Wednesday, April 29, 2009


Here is a cell phone picture of Boomer trotting on the longe this week:

8 months ago:

Friday, April 24, 2009

Review session

It came to my attention recently that all of our fun, exciting rides out in the pasture had led us to neglect some basics. Before we started conditioning we worked on lots of long and low frame circles, bends, etc. We also worked of leg yields, turns on haunches, and backing. After a few weeks of not focusing on those things I have noticed Boomer getting more high headed and less able to do a correct circle. Today was going to be a slow day anyway, mostly to let him stretch his muscles from our last few hard rides. I decided to work in the fenced area above the paddocks because it was a windy, spooky day. We worked for 30 minutes and did mostly circles, working on getting him soft and bendy. We also did some leg yields that I was very happy with. We worked on staying soft in the bridle at the halt and back. We mostly walked with about 10 minutes of light sitting trot. I was very happy with him and his effort today. He spooked a few times but other than that, he was great! For the level he is at, I couldn't ask for more from him!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Another good ride!

Yesterday afternoon was nearing 90 degrees.
I think Sabumi knew that he shouldn't waste energy on his usual silly antics.
We didn't have our usual warm-up struggle at all!
He didn't spook once or argue with me.
He wasn't too strong and he listened when I rated him.
We did lots of steady trotting, as usual.
We also did quite a bit of cantering.
We did 8 minutes of cantering straight, which was big for him.
He picked up both leads well, and did a few flying changes around the bends.
Once when he did get a little feisty, we happened to be near the little hill.
So we did about 10 minutes of figure eights up and down the hill.
Neck reining is also coming along well!
I hosed him off and he had some serious foam between his back legs.
He really used that hind end!

Today, he was a little sore in the rear, so I gave him a massage instead of riding.
The same muscle in his rump on either side was a little knotty.
He seemed to enjoy the massage.

Tomorrow I want to take it really slow with him, walking for 20 minutes, trotting for 20 minutes, and walking/working on neck reining for 20 minutes.

The weekend is off because John and I will be in OKC for the marathon!!!

Sometime next week I want to haul back out to Copan and see how he does in the lead/alone on the trails. After that, we plan on going to Lake Carl Blackwell to camp overnight!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Uh oh!

What have I done???
It was only a matter of time.
With as much internet horsing as I do, it was bound to happen.
The day has come.
Click the far right picture here.
His name is Zzorro.
He is tall, chestnut, tons of white, and a spot.
It is that spot that did me in.
Fire had one.
It must be the Bask breeding.
I emailed the owner.
I couldn't help it.
He is three, has been started lightly and is ridden outside three days a week.
He goes in a hackamore or snaffle.
They swing a rope off of him.
I think he is too cute.
Why, you ask, do I want another horse?
Because it is more of a good thing.
I could ride twice as much.
I could love twice as much.
And he reminds me of Fire.
I do not need another horse.
I do not need another horse.
I do not need another horse.
Not to mention, he is in California and WAY out of my price range.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Watership Down

I think Boomer may have lived a past life in Watership Down. Or perhaps, he was born with his head down a rabbit hole. Whatever the reason he is just not afraid of rabbits. He has surprised me time and again by NOT spooking at bolting bunnies. Today was no different. There was one right under us and he just looked at it but didn't spook. By 'right under us' I mean it was so close that Boomer actually had to tuck in his chin to look down at it as we trotted over it. The second rabbit today was cantered over. We were cantering the length of the pasture and the bun bolted ahead of us and stayed about 10 feet straight in front of us for a few strides before it veered left and disappeared. Boomer just kept cantering straight ahead and watched the little bun.

This is not to say that he doesn't spook. He does. At deer 300 yards away. At ducks taking off from the pond across the pasture. At a soda bottle. At a butterfly. He has this nice 'shoulder drop and roll' routine that has unseated me a number of times and unhorsed me once. If he drops his left shoulder he will spin right, but this information doesn't seem to correlate with the direction of the spooky object. So, just hold on tight!

Today it took him about 15-20 minutes to settle down and start listening. After that he was very good. We did only a little cantering but he was good for that and picked up his leads. We also worked on neck reining towards the end and he is still improving. Our only issue was that I couldn't get him to walk down the road that crosses the creek for the life of me. Unless I got off and led, then he was fine. I tried everything I know and eventually we just regressed from crossing the road to just trying to get him to walk forward rather than back uphill. Needless to say, I was not happy. It makes me worry that I won't be able to get him to cross obstacles in trails without a person or horse leading us. Next time we haul out I want to try leading the whole way on the trail and see if he does as well as when he is following.

After our ride I hosed him off and let him graze on the good grass while I mucked poo and made his dinner. He got 4 pounds beet pulp soaked in 4 gallons water, 4 cups Ultium, 4 cups Horseman's Edge, 1 cup veg oil, 1 oz elyte, 1 oz hoof supp. That is his standard post ride meal. On off days he gets 4 cups Ultium, 4 cups Horseman's Edge, 1/2 cup veg oil, and 1oz hoof supp.

I was happy with his fitness today and I feel that we are probably up to increasing his conditioning rides to 1.5 hours. So, more to come tomorrow!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Best. Horse. Ever.

Hauled the horse to Lake copan and after a parking mishap (no livestock in the park!!!) and a backing up/turning around mishap (Oh, I think that was the turn back there) we got parked at the trail head. I had read that the trail was only about 3 miles long. I had heard from our hay supplier that the trail was challenging. We didn't know what to expect. We started out and the first 1/4 mile or so is just a track along the road with lots of mud and a dead deer. You then come to a drainage ditch which was about 15 feet down, across running water, and 15 feet up. The down was much steeper than the up and I led the horse across. He was surprisingly fine with all of that. Turns out that was one of the easy challenges along the trail! It was single track the whole way with more water crossings than I could count. Boomer is now a champ at water crossings, mud crossings, and muddy water-with-leaves-over-it crossings. There were a few areas that were solid rocks straight down to water, then back up rocks. I was amazed at Boomer. Once he locked on and chose his path, all I did was hold the reins in one hand and his mane in the other and he jumped up, climbed up, or ran up every obstacle we encountered! He never refused anything. We both had a blast! Some of those climbs were steep enough that I was totally over his neck on the way up. I also had to stop and readjust my saddle at one point. It had slipped back about 6 inches! Needless to say, I tightened the girth an extra hole and made a mental note to use a breast collar next time! The rest of the trail was fairly hilly and wound through heavy woods. There were a few logs to hop over, which was fun! There was a pretty good stretch on the way back where Boomer just totally got into the groove. He was power walking on a loose rein, not trying to trot, pull, or jig. He had this huge powerful stride and he was bobbing his head with every stride. His reins were swinging and I could hear him lightly chomping his teeth with every head bob. He was so happy and so was I! I really tried to let Boomer choose how to attack the obstacles and he made me proud. He locked on and got the job done with nerves of steel. He always liked to trot or canter off after a big climb.

He drank a little when we got back to the trailer and ate about half of his soaked beet pulp before we headed home. He is great about the trailer and had no issues the whole time. He did get excited and stomp around when we pulled in the driveway.

The camera had a dead battery, but no worries- we will get pictures and video next time!

Yesterday's ride was pretty much awesome. I had no complaints about the horses behavior. He was great. I had a grin on my face the whole time and couldn't help but laugh gleefully as he took on the challenges of the trail!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

That feeling

Our ride today went well. It took about 30 minutes for him to relax. The first part of our ride is usually with him trying to strong trot and not paying much attention to where I point him. So, we struggle, I hang on his mouth a little too much (I'm working on it!), and he tosses his head. After that switch is flipped and he relaxed, I can open my hands and he starts lowering his head and stretching. He slows down a bit, but still wants to strong trot occasionally. I like to let him strong trot as long as he is relaxed and paying attention. There is a huge difference in his strong trot in the first part and second part of our ride. I think that is interesting. We worked on cantering today. We did a few straight lines through the pasture and a few circles. His circles to the right are much better than the left. Thats okay, he is still learning. The last 10 minutes of the ride he was calm enough to have a loose rein at the sitting trot, so we worked on neck reining. I am using my big thick split reins until my new english laced reins get here in the mail. I don't like the split reins because they are too big to get my hands around, but apparantly they send a clear message for neck reining! Go figure! We did lots of figure eights and he really learned/responded quickly! I walked him back towards the gate and did a zig zag along the way with neck reining. He was very good even though he really wanted to go home!

I try to do nice things for him after we ride. I always loosen the girth as soon as I get off. I let him grab a few bites of the tall grass from the hay field as I open and shut the barbed wire gate. I scratch his face after I unbridle him. I never let him rub on me, but I will rub and scratch him as much as he wants. He gets soaked beet pulp while I groom him.

Today, he thanked me.

As we came in the gate to his paddock, he paused to rub his forehead on the gate after I closed it. I knew he was itchy, so I got his bridle off and left his halter around his neck while I rubbed him. I rubbed his ears, eyes, cheeks, chin. As I got to his left side and was rubbing his cheek, he nickered. My jaw almost dropped. He occasionally nickers when he sees me coming with his feed scoop. I do not try to fool myself, I know he is nickering for the food-not me. But today, he nickered at me while I scratched his face. I was thanking him for a job well done and he nickered at me. That gave me a feeling that I just can't get anywhere else.

Thinking about feed changes

Training has been going well and the weather is mostly cooperative. I hate to be a wuss about the weather but we board on a flood plain and the whole place, even the hay pasture, turns to either mud or standing water for 3-4 days after a rain. It has been useful in getting Boomer over his fear of water and changes in footing, but not really conducive for doing more than a walk. Though, we rode yesterday and the ground was dried up enough for trotting but we still walked around all of the turns because there were lots of slick spots. Boomer had more energy yesterday than I have ever seen him have. It was a focused energy though, and wasn't spooky or jumpy. We walked and trotted for 1:20 and he felt more focused and relaxed by the end of the ride, but he still had just as much energy! I will ride him again this afternoon and tomorrow as well to try and capitalize on this focused energy before it starts to rain again for the weekend. I am really hoping for no rain Friday-Sunday so that we can haul out to Copan for a trail ride. Though, Copan is close enough that we could go after John gets off work during the week.

I have been feeding Boomer 4 cups of Ultium (12% protein, 12% fat, 18% fiber) and 4 cups of Horseman's Edge (12% protein, 6% fat, 12% fiber) plus one cup of vegetable oil and his hoof supplement daily. On ride days, I also give him a 4 gallon bucket of soaked beet pulp and two scoops of our electrolyte mix (3 parts salt/salt lite, 1 part calcium carbonate). I think that this gives him what he needs to stay fit and maintain his shape. During actual competitions or hard trail training, I also plan on giving 1 cup of Ultium added to a bucket of water per 10 miles of riding at intervals during the ride. Purina has just introduced a new food that I am very interested in. Omolene 500 (12% protein, 8% fat, 9% fiber) is their newest competition food. It seems like a good mix and I like the idea of not having to mix two bags of feed for feeding time. Though it is lower in fiber than both other feeds, I think that him having free choice hay as well as beet pulp on ride days will provide plenty of fiber. It is a sweet feed, which I tend to stay away from, but they are using a blended soy fat/molasses rather than straight cane molasses. I think that this food could be a really great compromise as Ultium gives him way too much energy and Horseman's edge wouldn't allow him to perform at his peak for miles and miles. I am excited to try it and it should be available after the first of May. I still think that if we switched foods I would give him Ultium on race days at vet checks mixed with water. He loves an 'Ultium milkshake' and it will encourage him to drink water and give him a little energy boost.

Next weekend is the OKC marathon which John and a number of his friends will be running. I am really excited to see him run a marathon! His workouts have been going well lately and he is getting in some of his best times in years. I think that he will do well in the marathon and I think we are both excited to see some of his old college track buddies!

The weekend after that, we are thinking of camping out with the horse in Stillwater at Lake Carl Blackwell. We ordered a portable corral last night which will take about 2 weeks to get here. We decided that even though it is a more expensive containment option it is really the only thing that will work for us. Boomer still pulls back when tied, though not as violently. He will stop when we gets to the end of the rope when I am saying 'woah' to him. He walks forward willingly after pulling back. These are all improvements, but I just don't think I can tie him to a trailer in an open area with other people and horses around when he still predictably pulls back. I am really excited about the corral, it is collapsible and portable, so we can store it in the tackroom!

That is about all that is going on around here for now. I'll have more of an update on our training in a few days. Oh, one interesting thing I have been learning about Boomer- he loves challenging footing! Up and down ravines, dry creek beds, steep hills are all things he aims towards and locks on to. He loves one particular ravine that he trots into, goes around a bend, and jumps out! It is really fun and I like letting him pick his way through obstacles!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Haulin' A$$!!!

Trailer training may be the first and only thing that Boomer has learned/progressed faster than expected! I had expected him to take about 4 weeks before we could drive our first few feet. Today, we have had the trailer for 9 days and we hauled the horse to Lake Copan for an adventure! He has been progressing everyday. He has never panicked or felt rushed as we have been taking the process one step at a time. Yesterday, we loaded him up, shut him in his stall, started the truck, and pulled forward 10 feet, backed up, pulled forward, and backed up. He was totally fine. So, after practicing backing up for a while today, we loaded up the horse and started driving towards Copan. It is about a 17 minute drive. We parked and unloaded with no problem. We walked around and grazed for about 30 minutes, then loaded up and came home. Overall, not very exciting. It was a huge step though. I was very happy with how calmly he handled the whole situation. He was nervous until we got onto the highway and then he calmed down. So, now I feel like we are ready to start hauling around and doing real training rides on the weekends!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Trailer time!!!!!

I got the trailer!!! I am so super pumped about it! It is everything I wanted and ordered and then some! My dad and I drove to pick it up on Friday morning. We had to have a brake control installed there and then we hitched up and were on our way! Hauling it actually was not as difficult as I thought it would be. I was careful about my turns and always stayed in my own lane.

When we got home I fed Boomer in it. I put his feed pan in the doorway and he ate out of it with no problem. The next day I put his feed pan a little farther in thinking he would have to be closer and stretch his neck, but he stepped right in with both front legs! So, I backed him out and did it over again and eventually he walked right in with all four legs! I had thought it would take a minimum of a week before he was in the thing. What a great motivator food can be! It also probably helped that he was used to walking on the platform and wasn't startled by the sound of his hooves on the floor. The next day, we did the same thing over again, but I had John close the gate behind us and reopen it while Boomer ate. He did that a few times, leaving us shut in for longer periods of time. Boomer was totally fine with it!

On to the pictures:

Here is the B&W gooseneck hitch. It is a turnover ball, which means that it is a hitch when I need it and I can have my truck bed back when I don't!

In 'storage' mode:
Pull out the lever:

Flip it over:

Secure the lever and voila! the hitch is ready to go:

Here is the trailer:
It is 16' long with a 4' straight wall tack room. There is a full gate divider in the middle of the horse area making two 6'x6' box stalls.

I didn't specify what kind of back gate I wanted, so they installed the slider gate at no extra charge! I like this gate because it is easier to slip in and out of for people:

We had 11x20 inch windows with screens installed on either side of the nose so that it wouldn't be so dark and stuffy in the tack room:

We are storing the spare tire in the 4'x6' tack room until we get locking lug nuts for the tires:

John and I are going to put a mattress in the nose for sleeping:

Here, the gate is up diving the horse part into the box stalls:

Here, it is open and you can see the escape door in the first stall is open. We bought the floor mats separately and John trimmed them to fit:

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Remodel Photos!!!

John and I recently decided to remodel the back bath/laundry room. It is attached to the living room that we remodeled a few months ago. That part of the house is an add on from the 70's and just didn't match the rest of the house.

Sticky tile squares on the floor:

Cabinets above the washer and dryer:


Light and mirror:

We tore up the floor, tore out the vanity and cabinets, painted walls, laid wood laminate flooring, added trim and crown molding, replaced the vanity, added a shelf over the washer and dryer, and new fixtures. John did most of the work, but I did paint and help with the easy stuff!

Nice, new floor:

All three remodeled areas:

New storage space (my idea!) and the great trim that John put up:

New vanity and mirror:

Awesome light fixture:


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Busy week!

I have been keeping Boomer out in the big 17 acre pasture for the past few days to let his paddock dry up and have a little 'recovery time'. I think he was thrilled with the idea at first but has gradually realized it isn't quite what he thought it would be. He is very obviously low man on the totem pole. He is not allowed to graze, travel, or lay down with the herd. He has three bites on his rump. Watching him these past few days has made me realize that he is more submissive than I had thought. He has been meeting me at the gate ready to come in every day. He has been very sweet to me also. I think he is realizing that I am the only one who is nice to him, plus I give him food!

Today, I lunged him in the big hay field and he was very good. I think he was happy to have a job to do. We mostly trotted but he did pick up the canter on his own a few times which I allowed and praised. We worked for about 30 minutes or so and he got a little sweaty on his shoulder/neck area but it dried quickly. I groomed him and worked on his hooves a little. I think I gain more confidence with each trim. I am getting more 'aggressive' and confident with taking off a little more wall. It still wears my arms out, but I was able to trim all four feet in one day! We have an appointment with the Vet on Monday for shots and coggins. I wonder if it was weird for the vet to hear me on the other end of the line with something other than an emergency!

No, I haven't forgotten about the remodel pictures, I'll get it done soon!

Family is coming this weekend to celebrate my dad's birthday so I am busy cleaning and putting off mowing the lawn!