Monday, August 25, 2014

Memory Monday: The Buck Stops Here

Random throwback picture of the SFF as a yearling (two years ago)

This memory monday was quite some time ago and of course, as I get older, the details fade.  I was still in high school and was working at the summer camp.  Traditionally, both the kids and staff were assigned to ride a certain horse for the week.  If a horse was injured or was sore, some horses could be shuffled around to make sure everyone was covered.

This particular morning, my usual steed had been commandeered by someone else.  I looked across to view my remaining selections.

Not much.


I was also running out of time, so I had the hard choice between a very arthritic, ancient Quarter Horse gelding or a tall, 16.2hh Palomino gelding.  I chose the big guy since my group of kids were going to be doing some more trot & canter work and I thought it would be nicer than working the old gelding too hard.

I managed to belly up on the big gelding bareback and caught up with my group that was getting ready to head out.  The palomino felt fine as we meandered out.  He had some time off as he had some off and on soundness issues, so I was a little concerned for his behalf, but he seemed fine.

The lessons in the field went well.  Capture the flag, discussing canter leads, a mini trail ride were all part of the adventure.  I was cantering back when the gelding's head dropped between his knees.


Now, I have dealt with a lot of stupid horse behavior, but not so many buckers.  I really didn't have much of a clue how to push one through it.  Rearing, sure.  Bolting, adept.  Spooking, second nature.  Bucking=??

So, it was easily determined in the 2.3 seconds I had to think about it that my steed was bucking.  No saddle though.  This was a big horse in a hilly field.  It was probably going to hurt.

Another friend was nearby on her horse and I remember my desperate plea:  "What should I do?"

I'm not sure what my exact logic was in asking someone else, since I obviously had more immediate goals at the moment.  I remember pushing myself off of his mane and back onto his back for a few follow up bucks and then he settled down without a further peep.

At the end of our ride, I dismounted and ended up laughing as I picked the long white hairs off of my pants.  I literally had stayed on by the seat of my pants.

How about you guys?  Do you remember some of your first encounters with misbehavior in your horses?  How did you handle the situation? 

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Sweating Bullets

Counting down to the show soon...

I decided to take a leap of faith and I am taking both the SFM and the SFF.  It will be the filly's first show under saddle and well...the first time I have taken the mare in a while.  Both are going to be shown as hunters under saddle, which should be entertaining, as they are both dressage type, but hey, it's an open type show, so I figure should be fun regardless.

I am planning on having both shown in halter, dressage in hand, and in hunter under saddle.  I think the SFM will be shown in the liberty class and most classic head, which should be cool.

Most Classic Head is an Arabian invention.  Basically you take the horse, cover it up to the high neck with a cooler and judge the horse just on its head.  Talk about absolute vanity.  ;)

I had a good ride on both girls today.  The SFF was adorable as usual and conquered the hula hoop today.  Another person had it in the area and I took the chance to play with it.  The filly didn't mind stepping on it at all, just rather doesn't see the point of stepping in it most of the time I think.  :)

We also worked on weaving some obstacles that were set up, using mostly just seat and leg pressure.  She is really doing quite well with that, but is still a little noodly at times.  It's like she discovered she can go sideways so spends most of her time trying to figure out if she can go straight again or not.

The SFM started out irritating me, which sounds bad to say (and it is!).  I was frustrated, which isn't really her fault, but it's been a few long weeks with class, work, and so forth, so I realized that I needed to change my frame of mind.

I tried to work on softly walking around the arena for a bit and then picked up a long trot.  For a long time.

It may have been a short eternity.

Just kidding, it wasn't really that long, but it was enough trotting to begin establishing that look corners exists, yes, those jump poles were moved, no the cat cannot eat you as well as the ever popular hi-I'm-your friend-but your head doesn't need to be in my lap. 

It has been a while since I have adjusted myself to try and ride her more fairly.  She has had the youth rider riding her which is fine, but of course, not asking herself to collect up and carry herself efficiently and here I am demanding my horse to "just add water".  Not fair to the horse and wasn't fair to me either.

After we were a little more settled into the routine, I asked for the canter and it was truly a nice canter.  The mare has a good canter, which is just enjoyable to sit and is a smooth, full strided one and it felt good tonight.  It wasn't rushed, we didn't spend a lot of time falling through the corners, so a win in my book.

While asking her to come back down and walk, I then realized that I had an instant western pony.  She was so relaxed (and probably tired ;) ) that her head was down by her knees following the reins down and she seemed to enjoy meandering along.

I took the opportunity to focus on just guiding her off my seat and practiced picking a "spot" in the arena and visualizing stopping at that spot.  The goal was of course, to only use my seat to achieve the halt.  It went pretty well I think, but of course, helps that my horse wasn't objecting to stopping either.  ;)

Poor horse actually got sweaty today.

I did too.  Not just from riding, but from all the last minute things I need to do!  Last minute tack issues, my clothes, boot issues (another story), and so forth.  Enough stress to give me a few grey hairs, but I hope it will all be worth it.  :) 

For in life, aren't the good rides supposed to be worth all of the effort we put forth?

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Silly Sunday

I am trying out some Pony Sunscreen for a while for my little pink faced critters.  However, I just love the look that the SFM has here.  Maybe next time I need to blend it in a little better...

PS I was schooling halter and then decided to sunscreen her.  It would be a little weird to just randomly stand around in that halter.

Then again, I find myself doing a lot of weird things.  

Oh dear.

Friday, August 15, 2014


I have spoken briefly in this blog about Alex, a horse I originally purchased with a friend from auction.  He has been living the life as a camp horse for almost a decade now.  

Well, a while back I heard that the camp was possibly looking for a new home for Alex.  Alex has been a harder keeper the past few winters and the camp isn't very well set up for special needs as the horses are all rough boarded and fed free choice hay in the winter.

So, long story short, is that my friend runs a therapeutic riding facility and she has a soft spot for Arabians as most of her horses are part-Arabian....

So I think Alex won the jackpot today.

New cozy stall.  Dental work coming soon.  Chiropractic work and some more saddle fitting adventures.  He is twenty-five now and his prominent withers and little sway doesn't make it the easiest thing to saddle fit.

But in the end, my heart is happy.  It was worth the road trip today and I am glad when all organizations (camp and the therapy place) worked together to make sure a special horse landed in a new home where he will continue to make children happy and delighted. 

Older Alex posts.

The Auction
The Compromise
The Jump

Monday, August 11, 2014

Birthday Surprise

Yesterday was my birthday and I worked, which is pretty typical.  However, I did have a fun birthday surprise when I came home today.

Two birthday cards from my grandmothers.  How did they know these are my favorite kind of horses?  ;)

My husband also made me a horse shoe pot rack holder.  Hopefully we will be able to install it above the sink shortly and I can take photos once it's up and running.

However, the basic gist is that I collected a bunch of horse shoes from my cool farrier, which he painted, welded and assembled into a pot rack shaped formation.  He's certainly more creative than I am.  :)

Anyone else has creative or crafty people in their families?

Sunday, August 10, 2014


The SFM likes to talk when she wants something, primarily food.  However, it seems she has taught others to do it as well!  I missed the loudest, most obnoxious parts last night, but thought it would be fun to share just a bit of what we get whenever this poor starving horse gets fed.  :) 

ETA:  I put the video on youtube, so there should be sound now ;)

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Out and About

Another couple busy days!

Yesterday, I had breakfast with my mother in law about an hour away and then met up with another friend (also a distance away) for lunch.

While chatting after lunch with her, a former boarder of hers stopped in with a bunch of tack for somehow I came home with a new (to me) english bridle, a Herm Sprenger bit, and a squishy gel seat cover.

I also have on loan about three or four saddle pads and an (even wider) English saddle to fit that hippopotamus shaped grey mare.  I have an older County that used to mostly fit, however, this summer has been good to the SFM in the way of caloric intake, so it seems like this other saddle will do the short term trick.

I managed to ride both horses yesterday and today!  Holy smokes.  I did a bit of canter work yesterday with the mare working on trying to "pick" my spot and mentally prepare myself and my body to "pre-cue" then cue and pick up the lead at that precise spot. 

I need a little bit more finesse as I do have a tendency to tighten my body and hold my seat a bit stiffer ride during the asking part, which doesn't exactly work.  ;) 

Today's work with the mare involved trying to hold two point.  Yes, out of shape.  I could hold two point for approximately thirty-five and a half seconds.  That half second is pretty critical to separating me from being totally inept, you know?  ;)

The filly was good both days.  Yesterday we just wandered around the arena a bit and did some trotting over a ground pole.

Today we went outside on a little mini trail ride.  She was very good and seemed happy to be out and about.  I need to find more good solid horses and people willing to go out with us.  I think she is going to turn out to be a really happy and dependable trail horse.  She certainly seems to enjoy doing a variety of things.

The filly got a bath in which she spent most of her time trying to trim the foliage on the other side.  OK, that works I guess.

One last picture for today: myself on the filly.  She needs to fill out a bit more.  I know she looks a bit small here, but she is getting to be good size for a little Arab, but just needs a bit more hippo-like mass from her dam!  Maybe if I wasn't about six feet tall that would help too.  ;)

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Catching Up...

Just need to catch up a bit!

I have decided to go back to school.  I have my master's in bacteriology, but am going back to get a technical certificate, which would basically enable me to get more into the hospital type setting over my current field of microbiology.

So, I have suddenly found myself working my usual schedule of in at work at 9:30 or so (some days of the week), out between 9 and 10, commuting both ways 35 minutes or so and then having a mostly online based accelerated coursework.

Just have to settle into a routine!

But it's all good.  First physical meeting with my classmates is tomorrow.  Let's see how it goes.

Farrier appointment last week.  Girls were very good and I am very glad to have such a pro farrier on board now.  I made the switch to using an ELPO/Natural Balance type farrier last year. 

I am glad I did.  I have seen good progress in the SFM's comfort.  She used to be prone to tripping behind, which I attribute to her arthritis and issues from when she did the splits on the ice.  I have done injections and they helped, but I wanted to see if changing her balance with her feet would help and it really seems to have improved things.

The filly was getting quite underrun and it was disappointing to see as she has been done regularly since being a couple weeks old.  But I am glad that she is building heel back up again and seems to be quite comfortable.

I should take detailed photos of their current hoof progress now.  :) 

The SFM decided I wasn't spending enough time with her and ended up choking last Thursday evening.  I ended up with a panicked phone call at work and I managed to shift my responsibilities to a few other people and leave.  She ended up being fine, but good grief mare.  A little less zealous eating would be appreciated.

I am looking forward to spending time with the horses tomorrow!  I plan on going out after class tomorrow night.  It will be close to 10pm, but better late than never!

An update on the girl that was supposed to ride the SFM...she ended up not showing up due to her other commitments running late.  However, another barn girl has been riding her occasionally and seems to be enjoying it.  Works for me and never hurts to have someone else helping keep an eye on the girls while life gets more chaotic!