Tuesday, March 26, 2013

No announcements (also!)

Wow -- everyone has all these huge announcements lately!  Congratulations to everyone, on new horses, moves, impending babies, et cetera!

I ... well, um ... I ... I got nothin' right now.  Well, some (guess what ... wait for it ...) health issues, but to be honest, those will be easy enough to resolve.   But other than that, it's just me, the bay ball of wonderful, the corgis, and the cats, here in Idaho.  :)

Apollo was very good this evening.  I decided it was way too cold inside the barn to ride, so whether Apollo was feeling spooky or not, we were going out. side.  It didn't seem like he was too up when I tacked him up, but I went ahead and longed him anyway.  No issues there, so once he was well warmed up and relaxing over the top, I hopped on.  He wasn't as stretchy as he is in the indoor, I think just because he was still a bit distracted, and the footing is a bit deep and soft.  Still, he was responsive and willing to work with me.  As we went on, he stretched more and came up rounder, too.

Looking forward to the farrier coming out -- Apollo's toes are getting long.  Time to get back on the 6-week schedule again, after the winter 8-week schedule!

Also, from the constantly-trying-to-kill-himself file, I present: one huge scrape, like 12" long or more, down his right front leg.  He didn't draw blood except in one spot, either the very beginning or very end of whatever gave him the scrape, and there's no unusual heat, swelling, or even minute lameness.  Just scraped all the hair off, so it's no big deal.  It is ugly, though!  I hate seeing his skin instead of hair.  Poor kiddo!  I might get a picture tomorrow.  I thought about it today but didn't -- probably should've.

Also also?  Apparently my horse plays with sticks.  Mary reports that he'll paw at the stick, toss it, and generally be a goofball, entertaining himself in the pasture.  He's pretty playful.  :)   That plus his baby face just charms me all over again.   KR described him as a young soul, kind of childlike, a description I kind of like. Some horses are definitely old souls.  Apollo doesn't appear to be one of those.  Hehehe.  :)

EDITED TO ADD:  Hey, this is my 300th post!  Nifty.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Never could get the hang of Thursdays

Some rides are just not as fun as others.   Last night started out pretty well -- I took Apollo outside for the first time, seeing as I was there in plenty of time for light and nobody else was using the outdoor.   He was a little concerned about the barrel jump, the panel jumps, the fence, the other horses, et cetera, but I kept us to a circle in one end and just focused on calm and responsive.   He spooked once, but not more, and he eventually focused.  Until the neighbor horses got the RUN AROUND RIGHT NOW message from the Horse Planet.   Sigh.  So I worked on straight line, short turn, straight line, short turn until I felt like I got his brain back, then patted him and went inside to work some other things.

As it turns out, I totally should have stayed outside.   I'm not sure whether it was me or Apollo, whether I left my balance in my purse with my inhaler, or what, but we were just not connecting.  I suspect it was primarily my balance, because I'd go to half-halt or just squeeze him forward, and he'd hollow out and drop the tempo like ... well, like it was hot.  :)   He kicked at my leg, shook his head, and generally wasn't interested in going along with the program.  Somehow this was probably my fault ... I guess this is why I take lessons, eh?  :)

So onto the longe line he went for some brain activity.  Trot trot trot, canter canter canter, canter canter trot. Switch, repeat.   And then remount, for a much more cooperative horse.

Still, it was not my favorite of all rides.  Grumble.  I won't be out tonight, so here's hoping Apollo resets his brain back to sweet-horse mode by Saturday.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Not to scale

Fun evening at the barn last night.  We're slowly getting the hay barn stalls put together all the way, which involves lots of sand, sliding doors, hardware, pipe panels, percussive maintenance on MT's part, holding things in place, digging, sawing, trips to the hardware store, et cetera.  Lots of work.  MT, TD, our Hun, and TW have gotten the inside stalls entirely habitable, so now it's down to putting in the panels outside, which is what I got to help with yesterday.

Most of the panels have kind of mesh, like maybe 2" by 3" rectangles made of sturdy wire, on them as well as the usual pipe, and they're quite tall.  So nobody's going to be getting their feet caught, or stealing their neighbor's hay, or nibbling on their neighbors, etc.  Plus, the placement of the gates will make cleaning pens and feeding horses much easier!   Everybody who walked up to help asked "Wait, why are the gates there?" See illustration (of course, I should have taken a picture, but oh well. PaintShop you get.)

Once TW said, "Well, think about it: you open a gate, go all the way up, then go all the way back to go out the gate, open the next gate, go all the way up, then all the way back, then ..." I completely understood.  Efficient design based on experience, woot!   

Anyway, moving panels, holding panels, supervising (which corgis, btw, excel at), and generally lending a hand while hanging out was lots of fun.  :)   The pens look a little bit like a prison at the moment - I've dubbed it the MT Gulag.  Just ask the horses - total prison!  Horsey jail!  With several meals a day, spa treatments for the skin and coat and hooves, and maid service ... jail ...

Once we'd gotten done everything we could get done, I went to get Apollo.  Neither of us was in the mood for serious work, so we did non-serious work.  :)  Just moving around, having a good time, then plenty of grooming.   I also put the desperately-needed bunches of extra holes in the side reins I bought for a song at the FLTS spring sale ... and I found another reason why they were priced for a song: the tail of the leather that goes through the buckle end wasn't stitched down.  I know how to stitch leather myself, so I could in theory fix it, but I don't have an awl or a stitching tool.  I bet MT does, but ... I might as well pay our local harness/saddle maker to do it.  He'll do it faster and better without a re-learning curve.  Plus, support local business!

Anyway, good evening at the barn.  Fo sho.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Could I trouble you for a stick?

Ah.  Well.  I have been offered a credible threat of bodily harm if I don't entertain TED with my super-amusing blog entries.

So, here!  Have a super-amusing blog entry!  I even have pictures.

The great struggle with brain chemistry and stomach issues continued last week, such that I was utterly wiped out by the end of my workdays.  Thus, no interesting horse news from last week.   Well, except for lesson on Sunday -- we worked on outline and softening, and some canter work.  MT pointed out the frame he wants me to be riding in when we school, which is useful.  To quote our Hun, before now I no have understand!  ;)

It was also lots of fun hanging around and watching folks jump after the lesson.  Especially when MT was schooling the young stallion over fences.  The stallion is pretty green, though extremely athletic and talented, and I'm always impressed to watch MT ride that sort of horse.  The stallion is on the list of 1000 Horses I'm Glad I Don't Ride, because he's so athletic.

Anyway, our Hun and someone else -- I forget who -- were jump schooling at the same time, and they were jumping much much higher than MT was.  The 4' fence they were schooling was sort of in a line with a fence MT finished over, and as he gave that last half halt before bringing the stallion to a halt, the stallion spotted the 4' fence.

The expression on the stallion's face was priceless.  I near fell out of my chair laughing.  His eyes got huge, his ears went as far forward as they could, and I swear you could see the giant red ! appear over his head.  'Oh my god you have GOT to be joking!'   Too, too funny.

Not sure when I took this picture, but I was just charmed.  Apollo was insisting that he was deeply, dangerously carrot-deficient.  Hee.

The face of carrot deficiency in the US today.
Won't you help?  Send carrots care of Apollo.

My poor boy corgi, Sparky!  He has a sore back, and in addition to pain meds and steroids, he's doing cold laser therapy.  He now has a data port shaved into his back.

Poor, poor Sparky.
And there was a lesson and further jump-watching this Sunday, too.  And lo, it was good.  The blog title is a quote from the lesson -- Apollo wasn't really interested in moving out enthusiastically, and I was tired of squeeze-pause-squeeze-pause to keep him moving.   Heh.  Also, in the canter, Apollo was kicking out at my outside leg at one point -- I just had to really move him on.  The stick solved it all.   The kicking out is actually as instructive as it is irritating.  My inclination is to immediately think "omg this horse is going to buck me off!", because that's what Rev would have done.  Croup high = me about to eat dirt, in my mind.  However, Apollo has no interest in bucking me off.  It doesn't really occur to him, and I'm happy to keep it that way.  Anyway, that process of learning that yeah, I really AM okay and am wholly capable of keeping my seat, is important.  Yet another reason to be grateful to and for my horse, even when he's naughty.

I am really getting itchy to jump again, so I mentioned it to MT.  Yay!

And looking forward to riding tonight, too.

So there!  That is my super-amusing blog entry for the day.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Really great ride

Last night was one of those rides that really makes me love my horse more.  It wasn't perfect or anything, but Apollo was in a particularly good mood, and we ended up with a really lovely trot.   It's so cool to look down at his neck and shoulder and see that his neck is wide at the top, with the correct muscles engaged, and the curve of the topline, and his shoulders looking strong and broad (I know, not broad compared to other horses, but you know what I mean).   So pleasant!   

So yeah, we worked further on connection, transitions within gaits, and outline, as usual.   I didn't longe him before I rode -- his attitude and body language said I didn't need to.   Plus, I really didn't feel like it.  :)  I'm glad he agreed!  It's so nice to just hop on and start warming up.   What's also nice is that we work through him being looky at the door, the mirrors, the chairs, the standards, the gremlins ... he doesn't react much, but he does tense and let himself get distracted.   As TED put it a while ago, I'm really learning to be the pilot of this team.  (Easier when your horse will let you and not fight about it.)  I just figure that he's going to see a lot of unfamiliar things in his career as an eventer, so he better just get over these tiny things he sees every ride.  

Seems like that there is the basis for the relationship I want with my horse, really.  And days like that make me think simultaneously that this relationship is going to take time and effort and that hey, we could be having fun out there by this summer.   Heh.  :)

Wednesday, March 6, 2013


Flood of motivation, that is!    ... or maybe it's the coffee hitting.   Either way, go check out Katie's Twin Rivers Go Pro video -- it's her ride on Piccolo over the Jr Training XC course.  

Suddenly I want to BE THERE and DO THAT.    Thanks, Katie!

Monday, March 4, 2013

A week behind

I have been reminded that I am a week behind on my blog and that this is causing agita for at least one reader.   Mea maxima culpa!

Honestly, I feel like I'm a week behind in my life, too.  I am still dealing with some random stomach issues, so other than work and staying home, I don't have a whole lot to report.   I have been out to play with the best pony in the world a few times, though.

I don't remember exactly what we did on which day, so a couple of highlights:

We have some new jumps in the outdoor arena, a few panels and some barrels.  Nothing huge and fancy, but they are non-poles, which makes them exciting.   The sun was out on this day, and life was gorgeous, so I took Apollo on an in-hand walk around the arena, up to the new fences, around the new fences, around the arena, etc.  I was half-expecting some spookiness and kind of wanted to get it over with from the ground, but nope.  Pony didn't bat an eyelash.  Not that this is surprising, when I think about it.  On the ground, he's completely chill.  It's when the crazy monkey gets on his back that he worries.  ;)    Anyway, I am really looking forward to jumping again.  I miss it.

Under saddle we've been continuing to work on straightness and contact.  Apollo was rather distracted the last couple of times I rode -- I mean, it IS spring and all -- but I think we got some good work.  I used the techniques I learned from TD as well as what MT has been having me work on, and by the end of the rides Apollo was soft and round and connected.  What an awesome feeling that is!   Now I need to work at getting him strong enough to stay that way and to get there faster, rather than 40 minutes in.  

And we need to get outside.  I haven't been out much, mostly because on weekdays it's still not light enough by the time I'm ready to ride (come on, Daylight Savings Time!), and on weekends I'm either in a lesson indoors or trying to stay out of the way of a lesson that's going on outdoors, ergo riding inside.   Plus, it'll be good for me to ride Apollo through any "omg what is THAT" he does.  Which, historically, hasn't been much.

And I wanted to weigh in on The Sprinkler Bandit's Booting Call post.   Like she says, I don't buy the idea that boots support tendons or ligaments -- I've known way too many horses that've blown out their legs while wearing a variety of types of boots to actually believe that claim.  On the other hand, I definitely believe that they protect the leg.  Brushing themselves, hitting jumps, sand burns, bushes on the trail, interfering, whatever - if I can prevent an injury to the leg, I'd prefer to do that, thanks.

For now, my main leg boots are Toklat Valena boots.  I use them for flatwork and whatever jumping we do/have done.  On the surface, they look like your average fleecy boot, but once you pick them up the difference is obvious.  The outside is vinyl, rather than PVC, and the velcro is good-quality and stitched well.  The lining is what I like most -- real wool pile fabric, rather than synthetic fleece.   They're fuzzy and flexible and secure, and I heart them lots.   Plus, I just love white boots on non-gray horses.

Apollo does sometimes overreach, so I have a couple of sets of Westropp petal boots.   I think I've got the older version, though, which is all good with me.  I like the petal boots for a few reasons: most importantly, NO VELCRO.  Argh!  I had a few sets of bell boots before these, and every dang time, the velcro would fail in some way.  Come unstitched, just quit sticking together, fray, whatever.  I hate velcro on bell boots!  I like it on leg boots, but not these.  So the petal boots that buckle on with a strap work way better for me.   Plus, the general consensus is that they don't cause nearly the accidents bell boots do if a horse steps on it on course; the petals just break off without tripping the horse up too much.   This is a boon, for sure.   And for the everpresent aesthetic aspect, I adore having royal blue and white petal boots.  :D  I have a set of black, too, that I use mostly for flatwork.  Because I can.

The next Horse Purchase is probably going to be Dalmar Eventing Boots, for cross-country, whenever we come around to needing them.  I like the sturdy strike plates for protection.  Much more protective than the Toklats, for solid fences.  (YES I KNOW we don't do anything huge or scary, but still.)   They also have cooling vents/mesh built in to cut back on the heat.  They're the top of the line for the price range and purpose ... yesh.  I like them.

I also have some open front boots for jumping, your basic Roma open fronts, like this except with the Roma logo.  *shrug*  They worked for Rev, who could get careless with her front legs.  So far, I haven't felt like I need them on Apollo.  I'm not selling them, though.   Plus, they're white.  :)   Apollo might need open fronts, or short hind boots, or something, but we haven't really discovered a need for them yet.  So I might as well use the boots I adore until I need something else, yeah?

I know.  I am not a very good tack whore.  I tend to find something I like and stick with it.  And as long something I like is performing well, I don't feel like I need to get another just for fun.   Once something stops performing well, though ... it is OUT and I HATE it and it is CRAP.  ;)   No in-between around here.   Except for Davis boots.  I am still just crushed that they rubbed Rev's legs.  I love Davis boots. (but only in white)

The next big thing for me will be a jump saddle, as I've mentioned.  I'm pretty sure I want a County, but I'm not excluding anything right off.  I have a "don't love it" list, but ... we'll see.  And of course, the money for said saddle is still being accumulated.    As soon as I find a good saddle, I'm sure I'll be a devotee of that brand too.