Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Rain, snow, rain, flooding, rain...

Our weather has been crazy so far this week. We had a show day this weekend like I have never seen before. We got about 4-6 inches on snow in one afternoon. It was raining for about 24 hours straight, then all of a sudden I looked out the window and there was snow on the ground covering the puddles and standing water. It just kept coming. The next day was spent melting, and yesterday we had a 70 degree day with huge puddles and soggy ground. Last night, more rain.

I put Boomer out into the big 17 acre pasture so that he wouldn't completely destroy the new grass. I intend on leaving him until his pasture dries up. Though, rain is in the forecast for Thursday and Sunday. I don't mind rain. I quite like it. But, I would like it more if I had an indoor arena to ride in! I am kind of bummed because I go to get the trailer on Friday and I was hoping to park it in the paddock for a while. I don't want to drive it in mud and make big ruts. I also don't want it to sink and get stuck. So, my hope is that it either dries up quickly and the Thursday rain is no big deal, or that it just won't rain on Thursday! I'm not really sure where I would park it otherwise, because the whole property is flooded.

Have I mentioned how excited I am about the trailer? Very, very excited! I know the process will be slow, but I can not wait to load up and go for a trail ride!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Charley is headed for the Met!

Charley is a very talented singer!

In other news, my poor horse who has been working so hard to shed his winter coat has a big surprise coming. It has been raining for about 24 hours and now it is starting to drop below freezing and we are expecting up to 6 inches of snow tomorrow. So, I went out tonight put a cooler on him while he ate, toweled him off, and put his blanket on him. Needless to say, he was cranky. He gets cranky when it is cold/rainy/snowing. I told him it was OK and that I understood- just eat your beet pulp mash and shut up!

Also, I got a B & W gooseneck hitch installed today! I really like it! I will take pictures once it isn't a flood/blizzard outside.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

I should be studying for genetics...

I have a genetics test Friday but that is a subject that has always come easily to me. I understand it and love it and find it fascinating. But, I am having a hard time studying because I feel like I already know everything in these three chapters. I know I SHOULD study, just in case, but I don't WANT to!

Friday is also the day I am going to go get the B&W Turnover Ball hitch installed in my truck! Luckily, the place is just down the road and installation takes only an hour and a half! Then, I get to pick up the trailer on Thursday the 2nd! The bad news? John has to be out of town all next week for work on short notice. So, Picking up the trailer and driving almost 3 hours home will have to be something I do with my own big girl self! I know I can do it, but it would be nice to have John with me for moral support! When I worked for the polo guy he let me use his truck for chores and picking up hay/feed. It was an older F350 stick shift. I taught myself to drive a standard in that big ole' truck and if I can do that, I can haul a trailer!

It rained last night and the thunder and lightning was crazy. It was the loudest thunder I have ever heard! We also got hail and our frond walkway was a pond this morning. Needless to say, my ride today didn't go quite like I thought it would! We pretty much just walked for an hour but we did do some very valuable things! The whole pasture was soggy, but not muddy. There was lots of standing water and the pond was over filled. At first, Boomer was avoiding standing water with everything he had and by the end of the hour he was splashing through with no problem! The dirt road over the creek was flooded and I hand walked him over it the first time and he walked right through on the way back! He also went into the pond and after I got off I saw that he had been in up to his knees! Another huge thing was that he did not hesitate to drink from puddles of standing water, the creek, or the pond. Though the day didn't go as planned, and we did have a few arguments about walking (walk forward, not backwards you dork!), I think that the ride was very productive and we covered some very important things! Though I may curse the mud and rain and flooding, it is a very useful training tool!

I have been trying to take the horses pulse for ages now and never can feel it. I think it is a 'me problem' because I have a hard time finding mine also. Well, I tried his neck, his left jaw, both of his fetlocks, and finally found it in his right jaw! His resting heart rate after our workout and eating dinner is 32bpm. Pretty low! I have seen averages ranging from 30-40 to 36-46 being the average resting heart rate.

Sunday, March 22, 2009


Another great ride today! We did an hour and a half of trotting and cantering, which was 15 minutes more than the last ride two days ago. We mostly did trotting and it was a pretty good, strong trot. I am working on posting more to give his back a break. I was forced to do so much of the sitting trot without stirrups as a kid that it has become my default while trotting! So, that is going well! We did some cantering and at one point I had him make a big turn out in the open and really used my inside leg to push his hips around so he couldn't just blow me off. It worked and his circle started to get smaller. Then, it was like he righted himself, found his balance, switched leads, and did a small circle in the other direction on his own. After that, his turns really were much better! They are still ugly at times, but they are happening! We also had a great moment where we cantered along the fence line along the whole top half of the pasture on a loose rein! That was incredible to feel him enjoying himself and start to stretch down with his neck at the canter! We also got to work on some cowboy stuff and twice I had to dismount and remount to move a strand of loose barbed wire, and to put a big rock over a hole in a rusty drain pipe. He was a total gentleman! We worked some on neck reining as he got more worn out and that is coming along well to the right, but to the left it is harder for him to feel the rein because of his mane and braids, I think. Overall, I was really happy!

After we finished up, I walked him back to the barn and put his cooler on him. I let him cool down while I did chores and kept an eye on him because that was a big workout. He worked hard and got sweaty, so I wanted to make sure he was feeling well afterward. He wandered around his paddock with his cooler on and had a bright eye watching me muck poop. He ate some hay, got a drink, and peed. That all made me feel better! An hour after we finished, I gave him his food, which he ate. I added electrolytes and some water, just in case. He did seem a little tired, but he wasn't worn out. I think that must be what he is like after you take the edge off! I think he could have kept going, but I want to take it slowly with him for now. An hour and a half seems like a good time to stay with for a while and once I notice him being more energetic at the end of the workout I will increase the time. But, to be honest I could start to feel my abs getting weak towards the end of the ride. Perhaps I should be working on conditioning myself as well!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Testing his endurance

We had a great ride today! I took Boomer out to the big pasture so that we could ride for at least an hour so I could start to gauge his endurance. First off, he was a perfect gentleman while I opened and closed the barbed wire cattle gate. We walked for a bit and then started the workout. My plan was to just keep him trotting for an hour. He started pretty strong and was strong trotting for the first 15 minutes. It was a really great trot, long strides and fast! At first he wouldn't stay on the dirt cattle road that goes over the creek, but I got him over it slowly. He has been over that thing at least 15 times in the past. After our 3rd crossing though, he was trotting over it and not thinking twice about it! Which was especially fun because it is in a small valley and is the only 'hill work' we can get in out here in the Oklahoma plains! We trotted around the pasture for a while and he picked up the canter on his own a few times. He was manageable and calm. I was in control and he felt fine. But he still won't turn. We will be cantering along and I start asking for the turn by looking where I want to go, then I use the inside rein. His head comes in but he keeps going straight towards the fence or trees or whatever. He can canter sideways with his nose on my boot. He totally ignores my outside leg. Once I tried turning him the direction he wanted to go and I could get him to weave back and forth, but no turn without dropping out of the trot. Once he was headed towards a stand of trees and I was trying to get him to turn left but he just kept heading right. Once we were right at the trees I said whoa, and he stopped. Next, I let him walk and he went straight into the trees and started exploring. So, I am wondering if this is a behavioral thing. He doesn't want to turn because he wants to keep going in his direction. I'm at a loss on this one. Never once did he feel out of control or like he was bolting. He would stop on a dime as soon as I asked. But he just. won't. turn. I have tried a wide leading rein, I have turned his nose to my boot, I have used my legs and body with no rein contact. I don't know what else to try. I was really happy that he was enjoying our ride so much that he chose to canter. I want him to know that he can enjoy the canter and relax into it. But I also want him to know that I am in charge.

Aside from the cantering issue, our ride went super! We went around the top of the pasture about three times and the bottom about twice. We were out trotting and cantering for a total of an hour and fifteen minutes. He broke a little sweat and was calm enough to be on a loose rein trot for the last 15-20 minutes, but I don't think he was near being worn out. I have no idea how far we went, but I would guess 8-10 miles? I had a blast and I think he did too. At first he started out really 'look-y' but about halfway though the ride he became much more brave and started checking out all of the scary things in the pasture! I was especially happy to see that he had no qualms about trotting on gravel and didn't slow down or miss a beat!

I am really happy with how he is coming along and I want to start incorporating long rides like this into our week at least once or twice a week! Maybe we will start doing 1-2 times a week of dressage-y flat work and 2-3 times a week of long rides, aiming for a total of 4 rides per week.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Worried about Charley

Charley had a seizure today. It really scared me. I was afraid he was going to die. I kept thinking about how I hadn't had enough time with him yet. We were in the kitchen and he started breathing rapidly and was crouched down. I went to him and he fell over on his side and started seizing with his full body. After a minute or two he stopped and looked up at me with this confused and scared look. It was like he didn't know what just happened, but he knew it wasn't good. I laid on him and held his head the whole time. I kept asking him if he was OK, even though I know he couldn't have answered. I called John as soon as Charley was OK and he came home right away. Between the time I called John and when we got to the vet about 20 minutes later, Charley had had about 4 mini seizures. His head would start shaking, but he didn't go into full convulsions again. It happened again in the car and once in the waiting room. His blood panel was normal and because his dad, Winston, also has seizures we think it may be epilepsy. The vet didn't recommend medicating a dog unless he was having more than one seizure a month. So, we are just supposed to watch him and try to find patterns in his seizure activity. The vet said that most likely, he will have more seizures but there is no telling how far apart they will be.

My brother and his fiance own Charley's mom and dad. Winston is probably 4-5 years old now. In this picture he is about a year old and is wearing my shoes.
Sophia is about 3-4 now. In this picture she was about 8 months old and wearing her halloween constume!

When I found out they were pregnant, I knew I had to have a puppy. I tried to imagine a mix between the two, but couldn't. Winston is a very dark brindle with no white and Sophia is a fawn with lots of white. I wanted a puppy that looked like a mix of both of them! The morning after the puppies were born, my brother called me to tell me that one of the puppies had a swollen foot. Sophia must have bitten it on accident, trying to find the umbilical cord. Gabe said that he would have to take the puppy to the vet and that the foot might be amputated. I immediately knew that I would take the puppy if he got his foot amputated. Gabe wouldn't be able to sell it, but I knew I would love it just the same! When I went to Gabe's house that day, he hadn't taken the puppy to the vet yet. I went right in to see Sophia and the puppies. I just picked up the first one I saw and held him close. I loved it. My brother walked by the room and said, "that is the one with the hurt foot". I looked down, and it was. I also slowly started to realize that of the five puppies, this one was the only one that was brindle AND white. Two males were dark brindle and two females were fawn. The one with the hurt foot was a perfect mix between Winston and Sophia!

I went to visit almost every day. I held Charley as much as possible. He knew me by touch before he could see or hear. After a few weeks, he would run to the baby gate at the sound of my voice, he was always the first puppy to me. He was meant to be mine. Charley and I have never known time apart aside from one or two vacations over the last year and a half. I love that dog with my whole heart. I would give anything for him. It is really hard for me to describe our bond but the easiest thing for people to understand is that I have had him picked out from birth, and even before- but truely I think that fate put us together.

Here we are the day after he was born:
His foot was drained by the vet and he has a dark scar between his back toes on the left foot.

Here he is at about 4 weeks:

Here he is at about 6 weeks. His face is starting to shape up a little more already! Yes, I used to have dredlocks. That lasted about 6 months. I had wanted them for a long time and decided to do it my last year in college. I took them out because I had to wear a hat at the barn and even then I ended up finding hay in my hair while sitting in school.

Charley at three months. He was a very cute puppy! Looking at his puppy pictures makes me want another Boxer puppy!!! Shhh! Don't tell John!

Charley at 5 months. These are three of the horses I cared for on the Polo string of 11 horses. Charley got bitten by one once at feeding time and after that, I have never had a problem with him around horses!

This dog has some real personality!!!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Hoof pictures!

I have been trimming Boomer's hooves every 4 weeks and this past week was the third trim I have done on him. It is a huge learning process and I find myself reading about hoof trimming and balance on an almost daily basis. Here are pictures of his hooves as of yesterday. The right hooves both look longer in the heel than the lefts, I am going to go out and check on that/fix it today. Other than that, how do they look?
Front Left
Front Left Sole
Front Right
Front Right Sole

Hind Left
Hind Left Sole
Hind Right
Hind Right Sole

Here is Charley being awesome!
Sometimes I think Charley is the most popular feature on this blog!

Look forward to remodel pictures, we are working on the back bath/laundry room!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Shedding Begins...

Ahh, spring. The birds are chirping, the temperatures are fluctuating between freezing and 75, and my horse is filling my nose and mouth with his hair. I went out this morning in case I needed to break up ice, fed the horse, and scooped poop. I usually play with Charley and Boomer both for a few minutes after I am done with chores before I leave. Boomer was very friendly and as I started scratching his chest I noticed that the process has begun. Hair was flying everywhere. He craned his neck around and pinned me to his shoulder with his head. He nuzzled my back. He rested his jaws on top of my head. At one good spot on his shoulder he lipped my jacked and grabbed it so delicately in his teeth and tugged on it lightly whenever I got to that good spot on his neck! He was loving the curry comb and was letting my curry in places he normaly wouldn't. He was mostly shedding on his chest and neck, but I curried him all over to get ther process started. I curried him for probably 15 minutes and he just stood there and loved it. I have noticed that our best bonding/grooming sessions happen when he isn't tied up. He chooses to be there with me. I love that.

Back to studying cellular communication, mitosis, and meiosis...

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Good stuff!

Today was a beautiful day! 70* with no wind! For anyone who lives in the mid-west, you know that wind can mean the difference between a nice 70 day and a cold, miserable, sand in your eyes 70 degree day. I have been unpleasantly surprised on a number of occasions to discover it is 50 degrees and freezing outside. Enough about Oklahoma weather, though.

Boomer seems happy to see me when I go out to visit him. There have been so many huge improvements in his behavior over the last few months it really blows me away. I tacked him up and got on without using the fence and he is doing well with that also.

He was a little antsy at first, so I walked him around before we headed out for a trail ride. He calmed down after a couple of minutes of walking and leg yields.

We went out to the big pasture and Boomer was really bummed that the cows were on the other side of the fence.

I worked on some walking and trotting circles and had John capture a few photos of Boomer stretching down and low. He is really getting very relaxed at the trot and seems to enjoy being allowed to stretch down. I know he isn't a show horse and I have no intention in making him one, but I do want him to learn to relax when we ride. Dressage In Jeans recently had a few posts about the benefits of letting a horse stretch while you ride and she posted a few pictures of horses stretching correctly. How do you think we are doing?
Here is what we usually look like at the walk:

Here is stretching at the walk:

Here is our trot most of the time:

Here is him getting in some good stretches:

He occasionally pretends to be a peanut pusher:

Here is John being awesome:

Charley wants everyone to remember that he is awesome too:

After working on trotting for a while, we walked over to the big mowed area that is bordered by fence on two sides and worked on cantering. Overall, he was wonderful. He relaxed and started to lower his head. He slowed down and he let me steer him! It was the best cantering we have ever had. I did notice that he was flirting with the idea of bolting if I let him off of our big circle and let him go on a straight away. He also didn't like being brought back onto the circle in that situation. But, that was a minor discovery, no bucking and he didn't bolt. For a few laps of the circle he felt like a real horse. We were cantering, not struggling to stay together! I was so happy with that! We went twice in each direction doing 3-6 laps each time. I also asked him from the walk, which was a first. The circle we were on was at least 100 feet in diameter and even then, it was a real effort to get him to turn in a balanced way. I think that it rightfully stresses him out when I ask him to canter around the 50x80 paddock. He just isn't ready for that kind of turn at the canter. So, I want him to enjoy cantering and learn that it isn't stressful and I want to make an effort to work during the week on walking, trotting, flat work, and trot poles. When the weekends roll around and John can accompany us out to the pasture we will work on cantering. This way, I help to set him up for success.

A little post-ride grooming:

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Romantic date with a wino!

John and I spent the evening out at the barn in camping chairs sharing a bottle of wine. Charley came along to play with his Jolly Ball and Boomer was interested in nothing but the wine bottle. It was a beautiful evening and the weather was perfect, though the clouds kept us from having a sunset. Boomer was pleasant and interested in why we were camped out in his house. He was very friendly and quickly discovered the wine bottle. I think he liked the fruity smell. I kept offering him my glass, but he had a hard time figuring out how to drink from it. He did get his tongue in two or three times to taste the wine and he bobbed his head and seemed to like it! Though, mostly he just ate his hay and snuffled around.

I am the luckiest girl in the world that my man takes me on dates like that! There is nothing better than enjoying a relaxing evening outside with a good Riesling and the people (and animals) you love!

21 days

I'm not sure I can wait 3 weeks for my new trailer to be done!!! I want it NOW!

Boomer is doing really well with wearing his shipping boots. He doesn't mind the velcro at all. I had him tied up to the blocker tie ring and put the boots on him and as I was doing so, I had a flashback of him last July. I had him tied up and tried to pick up one of his back feet and he went flying backwards so hard I thought he would take the fence out for sure. I am so happy with how far he has come. He has gone from flying backwards at every opportunity to standing quietly tied as I put bulky shipping boots on all four legs. It is moments like that which remind me of what we are doing here. Nothing with horses comes quickly, thus making it sometimes hard to see your progress. It is interesting to think about the fact that 8 months ago we were working on picking up feet and bathing and today we are working on things like cantering calmly and keeping constant soft contact on the bit. In a few short weeks, we will be working on trailer loading. I fed him on the mat covered platform yesterday and he handled it like a pro. I was happy with that!

After our hard ride the other day where we did co much constant trotting with him engaged and working I felt like he was just a little too sluggish and have changed his food ration a little. I think he needs the extra energy for rides like that which will hopefully become more frequent. I am now giving him 3 cups of Horseman's Edge 12% pellet and 5 cups of Ultium, plus a glugglug of vegetable oil. He also gets his hoof supplement which right now is Vita-Biotin and will soon be Su-Per Hoof Grow. I also give him a scoop of electrolites when he sweats after a ride. I made my own electrolites and used 5 cups of iodized salt and salt lite mixed 50/50. I also added calcium carbonate in the powder form. I got the calcium carbonate at GNC and ground the pills inthe coffee grinder. He should get about 5000 mg of sodium and 900mg of calcium per scoop. The calcium is important to keep up because low levels of calcium can lead to a metabolic issue called thumps which is essentially hiccups in horses.

Though windy, today looks like it will be a good day for a ride! More later!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Long ride

WooHoo 82* weather!!! Way to make my day!!!

Boomer and I had a nice long ride today! We worked out in the open area by the big pasture. It is probably an acre in size and sort of triangular in shape. We warmed up at the walk and did our usual circles and leg yields. I noticed that he was really evasive and bendy at the top of the area because he was trying to look at the cows. That was something we had to work on for the whole hour long ride. It was kind of a 'I want to see them, but I don't want to seem interested' sort of bendy sidestepping action.

We worked on LOTS of trotting today and I was really happy with him. He was stretching down frequently and being very good. He would get a little sloppy when the wind would blow, especially from behind. The wind was pretty strong today, probably upwards of 25mph. We did lots of trotting for 10 minutes or more at a time to start building stamina. We worked at either the trot or canter the whole time with only walking to warm up and cool down. I was impressed with him for lasting so well through an hour of intense exercise.

We worked on cantering again and I was happier with it today than I was yesterday. He has the 'go and woah' part down, it is just the steering that is lacking. At the risk of sounding like I am complaining, I don't feel like our cantering is coming along as well as it could if we had a nice large arena to work in. The fenced area is too small, the partially fenced and larger space is BAD footing, and the largest area is not fenced at all and not uniformly shaped. Today we got a few good laps at the canter but I can feel him hesitate and not want to go round a corner, then he kind of blasts through sideways and drops to the trot. It was either that or dropping to the trot as soon as he felt my rein open into the contact as a guiding rein for the turn. I really had to urge him through the corners. I know that rather than complain I should make do with what I have and we will be better off for it. On a good note though, Once going to the right we had a really great lap around the area where his ears were forward, he was accepting contact and almost relaxing into it and I felt like I had full directional control. It was awesome. I even got to ask him to trot, rather than him dropping out of it on his own!

He got pretty sweaty and I cooled him out by walking shapes and working on neck reining. He is doing pretty good with that. He responds better to the left rein and I wonder if his thick mane gets in the way of feeling the right rein? After we cooled out, I put his cooler on him since it was so windy and let him munch hay while I did other chores.

I got floor mats for the trailer in the mail yesterday and I laid one out over his platform and fed him on it. At first he wouldn't go near it and walked away. I was concerned that he wasn't worried about his food. So, I picked up his feed pan and he walked right across the paddock for a bite. I backed up as he was eating and he walked up to the platform and snorted at it a bit, then stepped on with two feet. I set the pan down and got aside and he walked the rest of the way on like it was no big deal!

I am really happy with how well he is coming along and I really look forward to working on our training more this spring and summer! Doing the post of all of the rides for this season really got me amped and ready to ride!!! I don't want to plan on it or anything, but I have to admit- I'm looking at the 2010 Tevis Cup.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Working on it

The sun was out and the temp was around 65 and the wind was howling, but I rode anyway. I am taking every chance I get to ride before the flood hits this weekend. Boomer was spooky because of the wind, of course. We worked on walking calmly for a while and did some leg yields and lots of circles, etc for a warm up. We also trotted for a while and he did really well at that also. His leg yields are getting much better since I have been focusing on legging him on with each stride of the back leg. We worked on cantering again with a loose rein. He picks it up fine but he pins his ears at first. Once we get going and I find soft contact with him mouth, he seems to relax his ears. He still doesn't seem to be able to stay in the canter for very long but I think it is an insecurity/balance issue. The 'arena' is too small at 50'x80' and he really has to turn to get around the short side. On one short side is a water tank and hay shed, making it a very uneven visual barrier. The other end is really rocky and he really tries to avoid the rockiest corner. There is an aggressive horse along one side so we really have to work hard at keeping on the rail on that long side. It is really difficult to get real work done when I feel like I am constantly navigating stuff like that, rather than riding the horse. Also, there I was wad of baling wire in the middle of the arena that I didn't notice until 20 minutes into our warm up. So, I'm not sure I really blame him for dropping to the trot before the rocky side. He was much better and stayed in the canter if I cut the arena short on that side, but the baling wire made it difficult to really get a good circle. Needless to say, I cleaned the arena and picked up about a million rocks after our ride. I also used the cavalletti I made a few months ago to close off the open end of the arena to make a better visual barrier. We have only worked on cantering about 8-10 times. He responds every time I ask him to canter almost right away and he doesn't buck anymore. He still pins his ears and makes haphazard circles rather than staying on the rail. I suppose I should be happy with his progress so far. If he is still pinning his ears and being fussy in another 10 canter workouts, I will start rethinking things, but for now I think he is doing well. I do recall that when we first started trot work he pinned his ears a lot at first. He eventually got over that and I think riding out in the open helped. Perhaps we will ride outside of the arena tomorrow and work on cantering in a larger space.

One awesome thing that happened today was that I noticed the Boomer was looking at the water tank in the corner of the arena and I walked him over to it. Of course, he was spooked by it at first and had to blow at it a few times even thought it used to be his very own water tank when he lived in this paddock. Eventually he braved up and took a nice long drink! Hurray, endurance horse! I was really proud of him and happy to know that he didn't hesitate to drink when he was thirsty!

After we rode I put his cooler on him and let him have some hay while I mucked out the paddock and played with Charley. I am adding a few 'glugs' of vegetable oil to his food to add some calories without adding energy. He is getting 4 cups of Horseman's Edge and 4 cups of Ultium plus a little vegetable oil per day. I would like to see him put on just a little more weight before we start hauling out and doing longer rides.

Have I mentioned yet that I have spring fever?

2009 Ride Season

If all goes well with the trailer training in the following month, I would like to start hauling out to trails once a week or so so get him used to riding in familiar locations starting about mid April. I would like to do most of our training rides at Lake Oolagah which is an hour away, Bell Cow Lake or Lake Carl Blackwell which are both 2 hours away. These last two places are supposed to have the nicest trails. If that goes well, here is my ideal ride schedule for this introductory season!

May 23 & 24
Joe Tate Memorial
Washburn, MO
This would be a good overnight experience
we could do the two LD rides
It would be about 4.5 hours one way

June 27
Spur of the Moment
Finley, OK
This is about 3.5 hours away

July 18
Hotter Than Hell
Lake Oolagah
Foyil, OK
This is about an hour away
The Hotter Than Hell series is limited to the
first 20 entrants who mail in their entries after June 1st

August 1
Hotter Than Hell
Pushmataha WMA
Clayton, OK
This is almost 4 hours away

August 18
Hotter Than Hell
Bell Cow Lake
Chandler, OK
About 2 hours away

September 19
Okmulgee Cougar Prowl
Okmulgee, OK
About 1.5 hours away

October 3
Indian Territory Elevator Ride
Oolagah, OK
About an hour away

October 17
No Hands Fall Rollercoaster
Eureka, MO
This is about 5.5 hours away
We will probably skip this one

November 27 & 28
Season Finale
Stillwater, OK
This one is 2 hours away

The only thing I haven't figured out yet is what to do with the horse at night. The rides start early Saturday morning so we will get to camp out overnight on Friday night. I don't think I trust the horse being tied to the trailer. I guess we can put him in the trailer over night. There is a portable corral system that collapses down to a very manageable size and can be set up to be attached to the trailer and make a pretty large corral to contain the horse(10' x 10', plus length of trailer). I think that would be the best option for overnighting with a horse that pulls back when tied. Of course, it is expensive ($550 plus $150 shipping from California). So, I think the best thing to do is to experiment a little this season and if all goes well and we want to continue the next season, I should think about investing in a Cart A Corral then.

Here are some great deals for those who are interested:

Purina is offering $20 coupons for their high end feeds (Omolene, Ultium, etc.) at Omolene University You take a few 'courses' and their corresponding quizzes and they send you coupons in the mail. One coupon per email address.

Schneider's is having a huge sale on various items. All of their blankets are $20 off. They also have Vet Wrap for $.93!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Following Advice

I love horse trainers. I really do. I am going to try really hard here to not get on a soap box about the difference between horse trainers and clinicians. I have worked with many horse trainers. Probably 8-10 of them over the last 16 years. A few of them taught me basics, a few trained for showing, a few trained for jumping or polo. Most of them were good and I learned to filter the good advice from the bad, or at least I learned to try it before I adopted it. When it comes to learning form trainers without working with them, I am skeptical. That being said, I will read a good book by a well known trainer. I understand that most of what is discussed is something that should be performed under a trainer in regular lessons. Though, there is some really important theory that can be extrapolated and applied. The book I am working with now is Dressage In Harmony by Walter Zettl. This Book is one I would highly recommend for a person of any discipline. He encourages softness on the part of the rider, lightness in contact and in cues. His discussion of collection is very correct and easy to understand. He really reinforces that the horse must be ridden from back to front in order to allow collection to happen. Collection must not be forced. Something that I tried from the book that worked was cuing the leg. Of course, he describes this better, but I will try. If you are asking for a left lead canter depart, you want to use your leg to cue as the horses back right leg is on the ground. This tells the horse that he needs to 'push off now with this leg'! If you are cuing for the leg yield to the left, you want to press with your leg when the back right leg is up. This tells the horse to 'move that leg over'. I thought this sounded a bit complicated, if not intriguing. So, I tried it with the leg yield at the walk in both directions. Instead of pressing and holding with my leg, I pulsed it against his side as his back leg lifted. It worked. He stepped under himself and was much straighter in his yield! Having moments like that are really great, and of course are much more efficent if used when under the instruction of a trainer. I, unfortuanatly, don't have access to a trainer right now in the middle of 'rodeo country' and am working with what I've got. I look forward to being able to trailer out to a lesson every few months!

I worked with Pete yesterday as well and he is coming along nicely. We worked on standing still as I mount, walking, neck reining, backing, trotting shapes, and canter departs.

When I worked with Boomer we just walked since he had had a few days off and I want him to stay fresh and enjoy our rides. We went around the property and I let him explore some. We did work on leg yields. We also walked around a really scary brush pile. He wouldn't go around it and we were standing still, letting him relax before trying again and all of a sudden... a rabbit dashed in front of us and into the brush pile! Boomer did a few double takes, but didn't try to leave. Eventually, we did walk around the pile in both directions. I mounted him from the truck bed, which he was a bit leery about and I dismounted him slowly by sliding down his side. He is doing really well with both. I eventually want him to be used to me dismounting so I don't have to do it in slow motion. I also want him to be used to standing next to anything for me to use it as a mounting block. I know that in an emergency, I could mount him from the ground without him moving off but I think that I need to respect his comfort and it is glaringly obvious that he is more comfortable when I mount him from a raised surface.

The weather this week is supposed to be awesome, we are taking 70's and 80's!!! So, I'm sure we will be working on a lot more riding! I hope spring is here, I have got a bad case of spring fever!

ETA for the trailer- 23-25 days!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Crazy weather!!!

I haven't been riding much lately due to the snow and freezing weather but I will be back in the saddle this week since the forecast is predicting highs this week of 83*. Yup, 74* last Thursday, snowing Saturday, and 83* next Thursday. Boomer started shedding a little today and I am not sure if it is a good time for it or not!!! I think I'll give him a few good days of currying him this week and see if I can encourage the process to start. I hate spring shedding. I've been prepping John so that he knows what to expect. It is a bit like having a horse sized cat hiding in your car for a month!

We went out this morning to unblanket the horse and give him a horsey milkshake (5 gallons of hot water and a cup of Ultium). It was too cold to hang around so we left and I came back a few hours later when John was on his long run. When I came back I played with Charley with the Jolly Ball for a while and Boomer got jealous or curious and come to stand behind me. I scratched him and petted him for a while and he was sticking his lip out and hugging me with his neck and all sorts of cutsey, lovey things! I played with both Charley and Boomer for about 30 minutes and then left. I think Boomer really enjoyed the time. He was curious about Charley and pretty intent of getting my attention. I was so happy to see that he wants my attention badly enough to walk over to me or follow me around the paddock! What a huge change from 6 months ago!

Before I went to play with the animals, Charley and I met John about 10 miles south of our house on a back road of Bartlesville with a bottle of water and some Gu. I thought it was fun to meet him walfway with some sustenance for the long run! Other than running and horsing, John and I have been watching Westerns. I love westerns for the horses, but I am really starting to appreciate the movies too! We are 2/3 done with the Dollars Trilogy. Thanks to Netflix, 'The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly' is on its way! If you are at all in to westerns, I recommend 'South of Heaven, West of Hell' directed by Dwight Yoakum. Very weird, but one of the best I have seen. '3:10 to Yuma' is also a made classic, as far as I am concerned!

In other news, I have finished the Intro to Vet Tech class and I had the highest grade on every test. That being said, I am not going to apply for the program. I am going to continue on and take my pre-requisite courses for Vet School. Should take me about 4 semesters.

Thats all I have for now, I'll post more this week when the weather is nice enough to ride!