Thursday, December 31, 2009


So yesterday I was looking through my books for a new gymnastic line. I get a messege from Casey telling me to "pick a hard one!" Ok, missy!! You got it. Unfortuneately, I wasn't able to ride that day due to a sick puppy, grocery shopping and a house that needed to be cleaned. But, today....I was ready. I just hoped Olly was too. It was rainy and foggy outside. I hoped the ground wasn't too saturated. We WALKED, yes, you read me right, WALKED to our arena. I set up a line of jumps. I chose exercise 10 from Jim Woffords Gymnastic Line book. It looked easy on paper, but I knew that the distance between the jumps were set it would be difficult for Olly. It was set 20 feet between each jump. That is 4 feet smaller than Olly's normal 2 strided jump. He would have to slow it down. GOOD! I thought. He needs that anyway. the line started out with one jump and 4 ground poles. Easy enough, unless you are rushing. Which he was. We took our time slowing down and tried it a few more times until he got it. Next, pick up the last jump. Now it was more interesting. Ground poles you can just skip over, but a vertical at the end, crap! Again, a few times through and it was over. Lastly, we added the middle jump. I know he was thinking "Oh, Shit!" I mean it does look intimidating. We made a few circles at a trot and then a few at a canter. He never rushes the begining of the jump it is always after the first jump or two. Like a cresendo, just on horse back. So the goal really of this exercise was to stay slow and steady. If he sped up throughout the line, it would be jacked. We worked more on the speed NOT going through the line and using transitions to regulate. If he started to rush at the canter, then we would transition down and the same for the trot. He got it after a fe times. He has a light bulb effect sometimes. By the end of the schooling session, he had done the line with all three elements wonderfully. It took us about an hour and a half to do this, but he did it. He is becoming a very good jumper and is learning exponientally. I can't wait for the next show season.
Tomorrow, I am going to talk my husband into making me a 'real' coop. 2 ft tall and 2ft wide at the base. I also found another 4x4, so there is another set of standards. YEAH!!! And don't be surprised if you start seeing crazy colored jumps now. I am going to start painting. i might even drag out some brightly colored blankets ;) Just to mix it up a bit. He it totally comfortable with the wood-colored jumps. Time to make them look hunter-esk!

After the ride we walked back to the barn and Olly got a total grooming, even his tail brushed and braided. He was in heaven.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Breaking Out the Book

Today I started looking though all my jumping books. The kimberwicke was working great and it was time to try it on another level. i have two books that I regularly turn to: 101 Jumping Exercises and Gymnastic lines. The lucky winner was 101 jumping exercises. I am a little ow on jumps right now and needed to use a few cinder blocks, trashy I know, but hey it works. While I was loading up my "jumps" I found a piece of plywood, just big nough to make a skinny coop. WONDERFUL! Something new. We haven't attempted anything new in awhile. So I dragged all my finds to the field and started counting paces. 18" vertical and 48 ft out I put the coop. Enough strides to slow him and turn him away if I needed to. I want to add that I changed Olly's feed like 2 weeks ago and found that his attitude is much better. He is more calm, I still think we needed the bit change, it was a combo effort. I took exercise 27 and 47 and kind of combined them. Exercise 47 is just an extention of exercise 27.

I set up my jumps like 47, but rode 27. Stay with me, it sounds confusing, but you will soon understand.

After riding exercise 27 a few times, I rode it again with the coop on the end instead of the circles.

Next, we rode exercise 47 as it was intended. First to the right a few times and then to the left. It was set in the book for the two jumps to be a bounce. Olly's bounce is usually 12 feet. Today I set it at 14 feet. I thought that he may need the extra two feet to compensate the turn or "drift" to the right/left. It took him a few times to get the idea, but I hung in there. He never refused and he never knocked down a jump. After three times though he took the right take off and lead. On to the left side...this side was easier. He totally understood what we were doing and tackled it perfectly, leads and all.

In between going though the lines we practiced controling our tempo and postition-without sturrips. Olly is getting better at relaxing himself and trying to focus.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Time for Change

So after getting feedback on my latest video, I decided to change Olly's bit. First, let me start off with telling you what he was in and the problems we were having. He wore a french link loose ring since I have owned him. Lately, the more open field riding we encounter, he has been evading the bit by dropping his head and curling at the pole making it hard to control his speed. I have tried using a lighter seat and making sure I am not shifting my weight. In the end it might be time to move on, so I go into this new "adventure" with light hands and an open mind.
On to the bit of choice. i am not sure if I stated in the last post, but I had a kimberwicke hanging right next to Olly's bridle in the tack room. I ALMOST grabbed it the other day instead of the loose ring. Today, I grabbed the kimberwicke. Now, I am not sure what bits Olly has been ridden in before me. He has a very light mouth and is very sensitive to anything, legs, bits, seat etc. So making this decision was very difficult for me. A kimberwicke is a leverage bit, that being said, new pressure points are about to be used. Before I headed out I thought to myself best not to go hopping on so I looked for my vienna reins. To my demise, moving two times in 5 months really doesn't do well for the organization. No Vienna reins today.
When I put the bit up to his mouth he, of course, opened. Then the realization hit. WTF is in my mouth??!! Alot of licking and chewing occured. I grabbed my lunge line and Olly and walked to our "arena." Just to give him time to feel it out with out any pressure being applied to the bit. I had my camera ready and sighted in to record the short lunging, but I forgot to replace my SD card from downloading the video yeaterday, so the video was 12 seconds long. I have chosen to forego the uploading.
after the lunging, which went well, I got on and walked a bit collecting ever so lightly. The last thing I want to do is grab hold of his mouth and make it a bad experience. 10 minutes of walking (with no sturrips)and taking in the area and it was on to trotting and picking up the sturrips. This is where I saw the difference. His pace and his down transitions were steadier and his head was lower. Not to mention he fell in on his circles less. On the down side, I felt his lateral movements were decreased. I also used this time to work on myself. Knees pointing to the ground, heels and hands down (I even opened my pinky's to check)and post to the pommel. This also may have been a factor in his area too. If I sit and ride better, he will perform better. After using the kimberwicke for a while I am going to drop the loose ring back in and check to see if this was a traing issue, a Pru issue, or a bit issue. For now the kimberwicke is a good move. Next on the schedule...transitions. Up and down transitions walk and trot. I talked about how Olly was having the issue walking. All I would get is this jog instead of a walk. So we practiced. This was another time I used to work on myself with both sturrips and no sturrips. As much as I hate riding without sturrips, it is the best thing you can do for yourself.
Another 30 minutes down and he was responding well. This time around we picked up a canter. At first he was a bit fast, so we down transitioned to a trot. Everytime his pace increased we trotted. It took three times in the cricle and then the light switch turn n. "OHHHHHHH! you want me to go slower!! I get it." FINALLY! I tell ya nothing feels better than for something to click. Even though it is the slightest little movement, it gives you the encouragement to continue on. Olly was quite happy too. At times it seems like he is just trying to piss me off, but I look into his eyes as I talk to him and I can see he that he just wants to do what I want. He really wants to please me and make me happy, it's just that sometimes he has no CLUE as to what I am saying! And when we find the way to communicate it reminds me why we are together. Feeling confident about the cantering I put out some ground poles. 36ft apart. This should help keep the tempo even when we aren't in a circle. First try he thought he was to jump them...fair enough. I reminded myself to relax my leg, sit up tall and keep my hands low and still. And the second try, it was exponientally better! Funny...when the rider makes themselves better, the horse becomes better. I guess I should remind myself more often. We ended our day doing steady transitions. Today was one of the most enjoyable days with my big red horse since I have been here. What a wonderful ending to an already great birthday!

Sporting his new bit

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Flat Work

Christmas Eve I said that I was going to get some flat work video on here. I really wanted to ride on Christmas and get the video, but my dog ended up having her puppies and I was up all night. So, today was the day! First I had promised Colton he could ride Kiki. She has quite the attitude! The whole family went for a walk and he got to ride. After making it back home I switched saddles and grabbed my tripod and was down the road. Olly was actually calm today. I changed his food and have been keeping him out of his stall. Today we will see if any of it helped. He walked almost the entire way to the field. We started out just walking and trying to move out with out trotting, which is pretty difficult for him. Then to a trot. On parts of the video you can see where he really wants to canter and takes a few canter steps with the front, but the half-halt changes his mind.
I also noticed that my lower leg SUCKS!!!! Guess what the plan is for tomorrow? No sturrips! Stacy will be so proud. I will be taking video of the no sturrip work for sure! I and so curious what that will look like. Another change: standing martingale. Stacy will be sending me her Olly size martingale. What a friend!! That will give me a few days with the kimberwicke and that way we will know what is working and what is not. I try not to change too many things at the same time so I can make decisions accordingly. So tomorrow will look like this: Me- lower leg work lower hands maintain contact with bit Olly- bit change to kimberwicke (he was in a loose ring french link) I encourage anyone reading this to leave any comments on what I am doing wrong. I am totally open to hearing what needs to be improved, and don't worry about being polite. I can handle it!

Thursday, December 24, 2009


After feeding yesterday morning I went to turnout the horses and noticed upon opening the stall door that Olly's hind legs were pretty inflammed. I should have taken pictures, but I was so freaked I rushed around to fix the problem with out thinking of it. He has been stocked up before, but this time was the worst. It went from pastern to hock, in both hind legs. There wasn't much heat and definitly no pain. I checked for a pulse, strong in both feet. He was a bit stiff though. I ran and grabbed his halter and started hand walking. There was a slight difference after 30 minutes, but it wasn't good enough for me. I have little patience, but enough understanding to be tolerant. I used this break to check temperature (100.4*) and listen to gut sounds with my stethescope (sufficient). We kept walking. After an hour (total)there was a significant difference. I turned him out into the paddock. Over the next few hours I checked to see if the swelling had returned. And it did, but no where like it was earlier that morning. I went and got his bridle and we went for a 30 minute walk bareback.
While we are walking down the lane, I start brain storming.
Being a veterinary techinician, I always look at the clinical signs first.
Inflammation-mild to moderate
No pain
Good gut sounds
Normal temp
Strong digital pulse
Feet are cool
After making a mental note of all the signs or lack there of, I moved on to what causes these signs.
Not enough exercise
Too many carbs (grain)
Weather changes
Too long in stall
Not enough turnout
Ok...Well, how about 4 out of 5. Since the kids are on christmas break, we haven't gone on a ride on 5 days. Since winter has fully hit Virginia (weather change, we got snow)I increased his feed. And most importantly, my wonderful Hawaii horse doesn't like snow! He has practically been begging me to put him in his stall. On the flip side, he is turned out every day for the whole day. Either way, it is my fault. I should have seen all the signs adding up.
Next step, after figuring out what he had (stocking up), is what treatment do I apply? My heart is screaming VET, VET, VET! But, my mind is telling me to calm down and handle it. I always have a first aid-ish kit for the horses. bandages, standing wraps, betadine, bute, get the picture. I ran to the tack room to rummage through all the stuff. I dug out the quilts and standing wraps and the bottle of bute and headed back outdoors. I made a mental note of the time (1500) since standing wraps are only suppose to be on 12 hours and attempted to get the bute into my horse. I will be the first to admit that I hate taking medicine. Headaches, sprains, no matter what it is I have to be pretty bad off to take something. A trait my husband LOVES! Note the sarcasm. Well, I found that Olly seems to be the same way. I mixed some bute with applesauce and he wouldn't touch it, adding insult to injury, he curled his lip up at the thought of it. I did take one small scoop and put in the corner of his mouth. Just to make sure he got some of it and turned him out.
At dinner time I skipped the stall and just fed him in his tub(that had the remaining bute in) in the paddock. I also placed his their hay in 5 different spots across the paddock, so he would have to walk throughout the night to eat. Before I went to bed (2200) I made one last trip out to the padock to remove the standing wraps. I didn't want to have to get up at 0300 and brave the icy temperatures to remove them. They were only on for seven hours, but it seemed to help.
I got up early this morning to go out and check and see what my hard work reaped. I made a quick stop in the tack room to grab the standing wraps and quilts(which I had washed the night before) to re-wrap his legs. To my suprise the swelling was almost gone, just a bit of puffiness around the pastern. YEAH!!!! I passed on the bute and gave him his breakfast, NOT in his stall.
I feel really terrible. We worked so hard to find a house that had a barn with stalls for the horses when we moved. Now I am finding that I can hardly use them. Why am I paying all the extra money if I can't use them?!! Oh well. I am NOT moving again!
Later this afternoon I grabbed my dressage saddle and GPS and headed out to go on a nice ride in the freaking cold. I passed on the splint boots and used polos. I thought that the polos would give more to his hind legs than just the fetlock boots. At first he started out stiff and slow, but after a few minutes he was ready to go, just like any other day. I just can't figure him out. I know he wasn't feeling well with his legs inflammed and yet he is still wanting to canter. I made him walk(which is easy going AWAY from the house) for the first 30 minutes. Just to make sure he got all the kinks worked out from yesterday. Then, we started creating the impulsion. Extend the walk and ask for collection by holding the outsde rein and tinkling on the inside rein. He held it for a few strides before he would hollow out again. I praised him with a good boy and we would try it again. He was better at the left than at the right. I guess he is a lefty like me ;). On to trotting! This is where we have the most problem. I find myself getting discouraged every time I ride because of this. Here is a little background before I go on: I don't have an arena. We live on 8.something acres and it is ALL wooded and marshy. The horses have a medium sized paddock that is dry, but no quality for riding. There are, however, open fields and tons of shoulder along the roads. I just pick a field and go with it. Everyone is so nice here, they don't really care, that is as long as there is no corn or beans up. I have one field that I ride around in. It is for sale, I think for developing...maybe and acre or two. Perfect for setting up jumps. I still have to ask the owner about that. Anyway, it is a big grassy field and my ADD TB thinks it is a race track (even thought he has never been on one). Just when you think you are settled into a good working trot, I get "Do ya wanna canter? Do ya wanna canter?" Everyother stride at the trot is a half halt, just to remind him to stay in a trot. It is hard to even think about anything else. After another 25 minutes of trying to focus and getting him to settle I slowly and carefully give him the leg to canter. It always starts off with a nice departute on the correct lead and two strides later I get pulling on the bit and dropping his shoulder into the circle. I can fix the shoulder part easily, but the pulling is getting old. I tried to give him rein and that just makes him go faster. I have tried "whoa boy" and lightening my seat so I am not driving him and I can hardly put my legs on him on a normal day, so I don't even think about laying my legs on him. AND STILL he can't seem to control him self. I know it has got to be something I am doing and don't realize. I just don't know how to realize it. I take lessons, but with out me on him during those lessons it makes it more difficult. Tomorrow I am taking my tripod and camera out there with me so I can video it and maybe make some sense of it. I only cantered him for 5 minutes, since he was a bit under the weather from yesterday, and then we made our way back home. Oh, it wasn't over then. All the way home was a trot-trot nightmare. Every 3-4 strides I had to have him halt, think and then walk on. 3-4 strides later he was trying to trot again. I have changed his food, thinking maybe he was getting too many carbs and inturn making hm a bit hotter than he should be and it even crossed my mind to change his bit. That being last resort, of course. I ride him in a french link loose ring. Pretty mild and he responds well, but in these situations he tucks his head, to evade and slows his pace to a prance. Not gorunds for a stronger bit. Again, back to square one with me not getting the full picture.
So! New goal...go back a few steps and revisit the gaits. Walk means walk, trot means trot and canter means canter. This would be a good time to do some flat work since the ground is frozen from all this crappy snow. Jumping is on hold, at least until the weather gets better and his attitude gets better. Until then, more reading and video watching. I HAVE to figure out what I am doing wrong.
Back at the house I give him a good grooming and lots of hugs, after all he did do alot of work, even though he didn't want to. I grabbed the standing wraps and some DMSO just to cover all the bases. I noted the time (1400, remember standing wraps 101) and turned him out. I think I am going to lay off the stalling until the weather gets better. I know that totally defeats the purpose right now, but I really think he hates the snow and cold. To me, it seems like he wants to hide out in the warmth of the stall and do as little moving as possible, as I would like to do also. I can't really blame him! Unfortunately, I have to give some tough love and keep the blankets on.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Line of the day!

Today I was so tired and almost didn't feel like riding, but like so many others nothing will stop me from riding unless I am in the hospital having my legs removed and then it might be a toss up. I have been trying to manage my time better so I can ride more and it seems to be paying off. Olly is really becoming more confident. He isn't all the way there and has a TON of room for improvement, but I can see that he truely wants to please me. He will put all his heart into whatever he is doing. He strives for the "good boy" and a neck rub. I could spend my whole day just pampering him. Today as I walked out to the barn he saw me from the other side of the paddock hauling a saddle on my hip, bridle on my shoulder and blanket and bell botts in my hand took off galloping to his stall. He waited til I got there to open the door and walked in. I love my boy!!! He couldn't wait to get the show on the road. Saddled and ready to go we walked down to the grassy mile to warm up. We barely make it a 1/2 mile when we round the first hill and see a truck and a man wearing blaze orange...whoops! I called out sorry and made the best of the way home, bending and yielding. He was much more calm and focused today, maybe we didn't need the 3 mile warm-up. Back at the house I had the jumps already set for the day. We started out will a few lower jumps. Crossrails and 2'3" to get the blood pumping, it was a high of 45* today. Not so warm.

After making a few rounds playing around with strides, we raised the last jump to 2'6". For quite awhile now we have been jumping crossrails and vertilces that were only 18" to 2ft. It is time to up the minimum. No more 18" stuff. 2ft only here. Not that it is much of an increase but we have to start somewhere. After a few months of perfecting that we will raise the bar again. Olly can clearly jump upward of 3 ft, but what is height if you have nothing else. We have been paying attention to strides lately and he is actually understanding it better than I had originally thought he would. See, Olly has what I like to call horsey ADD. Tasks that take focusing and concentration seem to bee more difficult. I mean, on a good day I have to ride him for 20 minutes just to get his head on straight. So it is encouraging to see that he is capable of doing it.
On to 2'6"!! He floated right over. He is getting more and more fluid over the jumps too. I can't wait for the next show season. I know he will do great.

Just to mix it up in the end we jumped the bank about 10 feet to the right so he would have to drift to the left to make the crossrail. I wondered how he would handle it not being centered. He had only three strides to make it. I rode in two-point the entire way just to be ready. He actually did it perfectly. He made the crossrail right down the middle and the last jump like he had been straight from the begining. After you hit the first jump, the rest you just have to ride though, I mean, how can you fix the jump when you are one stride from it? You can't. I made sure he was collected before starting and kept my right leg on him to guide him to the left. He followed the direction great! I wish I would have video'd it. I just happened to think of it after I turned it off. Next time I will add it to the list. Tomorrow is Sunday! Long trail ride day! I also promised Colton he could ride Kiki. Pictures to follow.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Rush Against Time

It seems like on the only thing I do is try to beat the clock. If there were only a way to not sleep I would be good. I always have a few more things to do. Today was no exception. I looked at my watch and it was already noon. I hustled to get the jumps set up so I could ride before having to go pick up the kids from school. At this new house I have nowhere to put them. I asked the neighbor to use his excess land, but he was afraid my divots would ruin his lawn mower. I guees if I was 90 yrs old and riding a lawn mower I might have to consider that too. A few of the neighbors have huge "yards" so I will just have to keep working my wy down the lane until I get someone complient. For now, they are in my backyard, literally.

In our backyard we have this "area" that was used for a swimming pool by the owners (we rent). I made sure there wasn't anything that was harmful and decided to use it for a bank. It is filled with sand and holds water really well, too. One more thing to add to the Olly-will-jump list. As usual when I got on Olly today he was just as nutty. Since I have no arena to warm him up, we went on a trail ride to get the kinks out. This time he only wanted to canter, I thought the more you ride the more calm? Well, the beans and corn are down TONS of room for circles! It was really hard to get him to move out at a trot considering all he wanted to do was canter. He was totally on edge, spooking at almost everything. I just can't figure this horse out sometimes. First it was a 12"x12" flag on someones lanai, standard protocol: stop, stand as if you are really still and it won't see you and then dance around like a two year old on candy. Then it was a huge gravel truck, that was more like "oh shit! Where did that come from?" And last, but not least, 7 turkey vultures drinking from a puddle, which is not my favorite: while mom is not paying attention stop quickly (we were trotting), roll back and try to take off leaving mom to land on her ass not inches from the asphalt. Don't worry I had a helmet on! So, after finding out that I actually landed pretty softly and was not in pain, we made sure the vultures weren't plotting to attack us and I got back on and resumed trotting and fighting the will to canter, nay, gallop back to the little Chincoteague waiting back at the house. Even after a few miles of trotting he was still ready to go. Normally we will ride 5-6 miles. Today I didn't want him to be hacked out totally, remember, I have jumps set up back home. He wasn't giving in. Last chance....the nice grassy, hilly trail by the house. Much safer than the road, I let him canter it out there. It is about a 1.5 miles long and it looks like an FM wave. Up, down, up, down....after that, he walked. We used the 1/3 mile back to the house to recover and begin the jumping.
We started out with one of my own creations, but based on Jim's gymnastic lines. I incorperated the "bank" to make it interesting, a crossrail 24ft out. I found that with the bank he needs more room for two strides than with a regular set. Olly's regular two strides runs about 18ft-20ft. With the jump up from the wall I gave him an extra 4ft and it worked out great. From the crossrail I set an angled verticle (??) I came up with this idea after watching some of Lucinda Green's xc clinics. It was really different and that is what Olly needs. It also made him jump in the center. I am totally clueless if there are any other benefits from that kind of jump so if you know feel free to inform me. The first time through the line he wasn't thrilled at the last jump. But after the third try, that's right, the third try, he was jumping it like he had done it a million times. Verdict: I have to jump every single jump in the world so we can be prepared for the show season. lol!!!

Please note the Carhart. It was effing freezing out (44*!!!)

After his great round I gave him some sugar cubes and a good long brushing. He totally needs a bath, but we aren't in Hawaii any more, so, no more baths in December. A through brushing will have to do.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Swimmin!! But not today....

Last night I told myself that no matter how cold it was I was going riding tomorrow.
Tomorrow is here and I am wondering why I ever said

We recently moved into a new house. The Army has decided it was time for us to move, even though we just did...I don't try to figure it out anymore I just try to make the best of the situation. On the other hand, we found a house that is WAY better than the one we were living in before. Three stall barn and almost 9 acres. I couldn't beat that with a stick! Bad news...we moved the day before Thanksgiving and I was sick as a DOG!!! No riding for me. It has been TWO weeks since Olly and I have ridden. I chose today to go riding because here in Va they have a law that there is no hunting on Sundays. I could ride where ever, within reason, and not get shot by doe eyed hunters.

So, this morning I get up and look outside, it doesn't look cold...that was my mind trying to reason with itself. My ass! It was like 34* this morning. Layers, that is what everyone is saying. Well, just to let you know, once you have spent 3 1/2 years in Hawaii, there aren't enough layers to keep me warm! After two shirts, a hoodie, socks that went up to my knees, jeans and a beanie I set foot out into a warm, yet cold, looking day. Olly was so happy to go he walked right into his stall and let me saddle him with out a halter or even tying him. I can't bvelieve how much he has grown in the few months that I have had him. I waved to my hubby and we were down the road.

I should have known that he would't be walking today. No riding in two weeks, that is like my kids on Christmas cookies! He was ready to go. I am not familiar with the area too much so we just followed the road. 198 to Harcum and just keep on keepin' on! It is so pretty out here. The corn and beans are down and that means cantering sets are a must. I don't normally do much cantering once he has been off for a few weeks, just because he ends up getting winded faster, but today he just wanted to stretch out so we did a few. As we are trotting, almost a piaffe now, I see a sign that say Public Boat Launch. Well, no time is better than the present...we make a left turn and follow the sign. Tons of open land. I wish I had just a bit of it. I would have the best xc course!
We continue to move along and up comes a field with three horses in it. GREAT! he is gonna have a blast making new friends! The sorrel was the first to the fence line. As soon as Olly saw him he stopped dead in his tracks did a roll back and took off! WTF??!! I totally did not see that coming. And not only did he do it again he made a run for it three times until I got him to face their paddock. Confused, I let him stand and just take in all he was seeing. I could feel his heartbeat and almost smell the adrenaline. A short minute passed and we were down the road like nothing happened. Typical.

So by now I was wondering where the Public Boat Launch was. I mean it had to be a pretty small lake to be around here. Bam! Out of no where this HUGE river, that looked like a lake.

I snapped a few pics with my phone and thought, "Man , this would be perfect for swimming in the summer." Mental note made.

We turn around after checking out the river and head home. It was a short ride only about 4-5 miles, but it was just enough to get the energy out. If I can invest in a carhart or something a bit warmer than a few hoodies piled together we will be in business. Tomorrow the boys are in school and we are going to be checking out a bit more of the area.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Pony Party!

Today after work I met up with Casey to go riding. She is doing me a HUGE favor by riding Kiki. Colton has been working so hard to ride this rotten little pony and she is starting to run though him. He isn't strong enough to bully her. SO...I have a friend that I ride with that is petite and an awesome rider, Casey! As we are saddling up the horses, Colton is looking out my bedroom window waving...until he sees Casey and Kiki. Uh-oh. Not minutes later he was standing on the lanai asking why "she" was here and why Kiki was out. I had to tell him that we were going for a ride. I was worried that a tantrum might be brewing. Surprisingly, he was ok with it. Off we went. We started out by just warming up in my "arena." I set up two crossrails at about 18".

After warming up, we started out with the low vertical. And by low, I mean LOW!

It was the same concept as the other day. Over the low vertical across the canter pole and take what lead was given and continue to the next jump in that direction. Olly did fine on the vertical, but over jumped the crossrail. Mainly because he kept dropping his shoulder into his right lead and cut the corner, in turn that made our strides off for the jump. So instead of cantering out of the vertical we dropped back to a trot until we got the idea to leghten and shorten. He picked it up fast and we were on to the next set. Next up, Casey and Kiki! Just so y'all know i have never jumped Kiki. I feel that I am way to heavy for her and would never do that to her little legs. Casey, on the other hand, is small and a great rider. Just perfect for the job.

Casey took the vertical great, Kiki not so much. She barely picked up her feet to clear it. A 6" vertical transformed into a ground pole in seconds! A vertical is an understatement, it was more like a cavaletti! Miss Kiki!! Casey did a large circle and did it again. Much better. Kiki is actually not a bad jumper. If she were 10 years younger, we might have a little eventer on our hands. She never questioned the jump other than she just didn't want to do it. Casey made her turn, canter and on correct leads. Casey and I took turns perfecting our jumping. We changed up the pattern half way through. I wanted to make a line with one stride. Casey was all for it. We rearranged the standards to make what we needed. Olly was first. He did rush a bit, but we trotted through until we got settled and then continued on with cantering. He is coming along so nicely that we might have to start the whole counting strides thing sooner than I anticipated. FINE BY ME!

Next it was Casey's turn to make the little Chincoteaque fly. It took a few tries, but she made it. Boy are those ponies stubborn.

After about an hour all the bugs were worked out. Kiki and Olly were ready to go home and relax. I think I even heard Kiki thank us for ending the session.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Riding in the Rain

Yesterday I trailered out to Brandywine Farms (where I take my lessons) and rode for the morning. There were all kinds of jumps to explore. I was hoping that the weather would actually be what was forcasted, 69* and ended up being 60* and don't-look-up-or-you'll-drown rainy. Still, warm enough to ride. It almost reminded me of the Hawaii winters.
I was hoping that after our ride on Thursday Olly would be calmer. When I unloaded him from the trailer, he seemed ready to go. Don't get me wrong, that is one of the things I love about him, his forward (which is sometimes an understatment) movement. But as usual when I got on he was cool as a cucumber. I talked to Terri about this change in personality and she suggested that is was because when he is with the "herd" he feels comfortable and confident and when he is alone at home is is always on alert. Makes sense to me. I'll take it.
We started warming up by taking a look at EVERY fence that was in the arena. Only two looked normal. The others were eye-balled carefully. There were seven of us riding including me. Hannah, Casey, Darcy, Emily, Lindsay, Terri and I made the bunch. I love riding with all the girls. It makes it so much more fun.
It was only a few minutes until the sky opened up and we were headed to the indoor.

I love Casey in this pic! lol!!

We warmed up in the indoor for a few, trotting and cantering. And sure enough the rain stopped.

Back to the outdoor, Batman!!

After warming up we started over one crossrail, a bit of a what is that and then over. No problem. Then the line. PIE!

Moving on! We next tried the please-don't-eat-me green wall. It took a few swift kicks but he went over.

History was made. From that moment on he didn't refuse another jump. He put his trust in me. A feeling that made me smile from here to Hawaii.

We did alot of trotting in and cantering out of the jumps. Although we can canter, going over the jump versus counting strides is a big difference. We were just focusing going over new and exciting things. Strides will be later. We hit up the wall a few times and then Terri calls out "white barrels" and looks directly at me. Ummmm...I'm not going first!

Terri was confident that I was mostly the reason that my big red horse was not going over the jumps like he should. The anticipation from me was carrying over to him. No arguements there! "What you need is a packer," she suggested. O.k., remember how that went at the show...not in our favor AND it was way smaller than 2ft barrels. How can I say no, I mean, part of me was curious and wanted to try it again. This time Casey was my leader. The first time I watched her ride she was with us at the over fences show. I really think the judge had it out for our barn. I totally think she should have placed higher.

Casey and Breeze

But back to the jumping...Terri calls out "Sit, shoulders back and keep your leg on him." "Oh, and breathe!" I followed Casey and Breeze right over the barrels. HOLY CRAP! He did it! Now that was excitement. I felt like an Olympic jumper. I think that was the first time that he went over a jump without refusing it first. Sad, I know.
Next jump, blue barrels. Again, I wasn't going first. Hannah was the first off the line. She will jump anything. I wish that I was as good as she is when I was that age. One word for her...Fearless. And I still swear that she is older than 14.

Hannah and Neveah

We didn't need a packer this time, he not only went over the jump but cleared it by a mile. It would have been nice to know HOW high he was gonna jump. I had to hang on for dear life!

I didn't even get to my two-point!

At least he was calm after the jump he just cantered away, unlike one of the ponies...LUCY.
I rode Lucy at one of the barn shows, bareback. I have no idea how I did it. Darcy was hanging on for dear life, I mean not like grabbing mane or anything, but her legs were a-grippin' around those corners!! That pony would be great for an Open Jumping class, she can change a lead, cut a corner, and take a jump like nothing I have ever seen. I wish I would have gotten it on video. And Darcy...she rode her like a pro.

Darcy, ride her like you stole her!

After a few times over the barrels we called it a day. I think Olly had a great work out, two hours of jumping...he was WALKING on the trail to cool out.

Hannah and Neveah, Emily and Hailey, and Olly and I

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


Last Thursday at my lesson we learned not to anticipate the jump. I had a very hard time with this seeing as my horse hardly ever wants to go over the jump. It is hard not to anticipate failure. I know it sounds harsh, but in all reality we have failed alot. Olly and I have been working diligently to get over the jump and follow in good form.
How do you follow your jump in good form when you are just so damn excited that he actually went over it? Let me tell you...

I set up a few jumps today, not the same way as the lesson, but the same concept...

...a small vertical with feed bags draped from here to Egypt...

...with a canter pole 32ft out.

I put the canter pole mainly for me. I wanted to be able to keep him collected and calm and not rushing after the jump. He tends to rush in and out. Talk about half-halts!

This is where Terri's lesson came in. If he lands on his left lead we follow to the left and take the jump with the tires.

If he takes the right lead we follow to the right and take the high crossrail with flowers. None of the jumps were over 2'3".

This exercise does a few don't anticipate the next jump, second he doesn't anticipate the next jump BECAUSE we don't know which way we are going yet. It also helps you feel the leads without looking. I tried to guess which lead he was on before looking. By the third time around I didn't even have to look anymore. Most of the time when I do look down at my leads I am correct, I think it is just a confidence thing.
By the end of the whole session he was tired and sweaty and I was a proud mama! He never once tried to refuse the jumps. He took them head on and kept the forward motion. He never second guessed himself. A few times he did chip and reach for a jump (a few times I grabbed mane to prevent hitting him in the mouth) but over all he went over and never knocked one down. He was willing and confident!!! He has been making great strides (no pun intended) in his jumping.
Tomorrow we are going for a long, long, long trail ride.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Jim Wofford book in motion

This morning we got up and went for a morning ride. I had husband take some cinder blocks out to my "arena" to make a make-shift oxer. I need to build a few more standards to complete the line, but those will do for now. We started out with some trotting, which after a few strides ended in a canter, it took a few times around to get him to realizie that I was serious. When he gets so forward it is tough to keep him focused. I constantly have to change directions and gaits. And I try to avoid cantering until he settles in. It was cooler this morning so that added to it too. After we were ready to focus (about 30 minutes) we started with the line we finished with on Wed. He did it with ease (yeah!!). The next step Jim's (we are on a first name basis lol) book is to change the vertical into an oxer. I first changed it into an acending oxer so he could get used to the depth. I want to make sure he doesn't refuse any jumps. He is so sensitive with trust, if I keep him on a good path then maybe he will eventually just go with whatever I put him against.

After a few tries of the acending oxer we moved on to an oxer 18" high with a 2'6" spread. The goal is to jump wider than the oxer is higher. My thought was that he was going to over jump the oxer to compensate the width, to my surprise, he didn't. He jumped it great. I went back and looked at the video later and it showed that he jumped higher than he needed, but not wider. Goal accomplished :)!

At the end of our jumping session we went on a short trail ride. Olly loves trails. It seems more like a reward than a cool down. Fine by me either way. He deserved them both!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Gymnastic line of the day

So according to Jim Wofford this exercise will help your horse learn to jump correctly. It is in the begining of the book, actually it is exercise 2.  We started out warming up. I have decided to use a running martingale since I watched my last video over the flowers and he seemed "giraffe-y" (to use Stacy's words). It is amazing how much you can learn from watching yourself on video. I would advise everyone to do it. So, as I was saying, we started warming up and he didn't take too long to fall in and start bending. We did some dressage movements with circles at the walk and trot and a few laps at a canter both ways, then we decided to try the line. He did really great the frist time, although not perfect, he did do good. We went over it two more times and the last time it was amazing. I wish I had it on video. It always make me feel like I am on the right track when it all comes together. It took alot to make the decision, but I decided to end on a good note and be finished with the jumping. After doing such a great lne, it makes you want to keep going. I fought the inner urge and walked him out. I think he appreciated the rest and all the love I gave him for giving it such a good try. Next time we are going to make the vertical an oxer...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Go the Distance

So yesterday I was thinking about where I can get in some good long distance trail riding. We have a few places around here, but now that deer season is starting I am not so sure that I want to be riding around on an animal that could be mistaken for dinner to a hunter. I remembered that down the road from me, maybe a mile or so, there was a Boy Scouts "farm" or what ever you want to call it. I knew there would be no hunting there because of the kids. Now if I could only get permission. It looked like there was no one there.

I go to get Olly saddled and I notice that his fetlocks were a bit swollen. Freaked I tried to call Stacy, my first go to. I thought about texting a picture but I shortly remembered iphones don't get picture texts. You really need to look into another phone Stacy! Anyway, it looked like it was just from stocking up. It didn't really feel like tissue swelling it felt like a fluid edema. I called Terri, my instructor, to run my idea past her. She agreed and told me to ride him for 10 minues and re-evaluate.


A bit nervous I climbed on and started towards the Boy Scouts of America. Whatta ya know, 10 minutes is exactly how long it took me to get down there, at a walk of course. I rechecked the fet's and sure enough the swelling was gone. Whew!! Legs and feet make me so nervous. You never know what is going to happen. It could be something as huge as a cross country course or as little as a twist in the paddock.


After getting back on and feeling more at ease with the fetlock thing, we are walking down a paved drive and we come to a pond. I really wasn't paying attention to the pond because I was looking at this HUGE open field that would be great for galloping sets. All of a sudden Olly excutes a not too shabby roll-back and takes off running at a high rate of speed. At the other end of the pond I hear a goose honking. I make him turn around and face his fears, after all is a goose really classified as a fear? He sticks it out and moves on.

See the culprit?

We move on down the road and in the distance there is a generator. Good someone to talk to about riding on the land. I walk up and he shuts the generator off and says "What are you doing here?" Ok, strike one, so I ask am I allowed to have animals here. He says "Yeah, that's not the problem, who are you?" After talking and being a polite as I could be, he agreed to let me ride any of the land as long as it was after 1700, no weekends and if I didn't "tear up the place." WTF???? Seriously? What can a horse and I possible "tear up?" Anyway I promised to behave and told him I would let him know when I was accessing the land so he would think I was half way responsible. He also told me a route that I can take from behind my house all they way to there so I didn't have to walk the road. Super! A well maintained path for the riding? Awesome.

We make our way around the paths to another open field. It was gorgeous. All I could think of is galloping away with my GPS. Olly must have been thinking the same thing minus the GPS, he was pulling my arms off. We CANTER a bit, which might have been a bad idea, since he didn't want to stop...

...but he did. And I don't mean like a gradual trot to a walk. I mean a freaking halt! Why? Maybe because two deer jumped out and he almost shit himself. See that is one problem with Hawaii. No wildlife, my horse has never seen a deer, racoon, possom or squirril to name just a few. He stood so still it would have seemed he wasn't even breathing. He was actually trying to figure out what they were. I could feel his heartbeat through my chaps. After what seemed like minutes, he started in their direction (the deer stopped and were looking at this huge animal too). He wanted to run, I think he was really curious and not afraid. Either way, not doing a roll-back and running WAS an improvement.

After relaxing from the deer I looked up and realized that the sun was setting and I had better get home. I only had about 20 minutes of daylight left and it was at least a 15 minute ride.

It is truely pretty out here in Va and I hope to see more of it. Olly and I are progressing exponetially which would have never happened in Hawaii, I am sad to say. I really do miss it there (the people and the land) but Olly and I are better here in horsey-land.

Flower power

In my last blog it stated that my horse WOULD NOT jump the flower vertical, even though it was only 18". So this past weekend we braved the cold weather and tackled the dreaded "flower jump." I had some left over fall looking silk leaves that I used to make a festive wreath last year that would work just fine. Bright yellows, oranges and everything in between. I took them out to our "arena" and plastered them around one of the standards and along the ground rails. It was for sure to make him stop and think. Sure enough it did.It wasn't a jump yet just a canter pole with one stride to a vertical. We entered it at a trot and out of it at a canter. Easy, right? Well now to ad a crossrail (I also dropped the vertical to a crossrail). This made him think, it looked different. Before even attempting and failing I walked him up to it so he could evaluate. We even trotted around it a few. At the frist attemp he bulked but went right over. I'll take it!!! At least the forwad motion stayed forward. Now all we have to work on is the departure.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Hunter over fences show...

Sunday the Oct 11th we went to our first hunter over fences show. It did have a few flat classes that we entered, but it was mostly jumping.
It started the night before, as all show do, with the banding and cleaning. I wanted to give Olly a bath, but the weather ended up really chilly that night. Little did I know that was nothing compared to the next morning. Terri arrived at my house at 1730 to pick up Olly. We had to leave a 0630 to be at the show for another rider to school. It was easier to get him the night before. I followed her back to the farm to feed Olly dinner and make sure he was settled in. It was hard to know that he would be staying the night not with me. How could have I boarded him before? It seemed like a crazy thought now. I enjoy having him right outside my window that it is hard to know that he was staying the night somewhere else.
Of course he was fine the next morning when I showed up. He was still in his ninja suit all clean. I know that it was only a schooling show, but I take it seriously. Banded, braided and ready to go. Don't even get started on clipping. Even thought it was a "just for fun" show you should still look nice.
0530 comes pretty early in Va. It came so early that "warm" wasn't even up. it was a whopping 42*. isn't that against the law? I mean can you ease a Hawaii horse into the cold weather? Va is rough!! Good thing he had his rain sheet and ninja suit on, oh, and he had shipping boots. He looked like he was from Hawaii! If they made Parka's for horses this is what they would look like lol. By the time breakfast was over it was 0630, time to load up. Olly is great at loading. Sometimes in a new trailer he will give me a look and I will say it's ok and give him a pat and that is all it takes. He is trusting me more and more everyday. After a 30 minute ride to the show, a quart of coffee and a quick prayer that the sun WILL shine today we arrive.
I sign up for my classes, which were $10 each (!!!), when I was younger (boy I sound old) they were only $3, I go to saddle up. Since I am here this early better use my time! As I head to the arena all I can see are these extravagant jumps. Hunter my butt! We are talking painted rock wall, lattice gate, purple, pink and any other pastel color you can think of, flowers and the list goes on. I already knew my jumping day was over before it even started. We warm up and Terri suggests we try a "baby hunter" jump (18"). i told her right at the get-go...he ain't goin'! We'll try a packer, she says. Ok but I am telling you he isn't a dumb boy. Little Oreo was chosen for the job. He is a 12h pinto that can jump the Empire State Building. Off at a trot he goes, Olly and I 10ft behind him. It was going ok until, literally, 2ft to go. I mean he should be at take off by now and well, we weren't. He planted his feet and I went crotch to the pommel. All I could think was DO NOT fall off at the hunter show with 50 people watching. I hear Terri (faint over my own thoughts) SIT!!! I jammed my heels as far as they could go grabbed a bit of mane and sat up. SHIT! That was a close one! I vowed by the next weekend he WOULD go over some flowers! I don't care if they were drilled into a ground pole. We are still working on the trust. I schooled a bit more and then back to the trailer we went. Our flat classes were a few hours away.
The first flat class was really great. We did all we were asked and at a very slow collected pace. I was so proud of Olly. As we lined up for the results, a woman walked up to me and said, ummm I am sorry to tell you because you did so well, but flash nosebands are illegal in hunter classes. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!! Are you kidding me?? I got 6th out of 6. Out of the 50 people that were standing around the damn arena no one thoght to tell me? Thanks Va once again! All in all it was just a schooling show and we were just there for fun, but it does make it nicer when you don't place....last.

The last three classes were just the same. under saddle and two eq classes. I ended up getting a 4th, 5th and a 6th. No last places, which was good. olly was in the zone, or should I say not in the zone. He was totally calm. I think it had something to do with me not being nervous. I guess if that is all that it takes then I will do what ever I can to keep it undr wraps.
At the end of the day we had competed in 4 classes and gained experience. I couldn't ask for more. I also had a Walmart craft center shopping trip planned for some brightly colored flowers ;)

See those stinking flower jumps!!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Dressage Show

We had our first Deressage show on Sunday. The plannign started out on Saturday afternoon. We went and practiced the test a few times and they the grooming started. I was a little nervous because i ahve NEVER clipped him before. I knew that everything would go smoothly with his body and muzzle, but I was concerned with his ears. I mean who likes buzzing in their ears? We were about ot find out...
We started with the ears just in case we needed to take a few breaks. He actually did fine. It didn't get bad until I had to get down into his ear where all the fuzz was. We did one ear took a break and then did the other. After that the rest was pie. Next was bath time. I love giving him a bath. He looks so nice. All clean, no dirt. He shines. Although I had to make sure he had his ninja suit on and a blanket and standing wraps just to keep hiim clean, he ended up pretty for show day.
We only showed in one class. Which was enough for us this time.

I have attached the video.

This weekend we are going to a hunter show to do some light jumping and equitation classes. More to follow.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

New Stuff!!!

I always love getting mail. Problem is nothing ever comes for me unless I am the one ordering it lol! Husband must have forgotten to check the mail yesterday, because he came walking down the drive with a package this morning. It was a bit small but when he said Horseloverz I knew exactly what it was. I stopped what i was doing, feeding the horses, and grabbes a pair of scissors from the grooming box and went to town on the tape. In the box was a bit I oredered for Kiki and he new bell and splint boots. Lime green of course. Her bit was so tiny and cute. I couldn't wait to put it all one her. None of her tack matched, but then again she wasn't headed to the show ring. I told Colton to get ready as soon as she was done eating we would try everything on. Kiki is coming along so well. She is gaining weight and is sassy as ever. Aren't all mares at some point? She has just enough umph to keep the boys going and enough experience to not spook at a mailbox. After a bit of a snack break we put all the tack together and got her out of the paddock. Of course Olly thought we were taking her away forever, we just stayed in the yard. One of the problems we were having with the pony riding was grass eating. I was talking to my trainer about it and she said why son't you put grazing reins one her? DUH!!! How did I not think of that? So after fitting all the tack, I grabbed some nylon rope and fit it just enough that Kiki couldn't reach the ground. Colton was beaming. He was much more confident that she wasn't going to eat grass he hopped right into the saddle and rode her around the yard like he had been doing it al his life. No Fear!
Grass eating reins functioning!
I remember when I was 9 years old, Slick, the first real pony I had, always wore a standing martingale. My dad told me it was so he couldn't rear. Now I think back and feel like a total idiot, but then it made me feel better. I would NEVER ride that pony with out the martingale. Just because I thought I would be safe. I knewthis was the same thing with Colton. I would attach anything to that pony just to make him feel safe. Granted this piece of equipment was actually for what I said it was, but that is besides the point. So I let all 3 boys ride. They loved it. once they were done I took a turn. I have been dying to know how this pony rides. So first I just put some of my weight across her. I am sure the neighbors were thinkin what in the hell is she doing? I didn't want to just jump up on her. She is a grandma. After finding some osrt of mounting block so I didn't slam onto her back from swinging up on her, I started with just walk. She didn't have one problem holding me. She actually started to trot around. She is quite a spunky one, that Kiki. She did great. Not too stubborn and not to complient. Just enough fight to make the boys learn. I knew she was a good buy. After a few laps around the yard I got off. It was time to get the baths going. i don't think she has had many baths in her life. She seems to be a bit skeptical of the water. Olly tries to drink out of the hose, but Kiki keeps a wide eye on me. Colton and I washed and combed her head to toe. She seemed to enjoy the currying though. Clean pony coming through!!! She is so cute. I left her mane long for you Holly!!! After her bath it was dinner and then back out to ride Olly. He is such a beautiful horse. I look at him every day and think i am the luckiest person in the world. When I go outside, no matter what time, he will neigh and say hi to me. He truely enjoys being my horse. I could tell that this ride would be interesting. He hadn't been ridden in like 4 days. That is the limit for him. Anymore than that and he is totally out of control. It is like someone fed him sugar. I was prepared. I could see the look in his eye when I tried to get on and he was almost walking in place. He wanted to go. Well maybe he needs to I started out down the road to our trail. I am sure by now the neighbors know when I am rideing just due to him neighing to Kiki all the way down the road. Every few steps I feel this jiggle all over. Crazy horse! As we get to the entrance I loosen my grip on the reins. As I start posting he is in a trot. And not one or those choppy flat back trots. He was round and pushing! Nice! I just went with it. As we slowed to round the corner to our field I could see 2 kids running through the grass. I am sure it was to pet the pretty horse. Olly hadn't seen them yet. Be ready I think. I can just see them speeding out of the tall, almost over their head, grass and there I go into the weeds. As thought, poof there the kids are. I wait for it and...nothing! He just stands there like he knew it all along. I KNOW he didn't see those kids. He was off in lala land trying to find Kiki. Either way he didn't spook and that is an improvement! I wasn't in the mood to play pet my horse so we said hi and kept going. We get to my make-shift grass arena and try some transitions. As usual he isn't paying attention so I have to mix it up every other step. I learned alot from this new trainer, how to use my legs in so many ways so I decided no time is better than the present. We started out at a medium trot on the short sides of the "arena" and lengthened on the long. he was doing pretty good, but was cutting the corners, so that is where the legs came in. Whatta ya know...? He was way beeter than that 3 yr old I rode on Thurs. Maybe he is better than I thought. We did more transitions w-t-c and most importantly halt. We tried to be square... The halt was iffy, but the rest was good. He was actually collecting better than normal. I chalk it up to my legs and paying more attention to what I am doing. Who would have thought I was the one End on a good note, right? And we did. Our ride back to the house was, again, nothing but communicating with gf back home. At least I got him to listen to me when I needed it. Back to the barn to get a nice well deserved bath and some linament spray. He was so worn out he only drank from the hose twice. I like to see Olly calm, it means we had a GOOD ride!