Monday, November 30, 2015

Fabulous

Bright and early on Saturday morning I took Emi to the trail course at the Oregon Horse Center. This is the same course that I took Benny to a few weeks ago. I had planned to take her last year but she had her colic episode the day before we were scheduled to go. Since we missed out last year I was even more excited to take her this year. She has been to Perrydale Trails twice (here and here) which I would say is similar to this trail course so I figured she wouldn't been completely surprised by this new adventure.


We met up with her breeder, Cindy, at 8:30am and got checked in before heading in to the trail course. Emi was wide eyed to start but took everything in stride. We negotiated trenches, bridges, steps, logs, and a teeter totter (video below) with out issue. She is very trusting and didn't take much encouragement at all to try new things along the way. She has always been good about going up and over stuff so that made many of the step up obstacles very easy.



I was very impressed with her overall behavior and how laid back she was. Normally when she is unsure she gets really pushy and in a hurry. Saturday she was very obedient and followed along nicely behind me. Apparently our work up until this point prepared her well for the day. 

A cow hide on a rope. She had just finished sniffing this when I pulled it off the ground. 
Not only did we find the Pony Express....

Winterlake Emerald also found Emerald Mining Supplies. 



 This outing was another gold star for the baby girl. Now she gets a few more months of hanging out before we start gearing up for starting under saddle. The countdown is on.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Little Bay Beauty

 With the cold, dry weather the horses got the chance to play in the pasture this morning.
Check out the little bay beauty and her old man side kick. These two are just too cute!





Happy Thanksgiving!

Today (and everyday) I'm so thankful for the opportunity to have horses. It's truly a privilege and something that we take for granted too often. They are a blessing to my life and something that I get so much enjoyment from. I have no idea where the next year will lead but I'm grateful for a healthy year filled with friends, 3 beautiful bay horses and many adventures along the way.





Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Warm & Cozy

Once upon a time I used to ride Roz bareback....a lot. Not only does he have a comfortable, broad back but I also really trust him. We've been on numerous bareback trail rides and other little adventures around the various places where he has lived. 


One of the places that he lived I would climb up on their rail fence and stretch my leg out across his back. If I could get my foot about 1/2 way onto his back then he was close enough for my to jump on. He'd stand quietly until I hit his back and then he'd start walking...it was a dance that we had perfected and one we did well. 



No matter how long it has been, it's natural and so comfortable to me to climb up on his bare back. It feels like coming home.  I'm not sure when I stopped riding bareback but as I transitioned to some less trustworthy horses it didn't seem like such a fun option. 



Then tonight I climbed on Benny bareback for the first time since last winter. It took a few minutes to get used to the feel of him with out my saddle but it wasn't long before we were comfortably working around the arena. I've decide I need to ride bareback more often. I had forgotten how enjoyable it is and it's a great option on these cold nights. Do you like to ride bareback? If so, how often do you do it?

Monday, November 23, 2015

Let it Snow

I've been going through a bunch of photos as I work on Emi's baby book. I came across this video tonight and thought it was too cute not to share. This is Emi at about 6 months. 

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Cold & Clear

Although I prefer when it's warm and clear....cold and clear is also nice. Since we had such a nice forecast I thought I should take advantage of the opportunity to get out of the arena. Benny seemed to agree as he was speed walking almost the whole time we were out. 


It was a beautiful day in the forest with pretty good footing due. The more trail miles Benny gets the better he is. He spent nearly the entire ride marching along on the buckle. It was so relaxing and fun to have a change of scenery. REI is doing this big "opt outside" campaign for Black Friday and I might be opting outside with another trail ride. The weather is predicted to be back to cold and clear on Friday and Oregon State Parks are waiving their fees on Friday. I'm not sure if we are going to be able to get it all together but I hope so! 

A lovely trail pony

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Tangible Progress

I had a good lesson on Benny Tuesday night and then a fantastic ride last night. He's a smart boy. The things that we had covered in our lesson on Tuesday were significantly better in our Wednesday ride. After a lot of canter work tonight I was cooling him out and thinking about how far we have come.

When your in the middle of something it can be difficult to step back and see where you started and how much ground you have actually covered. Benny's canter has been a major work in progress (and there is still a long way to go) but when I look back to where we started it's really incredible the improvements we have made. He is tight in the back, struggles with connection and tends to have a lateral canter. His default is to travel haunches in which seems to be training from his previous life. This time last year he would swap behind any time he got off balance. I struggled with this when I tried him and I really debated if I should take a chance on him.

Last night I picked up where we left off in our lesson bending him in, straight, out, straight, in, straight, out, then moving his haunches out for a few strides and then back to bending. As he loosened up I then asked him to stretch and he actually attempted it. That's not something he would have been able to do when I got him. During my lesson we were also working on the counter canter loops from first level. When I purchased him I didn't know if it would be possible to improve the canter as much as we have and yet I'm greedy and hope to see it improve even more as we add more pieces to the puzzle. Isn't dressage fun!?

Shortly after I bought him (possibly the night I brought him home)

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

TRM BlogHop: 25 Questions

A fun blog hop brought to us by The Red Mare. 

1. Mares or Geldings? Why?
  •  A good horse is a good horse, regardless of gender. I've had some naughty mares but I've also had naughty geldings. 

2. Green broke or Fully broke?
  • Either one can be fun. Green broke you can see continual progress which is fun. Fully broke is also lovely as it allows you to ride more for the sake of riding. I've enjoyed the "fully broke" stage I'm currently in with Benny and I'm looking forward to entering "green broke" with Emi.
3. Would you own a "hotter" breed (ie. Arabian, Trakhener, etc).
  • Yep! I currently own a half arab (who is not hot) and a thoroughbred (also not hot)



4. What was your "dream horse" growing up?
  • A bay with 4 white socks and a blaze...still my dream "look". 
5. What kind of bit(s) do you use and why?
  • I use whatever bit my horse goes best in. Currently I'm riding Benny in an eggbutt french link. 
6. Helmets or no helmets?
  • Helmets all the time. That was the one riding rule my parents had for me when I started and now I feel "naked" getting on a horse with out one. 
7. Favorite horse color?
  • Umm...I'll give you three guesses and the first two don't count. 
8. Least favorite horse color?
  • Paint with too much white
9. Dressage or Jumping?
  • Dressage
10. How many years have you been riding?
  • Almost 20!
11. Spurs/whip or no spurs/whip?
  • I almost always ride with a whip but rarely with spurs.
12. Your first fall?
  • I was just little but I vaguely remember running in to someone (or being run in to), falling off, and having my pony carefully step her hind legs over my face to avoid stepping on me. 

13. When was the last time you rode and what did you do?
  • Last night I rode Benny in a lesson. 
14. Most expensive piece of tack you own?
  • My saddle. 
15. How old were you when you started riding?
  • I'm not sure but I think I was around 8.
16. Leather or Nylon halters?
  • Both. I usually use nylon halters for everyday and leather for special occasions. 
17. Leather or Synthetic saddles?
  • Leather for sure!
18. What "grip" of reins do you like?
  • I like the web reins with rubber
19. English or Western?
  • English! 
20. How many horses do you currently own/lease?
  • 3
Roz
Emi
Benny
21. Do you board your horse? Self-care/full board? Home board?
  • Full board on one, home board for two. It's definitely a lot of work so it's a good thing I enjoy them all. 
22. Have you ever had to put down a horse that you loved?                                                             
  • Not yet....                                   

23. How many saddle pads do you have?
  • More than I can remember off the top of my head. 
24. Slant-load trailer or straight haul?
  • I generally like slants but the large straight loads are nice too, especially if you have a big horse. 
25. Why do you ride?
  • Because I love it. 
ETA: Blogger is giving me fits today so I apologize for the wonky formatting. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Princess and the Pea

Aka the Welsh Cob and the blanket (the story of a paranoid horse owner and a silly filly) 

I was busy cleaning up the horses paddock on Sunday morning when Emi ran in to the gate and proceeded to rub along it and down the stall front. That immediately piqued my interest and I watched her carefully. You may remember that rubbing along the walls/gate was something she did when she was going though her colic episode last year.  She rubbed back along the gate and the stall front, hooking the front of her turn out sheet on her hay net. I stepped in to rescue her and pulled her blanket before proceeding with my chores. I started re-arranging the day in my head, planning to hook up the trailer, call the vet, and call her insurance.

After the blanket came off she was acting normally so I groomed her thoroughly thinking perhaps she was itchy. She wasn't displaying any other odd behaviors and she didn't rub along the walls any more. She ate happily and she was bright and alert. I headed inside to get ready for church and checked on her twice prior to leaving.

When I returned home my first stop was to check on her. She was again eating and seemed fine. Later in the day I was back outside to do chores. I hadn't been out there long when she rubbed along the gate and stall front again. "Emi" I exclaimed in frustration and concern. I again pulled her blanket, opting to leave it off for the night. She never displayed any other strange behavior and I decided she must be fine. As of today I haven't seen any further concerning behavior. I've kept her blanket off and my best guess is that her blanket is pulling or otherwise causing the strange behavior. It's always something when you own a horse...or three.

Emi says "I wasn't doing anything."

Monday, November 16, 2015

Mountain Trail Adventures

Benny and I went to the mountain trail course on Saturday. He loaded like a dream both times and I can tell that hauling is becoming much more routine for him. It's amazing the difference that practice can make. 

Unlike our trip last year, I didn't spend any time leading Benny through the trail course. I hopped on and warmed him up in an adjoining arena for about 20 minutes before heading in to the trail ring. He was overwhelmed to start and I gave him a few minutes to look before asking him to navigate the obstacles. The longer we worked the more confident he became. Bridges, water, narrow trails with rocks and logs, you name it and we did it. It was so fun. He confirmed what I already knew...he's a great trail horse! I enjoyed watching the video when I returned home because he has such a cute expression. I'm so thankful to have him. 














Friday, November 13, 2015

A Year Ago

Believe it or not it has been a year since Emi's colic episode. We have yet to experience the same sort of cold weather episode that brought that on...although I'm prepared for it. My bucket heater is on hand and her blanket is washed and ready to go. The rain started about a week ago and they have been locked off the pasture since then. Emi's hives are rapidly clearing up which makes me a happy camper.



I washed her tail and hind socks on Wednesday afternoon and took the opportunity to measure her. She's currently a hair shy of 14.1hh. I think she looks especially well balanced right now. I'm curious to see how much more she will grow and change in the coming years.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Take Aways

The fun thing about the show season being over is that now it's time to get down to work and see what we can improve before the next show season. Some clear take aways from the show:
  • Continue to work on Benny's connection and forward response to the aids
  • Clear canter rhythm
  • Geometry (need I say more!?)
  • I need to learn how to ride my corners

In terms of what we scored well on, all of our halts were 7's, 7.5's or 8's. That was pretty awesome. Our shallow loops in training test 3 got a couple of 7's. Those are a maneuver that I have struggled with riding well. The judge from the first day awarded us a 7.5 for gaits while the judge on the second day dinged us a little bit for an unclear rhythm in the canter (a 6.5 for gaits). Remarks included "handsome talented horse" and "well suited pair."


In terms of other horse show skills, Benny has finally figure out forelock braiding. You must stand nice and still so that you can have a beautiful forelock. He's a bit ear shy so the first few times I braided his forelock he was tense and jumpy. It's not easy to braid a small forelock when the horse is flinging his head around! Both days at the show Benny snoozed while I worked on his forelock. What a lovely change. He's beginning to understand the routine and that is pretty awesome.


He's also fantastic in a crowded warm up arena. He doesn't get ruffled by a change of plans and he takes everything in stride. He's also not a screamer and he doesn't mind leaving the crowded warm up arena for the solo show ring. Talk about a nice skill! Now it's time to get to work so that we can come out next spring better than ever.

Monday, November 9, 2015

League Finals Recap

Friday afternoon Benny and I headed up to Devonwood for the League Finals show. KB was at the show and was able to help me school him in the show arena on Friday evening. We ran through both of my tests, discussed them and then worked through a few of the problem areas.


Saturday morning I didn't ride until 10:45 and 11:15. I had plenty of time to take Benny on a long walk/hand graze, braid him and get ready myself. I got on right on schedule and had a solid warm up before going in for my first test (Training 3, open class). Our test was unremarkable and we scored a 63.409% for 2nd place. He was a bit sticky during our first test so when I returned to the warm up I worked on sharpening his response to my "go" aids. He was responding very nicely and we headed back in to the ring for our second test of the day. Since it was part of my training level championship division I was unable to carry my whip. He was nicely forward as I warmed up around the arena but as soon as we trotted down centerline he slowed. I kicked him around the whole test, desperate to keep him going nicely forward. We finished the test with no major problems and scored 64.8%. This put us in fourth out of a competitive class of ten. The people ahead of me were all lovely riders who regularly compete at bigger shows so I was quite pleased that we were hanging right in there.



Saturday night I asked KB what she would think of me riding Benny with spurs for my championship class on Sunday. She thought it may be helpful and asked if I ride him in spurs at home. I don't but told her I was certain he had been ridden with them in his former life. Sunday I warmed him up with them on and really focused our getting a prompt response to my leg. While waiting to head in to the ring I told a friend that I was taking a bit of a gamble. I knew I might respond in a cranky way to the spurs but that with out them I might end up having to kick him around the whole test again.



My gamble paid off as he was nicely forward with out me having to stay on his case. Since I had so much more horse I was able to really ride my test, with out focusing solely on keeping him going. I came out of the ring feeling so good about how I rode the test. It was definitely my best "test riding" yet. KB predicted that our score would be quite a bit higher than day 1. Sure enough, we got a 68.182%. This put us in second place in our class for the day which I was thrilled with.




We ended up staying in fourth place for our division when our scores were averaged. I'd say we have come a long way in a year and I'm so proud of Benny the wonder horse!



Sunday, November 8, 2015

Success is Sweet

League finals took place this weekend and once again Benny proved how wonderful he is. I'm way too tired to do a good write up tonight so I'll leave you with this photo.