Thursday, June 27, 2013

California Trace

Another horse feed post! I LOVE getting feedback and opinions on feed, supplements, etc. so comment (or email me) away!

A few weeks ago I talked about adding FastTrack probiotic supplement to see if that helps with Hemie's weight. I'm a firm believer in the change-only-one-thing-at-a-time approach, so I won't be doing anything else at this point with the express goal of increasing his weight. Fabulous readers suggested upping the hay, which I've been meditating on quite a bit. 

However, another feed topic I've been thinking about off and on is Selenium & Vitamin E.  I've researched these occasionally over the last 2 years or so. Mel of Boots and Saddles has had a few posts on it (which I've read and re-read several times). These nutrients are important for all sorts of bodily functions, including fighting free radicals and supporting muscles. At Hemie's post-purchase exam, when I asked about neurological testing, my vet mentioned that our area's hay is very low in Selenium and Vitamin E, which are necessary to for neurological support, and that feed-through supplements would be a good option for us to consider.

Well, that did it. I decided to get serious about adding these to Hemie's diet. I decided to go with a product that has been personally recommended to me by a local eventer whose horse happens to go barefoot. She said that she could see her horse's hooves grow out more healthy when she added the supplement, and even saw the hooves grow out less-healthy-looking when she ran out for a month or two due to a mix-up with her supplier. I really like having results you can actually see so you can know that they're being absorbed.
The product is called California Trace and it is a trace mineral supplement for horses, specifically formulated to supplement minerals lacking in west coast hay. It has vit E, selenium, and several other minerals lacking in west coast hay and grass.

I ordered the 25 lb bag of pellets for $100, which they shipped to my house for *free*.  According to the website, that should amount to $0.50 per day.

25 lb bag of pellets
2 scoops per day for a 1,000 lb horse

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Saddlebreds as Sport Horses - Part II

Does anyone else have posts that have been sitting in their drafts folder for months or even a year+? Ones that are dallied with regularly but never seem to get to the point where they are ready for the big orange PUBLISH button?

Or am I just weird like that?

In any case, the topic of Saddlebreds as Sport Horses is one that I think on regularly, even if I re-type drafts over and over instead of just posting on the topic.

To follow up a much previous post discussing the American Saddlebred as a breed under-represented in sport horse disciplines, I wanted to take a moment to shine the light on some people who are actively promoting ASBs in disciplines other than saddleseat here in my neck of the woods.

Firstly, Lisa Marie Bauman of Austin Eventing who moved to Malibu earlier this year, though she will soon be returning to Texas. She and her horse Arvo are competing at Training level. Arvo is the only full ASB who has been actively competing here in Area VI eventing this year. Hopefully I'll meet them before they go! Here's their cross-country video from Galway Downs in May:

Next is Lisa Davies Siderman of Deer Creek Ranch in Malibu. She has long been a proponent of Saddlebreds in non-saddleseat disciplines. I met her several years ago at Equine Affaire in Pomona and recall being slightly shocked that she did endurance on her ASBs (I was still a saddleseater at the time). But she is putting into action what others (including myself) do just in ideas/support: actively breeding and competing ASBs in sport horse disciplines. She also helps manage the official ASB sport-horse committee. Here's one of her lovely horses, Havana Love Aphair, competing at the El Sueno derby in May:

Additionally there's a local gal who competes in eventing with an Oldenburg/Saddlebred cross, and I always am rooting for them at shows. But I get the impression that they downplay the saddlebred part, especially when he was for sale a few months back. I assume that's because European warmbloods are much more en vogue in eventing sales right now and ASBs still carry stigma out here. To he honest, if I'd had the $8k, I'd have snatched him up! He's a very handsome boy and quite suitable for my modest competitive aspirations.

I'm always on the look-out for people doing sport-horse disciplines with saddlebreds or saddlebred-crosses, especially those here on the West Coast where ASBs are not as common as they are back east. Admittedly I'm much more "in the know" with eventing than I am with endurance, dressage, reining, combined driving, or any other sport horse discipline - but I wholeheartedly support ASBs doing those as well! If you know of any ASBs or crosses competing in non-saddleseat, let me know!

For others who are interested in this topic, here are Facebook groups/pages for you to consider joining:
American Saddlebred and Half-ASB Sporthorses
American Saddlebreds and Crosses Sport Horse Group

My next post ( day...) on the topic will discuss ASB saddleseat retraining programs and adoption/purchase opportunities as compared to those for off-the-track Thoroughbreds (OTTB). And then another post (just maybe...) will be about emerging cross breeding phenomenon and its connection to sport horse suitability.

Or maybe I'll just keep plugging away at these posts forever.  =P

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Track My Hack

(Track My Hack is actually the name of an iPhone app from WoofWear that lets you track info about your rides. I downloaded it some months ago but still haven't remembered to turn it on before trail rides. It's free, so you might as well try it. =P)

Over the last few weeks the weather has been spectacular and I've been making it a priority to go on a trail ride at least every other week. Unfortunately we have to ride on the shoulder of a busy road for a short stretch to get to the trail area. Luckily Tynan and her lovely mare Roxy are game to go with us and help lead the way through some trouble areas (although Hemie is surprisingly good).

Some photos from ~2 weeks ago...
Ronald Reagan Library at the top of the hill.

Tynan aboard Roxie.

Hemie's crazy mane that likes to be on both sides. teehee.

And from this past week...

Dead snake in bottom right. And yes, Tynan is riding bareback. Next to a busy road.

And did I mention that Tynan rides sans bridle or halter? Even on trail rides!
Random selfie of me and the pony! Yes, I wear my helmet and both safety vests when on trail.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Spectator --> Competitor

This weekend was awesome.

Karen of Bakersfield Dressage came to my neck of the woods for a Dr. Christian Schacht clinic (click here to read my recap from his clinic back in January). She hung out while Hemie and I played over a few jumps, then she bravely got on and Hemie was a good sport and tootled around. Then we enjoyed some delish sushi!

Random weird thing that I'd love some opinions on. So we are at sushi and a waitress notices my half-chaps and boots and strikes up a friendly horsey conversation. Long story short, she just got her equine masseuse certification and is looking to establish her clientele and is willing to give great pricing. I got her name and number. So here's the question: would you be willing to let a newly certified equine masseuse work on your horse? On the one hand I like the idea of massage therapy, and it being affordable - but on the other hand, could she hurt Hemie on accident since she is inexperienced? Would I be able to tell if he doesn't like it? Opinions welcome!

Saturday I went with J.D. up to the lovely Shepherd Ranch at Santa Ynez to watch cross-country day of their June horse trails. It was a picture perfect day. Sunny and warm but breezy.

Upper water complex
We watched some excellent rounds, and also some nail-biting ones. It was nice to socialize and network and cheer on fellow riders. Laurie had a rider there and she rocked the Novice course like she does this every weekend, when in fact it has been over a year (maybe several years) since she's done eventing.  Its always good when riders your coach trains have safe and fun rounds.

Training level bench jump

I walked the Intro level course and felt it would be doable. In fact I also walked the BN level course and thought that looked doable too. Maybe a few of the Novice questions too. =]  I seriously am feeling so inspired and excited for our July 13th schooling and to sign up for Shepherd's August HT. I am just so ready to go from spectator to competitor. I'm feeling impatient in the good kinda way.

Lower water complex
 Another great thing about going here is realizing just how many different eventing trainers and barns we have in Southern California. I love Laurie and hope to be her client for the long haul, but its also good to know that there are lots of other trainers out there to clinic with. Simply paying attention at these events will tell you which ones are good and which ones are questionable...

Lovely Santa Ynez backdrop

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Sleepy Pony Cuteness

Hemie loves to nap in the sunshine. I love showing up and finding him dozing.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Liebster Love

My heart is very deeply warmed to be the recipient of the Liebster Blog Award. My sincere gratitude to to Karley of All InHillary of Equestrian at HartEmmi of My Life on Horses, Hawk of Forging FictionNiamh of Life of Riley and Karen of Bakersfield Dressage! Thank you very much for reading and for the nomination!

Interestingly, I was awarded the Liebster Blog Award back in January 2012...and it appears that the protocols have significantly changed since then. The facts & questions part is choose 11 blogs instead of 5... I chalk this up to the blogosphere's version of the game of telephone.

How to accept the award:
The Liebster Blog Award is a way to recognize blogs who have less than 200 followers. Liebster is a German word that means beloved and valued. Here are the rules for accepting the award:
  1. Thank the person who nominated you and include a link back to their blog.
  2. List 11 random facts about yourself.
  3. Answer the 11 questions given to you.
  4. Create 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate.
  5. Choose 11 bloggers with fewer than 200 followers to nominate and include links to their blogs.
  6. Go to each blogger's page and let them know you have nominated them.
11 Random Facts About Me
  1. My favorite color is blue.
  2. I have never bought a horse, although I have owned 2.
  3. I helped my husband choose his name (first and last).
  4. I have an excellent innate sense of direction.
  5. I'm pretty sure I invented nostril flare dancing. 
  6. In college I double-majored in cultural anthropology and business economics.
  7. My parents are 20 years apart in age.
  8. I am the only horse person in my entire family (and I have a ginormous family).
  9. My husband and I have the same birthday (Halloween).
  10. I do cartwheels down the office hallway when no one is around.
  11. I dislike peanut butter, but I want to like it, so I try it every so often, and confirm that I still dislike it.
11 Questions from Karley of All In 
  1. What would your ideal last meal be? Prime rib, garlic mashed potatoes, cesar salad, and ice cream.
  2. Ideal riding outfit?  Well-fitting breeches with pockets, technical/cooling top.
  3. If you could go anywhere, all expenses paid- where would you go? New Zealand.
  4. What are your top 3 musts for a boarding facility? Lights, good footing, quality hay.
  5. What one beverage can't you live without? Coffee.
  6. Dream car? A horse-box aka lorry like this one.
  7. Where do you want to go with your riding? Novice level in eventing.
  8. Where do you shop the most for real clothes? To be honest I get most of my real clothes as x-mas or b-day presents from my mom! But if I do have to shop, I go to Kohls mostly.
  9. What do you do to calm your nerves at horse shows? Visualize, smile at everyone.
  10. Favorite bathing products? Anything from La Source or Lush.
  11. If you could pick 2 horses off of which would they be? The highest-priced equitation horse and the highest-priced jumper. Just because, as a saddleseater-turned-eventer, I have no idea what I'm looking for in the h/j world.
11 Questions from Hillary of Equestrian at Hart
  1. Favorite gait? Canter.
  2. Favorite breed of horse? I pick 2: Saddlebred and Thoroughbred
  3. Favorite tackshop? Calabasas Saddlery. I just wish it was closer.
  4. Favorite tack brand? I'm not sure if I have one, to be honest.
  5. If you could be anyone for a day who would you want to be? The President of the USA. I'd be making some changes, and also want to know about Area 51.
  6. Discipline you would like to try? Hunters or Jumpers.
  7. Thing that you are most afraid of? Stagnation.
  8. Favorite TV show? Star Trek Voyager.
  9. Biggest barn pet peeve? People leaving halters attached to cross-ties.
  10. If given a an unlimited budget and 1 month to travel where would you go? Ice hotel in Sweden, then the mountains of New Zealand, then the beaches of French Polynesia.
11 Questions from Emmi of My Life on Horses
  1. You are stuck on a deserted island, what is the first thing you do? Explore.
  2. You meet a stranger, he offers you two pills. He says the green one will take you on an amazing adventure although it may have dangerous/deadly consequences or he says you can take the yellow which will make you forget any of this ever happened. Which would you take? Why? Yellow because my life is good and doesn't need adventure or danger right now.
  3. Would you rather own a unicorn or a pegasus? Pegasus so I can fly!
  4. What was your most memorable experience you and your horse shared? When we first met. He was in a box-stall at the rescue. After meeting him in the box stall, we went around the side to talk to the manager. He stuck his head way up to look at me out of a random high window.   
  5. What is a riding discipline you have always wanted to try? Why? ie. barrel racing, steeple chasing etc. Working Equitation. It's like trail class on speed.
  6. What was your favorite toy from your childhood? My stuffed bunny, named bunny.
  7. If you show, what was your most favorite ribbon/award you earned? Our first ribbon - which meant the first time we did not get eliminated!
  8. You are at a bar (or restaurant if you are under 21!) what drink would you order? The girliest, fruitiest, tropical blended thing available.
  9. How many siblings do you have? 2 (one full sister, one half brother).
  10. What is your favorite time of the year? Summer, because there's daylight after work still!
  11. Which do you like short horses or tall horses? I like them all, but if I had to choose then I guess tall.
11 Questions from Hawk of Forging Fiction
  1. What is your favorite childhood memory? Getting my first horse, Bo, for Christmas when I was 12 years old.
  2. If you could have a super power, what would it be? Ability to predict the stock market. I'd be rich!
  3. You have one wish - what would you do with it? Wish that my family will stay safe and healthy and live long happy lives.
  4. What is your favorite color? Blue.
  5. What are you most passionate about right now? Riding.
  6. You win the lottery. What is the first thing you buy? Whatever my husband wants, like a car or something. He deserves to get something since I have a horse, right?
  7. What is something that intimidates you? Large down banks.
  8. What is a quote that best describes you?  "How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours." -Wayne W. Dyer
  9. If you had a week off from work, what would you do? Ride every day, and organize my house!
  10. If you could travel anywhere, where would you go? The far ends of the earth - everywhere I could.
  11. What is the most dangerous/daring activity you have ever partaken in? Scuba diving. Seriously, it's way more dangerous than people commonly think. 
11 Questions from Niamh of Life of Riley
  1. What's your biggest fear as a rider? *I feel like I don't trust people who say "nothing".  I fear falling off and hurting myself or my horse.
  2. Who's your favorite rider and why? Bunny Sexton - she's a So Cal event trainer who, at 51 years old, and just did her first 3-star event on a horse rejected by other top riders. She is truly an inspiration.
  3. What's the most useful piece of advice someone's given you as a horse owner?  Your gut instinct > your trainer's advice.
  4. How old were you when you got your first horse? 12
  5. Burghley, Badminton, or Rolex? Rolex. I know more about it than the other two, and it's closer.
  6. Quick, you're trapped on a desert island, what three things do you bring? A yacht, a bikini, and my husband.
  7. If you could could have dinner with anyone (alive or dead, famous or not) who would it be? My Pop-pop (maternal grandfather). He passed when I was very young, so there's some questions I'd like to ask him.
  8. Favorite guilty pleasure? In-n-out burger animal-style fries.
  9. Tell me three things on your bucket list. 1) Watch Rolex live in person. 2) Go back to French Polynesia. 3) Compete in a HT and finish on my dressage score.
  10. If you could ride any well known horse who would it be and why? Henny because he seems so game, honest, and solid.
  11. Would you rather: Ride without stirrups for the rest of your life OR have one arm tied behind your back at all times? Sans stirrups - I'd be a better rider for it, and after some time I'd get used to it.
11 Questions from Karen of Bakersfield Dressage
  1. Where did you meet the love of your life? (Not met him yet? Where might you meet him?) Over AIM (AOL Instant Messenger). Rick was fixing our mutual friend's computer, started chatting with me, then we met in person that evening and the rest is history!
  2. You've just won the lottery. Would you quit your job? Yes but probably not immediately. Ultimately I'd rather work part-time than full-time so I have more time to ride and such.
  3. Black tack or brown? Black. Looks good on all colors of horses and you don't have to worry about matching the right shade of brown.
  4. Where is one place you wouldn't want to visit? Tornado country during tornado season.
  5. What's your favorite horse book? Oh boy,
  6. How many riding disciplines have you tried? 10 or so. For competition, I've done saddleseat, western pleasure, dressage, eventing, halter, hunters, and jumpers. For fun, I've done trail class, reining, driving, and cow herding.
  7. Is there something you won't do with your horse? Right now we're sticking to dressage, jumping, and trail riding since Hemie is still learning his job. I doubt I'll do western competitive riding with him, but other than that I love me a well-rounded horse and want him to try as much as possible!
  8. Favorite barn snack? Water from the hose, or the natural gooey horse treats.
  9. Do you have a "guilty" pleasure? In-N-Out burger.
  10. What's your favorite brand of potato chips? Miss Vickie's Mesquite BBQ
  11. Do you prefer "fancy" breeches, or just plain jane? Probably fancy, but I'm not sure since I've never afforded them!
11 Questions for Bloggers I Nominate
Bloggers I nominate can choose to answer any 11 questions they want. Shop around the various great questions above, or from other Liebster Award posts, or answer the questions you yourself invent. =)

11 Bloggers I Select for the Liebster Award
I'm not including the lovely bloggers who nominated me, but please check them out. Reading their selection lists is a great way to find other blogs to read and enjoy! Other than that, I haven't excluded anyone that I know has already received the award (because that would practically be my whole blogroll), so don't feel pressured to answer questions or make another post or anything. Just know that I like your blog and you are "beloved."   :)
  1. Nicku of The Polka Dot Periodical
  2. Andrea of Project Runaway: The Uncatchable Number 257
  3. Carly of Poor Woman Showing
  4. Aimee of SprinklerBandits
  5. Mel of Boots and Saddles
  6. Lindsay of Nanakorobi yaoki
  7. Lysette of Viva Carlos
  8. Lauren of She Moved to Texas
  9. Dom of A Collection of Madcap Escapades
  10. Laura of The Roany Pony
  11. Gingham of Pia and Prairie's Parade

On a random sentimental personal note, I get lots and lots of enjoyment and value from reading blogs. Furthermore, blogging has brought me much more happiness and useful information than I had ever thought it would. If you're thinking about blogging, I encourage you to go for it. If you're thinking about commenting (or commenting more frequently), please do. Being a part of the horse blogging community has been very rewarding, and awards like this help to recognize and expand that community. Thank you for reading. And if applicable, thank you for commenting and/or writing your own blog. I am just one person, but my life (and that of my horse) has been enriched because of information, support, and encouragement from this community. <3

Monday, June 17, 2013

Jumping Training Update

One of the numerous purposes of this blog is to help me track our training. Its amazing to look back and see what we were working on in the past and how far and fast we've come along.

As far as our jumping training goes, Hemie continues to impress me with his positive attitude and aptitude. He is still quite careful, but he is getting more and more brave. When encountering jumps that are intimidating, he no longer refuses or runs out. Instead, he'll crane his head downward to take a big look and meanwhile crack his back way up and over the jump.

Moreover, there are fewer and fewer jumps that he finds intimidating. At lessons, we will come up with a game plan for approaching iffy jumps, only to find that our planning was for naught - Hemie takes it without issue.

To that end, Laurie has been giving us an interesting challenge of an exercise: she has me release contact earlier and earlier before jumps. As in, reins flopping in the wind loose. While it feels like a trust exercise to me (you know, like at summer camp, where you fall backwards to be caught by a group of peers...), its actually more an exercise to see how Hemie does on his own. For my part it's getting easier and easier to trust my horse, and it's a great reminder that I can actually steer with my legs (I tend to use rein aids before leg aids and that is so backwards). Meanwhile, Hemie is proving that he's more reliable than I give him credit for - he doesn't run off, he doesn't charge (most of the time), but he does come forward which apparently is what we (Laurie, actually) wants.

I do feel that my position is improving. I'm focusing on really having stable legs, active core, and soft seat. The neck strap is not only handy for awkward jumps, but it is helping me have soft elbows and shoulders rather than long reins when I want or need to give to Hemie.

Overall Hemie is somehow getting even more relaxed during lessons. He's never been a tense horse or anything, but I keep noticing how chill he is even when standing around watching other people ride. I really love that about him. He's relaxed yet alert for trail rides, even in new places. I still need to work on getting him used to bareback and halter riding, but he's improving every time with that as well.

I cannot verify accuracy, but it makes for a great quote. 

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Thank you for adopting

Random cool thing. 

My vet, when he recently came to do Hemie's exam and radiographs, said something on a personal note that has stuck with me in a heart warming way.

He personally thanked me for adopting a horse. 

I'm sure I laughed it off that our partnership was meant to be, or that my trainer is the one who should be thanked, or some other awkward remark one makes when one receives an unexpected compliment of sorts.

His thanks felt weird because I didn't *intend* to adopt a horse. At no point did I think "Gee, I am in need of a horse, and I shall choose to adopt one rather than purchase one in order to make a difference and help ensure that a disadvantaged animal gets a good home." Or anything of that nature whatsoever. In fact, I believe that making sure riders acquire horses that are appropriate and safe for them is much, much more important than the concept of adopting versus buying a horse. Adopting a horse is simply not practical or safe for some riders. 

But still. Dr. Liskey's comment made me realize that even absent the intent, and no matter the circumstances, the action is still there and adopting a horse does make a difference. So I'd like to honor his thankfulness by passing it on. 

To anyone who has adopted a horse, past or present, no matter your original intent or circumstances: 

Friday, June 14, 2013

35 Asks

From Viva Carlos and The Polka Dot Periodical and All In and Nanakorobi yaoki:

1: A time you've been scared for your life on horseback.
For my life? Never. For my rib cage, a number of times. The first time I ever galloped on a horse was an incredible mix of fear and exhilaration. I was about 14 years old, riding Bo, my American Saddlebred. We were on a trail ride with a friend who was riding an ex-racehorse. She asked if we wanted to do a little run. I assumed she meant a canter. I was wrong. As a saddleseat show horse I bet it was Bo's first time galloping with a rider on. It sure wasn't his last. ;]

2: There's a huge party at your friends house or you could have a lesson on the same night, which do you go to?
The lesson. Unless these friends are visiting from out of town or something.

3: Favorite markings a horse can have.
No preference.

4: Would you rather deal with bolting, rearing or bucking?
Yikes. I'm most experienced in dealing with rearing, but it was very dangerous so I think I'd choose bolting.

5: Agree or disagree; To have good eq means to be a good rider?
Disagree. Sometimes being a good, effective rider means throwing eq out the window and channeling your inner cowboy.

6: If you could try any discipline on any horse for 1 day, what discipline and what horse?
Show jumping, on a well trained push-button horse.

7: 3 horses you'd want to ride/meet the most?
SV Casey's Final Countdown (World Grand Champion 5-gaited Saddlebred)

8: On a scale of 1-10 how good would you say your seat is?

9: One of your goals for the next year, horse-wise.
Complete a horse trials with a score.

10: Would you rather teach lessons or train horses?
Train horses

11: Have you ever given a lesson for money?

12: If you were a trainer, would you want to train little kids, pre-teens, teens or adults?
Teens. They're old enough that you can talk with them like adults, but likely have less fears.

13: Have you ever ridden someone's horse for money?
Not for money, per se, but for a discount off of my rent which is pretty close.

14: If given the opportunity, would you exercise track horses?
I'd have to really think about it. Sounds kinda scary.

15: On a scale of 1-10 what is your confidence like in the saddle?
Confidence in staying on the horse would be a 9.5. It is a very rare moment when I'm nervous about falling off. But confidence in being an effective event rider would be more like a 5. I'm constantly working on it, and while I'm always improving there is a long way to go.

16: 3 things you need to work on, riding-wise?
Lower leg, shorter reins, recovering after fences.

17: 3 things your horse needs to work on.
Balance, focus, liberty of movement, and bending right. Yes, that's 4 things.

18. Top 3 favourite riders?
Tough question - there are so many! I picked 3 top eventers who are actively competing:
Tiana Coudray
Karen O'Connor 

19: Is there anyone you'd say is a bad rider? (don't give names)
Yes. Dangerous riders who have their horses completely on the forehand, charging around the course are bad riders.

20: Are you better on the flat or over fences?
Bah, trick question. Even jump courses are mostly flat. However I think I'm a more attractive rider when doing jump courses versus dressage.

21: How high do you think you've jumped?

22: How high do you think your horse would be capable of jumping?
No clue.

23: Opinion on tackless riding.

24: Have you ever lied or over-dramatized anything about your riding?
Well, when I explain to non-horsey people what 3-day eventing is and I refer to the Olympics or Rolex, that is quite an over dramatization as compared to the 2' courses I'm personally actually doing.  =P

25: Do you think you're a good rider?

26: Ever had barn drama?
I've been at barns. So the answer is yes.

27: Favorite things about the barn you're at?
Quality feed, excellent lighting, great caretakers, accessible and professional managers, 8 arenas...the list goes on and on.

28: Will you show next year? If so in what?
Yes - hopefully a combination of registered horse trials and local shows.

29: Plans for your horse over the next year?
Have fun, keep improving.

30: Would you share your tack with people?
Depends on the person, but I don't do it regularly.

31: Has a horse ever shattered your confidence?
Shattered is a strong word. Shaken, yes.

32: Ever been scared to get on a horse?
Yes - most recently, after recovering from a knee injury. I knew I couldn't afford to fall off again which puts added stress and pressure to a ride.

33: Do you get nervous before shows?

34: Hunters or Jumpers?
Right now we do hunters, but I think I'd rather do jumpers.

35: Last time you fell off? What happened? Were you hurt?
About a month or two ago. In a dressage lesson my horse started hopping up and down and I got completely unseated and fell forward on his neck, he took off running (my dressage whip banging on him didn't help), and I tried with all my might to sit back up but I simply couldn't. After a few rounds around the arena I decided to bail off the side. I wasn't hurt, but my abs were quivering for over a day from the effort of trying to sit up.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Dressage Training Update

I've been so caught up in posting about my horse management issues and our showing adventures (4 shows over 5 weeks!) that I realize I haven't spent as much time on our actual training progress.

In a nutshell, Hemie continues to impress me with how fast he learns and how much genuine enjoyment he seems to get from our lessons. He likes to figure out the puzzles and he's a very engaged partner. Laurie, as always, continues to raise the bar for what she expects from both Hemie and myself at every. single. lesson. She does not allow me to get comfortable with wherever we are - she pushes for more from us. For as fast as I feel we're moving forward she always seems to have more for us to learn and do!

Once we're warmed up and in work, Hemie has been showing that he's got the long-and-low concept down pat. He loves to stretch forward and downward into the contact and in another stride or two he really lifts his back way up - I seem to grow a few inches taller when he does it! We occasionally get a behind-the-bit situation, but I'm learning to catch that quicker and push him forward out of it.

I've been consistently including at one bit-up (longing with side reins) per week, normally before a dressage practice ride or lesson, and I think its been helpful for both of us. Hemie gets to have super constant consistent contact, and I am translating feel for visual on the ground and seeing how much I really need to encourage forward in both situations.

Hemie is doing great with connecting to the bit and staying on it for good long periods of time, but we are still working on me asking him to take the bit downward into a rounder neck shape earlier and earlier in the ride. Laurie is having me be more proactive with half-halts - using them before he pops his head up to look around at the outside world.

Laurie'g been giving us exercises that are melting my brain. Example: tracking right in a 20 meter circle. Now add haunches out and shoulder in. Now add head/neck out. Poor Hemie and I are both like:  0.0   But its helping Hemie's balance and leg awareness/control, as well as my ability to have independent aids.

We got a lesson the other week that was quite amazing: it was a dressage equitation lesson. The cool thing was not so much the content of the lesson (although its always good to get pointers about my position and work on it - longer legs, stronger calves, better ankle angles, sitting deeper, shoulders back more, etc) - the interesting thing is that it means Laurie is impressed enough with Hemie's progress that she was willing to give him the day off, so to speak, and really focus on me. Laurie is a firm believer in form fits function, and generally doesn't care how the rider looks as long as its effective in getting the horse to do what we need. So it is a rare lesson where we are working on me, and its good for me.

Last but not least, with Laurie's help I now know that when Hemie is having an A.D.D. day, the solution is to work, work, WORK! (whereas I had been trying just work). Turn, bend, counter-bend, extend, collect, counter-bend, true bend, turn again, straight, turn again, work, WORK!  It works. Isn't it amazing how so much of riding better is not learning what to do, but learning to what extent to do it. Its a recurring theme in lessons that I'm asking for the right thing but not strong enough, or fast enough, or long enough.

I'm in the Working Age stage.

Friday, June 7, 2013

I discovered the secret to braiding

3 yard needles
Its a yarn needle.

Seriously, this 50¢ item improved my braids like 500%.

How did I ever get by without one these last few years? It made it so much easier to get the braids into a tight ball and they felt much more secure in place. Best of all, they are cheap! It's 99¢ for a 2-pack at any craft store. I bought several since I figure they break and I'd rather have a few extras.

The below picture is from our dressage show on May 19th and it was the 3rd time I braided Hemie. So far, its by and away our best attempt. I did the braids the morning of the show, around 6 am or so. The braids a a tad lumpy and uneven, but at least they are actually round balls rather than squished folded things.

And for those who don't braid, or are newbs like moi, the yarn needle comes into play after you have braided yarn into a section of mane, then used a pull-through to loop the braid underneath. At this point, instead of using your fingers (and sometimes teeth), to try and tie the braid loop into as much of a "button" as you can using the yarn at the end of the braid, you simply feed the yarn through the large eye of the needle and then fold the braid over itself again, pinning the needle through the braid to secure it into a tight little ball. Brilliant.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

B-day & Hubby ride!

Firstly, I'm a tad embarrassed to admit that I forgot my horse's birthday.  Bohemian turned 8 years old ~2 weeks ago on May 20th!!

He got lots of carrots and cookies and pats the day before since we did the dressage show, but still.  It's also somewhat confusing since I've been calling him 8 since the beginning of the year...and now he really is.

Anyway, in other fun news, I finally got my husband to ride Hemie! And I have proof!

This was right after a jump lesson, while Laurie was around to supervise and give him a micro-lesson.

Rick is actually a natural at riding, but it's been 3 years since he has been on a horse, and even then his rides have mostly been on bomb-proof packer trail horses. It took him a few minutes to find his seat (and I really should have lowered his stirrups much more than I did!), but then he did quite well.

Hemie was a very good boy. Like, amazingly tolerant. He was trying very hard to figure out what Rick was asking him to do, and he was just a trooper the whole time. 

We did about 5 to 10 minutes of walking with a little bit of trotting and Laurie said that she had to go to another appointment, ending the ride. She suggested that future rides with Rick be done in a roundpen for safety until he gets his seat back a little more. I walked her to the gate, then turned back to see Rick cantering down at the other end of the arena.  Husband BUSTED!  Men, they just do not listen, do they?! Rick had wanted to trot over a pole and clearly he and Hemie has a miscommunication. Luckily they both seemed to be laughing through it, as Hemie came right back down to a walk and Rick stayed in the tack. Overall I'm pretty proud of both my boys. =)

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

60 Equestrian Questions

From Viva Carlos

1. dish face or roman nose? why?
No thanks on either.

2. mares or geldings? why?
Both! I've only owned geldings but I've been auntie to mares and love 'em too!

3. Do you think warmbloods are over-rated?
No, I'd certainly be open to having one.

4. Describe your dream horse.
Dark liver chestnut with flaxen mane and tale. Willing, athletic, young. Refined, snuggly.

5. What kind of bit do you use and why?
French-link snaffles because they are very soft in the horse's mouth. My jumping bit is an eggbut with copper metal blend that horses love the taste of. Dressage is a D-ring, sterling silver, for a tad more lateral leverage (D-ring wasn't available in mixed metal. someone needs to invent that).

6. Stock horses or sport horses?
Sport horses

7. Favorite horse color?

8. Least favorite horse color?

9. Dressage or Jumping?

10. Favorite stock horse breed?

11. Favorite Hot-blooded breed?
American Saddlebred....with Thoroughbred as a second.

12. Favorite cold-blooded breed?
Friesian. They sure are pretty.

13. Dapple grey or Fleabitten grey?

14. Most expensive piece of tack you own?
Stubben Roxanne saddle. (Worth every penny!)

15. When did you start riding?
6 years old. I was in 1st grade.

16. Leather or Nylon halters?
Leather for safety.

17. Apples or Carrots?
Carrots...Hemie hasn't quite caught on to apples...

18. Chestnut or bay?

19. Palomino or Buckskin?
Palomino.  (<3 miss you Storm!)

20. Lazy horse or Hot horse?

21. Have you ever been trail riding?
Oh yes. Love trails.

22. Have you ever had to put down a horse that you loved?

23. How many saddlepads do you have?
10, give or take.

24. How many bridles do you have?

25. Favorite saddle brand?
Uh...well I ride in a I guess I'll go with that.

26. Beige or White Breeches?
Beige. White is not flattering.

27. Least favorite discipline?
Tough one, since I love riding every which way. Maybe bronc riding since that is not partnership based.

28. Do you own a horse?

29. Do you collect breyer horses?
No, but that brings back great memories.

30. Favorite color of saddle pad?

31.Private barn or Boarding stable?
Private my dream home/property/farm. I've always had horses and boarding stables.

32. Opinion on spoiled riders?
Spoiled people can be annoying to deal with, but secretly I'm jealous of their cute stuff.

Myself aboard Miss Paint in Santa Barbara, CA.
Don't worry, I now use a helmet.
33. Have you ever ridden tackless?
Well, the one time I rode sans any tack at all I was promptly tossed off!  Since then I ride with at least a rope around the neck. I ride bareback all the time.

34. Have you ever stood up on a horse?
Maybe when I was a kid. Seems dangerous now!

35. Overo, Tobiano, or Tovero?
There's lovely examples of all 3, hard to choose a favorite. Probably tobiano.

36. Favorite face markings(s)?
No face marking, or small symmetrical markings. I don't care for medicine cap.

37. Why you started riding?
I wanted to since I was born.

38. Does anyone in your family ride?
Only my husband when I force him to once a year or so.

39. Have you ever owned a horse?
Currently do and have in the past.

40. Something you want to improve on?
Everything for riding effectively for dressage and jumping! Right now working on leg position.

41. A bad habit you have?
Long reins.

42. A bad habit your horse has?
Getting stuck and going up-and-down instead of forward. Also, not bending right.
big jump!

43. How high have you jumped?

44. Have you ever had a dressage lesson?
Weekly, in fact.

45. What really makes your horse spook?
Horse-eating infants in neon colored onesies.

46. Trail riding or ring work?
Ring work.

47. Indoor or Outdoor arena?
Oh if only there were more indoors in So Cal...

48. Colorful or plain saddle pads?
Ironically I own mostly colorful, but nowadays I like the more plain ones.

49. Do you like horses with blue eyes?
Yep - they're lucky! Especially with "eyeliner" black markings.

50. Have you ever gotten into a fight with your trainer?
Define fight. But I'd say no.

51. Light bay or Dark bay horses?
I vote blood bay, since that's what Hemie is!

52. What is your equestrian dream?
Finish a 3-part horse trial on my (good) dressage score.

53. Long mane or Pulled mane?
 Depends on the horse!

54. Opinion on fake tails?
Excellent barn lights at Castle Rock Farms!
I'm fine with them, if its appropriate for your discipline.

55. Least favorite thing about your barn?
They close the rings at any miniscule chance of rain.

56. Favorite thing about your barn?
Lights! I can see!

57. Have you ever ridden a stallion?
A few times, under trainer supervision. My favorite was the lovely Harvest Commander aka Gem, when I was about 12.

58. socks or no socks on a horse?
No preference.

59. Favorite horse names?
Welcome Challenge was my first horse's registered name, and it's still one of my favorites. Other than that, I like names that reference the color blue and sports-car/motorcycle names.

60. If you could ride any horse in the world, which one would it be? why?
Hmmm. Tough question. I'm thinking one of these three:
A) Cuna - He's a cool cat who has been there, done that, safe dependable, and so cute!
B) Henny - Run Henny Run! Love watching their helmet cams, would love to tackle a (smaller) course on him.
C) Casey's Final Countdown - Would love to rack on this handsome boy!
WGC CH SV Casey's Final Countdown
5-gaited ASB, 2007 World's Grand Champion
ridden by Michelle Macfarlane

Monday, June 3, 2013


April 28 2012. Not my best hair day.
Just over a year ago, I signed my name on the dotted line to take responsibility for a 7-year old OTTB whom I met just a few minutes prior, standing in a box stall.

I did not test ride him. We did not even trot him out.

So it may not shock you to learn that I did not get a PPE (pre-purchase exam).

I was told that he had vetted with clean x-rays, but wasn't provided copies. Later I found out that with racehorses they only tend to x-ray the ankles (fetlocks). I got pricing on PPEs from a vet I like, but decided to wait and see since there was the possibility of him not working out.

Clearly, at some point, I'd waited-and-seen long enough. He's a keeper.

For the last several months I've been ruminating on what exactly I would want to get done. Basic body exam? Flexions? Radiographs? Neurological exam? Airway scope? Blood test? Urine test?

Of course, what you get done depends on (a) purpose for the horse and (b) purpose of the exam. The purpose of the horse is simple - tote me around several times a week and be able to do low-level dressage and jumping. I do not have Rolex aspirations here.

As to purpose of the exam, it's not a pre-purchase since he's already been adopted. So we're calling it a baseline exam. Basically I'd like to know if he is at risk for any conditions that I could help prevent or address proactively. And its good to have baseline medical info in case an issue does arise - then there's something to compare against. Finally, its simply a good practice (for your safety and for the horse's) to have a vet approve a horse that you are riding, especially when asking them carry you over jumps (and the kind that don't fall down!).

So, finally, I had our vet come out on Saturday to give Hemie a thorough once-over. Dr. Liskey used to work at the so cal racetracks, then over the last few decades he has been doing primarily eventing and endurance horses. So, I trust his experience in evaluating ex-racehorses, especially for suitability in eventing.

Let me cut to the chase: Hemie's exam went fabulous - much better than I had expected.

We did a solid round of x-rays - all 4 fetlocks, front hooves, front naviculars, and hocks. We did flexion testing of all 4 legs (fetlocks) as well as head/neck. He did an eye exam and respiratory evaluation. He inspected his gaits. We did preliminary neuro testing, and hoof testing. We also did back and hip/rump palpation. And most importantly, I discussed all of the various quirks and concerns I have with my vet to see if they added up to something I couldn't identify.

(Brief aside: I find it quite funny that we have all these scientific names for what is basically poking and prodding the horse to see if he goes "ouch!"  Oh, modern science. Mostly a bunch of fancy names.)

The results? Much less wear and tear than I'd have expected. No arthritis. Zero! Very even and symmetrical cartilage. One bone spur in right hock, but not a concern. No "ankle jewelry" in the x-rays - very clean bones everywhere. Normal neuro parameters. Good eyes, good respiratory, great hooves, etc.

The only concerning issue was some soreness in his back, on the left as it leads to the rump. Based on the entire exam, Dr. Liskey surmised that his back muscles are still figuring out their new job and until they are more solidly developed there will be some soreness there, but that I can help increase blood flow by using liniment after rides. Considering Hemie's long-and-low rides lately with his super duper back lifting, I'd say he sure is developing those back muscles!

And, to boot, Hemie was a perfect patient, especially for having not been ridden for 2 days.

The feeling of relief that I've carried since Saturday afternoon says that I was more nervous about this exam than I had realized. I'm just so happy that Hemie's body is completely capable of doing what I want him to do.

You know how some people (intentionally or unintentionally) downplay their purpose for the horse at their PPE exam, with the idea that lower expectations will increase the chance of vet approving suitability? Well, I specifically tried to take the opposite approach. I told Dr. Liskey that I wanted to be able to go Training or Prelim on Hemie when, truth be told, I don't know if I'll ever care to go beyond Novice. Well, from a physical standpoint, Hemie has no upper limitation. This could be a Rolex horse. The Dr.'s exact words were "this horse will do whatever you want." Of course, he agreed that the key ingredient is heart, but apparently during the 1.5 hour exam he picked up on our special emotional connection because he commented a few times that "this horse really cares about you."  <3

Sunday, June 2, 2013

The Plunge into Probiotics

Okay, it has been over a year now. And he is still skinny.

Here's photos from April 2012:

And here's photos from the last several weeks:

Too many ribs showing for my liking. While he has certainly put on muscle (especially those shoulders!), I would be much happier if a little more flesh covered his middle. In fact, I like my animals a tad plump.

Since moving to Castle Rock in early February, Hemie has been getting AM feedings of  1 flake oat hay + 1 flake alfalfa hay, and PM feedings of 1 flake of either oat hay or alfalfa +1 flake grass hay (his menu card says PM alfalfa, but I've seen oat being fed multiple times). Additionally he's been getting supplemented with beet pulp and rice bran most nights per week.

I've decided to make 2 changes to his feed in order to help put on weight:
1) Change hay feedings to be AM & PM: 1 flake oat hay + 1 flake alfalfa hay. He doesn't really like the grass hay, and its the least caloric. Therefore I'm swapping it for hay he will eat and offers more calories.
2) Add FastTrack Probiotic to his supplemental feed most nights per week.

I used FastTrack many years ago on my very lean American Saddlebred, Bo. He was a hard keeper, and a barn manager bullied me into buying FastTrack from her when I was young. I have to say, good thing she did that because it worked! Within just a few months Bo was putting on weight like never before. So that product is something I've been ruminating on for a while.

An unplanned #3 is that we inherited a bag of EQUUS feed from Pixie. Not something I'd have paid money for, but free feed is always welcome! I'll be adding a dash of that too.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

No Worms!

Image from google search that led here.
First of all...ALERT! There is a gross picture of an actual worm in my horse's poop down below. You have been warned.  

Following Hemie's positive fecal test for worms in April, I gave him one tube of the double-dose fenbendazole. And the next day I did what only strange horse bloggy gals would do: get up close and personal with my horse's poop to inspect for worms, and document via iphone camera.

10 points if you can find the worms within 5 seconds.

They are small and red. One on each side of the poop - left and right (the one on the left is hard to see at this angle). According to intensive googling, these are small strongyles aka small redworms, not the roundworms that he also tested positive for. 

The good news is that 3 weeks later we re-tested, and happily the results came back negative. I pre-paid for a few more fecal tests, and we'll continue to recheck every quarter.