Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Wonderful day

I had a wonderful day on Monday with Boomer.  After walking past him in the pasture, he turned and started following me.  I looked back and saw him looking at me like "Mom, where are you going?"!!!  I took him for a little walk around the property and enjoyed looking at how shiny and beautiful he is.  I took quite a while grooming him and trimmed up his feet.  It was quiet and relaxed.  

He has had a little crusty spot on his belly from fly bites for about a week now and even though I am treating it with corona ointment and SWAT, it is still itchy.  Here is a video of him getting his belly scratched.  

We have recently decided to move Boomer closer to home.  I love, absolutely love, the barn we are currently boarding at.  However, it is a long drive (30 minutes one way) and expensive.  In the past, I have justified paying the  $300 for pasture board because I had the heated, lighted indoor arena to use year round.  However, I am not riding enough right now to justify that expense.  I feel like I am missing out on valuable Boomer time because I hesitate to go visit him when I know I won't be riding.  It just seems like such a long drive to make to give the horse a treat.  I will miss all of the wonderful friends I have made and will miss having the ability to trail ride from the property.  

However, the new place we are moving is wonderful as well.  The best part about this place is that it is literally 9 minutes door-to-door.  (I am amazed at how quickly I can get there!  I look forward to just being able to 'pop in' and say hello when I'm all big and pregnant and wobbly!)  It is a similar sized property at 65 acres.  It currently houses only 8 or 9 horses.  There is a 6 stall barn, tack room, feed room and wash stall.  There is a sand based outdoor arena and large jump field at the back of the property.  There is also trailer parking near the rear of the property.  The horses are kept by gender and rotated through pastures to prevent over grazing.  They are fed hay in winter in round bale feeders.  Each pasture has a faucet and electric outlet.  Large heated tubs are put out in winter.  The owners live on the gated property.  They focus on dressage training and the owners breed their hanoverian mare every other year.  They have her 4 year old filly as a riding horse and she also has a 4 month old filly at her side.  They occasionally have Emily Wagner come in for training and lessons.   

Our original plan was to move November 1st, as per our 30 day notice agreement.  Luckily, our current barn had a waiting list for the pasture and has allowed us to move without fulfilling the 30 day notice since they were able to immediately fill our spot.   So, Boomer moves Saturday!  I will make sure to get pictures of the move day!  

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Same as Monday...

I repeated the same round pen, lunging, riding to cool-out routine on Wednesday and felt really good about it.  It was a windy day and there were maintenance guys weed eating and spreading grass seed, so it had potential to be exciting.  However, Boomer really held himself together like a big boy!  Once at the canter, he surprised us both by spooking, hitting the side reins and sort of freezing into a straight legged boing.  Not sure how else to describe it, but it wasn't a buck.  He just braced against the reins, stiffened his legs and went straight up a few inches.  I scolded him and said whoa, he stopped instantly, then I had him trot forward until he relaxed and then canter on.  After that he was fine.  I think it was more surprise than anything.  

Riding him was good.  I brought out a bigger girth.  He seems to be growing...  The saddle I am borrowing has strange billets.  They are short billets, but the holes start much further up than normal.  It looks like there are two holes missing.  Since he is girthy and needs to be done up s-l-o-w-l-y, I think that a longer girth was needed even though the shorter one still fit.  

Otherwise, not much new or exciting going on.  John and I have our 16 week appointment next Thursday, hoping to find out the gender!  I can't believe we are already almost through 4 months!  Almost half way done already!  I can't wait to post some good pregnancy pictures, but I'm still wearing (and buttoning!) my pre-pregnancy jeans.  So, not much to get excited about there!  

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

More riding!

Monday afternoon was hot, it felt like a mean weather trick.  After days of beautiful weather that makes you want to skip and wear a jacket we had a day of 95 degree heat!  

Oh well, it was the day I had planned to go to the barn and I guess I'm no worse for the wear!  

I put Boomer in his surcingle and side reins and worked him in the round pen.  He was pretty amped up and was trumpet-snorting and doing his best impression of a saddle seat horse.  I made sure to adjust the side reins very gradually since he wasn't exactly paying attention.  Eventually he did settle down and got to work.  It was actually a very good session.  He did get pretty sweaty and I wasn't wearing a watch, so I can only guess he worked for about 45 minutes.  After we were done, I tossed the saddle on him and climbed up!  I just walked him to cool out and worked on keeping his neck longer and lower but not losing his jaw to the outside.  He responds well to a longer rein and easily fills out the space, but he was having a bit of trouble with cocking his head to the outside going right.  I made him overflex to the inside the whole time and I think it was hard for him,but he understood what I wanted.  He would start resistant, then relax, then get resistant again.  I tried to switch up the length of his neck when he would get resistant and that would help him keep from getting sore or tense.  I rode him for about 15 minutes and it felt really good.  

Its funny, the mental process I am going through to get my confidence back is very similar to when I was first breaking him.  First, I wanted to be led around.  Then I rode him only in the round pen.  After that I could ride in the open.  I have regressed back to that phase, I guess to solidify my confidence.  Boomer has done absolutely nothing to make me apprehensive.  I am so proud of him and really impressed by how much he has matured mentally in the past 2 years.  I also look forward to giving him a few months off and seeing how much he matures mentally in his 8-year-old year!  I think that Arabs can be a lot like warmbloods in that they mature slowly.  In my experience, they are physically mature at 5 and mentally around 8.  

Also, I have sold all of my tack except for my Toklat coolback pads.  Anyone interested?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Getting back up!

What a day.  I knew for a few days in advance that I was ready to try riding again.  It just isn't something I can 'turn off'.  I went out today and was a little unsure of how the whole thing would go.  I thought about starting in the round pen and lunging with side reins, then switching to the saddle and riding in the round pen.  But, both of the round pens were being used.  Luckily, I have a good friend who offered to help me get on and lead me around.  I lunged for about 20 minutes first to make sure Boomer was still sane and wasn't going to turn into turbo horse.  More accurately, I think I was reassuring myself more than checking on him.  My friend took Boomer and walked him around, making sure he was OK with her leading him and would respond to whoa.  It made me feel good to know that precaution was being taken.  I mounted up and we walked off.  I had my friend beside me the whole time and Boomer was calm and relaxed the whole time.  I don't know what I had expected, but I was also calm.  Its a funny thing; it isn't fear, it isn't related to a specific event, there is no 'trigger'.  Its just me thinking about someone else.  My ONE job is to make sure this little baby is taken care of and doesn't get hurt.  I think I'm being cautious, but I'm not afraid.  Those emotions can be easily confused, I think.  Everything went well and I was thrilled to have gotten back on the pony.  John was really happy for me when I called and told him I rode again and he offered to go out with me this weekend so that I can ride again.  I'm really looking forward to it.    

The incredible thing about today was how it made me feel.  Just walking for 10 minutes while being led around doesn't sound like much.  But it was everything to me.  I would compare it to a 'first ride'.  You know the feeling, you had it as a kid.  You are on a lesson horse, and all you do is walk.  But you are on top of the world.  Why is that?  I think it has to do with expectations.  There are no goals, no training logs, no thoughts of progress.  You are just thrilled to be there, riding a freaking horse.  Thats how I felt today.  No expectations, just sit on that horse and feel him walking.  Reach down and pat his neck and feel how strong and smooth it is.  Dismount and scratch his belly, smell his good horsey smell.  

Friday, September 10, 2010


I'm having a lot of thoughts lately about what to do with the horse.  Luckily, there are no pressing issues or decisions that need to be made right away.  

My thoughts start with the fact that John and I have a 5 year goal of buying some land.  It is really important to both of us to raise our children with access to dirt and worms.  We both grew up with animals and outside and feel it is invaluable in child raising.  Especially with all of the creepy people out there, it is so important to have a safe place where kids can be kids without having to worry if there is a creeper at the neighborhood park.  I feel much more comfortable telling kids to run out and play in the pond in the back 40 than I do telling them to walk a few blocks to the park.  Plus, I want chickens.  And Boomer at home.  And John wants to teach our kids to fish.  

So, what are we doing to further this goal?  Well, saving a little at a time.  Paying off debt.  We have to live in our current house for 3 years since we got the homebuyers tax credit when we bought it.  So, we have 2 more years of saving ahead of us and we feel confident about that.  Before we move, we need to make sure John is in a job he loves and will be happy with for a while so that we can know what location to be looking in.  

I am starting to wonder if my plan of keeping the horse where he is AND paying for training while I am out of commission is a bad idea.  I mean, I like the idea and it would be good for both of us, but is it counterproductive to our goals as a family?  Would it be better for him to go unridden for 6 months and just be in a pasture near our house, then maybe a refresher 30-60 days with a trainer when I'm ready to ride again?  That would save nearly $3000.  Or, I could spend the money and Boomer could be ridden twice a week for the next 6 months while I'm sitting on my ass.  I'm just starting to wonder if I should be thinking more long term.  

I'm also at a loss for what to do with my saddle situation.  My motivation to replace my saddles with a dressage saddle has taken a nosedive since I am not even going to be riding for 6-9 months.  When I do finally get back on, I have a feeling I will be most comfortable in a secure western saddle.  But then, if he doesn't get ridden for 6 months or more, his shape will be right back where it started.  However, that is almost a year away and not something to worry about.  When I start feeling ready to ride again, I can evaluate my saddle situation and go shopping then.  

It is just such a shame that there really are not a lot of options in and around Lawrence for boarding.  There is the one we tried when we first moved here and didn't like and then there is a new pasture boarding place that I want to check out.  Thats it unless I want to drive minimum of 30 minutes.  I really want him close to home, especially if I can't ride him.  It would be nice to have him in training, but I'm not sure it would be worth it for 6 months or more.  I mean, I'm not really even sure what my level of interest will be when I return to riding.  I figure I will probably enjoy some trail riding and occasional jogs around the arena.  Not really sure 6 months of training is where its at.  I'm thinking that a refresher course is more what Boomer will need when I decide I want to ride again and have an idea of my interest level.  Which is fine.  I don't mind paying for 60 days of refresher training.  The question remains, is it worth it to pay $310 a month for my horse to sit in the pasture?  When I'm able to ride, the cost is fine.  But if I can't use the heated wash rack, lighted and heated arena, private tack locker, or any of the outdoor arenas- is it worth it?  I feel like most of my board fee is for human comfort.  If I'm not riding, why should I pay for it?  

So, I'm at a loss right now.  I'm leaning towards moving him closer to home where he can be in a pasture for $100 a month for the next few months.  I just don't know what to do and I am in a weird place right now where my priorities are shifting in ways I never imagined,  but it isn't a bad thing at all.  Its just different.  I think I am finally starting to understand what parents mean when they say "Everything changes, it isn't bad.  Its just different."   I get that.  Everything is changing.  It is different from what it was and different from what I expected.  But it isn't bad.  

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

This dreaded day...

Wow.  This day came sooner than I imagined.  I figured I would just keep on riding until I was physically unable to hoist myself up into the saddle.  But today, it was not a physical limitation.  I tacked up and walked over to the arena.  I walked around and tightened the girth.  Put my foot in the stirrup and couldn't get on.  Something just told me to stop.  Today wasn't the day to ride.  I have no other option but to listen to myself in these situations.  I have no agenda or pressing goals, so there is no reason to push myself.  

I was so disappointed I felt tears in my eyes.  I'm lucky I have good friends and a supportive husband to be there for me in times like these.  I don't know if things would be different if I was going out to work him more consistently, but I have only been getting out about once or twice a week.  Boomer is definitely not a horse who is the same after not being worked with consistently.  He always acts skittish and half-wild when I haven't worked with him regularly.  So, maybe if I go out 4-5 times a week for the next week or two and get him back in to shape mentally I will feel more confident about riding him again.  Then again, maybe not.  Maybe this was it.  

The funny thing is, I had only planned to do walk work with him today.  It wasn't like I was planning some elaborate training session.  You have no idea how hard it is for me to stand there with a foot in the stirrup, staring at the saddle, with my hand on his neck and to be thinking to myself "I can't do it".  

I did lunge him in side reins today and we worked for a solid hour and did a bit of cantering.  I had the side reins adjusted short and he was very consistently seeking contact and arching over his back and neck.  I was very happy with his relaxation.  He is still doing the funny head tilt to the outside when tracking right.  Haven't figured that out yet.  

I am giving myself until the end of the month to work with him and see how I feel.  If nothing changes, I will talk to the head trainer about putting him in partial training starting in October. 

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Tack for sale

I have listed a few items up on eBay and thought I would share them here as well.  You can click on any of these links to go straight to the eBay listing with more info and pictures.  All prices listed here are the starting bid prices on eBay.  If you want to buy one of these items, send me an email with your offer or leave an offer in the comments.  Shipping is NOT included and will be added to the price.  I can send invoices with PayPal and you do not need a PayPal account to pay for items.  

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


When I first started taking dressage lessons, I was so thrilled with the prospect of building up my horses top-line.  I just knew that his bony withers could fill out more and his loins could be fuller.  I was so excited to see that process happen and I just couldn't wait.  

Slowly, over time, I have started to see change.  His withers are wider and fuller with less definition between wither and shoulder blade.  His back is flatter and not as hollow.  

I continued to grow more excited with the muscular beast my horse was becoming.  Until one day when his saddle stopped fitting.  This was a few months ago.  My Crosby Prix Des Nations is a medium tree and was pinching the withers.  Boomer showed his displeasure at anything faster than a walk by twitching the skin on his shoulders and swishing his tail.  

I was able to borrow a Wintec All-Purpose saddle that is either a MW or W tree and it fits him well.  It isn't my favorite saddle, but it fits and that is what is important.  

My western saddle has been in the garage for about 6 weeks while I was working on getting replacement fenders.  I finally got the fenders and brought the saddle out to ride in.  I figured I would be more comfortable and secure in the western saddle while pregnant.  

Well, what do you know.  It doesn't fit either.  When I put it on, it sort of sat above him, like it couldn't slide down into place.  I thought maybe it had just gotten stiff from being on the stand in the garage for so long.  I wiggled it down on him and girthed up.  I lunged him before I got on and all seemed fine.  I got on and immediately knew something was up.  As soon as I sat down, Boomer started twitching his shoulders like he had a fly on him.  He just kept doing that as we walked around.  As soon as I asked for the trot, he started swishing his tail like crazy.  He was also resisting the bit a little, but not anything terrible.  I hopped off, slid the saddle back a few inches to free up his shoulders and got back on.  It helped a little with the skim twitching, but the tail swishing started back up as soon as we picked up the trot.  I wasn't in the mood to see if cantering would bring about bucking, so I hopped off and called it a day.  Disappointing is an understatement at this point.  

I am in an uncomfortable position where I own two saddles that don't fit my horse and don't particularly love the saddle that I am borrowing, which does fit.  

I have been hanging on to my Crosby for these last few months because it holds a lot of sentimental value.  However, it doesn't fit me or my horse.  At first, I thought to myself that I would hang on to it in case Boomer changes shape again and needs a narrower saddle.  However, the more I think about that, the less is makes sense.  It is much better to have a saddle be too wide, as you can shim it with an extra pad.  With a saddle too narrow, it just sits and collects dust.  Now, I am leaning towards selling both of my saddles to be able to afford a dressage saddle that actually fits.  Should Boomer get more narrow, I can always use an extra pad to shim.  I have a distinct feeling that there is no way Boomer will ever be wider than a wide tree saddle.  If he does grow more, well, we will tackle that when it comes time.  

I guess my chore for the weekend is to get my saddles listed on eBay.  I will do a post here in a few days with a list of the items I will be selling along with my saddles.  (mohair cinch, neoprene cinch, cantle pack, etc.)