Monthly Archives: October 2008

Looking back

Sorry for the lack of blog entries lately. It is my turn for bad luck and my two personal horses are battling serious injuries. My awesome event horse has a fractured knee and my backup horse and also my husband’s trail has a joint infection in his hock. We are not quite sure how either injury happened. Typically, you only see joint infections with an open wound or a horse that had previously had a joint injection neither or which he had. I am staying positive and am happy to have other horses to ride. Horses always help me relieve stress.

I thought of writing this entry the day before the show as it was clear to me how far Dixie had come in his training and overall comfort level.

During the summer of 2007 I would guess while he was at the CANTER farm

Looked like this when he arrived at my farm:

This was in September and right now I can honestly say he looks even bigger with more muscle and weight

Let’s see when he arrived the first thing I wanted to do was clip him and pull his mane. He was scared to death of the inside of the barn. Would not stand in the cross ties and shook just walking him inside the barn. I had to tranquilize him heavily to get him clipped and halfway through he was waking up and hearing the noise of the clippers and had to get some more tranq. He had great manners but he did not have any personalilty at all. He was scared of me, the other horses, the barn, the stall and if you did not know better you would question my sanity when I told you how lovely he was to ride. As scared as he was on the ground he was opposite undersaddle. He drew confidence from his rider and never put a foot wrong.

As time has went on he has gained an overall sense of confidence. I can now clip him and he falls asleep. Ears, muzzle and legs w/o him even getting worried. He quietly stands in the cross ties. He adjusted to the new barn much quicker than when he arrived at the old farm when he stood cowering in the corner for days. He has become the boss in the field when he used to run and hide in the corner.

Now he honestly loves people. He is the first to come up to the gate and see what I am doing. He enjoys the attention and knows where his treats are (mmm..perhaps a reason why he likes me better now :))

I can not tell you how many times people ask who I am riding and when I say this is Dixie they stand and look in shock. My mom and her students all claim he has gotten bigger and maybe he did grow a bit but it mostly the added muscle that makes him look so big. He does ride bigger. His neck is now coming uphill and he feels thicker everywhere.

My goal as a rider/trainer is to produce horses that are fun for others to ride. Horses that have confidence and are a joy to ride and work around. I can honestly say that Dixie has turned into a horse that anybody would love to own. I am not saying he is without quirks because all horses have some and he prefers to live outside but hey many people would love to have a Tb that can actually live outside! It is easy for me to forget how he used to be but getting ready for a show really pointed out how far this horse has come. Show prep is easy on a horse that can handle the all the fussing. Baths, clipping, extra brushing, spray sheen in the tail, getting shipping boots on, self loading on the trailer, standing on the trailer when his buddy leaves and so much more. Heck, my own horse has issues with some of the above 🙂

It looks like I may finally be hunting on Sunday. The hunt that I joined was heading out this morning from the C&R Center which is 5 min from my house. I really really wanted to go but I have had to much time off work for vet appointments lately so I will have to wait until Sunday. I am excited to see how Dixie does. He never lets me down and I am sure he is going to love hunting.

Advertisements

Jenny Camp Starter trial- illustration of progress

Dixie..the rumbler!

When I brought Dixie out for dressage the warmup was a zoo. There were lots and lots of young kids on ponies/horses who simply were not paying attention and it was crowded as a warmup could be. Dixie handled himself like a pro but it made cantering difficult just because he is not the worlds most balanced horse in the canter yet. We headed off to the ring and he was relaxed and had a really great test for where he is right now. I was super super pleased he allowed me to ride him into the corners, he was bending, on the aids and for the most part working in a frame. He scored a 41 with comments of being unsteady in the bridle (he is at this time) but nice horse.

I would be lying if I said I was not worried about stadium. Dixie is a horse that I have taken a lot of time with simply because he has a heart of gold but was not the most confident horse about the jumps. He has really come along so far and gained trust and confidence so I thought we were ready for BN but was worried he would just find the spooky stadium to much. He warmed up well but he cracks me up because when he is scared he can not canter. He is looking at everything around him and his body just does not cooperate yet. No big deal!

Stadium:

There was not a single fence that was not filled in one way or another which is both good and bad. Good because the horses do need to learn to handle all of it but bad because you are expecting BN to be a confidence booster.

Let’s see if I can describe the stadium.
Fence 1- big gate filled in front with flowers
fence 2- max height vertical with yellow gate, small white barrels and and flowers in front
fence 3- an x-rail with a vertical running through the middle of it. Visually the horses were confused.
fence 4- plain purple vertical with flowers in front.
Fence 5- big oxer heading across the diagonal with gates in front of it.
fence 6- vertical with small rolltops in front of it
fence 7- another bix oxer with big brown walls in front and then flowers.
fence 8- another oxer with red brick walls in front of it and flowers
fence 9- a vertical built with one side higher than the other
fence 10- oxer with gates in front and flowers.

Everything maxed and lots of oxers. I loved the flow of the course and there was enough room to sort things out. I thought my boys handled it well but others did not fair quite as well.

We head in and my plan is just to trot and try the canter if things are going well. Take my time and support him and wait. He is slow coming off the ground and it is really easy to get ahead of him. Fence 1 was a vertical with lots of flowers. He was just so cute because I could feel the wheels turning in his head..hmmm this looks scary but I think I can..I think I can. He does his scared step over the jump in a trot stride. As we go he gains confidence and jumps so well. Very soft and relaxed and willing to give it a shot. We did have a stop at a rolltop fence simply because he jumped big over the oxer and I was a bit unorganized and was not quick enough to give him the support he needed. I tried some cantering but he kept breaking back to the trot. I do not want to chase him and get him frazzled so I think trotting is just fine. He really showed how far he had come.

X-country:

fence 1- stone wall with a high side and low side. Low side around 2’6″ with sand in front and trees on either side. Very busy looking

fence 2- coop with straw and pumpkins in front. Solid with lots of visual distractions

fence 3- oxer box filled with flowers..lots of flowers

fence 4- box filled with brush sticking out everywhere

fence 5- you crossed the road and then went way down a hill and dropped down over a log

fence 6- down another hill and over a bench

fence 7- water

fence 8- a house in the woods

fence 9- a bank

fence 10- a ramp going down the hill- a big fence

fence 11- last fence a double log sorta like an oxer?

X-country was again going to be challenging. The first three fences were some of the biggest…how about a soft first fence people??? He was super scared of the first fence and stopped there. We squeaked over it but as we went along we got in a better rhythm and I was even able to canter some fences. He went right through the water and handled the rest way better than I thought he would. We had an awesome gallop at the end of the course and he really thought he was hot shit when we got done.

I was thrilled with how it went. It is hard to describe him but he is such a willing horse and so behaved. He just never puts one foot wrong and even when he refuses he is so honest about it you can not fault him. It was a great event for him overall!

Some video

We won!!!!!!!!! Paper Chase Champions

Ha, who would have thought we would be 4 seconds of the optimum time!

Opt. time was 1:18:56 and we were 1:19. It makes me giggle that we won out of the entire group. CANTER horses rule the paper chase 🙂

Dixie goes paper chasing

Well I should not publically admit to this but I have not been on Dixie in 2wks..my hubby rode him at the beach but lately he has just been hanging out. That is soon to change now that we are settled in at the new barn so watch out Dixie!

I headed over to my mom’s farm and switched to her trailer. She was riding Flint Hill, her CANTER MA horse. We were beyond excited to head off to the Brandywine Valley PHA paper chase in the gorgeous area of Unionville, Pa. When I win the lotto that is where I am moving. You want to talk about the most beautiful horse country with jumps in and out of every field used for hunting and the most gorgeous hills you ever want to see..it has it all. The who’s who of every discipline in the horse world lives in that area along with some of the best hunt clubs.

We had never been on this chase before so when we pulled up and saw tons and tons of trailers we were shocked. I saw a friend of mine and she told me this was the best chase in the area so it was packed! We tacked up and then went up and put our number in which was not the correct order! We should have put our number in and then tacked up. Once we tacked up we waited in a group of around 100 horses for about an hour before we actually got to go. It was super practice on just hanging out and relaxing in large groups.

Flint well he was happy to eat grass with his rider on. Dixie and I walked and he munched some but mostly walked around. He was very calm just alert. Both of them were great until right before we headed out. As we waited on the start line they saw the previous group go down the hill and could see horse galloping in a field across the way. It was the sight of the horses disappearing into no where that got them anxious. Dixie just started walking but once we started he was focused. We headed straight down a hill at the trot and then around a bend and we had the most glorious canter/gallop up this big hill and we had smiles plastered on our faces. My mom was struggling to keep up with Dixie since he has a big stride and her guy was not quite moving out enough yet.

The chase was a bit of sensory overload since there were just so many horses everywhere. We passed some people, got passed by others and rode in big groups and small groups or just the two of us. Dixie was happy to lead or follow. He was a bit confused by the first jump…mmm I thought this was a trail ride why are we jumping? I explained and he was cool with my explanation. We went through this portion of woods that had lots of logs on it and we jumped several logs in there. Mom jumped this fence out into an open field that had no filling on the backside. She got so much hangtime we laughed and laughed. I think both of them were suprised.

We did a lot of trotting and just a bit of cantering. The horses were super until we got in a huge open field where they could see lots of groups in front of them and then mom’s horse was not happy about walking. So we trotted..the best thing to do is move on and not piss them off by making them walk. I find it contributes to bad behavior so if you can go foward and then walk again in a few minutes it deals with the problem.

We were out for an hour and 15 min and the boys were still ready for more but once we got back they relaxed and dived into the beautiful grass.

I have to say I was thrilled with Dixie. There were many horses not handling the chaotic environment. Dixie was content the whole ride. No silly behavior..well not that I would have expected any regardless but still I was impressed. He was super adjustable w/t/c on the flat, in the woods, up and down hills in just a plain eggbutt snaffle. He is so comfortable to ride and never pulls and is just a joy to ride. Not one spook at anything and he did not care if he lead or followed. We were passed and we passed others and he was just happy to do anything I asked of him.

As always I love him. My mom remarked he was one of the best looking horses there. He has put on so much weight and muscle and is a classy looking horse. Several people came up and asked about him and I referred them to his blog for contant info. One lady said he was cheap for all the mileage he has and she could not get over how wonderful he was. Yes, he really is something. I can not wait for hunting to start..come on already!

Next weekend we are doing the Jenny Camp starter trial at Bn.

More beach pictures

Water is scary!

Okay, I think I can get in

Dixie and Wings play in puddles

Dixie is confused by it all but Kurt is smiling

And down the beach they come

Dixie and Indy go to the beach

This weekend some friends and I put together a semi organized beach ride. I am about an hour from the beaches in Delaware but have never ridden my horses on the beach. We headed to Delaware Seashore Beach which is right outside of Dewey Beach. There is a 4 mile stretch of beach that horses are allowed on. A few more beaches will be open to riding in November so we must go explore those too.

All of my personal horses are injuried at the moment so Dixie and Indy were my choices of horses with good brains that can handle a new potentially scary environment. Indy had pulled off both front shoes running in the field and Dixie and lost one shoe. When I brought Dixie in he had twisted the other hind shoe so I got my tools out and pulled that one off. I figured the beach was soft and they could handle the footing okay. The farrier is coming on Wednesday to do their feet. They have all been running around silly since moving to the new farm.

We arrived at the beach and pulled up in the parking lot. The boys happily tied to the trailer and munching their hay bags while we got ready. We got on and headed out across the sand dune and to the beach. There were lots of cars on the beach with people fishing, dogs and other things going on. We walked and trotted up and down the beack a bit. Indy was looking at the cars and Dixie was looking at the different color sand on the beach. Both of them were just as nice as you could want and although they were looking they were relaxed and happy to go wherever we asked them to. Did I mention my hubby was riding Dixie? His horse is out of action right now so I told him Dixie would do great. He has ridden Dixie on trail once before but did not know him well so he was pretty nervous. He is a weekend rider and although he rides well he is not really in shape and he can be a bit nervous. Once he realized how easy Dixie was he started to relax and have fun.

We walked down to the water and it was really funny to watch the horses react. I called it the how good can you ride a spook contest. The horses would all happily walk up to the edge of the water but when the waves broke making the loud noise and the white wash came towards them they though they were being attacked and must flee. It was pretty mild overall and I kept walking Indy back and forth until he realized the white foam was not after him and then he was in the water. I did not go really far in (um, I have an expensive saddle :)) but we were in there. My hubby did not press Dixie to go in but was off trotting and cantering up and down the beach by himself and running through the puddles where the water had gathered.

We all walked down to the end of the beach and the horses were tired so we let the group go on and we turned back. We started trotting, then a canter and then a gallop. It was fun watching my hubby because he does not like to canter much but I told him to give it a try and he liked it so much he went right on past my friend and I with a big grin on his face. He had a blast and Dixie was just amazing for him. Indy was a star as he always is.

I have to say that not all the ottb’s would handle that situation as well as ours did. These two horses have superb brains and I would trust them with anybody. Kurt had wandered off by himself with Dixie just riding around doing his own thing and said Dixie was so responsive he liked him better than his own horse 🙂

We took off their tack and let them have a good roll. I will have some more pictures of dixie later.

Short vacation for Dixie and headaches for me

Dixie moved to my new farm this week and so far I am not sure he likes it much. Well truthfully none of the horses are really that settled in yet. I stood out there and watched all them run for a good 15 min last night when the hunters were in the woods nearby shooting off some guns. I love watching the horses run, buck and showing off their airs above ground but really I have gorgeous fields filled with grass that they are chopping all up. Ah, the joys of being a farm owner 🙂

So far they are living outside and just coming in to eat until we finish the fencing and such. Things are not quite complete and we do not have lights or water in the barn yet so doing stalls is just too much to handle and the weather is nice so they can deal.

When I do bring them in it to eat it is quite the circus act. New stalls are a true 12×12 and they are huge. We finally got the sawdust put in and the horses are scared of the white sawdust and the new stalls. They do not want to go in the stalls and scream and scream like idiots. They are all attached..who is attached to who I do not know but the screaming is enough to give me a headache and at 4:30 am I would like to strangle my horse who has the highest pitched whinny I have ever heard in my life. He sounds like a cat dying. I have to handle them with shanks which I never ever do but they are just strung a bit tight right now. Also, how is it that horses who are so attached to each other will kick the crap out of each other just for the heck of it?? I saw so many legs flying last night I was covering my eyes. One thing I have learned over the years of dealing with Tb’s/horses is that you can not keep them from being idiots you just have to make sure to do your best to keep them as safe as possible. Dixie and my horse are having battle of who will be boss and so far Dixie is not impressed by Junior’s flying jump kicks and battle charges. Me on the other hand..I want a stun gun so when they start charging at each other I can just stop them right in place and teach them some manners 🙂 My horse is not blessed with great manners anyway.

Dixie who is a stall walker in situations where he is nervous looks like a wind up toy. I have considered tying him up simply so I do not get dizzy looking at him. I keep telling myself things will settle down but I might need some medication in the meantime! Even those that are normally go with the flow types are walking the stalls and acting silly.

I have one horse who is on stall rest right now with a joint infection in his hock. Thankfully, we caught it fast and he is improving quickly but managing a horse on stall rest amongst the chaos of moving is enough to push me over the edge. I constantly have to rotate horses to be inside to keep him company and the other horses do not want to leave their buddies to stay inside. Luckily, my older horse is a super baby sitter and the other horse I have in training also loves a stall so he rotates with the older horse keeping gimpy bad leg company.  Junior, my personal horse, cut his leg in the trailer and had to have stitches. He was on stall rest but the staples did not hold so now we are waiting for the skin flap to shrivel up and die. It is fun scrubbing his leg with no electricity or water in the bar. I tie him to a stall and run hoses from the house. He is a lovely horse to ride but his ground manners always have left something to be desired. We are having remedial training right now where he is being reminded that even if his buddies are back there in the field he must listen.

We got some saddle racks up but all my bridles are laying in the middle of the tack room floor in a big heap. You suddenly realize you need to stop buying tack when you are faced with a mountain of bridles you need to clean and organize. I freely admit I love buying tack. I am a tackaholic so thankfully my drained bank account has slowed me down. However, with the surge of cold weather I am feeling the blanket buying urge creep up. Do they make medication for that???

I plan to ride Dixie tonight for the first time in a week if I have enough daylight after the vet finishes with my horse. I first need to find where the box is with the stable bandages. It is pretty silly when the vet asks you if you have bandages and you can not find a single thing. I like an organized barn so I will not be able to relax until order is restored. My husband is a saint for both putting up with me and helping to move the 300+ bales of hay from the leased barn to our new barn.

I will have some new pictures of Dixie and his new digs soon enough. I might be taking him to do a ride on the beach this weekend. I have never ridden on the beach so I am excited for our weekend trip.