Wednesday, February 29, 2012

New Saddle

Here's pics of the new saddle:

It even came with Bubblewrap!!!! Here, Johnny.....Here boy!

Bubblewrap Please

The weather has been gorgeous the last couple of days so yesterday I decided to ride Johnny and get him in the arena. I got him out and noticed a large hunk of hair missing on his butt. Apparently one of the girls got hateful with him. It was a little tender to the touch but pretty superficial and decided we should be fine to ride after convincing him the medicine I was putting on him was not a flesh eating monster. Luckily he got distracted by some leftover grain that was on the ground in the round pen and I was able to doctor it pretty easily. I started lunging him and noticed he was pretty obviously off but it didn't appear to be coming from the hip where his combat wound was. I figured it might be a hoof issue, possibly a stone bruise and kept lunging to see how it would go. He never got better but never got worse, I checked all his feet and he didn't seem tender or sore. I started grooming him trying to figure out what he was off from and realized every time I touched his shoulder with the curry he gave me the stank eye. I ran my hand over it, no heat, a little puffy and some definite threats of violence coming from Johnny. I poked it with my finger and sure enough Johnny pinned his ears and moved sideways. Hmmmm, appears to be a pulled muscle, I'll keep an eye on it and make sure it's nothing serious. In the mean time I asked Heather to slap some mineral ice on it for me, I didn't have any gloves left and I'm really allergic to the stuff for some reason....but man it works wonders with the horses. We then had to again convince Johnny it was good for him, it smells a bit like Ben-Gay so I don't really blame him for trying to get away from it, finally rubbing him down with it really good. I then added a low dose of Bute to his bucket and called it a day for him. I was disappointed with the lack of ride and he'll need a few days to recover......I wish I could just wrap them all in Bubblewrap!

On a bright note, Jazzy's cough seems to be subsiding again and Faith has been able to ride her several times and I used her in a lesson on Monday. She did great and was a complete angel. Her lungs are still sore and she gets wore out pretty quickly so after lunging her she's usually only good for about 20-30 minutes of light riding, but she is enjoying be back out and doing something. She sees my truck pull in and waits at the gate for someone to come get her.

Today is rainy and this afternoon is suppose to be severe thunderstorms with high winds and I've moved all my students to other days and am stuck at the house. Faith's new/used saddle came in today and I really like it! It's built nice, a gorgeous color, the leather is super soft and quality. I hope Faith likes it and fits in it well and it fits Chip. We have it for a one week trial then can decide whether to keep it or not. Faith has a show this weekend and I am hoping the weather will cooperate and she can get one practice ride in it before having to show in it. I hate to send her into a show (even a schooling one like this one) in a new/different saddle. I guess we will see what she thinks of it.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Pics from Show Team Practice

Round and Round We Go

I rode Johnny again on Friday but it had rained really hard overnight and early in the morning and the round pen was wet and slick. I decided I would try to ride him in the arena. We did lots of circles but it was a lot for him to handle and it took him a long time to settle in and relax. It was really windy and loud which was not helping either. I wanted to do some trot but knew I was asking for a disaster in the arena so I brought him back to the round pen and prayed it would be okay. It was pretty slick so we didn't do too much but I got a couple nice times around each direction and called it a day. I was disappointed not to be able to do more but I had to take what I could get.

My Saturday was absolutely insane with lessons. I already had several scheduled and had to add some reschedules from a rainy day during the week. So I ended up going nonstop from 10:30am to 5:00pm with no breaks. Needless to say I did not get a chance to ride Johnny. We had Show Team practice on Sunday and we decided to head in a little early so I could ride him and Chuck was able to get a few pictures. No video yet but we will get to that. Johnny did great, even with lots of distractions as team members started showing up and getting horses and tack out and horse trailers started rolling in. Lots of commotion and he was solid as a rock. He tried to look around a few times but with a little wiggle of the inside rein he focused right back on what he was doing. I kept him solely in the round pen since it was drier and it went well.
I can't wait for his Dressage bridle to come in! Black with Silver trim.
He looks so small! I've never measured him but I would guess Johnny at about 14.3 hh, I'm 5'9".....keep that in mind when looking at the pictures. 
He had some nice moments.
Work it Cash!
So Handsome!
I gave Johnny Monday off since I had several lessons plus a horse in training to be ridden. I did get a chance to work Jazzy in the morning and she did a lesson for me this afternoon. I was very excited to see her feeling better again. She loves to get out and be apart of everything. I am going to ride the Cash again tomorrow and I plan on starting him in the round pen and then sending him into the arena for the rest of his ride. I want to do some figure eights and serpentine. It will start to allow him to have some straight but not enough to get too carried away, but I'm hoping with more room I can push him a little more forward in his trot. We'll see how it goes!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

2 Good Rides = 1 Great Day

I had another lesson today. I missed last week due to Faith being sick and since I had to reschedule all of my students, it never left me time to reschedule my own lesson. It went really well and I am super happy with my progress. It was really windy today and there were a lot of distractions but both Rebel and I were focused and ready to work. I successfully had him soft and round and correctly bent and flexed for about 90% of my lesson. I am still struggling with keeping my contact through my up transitions and I lose him for a minute and have to get him back...but I'm getting him back A LOT faster. I've learned to just drive him forward into my hand instead of worrying so much about his head. I also struggle keeping the bend coming out of a 20 meter circle and going straight and we end up rushing around like and looking like a giraffe halfway down the long side. I finally got several good transitions (not as many good as bad, but we are getting there) towards the end and held him correctly out of the circle. I tend to have a case of the "try too hards" where I do too much instead of just letting it happen. I over think my hands in the transitions. I definitely see improvement though and Rebel is getting in better shape and had a really forward trot today that was a lot of fun. I'm having a blast and learning so much!

When I got back to the farm I had some free time and was feeling really good and motivated from my lesson so I got Johnny Cash out and started lunging him. He seemed sound and it was such a pretty day (I actually got to break out a t-shirt for a good part of the day) that I decided to see how a ride would go. So I tacked up and hopped on. We walked around until he was nice and relaxed and I started working on seeing if he would drive forward into the bit. He would! It was really great feeling! So we added in some trot. We started with a few steps at a time and rewarding him for moving off my leg and making sure he was sound. He was and was really responsive so we started going longer and longer making times around a big circle each time. He is already seeking contact and I have now learned how to be there ready for it. It's a lot lighter than Rebel who has a pretty heavy contact but there all the same. I know it'll be awhile before he's steady in his contact but I'm just thrilled that he is even offering it before. When I rode him before I rode him more like a hunter or english pleasure horse with light contact or even a loop in the rein. I wasn't sure what he would do, if he would feel claustrophobic and panic, or fight the contact (all things Pilgrim does), but he is seeking it out. It's such a great feeling. I am so excited to see how he develops. I think he's going to be AWESOME!!!

Chuck will hopefully be able to get some pics and maybe even video of him this weekend.....until then just visualize a beautiful grey Arabian working it like he owns it. While your at it, imagine him clean too =)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

1 Sick Child, Shiny Things and Strawberry Squares

Faith is home from school sick (vomiting and fever) and I have rescheduled all my lessons to stay home with her. I'm kind of tired of watching tween drama and cartoons so figured I would let you know how Valentines went.

The scallops and risotto were a hit. The kids especially liked the risotto. Besides my gorgeous flowers delivered to my doorstep, my hubby continued to spoil me with shiny things. A beautiful bracelet that the description labels as "Silver Stirrups" (a throwback to our show team) and a pair of horse shoe earrings. These have a special meaning since I still have a pair from when I first started showing as a youth, but all the stones sadly have fallen out over the years. I once told Chuck I wish I could find some just like them to wear when I show now, but haven't found any. He remembered! Did I mention he's perfect?

These will definitely bring me good luck. (Ever notice how perfectly normal/sane people become superstitious about horse which socks did I wear when I won that blue ribbon.....I'm only wearing them from now on!)

After dinner while the boys were at Karate I made these yummy strawberry squares. I was looking for something for Valentines Day and liked that they had the hint of red and looked a bit fancy. I wasn't sure how they were going to turn out since I'd never made them before and I thought judging by the recipe they were going to be kind of like cookie bars, but they are more like a dense cake.....and soooooo good! So far everyone has loved them! I hope Faith is feeling better soon so she can eat some. I know she'll love them and it will reduce the amount I will be trying to sneak in my mouth. These were really easy to make can check out the recipe here: Skinny Strawberry Squares
These were super quick to get ready to throw in the oven!
The recipe says cool to room temperature, but I served them still a little warm  and we liked them best like that!
Only 4 points! I totally ate 2 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Best Husband Ever

UPS just delivered these beauties to my doorstep. My hubby is so sweet! I hope he isn't terribly embarrassed that I posted his note on here, but I couldn't help it, it made me cry....he is just incredibly amazing and is constantly reminding me how I can't imagine life without him. Not sure how I got so lucky....but I think I'll keep him!

My gift to him....he'll have to wait to find out, but he did pick pan seared scallops over Parmesan risotto for dinner so pray it turns out wonderful!  
Happy Valentines Day everyone!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Shame-less Plug

My oh-so-talented mom has started making these super adorable Memory Bears. They are a great way to take something you treasure and make it into something you can remember always. Just think of all the horsey things you can turn into something huggable....your first show shirt, a favorite horses saddle pad, your child's first hunt coat. Oh the possibilities! You can check these out at her website:

If there are other things you want made you can just shoot her an email and she can probably do it. Check out this really cool purse/tote she made me for Christmas. I get comments on it everywhere I go! It's got all this pockets around the inside to help me keep everything organized.

She also made these place mats to go in my coffee addicted themed kitchen.

Want something personalized....check these out:

Too Funny

Found this at (a great new source for silly horse related fun)….apparently you can order them at cafepress. LOVE THEM!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Free Jump

Johnny still needs to gain a little muscle in his bum and I figured he could use a break from boring lunge line and circle after circle after circle. To break up his routine a bit I decided to free lunge him and see if I could get him to free jump a bit. This will help him build some muscles up until I can start doing hill work. It also is a great confidence booster for him and introduction of fence work. He did really well, not the prettiest of form....but he really had a good time. We started out low at 18" vertical and then increased slowly in height, and finally maxed out at 2'6". His hooves are healing up nicely and I think his trim in two weeks will get rid of the separation and we should be ready to start under saddle work.

Notice how sometimes he crossfires with his back legs at the canter. He is doing better and he now feels it himself and corrects it when cantering freely. On a lunge line we go back to the trot and then back to canter when this happens and he can now go longer and longer. He is not reaching up underneath himself far enough with his inside leg all the time which is what causes this to happen, but by building up his muscles, strength and endurance as well as his balance we should see a major improvement. But just like when we work on strengthening ourselves it's important to slowly build those muscles so as not to cause strains, tears, or other injuries. Within just the last few weeks of consistent lunging he has gone to always crossfiring or "bunny hopping" as I like to call it (I have no clue what it is really called but it's when both back feet go down at the same time at the canter) to cantering correctly the majority of the time and is holding it for 3-5 20 meter circles on the lunge.

Faith had a blast helping with this today and now is dying to be able to jump Johnny. I explained it would be awhile before he did any fences under saddle and we would start with a good foundation of flat, but she is already planning all the fun things they can do together. She also informed me that apparently we are going to "share" him. Hmmmm.....I have a feeling she will be stealing him from me in no time.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Man in Black is Back to Work

Johnny Cash is ready to work! I've been working on lunging him and lightly riding him (tack walks) for the last couple of months. He has some hoof wall separation that we are working on healing more trim and he should be good to go. Faith has rode him a few times on a lunge line at the walk and trot and really likes him. She can't wait to be turned loose with him, but he's a whole lot of Arabian so we are going to take our time on that one.

Johnny has trouble with his balance so the lunging has been important in helping him with tempo, relaxation, and strength.....which ultimately is helping his balance as well. Once he gets his hooves fixed up and a new bridle and bit ordered for him, and his teeth done, he is back to riding full time (I am hoping by March). I am so excited, he is coming along really nicely. His brain has normalized and he is back to being a quiet (well as quiet as you can really get an Arabian to be) puppy dog and is really listening. I'll keep you updated on his progress.

 Johnny's 2012 goals:
1. Get his new dressage bridle in and start lunging in side reins
2. Improve balance and strength and start working under saddle
3. Work on trailering issues and be able to easily load/haul/unload him
4. Pay trainer to put a few training rides on him once completely back to work
5. Compete in a dressage schooling show by fall

Monday, February 6, 2012

Just for fun


***every time you drive past a road construction sight you think what nice jumps the barricades would make.***

***your friends no longer ask to get together after school/work or on a weekend because they know you'll say, "I can't, I have to ride."***

***you pull a $17,000 horse trailer with a $1,000 pick-up truck.***

***you realize finding a horse shoe is truly lucky because you've saved ten bucks.***
*******your boyfriend complains that you love your horse more than you love him and you say: "And your point is..?"****** (SOOOO TRUE) 

****you look at all the piles of laundry sitting next to your washing machine and most of them are breeches, horse blankets, saddle pads, etc.... but you don't even care about the horsey hair residue that will be left in your washer and dryer.**** (HA ME)

***you say "whoa" to the dog.***

***someone asks for a screwdriver and you hand them a hoof pick.*** (well they both work)
***you clean tack after every ride but you never, ever, wash the truck.*** (DUH)
***on rainy days, you organize the tack room, not the house.***

***you can remember worming schedules, lessons, and farrier visits in your head, but often forget your class schedule, household chores, and meals.*** 

***~Drop a heavy steel object on your foot. Don't pick it up right away. Shout "Get off,stupid! Get off!"***

***~Leap out of a moving vehicle and practice "Relaxing into the fall". Roll lithely into a ball, and spring to your feet!*** (BEEN THERE AND DONE IT)

***~Lie face down in the mud in your most expensive riding clothes and repeat to yourself: "This is a learning experience, this is a learning experience,..."***

Friday, February 3, 2012

No you can't, Yes you can!

My weekly lessons have been going well. Each week I feel like I am progressing, learning, and getting to be a better and stronger rider. Every time I go I seem to add another tool to my toolbox (or at least knowledge into my brain....sometimes so much that I think stuff leaks out the sides). That was until last week. So early last week I decided to ride Pilgrim after an exceptionally good lunge in side reins. He was quiet, relaxed, with good tempo, and seemed to be comfortable with the contact. I thought, "wow, we are going to have a really good ride!" Well, we didn't. The minute I put my foot in the stirrup it was like a ticking time bomb ready to go off.....I think I could actually feel him shaking underneath me. We walked and walked trying to get him to soften and relax, but it never happened. When we started to trot, it all went south. He would tense up, slide out through the shoulders, spin and pop up repeatedly. The more I tried to fix it, the worse he got and the tenser I got. I finally settled for some somewhat quiet walk to halt transitions and me breathing steady.

After that disaster ride I was feeling pretty down. I thought for sure we were making progress, but this was the worst he's been in a while and instead of being confident and pushing him through it, I panicked, got tense, and fell apart. By the time my lesson came on Thursday, I knew I hadn't let it go. I put my foot in the stirrup and tensed up immediately. It took me half of my lesson to relax enough to even come close to putting myself in the right positions and still was just an absolute mess. My lateral was awful, we couldn't stay straight and I kept letting the shoulders swing back and forth. I was always a half second late catching the horse with my leg and hand. I left my lesson feeling like crap with a bad case of the poor, poor pitiful me syndrome. "I'll never be able to do this. I'm not good enough. Etc, etc..." My trainer was oober supportive, insisting that having a bad ride can be hard to work through mentally and Pilgrim is extremely tricky to ride under the best of circumstances. So I reminded myself that he will be in training soon and it will get better.

So here comes Thursday and my next lesson. I haven't been working out and an old injury to my right shoulder is flaring up (guess I need to start my strength training back in my's always a tell tale sign I need to when my shoulder feels like there's a knife in it), and my right shoulder always creeps forward anyways and I lose the contact in that rein when riding, which makes tracking left a real challenge. I immediately knew it was going to be a bad lesson since my shoulder hurting would aggravate a weakness I already have. I get on and get going, Rebel was a little sore so we took our time warming him up. Once we got going I really concentrated on my shoulder, keeping it back and dropping it down.....keeping both shoulders in line with my hips. As I would do this I kept getting moments of proper bend and flex out of Rebel but then would lose it. One time he did really well and I felt him really step underneath himself with his inside hind, but I lost my posting rhythm in that moment of suspension and kind of got behind the movement and off he goes with his nose out and rushing forward. Then all of a sudden, everything came seat was right, I maintained steady outside contact, created the bend with my inside rein and inside leg, softened when I needed to....I actually squealed with delight (in which my trainer quickly yelled "just keep going!"). I finally felt it, and could re-create it on my own. I spent the rest of my lesson with a giant smile on my face, Rebel soft and round and thinking "I can do this!"

It was an important reminder to me that every time I think "no you can't" I just need to keep telling myself "yes, you can!" So to all my fellow riders; young, old, beginner or pro....don't forget: YES YOU CAN!