Sunday, November 30, 2008

Oat-Bran Muffins

These are good for horses or people!

2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups oat bran
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 egg whites
1 cup molasses
1 1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

  • Pre-heat oven to 400
  • In a large bowl, stir together flour, oat bran, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  • In another large bowl, combine oil, egg whites, molasses, yogurt, and applesauce.
  • Fold dry ingredients into wet ingredients. Spoon mix evenly into mini muffin tins lined with mini liners.
  • Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until centers spring back when touched.
  • You can take off the wrappers and store these in an airtight container (coffee tin) and keep them at the barn.

Chiropractor Visit

The horse has been pinning his ears and being nasty for the last few weeks. He pins his ears and makes bad faces when you approach his shoulders or try to rub his belly. I have been thinking about calling a chiropractor for a few weeks and got a number for one in the area. The last straw was yesterday, he was almost impossible to bridle and once I got on him he started balking, spinning, and tossing his head. Generally the reaction came when I applied leg to him. We rode for a little while so that I could experiment and see what he was reacting to. It really seemed obvious that my legs were causing him pain. I could see a look of panic in his eyes. I had a chiropractor out today and it went well.

When I first got out here, the horse was rude, angry and didn't want to be caught. The chiropractor started to work on him and he was pinning his ears and making a lot of ugly faces. He tried to kick when the guy was working further back on him. He worked along his spine, on his hips, his legs, shoulders, neck and head. His spine seemed loose and free until you got near his hips. It was much tighter there. His hips were causing him pain and it was interesting to watch the horse react to pain on one side, but be fine on the other side. It was obvious that the horse was out of whack. The horses right shoulder was really out. I wondered if that was causing him to drift on the right side all of the time! It is probably also why he pins his ears when I dismount and pull the saddle to the left! The neck was another place that had a lot of pain. There were two places on the left and one on the right side towards the top. Making those adjustments got Sabumi pretty angry, but he was quick to calm down. When he adjusted his upper neck, the horse was a bit surprised and stretched to the left. The most interesting adjustment was his poll and head area. The chiropractor showed me how when you press by his left ear, he was fine, but even slight pressure by his right ear caused him to drop his head away, pulling back in pain with pinned ears and fear in his eyes. The adjustment was quick and the horse pulled back right after in surprise. After a moment thought he calmed down and dropped his head. He started licking his lips and became very relaxed. He was less tense and rather than looking around excitedly, he focused more on the people right in front of him and was kind and gentle with everyone. I was really amazed at the transformation.

After the chiropractor left, we turned him out for a bit to graze. I watched him closely and he seemed to be enjoying himself. The most drastic change I saw was that when I walked towards him, even from a distance, he pricked his ears and moved a few steps towards me. He was easy to catch and very friendly. This was a complete 180* from less than an hour before!

The next few days will be days off with some longing. Mostly I am supposed to focus on grooming and rubbing the horse. He is very anticipatory and pins his ears and kicks even worse than before when you go to touch his ribs and belly. As soon as you touch, he relaxed and puts his ears forward. It will take a while to get him used to the concept of being pain free because he was out for so long. We will call the chiropractor in about 4 weeks to do another adjustment and he should be 'right' then. I think it will probably take 2 more visits to get everything just right because of the horses attitude and his 'high impact' behavior (ie., turning around ina one horse trailer, crashing into the fence, etc.).

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Long term goals

Six months ago, I was dreaming and scheming my way into horse ownership. I knew I wanted an Arabian and I had become increasingly more interested in the sport of endurance. I found a well suited horse and we got started. My goals were very short term. They had to be in order to accommodate the learning curve of a horse who was occasionally confused and frightened and reacted without thinking. Our goals were things like being able to pick up his feet for cleaning, helping him get over his fear of bathing, helping him accept walking over water and a tarp. Once our training began, it progressed quickly. It wasn't long before our goals became more 'riding' oriented. Bridling calmly, accepting a rider, and steering became our most important goals. Once these things happened readily, my goals have still shifted. Now my focus is on creating a balance between letting the horse enjoy our rides and teaching him the finer points of being a safe and reliable mount. We are working on his tendency to drift right and cantering now. Next, we will work on balance at the canter and leads. Hopefully we will also be working on longer periods of trotting. Sabumi is now to the level of other young horses I have ridden. He is now approached as a horse who has the capacity to learn, but just doesn't know a lot of things yet. Aside from 'push button' show horses I have ridden, Sabumi is just like many other horses. I will be working on things with him that many people work on with their horses every day.

All of this has lead me to think of my long term goals for the horse. First off, I really really want that trailer I've been talking about. The Calico 2 horse slant with a tack room. $4000 is a lot of money when you don't have job. My first goal would be to teach the horse to accept the trailer and know that it wont kill him to relax a little when we are driving to a destination.

If I were to get a trailer in the next few months, my second goal is to trailer him to various lakes and state parks within a 2 hour radius for training rides about once a week. There are a ton of horse trails in Oklahoma and many of them are 10 miles or longer. It would be great experience to trailer to different locations and ride varying distances. This would also be a good opportunity for John to get in his long runs on some nice trails. John likes to to at least one long run per week. Lately he has been doing 17 mile long runs to prepare for his annual Turkey day 20 miler. I can keep up with him for about 3 miles if he slows down, but that isn't much fun for him. I can keep up for about 6-8 miles on a bike. I really think it would be great to do a trail run together because I could pace him for as long as he could go, plus some!

My third goal is to participate in a few endurance rides over the 2009 season. I think that if we are doing weekly practice rides of at least 15- 20 miles, we will be in great shape to try a few 50 milers over the season. AERC (American Endurance Ride Conference) has a calander of rides posted for the following year. There aren't very many within a 5 hour drive. But there are about 15-20 rides within an 9 hour drive. This is why I think the training rides at nearby lakes will be do important.

My fourth goal is to compete in the 2010 Tevis Cup. The Tevis Cup is a 100 mile ride completed in 24 hours or less. It goes from Lake Tahoe to the Auburn, CA fairgrounds. In order to qualify, you must have 300 miles under your belt in rides at least 50 miles long. The Tevis is in August, so in the 2009 and early 2010 season I would need to complete six 50 mile races.

My fifth goal is a bit lofty. Once in a blue moon someone plans a Pony Express ride. There was one in the 70's, one in 2001, and one in the works for 2011. It is a 2000 mile ride over the course of 8 weeks. I'm not really sure how to describe the pull I have towards this ride. The link I put up is the personal account of Karen Chaton. I have read every line she has written on the ride and Can only hope that someday I am able to do this monumental ride. Essentially, you wake up before the sun, get the horse ready, and ride off. Your crew drives your rig to the next site and sets up camp. You finish the days ride of around 30-50 miles, take care of the horse, eat, get instructions for the next day, sleep, and repeat! I think that it sounds amazing. It is sponsered by the XP Rides group. They put on a series of long rides through the year. They have three 3 days rides and three 5 day rides. They are all held near southern California. Bakersfield, CA seems to be a sort of central location for them all. I hope to someday ride the XP rides, but it doesn't seem very likely we will be driving to California every 6-8 weeks for a ride!

Anyhow, my goals are something I think about often. It really excites me to think about being able to work together as a team with my horse to cover such distances. I have an incredible sense of pride in knowing we have already gotten far enough that these goal could even be a part of our future.

  • Trailer
  • Ride local trails
  • compete in 2009 season
  • ride 2010 Tevis
  • ride 2011 Pony Express ride

Monday, November 24, 2008

Hacking out alone!

Today was the first time I have ridden Sabumi unsupervised. I was actually very ready and wasn't nervous at all! I made sure to keep my cell phone on me, of course!

He was a bit of a pain to bridle, but not too bad. I think he just needs to test every once in a while. Grooming has been faster lately since I winterized his mane and tail. The best way to grow a mane and tail longer is to stop brushing it. Brushing pulls out and breaks off hairs. So, I braided his mane into about 10 braids secured with rubber bands. I redo his braids about once a week, or as often as needed. For his tail, I braided the whole thing and stuffed it into a sock that I had split. I cut the top part of the sock straight down almost to the heel. This way there is a pouch at the foot and two flaps at the top. I stuffed his braid in and tied it through the braid under the tailbone. I probably wont have to redo that but every 2-4 weeks. This will hopefully leave him with a nice long tail and mane come spring! Truth be told, he has great hair and if it never got longer or thicker, I couldn't care less!

When we were tacked up and ready to ride I walked Sabumi up to the pasture, held him while I undid the gate and walked him through, redid the gate and mounted up. He was a perfect gentleman. I have to say, he was very well trained on gate manners before I got him. He knows to back up if you need to open it towards him, he walks calmly through narrow gates, he turns and faces you and waits for the gate to be closed. These things make my life very easy! I was a bit wary about mounting him without John holding my offside stirrup, but everything went very well! The gate being closed signified that there were probably cows about. I was on the look out and discovered that the back gate was open between the cows and us and there was a guy mending fences in the pasture. So, the cows hadn't wandered over yet but they will probably be around tomorrow! We rode for about an hour and mostly walked. We did some trotting and a little cantering and he was good. Sabumi was a bit spooky at first, watching every shadow and tire rut- lest they should attack. After a while he calmed down and I pretty much let him explore. He tends to enjoy walking in the really tall grass. I enjoy that too. After we were done, I dismounted and undid and redid the gate again. It is really tight and Sabumi was really patient. It is a barbed wire gate on split wood with a yellow chain at the top. I hope to be able to open and shut gates while mounted someday, but this gate took both hands to open and shut, so we probably won't start gate training on this one! How do you train a horse to open a gate while riding?

Would you say Sabumi is broke to ride now? What does it take to go from green broke to just a regular old riding horse? I am aware that he will probably never be dead broke, as most Arabians never are!

Sunday, November 23, 2008


Yesterday we had some especially grand weather and I couldn't resist a ride! We quickly tacked up and I hopped on, ready to go! We headed out to the big 70 acre pasture for a nice ride. We saw a herd of cows across the fence and Sabumi had to snort about it, of course! We trotted around a bit and I was feeling like we were both relaxed enough to try the canter! I asked him and he responded within 3 strides! I was so impressed! We cantered a half circle to the left, dropped to the trot when he started getting too excited, changed direction, did the same thing. We cantered probably 2 BIG circles in each direction total. We may have had the correct lead once out of four tries. I am not worried about that yet. I figure we can work on getting used to the gait for a while, then start working on circles which will encourage him to pick up the correct lead. This way the training process will be as stress free as possible for both of us! He was very good, overall! He never hesitated to pick up the gait. He was a little fast, but that is normal for an inexperienced horse. I expected it from Sabumi because he has shown some difficulty with balancing at the canter on the longe line.

In other news, I have been working on teaching the horse to bow. This has been a fun process for both of us! I started by getting him to take a treat that I held at his shoulder. Then I put the treat at his chest. Then I moved it down near his knee. Each step takes about 3 days/3 repetitions. The hardest part was putting the treat between his legs. He kept trying to back up to get it. Once he figured that out, I started moving the treat further back between his legs so that he had to really stretch to reach the treat. I then started lifting his left leg and having him reach between his legs for the treat. Now I am getting him to lower his leg so that his knee is on the ground. I will post a video once we have the trick mastered!!!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Taking Tea WIth the Buddha: The Gift of Practice

My dad has been writing a book for the past few years had has just had it published. It is a book on Buddhism, meditation, and practicing the Zen lifestyle. So far, I have read the first few chapters and have really been impressed with him simplistic writing style on such complex issues. His structure is aimed at those with a very basic knowledge of the subject and he introduces the more complex aspects of the topic with ease. This is not to say that it is an easy read, but you do actually feel as if you are learning and discovering along the way. Very enjoyable, and I highly recommend this text!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Sabumi (1); Cows (0)

We went riding Saturday and Sunday and took the camera for the boring day, apparently! Saturday was good, Sabumi was really heavy on the mouth and was fighting me on every turn. He would yaw his mouth open and fall to the outside of the turn. Eventually I gave up on trying to rein him and only used my legs to turn and he got 95% better! It was really great. He is a very sensitive and smart horse. We explored all over the back pasture and worked on crossing water (puddles). At one point I gave him his head and let him lead. He just wandered right into the area with the tallest grass and started exploring! I was very happy with him overall!

On Sunday, it was warmer than Saturday and was the perfect day for riding. Sabumi started out relaxed with his head low. I had him on a loose rein and was really enjoying the ride! I trotted away from John and Charley a few times and then circled back and caught up with them. It was really fun to work on straight lines and turns like that! As we headed towards the left side of the pasture we did more trotting and then once we circled back we walked with John and Charley a ways, then turned around to head to another part of the pasture. All of a sudden, I was on a Saddle Seat horse with his head straight up and we were about 50 feet to the right of where we had just been! Out of the corner of my eye, I was two cows running towards the fence... I tried to calm the horse who was rearing and spinning. Eventually, he stopped, facing the cows, with his ears forward as far as they could go. His neck was straight up, head up, nostrils flared, eyes wide. He was shivering and shaking from head to toe. He had his legs right under him and felt light, like he was ready to flee. I could feel my self shaking because of his shivering. I could feel his heart pounding between my calves. He was snorting with every shaking breath. He was terrified, yet interested. I was mentally chanting "Please don't moo! Please don't moo!" I was alternating between watching my beautiful horse and watching the boys bonding with the cows over the fence. Charley was sniffing noses with one and John was petting the other! Slowly, Sabumi took a few steps forward, stopped, and regained his shaking pose. He bobbed his head down exhaled, and stepped forward again. I just let him do what he felt safe with. Eventually, we were about 20 feet from the fence. John came over to us and rubbed Sabumi's neck. He stopped shaking and calmed a bit. Of course, he spun and spooked as soon as a cow moved a muscle. I was amazed at his curiosity. He went from being terrified to being curious in a matter of minutes. I was so proud. I have never seen a horse shaking like he was while at the same time taking steps towards his fear! With John standing next to us, I asked the horse to walk closer to the cows, he did. Eventually we were about 5-10 feet away. He was relaxed. I decided that was enough for today and we began to walk away. The cows followed us and Sabumi spooked again. I stopped him and the cows passed us. Then we walked again. When we reached the fence line, a cow mooed and Sabumi merely flicked an ear back. I was so proud of him!

We walked around more, and headed home. On the way home we encountered the puddle from the video on the previous post. He walked the whole length of it without hesitation. I think the cow experience was a confidence booster for him! I suppose it was for me too, every time I am on a horse that bolts, spooks, rears, spins, etc and I stay on, I gain confidence in myself. I never lost my seat as Sabumi did all of those things at once. In 15 years of riding, I have only fallen off twice. My nickname as a kid was 'stick tight'. At a 4-H show when I was probably 8, my mom overheard two cowboys talking about riders in the class. I rode by and one said "That one is gunna be a good rider some day". I hope I have lived up to that prophesy.

When we finished riding, we untacked and I cleaned Sabumi's feet and put Copportox in them. He is a little sore over gravel since his hooves were trimmed shorter than the last guy did them. Copper hardens hooves and I am hoping that it and time will strengthen Sabumi's hooves until he has no problem on any surface! We also have been giving the horse strawberry yogurt in the deworming syringe. We have done it 4 or 5 times now and it is still a struggle. He doesn't like the idea of it, I think. He backs up and tosses his head, but after a short struggle, he patiently allows me to put it in his mouth. I assume he likes the flavor, but can't be sure. I will keep trying on this one and hope it continues to improve until it is time for the real dewormer on January 1st!

Oh, bridling has become a one person job. I can put the halter around his neck, give him the bit, and bridle him by my self. I did it both Saturday and Sunday. I took it right in stride, but then I read some older posts and really began to appreciate how huge that is! It used to be a colossal battle to bridle him with two people with his halter still on!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Pictures and Videos!!!

I know this is what you all have been waiting so patiently for!
So, without further ado:

You can hardly see a scar!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Taking a break from plumbing to ride!!!

John has been my handyman hero this weekend! I wanted to replace a light fixture in the hallway when the bulb burned out. So, we got a new fixture and took the old one off and realized that there were a ton of black wires, unmarked, hanging every which way. There was about an hour of trying to figure out what goes where and then we realized suddenly why all of the lights were off in the bathroom and the hall switch didn't do anything... All of those wires were not for light fixtures, they were to freaking wire our house!!! This is when we decided we want a new house. I left to meet the farrier about the time John started drawing diagrams on sticky notes with electricity meter in hand.

The farrier trimmed Sabumi and did a great job. We used another boarder's trimmer this time and I liked him better. I warned him that Sabumi can be a kicker. He picked up the front right and the horse reared. The trimmer kept his leg between his knees and held on until the horse calmed down. After that, the horse was fine. He trimmed him shorter than the last guy, which I liked and we were left with some very nice round leveled hooves. I worked him on the longe afterwords and he was not hoof sore at all even though he had been trimmed shorter than usual. We have been working on cantering and he really is getting the hang of it. He pickes it up within 4-6 strides of me asking him. He was having an issue with halting suddenly from the canter and I figured out that it was becaused he is not very well balanced around 'corners' so when he has the paddock fence on three sides he is fine, but that forth side is hard for him to hold the bend so he approaches the fence straight on and panicked. I have started really leaning on the line into the corner and helping him around the bend and he has been doing much better. The struggle for me is to help him balance without him thinking I want him to slow down. I usually kiss and snake the ship around on the ground while I am pulling him around on the corner. He is doing much better about staying in the canter for longer periods of time. I am very happy with that.

I came home and John had the light fixture fixed and had started working on the plumbing. He is still working on the plumbing. Our shower had poor water flow for hot water and John is working on replacing the corroded steel pipes. Except that it didn't work the first time because the fit wasn't tight for the connector onto the faucet. Turns out that the connecting piece is so old that is isn't up to pipe threading standards and there is not a match for it. So, we got a new faucet. Now john has to redo the hot water line under the house, also do the cold water line, replace the faucet and possibly replace the shower head. He is not excited about it. Charley, though, is thrilled at the prospect of going under the house again. We have totally decided we want a new house next time we buy.

This morning before we went to Lowe's, we went out to work with the horse. It was a great day! We started by giving Sabumi strawberry yogurt out of the dewormer tube. He was confused by that. More on that as it progresses. Then I groomed and tacked him up and longed him a bit. John mucked out the paddock and was able to see how much the horse has progressed at cantering! I got on him and we rode around the big grassy area for about 30 minutes or so. We worked on lots of trotting. We did circles, squares, serpentines and big ovals. Sabumi is doing very well. His responsiveness is getting quicker and he is doing really well. He seems more content at the trot when I am sitting rather than posting. That is OK for now as I prefer the close contact of a sitting trot on an unpredictable horse. I do throw in a few strides of posting to get him used to it. We also worked a lot on walk to halt transitions. I would get contact with my reins, sit deep, and ask him to 'woah'. He always stopped within 1-3 strides. I would hold contact until he gave his head by dropping his head down and relaxing his neck and jaw. This teaches him to be more responsive to the bit and not to pull against me and yaw his mouth open when I ask for the halt. He caught on very quickly and even performed very well at the trot to halt transitions! We backed a little which was OK, but not great. He didn't want to back straight up and would try to raise his head against the bit. He will get better.

After a while, John (who had been patiently standing in the middle of the field watching us work) suggested goin gout to the hay field. I wasn't even sure Sabumi would go past the compost pile, but he did, and we explored quite a bit! The field is about 70 acres and is really good footing. The hay is starting to fall down and was easy to ride in. We rode around for about 25 minutes and even saw a big creek. I had hoped the creek was crossable and would be good training for us to ride through. Turns out, it is about 20-30 feet wide!!! So, we will take that one a little slower than I had imagined!!! The whole time we were riding today, the only things Sabumi spooked at were a flock of geese taking off and going through the barbed wire gate into the big pasture. I as very happy with his progress. John was amazed at how well we were doing! It really feels great to know that I backed this horse myself and can ride him at a very basic level! He can walk, trot, halt, back and go out for a short hack! This was ride 11 or 12 and I hope to try cantering him around ride 20-25. I am so happy with his progress.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


Well, a few weeks ago John and I went to the US National Arabian Horse Show in Tulsa. We had a blast watching all of the trainers working their awesome horses. I knew I would have a few friends at the show, but didn't really expect to see them, especially since there were over 3,000 people in the arena on the final night! Well, what do you know but the seats John picked were RIGHT BEHIND the two people I wanted to see most! Kathy and Kecia are part of the family who got me into riding in the first place. Kecia has a younger sister who is my age, Kim, who I knew from church. I first went out to ride their horse Windy and then I started taking lessons. Eventually after I learned about riding and showed in a few fun shows, I began to lease their mare Amber Wind (Windy). I leased her for a few years and absolutely loved this mare. She was about 14.2 hands and chestnut with a star and the most beautiful mane I had ever seen! She is still alive at 32 and living in Guthrie with a friend of Kathy who has a daughter that is the same age as Kim and I. I showed Windy to great success as a kid and Kathy had been there before with her daughters and was always there to braid my hair or give words of encouragement! I idolized Kecia when I was a kid. She was the best rider ever as far as I was concerned! She was obsessed with horses and had pictures and ribbons all over her room. She left for college and I was devestated. She went to William Woods which is an equestrian college. She would come home on breaks and always had videos of her jumping or riding. She lives in Arizona now and is a DO. She has three great horses which she keeps at her home. It was a joy to get to see them both again and I can't believe we sat right behind them!

The week after Nationals John was out of town, so not much happened. But that Friday we went out and I rode and it was great! We did a TON of trotting and worked on turns and straight lines. He has a tendency to drift to the right side, so I had to really keep a strong right leg on him. He was very responsive and I was so proud of him! I really think the bit I am using is helping! HIs turns were very good and his halts and transitions are great. I really believe that the strong foundation of longe work is what has helped most in the smooth transitions. He responds without hesitation for the walk and trot on the longe and his canter is getting better everyday. This good habit of instant response to voice command has translated very well to riding. I have been working him every other day because I think he was showing signs of souring. So, I have been turning him out to the big acre area while I muck out his paddock and then grooming and feeding him. On other days I longe him and then turn him out while I muck out his paddock. I think the freedom and chance to graze on better grass has helped his attitude. I am on my way out to work him now as it is supposed to rain :( today. I have a paper due on Saturday that I am doing a very good job of procrastinating on. Surprisingly, my procrastination never involves cleaning. I would feel more productive if that was the case, but this isn't about being productive now is it?

Oh, and GObama!!!