Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Again!?

Guess what little bay pony has hives again....yep, that would be Emi. Apparently there is something growing this time of year that doesn't agree with her. I posted the same thing last year, but about a month later. The hives are currently quite mild with half a dozen on her forehead and a some along the underside of her neck. Of course I just had her at the vet last Monday...

Miles

It's amazing what miles (or wet saddle pads) will do for a horse. This has been a summer of trail riding for Benny and he is doing fabulous. When I got him he didn't load as easily as I would like and had very few trail miles. Both of those things have changed over the summer. Saturday April and I headed back to Willamette Mission State Park with our two half arabs. Benny walked calmly on the trailer and hauled quietly to the park. He was looking a lot at the start of our ride but soon settled in. We wound our way through the park and near the end of our ride came back to the same water spot we went in to last time.




This time around we didn't have Mystic or Scotty to help us get in...and it wasn't a problem. He got in with very little fuss and was happy to drink. He was also willing to go out much deeper than the first time around. We went in multiple times and he was having a great time. The first time (the beginning of August) he stood in the water shaking. Since that time he as gone in to water at Elijah Bristow State Park and the beach. I'd say those miles are paying off!

Monday, September 28, 2015

So Easy

Saturday evening I pulled out a driving harness that Cindy loaned me. She had suggested I teach Emi to ground drive, which was part of my plan anyway. With the harness in hand I decided there was no time like the present to get started. There wasn't anyone home to assist me but I decided that it didn't matter since I didn't expect trouble. With the surcingle and crupper in place, Emi and I headed out to the pasture to give it a try.


We made our way haphazardly around the field. She had no idea what I wanted but she tried to give me the right answer.  Our steering needs some work as she would turn much sharper than what I was looking for. We'd end up weaving back and forth as she'd take my cue to mean that she should turn sharply, then I'd turn her back the other way and she'd do the same thing. We did smooth it out and by the end we were doing some loose figure eights around a couple of trees. She never once acted startled, anxious, or otherwise bothered by the proceedings. I kept the session short and after a couple of laps around the field, the figure eights, and some walk/halt/walk transitions we called it a night. I look forward to continuing this with her and I'm so impressed by her fantastic brain. 



While we were playing in the pasture, Emi's dad was at the Region 6 Championships winning the Grand Prix Freestyle with a 74.7% (his personal best). How cool is that!? My girl has great genes. 

Monday, September 21, 2015

Straight

Benny and I had another great lesson tonight. I feel like we have been doing a good job on our homework and we come in to our next lesson ready to go. He's really fun to ride and I love that he is a good worker. I've ridden way too many horses that fight you all the time. I hate that. It's refreshing to be on such a willing partner!

We were able to demonstrate some really nice transitions using the touchdown exercise and we then moved on to making him quicker at the trot. He is a little on the lazy side and although he has a lot of cadence he wasn't going enough. We pushed him through this quick, hurried kind of trot and on the other side we found this big swingy trot. Talk about lovely! I could have ridden it all day.

The canter work was pretty poor (even for us) but we played around with some different exercises to help with it. His rideability is improving which is going to help us in the long run. One of the main things we worked on tonight was getting him to move his haunches over. Due to his prior training (probably weakness as well) he carries his haunches to the inside. When I first got him this was very pronounced; it's quite a bit better now. That being said, although it has improved, we still have quite a ways to go. I plan to play with it some more over this next week and we'll see where we end up for our lesson next Thursday.

Cantering Through Cancer

Do any of you get Sidelines Magazine? Their October issue just came out and it's all about breast cancer. If you get a chance to take a look at it, there's an article about me in it. It's crazy to read your own story in a magazine! Susan from Saddle Seeks Horse contacted me in July regarding a possible interview. She was pointed in my direction by one of my readers. We tried to get connected over the phone a couple of times while I was at Rebecca Farms, but we didn't end up talking until after I returned home.

It's always interesting to think back to the emotions of that time. Even though it was only 3 years ago at times it feels like a lifetime away. I hope my story can encourage someone else, especially anyone who is diagnosed "young." I'm also looking forward to reading the other stories in the magazine. It's nice to know you aren't alone!


Thursday, September 17, 2015

Adjustable

Benny and I had a hard ride on him Tuesday night. The weather has turned stormy and he was tense.  Fast forward to last night. I really wasn't feeling it, but knew I need to go out to ride. I'm so glad I did. Benny was a rock star! Our transitions have improved so much in just 2 weeks and the new adjustability we've discovered is fun. The "touchdown" exercise is really working for us and it's great to see the progress so quickly. I also feel like I'm riding better than I have in a long time. It's becoming more automatic to keep my shoulders back....now I need to work on smiling rather than making funny faces. It's so hard to do when you are concentrating!



Wednesday, September 16, 2015

I'm Happy - A Review

About a year and a half ago I purchased one of the SmartPak Indestructible blankets (original review here). Roz wore it all last winter but near the end he ripped a quarter sized hole in the tail flap, a few smaller holes on the body of the blanket, along with pulling a section of the piping off. I used it the rest of the winter and washed it up this summer before contacting Smartpak regarding the return. They asked me which blanket it was (I have another one for Benny in a different size) and said they would make a note on my account. They told me to send it back using any return label I had laying around for them, or that they could send me a label if I didn't have one. As it turned out I had just received an order from them and so I had a label and even a great box to use.


I'm not sure the exact day that I shipped my blanket back to SmartPak but I received confirmation that they received it on August 27th. I arrived home last night to a brand new rain sheet. How cool is that!? SmartPak recently came out with a high neck version of the blanket and I'm interested in purchasing that in a medium weight for Roz.

The only issue I foresee is that a few week turn around in the middle of the winter could be an issue. I suspect you could probably order and pay for a new blanket and then return your old one for a refund. Benny is turned out in a group of geldings who are notorious for ripping blankets. I'll be interested to see how his holds up since he didn't get his until late in the season last year (after going through two others). Yet again I'd give SmartPak two thumbs up!

Monday, September 14, 2015

On the Buckle

Benny continues to become a better and better trail horse. Saturday we hauled out to Chip Ross Park, which is about 20 minutes from where we board.  Benny and I spent a good portion of the ride on the buckle, in the lead. He cruised happily along and was also content to be in the middle or back of the pack. The trail was hilly but other than that it wasn't too challenging. We did have to cross one wooden bridge that Benny wasn't sure about. The buckskin, Scotty, led across it and Benny followed. On the way back we were still following Scotty but Benny felt much more relaxed going over it a second time. He also loaded beautifully both times, which is something we've been working on. I'm so thankful for this horse, he's fun!







Thursday, September 10, 2015

Equestrian Apps

I have one specific equestrian app on my iPhone and that is the smartpak blanketing app. I don't always follow it, but it's fun to see what they recommend. It's also good source to check the weather. Believe it or not, we are heading in to blanketing season.  

In case you were wondering, Emi is now wearing a size 75". Where'd my baby go!? 
For trail riding I like to have something that will track distance, speed etc. I have been using Map My Run which was working well for a while.  In the past 6 months or so it has been taking forever to load, and shuts down when I'm about a mile in to a ride. I thought perhaps it was a service issue but it happens regardless of where I ride.  I can re-open it and it's still tracking, but the time/distance doesn't ever seem correct. So....I'm on the search for something else.

What equestrian apps do you use? Do you have one that is a must have?

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Another Gold Star

Benny got to go on his first beach adventure Sunday afternoon, and he received another gold star. Although I thought he would be good, he exceeded my expectations. This horse continues to impress me! 

He came off the trailer totally chill, stood quietly while we tacked up, and calmly headed out towards the beach. Once on the beach he was taking a hard look at the footing. Sea shells, seaweed, wet sand, dry sand, oh my! He stopped looking quite so hard once we picked up a trot.


We had been out for a while when Tarra asked if I was interested in getting him in to the water. I told her no...and rethought my decision about 2 minutes later. Why not give it a try? He was pretty good about following Mystic in, but he had no interest in going in by himself. 

We headed back to the trailer for the camera and when we returned to the beach Benny was much more relaxed than the first time around. At this point Tarra was on foot and apparently that was invitation for people stopping her to talk. Benny and I rode on ahead and then would circle back around. Benny was fantastic about heading down the beach by himself. We also played in the water and he was going in pretty easily, even with out Mystic's lead. 

We found a less crowded portion of the beach and took some photos. I wanted some photos to add to Benny's sale album and Tarra wanted sunset photos with Mystic. Check them out. I'd say they all turned out well. At this point I had been riding Benny for a 2+ hours and he was starting to get tired. In hindsight I think his photos would have been better earlier on in our ride, when he was a bit more animated. 










Happy horses and happy girls after another fun beach adventure. You've got to love good horses! 

Friday, September 4, 2015

Denied

Benny and I had lesson number two with KB last night. Our first lesson was good....but last night was significantly better. Since we had the introductions out of the way we were able to get to work right away. I gave a progress report that our work had been going pretty well since out last lesson, but some days Benny comes out resistant and I'm not sure what I should be doing to break up that resistance. KB suggested lots of transitions, and we set off to work on those.

Going up in to trot Benny has a little hop step that he likes to take and he inverts at the same time, regardless of if I felt like I had him round enough before the transition. We worked on this by easing in to the transition rather than asking for a really crisp transition. It was my job to keep him where I wanted him, and if I lost it I was supposed to "deny" the transition. It only took a couple of tries with this idea in mind before we got a beautiful transition. We repeated this several times and most of the transitions were quite a bit better than normal.

For the transition from trot to walk, at times, we stall out. KB had us work on the "touchdown exercise" which was basically to bring him down to the walk and if at any time I didn't like the direction things were going I needed to move him forward again. Asking him to continue trotting holds true whether you've had no walk steps, 1 walk step or 4 walk steps. Any time that transition falls apart he needs to get moving again. She described it as "deflating" during the transition. He expects to be done once he reaches the walk and therefore he falls flat into the walk and I lose the ability to keep him moving. Obviously, I always want the option (and ability) to change plans and continue on with the trot.  Both of these exercises require me to think on my feet, and change plans as the situation calls for it. Really, riding in general requires that ability, but sometimes I get sucked in to accepting mediocre results when I need to have higher expectations.

For the canter we worked on shoulder-fore and then a hint of counter canter. This was completed by riding a 20 meter circle, turning him as though we were going to do a 10 meter circle (the shoulder-fore) and then allowing him to travel straight (hint of counter canter) before bringing him back around to that 10 meter circle turn. Its hard to explain well but I could really feel his canter change as we worked through the exercise. As always, Benny was a lovely partner through out our lesson. If you need us we'll be out practicing our transitions!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Indy Equestrian

Have you ever heard of Indy Equestrian? You should check them out. I was recently looking for a specific product (Ecolicious Equestrian)and happened upon their website. As I was deciding how much to order I discovered that not only do they offer free shipping on orders over $70, but your shipping costs go down the more you order. Since when have you come across a company who operates like that!? All I could think of was that Dover needs to get in on that kind of shipping, rather than the price going up the more you order! My shipping charges ended up being $1.99 for about a $50 order. Along with the reasonable shipping charges, I received the products in just a few days.

When I opened my order I found a complimentary horse treat and a thank you card. I was impressed! They have awesome products and some specialty type items. You should check them out!