Thursday, February 20, 2014

Another Tail of a Tale

Sorry!  Life has been crazy to sit down and write from time to time.

But I went out late last night to go visit and hang out with the horses.  Number one:  I was very surprised to find three other people in the barn after 10pm at night.  Who knew?  I thought I was the only crazy weirdo going out that late during winter...

Number two: horses still have all eyes, ears, and legs intact.  Major plus.

Number three: I have had a long, cranky week filled with an excessive amount of stress.  It's amazing how just bringing the horses in, checking them over, brushing them down, and hanging out reduced my blood pressure and made me happy.

I went ahead and let them loose in the indoor.  They always seem happy in this mess and slop to take advantage of the dry footing. 

The filly and I played some of our "games".  OK, so I don't really know what to call them, but I always enjoy free lunging horses while they are loose.  Not really all that unusual. 

I also have a thing where I run across the arena and wait for her to come and find me.  It usually takes only a moment or two. 

We practice lining up at the mounting block loose.  Wait filly, until that actually serves a purpose...

We stand up at halter loose. 

I found the flag/carrot stick type whip and had her come up and touch it.  She touched=positive reinforcement with a treat. Works for me.  I'd rather have her not be scared to death of that plastic.

I decided to take her tail down and condition and put it back up.  In typical crazy Arabian owner fashion, I have been trying to grow the filly's tail this winter.  She is not yet three, so it was decent length for a young horse, but not very long yet.  I put it up this fall and it's been slowly growing.  I think it's been probably a month to a month and a half since it was pulled down.

Last night

Last Spring.  Don't you love the wet rat look?

Hopefully tomorrow will be an awesome day off of work and I can have a chance to go out and ride. 

How about you guys?  Anyone else put tails up out there?  Talk about the lone holdout on most of these horse blogs I think.... :) 

Monday, February 17, 2014

MM: Star

I have mentioned Star in the past.

I suppose this isn't so much a separate Memory Monday, but still somewhat relevant. 

My wonderful friend J has been there every step of the way from when Star was euthanized and the guilt I felt to wondering what to do with Star's tail/mane hair.  She picked up the hair from me the other week and had a beautiful little keychain made.  

I still need to take a picture of the keychain, but somehow it seems comforting.  Although, it is also a bit of a strange thought carrying around part of my horse in my purse...

Now what to do with the rest...I'm thinking about perhaps some horse hair pottery.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Happy (Belated) Valentine's Day

Dear Semi Ferals,

I loved you so much this Valentine's Day, I went ahead and ordered myself another vet bill.

Good thing, it was just a clogged tear duct on the filly.  You are such a wobbly drunk.  When you couldn't even pick your head up off the wall, I really did have to laugh.  A pair of Coggins on both the filly and mare and we are good to go.  Can I please pay all my bills off now?  Please don't sustain any injuries in 2014. 


Your Semi Feral (and quite horse poor) Rider


Things are going well here.  Had a nice shopping extravaganza yesterday.  Brought home more tack than I can use from the adventure, so I suppose it's time to move other tack out.  So if anyone is looking for Pessoa snaffle bits (and one rubber Pessoa pelham), cob sized Red Barn standing martingales, pony sized Red Barn hunter bridle, size 32 show shirts, some show breeches (32 and 34 I think), some magnetic wraps, and that's just the start...just let me know.  All of the stuff in the above list is new.  Don't ask me why I have so much tack. 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Of Being A Disabled Equestrian Part II

Recently, I announced that I am a disabled equestrian.

I just wanted to follow up with some research I've recently done.  I know that I need to start to get my ducks in a row if I'd like to continue to show!

USEF requires a Dispensation Certificate.

Oops.  Something else seems wrong with this picture.  Can I get a dispensation for this too?

It specifically asks what the disability is, what's the medical diagnosis, what adaptive aids are needed and so forth.  Absolutely zero adaptive aids besides what is approved & listed on the sheet can be permitted in the ring.

A copy of the certificate must accompany all entries when sent in.

So, now that I've found the right certificate, all that's left would be to find equipment that would work!

Off to try and see what might work as a microphone/head set combination.  Better yet, finding a little ear piece that can communicate with a microphone and fit under the helmet comfortably.  

Any suggestions?  :) 

Monday, February 10, 2014

MM: Catch Handling

Last year, I had originally planned and wanted to take my filly and show her in hand at a June show.  However, I didn't get my ducks in a row and was still recovering financially from a previous show, so I was settling into the idea of enjoying the weekend with the husband I had off.

Then I received a phone call.  The trainer that had originally schooled the filly in hand needed a catch handler.  The amateur that was going to show these horses had a family emergency to attend to, so would I please come and show?


Except, I had not shown a horse sporthorse in hand at this point.

Also, the weather was a little gross.  More like pea soup.

But I went ahead and put on the only polo shirt I owned and off we went.

Three horses to show.   Hey, it couldn't be too bad, could it?  

I decided the first step was figuring out what I needed to do again.  Second step was to figure out if I could actually run that far in deep footing.  Third step was to make sure I actually had the right horses at the right time.

Horse one was a very pretty Straight Egyptian Arabian mare.  I don't think she's had many life experiences.  She was very good though.  The footing was terrible.  The girl before me ran in rubber boots.  I passed on that one.

But I gave it a go.  I didn't expect much since I had known the mare for approximately .025 seconds and had just learned about 15 seconds before which way to run on the triangle.

Sorry, I look a little derpy.  Kind of how I look in real life too.  

Not that long ago, I looked up the scores.  I was fairly impressed.  Then I looked more closely.  I ended up third.  Horse #1 that beat me has multiple national titles and was national champion in hand a previous year.  Horse #2 also had a national title in hand.  I was .9% behind those mares.  Not too bad.  The judge was pretty friendly and gave me a few suggestions. not to bad I suppose.

Let's try again.  

They moved the triangle to the parking lot.  The next horse I was a little concerned about.  I had known him for much longer than the mare I handled.  He was a two year old gelding.  Very athletic and intelligent, but needs to know where he stands with someone.

This whole "where he stands with someone" ended up being schooling him in the parking lot.

Is it a bad sign when people come over to watch and see what's happening?

He really wasn't too bad, but he just forgot that he has boundaries and he should progress in the right line, speed, and preferably not on top of me.

So into the arena we went, pretty hopeful.  The walk was fine and then the first trot around the triangle he was a little squirrely and ended up a little more sideways than extended.  I made it back to the apex and the judge told me "Again."

I asked if she was serious.  The whole thing?

Yes, the whole thing.

So around we went.  OK, so the distance of the triangle isn't that bad, but when you are running through mud...

No pictures of this guy that aren't the pro shots, sorry. 

But he was amazing.  Really cool extended trot.  Go figure.  We placed fifth in a good sized group of geldings.  The sixth placed gelding took national titles this year.  The others in front of me were more mature, fitter, and also with national level titles.

Not too bad.

Horse number three...also a two year old gelding.  Happened to be just about the sweetest two year old gelding around.  I loved him.  Very gentle and friendly.

We took second to a mature gelding who shows Prix St George.  I'll take it. 

It is often harder to show those funny looking two and three year olds against finished mature horses.  The horses all did their jobs wonderfully, despite having to make a makeshift ring in the parking lot.

I learned a lot and didn't make a total fool out of myself catch handling.  The horse owners were all thrilled to death.

Great experience and memory all the way around.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Of Being A Disabled Equestrian

But what really is a disability?

A physical impairment is defined by ADA as "any physiological disorder or condition, cosmetic disfigurement, or anatomical loss affecting one or more of the following body systems: neurological, musculoskeletal, special sense organs, respiratory (including speech organs), cardiovascular, reproductive, digestive, genitourinary, hemic and lymphatic, skin, and endocrine."

Most days, I don't really think of myself as being disabled.  I work more than full time.  I have advanced education.  I am a contributing member of society.

But there are times, when of course, it becomes painfully obvious, that as hard as I try, I am disabled.  

I have a congenital bilateral hearing loss.  I am also really good at lipreading and guessing.  In a day to day situation, it isn't obvious of my disability.  I doubt most of my coworkers know.  Some do.  Mostly when I am standing oblivious to some kind of alarm going off.  Oops.

But how does this affect the equine aspect of my world?

It really has been a defining thing.  It's a bit silly, but it has kept me confined for a long time to what I thought I could do.  How could I show in a ring class?  How would I hear the announcer?

Even showing in-hand, numbers for winners or called or numbers are called to go to the gate. 


My (often misadventure) is starting dressage hasn't been pain-free either.  All tests must be memorized.  But then I realized, the bell.  The bell that gives you forty-five seconds to enter the ring.  Good grief.  

Not much of a warm-up.  Rather more of a waddle my horse around while trying to stare down the judge at the other end.  

Riding in a mixed arena is entertaining.  I love riding with other people since I am more relaxed and happy.  I figure it stems from when I eat dirt, then someone else will be there to scrape me up off the footing.

But in reality, when people are having lessons or jumping or calling out diagonals.  Or pretty much doing complex things where listening is a major precipitating factor, it gives me a mild panic attack.

Oh's the jerk in the ring.

But there is an upside.  There are some awesome people out there.  Stewards and the gate keeper came to my rescue in my first halter class after I realized I could hear approximately 0% in the ring with the acoustics of the arena.  Talk about laying my fate in in their palms. 

Slightly dramatic. 

But I am used to being an independent person.  Despite this disability, I do not like relying on other people.  I am used to disappointment.

But still kindness comes.

At the first dressage show (albeit, a schooling one), the gate keeper was very kind and fished me out of my aimless wandering so I could go in.  I also had the best helper friend in the world keeping tabs on things.  Good thing she has functional ears.  The judge wasn't quite sure what to do, but made sure I was able to see her motion to me when it was time for the semi feral and I to make our grand entrance.

I did compete in a main ring class.  Couldn't really hear much of the announcer there either, but the horse did.  At least it was a one horse class with a well patterned horse.  The mare deserved the ribbon. I do have to look more into what kind of dispensations I can have from USEF, as I do want to show the filly in more main ring classes. 

As for riding with other people.  Not sure how to always fix that one.  Because of the crazy work hours, there are often not really other people around.  Saturdays can be hectic though when I am out.  In the past, I have abstained from riding, simply from the fear of being in the way.

Not sure how to avoid that one.

But there you go.  A bit of perspective from one disabled rider.  I am not perfect and certainly don't speak for any segment of the population, but just myself. 

How about you?  Any disabled riders out there?  How about riders you've met?  I love to hear stories of other people's triumph over adversity. 

Friday, February 7, 2014


It's another cold day in the frozen tundra.

Surprising, right?

I'm pretty sure it's winter nine months out of the year. 

Regardless, I trekked out to the barn.  There was a lesson with a young shareboarder going on in the indoor, so I went ahead and brought out the semi feral mare with intentions of lunging her to see what the mare thought today.

She was pretty lazy and listening well, so I went ahead and saddled her, confident that there would be minimal disruption to the young juvenile equestrian in the arena.  I would hate to be that person, interrupting a juvenile's chance to learn.  ;)

So we did our usual pony-go-round, with a few less circles and leg yields, since it's quite a bit more work avoiding other people.  ;)  

Another boarder came into the barn, accompanied with two compatriots.  The three are veterinary students. 

I have always enjoyed introducing people to horses and teaching people the basics about horses.  Probably from the years of doing the summer camp thing.  So, it was a pleasure introducing willing adults to horses.  

Both students enjoyed a ride on the mare.  She was quite good and on the lazy side.  One student had horse experience, but just from the summer camp side of things with trail string horses.  She was thrilled when she discovered that the seat could control the horse and a little bit of leg could have the horse move laterally towards the wall.  Magic buttons!

I remember that same exhilaration about seeing "more" beyond just gaits, stop, and go and trail riding. 

The non-equine experienced student had the joy of learning how to brush a horse, pick feet, and put on a halter.  The mare was quite patient and cooperative.

How is it that she was so easy going and gentle about someone taking a few minutes to figure out how to even pick up the halter when I get the evil eye if I am fumbling around in my heavy gloves longer than approximately .5 seconds. 

Maybe this mare of mine is more of an educator than I know.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Well Rounded Horses

OK, maybe well rounded in a few ways.

One, well rounded in the fact that the semi feral mare is quite round.

But two, both mare and filly had their feet done today.  They were both excellent girls, standing quietly.

The regular farrier had surgery, so we had a stand in, who ended up being a fun little old Irish guy.  He did an excellent job, but I hope the original gal will be back out soon.  I'm pretty sure my husband will die if I show him what two trims cost today.  Holy cats. 

What's typical for trims/shoes/ and so forth in your neck of the woods?

I rode the semi feral mare the other night.  She was a little spunky and it took a little convincing that she could walk over the ground poles that were sitting out in the arena.

Ground poles.

Seriously horse. 

You've seen them 1,570,170 times before.

OK, maybe I exaggerate.  Maybe just like 50 times. 

If it was a carrot, you would have ran over there to eat it.

But onwards and upwards.  At least we will be on our best looking feet to do it.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Most Valuable Horse

Most Valuable Horse: Thunder

AKA the only reason I would ever watch American football if I had cable.

Meet Thunder

Or more accurately, Thunder III, registered as Me N MyShadow.  He is the Arabian horse mascot for the Denver Broncos.

Perhaps running comes easily for him!

His sire is Monarch AH.  

Looks like a pretty ordinary Arabian, but he was an incredible athlete, winning more than 14 stakes races.  His progeny has amassed more than five million dollars on the track.  Given the smaller size of Arabian horse purses, this is quite the feat.  

His dam was by this handsome, athletic stallion named Gondolier, who produced magnificent working and racing Arabians.  He was also named a World Champion Stallion at the Salon Du Cheval (a major horse show) in France.  

There have been two other Thunders so far.  Both were also purebred Arabians.

So win or lose, Thunder is my pick for Most Valuable Horse at the Super Bowl.  Bred to be an athlete, I certainly have enjoyed the footage of him taking charge across the field. 

Edited to add:
A question from L. Williams of Viva Carlos on why they use an Arabian for the Denver Broncos' Mascot?

They originally wanted a horse to celebrate the win over the San Diego Chargers.  They contacted Sharon Magness Blake who provided the original "Thunder", a horse named JB Kobask.  She kept a large herd of Arabians with up to 900 at one point, so naturally the horse she provided was an Arabian.

Thunder II & Thunder III have also been Arabians provided by Ms Blake.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Just Keep Riding

To the tune of Dory's Just Keep Swimming...

Just keep riding, ridin', ridin'...

OK, so today at the barn was hopping when I came.  There were quite a few people in the indoor arena, so I elected to just brush the filly and turn her back out.  There was a lesson going on and with multiple people riding and a fresh horse in a smaller indoor, I didn't think it would be fair to be a human pinball.

So I elected to go ahead and wrestle with my saddle when I was done with the filly.  I had purchased a new pair of Bobby's Leathers a while ago, but haven't sat down and actually put them on, so I went ahead and did that.  I straightened my locker up a bit and then went back out to catch the semi feral mare to get her ready to ride.

The filly is really masquerading as a goat with all that winter hair

I had just pulled her out of her field when I saw a loose horse streaking by on a nearby path, saddle under his belly.  We coordinated a rescue effort outside and caught the gelding, resaddled him the right way up and brought him back up to the barn.  Fortunately, his owner seemed to be OK and I hope that she just has some bumps and bruises.  Not sure what set the little gelding off as he has been such a steady eddy, but we all have our off days.  Something certainly scared him to high heavens.

So another person hopped on him and made sure the gelding was OK.  One thing I had noticed too in the past was that the advice of getting back on wasn't just for the psyche of the rider: it's for the psyche of the horse as well.

Years ago, I witnessed an ugly accident in which a girl fell off of a little Tennessee Walking Horse gelding.  It really wasn't the gelding's fault, but the girl had a badly fractured wrist/arm, so obviously didn't get back on again.  I had led that gelding back home a couple of miles.  Later that evening, I rode him and that poor little gelding was shaking like a leaf.  His confidence was hurt.  We had a good ride and his spirit slowly came back. 

So I am glad that the gelding tonight was able to continue on and have a few good minutes of riding so his confidence isn't shaken.

After this fiasco, I thought twice about riding again since it has been a while since the mare has been in work, since we had another arctic blast.  But, I went ahead and lunged her to gauge her feelings. 

She was pretty good, so just keep ridin', ridin', riding...

I hopped on and went back to basics.  She is getting easy to bend and counter bend.  A few steps of good leg yield.  A nice relaxed walk on a loose rein.

The Clydesdale bouncing around at the other end of the arena was a little unnerving, but she was good overall.  So just keep ridin'...

And to help keep riding, check out these contests!

SheMovedToTexas is giving away breeches.  How can anyone go wrong with that?

Adventures With Shyloh is giving way a choice of prizes: a saddle pad, tendon boots, socks, or a grooming set.  Check it out!