consider that laughable. We jumped ditches, water, tons of banks, logs, ramps, rolltops and more. We were out for about an hour and half and didn’t want to leave we were having so much fun. The place is just gorgeous with all these trails, ponds and hills.

When I got back to the farm I tacked up Dixie for his ride. Wow, it was one heck of a ride. I sure wish I had some video because he was really lovely on the flat staying very consistent. He jumped everything in the ring including barrels, coops, boxes with flowers, a big black pipe, a liverpool and more. He was having so much fun and was so relaxed. I think the back to basics of poles in front and back of that simple x-rail had a relaxing effect on him because I felt like we could have been respectable in the 2’6″ hunters. 

Back on the trailer for the ride home. Both boys were very tired! I will try to get Dixie out for his x-country school this weekend. He looks so good right now I just can’t get over how big he has gotten.

Catching up

I tend to get busy and forget to write about our progress. My cute litte Indy lost some shoes. We got him fixed up over the weekend and then I see him walking in on three legs on Monday morning. Twisted shoe and stepped on the clip= ouch!!! Poor Indy. So he is getting his hoof packed with some magic cushion in between soaking and poulticing with magic cushion. Farrier was sure it was just badly bruised and he walking better now.

Dixie took a trip over the weekend to provide some company for another horse I have in training. My friend rode Dixie and he was super despite the 90+ temps at 9am on Sunday morning.












So tired










This week has been an easy week for Dixie. He had Monday off and Tuesday was a light ride. Yesterday when I got on it started to lighting and thunder. I can deal with rain but getting struck by lightining didn’t seem so smart so we head in.

Today was the first under 90 degree day in a while.. big relief for horses and humans! My hubby came out to take some pictures of Dixie and set some fences for me. I love the muscle that Dixie is getting. I remarked to my friend that she looked little on him and she is the same height as me just much thinner. I actually think I look little on him now. I can’t believe how thick his neck is getting and how he has come uphill. I love the tranformations these horses go through.


Here we are warming up

One thing about Dixie is that he is hard to get to stretch and he is good at faking it. I know he is not coming across the back but it is darn hard to get him stretching. My goal lately has been to really get him coming across the back and working from behind into the contact. I have been working on my own position on bringing my elbows back to my sides and sitting up more. I can see in many pictures this has resulted in low hands or too long of reins. Gotta love the pictures for pointing out our flaws.

I need to cut the grass 🙂









 Caught myself pulling back the inside rein to create bend…I overuse my left rein and it shows so this was a good reminder.









 With this particular horse I would like to see a lot more of this to get him to stretch down and come across the back. He is built uphill so going on the forehand is not something that I worry about with him. I was using some spiral circles to get him more supple.










The right lead canter is improving and we almost always get the right lead on the first try. It is still a bit quick and strung out. I am okay with that because I know what we started with and that was something that resembled a motorcyle out of control. This boy has a big stride so I need to apply better half halts and get him more collected so he can not pull to the right.

I haven’t done as much jumping with him as I should be. The weather has been hot and the ground has been hard as a rock. I started out by walking one x-rail and then trotting a few simple x-rails and verticals. He wanted to rush a bit in that last step so I worked on keeping the same tempo in the trot all the way to the base of the jump and making sure I was softening on the take off but keeping my shoulders centered.

I wanted to work on a simple grid so we started with just the x-rail.

Next we added the pole in front. Holy cow, you would think we had never done this. He is going what..pole..ack..can’t think fast enough. I keep pushing him and we sort half walk/stumble through. Good times 🙂

We go through this several times back and forth and then add a pole on the backside because he wanted to jump flat and rush away a bit. I had a feeling he would find the poles on either side a bit much and he did. He got there and saw all the poles and was just wide eyed and stuck b/w the first pole and the x-rail not wanting to go but not being able to back up. We walked over the x-rail. He is smart so sure enough we came back around and he remembered what this exercise was all about. You think he was awake now 🙂

I wanted to do some more adding another vertical in but realized that was mentally enough for him today. He was excellent and I will do a lot more grids this week and I am going to try to take him out x-country this weekend.

Things to do when it’s to hot to ride

Lately, I have been feeling extremely unmotivated. We are in the planning stages of building a barn and setting up our farm. I know it is supposed to be exciting but in reality it seems more stressful than exciting. I know when it is all built and the horses at home I am going to be happy so I have to keep focusing on that 🙂

This week has been hot and humid and the weekend promises more of the same. I get to the barn around 4:30pm everyday and when you look at the horses standing there sweating in front of the fans you feel guilty for riding them. That doesn’t mean they always get off the hook but I do alter the program a little bit.

I have become a huge fan of lunging horses over jumps. I never had any experience in how to do this so I just sorta wing it but it is suprising to see how this works on building confidence in horses and teaching them how to take care of the jumps on their own. I was reading on the COTH bulletin board that P. Wynn Norman, owner/breeder of the famous pony Teddy O’Connor, uses various lunging over jump exercises with all of her ponies/horses. I picked her brain a bit and she gave me a bunch of fun exercises to try. She told me how she customizes her program to each individual horse and also how she lunges her horses over x-country jumps. That got me wheels turning and gives me something to do when I feel unmotivated.

One word of advise is make sure your horse lunges well before you attempt to lunge the over jumps. A small ring works best to start out so you can get used to how to position yourself and how to get the horse to jump with minimal encouragement. For the most part I don’t take my own advice…you know cause that would be too practical. Instead, I get grand ideas on how we are going to go out and lunge in the big wide open field where the horses live. I have several x-country jumps in there. A black pipe which is 2’3″, a barrel jump about 2ft high and a coop that is 2’6″ high. They are all set near the fence in different areas of the field. The fence creates a barrier on one side of the jump which makes it a bit easier to steer the horses to the jumps.

This is how it normally works for me. Bring the horse out with cavesson and lunge line. I wear gloves (really never forget this…you will regret it if you happen to make that mistake). Start warming them up at the trot and watch horse look at you like you are crazy because you hardly ever lunge them. Most of the Tb’s are like what in the heck are you doing with that lunge whip and show off their airs above grounds until the realize I am pretty harmless.

Once we get some sort of control established I proceed to show the horse what we are doing. Horse look at this jump. I want you to trot/canter down and jump it and don’t jerk my arm out of socket and don’t run by it and almost run me over in the process okay??? Um, yeah sure your crazy mom but whatevah.

I spend a few minutes flapping around until we get the perfect positioning and then they normally jump the jump with no issues. Unless you don’t pay attention…I never do this 🙂

Dixie lunges well even though we don’t do it often. I had lunged him over jumps once or twice before but it had been a while. We start with the black pipe because it is the longest giving me a big target to get them straight to. He is confused and breaks to the walk. I believe they can walk right over because it’s small but he walks up and kneels on it and then spins around getting the lunge line under his leg. Oh no he says and promptly jerks the lunge line out of my hand and runs back to the barn. Did I mention a small ring??? I go back and collect him and he is looking at me with those big brown eyes thinking I am nuts but he is used to it by now. We head back out and somewhere along the run back to the barn he must have figured out that the crazy woman wants him to actually jump this jump. He trots right on over it. A few times he does a drive by because I am not positioned just right. If you have tried this then you know what i am talking about especially when you are not using poles as wings. You think they might run over you as they run by but they are Tb’s and are way to smart to do that.

We get in our groove and he is cantering right down to the base and just loping away really jumping nicely and using himself. Good boy! He was going around by himself and I do think he was having fun because I had to rein him in to get him to come back to a walk. We headed off to the barrel jump next. The barrels are just three blue barrels on their side together in a line. We actually did really good with these and managed to go over without running out the sides.

The coop is next and it is the most challenging. It is interesting to watch them handle the coop because it is narrow (8ft wide maybe?) and 2’6″ high but the sides are sharply slopping so it is a bit upright. I have a hard time steering to this one and I have to position myself near it so they don’t run by. It took me two times to get it just right and he made an awkward jump the first time sort of straight up like a deer. They always want to get really deep to the base which makes for an awkward jump. The next time he got it just right and then he cantered it once very nicely. Big pats and carrots for him. I think he was proud of himself when he was done.

In the ring you can use a lot of different exercises with grids, poles, oxers and more. I really do believe it teaches horses confidence in themselves and you get a better relationship with them as you learn what makes them tick. There always seems to be a learning curve but as long as you keep safety in mind you can be safe and learn at the same time.

I will say that my left wrist which is the one that was broken last year really hates me for any lunging I do. Getting jerked and pulled on by 1000+ lb animals is not in the therapy plan 🙂

I am not sure what the plans are for Dixie this weekend. It will be mid 90’s and very humid. He is getting his feet done on Saturday and maybe an off the farm trip on Sunday…well shall see.

Bending seems to be a theme

Of course we all know that Tb’s run around the track to the left and their bodies are often very one sided and they can be stiff to the right or left depending on how their muscles developed. I really appreciate how hard it is to stretch out muscles that have not been used after my experiences with physical therapy for my broken wrist. Not only did my wrist not want to move but it was painful to move it! It took three months of three days a week therapy to get back the motion and even now almost a year after the break I still don’t have full motion and probably never will.

I was thinking about this as I rode Dixie today. I have been working really hard on his right side with tons of lateral work, spiral circles, carrot stretches and more. When we first started out riding to the right was more like riding a board and the right lead canter was nonexistent and when it did occur it was a bit rough. Tonight we came out very relaxed and warmed up at the walk doing our leg yeilds and he was soft and relaxed. I was on a loose rein and just using my leg to move him right and left and he was super. He has gotten the concept that leg means over when used in a certain way. He was bending right and moving around my right leg into the outside rein. He still had some resistance but for the most part it seems to be easier for him to bend right.

He picked up the right lead twice on the first try!!! Go Dixie! We cantered circles and I didn’t feel like we were leaning over and the canter was overall more balanced. He still wants to pull a bit going right but I need to get my half halts in a little better.

Here are his bites..poor baby!

Recent confo pic

It has been slightly over 4 months now. I like the changes I am seeing! I believe we are going for a x-country school this weekend so that should be fun.

City by the Sea found a new home

Earlier last week I had talked with a potential buyer on the phone about Dixie. She was shopping for her boss who is building a horse farm in Hunt Valley, MD and was looking for an all around type of horse that they could trail ride and possibly foxhunt. She liked the pictures and video of Dixie. I got a great feeling from talking to her because she was a “real” horseperson which makes the process much easier. She came down over the weekend and we rode Dixie. He still had the big oozing fly bites but they didn’t look as bad 🙂 He was very good and she really liked him a lot. We w/t/c and jumped him around and then she took him on a solo trail ride. In the end, she thought he was quiet and lovely but too big of a stride with a bit to much power for her boss.

She told me she thought he would need something similar but a little less stride and bit more unflappable. Mmmm…I have a horse just like that I said. He’s a 3yr 15.2 and growing, very quiet, kid safe and cute as can be. He cribs and well he didn’t race because he paddles but he is great horse. I can see her looking at me like I had horns coming out of my head but I think she realized I was a good judge when it came to horses. I pulled him out of the stall and she thought he was cute and looked quiet enough. She tacked him up and rode him down to the ring flapping all around like a beginner rider, kicking him, riding on the buckle and waving her arms around. Dewey was looking at her like she was crazy but just plugging around like whatever…I just go around so do whatever you want lady. She jumped him around a little course and then took him out on the trails. I see her coming back up to the barn smiling and knew she loved him.

I think she had to convince her boss who is not really a horseperson yet but he trusted her opinion and Dewey went home with her that day. He walked right up on the trailer. He unloaded perfectly and settled in like he travels everyday. She took him on a trail ride at her house just to make sure he was going to be okay and then delivered him to her boss. He has a new fan club and they all love him. He is going to be spoiled rotten and I think it is going to work out perfectly. He really just is that quiet and unflappable. The horse just doesn’t see the point in going anywhere to fast and he was as brave as can be.

She told me she went home and read my ad on dreamhorse and he was exactly how the ad described but she would have never come to look at him and was glad she found him. She will be spreading the word on how nice Dixie is to her local hunt so hopefully he will be the next one to find a home. Of course Indy is also looking for a home so if anybody is looking for another small but quiet horse they need to check him out.

What happened to your face??

This week Dixie has been less than thrilled about working. I am not sure what is going on but maybe he is just going through a phase like most horses do so I have just relaxed the training routine and have spent more time hacking through the fields and trail riding. When I got him out of the field on Wednesday he had some huge bites on him that looked like mosquito bites. I have no idea what they might have been but when I arrived at the barn yesterday that had all opened and were now seeping with puss and other yucky looking stuff. Poor Dixie! Maybe that is why he was a bit grumpy? Dixie loves the hose and he likes to have his face hosed off. He bites at the hose and drinks out of it and I end up wetter than he is by the time we are done. I gave him a good bath and scrubbed out all the bites. I put some cream on them so hopefully he will feel better. If they are still bad tonight I will call the vet and see what I can give him. I have some dexamethasone in the fridge since my older horse is prone to hives.

I do think Dixie might be feeling a bit burnt out right now and that could be the case since we did step up the work this month with harder flat work and more jumping. If I start to feel them becoming moody I just hit the trails. Heck, when I am stressed and don’t feel like doing anything a good trail ride makes me feel better. I have been pleased with his progress. He is still stiffer to the right but has made a lot of progress on that side. He is picking up the right lead on the second try most of the time. His form over fences is improving and he is using his body better all around.

Yesterday, we all hit the trails. Tara was on Dewey, Rachel on Indy and I was leading the trail with Junior. I am not sure about everybody else but the bugs are horrible right now in the woods. I call them deer flies but they are the triangle looking flies that get on the ears/head/face. The person in the front always gets the swarm of flies..and that would be me. It was hot and humid when we headed out. We go out the front driveway, down a short section of road, over a bridge and up into the fields near the farm. Once we got into the fields which boarder along the woods the bugs got bad. Junior is a Conn/tb so not as sensitive as a full Tb when it comes to flies and manages to do his job even when under attack. I told the girls we have to trot so we trotted a good 10 min and then came up the hill and did a lovely canter. We were all loving it and they could not believe how good the horses were. Rachel has only ridden Indy a few times and she loves him (she wants to buy him but convincing her parents to get another horse has not happened yet :)). Both Dewey and Indy are super trail horses so I don’t worry about them handling themselves with the intermediate riders. They are quieter than my horse that is for sure. Junior is super brave but is always looking for the next “scary” thing out on trail and I have to pay attention to him as he can move quickly when he wants to.

After our canter we all walked and enjoyed being out in open. You can tell the horses welcome a change in scenery as much as we do. We do some more trotting and finish up with one good canter before we have to go back onto another section of road and across the bridge. The last section of the trail is a path that goes through the woods and winds you back into the farm. For whatever reason the bugs were worse than ever. We hit that trail and I must have had fify flies swarming Junior’s head. I told them we have to move. Now this trail is cutting through the woods and it is very winding so I felt like I was weaving through poles. I couldn’t even look back to make sure they were okay because I was focused on steering and brushing off flies. We got to the opening and I still had the swarm following me so I hollered back that I was going to canter so we all go cantering down along the tax ditch. I look over my shoulder and Indy was way in the back just trotting along looking happy as can be. Dewey was doing a nice slow canter behind me and Tara was smiling. Finally we had out ran the bugs and we turned around to wait for Indy. Rachel said he felt off and sure enough he had lost a shoe somewhere along the ride.

I am sure the horses enjoyed their ride and I was in a much better move. I have been really stressed as we get closer to having our barn and shed built. A good trail ride always makes me appreciate how nice it is to be out with friends on nice horses and how blessed we are to have such great horses who behave on the trails. I know growing up I rode a horse who spent most of his time fretting about being behind the leader yet was to scared to lead. He always waited for something to scare him and he spent more time bucking and carrying on then just behaving. I never enjoyed trail riding because we couldn’t relax. Now my horse is a hotter type but he never misbehaves in a way that threatens to unseat me 🙂 The CANTER horses are about the quietest trail horses I have seen in a while.

I am hoping Dixie’s bites look better before this weekend when buyers are coming to see him.