Monthly Archives: May 2010

Fun lesson

I really enjoy showing up for a lesson when someone hasn’t seen the horse in a long time. I believe Mogie and I only did one lesson with Parker about a month after he arrived so it was fun to hear her comments. She thought he looked excellent but as always gave me some great exercises to work on.

Parker has been super and feeling excellent so the ulcer meds have done the trick. I have just been working on the flatwork because when I get that the jumping will just be so easy. We know he jumps but he has some holes I want to fix on the flat.

We really worked on getting him to give in his jaw to the right and step from the inside leg to the outside rein. She said boy he has a lot of tricks because you get one thing and then he is doing something else you have to fix. Sometimes his answer to something hard is to just go bounding off in the trot and I have to try to be serious and not giggle. Holy cow it’s so funny because one second you are normal and then the powerful hind end kicks in and you are floating in the air. Then you half halt and he tries to stop 🙂

He makes you ride and work for it but I enjoy that and the process is a challenge. I think he has come so far since the ulcer treatment. The other thing we need to work on is the canter and having more available off the leg and softer in the neck. A little over bend and then maybe counterbend but getting him softer and not to lock up. He struggles but it is way better than what it was so I will take it.

Mogie was looking at him and said what is interesting is that his back legs are longer than the front legs and he is short coupled. She said that is what makes him such a good mover and jumper and because he has a nice sloping shoulder it all works. She was very pleased with him.

She suggested I come for a lesson and learn to use the pessoa rig on him. I know the trainer at the MD barn also really likes the pessoa rig. I bought one on ebay but it confuses me just looking at it. Mogie said on horses like him that always have an out to working correctly it can do wonders because when they resist the butt strap pushes them back up to the contact. I am looking forward to learning!

I will say we intended on jumping but I had ridden another horse in a lesson prior to Parker and I was totally cooked. Riding at 11:30 and 1pm on a 90+ degree day just exhausted me and I had nothing left. Totally not used to this heat!

I will get some video up of parker within the next day or two.

Working hard

Parker has been fantastic and is working super hard right now with no signs of the behavior. He is still on the ulcer meds and will end up being treated for 30 days. I have had great rides at home but today I trailered him over to Mogie’s for a lesson. We didn’t end up doing the lesson as she didn’t feel well so I rode by myself.
I have to say I think we have had our best work yet. I know there are still some inconsistencies but there are so many things that have improved that I look at the big picture. He has transitions between gaits. No more just the big trot we now have half halts when I just pause my seat. He also understands leg means move sideways and not just go faster. We have a right bend although he still needs to move a bit better off the right leg to the outside rein. His canter..let’s just say wow we have a whole different canter. It’s no longer sprawled out pull Jess all over and hind end 20ft behind the rest of the horse canter. It’s light and uphill although he still struggles to hold it. Hey, I will take it! We also have transitions that are smooth and effortless instead of why are you asking me to slow down OMG do not touch the reins. It’s like oh I totally understand what you mean when your seat pauses and you close your hand. Cool got it!
He still struggles with being asked to half halt and tosses his head and says no it’s hard and I can’t but we are getting smoother transitions between gaits all the time. You will see him be really a bit mad in the canter but that is because I am asking him to sit a bit more and not dive down on his forehand and he is convinced that is not something he has to do. He wants to pull forward and down and I am half halting and leg on to say nope uphill but no faster. I don’t want him round just in balance and coming underneath. He is really reaching more underneath himself at the canter despite being inconsistent in the bridle. It will come as he gets stronger.
The hardest thing before was to take a break and then start up again because he would just be pissed. He is lazy by nature so work is hard for him. Now he goes right back to work and tries so hard. I am so happy I get off each ride beaming. Yes, we are far from perfect but when I know where we started and even more so what happened when he was feeling bad I now feel like shouting with joy.
He really challenges me to be better as a rider because he requires a good ride at this point. I am far from perfect but I have gotten much better and figuring out what I need to do to and also and being more consistent. When he resists and chucks his head I raise my hands and let him know I will follow his mouth so stop all the head tossing. He prefers that you take a feel and push to it so I need to remember to not be to light because that feels inconsistent to him. Inside leg to outside rein and half halt and push back to it and don’t let him lean on my leg. I felt like I gave him a better ride today.
We had a lovely hack afterwards and I just felt so happy. I really love this horse and he is such a nice horse. I realize he has cost CANTER a lot of money with his chokes and now his ulcers but lord he is a nice horse. He loves people and he really does try hard. He comes running for his food each day which always makes me smile and I truly think he would do anything for me. We have a bond together and that is something truly special.

I have been jumping a few little fences but I wanted to get his flatwork back on track first. I am away for work this week so he will just easy riding which he will like 🙂

Feeling good and looking good

Parker continues to improve and right now he is looking so good. He has an incredible shine and just seems more like his old self. I had a few really good rides followed but a bit of a trying ride yesterday. Maybe it was because he had off the day before but he wanted to protest anything hard but today he came out ready to work.

I kept wishing Kurt would come back outside so I could ask him to do a bit of video but he had went in to dig a hay sliver out from underneath his fingernail.

It was one of those rides where you think wow this horse is finally getting it! I added in some canter and he was soft and happy. It still needs to be more balanced and uphill but we shall get there. I hope to get some video here soon so I can show the difference.

He got lots of treats and good scratches. He has a nasty tick bit right behind his elbow and he just loves when I give that a good scrub with the sponge. I love how he twists his lip up like he can’t get enoug of it. Parker and I have always been buddies so I am glad to see him feeling better. Hoping I can get out and prove how cool he is but I refuse to hurry.

Hoof boots and random stuff

I finally went ahead and bought some cavallo hoof boots as I have a horse who is struggling to keep his shoes on and these boots sure beat wrapping him each time he loses a shoe. I love how easy they are to put on and take off and they seem to fit well and hold up nicely to a 4yr tb running around being silly. I have needed these for a long time but I am cheap and was holding out for a good deal on ebay but gave up and bought them. I now have size 1’s and 2’s and might scout ebay for some other sizes as they are useful to have around. Somone donated a good pair of boa boots last year but they are a size 0 and only fit those with small feet. Still good to have around as they come in handy when needed. I don’t want their feet breaking up while the shoe is off so these save the foot and keep them from bruising. Glad I finally bought them.

I got a comment on my riding ring and thought I would give a little update on that. I picked the worst time to decide to put in a riding ring. Delaware is very low to begin with but we got hit with extreme amounts of snow and rain over the winter/spring and our water table is very high. Even though our contractor dug everything out we still have one or two soft spots in the ring. I found it fascinating when he dug down in one spot where he had already put fill and stonedust and he pulled out thick clay mud. When the heavy equipment drives on the ring it pushes the water right up and the clay pushes the stonedust right out of the way and just makes muck. He is going to have to dig out these spots and pack them with stonedust. Overall, it is rideable but still needs a bit of work.

I have to say my contractor is doing a good job and is very easy to communicate with which is good for contractors. He wants it to be right but we have all been frustrated with the conditions which is nobody’s fault. We have decided to ride on the base of stonedust for a few months and let it settle before adding the sand. We need to make sure everything settles right and that the soft spots are gone. When he was using the big vibrating roller on it you could see water coming up..crazy! The size is a bit bigger than 100×200 and we are putting in 4 lights on telephone poles one on each short side and one on the long side. I want to put some x-c jumps into the fence line so you can jump in and out which will be fun. Ssshhh..don’t tell my hubby he has more work ahead of him 🙂

I also got crazy and bought a new horse trailer. I really really wanted a 4 horse head to head but we just paid off our truck which is a dodge 2500 diesel and although a pulling machine it really isn’t strong enough to pull the weight of the trailer + 4 horses + tack + people. I pouted but hubby told me to get over it and then he said he wanted a new truck. Oh no…I had to argue the point we just paid off our current truck so it was me who needed to compromise.  He REALLY wanted a new truck but no way that could even work. We decided on a 2+1 hawk which is going to be really nice. I worked with Risa at Happy Trails Trailers and she held our hands through the process She came very highly recommended and the customer service was top notch. It will be a few more weeks before it arrives and we can’t wait. Kurt is even more excited than I am and is planning on getting our truck painted red. The trailer will be silver with red striping.

This time of year is always super busy with everyone eager to compete and lots of horses to be worked. I am also eager to compete but it seems like farm life is keeping me so busy I am not getting my goals accomplished. This week was spent moving last year’s hay into the barn to prepare for the 1st cutting of hay to be delivered into the shed. We are planning on getting around 500 bales of lovely orchard/alfalfa that average 65lbs! Tonight we will be putting up the first 200 and then I have a lesson on my horse so I expect I won’t be able to move tomorrow. I HATE stacking hay but it is always a great feeling to look at the beautiful hay in the barn.

I have to say my grass is awesome right now especially with only 6 horses. We have a good system of rotation and dragging the pastures which keeps it nice. Each field rests for 3wks and is cut and dragged when the horses come off of it to keep the weeds at bay. The high waters killed a lot of the grass so I think we will overseed in fall after we have finished some of the grading work but for now the grass is good. The horses aren’t eating much hay as the grass is yummier. I need to watch the fatties don’t overeat..fatty meaning Junior the only non-TB on the farm. He blimps out and his connemara really shows. He doesn’t get ridden very often so keeping his weight down is a challenge. I need to start riding him more. I was given the go ahead to start thinking about competing him again so I might just do that. It’s nice to have a made horse!

The rain has kept me off of Parker the past two days but hopefully today after hay and my lesson I will still have enough energy to get on him. He really likes the taste of the ulcergard. That stuff just smells good so maybe it is tasty.


I really don’t want to jinx myself but yesterday was ride two on Parker since we started the ulcer treatment. He has 7-8 days worth of the ulcerguard and he is back to himself. I didn’t expect a miracle but I was hoping it would return my forward thinking happy horse and I would say that is the case. I asked Kurt to take some video last night and although it is not perfect (he hadn’t been ridden in several weeks) I see/felt a lot of interesting things.

Remember how before he would only soften his back if he was really forward? Well I have been able to actually half halt and adjust the trot rhythm and have him stay soft. He isn’t always a fan of the half halt which you can see at the walk when he barges through it and I have to say NO but by the end he was listening to my seat. I try to do my half halts with my seat and just a gentle close of the hand but we know how fussy he can be so having him be this soft and responsive was excellent.

Our last rides were him so angry he wouldn’t move forward and if I even asked him to slide over with my leg it created a major fit. It had gotten so bad that you would just get on him and he wouldn’t budge. I knew something was wrong but I wasn’t quick to jump to ulcers.

He is now  moving off my leg and I was able to move his shoulder around quite easily last night. To the right he needs to step more into the outside rein by moving off the inside leg and to the left I move his shoulders a bit to left to keep him straight. Working on keeping him straight between the leg and the hand.

I don’t care about where he wants to be in his head carriage right now just forward, straight and adjustable. He is hard for the rider to stay consistent on so I just try to make myself as consistent as possible and follow with my hands but resist when he resists and push him thru that resistance and when he softens than so do I. I don’t want him to go so low that he is running on the forehand but stretchy is good or uphill in a nice balance. I will take what I can get.

I hesistate to show videos when they are not good but I find it interesting to watch the process and thought everyone else might as well. I didn’t get any videos at the worse but let’s just say it was to the point that someone said just give up this horse will never be anything and he was becoming a bit dangerous to ride. I don’t know if he would have gotten dangerous but I knew something was wrong and to stop there. This horse loves people and there was no reason for him to be acting that way.

I am going to try the canter tonight but I have to admit I am really excited about seeing if we really have the answer or not. It would be so nice if this was it..expensive treatment but very worth it!

A new arrival

Ring Dancer 015
Ring Dancer 003

We picked up this cutie today at Delaware Park. Her name is Ring Dancer and she seems very smart and sensible. She will be here on stall rest and seemed to like her accommodations.

I plan on getting Parker out tomorrow to do some work with him and see how things are looking. I think he has 5 days of the ulcerguard so far so he may be feeling better..or not but eager to find out.

Not funny

So I was all set to write a blog entry yesterday and realized work has ban wordpress. It is probably a good thing as I waste a lot of time on non-work related activities.

I head up the CANTER program at Delaware Park and try to organize our weekly visits, get the horses posted on the internet, field calls from trainers/vets/owners and outreach the program when time allows. We are finding ourselves short staffed in the volunteer department and I haven’t been able to get to the track as often as I could last year due to other demands. If you know anyone who would be interested in volunteering a few hours of their time on saturday’s for track visits please have them contact me. We have a great bunch of volunteers and with a bit more help everyone wouldn’t feel so stretched.

For the most part I really enjoy the track visits and having the opportunity to talk with trainers. Most are really grateful for the assistance we provide and it is very rewarding to know you are part of helping horses find new homes.

The training horses leaves this weekend and I will be sad to see him go. The past two weeks have been really good as he has realized that he just can’t get away with things. The difference is impressive and we had a fun session of gridwork the other day which he found boring. I will take bored for a reaction!

We had a new horse come in who will be headed down to Allie’s farm in N.C. He has been off the track for several years and has mileage in the show ring already. I have been super busy so I haven’t done anything with him besides admire him. I am a sucker for a dark bay!

My riding ring is basically finished. They should be driving in the poles for the lights and planting the grass around the sides sometime soon. We got the drains put in yesterday so I am sure it won’t rain hard from now on 🙂 Now that we need rain to help compact the ring we aren’t getting any..go figure.

I had a fantastic lesson last night on another horse owned by a client. He is a young 4 yr named Meadow Mobster who is just as quiet and sensible as you could ask for. Mogie gives a great lesson even if the concepts are basic she knows exactly what the horse needs and you leave feeling like you have a bunch of great homework. We did a lot of very quick trot/walk transitions to help him use his hinded and travel more uphill. It also kept him in front of the leg and thinking uphill. You basically walked two steps and then trotted. Two steps of trot and then walk. Trying to get it quick but when the balance came up it felt awesome.

Another thing we worked on which is true for all babies is making them available in their body via the bend. When a horse is distracted, tense or stiff using the bend or some lateral work is the best way to relax them and put them on the aids. He is just learning how to move from inside leg to the outside rein but when he had the bend the whole body felt different. Lot’s of opening inside rein to direct him into the bend but return the rein back to the neck when they go to the bend. I love riding the babies and feeling them start to understand how to use their bodies.

I spent a lot of time on the phone today with trainers/owners of a horse at Delaware Park who needs a home. The outcome of that is still unknown but it all works itself out in the long run. My real job is kicking my butt and then I come home to a few more hours of work. I am taking a break right now before heading out to teach a lesson. It’s the day off for my horses which I am sure they appreciate.

Down the track they come

No news to report on the CANTER horses that I have at the moment. Parker’s ulcer meds are on the way and we are going to give that a shot. He had dropped a bunch of weight very quickly after his choke incident but he seems to have put most of it back on. He is an easy keeper but I have upped his calories a bit adding in a bit more of the senior feed with some rice bran. He has gotten used to eating soup for meals although it still pisses him off. He is quite vocal about his anger and makes me laugh with all his noise and banging that he does while eating. He is very serious about food and will remain in the barn walking from stall to stall cleaning up every last little kernel that might have been left by the other horses before joining them out in the field.

Training horse has become a different horse which is really cool to see. His manners are night and day from when he arrived and I am really confident that I am returning a better horse to his owner which is what I am always aiming to do. He will occassionally have a moment under saddle but instead of mentally checking out it is just now a brief moment and then he is back to work. He has become accepting of the aids and the use of the spurs/stick. I find it is very important to have a horse that respects the whip and he needed to learn it meant forward and didn’t warrant a huge reaction. We are now getting forward when I close up my leg and if I get no response I might touch him with the spur or tap with the whip and he knows that means he better move on. You really don’t have much of anything without forward so this has been a good tool to get installed. He is a very relaxed and slow horse so his behavior is all up and down. When the behavior happens he needs to be sent forward so he learns he has to keep working. I feel like I have made great strides in that area.

Saturday, we headed up to Delaware Park to get new badges and passes. The meet started on Saturday and we will now be making track visits weekly instead of bi-weekly. I really enjoy going around and talking with the trainers and seeing everyone getting ready. We don’t normally have a lot of activity this time of year since everyone is hopeful the horses will do well but starting in June the listings will increase as they figure out which horses aren’t going to cut it.

Yesterday, we went on an awesome scavenger hunt/trail ride to benefit Mid Atlantic Horse Rescue. My hubby was riding Junior (my conn/tb) and I was on The Boppus. Kurt only rides on the trails when I make him go out with me to exercise the horses or give me a lead out on the babies but he enjoys being out in the open and having a good ride. For whatever reason he has found his comfort zone on Junior even though Boppus was supposed to be his horse 🙂 He said Boppus is to bouncy and has no brakes so he stole Junior from me.

I don’t complain because on Junior he has no fear which is probably because Junior will go anywhere for you and he is super well trained. He also is very smooth and has a soft mouth so Kurt likes that he can pull up quick if needed.

The ride headed out from Great House Farm in Chesapeake City, Md. You ride back through the prettiest horse country there is. Huge open fields with the nicest green grass and rolling hills. There was also a really nice portion that went around the water. We had a few water crossings one which gave us a tiny bit of trouble because it was a cement pad with water flowing over it but the water creating a waterfall effect on the right side of the pad and Junior wasn’t to sure about that. We used our mesh scavenger bag to encourage him to move forward as he was doing the backwards run 🙂

We had some really nice trots and canters across the big open fields and the horses were simply fantastic just enjoying themselves. Kurt kept remarking how beautiful it was and that he was having fun. The best part of the day was when we came to a lovely 1/2 mile dirt track. Kurt wanted to let them run but I wasn’t sure how fast he was going to go. I started off with Boppus and the next think I know I hear Kurt clucking to Junior and he let loose on his reins and Junior just flew by me with Kurt hooting and hollering in his galloping position. That just made by day right there seeing my hubby having so much fun and Junior clearly tolerating him 🙂 Boppus was dead tired by that point and could barely keep up so that was quite funny!

It was really hot so we eased them home mostly walking and when we tried to trot up the final hill the boys made it halfway up before coming back to the walk. It was an 8 mile ride but with temp’s at the upper 80’s with high humidity it really took it out of them and Boppus was sore from a lost shoe.

It is nice when Kurt and I get time to spend together and watching him have so much fun riding Junior always makes me happy. Junior is hotter than all of our tb’s put together but he isn’t mean just has a lot of get up and go to him. He gets pretty excited in group situations and we had to spend a bit of time moving along to wear him out so he stopped trying to catch up with the groups in front of us. He acts more like a racehorse than most racehorses. He wants no part of being in the back! Boppus who ran close to 30 races could care less and sees no point in going faster than you need him to go.

The rest of the day was spent dragging and mowing pastures and then I rode a few more horses when it cooled down. My riding ring is looking good and should be ready for the jumps soon. We need a few more rains for it to set up just right but it is coming along.

Kurt is leaving for 6wks of training starting May 17th and I am having a mild panic attack on taking care of the whole farm by myself. I am not going to take on anymore horses until he comes back as it becomes to much work on top of the full-time job for one person to do. I know I am a lucky military wife when 6wks is the longest trip he has had to make but it will still be tough to be away that long.

I will be keeping busy so hopefully the time will pass quickly.