Saturday, December 5, 2015

25 Questions

Mares or Geldings? Why?
My first 3 horses were all mares.  The first two were great - opinionated, but knew when to back down.  The third was a demon-child.  She was super fancy and athletic and super opinionated and picky.  After her, I decided I wanted to stick with geldings for a while because I wanted a horse with a little less "personality".  I love my current guy - opinionated enough, but has no desire to be the boss of anything but his little herd in the field.

Green Broke or Fully Broke?
I usually end up going for the green broke due to money restraints, and the fact that I love the bond that the training process creates.

Would You Own A Hotter Breed?
I currently own an OTTB, so I would say yes, I would.

What Was Your Dream Horse Growing Up?
My dream horse growing up was an upper level eventer.  Didn't matter what breed as long as the potential was there to do a */**/***/****

What Kind of Bits Do You Use And Why?
Ha - just did a blog post on this.  For dressage we use a full cheek Dr. Bristol because the stability of it helps to compensate for my busy hands, and he likes it.  For jumping we are currently in a double jointed 3 ring elevator with the reins on the loose ring portion.  It gives me the little bit of extra whoa that I need since Otter likes to get a little strong and on the forehand while galloping.  After the show is over next weekend, I think I'm going to experiment with a wonderbit to see if it gives us the same control without the extraneous rings.

Helmet or No Helmet?
Helmet.  Always.  When I was younger I used to ride without one occasionally, especially if I was just going to be doing flatwork.  One of the days I was just doing flatwork, while I was tacking up, I had a feeling that I should just wear a helmet that day so I put one on.  During our ride, my mare spooked and flipped over on me, crushing my knee.  Not sure what would have happened if I hadn't been wearing my helmet, but so glad that I was that day.

Favorite Horse Color?
Bays, black and white paint or a nice dark dapple grey

Least Favorite Horse Color?
Light chestnuts

Dressage or Jumping?

How Many Years Have You Been Riding? 
30 +

Spurs/Whip or No Spurs/Whip?
It depends on the situation.  XC and XC schooling we use both.  Jumping at home we use nothing, and dressage we use nothing unless Otter needs a friendly reminder about where his hindquarters are supposed to go, and then I will pick up a whip for a few minutes

Your First Fall?
Too young to remember.  Probably around 4ish.  I had a pony - enough said.

When Was The Last Time You Rode And What Did You Do?
Last time I rode was Thursday night and we did flatwork since nobody else was at the barn (my barn owner who lives on property and I have a light/time system so she knows I am ok)

Most Expensive Piece of Tack You Own?
My jumping saddle.  Collegiate Beta - not the fanciest thing, but fits us both well.

How Old Were You When You Started Riding?
Probably around 1? I was thrown up on the back of a horse as soon as I could sit up.
Not my first ride

Leather or Nylon Halters?
For around the barn, I don't mind nylon; but if a horse is getting turned out in a halter - either leather or nylon with a breakaway strap.  Show and trailering always get leather.

Leather or Synthetic Saddles?

What Type of Reins Do You Like?
Rubber reins

English or Western?

How Many Horses Do You Currently Own/Lease?

Do You Board Your Horse? Full Board? Self Care? etc.?
Board - Full care

Have You Ever Put Down A Horse You Loved?
Yup -2 so far.  Demon child and the pony

How Many Saddle Pads Do You Have?
Let's not count those - I might have a problem.

Slant-Load or Straight-Load Trailer?
My horse seems to be most comfortable in slant loads - The one time he was in a straight load since I had him, he seemed really confused by it.  I think he would enjoy a straight load though, since he likes to stand as parallel to the trailer walls as he can.

Why Do You Ride?
I ride because it's something I've done my whole life.  I love the bond I have with my horse and I enjoy the feeling of brushing him down, cleaning tack and a  good ride.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Quiet hands

Earlier this year we started playing around with different bits for Otter to go in for dressage to see if we could get him to stop (or at least reduce the amount) grinding his teeth.  It’s something that he has more or less always done.   He does seem to have some triggers for it – stress, making him work hard/learning new things; at our first show I got reamed out by the dressage judge for it.  I’d pretty much given up on it as something that is just him.  My new trainer wasn’t quite as willing to give up on it (since she particularly hates the noise), and so the bit trials began.

Before I moved down here, we always used a copper double jointed loose ring.  He was soft-ish in it, and was foamy at the lips. But, like I said, my trainer wanted to see if we could find a bit that might make him happy enough to stop grinding his teeth.

So we tried an Albacon boucher.  The bit itself was a little big, but it was the only one we had at the barn and I didn’t want to shell out big bucks just to find out that he hated it.  I tried it because I had good luck with my mare in that bit, plus any little bit of incentive to help him lift his forehand is a good thing.  He was quieter about his grinding in it for a few days, then went back to his normal self.  I kept riding him in it for a while longer to see if he would settle down again, but the bit being too big kept bothering us – it would be really uneven in his mouth at the end of a ride. 
More or less what our current bit looks like

So one day, I decided that I was done with the boucher (might have done this while my trainer was out of town) and put him a bit that we used to jump in – a full cheek Dr. Bristol.    Immediate difference.  So we have been riding in the full cheek for a few months now and he has been going great and other than a few outliers (like schooling the day before Holly Hill when he was a tense, angry man), he is getting quieter and quieter about his grinding. 

Switching gears for a few moments, I have always had “busy” hands – flexing, bending, basically always asking for more.  It’s something we have really been working on, and it is getting better slowly.  I’ve been learning that if I keep my hands steadier, and use my seat and legs to ask for bend and balance, I might not get an immediate softening, but when he does soften, he is more likely to stay there and then I end up using my hands a whole lot less. 

Back to my lesson the other day, we were working on a new skill for Otter – shoulder-ins, and while he had been quiet for most of the ride, he started grinding occasionally and quietly towards the end when he was getting tired.  My trainer made a comment about the noise, and I replied that he has been a lot quieter lately.

To which she replied “That’s because your hands have gotten a lot quieter.”

And that’s when the lightbulb went off in my head.  He was quieter in the full cheek, and to some extent the boucher, than the loose ring because they are more stable bits and so reduce some of the “noise” that I make with my hands.


Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Hello again!

I know, I know - I am the worst blogger ever.  I apologize (again).  Not going to promise that it won't happen again because, well, life happens.

So, since I last checked in: we (finally) moved into our new house, this school semester kicked my butt (Business Law and Accounting), got Otter back in shape and took him to an event, more or less unpacked all the boxes from moving, got into a wreck, got a new car and changed jobs.
My poor old car.  I was really lucky that I wasn't directly hit by the semi that caused it.

Otter is doing fantastic - all sweating issues gone.  He came back into work great - the break seemed to do him a lot of good.  We had a pretty major blowup on Friday while schooling at Holly Hill HT, but that seems to have been due to a couple of factors, and he came out on Saturday a completely different horse and we ended up scoring a 25.  Unfortunately no pictures from that due to the 5 inches of rain that got dumped on us that weekend.  He also ended up with a major case of rain rot from that (and the 3 weeks of rain that followed) and we have just about gotten that cleared up.
It's a amazing how a little bit of photo magic makes you almost think the sun was out when this picture was taken - trust me it wasn't.
Anyways, I'm going to do my best to stick around this time.  Hopefully life cooperates!

Monday, August 24, 2015

The proof is in the pictures

Yay sweat!

More sweat!

Funk going away and hair growing!

More hair growing!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Sweating again

Sorry for the radio silence, ya’ll.  Have just had a lot going on the past couple of weeks and haven’t had much of a chance to sit down and write. 
We are counting down the final days till we get to close on our new house, so have been busy with checking on the build progress and doing paperwork for that, along with packing.  I have also been looking for a new job – one with slightly better hours so I can have a more stable barn schedule.
I did get to the barn over the past weekend though, and since we had some cooler weather decided to take Otter for a short walk to see if he would start sweating.  I was going to just ride him bareback around the fenceline – then thought better of it since he hasn’t been ridden in over a month, plus there was a photography clinic at the barn that day.  Really didn’t want to take the chance of any antics that might happen getting immortalized.  So I threw his saddle on instead and we went for a walk.  I shouldn’t have doubted him – he was a perfect gentleman the whole time.  I am very happy to report that he started sweating like normal again – even on our short walk he had sweat on his neck, between his hind legs, underneath the saddle and girth, and also under his bridle. 
I made about as much fuss over him it was like he suddenly figured out one-tempis, but I am so happy we are back to normal.  I went for another walk last Sunday and during our rides this week I have started incorporating small bits of trot.  He is definitely a bit out of shape right now, and I don’t want to work him too hard and stress his body out again.  However, my trainer believes that if all goes well with bringing him back, we could definitely aim for Holly Hill at the end of October.  We are still keeping him on the One AC till it gets cooler, and he still has his mister fan on him when he is in the stall – I think we are afraid to change anything in case it sends him back to no sweat land.
Random barn cat, since I have been horrible at taking horse pictures lately
Also, so a few people at the barn have also been struggling with the funk on their horses.  One lady who has a bit of a medical background thought to put Vaseline on her guy’s spots, and it was a bit like a miracle on how quickly they healed up.  She told me about this, and I was dubious about it – I’ve definitely been trying to keep things dry – not put more moisture on the areas, but I couldn’t discredit how much better her guy looks.  So with some trepidation last weekend, I greased Otter’s hindquarters up, thinking that they couldn’t get much worse that they were already.  The next day when I went out –it was amazing.  He let me curry all the spots, and all the funk came up easily, and the skin underneath was left soft and not ouchy.  So all this week I have been continuing the Vaseline treatment, and even putting it on his legs.  It has been seriously amazing – his hiney has cleared up and is regrowing hair at record speed, and so are his legs.  The best part is that he doesn’t even mind it, nor does it leave him greasy (I guess because it absorbs into his skin?)  I definitely recommend this course of treatment if any of you are bold enough to try it. 
I also had a jump lesson on Rocky this past week.  He has been great for my jump position.  I’m not sure if I blogged about our last jump lesson or not, but if you don’t maintain a correct position while jumping – he lets you know it.  His antics in the barn are legendary.  Our first jump lesson was quite interesting with some bucking after the jumps – luckily I have a lot of experience sticking bucks from naughty ponies, but it was a good immediate correction for me when I was not correct or soft/allowing enough in my position.  This time, we had no bucks, and I definitely could feel the difference in my position.  I am hoping that this will carry over to Otter when we start jumping again.   A long time ago, I was very correct in my position, but since then I have ridden so many horses that allowed me to get away with being sloppy that it’s been hard for me to be better. 
I am not sure how much I’ll be able to post over the next week or so, we are finally closing on our house this week and will be moving out of the apartment all next weekend since we have to hand in keys on the 31st.  I will try to post at least a quick update –or maybe I will finish up the content that I had meant to use during my honeymoon and use it now.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

wistful and frustrated

While doing my normal internet browsing while drinking my morning coffee Tuesday morning, I clicked through to Eventing Nation.   Reading EN used to be a daily activity for me, but for whatever reason, I just haven’t been as into it recently.  The reason for clicking through Tuesday morning was to watch the Millbrook HT video.
 On my drive to the barn that morning, I reflected on why I have been avoid EN recently, and the Millbrook video helped me to  realize why.  While I have competed some these past 12 months– it has been at schooling schools, and one mini trial.  Watching the video made me long for being at a recognized event.  I love the atmosphere of them – even if I am not competing.  It’s the feeling of seeing or riding a good dressage test, the anticipation and ritual before XC, and the adrenaline that comes while being on course, and the satisfaction of riding a clean stadium round. The mental preparation that happens while braiding before dressage, and making sure every speck of dust is off horse and tack. It’s the technical aspect of walking a XC course the night before and studying the fences and how they will be ridden.  It’s the feeling of screwing studs into shoes, fastening and taping boots, checking for optimum time and setting it into your watch.  It’s like gearing up for battle and I love it.  I even love the aftercare - hosing off with liniment, walking and making sure each standing wrap is perfect.
That was a wet, cold and miserable feeling weekend - but I loved it!
 I know why I haven’t been to events this year, and they are good reasons why – the wedding, building a house, Otter’s issues adjusting to the south, work.  Logically it makes sense that I haven’t gone, but there is a part of me that yearns to be on the road competing – even if just once a month or every other month.  I’m sad that I will not be able to compete, and it’s looking unlikely that I’ll even be able to volunteer during the local HT (Fleur de Leap – please come and support it!)  that will be held in September for the first time since Hurricane Katrina. 
 I know that the summer is the “off” season down here, and that is probably contributing to some of this nostalgia, but even still I know that I won’t be able to compete again until at least October, if not November.  I hate that my current job makes me miss out on so much.  My barn is off XC schooling today, and I’m stuck working, and then all the local shows over the next two months are on my weekends to work also. 
 And now I feel like this post has become super whiny.  I know I am lucky to even have a job, and I am very happy about my marriage and the house we are building.  I’m grateful that while Otter is having issues adjusting, he is getting there slowly – and that my barn has other horses for me to ride in the meantime.  I just miss riding him, and competing him.  He is so much fun to ride XC – even when just schooling. 

 We’ll be back out there, eventually. 

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Weekend update

This weekend was my off weekend from work, so I was able to go out to the barn Fri, Sat, and Sun.  I went out later in the afternoon on Friday because of some appointments in the morning - ended up getting there around 3:30/4pm.  When I got there, I noticed that Otter's mister had been switched to just the fan mode on accident, so his stall was a bit warmer than it has been with the mister on.  However, while checking him over, there was a bit of sweat on both shoulders, so he is regaining some sweating function!  He still isn't fully up to par, as he was still breathing quite heavily in his stall.  I gave him a bath and scrubbed his funkiness - it's gotten quite bad with the mister on him all day.  Trying some old school remedies on them - witch hazel/Listerine after the bath then a topping of Gold Bond Medicated body powder to help dry things out.  We used the Gold Bond at a barn I worked at in Georgia, and it worked well then, so hoping it will help me get on top of his nastiness. 
Just a hint, but it's there!
Saturday was my first ride on R.  He's a 19 yr old schoolmaster-type TB.  He competed up to second level, but wasn't able to go further because he wasn't able to sustain the collection needed for the upper level work.   It was definitely interesting riding him - all of my various shortcomings were quickly pointed out to me.  For instance, I'm not sure if my right side aids are just that much stronger, or my left side is that much weaker, but R was very insistent on popping his left shoulder out.  It's been a bit of a struggle that I've also had with Otter, but I had thought that it was mostly due to his stiffness - guess I was wrong about that.  We kept the ride pretty short - due to R being out of work for a little while.
 Sunday's ride was a lot better - as long as I rode correctly.  The moment I would lean forward, or look down, he would get heavy.  He's definitely a super cute horse though.  He is like a slightly dopier version of Otter.  I'm looking forward to more rides on him and how they will improve my riding.