Wednesday, April 29, 2009


Yeah. Remember how I said next time I rode Tiki, I'd put my spurs on? Well, I didn't, lol. I rode Reley and Audrey first, so by the time I got to him, I was a *little* tired. Today, there was a fair amount of cacaphony. The next door neighbors have pine beetles, so they're having to get all of their pine trees cut down. They have a LOT of BIG pine trees ... right on the fenceline, eeek! Yup, they were cutting those down. The boy had a day off yesterday since I rode his bootie off on Monday.

He was literally sleeping when I got him out of his stall this morning. Got down to grooming, and found a touch of rain rot on his hind legs. Picked the scabs off, wrapped the legs up, tacked up, and led him up to the big ring (it still hasn't rained, so footing is ok to ride on). This was his first time up there ... good view ... HUGE pine trees crashing to the ground and the melodic sound of chain saws singing in the breeze.:) I was careful, and had put on his ear bonnet to muffle sounds. I had on no spurs since I figured he'd be fresh after a day off, and all the activity buzzing next to the farm. Uh, no. He wasn't. Dismounted, went down to get my spurs on, then mounted back up. He was a SLUG today, wow. I think the hot weather is definitely going to take away his "Wheee" factor. I was USING my spurs, no doubt. Did some basic w/t. Cantered both ways; didn't miss the right lead the first time. Worked a figure 8 at the canter with simple changes; that was pretty good. Trotted a few more laps, then asked AGAIN for the right lead. Took 5 times, but he got it. Circled, kept the spurs pressing, then let him walk out. I didn't do anything "fancy" ... just worked strictly on STRAIGHT. At the canter, he wants to pop those shoulders and lie on his side. Worked VERY hard on pressing the inside leg to outside rein, and keeping his body not leaning. We did pretty well.:)

He's very footing oriented. I can NOT recreate his gaits from Patchwork at home. There are some days he just feels fantastically wonderful, but nothing like the few times he's worked at Patchwork. The big ring has fill dirt in it right now, and though it's not terribly hard or soft, there are quite a few decent size rocks. He steps on a rock, and he's gimpy. I still apply venice turpentine to his feet periodically when the pastures dry out, but I'm not convinced it's helped him at all.:( He's not lame anymore since he does have shoes, but on any 'iffy' surface, he's very tight and small strided. Oh well, just more for us to work on, and more motivation to me to make sure any time I can borrow a trailer, I'm motivated to use it.:) Had a good time today; I was pleasantly suprised at how wonderful he was. He looks SO pretty in his new bling browband I got from Dover for my birthday!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Super day today!

Went on a lovely 3 hour trail ride today. Joyce was off work, so we had tentative plans to go out today on the trails. We were planning on a few other people, but as I cleaned stalls, the phone calls came and people fell off the grid. Finished up early, and got a text from Nicole saying she was coming out, yay! So, I tacked up Chester to ride him for a bit before we headed out. Rode him up in the still incomplete ring. That thing is going to be AMAZING when the footing's in! It is huge and level and has a great view of the farm. The weather has been so great that riding on it isn't killing it. I *think* footing will be in soon, yay, yay!! Walked Chester up to it, and he did NOT want to go up there. He'd never been up there. He kept trying to stop and spin around, and I dug my spurs in. He'd then attempt to crowhop and spin again. I just stayed patient, kept my hands up, and squeezed with the spurs. Finally got him up to it, and he was SPOOKY. The "footing" is red GA fill dirt, so it does look a little freaky. As I said, the view is great, so it gave him a ton of stuff to look at. It took me a GOOD 2 laps around before he quit trying to put his head between his knees and drag me down to the barn. He's such a baby, lol! Finished with a lovely trot both directions; forward, straight, and willing. Trail time!:)

It was me, Nicole on her gelding, Joyce, and Wayne. Wayne rode Reley, the other baby I ride. That boy was quite the superstar! We went into the pulpwood forest, and I was so happy that Tiki wasn't spooky at either the flags hanging on a realestate sign, or the new road that has been cut in. Took our usual trail until we got to the turn; we went straight instead. It was a real trailblazing trail. Lots of dodging branches, tripping over logs, and charging through briars. I had a little hissy fit when Wayne chose to go through a little sapling forest that tore us to pieces instead of walking next to the road where it was free and clear, lol. I got turned around, Tiki was getting scratched to hell, and I got smacked in the face with a tree, so I hollered "THIS SUCKS"! I didn't mean it, ha ha, but DANG! That part did suck for about a minute or so. Joyce said I'm not allowed on that trail with them anymore, whoops!:) I was so proud of my boy. The ONLY thing he spooked at was a little dog that appeared out of the underbrush and acted all ferocious. He did so well dodging trees, climbing over rocks and stumps, and pushing aside branches. He is so wonderful.

One afternoon on the trail is worth 5 rides in the ring. My horse drops his head, uses his back, and bends through his shoulders and hocks. He loves it out there, and so do I; I just feel like it's so good for his brain; can't wait for the ring so I can set up a little course and get him a little more balanced and well rounded. Plus, once deer season starts, we'll be "grounded" again unless I get a trailer sometime soon. In the meantime, I will ride in the back pasture when possible, trail ride at every opportunity, ride in the little arena, and take him to PWF whenever I can beg a trailer.:) (pic up top is from my last "solo" ride when we got rained on; used the blue ear bonnet since I was riding alone and it was turkey season.)

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The ride that wasn't

Today was both good and not so good. Got to the barn around 10:30 because I figured everyone would start showing up around noon or so. Wanted to ride Audrey (the filly) before my trail, so I tacked her up and took her down to the arena. She was SOOOO much better today. I let her free longe in the ring before I got on, then once I mounted, gave her plenty of time at the walk to settle in. Trot work was good, she was very responsive. Worked her at the trot for a good 15 minutes before thinking of the canter. When I asked, she was perfect. Held the lead for an entire lap, walked, reversed, then cantered the other way. Again, she was pretty perfect. I quit there. Not a buck in her today, yay!

Groomed Tiki GOOD! I brushed ... brushed ... and brushed. I combed his mane and tail, clipped whiskers and bridle path, applied venice turp to the bottoms of his feet, hooflex to the top ... he was quite the gorgeous boy! Waited around for another hour before anyone showed up. At this point, it was about 2:15. Finally, everyone showed up. I put the saddle on, bridled, then stood around holding him while everyone got their acts together. Kyle rode Maize, the horse Nicole's been riding since she'd taken Guilder to her barn yesterday and jumped him around. Well, we mounted, headed into the back pasture so Joyce could open the gate. We were standing around, and I looked over at Kyle and Maize. Maize reared, came down, then reared again. She went vertical before twisting and falling over. Kyle hit the ground hard, and Maize stepped on her back and leg. None of us moved as Maize galloped off. Finally, Kyle started moaning and it became apparent she was hurt. We all jumped off our horses and ran over to her. She was stunned and sore and bruised, but fine. She got up and walked back down to the barn, and I put Tiki in his stall, untacked him, and we waited on Cowboy Wayne to show up. None of us were getting on her after that display. I left shortly after.
By this time, it was 4:30. My husband is very protective of our time together. He doesn't like it when I spend all day Sunday at the barn because it is literally the ONLY day we have together. I understand it. I enjoy spending time at home on Sunday. It just stinks that the only time I can spend time with everyone is the weekend. Catch 22; everyone has them. Joyce is off tomorrow, so we plan to take our ride tomorrow. At least my horse will look glamorous and beautiful when he's turned out tonight!
I'm just so thankful Kyle's ok. It just serves as a reminder that all of a sudden, out of nowhere, we can get hurt. I'll be extra cautious tomorrow, that's for sure.

Friday, April 24, 2009

5 days in a row is a record for me:)

Rode the pony. What a GOOD boy. I went out with Nicole, and her friend from out of town. Nicole was riding Maize, the pretty red dun paint in one of my pics further back in the blog. She's fairly green; Joyce works full time in addition to doing all the barn work for 20 horses by herself, so that doesn't leave her tons of time to ride the 8 horses she owns. Anyway, apparently Maize had never even been ON the trails, so considering that, she was not bad. A little forward, not terribly spooky, and even went through the water without too much fuss. I was impressed!

We went across the street to the power lines. I've done more trails in the pulp wood forest, so whenever we do the power lines, it makes me happy!:) The tricky part is staying on the trails once you get into the woods. They're not well defined, so it's easy to lose the trail. Went in next to a big pond, which Tiki has never been particularily fond of. It has rained so much in the past month, the pond had overflowed and flooded a low-lying part of the trail. Thank GOODNESS I had gotten Tiki in when Nicole and I rode out by ourselves. Otherwise, I don't think I could have gotten him to go across. It's belly deep water, so it's not just a little splashy puddle. We actually made our way out to the big field, which I had only been to once. Enjoyed a gallop on a nice mowed lane, and found the end of the lane. Meandered back into the pasture, and heard Joyce's voice. She and her friend Debbie had caught up to us, and together, we found a dirt road with all manner of trails off of it. Picked one, rode until it ended, then made our way back to the barn since I had to get going so I could pick up my son and his friend from school. Of course, going back, we lost the trail in the woods, so had to follow the power lines for a bit.

What is a marvel to me is how beautifully my horse rounds his neck and trots forward. For trails, I've decided to go back to the metal "bean" D-ring bit I had determined was "too much" bit for him in the ring. He gets strong once we've been out for an hour or so, and when we gallop, he's started to show his true racehorse more and more.:) I bought a LOVELY new bridle for the task, and didn't bother with the figure-8 because I'm not worried about him being "on the bit". Well, the only time he IS on the bit is when we're on the trail, lol. He carries his back up, he demonstrates LOVELY shoulder-ins going up hills with his s l o w trot, and working up hills, he really tucks his nose down, rounds his neck, and pushes with his hind end. I plan to try and go out in that area alone eventually so I can really focus on getting his neck and back built up so when I can HOPEFULLY get a trailer by the end of the summer, he will be fit enough for me to trailer out to Patchwork and take a lesson once a week. The picture up top is showing off his new bridle today! Good boy, hopefully will ride Sunday on a LONG trail.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


Today was ... interesting.:) First, I rode a new "baby" named Audrey. The girl that was training her got bucked off a different horse and broke her ankle. The mare needs to keep getting ridden, so I have the ride for now. She's about the size of a fine boned large pony, and fiesty! Very nervy with her head; even me putting the reins over her head caused it to be stuck high up in the air. She is a super cute mover, though. Huge step, suspension, and a natural up hill head carriage. Got on, and walked around; kept light contact and she tucked her head much better than Tiki does. Walked over 4 poles on the ground, and she was good. Went to trot, and she is BOUNCY. Worked the trot until she settled in, did lots of reverses, and all was good. Once she'd settled in, I asked for the canter. EXPLOSION! She definitely had a little baby temper tantrum, and leaped around for a few seconds. Tightened my girth, trotted some more, asked again. She leaped into the canter, swapped out behind, crow hopped a bit, then settled in. Reversed, cantered again. Leaped again into the canter, but no more bucking/crow hopping. Sooo, finished there. On to the Tiki pony!

Gave him the quickest grooming of his life; no curry comb, mane comb, show sheen, etc. That was a first for me. His leg was a little swollen from a cut he sustained the night before last. I wasn't hugely concerned becase he's proven to swell up without much provocation. I'm wondering if I should let him be "naked" until I can pick up some decent splint boots, or have him turned out in the ancient smbs I had him turned out in last night. He cut the leg the night before last, and other than some oozing blood, it was fine. Had Joyce turn him out with the ancient smbs, and today it was swelled up. Coincidence? Plan to get some of those shiny Davis splint boots for turnout because he has been interefering in the splint area, but the other night was the first time he's drawn blood. Anyway, he'd walked up fine, so I wasn't worried about riding him. After mounting up, it was amazing how solid he felt compared to little Audrey. Trotted and he was LAZY. Lazy, lazy, lazy. Next time I ride him in the ring, the spurs WILL be on, lol. Tried to get him to bend, like usual. He was fine. Not bad, but not superior, either. Was pretty quick about things. Cantered right, and he got it on the 2nd try. Cantered left, and he was fabulous. Trotted up to our free jumping jump from yesterday; the little swedish. He was more perfect than he's ever been. DEAD quiet to the jump, hopped over very sweetly. Went 2 more times with the same results. That was tracking right. Reversed, cantered left, and went to canter the oxer ... he got distracted with the gate, broke gait, cantered again and missed his distance. We recovered and tried again. I used a stronger inside leg this time and half halted to keep him a little more "bouncy", and this time he was picture perfect. This was actually our first perfect canter jump EVER, so of course I stopped there. Cold hosed his leg, applied some liniment gel, and had to run. He was fantastic today! Planning to trail ride him with a few friends tomorrow:)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

2 updates in one:)

I am so proud of myself. I've actually worked my horse 3 days in a row. Rode yesterday, and he was good. I actually rode with my friend Nicole as she worked one of Joyce's horses. We rode together in the ring. He was great! I half expected him to be fresh or get upset if Maize got within eyeshot of him, but he was completely unaffected by her. Worked really hard at asking him to come down on the bit and BEND, and he resisted my efforts at every opportunity. Luckily, he did listen every now and again, and I got a few trot sets that were really good. Had trouble yet again with the right lead. Once he got it, I kept him on it for an entire lap before walking. Left lead was quite good, and I even circled and kept him pretty well balanced through the whole thing. The jump was kind of sucky, though. He got a little antsy and really wanted to run through my aids and canter like a twit down to the jump. It took about 12 times of approaching it from different angles before he finally settled enough for me to quit. So, not a GREAT, brilliant day, but also not a frustrating one.

Today was hilarious, and I WISH I had taken a video camera, lol. I got the bright idea to go ahead and do a little free jumping session today. I wasn't sure how it would go, because when he shuts down and decides he doesn't want to do something, he WON'T. He's also not a super brave soul, and I worried that he would be spooky at the jump, or not move off the whip correctly. He was just GREAT! At first, he GALLOPED around like a crazy man, bucking and farting like a lunatic. That is actually unusual for him; I have to REALLY get onto him to get him to show a little spirit on the longe line. The jump I set for him was just a single, but it was an oxer, which I've never jumped him over before. It was just 2', not high, and I dropped opposite sides, making it into a teeny swedish oxer. It was SO funny. I was literally standing there with the whip pointing to the ground, laughing. He cantered around the corner on the left lead, neatly bypassing the jump. He then bucked his way through a flying change to the right lead, did a canter pivot worthy of a reining horse, then proceeded to lengthen his canter until he had a pretty decently huge stride right over the jump. I nearly fell over with glee; my horse jumps like a FREAK, YAY!! He was very impressed with that little swedish, and easily could have cleared 3' or higher with no problem:) He was ROUND, he was SQUARE, and he was BEAUTIFUL!!! Anyway, he repeated that all on his own about 5 times in a row. Finally, he seemed to lose some steam and stopped. I raised one of the poles to a straight bar, and had to use the whip to urge him over it. "AH" he said. "This is what I do all the time! No biggie." The straight bar side, he gave *just* enough effort to clear the poles. In fact, his back feet touched it. Let him jump it twice, then raised the other side so it was a simple, square oxer. Again, he was completely unimpressed, this time touching it with his front feet. Did it ONE more time, and he cleared it, but clearly that was *easy*, and he was tired. I let him be done. Dang, I was so psyched he jumps so darn cute. Once again, proud mama!!:):)

Monday, April 20, 2009

The challenge of the 'forward' horse

Today was more what I had been expecting on Friday from the Tiki man. I started to get lazy and just groom today after I rode Chester and Reley, but I got worried about the weather and had NO idea if rain was in the cards. It was looking pretty gray and inclement, so I decided to kick myself in the butt and get the boy out.

Did a 'quick' groom, threw the tack on, and headed out to the front pasture. Mounted softly and walked into the arena in my 2-point. The footing was pretty bad; very wet and sloppy. Tiki walked very carefully and did a much better job of not walking around like a giraffe. Asked for a trot, and he was so awkward, he felt lame. Shook his head, sucked up his back, and kicked up a little. His trot step was so tiny and fast, I took pity on him and went back out into the pasture. Once there, I got back in 2-point because I was concerned about his back being 'cold'; plus, he still felt off. I was convinced it was just the footing because even though the pasture itself was a *little* better, it was still very wet and sloppy.

Tried something a little different. Trotting in 2-point, I felt him swing his butt around, shake his head, and snort a little. I let him out. I didn't half halt and ask him to slow down, I let him slide off into a little gallop. I allowed it to happen for about 3 minutes, then pulled him down to a walk on a loose rein. Let him blow out and snort, stretched his neck out, then went back to the trot. I worked HARD at making sure he was going FORWARD without going FAST. He is SO light in his mouth, he just goes slow without taking any contact with the bit. Then when he decides to get fast, I have to pull on him to get slower. He doesn't have consistent contact; that's our challenge.

I worked on keeping my elbows bent, and used a LOT of leg to push him forward. Once he finally took the bit and began to round and drop his head, his rhythm got much more consistent and reasonable. My boss has a theory. A *forward* horse needs twice as much leg as a *lazy* horse. Riders get in trouble when they ride their "hot" horse with no contact; either with the reins or the leg. That's when they start jumping and their horse decides to bolt down to the jumps, because it doesn't know how to accept contact and stay on the bit. That is always my challenge to remember with Tiki. So, I WORKED today. Really pushed him forward, squeezed and released my hand and got him coming up through the back and into the bridle. Cantered left and he was good. Had to ask 4 times for the right lead, and once he got it I actually posted to it to keep him on it. Let him catch a break as a reward, then turned to the jump.

I worked over the 2' vertical that's been set up for awhile. First few times, he cantered the last few strides. Worked some more and he felt a little better each time. Finished when I asked for the trot, and his neck just got ROUND, and his trot was easy and rhythmic, and he trotted 100% the same all the way down to the base of the jump. This was one of the first days we've started out not so great, and ended up pretty darn good. I'm the proud mama!:):)

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Just a silly update!:)

My parents and grandparents came to my son's 7th birthday party today. Since none of them have met my horse, I took them out to the barn to meet Tiki. It was SO funny! I am a freak. NONE of my family at ALL rides or cares for horses. Mom and Dad haven't really been exposed to horses, so they were sort of at a loss as to how to pet him. They were suprised by how expressive he is, and how he does his "whuffle" all the time. Tiki was such a saint. He totally sensed they are complete newbies, and stood outside letting everyone fawn all over him without moving a muscle. He ate treats, and eventually started nipping at my mom's sleeve, looking for more.:) I couldn't stand it. I ran in and got my fleece half pad, threw it on his back, tied up the lead rope to the rings on his halter, and hopped on. He let me trot and even cantered around Joyce's yard while the fam oohed and awwed. I was so proud!

On the sad side, he has his first fungus! Eww! It was on his ear.:( I rubbed on some MTG, and put him back away. My friend Nicole let me try a bridle she doesn't use any more on him, and it fit beautifully, so I'm buying my first bridle in 12 years from her. It helps that it's a great deal;) Will post tomorrow after whatever "real" ride I do.:)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Finally home, and finally rode!

Feels like FOREVER since I've written a blog! Got home Tuesday at 10:30, and saw the boy Wednesday when I went to the barn to clean stalls. He LOOKED like I hadn't touched him in 2 weeks; I can't believe how incredibly DUSTY he was, lol. Went out today, and drug my 6 year old son with me so he could take some pics.:) Of course, I planned to longe first since it had basically been 2 weeks since I rode. He was, as usual, dead quiet on the longe line. He did show quite a spark when I led him out of the barn down to the pasture; he seemed HAPPY!

Anyway, spent about 5 useless minutes trying to get him to expend some energy and it just. didn't. happen. Decided to go ahead and hop on, and I felt right at home.:) Walked in 2 point to warm up, then trotted. The biggest thing I felt today was the fact that his back was not up. He was tripping very frequently, his head was up in the air, and I could feel his hind end wasn't fully engaged. Worked on backing, and he does it wrong; hollows his back and sticks his head up in the air. Definitely need to work on that; it will help him learn to round and rock back on his hocks. No buckiness or head shaking today; just the tripping and the lack of fitness (which totally makes sense).

Trotted and cantered over poles; he did well with that. Took a few tries to get the right lead, and he swapped out right before he cantered the pole. Trotted back and forth a simple 2' vertical, then cantered it once. He was quiet and sensible about it, and hopefully I can get to the back pasture in a few days to do some hills to get that hind end under him, and build some back muscle. Hopefully can get my custom saddle in June, after a week of summer camp. Still making do with the Wintec; still seems ok for right now. Hopefully, I can ride this weekend, and update again!

Had an awesome time this week. Got off the ship in Panama, and turned around and got right back on. We swam and enjoyed the water slide that day.:) Took a taxi in Costa Rica around the city, then rode a small boat down a little canal and enjoyed seeing crocs, iguanas, egrets, sloths, and monkeys. Did a shore excursion in Belize, and rode a zip line through the rain forest, then rappelled down into a cave. VERY awesome! Belize was my favorite port. Next time, we'll do Panama again and do a shore excursion since the area we docked (Colon) was so unsafe. Overall, had a GREAT vacation, but I'm glad to be home riding my horse.:)