Monday, August 29, 2011

New Tip of the week:)

Well, Muffin Man has officially lost his slipped back hind shoe. Actually, I'm told honorary little sis Nicole pulled the shoe off for me this weekend so the turd brain didn't impale himself on a nail. Farrier not coming until Thursday, so guess no riding for me this week:( I taped the foot up really well with Gorilla Tape. Will see how that holds up; may be doubling up on Vetwrap and duct tape tomorrow. Guess we'll find out how that goes.

Today's Tip of the Week is FINALLY brought to you by a reader and fellow blogger Becky.

Her tip: You can use Vitamin A & D cream (commonly known as Desitin, or diaper rash ointment) on any wound that has healed but is not growing hair back. It helps hair grow back without coming in a different color, such as white, and at a much faster rate than if you had left it alone. You can also purchase some creams with Vitamin E in it as well, which helps speed up the healing process. Very easy, cheap and effective!

Not only is that tip great for horses, it's SO useful for people too! Ever had "road rash" on your legs at the end of a hot, sweaty day? Diaper rash ointment makes it feel SO much better:)

Thanks Becky! If YOU have a money saving tip or a nifty trick to make life easier, just shoot me an e-mail at
We can ALL use ideas to help make life easier:) Don't expect much else out of me this week. Stay tuned for next Monday ...

OH! The welt is completely gone:) Like it was never there!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Heading out of town for a few days:)

Today was another sigh worthy day. Went to pull the Muffin man out, and not only is his right hind shoe slipped back, he has a HUGE welt on his left side, right where my leg would go if I were bareback. Very strange. He was not painful on it, it WAS very itchy, and I couldn't find any sort of a stinger or anything in it. So I dunno.

Sooo ... rather than ride, I treated a little bit of fungus on his right hind leg around the hock area, put some Sore No More liniment on the welt, de-wormed him, and gave him a shot of Dex. Woo hoo, exciting:)

Wednesday, I had a nice ride on him in the dressage tack. I am still working on his neck and head staying secure and stable within the transitions; basically, making sure his back stays UP and not hollow. I did a couple of rein backs that were good, and a few turns on the forehand. Our upward transitions from trot to canter were really nice, and I got a leg yield that was AMAZING. Best one he's ever done, for sure.

Finally got TWO really nice lead changes:) I did an exercise I've done before where I cantered left, came across a diagonal, cantered right on the counter lead, came back across and circled left, then came across again with a lead change. Rinsed and repeated on the other side, and just worked on steadiness in the canter and across the diagonal, then got a super clean straight change. It felt GREAT, so I stopped there. Guess I won't be riding again until the swelling goes down and the shoes are re-done.

Leaving for Tennessee as soon as the hubs gets home from work. A friend gave us tickets to Bristol Motor Speedway, so we'll be heading to race track to watch the Bristol Sprint Cup race, woo hoo! So excited, we've been dying to see the Bristol race for a few years now:)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

3 years ago today ...

In order of pics (because I'm too stupid to figure out how to put captions under the pics:( )
  • Track pic
  • Unloading at 'Crazy Lady' farm
  • First time working
  • First trail ride
  • First hunter class
  • First jumper class
  • First "all jumper" show
  • First clinic
  • First ditch
  • First XC schooling
  • First hunter pace
  • First time showing 3'
  • First Horse Trial
  • A few days ago

Monday, August 22, 2011

Love the Muffin

I do SO love my Muffin Man. He is so much fun; I can't believe I got so lucky to find him from a PICTURE! Our 3 year anniversary is Wednesday. A picture montage will be on the schedule! Today I jumped him; didn't set up anything fancy. Still pretty much the same stuff that's been set. I DID get brave and finally up the oxer in my xrail/oxer 1 stride to 2'9 in the front and 3' in the back. Still had the corner on the outside, and set the cavaletti oxer a little closer together. Decided to use the hollow D-ring.

He was a GOOD boy:) Flatwork felt very nice with the hollow mouth D. He can get pretty stiff in that bit, and hang on it a little, but because he KNEW we would be jumping, he went around fairly light. I spiraled in and out at the trot both directions; he felt a little looser and softer to the right, but not bad either direction. Did a turn on the haunches/canter depart back and forth a few times, and he gave me some PERFECT transitions:) I mean, not a SINGLE step of walk or trot before sitting down and pushing off into the canter. The canter work itself got a *hair* strong, which is when I enjoy just being able to half halt when he's wearing the wonder bit, and he lifts his shoulders.

Started jumping with a cavaletti. I halted after each jump, moved him over, then picked up the canter on the new lead. I don't obsess over lead changes. We don't have to perform them in any of our dressage tests, and I've found that in general, if his balance calls for him to need to do one, he does:) In my efforts to refine our stadium work, I want him to be able to jump around LIKE a hunter, even if he doesn't jump or move like one. The one stride was GREAT every time. I felt GREAT. My leg felt nice and steady, my release was its usual auto release, and he felt nice and straight and spring over the jumps.

TIP OF THE WEEK:(still courtesy of ME;)) When you go to give your horse a bath, buy a $0.99 loofah sponge from Walmart. Works BETTER than any of the $$ bathing tools you can buy from the tack store:) Soft enough for even a red headed Thoroughbred, firm enough to remove dirt/hair/etc. Please e-mail me YOUR tips at:
If y'all don't e-mail me, I am going to run out!!! Help me out here!;)

Dressage work in the ring Wednesday. May do some counter-canter stuff. Definitely will leg yield and shoulder-in. Other stuff, we'll just have to see:)

Sunday, August 21, 2011


It's that time of year ... the dog days of summer. I always get a little ... indifferent? I'm not sure if that's the word. Certainly not DEPRESSED, but ... certainly not HAPPY either:( I've applied for a third job. Yes, a third one. It's nobody's fault but my own; not finishing college and going to Pharmacy School so I could be making 6 figures right now. Instead, I'm toiling away at a job that barely nets me over minimum wage. Sure, I only work 3 hours a day on a lONG day, but it IS an hour drive each way. So, sigh. I'm doing what I can to change my circumstances; hopefully something good will come of it.

My indifference caused me to not feel like riding on Friday. I just couldn't motivate myself to spend the extra 30 mins putting all my gear on and fully tacking up, so I longed. Borrowing a trick from Stacey at the "Jumping Percheron" blog, I tied on a standing wrap to the surcingle; I've always been a fan of the "Pessoa" longeing rig, but of course have always been too cheap to actually invest in one. A simple solution? Side reins and something around the horse's hind end above the hocks to keep the hind end engaged. Results, you ask?

Well, at the trot, I couldn't see much difference. He was as lazy as ever, and warmed up with his usual short trot steps. The canter on the other hand? WOW. He's never cantered well on the longe; he cross canters and breaks like he was an 18 hand draft horse and not a red headed Thoroughbred. Well, with the wrap back there, he TRIED to change behind and cross canter, but the feel of the THING back there kept his hind end UNDER himself, and kept him on the correct lead! Definitely a BIG difference at the canter, yay:)

Kicked up the running a notch this evening. I'm doing the "Couch to 5K" program, and completed "Week 1" training, which is run for 60 secs, walk for 90 secs for 20 mins total. "Week 2" is run for 90 secs/walk for 2 mins for a total of 20 mins. It went GREAT. I think my problem with not being able to keep up a running program has been too much too fast, and I burn out. The "Couch to 5K" program begins gradually and builds up. By the time I was finished, I was tired and sweaty, but not aching or dying.

Tomorrow I will try and get my buttocks on the pony and jump a few jumps. Just have to see what this week will hold!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Friday already?

Sigh. Another week has flown by. This is the FIRST weather we've had since ... May, where the temps have dipped below 70. We have had a couple of GLORIOUS mornings:) Joyce thinks Muffin has been enjoying those;)

Had a nice ride yesterday. I did some "field dressage"; last time I did that he was super fantabulous-amazingly so! Yesterday, he started out pretty stiff in the neck and jaw and was pretty tail swishingly fresh. Testing out a head shaking theory, I coated him in fly spray, and tucked the forelock under an ear net. I was feeling sort of silly and cheeky, so I used my sparkly/satiny ear net. It is completely ridiculous and I would never use it in public, but it made me smile:) I have decided, unequivocally that it is his forelock hitting his ears that is causing the head shaking. He has a little bit of a shake as an immediate reaction when I bridle him. He also has a little bit of a shake when he's showing "attitude". But the incessant, irritated shaking is due to ear irritation, I'm sure of it. The only time he tossed his head out in the field yesterday was when flies completely ignored the liberal application of Repel-X, and latched onto his neck anyway.

Star was not cooperating, and was grazing about 50 feet away from mine and Tiki's work space. There were cars driving down the road. Susan's horses kept running around their pasture. Distractions GALORE! I'm so glad I finally recognize what it feels like to have him correctly working in a dressage frame; 6 months ago, I probably would have accepted what I had in the first 5 minutes as "pretty good!", and not gone further. Instead, I circled, flexed, ASKED, kept my leg on, and he got with the program. He did not buck or otherwise act up. His head would 'giraffe' every once in awhile, and he would overflex his neck to the right and drift left towards Star, but outside leg/outside rein fixed that problem. I trotted for about 20 minutes, both in small circles, and in a nice track around a corner of the pasture, and following the fence line, then cutting way across. Basically, I kept mixing it up.

For safety's sake, I kept the canter both directions on a 20m circle. I didn't trust him not to be a little turd, and his canter has been HUGE in the dressage saddle lately; to the point that I have been having difficulty SITTING it. He actually felt pretty nice and uphill, and even though I could hear his tail SWISH SWISHing, he seemed to be happy enough. I finished with a canter figure 8; 2 10m cicles with a straight line simple change through the walk. Must have done that literally 20 times. I just KEPT on going, until my transitions were clean, straight, and prompt. I'm trying to refine his contact THROUGH the transitions; I tend to drop him and not support enough. He tends to hang and pull me down through the downwards, and lift his head and hollow his back/neck in the upwards. Also, my transition from the walk to the canter was consistently slightly disorganized; I quit when I got 2 straight up WALK to CANTER transitions and NO trotting. He does those transitions perfectly in the ring when we're jumping;) Now to apply those to the dressage ring!

Tomorrow I will probably take my stirrups off the cc saddle and work on me a little bit. I would like to hop over a cavaletti or 2, and work on my posting trot. Will probably wing it, and work on some sort of flat pattern to get him bending and relaxing his jaw. Regardless, y'all will read about it here after it happens!

Monday, August 15, 2011

It's ... Monday again.

It's Monday again! For Squeaky Tiki, that means a jump school and an anti-fungal bath. For "Tails" readers, it means another Tip of the Week! PLEASE e-mail me with your tips and tricks at

This week's tip: Always keep a box of baby wipes on hand at the barn. After riding in the sweltering August heat, you can simply wipe away sweat and grime off your tack with baby wipes. What I really like is the fact that you don't get build up. I used to wipe down all my tack with a damp sponge and glycerine soap, but my tack started getting that "gummy" feeling. The wipes offer a much needed "quick clean" on virtually anything:)

On to today! I've decided to follow in the footsteps of many of my fellow eventers, and take up running. I have tried and failed to start running on numerous occasions. I actually did pretty well when I had a running partner, but I suffered an achilles injury running in her neighborhood, so I had to quit for QUITE some time. It was a pretty nagging, painful injury. The COTH forums had some good advice on how to start and maintain a runnig program, and I've decided to set goals for my running. I will be running a 5K at some point before Christmas:) I have a tentative date of some time in September, but that's awfully soon for me to actually *run* it. I can walk it, for sure, but I suck at running. Which is why I've quit as soon as I've begun. But, my alarm will be going off at 5:48 in the morning, at which point I will hit "snooze", and then get up and go for my run. I did run yesterday, and while I'm not sore from that, I am SO SORE from the lunges/push ups/crunches I did afterwards;)

Tiki was AWESOME today:) Put on the wonder bit and the cc saddle, and he was a happy little camper. I walked on a loose rein, then picked up contact and cantered both ways. Made sure I kept leg on and didn't let him drop that shoulder and fall in. He was SO light and relaxed, and looking for the jumps, lol. Came down to the trot and worked the trot for about 15 mins. Put him on the 20m circle and did transitions. Felt GREAT. Did some halts, trying to keep him from hollowing the back during those, and he did all right.

Still had the x rail/one stride to the 2'9 oxer set. Changed the outside vertical to a real corner jump! Laid down a barrel, and made me my first corner jump. I didn't anticipate any problems because Tiki doesn't care about the barrel, and I'm comfortable over fan jumps, so I felt like we'd be fine. Set a cav on a diagonal, then a cav oxer on the other. I knew it was risky, but I set the oxer a little wider than normal. I was careful not to do it TOO wide, so he wouldn't think it was a bounce, but I DID want it wider than normal for the form benefits:)

He was awesome. Could have cared less about the corner, of course. I did GREAT during the one stride; didn't do too much once;) He felt amazing through that every time! I was glad I'd thrown on his boots today. I don't always use them for jump schools; sometimes I leave him bare-legged. I've gotten to where he's naked for the flat schools, unless we're in the field. I'm so glad I used the boots when he almost wiped out; there was a big chunk of dirt on one of the hind boots, and I'm SURE he would have taken a chunk out of his LEG had I not had them on. So in the field, I always throw them on. My gut feeling was correct, and he did mis judge and make a mistake on the oxer about the third time I jumped it. Caught it HARD with a hind leg and pulled the cav completely over. Glad I'd put the boots on, because he didn't even limp off. I did lots of jump/halt/trot in to get him straight, collected, and focused on ME.

As an aside, he has gotten perfect about not anticipating when I shorten the reins. When I go from no contact to contact, he waits on me to tell him what to do. So proud of the muffin man! Tomorrow I will be running, and Wednesday I'm thinking I will do some "field dressage" in Star's pasture.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Moving forward

Thanks for all the HSS opinions. I think it's a freshness thing, and an ear irritant thing. Yesterday, I had a pretty nice dressage school. Rode for a solid half hour with no walk breaks. The footing was nice; he felt pretty lovely.:)

My trot felt like a great rhythm; he is SO stiff at the walk. He just despises the contact at the walk. I worked hard on myself, trying to keep a good contact in both the hands and the legs. The canter was again very large, lol. It's hard to sit when he's so big and strong and forward. I did a different exercise: the shallow serpentine where I change bend from inside to outside back to inside as a leg yield in, then leg yield back out. I did it at the sitting trot, and after a few poopy passes, got a couple of NICE leg yields.

I got him finally to settle at the canter by keeping him on a 20m circle, then came across a diagonal with a flying change. The change was late, but he got it clean. The left lead canter on the 20m circle was a little lighter and more uphill, so I came across again to flying change back to the right, and it was an UGLY lead change. He got along fine changing by himself on the jump course, but resists and gets stiff, fast, and unresponsive when I actually ASK him for one. I'm sure it's my lack of timing there. Hopefully furthering myself with dressage lessons will fix that eventually:)

Monday will hold a jump school for me so long as rain doesn't mess with the footing. Will set the cavs up somehow, and will remove the perpindicular poles from the vertical. Not yet sure what it will be, but I'll figure something out:)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

MAYBE cooler temps peeking through?

Driving down the road this morning with the windows open actually felt a little coolish this morning! Planning a dressage school tomorrow; will probably consult my "101 Dressage Exercises" book for ideas. Yesterday I walked hills. Actually hadn't done that in a while. He was fresh and pissy; and yes, he shook his head. You know what I almost think it is? I noticed that his forelock was touching his ears; I wonder if Mr. Sensitive Red Head is irritated at his hair having the nerve to touch his ears. Lol. That may be it. I had tried to tie a hair net on the noseband of his bridle to try that, but I guess I wasn't doing it right. I did that, and he went NUTS trying to eat the hairnet:) He was a good boy. Looking forward to riding tomorrow!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


Ok blogger land. Decided to post this here before venturing to COTH for opinions. Wondering if anyone might have an idea.

On Wednesday, Tiki and I did trot sets. I've noticed since owning Tiki that every now and then when riding, he will violently shake his head like he's got bugs in his ears. Now, I HAVE read up on Head Shaking Syndrome, and I'm not sure this is it. I mean, maybe? It's such a vague diagnosis! He almost always comes out of it, and will usually begin the ride shaking his head, but he doesn't always do it. It's worse in the summer (when bugs ARE out; flies have been terrible around here). I usually ride him in the mornings before 10:00, which is when I've read HSS can be worse due to the sun being really bright.

Monday, no head shaking. Wednesday, I hadn't even mounted before he started going nuts shaking his head. That's probably one of the contributing factors to his near colossal wipeout. It was BAD. I HAVE noticed it seems to be worse in stressful situations, and when riding in a field.

Yesterday, not a single head shake. Rode him the SAME time (8:30 am) as I did all last week. Ideas? Would HSS be a constant thing? His head shaking is SO random. He lets me mess with (not clip) his ears during baths/etc. He does have a touch of rain rot on them, but isn't sensitive or anything. No ticks down in there. Is it behavior? Any tricks I should try? I know about the net on the nose; some people I know have used hair nets over the nose with similar results. In case it IS bugs, I use an ear net on him ocassionally. He still shakes his head.

Just looking for anecdotes/words of advice. I'm TERRIFIED this could be the start of actual HSS, and from all I've read it's incurable, a pain in the a$$, and progressive:( The only thing that gives me hope is the fact that it is NOT consistent. Hoping it's just a stress thing, or a freshness thing.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Beginning of a new week!

AND a new "Tip of the Week":) This one is courtesy of ... me. Even though I have quite a few tips up my sleeve, I will eventually run out, I'm sure, so be sure to e-mail me at:

Rode this morning, and had a LOVELY ride! Muffin was BACK, woo hoo! The ring was in good shape, nice and freshly drug. I set up 2 exercises; a 2'3 vertical on the quarter line with a pole set perpendicular to the jump on each side. This was an exercise from Greg Best. The point is to stay right side to right side, left to left, right to left, or left to right. You're supposed to stay close to the centerline and use leg to move the horse around; not pull on the reins or jump at an angle. This was my first time trying it, and I must say I nailed it;) One thing I have done well with my boy is teach him to listen to my body and my leg. And one thing I AM good at is my track, and using my eyes. Didn't even miss a distance!

The other thing I set was a crossrail/18' to a 2'9 ramped oxer. That was an exercise recommended by this months issue of Practical Horseman. If you've looked at the hundreds of pics I've posted on this blog, you've probably noticed the fact that Muffin is a bit of a leg hanger. He's not the sharpest with his knees. This exercise was recommended to help clean up a horse's front end, so I figured it wouldn't hurt him to do it. Weenie me set the oxer at 2'6 in front, 2'9 in back. The article actually recommended 2'9 in the front, 3' in the back. Maybe next week;)

First time through, I wimped out, made a big move with my body, grabbed mane ... Tiki still jumped it well in spite of me. In subsequent pass throughs, I worked on maintaining the quality of my trot, sat still, and let him do the work. He never touched the oxer, and certainly FELT good. Obviously, I don't know if the exercise served its intended purpose, but he maintained a nice rhythm, and didn't have any distance problems.

The flat work leading up to the jumping was EXCELLENT. I warmed up at the walk on a loose rein both ways, then picked up contact. Made him walk on contact. Then worked on my w/t/w/t transitions, trying to work on maintaining a steady connection and him NOT inverting his neck. Worked on a lengthened trot, and it wasn't too bad. Put him on a circle and worked the trot on the circle, then practiced t/c transitions on the circle. You would think it would be EASIER, but Tiki had such trouble with his right lead at first that I endlessly worked my canter transitions on straightaways. Therefore, our straight line trot/canter transitions are better than our transitions on a circle. He just felt SO lovely today. Light, forward, and and a nice, jelly-like neck. After each jump after the vertical, I walked/reversed/picked up the canter in the new direction. The transitions was AMAZING, woo hoo! Hills Wednesday, then dressage school Friday.

Tomorrow, I will be posting about an issue I had with Muffin last week that I would like some opinions on. Comments will be appreciated!

TODAY'S TIP OF THE WEEK: After you've bathed your horse, pour about a cup of white vinegar into a bucket of water. Sponge the vinegar/water mixture all over, paying special attention to any ... ahem, funky areas. The vinegar will cut any remaining soap residue, act as a natural fly repellant, help clear up any fungus, and bring out a shine BEYOND the show ring. Don't rinse. Just scrape, and dry:) E-mail YOUR tips to

Saturday, August 6, 2011

One more day closer to Fall:)

I figure every day that goes by is one more day LESS of Summer. Ahhh ... cool breezes, crisp air, temps under 95 degrees:) Glorious!

This week is starting to get back into it ... rode twice. I was shooting for 3 times, but on Friday he was already turned out when I got there because Joyce had kept the horses in Thursday evening because of a threat of thunder storms. So, I left him out and didn't push it. I've been desperately fighting off a head cold; Thursday was the WORST day. My nose was running like a sieve, I was fighting a fever, and I was trying not to cough up a lung. So Friday wasn't such a sad day:)

Monday, I rode in the dressage tack. WOW, what a HUGE canter. He came out pretty well; he felt nice and forward but not explosive. I worked him through the center again over the poles and with a little shoulder-in before turning to go down the long side. He did feel strong in the bridle, but very manageable. I got him to come up into my hand pretty nicely; I was happy about that. The canter was about a 14 foot stride. NOT kidding. I couldn't SIT it, it was so huge. He wasn't fast; just HUGE. I had to arm wrestle him a little bit to get him to shorten his stride to a reasonable level, but he did eventually concede defeat.

Wednesday, was trot set day. We ALMOST wiped out. Scared me to death. We were trotting down a hill by the road, and he tripped hardcore. He went down on his knees; to my horror, I saw the ground rushing up to meet me, and looked straight up at the sky. Can you imagine if I'd fallen off? I would have hit chin first and broken my neck or back. STUPID. I should have tucked my chin and looked DOWN. Luckily, the muffin saved my bacon, and used every ounce of will to get back UP. The picture up top is the resulting boo boo on his nose from where he used his nose to help get him back on his feet. Phew.

I got a little bit on to him after that; he does NOT pay attention when we're doing trot sets. He's too busy rushing around trying to hurry to nowhere, and he ends up tripping like that. He's gone down once before, on a trail ride. He needs to SLOW HIS FEET, and assess where he is. When he tried to crane his head around and be a dummy, I got onto him and made him pay attention. We ended up ok. The canter both ways was a little unusual; he cantered about one of the two minutes each direction, then swapped to the counter lead. I then trotted and asked him to change back, and he wanted to stay on the off lead ... BOTH directions. Weird. So, not a great day, but not a horrible day. Had wanted and planned to ride in the ring Friday, but even before I got to the barn I was actually sore from Wednesday, and feeling sick and ooky. When I saw he was out and playing in the pond, I just cleaned the stalls and went home to take a nap.

Next week I will again shoot to ride 3 days, and hope the temps cool off some:) Rain would be nice:)

Monday, August 1, 2011


I always had this picture in my mind of what my first horse would be like ... picture "The Black Stallion". Only me, myself, and I would be allowed to ride him, he would come galloping up to me in the pasture and follow me in, no need for a halter. Ha. The horse I fell in love with came galloping in the pasture, for sure ... AWAY from me! When I groom him, he pins his ears, kicks his hind legs aggressively, and tries to bite me. And yet ...

I wouldn't sell him for 100k. He is my heart horse, a 20 year old dream finally realized. I got him for free; all I had to do was show up at the track with a truck and trailer. He loaded with nary an ear swish, and unloaded covered in sweat, and to a torrential rain storm. He made the drive from Maryland to Georgia without so much as a squeal, kick, or a bump. He had no idea how to jump, had never done a shoulder-in to save his life (neither had I!), and STILL resists me when I ask him to walk on contact. And yet ...

He has saved my rear countless times. When I get left behind because he made an epic leap to clear the chestnut horse eating monsters, he always comes back and jumps it again. I had never jumped a ditch, a bank, or flat out galloped. Together, we have done those things (and WELL, I might add!). He and I have developed our own little bond after 24 days shy of 3 years. It's not that kind of bond where he will lay his head on my shoulder and give me horsey kisses. But it IS the kind where we burst out of that start box headed to fixed, non moving obstacles we've never jumped, and we throw our hearts over and run to catch them. When I ride my boy, nothing else in the world matters. I thank my lucky stars every single day I made that wildly wrong decision to throw caution to the wind, and drive 13 hours to go get my horse. He was free, and yet his impact in my life has been priceless. I look forward to the adventures still to be had! Love you my little Ricochet, formerly known as "Roy's Legacy".