Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Of all of the stupid things to do...

I did them all...

I rode alone, without telling anyone I was going out to ride
I didn't have a cell phone with me
I didn't wear a helmet
I rode bareback with only a bitless bridle
I expected a green horse to canter politely on command
I KNEW that last time I asked him to canter bareback in the roundpen, he wanted to buck
I did it anyway...

We were out in the big field trotting. He took one good canter stride and then started bucking. Every stride was a buck. It took a few strides for me to realize what was happening and then I started hauling on his face and saying 'woah', which only seemed to encourage him to break into a gallop. The thrill of galloping full speed bareback was quickly cut short by my realization that I needed to decide if I was going to bail off or not. We were headed back to the barn with the only options being to go along the gravel road (ouch) or between a metal hay barn and a stripper well (double ouch). He swerved to the left and headed straight for the gravel road, still bucking. I came off over his right shoulder and landed on my hip and face. I laid there a few minutes listening to the horse run off snorting. I mentally noted where he was and then started making sure I still had teeth and that my neck wasn't broken. I got up, found my keys and glasses and caught the horse. I think I stayed on for about 150-200 feet, I never felt insecure or like I was going to fall. I bailed because I knew I couldn't stop him and that he had a greater chance of stopping himself as most horses do when they lose a rider. After I caught him I walked him back to the truck, got back on and walked him around. He was fine. I was fine. I got off of him and noticed that I was seeing spots out of my right eye. I was generally pretty shaken up and felt hazy. I fed the horse, remembered to latch all of the gates and drove home. God, that drive took forever. I slept for about three hours and I am feeling better. I have 'road rash' on my hip and right cheek. My body aches, but I can't tell if that is from the fall or lifting weights yesterday. My head is surprisingly not that sore.

All I can think about is getting back out there with a saddle and cantering him in an enclosed space-with a saddle, and bit, and helmet, and supervision. The longer I wait, the more difficult it will be to motivate myself.

More of Charley being cute!

We wrapped presents for Charley and put them under the tree on xmas eve morning.
He knew just what to do! Aside from some trouble with the tissue paper getting stuck in his jowls, he had a blast! From the time he opened one and started playing with it, it was less than a minute before he went to the next present! Such a little kid!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Trick pony

Well, not so much a trick pony as a pony who does what he is supposed to...
I built a wooden platform with John's help.
It is about 5 inches high, 4 feet wide, and 5 feet long.
We took it out to Boomer's paddock last night.
I went out this morning expecting it to be a big ordeal.
He just stepped on.
He walked across it, stopped when I asked him to, and backed off of it.
It took all of 15 minutes, max.
Tomorrow, we will introduce the tent over the platform and see if that is as easy!

I went out again in the afternoon because I have been feeling a bit stubbornly anxious (if that is a possible feeling) about the horse not tying up well. He pulled back as soon as you loop his rope through a fence, post, ring, etc. So, I put on a web halter and a 25' rope and tied him to a tree expecting him to pull back right away. I stood calmly with his head down. I went to get stuff to groom and braid his tail. I knew the detangling spray would set him off, if nothing else would. Sure enough, he went back as soon as I sprayed it once. He reared back, felt pressure, shook his head back into the pull, and jumped forward. He was asleep within 10 minutes. I left him tied up for an hour while I sat nearby watching the clock. Then I untied him, walked him to his pen and over the platform and let him go. Next time, we will try for more than an hour, but I am not sure if I will ever be able to trust him tied up, sometimes he is fine, sometimes he blows up and pulls back.

My grandma gave John and I this amaryllis on Thanksgiving. It has grown about an inch PER DAY and just bloomed yesterday. It is so beautiful! It was a blast to watch it grow so fast also!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Goals 2009

A few weeks ago I talked about some long term goals for myself and the horse. Today I would like to start thinking about shorter term goals for 2009.

Winter: Build and get Boomer accustomed to the wooden platform. This will help him get ready for trailer loading. Also, I would like to try to ride 1 or 2 times a week to put some hours on him. With the winter weather being unpredictable and uncomfortable for riding, it is a good idea to get on him at least once a week, even bareback, just to keep him in the 'riding' mindset. I think that will make him easier to start conditioning in the spring. Work on the canter and start getting leads perfected.

Spring: If we have a trailer, start trailer training. Start hauling to local lakes and trails. I want him to be accustomed to travel as well as riding at new places without being scared or disobedient. I would like to take him out to a local lake or trail once per week and have those be our long ride days. Other days of the week will consist of flat work and short trail rides around the property. I would like to be riding 3 or 4 days a week.

Summer: Oklahoma doesn't have many endurance rides, maybe 6 per year. Going off of last year's ride calendar, I think that it would be feasible to up my mileage on my long rides to upwards of 30 miles per ride and then start with 50's in the Summer/Fall when the ride season picks up here.

Fall: I would like to continue our goals thus far, riding a few times a week with a long ride at a trail location. I would also like to compete in as many, if not all, of the local AERC sanctioned rides in Oklahoma. There seems to be a ride per month starting in June/July through to the end of the year. Based off of last years rides, it would be possible to get 300-400 ride miles in. I think that would be a great way to start our debut season.

It is pretty incredible to think that one year from today, I could have a competitive, well broke, trailerable horse with 300 miles on him! Though, even if none of that goes as planned, I am so happy with where we are right now. It is really a great feeling to be bonding with him and starting to grow a relationship!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The x-mas breakdown and bareback riding

Things with the horse have been going very well.
He greets me with his ears forward and is generally friendly.
He hasn't pinned, nipped, or kicked in almost a week!
Today, I groomed him with his rope on the ground.
He just stood ground-tied and has his leg cocked and his head low.
I had my grooming box about 20 feet away and he stood still as I went back and forth to it.
He stood still as I unwrapped his tail and brushed it out. It was incredible.

I bridled him with my homemade hackamore.
It is essentially a longe cavasson with reins attached to the side rings.
It gives better contact than a halter and lead rope as a bridle.
It was the second time to ride in it and it was really great.
He is just as responsive as in a bridle with a bit, but I don't feel like his
mouth is overly sensitive this way.
In a bit, he is very sensitive and a gentle squeeze of the hand can elicit a
bigger response than was asked for.
It is hard to be gentle enough, so I gave riding without a bit a try.
I figure, if it works for basic speed and directional control, why over do it?

His behavior at feeding time has greatly improved as well.
I have been keeping the longe whip with me and keeping him away from the
shed while I pour the food.
Today, it seemed that he really is getting the idea.
I walked in with his food, he walked to the back of the paddock.
I poured the food and stepped outside of the shed.
He walked towards me with his ears forward and his head low.
He walked up to me, stopped, let me pet his forehead,
THEN walked over to his food.

Bonus pictures:

Charley helps with un-decorating the tree

Our niece Kami riding her first (of many, if I have any say) horse

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


I have been frustrated and close to fed up lately with the lack of bonding going on with the horse. I was just thinking that he didn't respect me as his heard leader and he was asserting his dominance over me at any given chance. So, yesterday I went out with a renewed sense of hope and a lunge whip. I worked the horse in the round pen, fed him his soup (I've been adding 2 quarts of water to his food because I am paranoid about his water intake), and then started with my plan. The plan was to approach him and keep the whip with me. When he was friendly and had his ears forward I would pet him, if he acted aggressive, I would pop the whip and send him off. We went back and forth with this for a while and eventually he started letting me rub his forehead without pinning his ears. Then he lowered his head and I rubbed the top of his neck. I moved to the side and rubbed his neck and as soon as he glared at me, I sent him off. It was like for the first time in his life, he was enjoying being petted! He would step towards me if I backed off and he was seeking out affection!

Today I went back out with the same intentions and worked with him again. When I went to catch him, he walked up and faced me, I scratched his face and he lowered his head into the halter. For the first time, he didn't pin his ears and shake his head when I approached him with the halter! I worked him in the round pen again and he was fine, as usual. Every once in a while I would stop him and pet him. He acted the same as yesterday, never pinning his ears. I started moving back towards his shoulder and belly. I scratched his belly and back, he just lowered his head and licked his lips. I took him back to his pen and fed him and waited for him to finish so we could bond again. I walked out with the longe whip and he turned to me and waited for me to come to him. I scratched his forehead and neck, he immediately put his head down and licked his lips, which was probably due to them being covered in soup rather than him being submissive. I moved back on his body and scratched and rubbed all over him. He only glared at me twice- not really even an ear pin. Once was about his girth area, which he later was fine with having it rubbed and scratched and the second was when I tried to scratch the underside of his tail. That is supposed to be a nice scratch spot, but he clamped his tail shut hard, so I sent him off. He actually enjoyed our scratch session and seemed to understand what we were doing. Before I left, I put my arm around his neck and hugged him and he turned his head towards me. It was our first mutual hug. I felt about 10 feet tall. Then, almost as instinct, I burried my face in his fur behind his cheek and breathed in. I don't think I had ever gotten so close to him before. He was relaxed and calm. Smelling him just flooded me with emotion, I almost teared up. I think the most emotional part of it was that he was free to leave this whole time, but he chose to stay with me and he chose to be submissive, calm, and passive. I can't describe the feeling I left with- a day where my horse didn't pin his ears or act aggressive, a day where I was able to let myself relax and love him.

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

There is nothing wrong with a dog having three ties

To quote John "There is nothing wrong with a dog having three ties".
Charley got all tied up last night when John and I were making brandy soaked chocolate covered cherries. The cherries were obviously not the only things getting soaked :)

Charley's reaction to wearing a tie

John fitting a tie

Cute boys!

Charley modeling his party tie

Modeling is hard work

The red tie.
This one just wasn't as good of a color on Charley as the blue ties.

Charley and John share some smooches!

The preppy tie

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Monday, December 15, 2008

Ice, ice, ice!!!

We are having below freezing weather right now. It started Sunday night and will continue until Wednesday afternoon. 60 hours of frozen water tanks. I have never boarded at a place with no electricity, much less pasture board 24/7, so this is all new to me. I went out three times today to break up ice. Each time it was at least an inch thick. It is a frustrating situation because it only took about 15-30 minutes for the ice to start reforming, and Boomer wasn't drinking. I filled a small bucket and left it in his shed, hoping the slightly warmer temp would keep it from freezing solid. I was rewarded on my third trip, The bucket was half empty and the thin layer of ice was broken in! He was drinking!

John and I have been talking about all kinds of ways to thaw ice without electricity. I don't want to go into it here, but we have talked about propane heaters (not safe), solar heaters (require a well to be dug), sun tanks (easily built, but will it work?), solar pond aerators (would it just freeze? what about at night?), putting apples in the bucket to keep the surface area from freezing (not a very long term solution). I don't know what else to do, other than break up ice three times a day and hope the horse drinks when he can! I don't want a dehydrated and colicing horse!!! So, if anyone has any grand ideas- let us know!!! So far, my best idea involves surrounding a big tub with straw bales for insulation. A little expensive, and may not work...

On another note, we got a round bale yesterday! It was fun! I backed the truck up and the farmer loaded it into my truck bed with a huge tractor! It weighed the bed down a lot! We removed the tail gate and rolled the bale into Boomer's shed. He was quite happy with it! I think it will last about 6-8 weeks and it only cost $25!!!

More later, I am too exhausted to blog...

Friday, December 12, 2008


For the past week I have been working on a project. I built three cavalletti jumps! I used three 2x4 boards, cut into 24" sections and screwed together to make and X. Then I used three 8' landscaping posts and bolted them onto the crotch of the X's. Then I painted them white with green stripes! The cool think about them is that the height of the jump varies based on how you set them! Since the pole is bolted on, you can turn it upside down for the lowest setting, about 6", on its side for about 12", and right side up for about 18". We took them out yesterday and Boomer was pretty scared of them. Once he got over being scared, he walked and trotted over them quietly. He tried to dodge out a few times. When a horse is first learning to jump, it is imperitive that they are never allowed to refuse a jump. You must back them up or circle them and have them go over it, no matter how slowly or clumsily it is. He seemed to enjoy himself over the low and medium height jumps!

I got his blanket today and it is too small. I measured him and he was about 66". The blanket is a 68" and was about 3" too small. It didn't even touch in the front for adjusting when it was properly placed on his rump. So, I ordered another one today which should be here by Tuesday or Wednesday. That really frustrated me. I hate waiting for things to ship. I ordered a 72" this time. Fire's old blanket that he was borrowing was a 76" and had about a 4-5" gap in the front. So, hopefully this fits. If not, I may give up.

Also, the horse and I are not friends right now. He bit me yesterday on the back hard enough to make a blood blister. He really is not plesant to be around. Riding him is another story, but I really really don't like being around him on the ground a lot of the time. I just don't get how a horse can be so mean and aggressive on the ground, but be a completly submissive, willing partner while you ride. I guess some horses are just jerks. Sure makes me miss Fire.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Oh, the weather outside is frightful...

Sunday is supposed to be 67 and raining, with a night time low of 19.
Monday has a high of 31 and a low of 15.
Chances of snow all week.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Flash back!!!

First came Kero. I learned to ride on Kero.
He was a lesson horse and my first instructor was George Prussell.
Notice the Hunt Seat attire and Saddle Seat saddle and equitation. It was a start :)

Then came Windy. I had her on a co-lease from the Smette's,
who introduced me to riding so many years ago!
I loved Amber Wind with all of my heart.
She put up with everything we could dish out!
She also won me my first Blue Ribbons!
In the second picture I am with Barbie Carter, my second riding instructor.
I also rode under Georges daughter, Georgia. Candi Keller was the trainer at the barn I rode at and I took a few group lessons from her. After her tragic death we had Carol Stoleman come in to do our training.

After about three years of leasing Windy, I got Stolen Fire for my 11th Birthday!!!
He also put up with all of my shenanigans!
Kim was a fisherman on Windy and Fire and I were the Horseness Monster! Unfortunately, I don't have pictures of the best costume Kim and I ever did. It was on Windy and we were a bubble bath. Kim and I were in bathing suits and we were riding Windy double. We had a hula hoop around us both that was just hanging with pink and white balloons! Windy had a showerhead attached to her halter... it was awesome! Kim and I ALWAYS won the annual Halloween costume class at our barn!

I started riding Fire Hunt Seat
Georgia and Barbie were my trainers
Then we moved barns and I started riding Country English Pleasure
After a few good years with Fire, he was retired due to an undiagnosed 'lameness' in his hind end. He tested negative for EPM, but we couldn't figure him out. So, to pasture he went.

I started jumping a bit at Coffee Creek Riding Center where I had been voulenteering for a number of years with their handicapped riding program.

Later I played a little Polo for OU's equestrian team. I wasn't any good at the whole hitting the ball thing, but I learned a lot about horse care. The team had about 9 horses and we were the sole caretakers.
After my stint with the polo team, I was hired by a semi pro player to care for his team since he lived in Tulsa- a three hour commute.
I was in charge of his string of 11 horses. I fed, hayed, watered, mucked, and exercised them twice a day. Luckily, I had access to a hot walker and 6 horses went on the walker ever other day. The horses that didn't go on the walker got ridden and ponied for about 45 minutes. I would ride one and lead three on horseback at a canter around a 1/2 mile track. The job took a combined total of about 6 hours a day and I was out there before sunrise everday. It was the most difficult, but best job ever! I became adept at giving IV injections in the dark, bandaging legs, and learning about feeding performance horses. I was also in school and this was the same semester I met John. He has never known me to not smell like a horse.

Saturday, December 6, 2008


I had about as much fun today on a horse as I have had in a while!
I rode Boomer bareback again with just the halter and lead rope.
I was in a constant state of awe at how easy he is to ride!
Trotting was better, he is getting the hang of it.
We tried to canter, he tried to buck, I was a wuss.
Should of just pulled his head up and kicked.
After I rode I made him canter around the round pen, just for good measure.

I free longed him a bit and then climbed on.
John was scooping poop and took this picture before he come over to watch.
Here is a nice easy turn!


This is a video of Boomer being such a good boy. He was so easy to ride!
He turned and stopped so well! You can see here how easy he was to steer!

Here is a video of us trotting!

Here we are trying to canter. Can you tell Boomer was thinking about bucking? Maybe next time will be better!

Our house!

You may remember our ugly living room from this post.
Well, it isn't so ugly anymore!!!

John really wanted an X-mas tree and I was a grinch about it at first,
but he got me pretty excited about it in the end!