2010: A new year, a new outlook, and a new optimism! This will be a good year for us, I can feel it!!!

Thanks for taking the time to read my day-to-day ramblings about my horse life. My goal is to keep things as realistic as possible. We all deal with issues and problems, and I am struggling to learn and become a better horseperson and a better rider. It's a lifelong task!

January 2010

Friday, January 1, 2010 Happy New Year!

Ok, it's goal-setting time! Here we go....

  1. Win an amateur showmanship class (of at least 5 horses!) with Corky
  2. Win a Circuit Championship with Corky
  3. Get a healthy baby out of Taylor that lives the entire year
  4. Earn at least a half point in amateur equitation with Corky
  5. Become more consistent in the show pen with Corky
  1. Earn another Congress top 10 placing
  2. Earn a Congress Top 5 placing
  3. Show Taylor's baby in longe line
  4. Qualify a horse for the world show in something

I have other goals and resolutions that aren't necessarily horse-related, but I'll save them. I think most of my short-term goals are very achievable if I work hard and the stars align (except maybe earning that half point in equitation - that might be pie in the sky LOL!). it's going to be a wild and crazy year, so stay tuned....

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Dang, it was barely 20 degrees out today, but I was determined to ride anyways. I came up with a good combination of clothing: underarmour shirt, heavy turtleneck, and hoodie sweatshirt with a heavy coat (my old 2003 Congress finalist jacket) and a scarf wrapped around my throat, plus spandex leggings underneath my heavy Wranglers, and tall wool socks. I got a pair of rubber medical gloves and poked holes in them for breathing, and put those on underneath my thinsulate leather gloves. I was actually fairly comfortable except for my TOES. I can't fit 2 pairs of socks on in my riding boots, so somehow I need to figure out a way to keep the toes warm.

I had another good ride on Corky today. I am keeping with what Darla told me to do, and that is Stay the Course. Keep on with what we were doing all month and just repeat repeat repeat. Corky's canter transitions are super fine right now. She lifts off in slow-motion from the hind end like a good western pleasure horse (and I HATE making that comparison because you know how people are if you breathe "western pleasure" and "hunter under saddle" in the same breath!). I rode for a good solid half hour, was enjoying myself so much I didn't think about the cold until I dismounted...then ouch! I did a lot of work off the rail, circles and diagonals and just trying to be in control at all times. Man is that a great concept. Seriously! I had a few moments where my mind drifted off task and I was just cruising around and Corky started picking her own path, and immediately she started surging and doing things she knows are wrong, and I had to wake up and correct her. As long as I stayed focused and directed every step and every direction she took, things went awesome. What a concept! So the lesson learned is Stay in control, control every moment you are in the saddle..

Monday, January 4, 2010

Today was another 20-degree day, though by the time I rode after work it was probably closer to the 'teens. My darn toes...it was so hard to keep warm. I had a very good ride. Corky tested me a little more, but I 'stayed the course' and schooled through things. I love having the tools in my pocket to turn a potentially bad ride around to a good one.

I did some lateral moves - sidepassing and hindquarter pivots. These are smoother now that she knows a bit of neckreining. At the beginning of the ride, I could tell Corky was in one of those moods where she really didn't want to work. I did a bunch of bending and circling and did some sitting trot pushing her into the bridle until she gave in and went along willingly. After a few of those, we had no more issues and it was "business as usual". These good rides are making me really thinking about hitting another show...I say this as the wind is howling outside and snow is blowing across the drive LOL! I can't wait until March. It's killing me to have these training things going in the right direction and no chance to test them out in the show ring. Have I mentioned lately how much I hate Ohio?

OI almost forgot to post my official New Years' Photo!

Check out that wild mane! The braids are still unraveling from the show last week.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010!

By the time I got out to the barn after work, it was well under 20 degrees. Cleaning the nasty stalls warmed me up, and then I did a very easy ride. I am still "staying the course", going over the same lessons and riding every stride and every moment I am in the saddle. I definitely notice that if I don't give her a definite, immediate direction coming out of the corner, she surges in speed. This has been an issue I was fighting with her all year, and it got worse as the summer progressed. The problem almost completely disappeared when I rode her through the corner and put her on a specific path and made her stay the path. This horse needs constant direction or she immediately misbehaves. I have a couple students like that...you never leave the room and let them stay unattended for very long!

Today - no major issues. No minor ones either. I did a loot of sitting trot, circling, and then did some canter transitions and a few rounds either direction. I spent the last part of my ride schooling her in bending circles while I chatted with a friend. All is good in Corkyland...so far!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

It's just another day in paradise.... Yeah, today's high was a whopping 17 degrees. You know, I didn't even think twice about riding, I was looking forward to it! I have really learned the art of layering (and the benefits of wearing surgical gloves underneath regular ones).

This diary is becoming rather boring, isn't it? Just one good ride after another. Today was no exception. Corky was in heat today, and normally I would dread riding her like this, but I was interested to see how she would react to everything while in heat. Other than needing a LOT more bending, she actually did pretty well! Only one time I felt her surge REALLY hard at the canter, coming around the corner after we had been working for about 20 minutes. I stopped her, did some sitting trot bending circles and then went back to the canter and all was well...all was awesome, actually. Stick to the program!. That's my new mantra. Today we didn't do anything new or interesting...just stayed the course and did our usual stuff and I watched closely to see if her being in heat would make a big difference, and it didn't (attitude-wise). I would say her attitude was probably at around 90%, when the past 2 weeks it's been at 100%, so all in all that's pretty darn good!

I really would like to haul for a lesson soon, but the snow is just too deep around the trailer to even think about getting it out...plus I am sure all the doors are frozen shut. Someday when I am filthy rich, I will have a heated indoor storage garage for my trailer to keep it out of the weather. Oh to dream....I'd be happy with a perfectly working tractor and a freshly dug arena, but unfortunately that's not in the cards this week.

Your mind thinks thoughts and the pictures are broadcast back as your life experience. You not only create your life with your thoughts, but your thoughts add powerfully to the creation of the world. If you thought that you were insignificant and had no power in this world, think again. Your mind is actually SHAPING the world around you.

That is another passage from The Secret. OK, I get the idea that your life story is basically your own perception of the events that happen. I can see how my own mind shapes what has happened in my own mind. How can my mind shape events in reality...how can my mind MAKE things the way I perceive them?

Though you know, since I came back with Corky from that show in Cloverdale 2 1/2 weeks ago, I came home with a great feeling and the expectation that things with us and our performance under saddle was going to be different and better, and you know....it has! I have NOT had a bad ride since coming home from the show...not a day has come by where I left unhappy. Is this because not a day has come by that I went to the barn dreading it or expecting a problem? Hmmm...Something to think about....


Sunday, January 10, 2010

Woo-hoo, 19 degrees today! You know, it didn't even bother me. I think I have this cold weather thing about licked. I am not sure why this year I am handling the cold so much better than in years past, but I like it!

Corky was nasty in heat today, but I had an even better ride today than yesterday! Just to change things up a bit I put a ground pole down, and first I free-longed Corky and Taylor over it while they were turned out in the indoor arena. Taylor immediately figured out how to bypass it, and I didn't make an issue of it with her since she is largely pregnant. Corky never once tried to pass it by, in fact it looked like she was aiming for it every time around. I trotted her over it a bunch of times, then free-longed her at the canter. She managed to get her striding right over the pole almost every time. Only once or twice did she split the pole with her back legs.

Under saddle, I took the pole every now and the at the trot as part of our exercise and usual routine. You know, a big difference from last year is that she took this pole like it wasn't even there, and didn't seem to get excited or even put her ears up approaching it. She looked at it with a 'ho-hum' attitude. I like the ho-hum attitude!!! I did try it once at a canter and that got her a bit more excited, so I went back to our regular routine and got her back to work.

Normally her habit is to pull me towards the rail (if you watched the snippet of one of my lessons on YouTube you will hear D. tell me several times not to let her pull me to the rail). I have worked so diligently on making her get off the rail and go where I was asking, that today I noticed she actually was pulling me towards the inside instead of the rail! To maintain the idea that I am in control, I made her go more towards the rail than before. Basically, was working on removing all control from her side of the partnership. That has been the key to her transformation, I think. I gave a lot of thought today about how I ride the corners. It seems the straight parts of the arena are great, but generally Corky tries to take over and go where she wants to on the corners. I started thinking back to a lesson I had with Stacey at a show back when Corky was a 3 year old. Stacey was having me ride the corners of the very large show arena 'square' rather than rounding them all the way around. It made for a prettier picture, but what I also get now is that Stacey was having me control her in the corners and making her go where I requested rather than letting her take me around the corners. It's all coming together now...only 2 1/2 years late LOL! Stacey's good training of me has really helped give me the foundation I need right now to get things done correctly.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

OK, today was more of a reality-check day. Corky was extra touchy today. Even when I was brushing her, she flinched and jumped when I brushed around her belly and flank. Sure enough, she was very over-reactive to my legs, and not happy about leg pressure. I did a lot of sitting trot, letting my legs flop against her sides while I trotted her up into the bit. Lots and lots of sitting trot and circles. She started surging at the canter, so I stopped her several times, going back once again to the sitting trot. Eventually I got a decent canter out of her, and quit for the night. I felt the old feelings of frustration. She was not wanting to guide at all, she was pulling me towards the inside constantly, and not wanting to hold her pace. Reality check!. It can't always be perfect ride after perfect ride! There are some days that are nothing more than drudgery training days, and today was one of them. Believe me, I haven't lost hope. I know these days will come, but my goal is to make them much fewer and farther between, and to use my tools to get beyond the roadblock.

The arena is very hard and dusty, and she was dodging the slippery urine spots, so getting her to travel straight was a challenge. I am going to have to come up with plan B to get my riding done until the tractor gets fixed!

More from The Secret: If you persist in thinking negative thoughts, eventually they will become reality. If you worry about your negative thoughts, you will attract more worrying, and the negative thoughts will multiply.

...there's a time delay, all of your thoughts don't come true instantly. We'd be in trouble if they did. the element of time delay serves you. It allows you to reassess, to think about what you want, and to make a new choice.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Another reality-check day. I worked hard at keeping my patience. I need to remember where we came from, because Corky DID improve today after our schooling session an I got some very good rounds at the end of our ride. For some reason, when I am circling her I am using the barest pressure in moving her body and she is over-reacting and diving towards the inside of the circle. I find I am having to use a lot of inside rein pressure against the neck, and outside rein to hold her up and keep her circle a decent size...and this is opposite of the exercises I had been doing before when I used her new neckreining skills to circle her with a straight body. I am not really sure the correct way to correct this without ending up backtracking to our old way of holding her inside shoulder up while riding a circle. Hmmm...

She was a bit touchy today again. I think I need to get the tires out and longe her with them again to get her over that. I got brand new boots (for Christmas - thanks Kevin!) that are insulated heavy riding boots for the wintertime and I rode in those today. The spurs sit a bit higher up on the boot than my regular boots, and I noticed the first time I had to apply a little spur it caused her to really react. No excuses though...she was in a slightly over-reactive state of mind to begin with (though not as bad as Wednesday).

You know, no matter what our ride - good, bad, or indifferent - Corky is always ready for some affection and will follow me around the arena when turned out. I love that! She doesn't hold grudges on the ground for what happens in the saddle, it's like she doesn't connect the me in the saddle with the me on the ground. Or maybe she does, and she is just that forgiving? I don't know, but I like it!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

I could tell Corky was still in this over-reactive touchy mood when I got her out of her stall and she flinched and acted bothered when I saddled her. I got out the wheelbarrow tires and attached them to the stirrups in my English saddle and longed her in them. She hates those things bouncing around on her sides! She didn't act terrible, but she did canter around cross-firing and angry for a while. They did the trick, though! When I got on her, my soft and quiet leg was a welcome change, and things went great! She was back to her soft and willing self that she was right after Cloverdale. I had a fantastic ride!

The lesson I learned was to consistently keep thinking these things through and finding the logical solutions. The tire idea came from Darla way back last winter, but I hadn't use them much since then. It seemed silly to me that a broke, experienced horse like Corky would need a refresher course in saddle-breaking, but I now know to never assume anything...especially with this horse!

Several days of above-freezing temperatures have melted enough snow to make going to a lesson possible on Monday. I need to make sure I am still on the right track and haven't backslid to our 'old ways'.

Monday, January 18, 2010

I had the day off, so I took advantage of a rare free day plus 34 degree temperatures (and an unfrozen trailer) to head to a lesson. I wanted to make sure I was doing things OK, especially with the few issues Corky threw me last week. Well, so far so good! I am handling the problems correctly...hurrah!

I actually had a pretty good ride today. Corky threw a couple curve balls at me but they were very minor. It seems in the larger arena she is not diving into the center every time I ask for a circle, so quite possibly the small confines of our indoor is making her cheat. Darla suggested to solve the issue of her anticipating and rushing out of the corners I should ride her right straight to the wall and stop, then pivot her around and either trot off the other direction, or pivot a 270 and continue trotting. This will break up her mind a bit and change her thinking. Instead of anticipating turning through the corners, it will force her to wait for me to decide which direction we will go. I guess I need to change it up a bit and always try to stay one habit ahead of her to keep her from anticipating. When she anticipates, she starts thinking for herself, and once she takes control then the problems start.

Another exercise I worked on was dropping down to the sitting (or posting) trot and taking control of her face and tipping it right and left as she trots. This breaks her frame down at the withers rather than the poll, and it encourages her not to get an arch in her neck but to relax downward and flatten out. Once we master this at the trot, then these small cues should work also at the canter (where we do have more of an 'arching' problem when I need to take a hold of her).

Now that Corky is doing so well, it is time to fix me and my equitation. Time to sit back and keep my shoulders back, especially when taking a hold of her (and it's always been my habit to slightly lean forward when I take a hold of her, and that is wrong!). It will be much harder to fix my bad habits than Corky's, I've had them a lot longer!

It was a very good lesson. I am glad I decided to take the time to do this. I feel more confident that I can handle these small things at home right now.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

I finally had a chance to ride today. I did go out and plan on riding on Wednesday last week, but after I cleaned stalls I was so exhausted and dizzy I ended up just heading home. I wasn't sick, not sure what was wrong other than I hadn't had much to eat since I was so busy at work all day and I think it all just caught up with me. Having 4+ days off meant that Corky would be in her "Re-introduction to Work" mode today. Yep, I was right! We spent a lot of the ride just going back to basics and making her accept things...lots of pulling into circles and such.

She started surging right away on the second corner, so I started doing the corner exercise - riding her straight into the corner, stopping, pivoting, pausing, and going off either in a different direction or the same. At first she was very disenchanted with this exercise - she wanted to just go around on the rail and not be bothered by me! Finally we got to a point where she went around and quit anticipating heading for the straightaways. She went around the corners completely listening to me, waiting for the signal to stop and rollback. It took quite a while to get to this point in the ride. I' say it didn't really come until the very end.

I also worked on tipping her nose right and left to break her down at the withers and get the arch out of her neck, encourage her to travel level and flat in the neck. I don't want to use that sinful, terrible word "headset" so I will just say that when she relaxes into this frame, it's so much prettier looking! She was not enjoying this little exercise either. I prepared myself for this ride, knowing that when she has a long break, she takes a day to find her work ethic again.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

It was a balmy, rainy day. 50 degrees, whoo-hoo! I rode in just a hoodie and a vest. I love this weather. The mud was atrocious outside, though.

As I expected, Corky's work ethic was back and we were much improved over yesterday. Unfortunately, the arena was a bit messed up due to the sawdust truck coming in and leaving a big wet rut down the one rail, effectively cutting off about 5 feet of the arena's width to ride in. I won't complain too loudly, I was so thankful to see a fresh huge pile of shavings in the corner. Taylor and Corky are going to sleep well (and clean!) tonight! Anyways, I was pretty limited in what I could work on today. I worked a bit on her canter transitions, trying to keep them round and fluid. She wasn't anticipating at all in the corners this time. I don't really attribute this to my awesome training exercises yesterday, but rather the fact that because the arena was a bit torn up, Corky was forced to go much more carefully and pick her way around the arena to avoid the ruts and wet spots. Between the footing and me, she had a lot to think about in this ride (which also explains why it was such a good ride!). I worked a bit on her turns on the haunches (really good!) and turns on the forehand (not so good, turning to the left was downright terrible).

When I was done with my ride I worked on showmanship. She wants to FLY around on her 360's, which would be impressive if she wouldn't consistency step out on the last quarter of the turn. I am working on slowing her back down and staying at my pace. Sheesh, even in showmanship she wants to take control and run things her way! I do believe she is a control freak! Just what I need - one more of those in my life LOL!

Monday, January 25, 2010

I had a farrier appointment for Taylor and Corky after work today. Corky was wound up for some reason! She stood great when my farrier worked on her feet, but when he walked away to work on shaping a shoe, she jigged and danced like she couldn't wait to get free and take off! When we were done, she and Taylor got some quality turnout time (in the freshly dug arena!) while I cleaned stalls. Today we are back to reality...snow and freezing temperatures. Oh well, it was nice while it lasted.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Once again I piled the layers on and headed out to the barn after a LONG day at work. Stall cleaning was a bit easier since the terrible mud has finally frozen. Corky was WOUND up again today! I turned her and Taylor out in the indoor while I cleaned stalls and she ran and played and acted up. It was fun to watch her play for a change.

Our ride was pretty good. The arena was fresh and perfect and almost no wet spots, so we were able to do some serious work on letting me control the direction (without having to worry about slipping in wet spots). We did some more of the rollback exercises in the corners and she was getting better and better. It was harder today to make her walk relaxed and slow. She was pretty full of energy and wanted to surge at the walk. I used my 'spur slow' leg pressure to ask her to slow her step down. She did NOT like that! Eventually she gave in and started doing as I asked, but it was rather grudgingly. I don't know whether it was her energy level, the fresh arena, or her new shoes, but Corky had a 10-mile long stride at the trot today. It felt like we were trotting about 6 inches off the ground. Very cool!

Today both horses got wormed with Ivermecterin. I am trying to stay o schedule, timing their worming with their farrier appointments.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

I wore 3 pairs of pants to the barn today! I stayed pretty comfortable. After cleaning stalls, I did a short 20 minute ride. Corky was a little grumpy today. I worked on some counterbending circles at the beginning, then did some basic exercises on the rail - trotting and cantering, occasionally stopping and standing in the corners. Her circles today felt a lot better - more round and 'against' my leg instead of falling inward.

I think I will take Corky back to Darla's in a couple weeks to spend a month. It's hard to get much done in our arena, and I would like to make sure everything is solid before spring hits. Also on the agenda is finding a place to foal Taylor out. *sigh*....not sure what to do.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

I was mentally fried when I arrived at the barn this afternoon...had a very bad morning and then had to go to work for a few hours on a Sunday!. I fully expected my patience level to be at an all-time low, but I guess I took my anger and frustration out on the humans in my life because I was good to go when I got ready to ride!

I will say that today got some of the best canters I've had all month! Actually, Corky did excellent in everything but one small area - she was overly sensitive to my leg pressure and acted on it. She even threw a hard balk at one of my canter cues! She hasn't done that since last year. I pulled her into a tight trotting circle over and over again both directions, then walked and asked for the canter again. She cantered right off nicely. Cantering was a much better alternative in her mind than those icky trotting circles! I think tomorrow possibly might be another day to bring out the wheelbarrow tires and desensitize her sides again.

She is pivoting so fast in showmanship. The last 1/4 of her 360 she is rushing terribly and stepping out because of the momentum. This is something I am going to have to keep working on. I thought it was a problem that I had fixed, but I guess not.

February 2010

Monday, February 1, 2010

I longed Corky in the tires today. She cut loose on the longe line with a lot of really high bucks. Normally she doesn't react a whole lot to the tires on the longe line, but as I feared, today was different...a "sensitive" day. I checked, it's been about 3 weeks since she was in heat, so quite possibly she is going into heat again and this is her usual overly-sensitive pre-heat cycle. Usually the days right before her heat are bad (very touchy and over-reactive) but the actual heat cycle isn't too bad. I'll have to keep an eye out this week to see if my hypothesis is correct.

Our canter today was awesome. I was ready to say it was the best YET this month but then I realized it's February first, so it definitely is the best canter so far this month LOL!. I started the ride off with some counter-bending, then did some sitting trot (and my banging legs made her mad!). I worked on some canter transitions, circles, and whatnot. However, not once but twice she balked on my canter cue! Both times were going to the left, if that makes a difference (just making a note for myself). When she balked, I spurred her into a trot and did a sitting trot pulling her in a circle and popping the sides of my feet on her belly. After I disciplined her that way, both times she gave me a very nice canter departure. I hope I am doing the right thing. You know me - I am always second-guessing myself.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

They say the groundhog saw his shadow today. I don't believe it. It was dark, cool, and snowing all morning...how could he possibly have seen his shadow unless someone shined a flashlight on him?

As I suspected, Corky was in strong heat today. Man, that was quick! That gave me a little relief, because it certainly explains the change in attitude the past few days. If all follows tradition, she will be really good today. Guess what? She was!

I started off by longeing her over a slightly raised (as in a couple inches) ground pole. At first this wound her up a bit, but she quickly settled down. Under saddle she was great. Nice, soft canter and no balking! I trotted her occasionally over the ground pole (now flat) just to spice things up a bit. We did a lot of circles, pivots, and quite changes of direction. She was soft and willing, and it was a nice nice nice ride! I had not one single discipline problem today...what a change from yesterday's ride full of attitude. Gotta love those mares and their heat cycles.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The arena footing was pretty hard today. I started riding Corky, and she was once again overly sensitive to my leg. I spent a lot of time just walking her in circles rubbing my leg on her sides (while she protested as best she could). I put her into a trot but she just felt kind of weird. Not really sore or off, but like she really didn't feel comfortable working on the hard ground. I figured "what the heck"... I have ridden her every day for 3 days straight. So I got off her and worked showmanship instead. I worked on slowing down her pivot so she could stick that hind leg better, and she did. She will have tomorrow off also, and then Friday we will see how the arena footing looks.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

I have nothing to report...absolutely nothing! First we got hit with a biggish snowstorm on Friday through Saturday, which wiped out anything I might have planned. Then before we even had a chance to clear a path from that storm, another major one blew through Monday night through Wednesday. I finally got out today. Shoveling snow every day plus stalls leaves me with very little energy to ride. maybe this weekend? I was hoping to get Corky to Darla's this weekend, but it looks very iffy now. I need to dig my trailer out of the snow! Ick, I hate Ohio winters...

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day! I spent the day with my valentine...named Corky! Today I hauled Corky to Darla's for a tune-up to prepare for the upcoming shows. Yesterday I spent all morning with a screwdriver chipping away at the ice around the doors of my trailer so I could get it open. I found two snowdrifts in the horse area of my trailer. Methinks my trailer is not waterproof anymore!

I had a moment of worry in the morning as I was wrapping Corky's legs for the haul. Her left front leg had some swelling in the tendon towards the inside. Yikes! After her tendon injury that sidelined her for 6+ weeks in 2008, I am a bit paranoid. I free longed her before loading her, and she bucked and played so hard it was impossible to tell...maybe she was a little bit off? When I got to Darla's, I longed her, and she seemed a bit stiff, and actually looked kind of icky in her left hock (which is always her bad one). Possibly she needs another hock injection? I sure hope not, but with all the work she's been doing, it wouldn't be a complete surprise.

Anyways, since she wasn't really sore, I went ahead and rode her lightly for a lesson. She was doing pretty good for me...listening to my cues and keeping her neck nice and flat. She started getting a little cranky at my leg about 3/4s into my ride. At one point she actually kicked out at my leg, which is something I never see her do! Bad girl! Darla had me use on-and-off leg pressure to pivot her on the haunches and on the forehand. I made the mistake of kicking her when she resisted...that was a no-no. Thumping or kicking her makes her angry and actually lighter to my leg, when what I really want is for her to be OK with my leg (and even a bit dull to it). No kicking, Jan! Just pressure, releasing when I get the desired response.

A couple times she got a bit forward at the canter and I had to stop and back. But my last canter was wonderful, and as long as I can sit there and ride it without over-thinking it, I will be OK. Yes, my big problem is over-thinking things...over-analyzing every little move and preparing for every possible thing that might go wrong. Yeah...like you couldn't tell from this diary that I totally OVER-THINK things LOL! I bet some people who know me I.R.L. (In Real Life) would be shocked to hear that I over-think things. Some people are under the impression that I don't think nearly enough! Just goes to show...one spends more time thinking about one's passion in life than the irrelevant stuff!

I will head back for a lesson on Friday evening. I am feelin' good about this year...can't wait for the stupid snow to quit and the real show season to start!!!!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

My lesson is cancelled this Friday - Corky is getting her teeth done. Yay for the teeth, but I am sad not to be able to go ride. I miss her! I rely on her presence to cheer me up when other things in life go haywire.

Taylor was very attention-seeking today. Last week she had her "leave me alone" attitude in full bloom, but today she would not leave me alone! Today is day 272 of her pregnancy, so it was time for some big belly shots! (click to magnify!)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Well, I had hoped to get to Darla's for a lesson this weekend, but she is heading to a show. I am disappointed, it's been 2 weeks since I've seen Corky. I don't like going this long without riding (and seeing) her! I must learn some patience...show season is approaching and We need this time to get focused! I am aiming for a show the weekend of March 13-14. Basketball season will be over, and I will actually have a few free weekends before the next bit of craziness sets in.

March 2010

Monday, March 1, 2010

I left immediately after school today for a lesson. I have been dying to ride...it's been 2 weeks! Darla had been at a show for the past 4 days, so of course Corky was a bit fresh and out of her 'work mode' (she always gets like that - give her a little vacation and she is terrible to get back into work!). It was a great lesson, Corky was slightly bad in a few different ways and I spent a lot of time doing small corrections. This is good, because learning how to correct her myself and fix the issues is really what I need. If she rides perfect, then there isn't anything to learn! OK, so that's what I am telling myself...sounds good, doesn't it? Let's see...here are a few things I worked on today:

Slow down her brain! When she is revved up and reactionary, forcing her to slow down her movements and reactions is critical. I worked on some rollbacks and changes of directions at the canter. Instead of asking for my usual fast rollback, I asked her to take one slow step at a time and wait on ME to move her leg. This made her wait and think about what I am asking, rather than reacting to my cue in a rushed manner and complicating things.

Correct her from grabbing the bridle on a stop. A lot of times when I do a pull stop from a canter, she will stop and then pop her head downward and slightly jerk the reins in my hand. I have to be ready for this and use one rein to 'pop' her back as soon as she does this in order to correct her (immediately releasing). Of course, the second part of this exercise is not to anticipate her doing this so she doesn't feed off of my anticipation and get worse. How do you prepare to correct without anticipating? That's a tough one!

Moving shoulder over towards the wall before cantering. We did this neat exercise in the arena with two cones set about 20 feet off the rail on once side. I did a lot of trot work, trotting on one side of the cone and then the other on the next cone, moving her entire body and shoulder over with my reins (slight direct rein and indirect rein across the neck), keeping her body straight. Then after doing this a while, I pass the first cone to the inside, then move her shoulder and body over to the outside of the second cone and then ask for the canter. The canter departure is much nicer and smoother when I have control of that outside shoulder. It seems to free up that inside shoulder a lot, thus giving a nice clean take-off with her inside (leading) leg at the canter. Neato!

Use your "good" direction to remind her what "good" is. Generally, all horses have one way they seem to be working good, and then the other way not so much. Rather than working the bad way extra long, keep switching direction as if to remind her what is correct by going the way she is good (and relaxing as a reward) and then changing direction and trying to continue the 'good' parts going the 'bad' way. Does that make any sense? It's pretty straightforward and common sense...but sometimes it helps to hear it and actually think about it rather than just assume.

I rode in a cutting saddle in this lesson. Yeah, everyone was happy because I sat back really nice (my BIG issue is a tendency to lean forward), but look what it did to the inside of my legs!
I have another lesson Saturday morning...all inpreparation for the first show of 2010 next weekend...woo-hoo! Are we ready? Nope, not yet, but we are getting closer!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

This morning I headed to Utica for an Equi-Torture lesson...yes - a lesson in equitation! There were 6 of us riding in this lesson. Sadly, I looked around and realized (as I was struggling with the torture) that I was three times the age of everyone else riding. What is up with that? Where are all the other amateur riders, don't they want to be pushed into riding better? I don't get it.

We rode for almost two hours. Lots and lots of posting - minus one stirrup or the other. Riding without the outside stirrup is so incredibly difficult. I cannot figure out why it is so much harder to drop the outside stirrup and post than it is dropping the inside stirrup. One of those great mysteries of life...

We also did a lot of riding in 2-point position while Darla fired commands at us to get our heels down, straighten our backs, pull our shoulders back, etc. I am pretty decent with the 2-point position, I do this often as an exercise for myself. Corky, however, hates it. She hates having me floppy and unbalanced on her back. She did great with all of the traffic in the arena...maybe because she was concentrating on me riding so lopsided and sloppy LOL! It was a good sign for me to ride in that traffic, pass and be passed, and keep her body and legs consistent.

I could handle everything thrown at me, but for some reason my ankles kept seizing up (especially on the one-stirrup posting). I have no idea why, but one ankle would tighten up to the point where I couldn't even feel my foot any more. It happened with both ankles at separate times, and several times. I am wondering what I am doing to cause this.

Afterwards, we had a good showmanship lesson. My big thing is to increase my speed so I look more confident. I need to get Corky trotting up farther next to me so it doesn't look like she is always lagging behind. She can be rather sluggish, so I need to make myself look sharper, which will hopefully make her look sharper also.

Yes, I am sore today, but it is a good soreness. I feel like I accomplished something. I love those lessons where I get worked so hard it exhausts me. I am heading back on Tuesday evening for one more lesson before the show this weekend...first show of 2010, and Corky's first senior hunter under saddle class. My baby is all grown up! Hopefully she acts it. We both despise showing at Springfield. I am hopeful, though...thinking positive and all that *wink*.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Developing "feel"

Tonight's lesson stressed the importance of developing your own feel for your horse - feeling where every leg is and which direction they are moving, feeling the curve of the body, the lift (or dropping) of the shoulders, the roundness of the back and neck, and where the hips and hocks are while moving. Yikes...lots to think about!

Corky was a bit cranky tonight, probably because it was late when I got there to ride (around 6:30pm) and everyone else was eating and relaxing in their stalls. Oh well, welcome to MY schedule, mare! I rode around for a while on the rail schooling her w-t-c as usual, and then Brian had me come off the wall and start working on some bending and counterbending circles. I think I frustrated him a bit (but it's good for the non-pro to frustrate the trainer...makes them better, right? LOL!). In my bending and counterbending, the thing I need to remember is to pull the inside rein outward and bend your elbow when bending in a circle, and lift UP on the inside rein when moving the shoulder up and out of the circle (i.e. a slight counterbend). Second point to remember: When I do a pull stop, I have to blue>feel for the exact moment all 4 feet are completely stopped and release immediately. I tend to be a little slow on the release. If I consistently release late, this will cause her to push against the bit. If I release too early before her legs are completely stopped, this will teach her to walk through her stop. Thus the whole topic of developing feel came to light.

Developing a true feel for the horse is the only way I can become to rider I need to be. How good of a rider do I really need to be? Well, I need to be the best. Seriously. I want to be the best. I want to have the answers to the questions Corky asks, and I want to do it right so that the training keeps progressing and we keep working together and doing well. The best - that's my goal. No more aiming for a low rung, no more aiming to try to just become 'better'...I am aiming for the best. How's that for setting my sights high?

Anyways (if you are still reading after that weird little ramble), what I have to remember when Corky comes home is that our work sessions need to be a LOT less of riding on the rail or working on w-t-c,and a LOT more of bending, pulling around, and moving her body parts. It was very cool - Brian had me do a bunch of bending/counterbending while directing me in which direction to go (which is what frustrated him - even with a gadzillion years of teaching marching band I still stink at getting my rights and lefts right away). After these specific bending exercises, he had me put Corky into position and canter off. Whooo-eeee it was an awesome, incredible, slow-legged, flowing canter...you know the one you always imagine yourself doing when you lay awake in bed at night (Ok, so maybe I am the only one who does that???)? There's a lot to this whole bending stuff. I wish I could have written it all down at the time, or recorded everything so I could replay it next month when we are bumbling around on our own at home.

Well, it's crunch time. I head out Friday to a show at Springfield...first show of 2010. Both of us despise showing at Springfield, but we will both get over it. It's time to put this education into action and see some results! Stay tuned....

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

My vaccinations for Taylor came in the mail today...great overnight delivery service from Valley Vet. I am going to give her the vaccs in separate doses to try and avoid a severe reaction like she had last year (she got so ill she needed an IV!). I got the E-W-V/tetanus in one shot, Potomac Horse Fever in one, West Nile, Rabies, and Flu/Rhino all in 5 separate shots. I think I will have Janet (my barn owner pal who is experienced with shots) start giving them to her on Sunday. I dread this.

I am SO looking forward to the show this weekend. Go Corky! I am reading more if "The Secret" and getting myself mentally prepared (check my regular personal blog for more insights there). I have so many hopes for this year...this first show will really set the stage for how the year will go. Last year - I got home from my first show of the year only to haul Lazlo to OSU and have him pass away the next day. This year HAS to be better...it just HAS to be!


Friday, March 12, 2010

I beat the rainstorm and got to the show grounds early enough to unload all of my tack in dry weather. Amazingly, I managed to fit ALL of my show tack, clothing, and grooming supplies in my little Ranger. It was a very tight squeeze for the 90 minute drive, though.

I started my afternoon by Longeing Corky in the big indoor arena. She stayed fairly quiet for the most part. Luckily, there was only a handful of people riding when I got on to ride her. She rode.....GREAT!. It was an awesome ride. I am not saying she was perfect, but every time she made a mistake or did something wrong, I corrected her and she came right back and listened. It was a great feeling. I mixed up my ride with some rail work, and bending/counter-bending circles. It was a blast!

I took her back to her stall and let her relax for a while, then got her back out early in the evening to ride again. Once again, she was awesome - even better than before! She was so good, Brian had to remind me I needed to quit riding at some point! It was so much fun I just didn't want to stop. Corky seemed unfazed by the traffic (though the crowd was still pretty sparse).

It took me forever to braid tonight. Her mane is really thick from the winter. I took a break mid-way and Darla gave me a showmanship lesson. Things I have to work on - getting Corky to walk faster and with purpose, not running all my moves together (putting a definite 'stop' to each maneuver), and getting Corky to move her shoulder faster. She tends to slide or step out of her 360 pivot right at the last quarter of the turn. Once I got her shoulder moving away from me better, this improved. The rest of the night while I braided, I mentally rehearsed my pattern...doing everything right in my mind. I'll be ready for tomorrow! I feel confident. I had two awesome rides at our most hated arena, and instead of having to stay up and ride all night I got to go to the hotel and actually get an almost-full night's sleep!

Braid job - not bad! I'd give it an A-. Braids were even, but kinda thick.

Saturday, March 13, 2010 - Show Day!

It rained all night long, everything was flooded! I had to wade through ankle-deep water just to get to the arena/barn. Thankfully everything was indoors and connected so I didn't have to deal with the weather until I was done for the day. The temperature dropped significantly, probably 20 degrees from yesterday. I got to the arena early and put Corky on the longe line to judge her energy level. She was pretty low energy, just trotted and cantered beautifully with her head relaxed. This is a good sign!

First on the agenda was showmanship. I mentally reviewed my pattern was I was READY. The pattern was:

Our trot off was great, very crisp. We had a nice downward transition to the walk and I pushed we walk like I had been practicing...only I pushed maybe a bit too hard because Corky broke into a jog for a couple strides. Dang! Our 360 was spot-perfect, our set up was fast (I only had to move her right front foot about an inch!). Everything was great other than the boo-boo at the walk. That was enough to drop us to the middle of the pack - 6th and 7th out of 11. Darla was pleased with my personal progress. I was much snappier and confident! That is a step in the right direction.

They had a 45 minute break between the jumping and the hunter under saddle. I saddled Corky and Darla got on to get her warmed up. I could see she was having trouble in that very crowded arena. After about 2 laps she brought her back and told me to put her on the longe line. I got to longe her for about 15 minutes before break was over. She was wound up!!! She had been so quiet in showmanship, but came out of her stall before the riding classes very energized. the temperature was dropping significantly, which didn't help.

After the break I got on and trotted her in the crowded makeup arena...trotted and trotted and trotted. Brian stood at the rail and helped me out by making me focus ahead and sit back, making her listen to me instead of concentrating on her surroundings. I got her a bit calmer, but she was still on edge - even just standing still she was nervously chomping on the bit and shifting around.

Today's show schedule was one I hate - senior HUS and amateur HUS were back to back, which means my second class (amateur) was going to be a mess. I trotted in the arena for senior HUS (after making a bet with Darla that the winner buys drinks LOL!). Our trot first direction was pretty good, and the canter was OK, though I had to keep constantly checking her back because she wanted to surge every 4-5 strides. When we reversed, I used my legs to slow her walk down and it seemed she really relaxed. Just as they called for the canter, the horse in front of us blew up a bit. Corky didn't seem to notice or react at all, but when I cued her to canter, she bolted! It was a battle to make her stay at my pace (and I wasn't very successful) and when we rounded the end where the in/out gate was, she gave me some pretty big bucks. I stayed in the saddle...go me! I pulled her to a stop, made her stand, and then cantered off again. I did that one more when she started fighting me. Then they called for the trot, and I used the trot to try to work her back into a better frame of mind. Even going into the line up she started dancing and jigging sideways. I made her stand still in the line up, and she calmed down.

I didn't dare go back in the amateur and take a chance on wrecking someone else's class. Instead I went out in the makeup arena and did some more trotting and cantering (the crowd had thinned out a bit). She was still wound up and not wanting to listen to me. Darla an I decided to wait until the equitation was done and the arena was open, and we would ride together and work through some things.

After the show was done, we went in and pretended that we were doing the class all over again. I felt that she actually thought we were going in another class, as I was still fully dressed and we went in very solid. Our trot was good, our canter first direction was awesome...absolutely incredible! I broke to a walk and walked into the center to do a big figure 8 as a reverse, and cued her to canter when I was just past the center. She blew! What was up with that? Darla and I then trotted our horses side by side (about 1-2 feet apart) all the way around the arena for quite a while, reversed, and then cantered side by side. This was a great exercise for Corky in dealing with a horse so close to her persona space. When we were done with this, I cantered her again to the right and she was much much better! I ended our ride on a good note (and wow was I sore...).

So, we go back to the drawing board again. I guess I should remember that it is the first show of the year, it got very cold suddenly, and Corky has ALWAYS shown badly at Springfield because of the weird atmosphere and echoing sounds (and crazy loud aluminum bleachers!). I show there again in 2 weeks, so that one will be better, I am sure!

Corky and I enjoying our ride. I am laughing because I know what is coming, but it's still so much fun to ride!

We are all done for the weekend, it's been a loooooong day!

Corky is relaxing in her stall searching for the best pieces of hay.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

I refuse to let crappy people ruin my day. Seriously! Yes, my horse behaved badly at the show yesterday. No, she wasn't perfect. That doesn't mean she is worthless or that my weekend was a waste of money. We got some stuff accomplished, and I had FUN. That is what is MOST important. Corky's record speaks for itself, and believe me...you never get anywhere in life if you just quit when things go wrong or get difficult. OK, end of rant LOL!

I groomed Taylor this afternoon. She has been really weird this pregnancy and doesn't like to be brushed or touched on her belly. Once I started working her with the shedding blade, she relaxed and enjoyed it.

I found out last week that I was selected to ride in two hunter under saddle clinics with Heidi Piper at Equine Affaire next month. That will be fun! It will be a good experience for Corky (and me).

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Cross your fingers. Today I am bringing out all of Taylor's vaccinations (5 shots in all) and we will start giving them to her one at a time very day or so. I am really hoping to avoid a severe reaction like what happened last year. My vet refuses to order me the vaccinations in separate shots (he will just get the 5-way or 6-way shot) so I am forced to order my own vaccinations through Valley Vet and do myself. Actually, my friend/barn owner Janet will be giving the shots because I can't do it (not skilled and not brave enough LOL!). We are going to put each shot a day or two apart in a different area to try and keep her feeling OK. This is such a worry, especially when she is only 5 weeks from her due date, but it's gotta be done.

Also on the agenda this week is some shopping, probably online. When pulling off my showmanship boots on Saturday, the entire heel/sole of one boot came off. Bummer! OK, so these boots are probably about 14 years old, I guess I got some good wear out of them. Also when I saddled Corky on Saturday, my 52" girth does NOT fit her. I had just bought a brand new one and both the new and the old one don't come close anymore...I had to borrow someone's 56" girth. So, even though I JUST bought a nice new girth I have to go buy yet another new girth for her...ugh! What a fatty LOL! I also want to get a wither/half pad to give her more padding with my show saddle and pad. Normally I double pad her with two show pads, but that's just a little too bulky. I just can't decide which one to get...

All that, and I still have to pay $1400 in taxes by April 15. Crap. Money is flying out the door at an alarming rate. Did I mention I need 4 new tires on my truck also? Gotta love life....

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Well, my truck got new wheelios! The tire guy told me I outta get 80,000 miles out of these tires. I laughed...if I do get that many miles, my truck will have passed 300,000 miles! That would be pretty awesome for a 6 cylinder Ford Ranger. I am aiming for half a million miles before I give it up.

Today I went to visit a breeding farm in Findlay about 45 minutes away that I am considering taking Taylor to. It's called Hickory lane Farm. It is a very nice place, very clean and well-kept. The farm manager lives about 50 feet from the barns, so that makes me feel good. I think I will be hauling Taylor there on April 2nd, since I have the day off. I feel so emotionless about this whole thing. I saw someone's mare and foal there in the stall, the foal came up and was very friendly and I could feel myself closing up like I didn't want to even think about my own foal. It's weird. I have no joy and no excitement, only fear. It really sucks the fun out of breeding, makes me wonder why I am doing it. I want so badly to have a healthy baby, but having two breeding disasters in a row makes me incredibly gunshy.

Monday, March 22, 2010

I had the most phenomenal ride on Corky tonight - absolutely awesome. Every time I asked her to do something, she did it! I was completely able to rate her speed, control her shoulders, everything! I even had Darla run and get her video camera to video me. Heck, check the video out, I actually had her a bit too slow...I like it!!! This shows that I was able to rate her speed without really using the reins much, just my seat and legs and asking occasionally. How cool is that? This is the tool I want in the show pen.

Look - I actually have her going too SLOW! Isn't that amazing!

Note the song choice - quite appropriate for someone who tends to over-think all the time when she rides LOL!

As an experiment, Darla started on some of that Focus supplement on Saturday. There is a big difference in her, and I wonder if that was the reason??? I have never been one for believing in supplements in regards to behavior, but this supplement is supposed to help with muscle tension, which is Corky's biggest issue. Corky hasn't been ridden since last Wednesday, so I fully expected her to be a brat today like she usually is when coming off of a vacation. How wrong! We are going to try her on it this weekend at the show and see if it makes a difference. Heck, if I have a clean ride at Springfield (which will be the first in my lifetime on ANY horse!) I will buy out the store LOL! Stay tuned, because this could be interesting.

I am heading back on Thursday for one more lesson. Then we will see. This weekend will determine a LOT of my show plans for the year. I have to be optimistic, yet realistic.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

I am having a hard time making a decision. I got the Tom Powers entry book in the mail this weekend. Nothing like giving me plenty of time to decide...entries are due next week! It has been kind of a goal in the back of my mind to take Corky back to the Tom Powers Futurity, this time as a rider. I even blocked that week out in my summer schedule. Now I am having second thoughts. It's so expensive! Are any of my friends even going? Will it even be any fun if I am by myself? Is it worth the money to get my butt beat that badly with some bad rides (I know, I know, I am not thinking positive...but my last show has seemed to zap all of my optimism). One of two things have to happen for me to send that entry form in next week: either Corky will have to do REALLY well at the show this weekend, or I will have to find out that a lot of my good friends are going and I can hang with them. Ugh...I hate decisions.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Taylor has now had all of her spring shots and is NOT sore or sick this year! This proves my theory (that my vet refused to believe). I ordered NON-Ft. Dodge vaccinations and tried to get them in separate shots - separate shot for West Nile, Flu/Rhino, Potomac, Rabies, and then a 3-way show with EEE/WEE/Tetanus. Last year my vet insisted on giving her a Ft. Dodge shot - single shot with everything combined and she got extremely ill...sick enough that we ended up having to put her in I.V. fluids the next day. Everyone I talked to has had terrible reactions with the Ft. Dodge products. No more! I'll buy my own shots and administer them from now on. This is a big relief, because having your mare get that sick only a month from her due date is very scary. Taylor is due exactly one month from tomorrow!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

I headed to Utica for one last lesson before the show this weekend. It poured rain the whole way there. I hate driving in a downpour. It was worth it - I had a very good ride. Corky got a little over-reactive a few times to bit pressure - suddenly would winger her head up when I took a hold of her, even if I was gentle. She only did it occasionally, not every time. I wonder if her mouth or teeth are sore? Darla had me hold her when she did this - constant steady pressure on the bit (while pushing with my legs) until she dropped down and relaxed. It's funny...one of the things Stacey had me do years ago when Corky was 3 came back to the surface - the square corners! Brian noticed that at the show 2 weeks ago it seemed the places she would act up were always in the turns at the ends of the arena. He recommended I try riding the arena a little more 'square' - trying to keep the ends straighter with just a quicker turn in the corners. Stacey had me do that also. It keeps her from having that entire curve to lean and fight against me (and it also looks prettier).

Driving home tonight was horrible! Yes, it's March 25th and I hit a HUGE snow storm. It was a complete whiteout, and I couldn't even see where the road was. there was solid ice underneath the snow. It was a terrible, scary drive, and very unexpected for this time of year. I got home and was a tense, wired mess! Have I mentioned lately how much I hate Ohio?

AQHA SHOW - Springfield, Ohio

Friday, March 26, 2010

I picked up my trailer at the repair shop (I had some general maintenance done on it) and headed to Springfield after work, got there around 6pm. Darla was out riding Corky when I arrived, so I rode when she was done. Corky was a bit wired (putting it mildly!). The arena was very crowded with riders going every which direction and trail equipment set up at one end. I rode her through it all (even over the trail poles several times). She was very over-reactive at times to bit pressure even more so than last night. I would have thought it was due to some sort of soreness, but she tended to do it at exactly the same spot in the arena even when I wasn't touching her mouth. A-ha! This is another one of Corky's little quirks...when she does things purposely to 'get' you, she always does it at the same spot in the arena even if you are doing something different. So I know it was just her quirkiness coming out. gotta love this horse. No really, you gotta! LOL!

Anyways, I held her and pushed her through her little episodes, and we finished on a good note. I walked her in the arena for 20 minutes when I was done. She really hates walking in a crowded arena when everyone else is trotting or loping. I think she feels more insecure when she is traveling slower than everyone else.

I have her some dinner, then we went out for ride #2. She was a lot better - she still was tense but we worked through everything. Believe me, I am not getting my hopes up this time. I am in a slightly discouraged mood this weekend...I had such grand hopes 2 weeks ago and it was a complete wash. I think I am getting tired of disappointment. I need something GOOD to happen in the show pen! Let it be this weekend!!!

You just have to love horse shows. I am sitting here at the Days Inn in Springfield (yep, only pure luxury hotels for me, baby!) eating my supper of chips and salsa. It's 11:30pm and I am finally eating. Tomorrow will be a work day since I don't show until Sunday. I am going to sleep in a bit, then go park myself on Corky in the makeup arena for part of the afternoon.

AQHA SHOW - Springfield, Ohio

Saturday, March 27, 2010

I slept in slightly (got up at 8am), headed to the show. I spent the morning taking care of details, watching some classes, longed, etc. Darla attemped to ride Corky during the crazy lunch break, Corky got very worried and wound up. The lunch break traffic just isn't something she will probably ever be able to easily handle. Oh well, we at least tried!

After the show was over (it was all western classes today), I settled in for a marathon hour-long ride on Corky. She was great!!! We ran into some small issues (mainly her over-sensitivity to the right rein for some reason) but we worked through them successfully. It was a fun ride, we rode in traffic and she handled everything well. I do notice that she feels very comfortable trotting in traffic, slightly comfortable cantering in traffic, and extremely uncomfortable walking in traffic. I think she feels more vulnerable when she is not traveling with any speed.

After our ride, I braided (it took forever...my braids were about a solid 'B' grade...not the greatest, but good enough!). I did some showmanship practice with Darla (cool pattern with a curved blind back!), and then headed to the hotel for a midnight snack of a terrible McDonald's burger and bed! I hadn't really eaten all day again. Horse shows are awesome for my diet.

AQHA SHOW - Springfield, Ohio

Sunday, March 28, 2010 - SHOW DAY!

I woke up bright and early and longed Corky for about 15 minutes to loosen her up. She was SO tight! Then it was showmanship time. I worked the elements of the pattern...the blind backing in a curve meant I had to guess at where the judge was so that I could end up in line. That part of the pattern went well, but Corky was a bit sensitive to my cues and stepped out of her pivot (1 and 3/4 turn) two times. Ugh. These showmanship exhibitors in Ohio are so tough, and that alone knocked me way out. I ended up placing 8th under one judge out of 14. Other than that, our walk, extended trot, and setups were great. Someday we will get our act together....someday.

(click to enlarge)

During halter I longed Corky for 30 minutes until I was having to push her to keep her moving. Darla had a lot of horses to prepare, so she offered to take Corky in the exhibition HUS to school her. Corky started off OK, but got very wound up and ended up being very very bad. No excuse for the big girl this time - the crowd was very light and everyone was going in the same direction! I took her back out and put her on the longe line and she ran like a maniac! Where did this energy come from? I longed her until once again I had to push her to keep her moving. I don't know about Corky but at this point I know I was exhausted!

It was time for the Amateur HUS class. I walked her around the makeup arena first, then trotted in the class. Overall, my ride went fairly well (all things considered). I had to check her back a few times, and she did fling her head around a few times but I was able to capture her and get her right back down. Unfortunately, that was enough to knock us completely out of the placings in this class of 12. So...it was a teeny, tiny baby step forward, but at least it was a step forward! I think we are 'done' with Springfield this year...it's definitely not her favorite place.

I brought Corky home after the show. She and I will work work work this month to get things together. Next on the agenda - hauling Taylor to the breeding farm on Friday, and then riding Corky at Equine Affaire next week.

On a side note, I got home to find Taylor extremely bagged up! She is getting ready!!! Her due date is April 24.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Can you believe we had a day off of school for fog today? Crazy...and very unexpected. I would be giddy with joy but this is calamity day #6 which means we have to make it up in June...booo.

The day ended up being sunny and mid-50's, so of course I headed to the barn in the afternoon for a nice day of riding. I hoped right on Corky and started working. I did some long trotting first, then some counterbending circles at the walk, and then went on to work some canter transitions. She was awesome! I hate being back to reality and our small arena. It was virtually impossible to ride my canter with square corners. the arena is just too tight. I hate that, because I don't have a true feel of what sort of handle I have on her because just as she might start surging, we hit the corner and she backs off. Oh well, either way it was a great ride.

I rode for about 30 minutes, and then tied her up and cleaned stalls. When I was done I hopped on her again and rode with a friend who pulled his horse out to ride. We did some side-by-side riding which made Corky kind of defensive but eventually she did get over it (even though my friend's gelding was constantly sucking in towards her and crowding her to the wall). My second ride mainly was to see how she would be coming out a second time after thinking we were done. She rode great! She was a tad heavier than she was on our earlier ride, but not a big deal.

I have been debating back and forth about the Tom Powers Futurity. It's been an internal argument within myself...not sure whether this is a good idea or a dumb one. Entries are due in 2 days, so I have to make a decision NOW. I e-mailed Darla for her opinion, and she called me this afternoon to talk about it. She thinks we can be competitive. I have my work cut out for me, but I am trying to remind myself that Corky's bad rides at Springfield were bad, but it was Springfield and it never goes well for us there. I need to go back and watch our great ride at Cloverdale in December. She can do this, and now I feel we have more tools to be able to handle things. I guess if I am going to go have my butt beat in the show pen at the TP Futurity, at least it will be by some of the best horses and riders in the country. That should mean something, right?

Ok, so now I have a goal to work towards. Once I am done with the Tom Powers, then I will think about Congress, but not until after the TP. One big challenge at a time!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Corky got her flu/rhino shot this morning, so she was feeling rather lethargic this afternoon. It was a gorgeous 65-degree day so I rode her lightly. She was way too good...I credit the vaccination with that LOL! The vacc did make her breathe a little hard, so I didn't do a lot with her other than the basics.

Tonight when I got home I sat down and really watched the video from Springfield this past weekend. Man, her canter to the right was terrible. She was elevated with an arch to her neck most of the time, and at one point she 4-beated all the way down one rail while she pooped. Gotta love mares! No wonder I didn't place...even if you discounted our bobbles, her second direction wasn't pretty. Actually, in a weird way that makes me feel better. That wasn't really her, it was a tense, lookey, on-the-muscle Corky. I know she can do better, and has done better. Once again, I reminded myself that it was Springfield, and that any ride that didn't include bucking was a win!

I hope I can find someone to help me at Equine Affaire next weekend. It's going to be hard doing it all alone all weekend. Plus I really would love to have someone video my clinics so I can watch again and re-learn. I haven't found anyone wiling to take a bribe yet to come sit through all that with the video camera LOL!

April 2010

Friday, April 2, 2010

Today I took Taylor to Hickory Lane farm to prepare for foaling. It's a nice place and very professional, but I was sad to leave her there. Luckily it's only about an hour away so I can pop over there and visit her. The countdown is on...3 weeks to go!

Darla's mare foaled there last weekend, and I got to check out the foal and get a few pictures for her. Foal is by Pretensious Invite and out of her thoroughbred mare Miss Lee Lee (how cool is it to own a TB mare with the same name as you?).

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Today the wind was howling! It made the inside of the indoor arena deafening in sound...the wind rattled the aluminum sides and roof the whole time I rode. It didn't bother Corky one bit. I like that about her. We had a good ride, I rode about 50 minutes. I actually did a little counter-cantering today both directions just to see how she would handle it. It was no biggie to her. She increased her speed a little bit but wasn't at all like Taylor used to be when I counter-cantered. Taylor would get uncomfortable and hoppy and occasionally would throw in a buck for good measure.

Her 'spur slow' is really solid right now. I love this tool. When we 'downshift' to a walk from a trot or canter, she used to walk really fast and shot as if she was tense and anticipating the next gait change. Now I can control her footfalls, and because of this she immediately relaxes when I squeeze with my legs and ask her to slow down. It's more of a 'relaxation' tool than a 'slow-down' tool.

I did some showmanship today (with the chain, as per Darla's instructions to get her more 'dull' to the feel of the chain). She did great. Of course, she usually does showmanship great at home. Actually she does pretty good at shows also. Occasionally she might make a teeny mistake, but when showing against the amateurs that is usually enough to knock you way down. I am still hoping to reach my showmanship goal some time this year of winning an amateur showmanship class (of at least 5 horses).

As of yesterday she is all done with her vaccinations. I split them up into separate shots like I did with Taylor. She got EEE/WEE, tetanus, West Nile, Potomac, Rabies, and Flu/Rhino. That should cover it...I hope!

Miscellaneous RANT (Rabbit is grumpy!)

This website has a cool feature where it tracks any direct links to this website. I check it occasionally. It's always interesting to see what other horse blogs have linked to my site. It's also interesting to see who has stolen pictures off of my site. I haven't checked this in a while (probably a year or so), but in my boredom decided to glace at the list this evening. I followed one link and found some blowhard old man trainer (or claiming to be a trainer - the only photos of him on his site show him shoeing horses) wrote some nonsensical article about the correct 'forward seat' (do people actually call it that anymore?) and used a photo he stole off of my website as a bad example...a photo from about 15 years ago when I was much greener and struggling to become a good rider. This is the part of the internet that I HATE. The hate blogs, the pointing fingers and poking fun, the hiding behind a website to insult others, the way some people feel the freedom to cut others down without leaving a chance for anyone to do a critique back at them. You know, we are all fighting the same fight, struggling the same struggle, aren't we? Trying to become the best rider possible, make your horse into the best horse possible, and make your partnership with him the best possible. I have yet to meet anyone who has achieved these things to perfection. When I do, I will welcome criticism and insults...until then I would hope we all can be humble and admit we are ALL learning and struggling. I don't know, maybe I am just a bit grumpy tonight, but finding an ancient picture of myself on some goober's website just rubbed me the wrong way. I won't link to his site because I don't want to give him any additional publicity. Plus I don't want to subject any of you to the gawd-awful goofy background music he has playing when you load his site LOL!

OK, rant over, I think. My words for today -

It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes short again and again, who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause, who at best knows achievement and who at the worst if he fails at least fails while daring greatly so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat. - Theodore Roosevelt

...and a shorter quote that says it all, in my opinion:

A successful person is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks that others throw at him or her.

Monday, April 5, 2010

It was the perfect day to have a day off of work 0- sunny, and mid-70's! I did a lot of misc. work - got my oil changed in the big truck, cleaned stalls, cleaned out the trailer, and did some riding with the doors open and the sun streaming in. Corky was pretty good today. She was a little heavy in the bridle, but I did a lot of bending exercises and that seemed to lighten her up a bit.

I am doing a lot of thinking about these two clinics I am riding in this weekend at Equine Affaire. The titles are fairly broad so I am not sure what will be covered or what I will be expected to do. Here are the clinic titles:

I just hope Corky doesn't make a fool out of me. She has the power to do that and more...I am hoping I can get this done successfully. Oh well, if nothing else, I will get a lot of shopping done at Eq. Affaire...I have lots to buy!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Today's ride started off very low-energy. Corky was very easy-going. When she is like this and I almost have to push her, my equitation gets a lot better. I was sitting up straighter and my eyes were up (amazing, isn't it!). I feel so much more confident and have a better seat when Corky is trolling around easily and I don't have to try and regulate her speed with my posting.

I decided to try one short eq pattern - trotting down one rail on the left diagonal, stopping in the corner and turning on the forehand to the right, then canter left lead in a diagonal line to the opposite corner. For some reason this really revved her up and afterward she suddenly got a burst of energy and started trying to take control of the speed. I went back to a sitting trot and did some bending and counter-bending circles for a while, then went back to our regularly scheduled program. She was MUCH better...going along on the rail is so much easier than those dang bending circles! They work like a charm. I see I need to do a LOT more pattern work to make it more commonplace for her. Ugh...doing patterns in our little arena is tough. I can't wait to start riding outside!

On a side note...I checked that website I came across that was using a photo of me without permission. It seems the goober pulled the photo down immediately when I e-mailed him about it. I will change my opinion of him from a complete moron to a partial moron.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Brrrr...chilly day! Corky rode very good today, and it makes me suspicious. Is she planning something evil for this weekend, or is she just in a good mood? Time will tell! I did a lot of serpentines and circles today - a lot of steering off the rail. After my ride I packed the trailer for the weekend. I got a 7-day supply of Equine Focus to try. She got her first dose tonight in her grain. I hope it is worth the money.

Friday, April 9, 2010

I headed out to Columbus with Corky right after work. After getting her settled and unpacking all my stuff at the stall, I took her out to the covered arena to ride for a while awhile waiting for Cooper arena (where the clinics will be held) to be open. The covered pen was slightly a zoo. Lesson #1 from Equine Affaire: Corky does NOT like Clydesdales pulling wagons! I don't know if it was the wagon, the bling bling harness, or the huge white feathers on their legs. Corky was wide-eyed and snorting. Luckily she was on the longe line and was able to run her fear into a circle. One thing that I have noticed this year even at the shows and at Darla's is that Corky has a weird abject fear of white horses. I am talking wheel-and-dart-away fear. Why? We have no grey/white horses at our barn and never have. Weird.

It was hard to get any work done because it seemed an awful lot of people had no clue how to ride in an arena with others going different directions. I would go about 2-3 strides and some "cowboy" would gallop in front of us causing Corky to slam on her brakes. I left the covered arena and headed to Cooper where it was virtually empty. There I got a good ride and was able to work her well. Walking back to her stall was a treat. Lesson #2 from Equine Affaire: Corky paid NO attention to a dozen crazy Icelandic Ponies running through actual fire...go figure!

Corky was puzzled by all that knee action!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

I fed Corky nice and early and then did some shopping!. I didn't buy anything exciting. 5 cans of fly spray, a huge jug of Showsheen, some purple crossties, leg poultice...boring stuff. Around 11am I got Corky out and took her to the covered arena to ride. Ye gads...I have never seen so many out of control riders and horses in my life! Funny how I can ride in this same arena with 100+ horses at Congress and still get a decent ride in, and yet with 10 riders out here it was complete mayhem and I couldn't accomplish anything! One wannabe cowboy owes his life to Corky's awesome longe line stop. I was longeing her and first he came galloping a circle and almost ran into her. The second time he came around he rode right into my circle and if Corky hadn't stopped on a dime when I asked, he would have lost his head literally by being clotheslined by my longe line. This same "cowboy" (note the quotes!) managed to get in my way at every turn when I rode. It's like he was riding in his own little world. He wasn't the only one in a fog. It was very frustrating! In the span of an hour, two people got dumped and three people lost control of their horses while longeing and the horses took off loose in the arena. One ran out of the arena and galloped down the pavement while two wannabe cowboys galloped after him (causing him to run even faster!). Pretty scary when Corky at her worst (and she was!) was the most controlled horse in the arena. Lesson #3 at Equine Affaire: Just because you wear chinks, a low-brim hat, and big spurs does not make you a real cowboy! Seriously!

I spent the afternoon hanging out with an old friend and a couple new friends (there is nothing on earth like fellow horse buddies!). I went back for a second ride late in the afternoon, hoping that things would be calmer. WRONG! The first thing to turn Corky bug-eyed was a group of some sort of gaited horses all dressed up. One had big tall feathers straight up from the top of his bridle. Corky gave it a few glances, but got over that pretty quick. THEN came the Friesians. 10 of them, trying to ride some sort of drill team thing together. They were pounding around the arena in formation and we tried very hard to stay out of their way and yet still get something done. It wasn't easy! At one point we stood in the center and the whole group of Friesians came zipping down the center in a horizontal line. We stood very still and they split around us. Corky was very good about that (I was the one who was extremely nervous). I spent most of this ride just sitting on her and letting her watch the activity.After a fun dinner out with friends, I came back at night and rode in Cooper. Corky was wonderful. For 20 minutes she rode like a champion. Then suddenly she spooked HARD at a banner on the fence that has been there since yesterday. She spooked again and again at it. Eventually I got off her and led her to it and forced her to tolerate it while I beat on it and shook it. Gradually she chilled out but she never relaxed enough to take her eye off of it. Why on earth would she spook at something she saw last night and tonight and never gave it a thought? Ugh...HORSES! Walking back, I passed a man riding a longhorn steer - yes, a cow with a saddle and bridle. Corky never gave it a look...I looked a dozen times! Lesson #4 at Equine Affaire: Horses make NO sense!

After riding I braided...big fat braids since it wasn't required and I had a sneaking suspicion I would be the only one braided. I want her to think she is at a show when we go into our clinics. This will be a great opportunity for a show atmosphere where I can school her and change things up a bit.I finished a little after midnight, and headed to the hotel for a very quick night's sleep.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

I woke up bright and early to longe Corky. She had a couple good blowout gallops but other than that she was pretty quiet. I know she had to be tired. Yesterday was a long day full of new sights and stresses for her. I fed her breakfast and got myself ready for the clinic. The first clinic was at 10:30am, so I got her back out around 9:45 to loosen her up in the covered arena and then wait for the clinic. The clinic was pretty good. Corky acted good...for her! We started off trotting...and trotting and trotting and trotting. The clinician worked with me to keep Corky's inside shoulder from dropping on the corners. we did a lot of trotting and cantering for long long long periods of time, it was exhausting for both of us (but I love it!). Then all of a sudden she spooked at the banner - the same banner she spooked at last night. What the heck? It was pointed out to me that Corky obviously is not really scared, just was just using it as an excuse to get out of work. I drove her into the bridle and made her stay in frame each time she passed it. It wasn't pretty but she stayed under control and didn't act out. She listened to me...yay! I was told over a dozen times that we had to go "back to the basics"...yeah, that's what we've been doing since November! It's hard to ride a clinic with someone who knows nothing about me or my horse. I don't enjoy the negativity, but then I did sign on for honest criticism!

The second clinic was only 90 minutes after the first. I pulled the saddle off of Corky and let her relax in her stall for about an hour, then it was back to work! This clinic was more about showing to the judge, ring position, etc. All of the exercises we did were many of the same ones I have done with Darla when we worked on how to ride the arena and space yourself from the crowds. I think I have a pretty good handle on that. At one point in the clinic Corky and I got to be the guinea pigs for an example of being crowded on the rail...of all horses in the clinic she had to pick Corky to crowd on the rail and see how I would get us out of the jam. Corky was NOT happy - she was crowded really hard on the rail all the way around the ring. Of course a big deal was made about her laying her ears back.

You know, I have worked my butt off to get her crowd-broke and she is a thousand times better than she used to be...but it's asking an awful lot to expect a mare to be crowded against the rail by a gelding at the trot all the way around the ring. After this moment, she was a bit more tense and unhappy...she was exhausted and it showed. Up until that time she rode great, I was thrilled with how she went in that "class" of 7 - she had zero issues with horses passing her (until the crowding incident) and the spooking happened only once and it was very mild (the same stupid banner). Her canter was a lot better in this clinic than the earlier one. Overall, today's rides went very well! What a great experience for her.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Tonight I went to Findlay to the breeding farm to visit Taylor. WOW has she gotten HUGE! She seemed really uncomfortable. Of course she backed into me and insisted I scratch her butt before doing anything else once I entered her stall. Yes I have spoiled my girl! I noticed she has the FoalAlert already sewn on. By my calculations, if she goes the same number of days as she did last year she would be due on April 25. That's only 12 days away! Here are some fatty pregnat pics:

You know...only an obsessed horse person would take a photo of this. LOL! I find the Foal Alert very interesting...wish I had one of those all the years I foaled out my mare at home. It would have saved weeks of sleeping in the horse trailer in the driveway!

On a side note, Corky has now come down with a cough. It figures...too many germy horses at Equine Affaire I guess. Hopefully it won't turn into something serious. You know me, I tend to worry, worry, and worry some more.

On another side note, On my way to visit Taylor tonight I stopped by a show clothing designer's place to discuss a new showmanship outfit. I picked out some awesome material and I designed a very cool new design. I am excited! She hopes to have it done by the beginning of June.

ON yet another side note, a really nice family I met at Equine Affaire (the daughter rode in my clinics with me) videoed both clinics and offered to send me a DVD. When it arrives, I'll post some video clips from the clinics. There are some very nice and friendly horse people out there...makes me glad!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

I got to the barn after work and it was surprisingly warm! I ended up digging out an old t-shirt from my trailer to change into. It was way too gorgeous to ride inside, so I decided to brave the outdoors today. It hasn't been dug up yet, but there is just a short covering of weeds and grass on the outdoor track so the footing was fine for riding. I was a little worried. Would Corky remember all the horrible fights and battles we had outside last August? I think about our rides during that month and I cringe. It seemed every one was a terrible battle, and every one left us both feeling stressed and unhappy. I hated to spoil the good thing Corky and I have going right now (ye gads, it sounds like a human relationship, doesn't it?).

I started off by doing a little longeing, but she didn't seem too energized. I should mention that she has no sign of a cough at all, I guess it was only last night she had the touch of one. Randy came out with his gelding to ride with me, and I thin that helped Corky relax even more.

Our ride was fantastic! Granted it wasn't completely perfect. I had to constantly ask her to back off on her speed...but the important thing is that she listened to me and did as I asked! How cool is that? She might be actually getting broke, eh?

We did a lot of bending circles to loosen her up (she seemed really stiff in the neck), lots of long trotting and lifting shoulders, and a little controlled cantering. It was fun...total fun. Randy and I ended with some long trotting around the track side by side, forcing our horses to deal with each others' nearness. I need to do this every day with Corky, because she got better and better about it. It was a lovely ride where much was accomplished and I left feeling totally good about my riding and my horse. Who could ask for more? Yep...this is the life!

Friday, April 16, 2010

I rode indoors today - the temperatures dropped and it was sprinkling rain off and on. Our ride was good, but every time I put a leg on Corky to move her over (mainly because she kept SUCKING out to the rail on me) she would get attitude. I ended up doing a lot of leg-yielding at the trot (she HATES that)...made my little bit of leg moving her off the rail not seem nearly as bad! She was just a little over-reactive to things. Other than that she rode very good. It's a bummer going back to the small indoor after having such a great ride outside a few days ago...but at least I have access to an indoor to use! I'd never get anything done if I didn't.

Taylor is due a week from Sunday. Holy moley.....

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Corky was a bit over-reactive to my leg again today. I should have longed her with the tires, but since I was already on and riding, I did some sitting trots with my legs flopping and banging and acting like the tires. Once again this had the desired effect - she was much more receptive to my gentle leg pressure at a more comfortable posting trot. Her canters were very very good today - nice easy transitions and she really didn't act like she wanted to surge in speed. I did a lot of riding off the rail again - circles, figure-8's, etc. It was a good ride...things are looking up!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

What a fantabulous day! I started off by heading to Findlay to visit Taylor. Brad (ther farm manager) was just bringing her outside to enjoy some sunshine. She has developed a ton of swelling in her chest (which can be normal for broodmares. Her udder doesn't show any wax but is incredibly full and tight. Brad said he thinks she will foal within 2-3 days! Oh my gosh, I cannot believe the time is so close...and I am praying I will be able to catch the birth this time. I spent about a half hour out in the pasture with Taylor just rubbing on her and scrubbing all the winter hair off of her. I need to remember to bring a brush and shedding blade on my next visit.

After visiting Taylor, I headed back to ride Corky. It was a cool day (mid 50's) but the sun was shining so I ventured outside. I have to say this was one of the best rides ever out here in the pasture. She was so responsive and easy...it was pure joy! I rode her today (and yesterday) in my plain old copper snaffle bit. This bit is ancient...I bought it back in 1988! Lots of good memories attached to that bit. Here is a bit of video of us just hacking around in the field. I am not really pushing her...my main goal has just been to have her relaxed and enjoying the outside arena (unlike last year!).

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Today I rode outside after work by myself. I am not sure if it was because we were by ourselves, or it was just one of those days, but Corky was a lot more forward at the canter and just didn't want to rock back and relax. At one point in my ride I had to just stop and sit on her and rethink my whole plan. I found myself reverting back to the same way we were out here last August...and I had to remember the different techniques I had been using this winter to work her through these 'moods'. Back to sitting trot, circling, bending and counterbending, etc. It got a little better, but never to the point it was on Sunday. I wonder if having another horse out there riding with us really made that much of a difference. If so, then that's not a good thing because 99% of the time I am stuck riding alone.

It was a nice ride, regardless. She really didn't spook or react to anything happening on the road or in the field (the birds were everywhere!). Hopefully I will have time to ride again tomorrow outside and see if things get better or worse.

No word on Taylor yet. I read last year's diary and saw that she waxed up exactly 6 days before foaling. As of Sunday she hadn't waxed. I wonder if she will stick to an exact pattern for each pregnancy? Her mom Tory did - Tory went exactly 355 days from insemination to foaling for every single foal (even the ones she had before I bought her!). That was rather nice. Needless to say I am sleeping with my phone this week...very very anxious.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Today's ride was much better! I rode alone again, but forgot to put the yearling stud colt in his stall, so he was out in the pasture next to us whinneying (and Corky LOVED answering him back...typical woman!). She was very distracted by that and the neighbors working on their car in the driveway. Even with the distractions, she still rode a lot better for me today. Much more controlled at the canter. I didn't do a lot of riding, just about 20 minutes or so. I think my western saddle is bothering her. The saddle is sitting right on her withers and she seemed a little tender on her back today. I think it's time I find a new saddle since this one was one I bought new in 1988 (can you believe it???). I really like it, it is just a cheap Royal King but it is comfortable (for me, anyways). Now I need to find a work saddle that sits up high enough to give her withers room (she has the typical high withers of a HUS horse). Any suggestions? I can't afford a Harris (wish I could!), I need to stay ultra cheap. I don't ride in a western saddle very often at all - only when I am riding by myself outside. Our outdoor arena has no fence, so if I should lose her, she could end up in Cleveland (which is a 3 hour drive for those of you who don't know my location!).

The best cure for Corky's distracted-ness is keeping her mind busy - lots of circles, leg yielding, and just taking command and steering her places where she wasn't expecting to go. Worked like a charm! I am still using my old copper snaffle bit and she seems pretty comfortable in it.

No word on Taylor yet. I sent the farm manager an e-mail this morning asking about her status but haven't received an answer...dang it! I want to know! He's not the greatest when it comes to communicating. I am sleeping with my phone every night, and I have a bag packed by the door with old jeans and a hoodie for when the call does come. I feel like I am preparing to give birth myself! *shudder*...don't even think that!!!

Friday, April 23, 2010

No wax yet on Taylor. I talked to the breeding farm this morning and they are thinking she probably won't foal very soon. Ugh...talk about getting my hopes up! Though I must admit I was really hoping she wouldn't foal tonight as I have a jazz concert in Dayton I am performing in...it would really be tough to be on stage playing when I get the phone call that she is in labor!!! If Taylor was really understanding of my schedule, she would foal tonight after 2am or tomorrow night...both days I can be up all night and then sleep in the next day. Most mares tend to NOT be convenient, but Taylor is such a good girl, who knows? I know the waiting is killing me...I keep imagining worst-case scenarios and they are horrifying me. It doesn't help to read the stories from breeder friends of mine who are having problems right now - losing foals and broodmares to unforeseen circumstances. My heart goes out to them...been there, done that! NOT AGAIN, please!. So...stay tuned...maybe I will have news in a day or two???

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Still waiting... I headed to Findlay in the morning to check on Taylor. She was very stiff and uncomfortable, but really not much change in her status. Still no wax, the bag is full but there isn't any milk coming out yet. I guess it probably won't happen tonight. Looks like I am going to have a middle-of-the-night wake up call this week. Today was what I considered her due date - this is the day she foaled last year (day #338). Technically that's a bit early anyways. I am going to guess maybe Thursday? Oh heck, I don't know, it's just a guess.

After visiting Taylor, I went to ride Corky. It was raining, so we were stuck in the indoor. She rode good, but I did have to REALLY get after her - mainly about her head (she kept wanting to lift out of frame). One time she thought she could grab her butt and take off at the canter, made it about one stride before realizing she had nowhere to go in the indoor, and I set her down hard and backed her up. I did this several times, then I got some very good canters out of her. It was one of those days that once I got mad at her she buckled down and behaved.

I was toying with the idea of hitting a show next weekend, but all plans are still up in the air as I wait on Taylor.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


I got the call around 1:30am...Taylor's water broke! I dove into my jeans and a sweatshirt and ran out the door. I passed 3 highway patrols...managed to speed like a demon and not get a ticket (thank you God!) and got there a little after 2am. Brad (the farm manager) met me at the barn door and said "We have a problem". Instantly I was filled with panic, I swear my heart stopped. The foal was presented upside down and was stuck. The front feet were slightly visible, but were facing the wrong way, and the head was stuck. The vet had been called, and Brad and his wife were trying to walk Taylor and keep her on her feet so she didn't try to lay down and push and do some serious damage. I took over the walking duties while waiting for the vet...the longest 15 minutes of my life! Poor Tayor, every time she had a contraction she would try to stop, and she would moan (and it sounded incredibly human...it broke my heart!).

Thankfully the vet arrived and we got her in her stall and he went to work on her. He gave Taylor a mild tranquilizer to ease her pain, and he managed to get the foal turned rightside up. It still took the vet and Brad to pull him out, and believe me it was a struggle...he was HUGE! Once we got the shoulders free, he came out easier. The foal was breathing and immediately active!

Brad and the vet working on the colt after he made his appearance into the world

Taylor was pretty out of it right after he was born, so Brad milked her and fed the colt her colostrum from a bottle to make sure he got all the nutrients and antibodies he needed.

You can see his tongue sticking out a bit in this picture. It seems like he might have had a slight bit of oxygen deprivation (dummy foal syndrome). Thankfully it was very minor -he had a great sucking reflex and was active and alert right from the start.

He struggled to his feet several times, and the efforts exhausted him. Eventually he got up and stayed up on his feet and wandered around Taylor trying to figure out exactly where to nurse. Taylor, of course, walked circles with him trying to nuzzle him, so he was at a disadvantage having his breakfast become a moving target! This walking tired him out, and he sacked out for a bit around 4:30am. I had to leave to get to work...I HATED leaving without knowing if he was going to nurse safely, but he was in good hands with Brad so I reluctantly headed home to clean up and re-enter the real world. Brad called when I was 15 minutes down the road to say he got up and was nursing vigorously, and Taylor was standing quietly for him. What a relief!.

I decided that his barn name is going to be Tango. Brad's wife said he looked like he was dancing when he was struggling to stay on his feet. I remember way back when I was a weird child (yeah, now I am a weird adult, right?) in probably the first grade or so...I covered a Pringles can with brown construction paper, attached ears, drew eyes and nostrils on it, and stuck it on the front of my bike and pretended my bike was a horse named Tango. I used to take the lid off the can and stuff grass in it's "mouth". Yeah...kind of weird, but a fun memory anyways. The registered name will be trickier since I need a name that I can use both with AQHA and APHA. I have a couple ideas, but they are for now until I get the paperwork sent in :-] Oh yes - and a note to self for next year: Taylor didn't wax until this morning! I think she liked the idea of surprising us all. Today is day 340, the vet said Taylor must have read the textbook for her due date.

This morning I am sitting here at work, still a little giddy...not at all tired (yet!). I prayed so hard while walking Taylor, and I feel so good about things, and I feel pretty confident that my life (horse life, that is) is on an upswing! Only good things for 2010, right?

Check out more pictures HERE!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

I am going to try and get through this entry without losing it completely. Bear with me if I jump a round or ramble...telling this story is so incredibly difficult.

Tuesday morning I went to work until noon, then headed to Findlay to check on Taylor and Tango and do a little bonding with him. I instantly knew something was up when I saw the vet's truck at the barn doors...and of course they were all standing at Taylor's stall. Taylor wasn't doing very well - was acting a bit 'shocky', heart rate was up, and she was trembling all over. She was alert and bright-eyed, but it was obvious something was wrong. The vet was taking a stomach tap to see what sort of fluids he could find in her abdomen and analyze them. It appeared she had accumulated some fluid somewhere. He drew some blood, several vials of mystery fluid, and headed back to his office to check them out. I hung out in the stall and played with Tango (who was VERY active - nursing and hopping around). I spent some time scrubbing on Taylor and removing some of the crusty mess on her side, and scratching all her favorite spots (her butt, underneath her neck, etc.). Then the phone call from the vet came - he found abnormal cells in the fluid and he was afraid she somehow had torn something inside that was leaking fluid into her abdomen. Time was of the essence - she needed to get to the OSU Veterinary Hospital ASAP to be checked out and possibly have surgery to repair whatever was torn. Before I could even panic, Brad (the farm manager of Hickory Lane Farm) offered to transport Taylor and Tango to Columbus. This was a huge relief for me as it would have taken me hours to drive all the way back to Lima, hook up, and empty my trailer. Plus I honestly didn't think I could make the drive.

Tango taking a nap before being loaded on the trailer for his very first ride
We loaded up and I followed behind Brad in my truck, heading for OSU. Once again I got to make an emergency trip to OSU with only the clothes on my back. I think I cried the whole way. Thank goodness all I had to do was drive between the lines and stay behind the trailer. I prayed the whole way...completely convinced that things would work out. They had to, no way could I have a third disaster in a row.

When we arrived at OSU, the veterinarians immediately got to work. Tango was a hit amongst the vet students, who all got a chance to handle him. They took a tap of the fluid in Taylor's abdomen again, and it was determined that there indeed was a tear somewhere that was leaking, and surgery was our only option. I told the surgeon (who ironically happened to be the same one that worked on Lazlo last year, and also worked on Corky when she had gas colic as a 2yo!) that at this point money was no object...save her no matter what the cost. Nothing on earth is more precious to me than Taylor (whom I bred and raised and achieved a LOT of show dreams and goals with).

The surgeon was fairly sure that what Taylor had was a uterine tear. He said this was very repairable and many mares went on to have a healthy breeding career later on. This was my least concern. At this point the breeding business was going to in my past! He did say that there was no way to tell what exactly was torn until they opened her up in surgery, and that if it was anything in her GI tract (intestines, etc.) then it was pretty much hopeless. However, because of what they found in her abdomen tap, he was leaning more towards a uterine tear. Good news amongst a sea of bad news...I'll take it!

Soon it was time for surgery. I got to watch the entire thing, from the first anesthesia all the way through. It was horrible. Terrifying, heartbreaking, and horrible. I cannot even start to describe what I watched without crying. I don't think any horse owner should watch their horse going under abdominal surgery. I hate the images that keep going through my mind. However, I didn't want to miss a thing, I felt I needed to be there for her.

They were working on her and I was staring at the breathing tube watching her take each breath and concentrating on that, when the surgeon came out to talk to me. His words killed me, "Jan, I am SO sorry". Taylor's uterus was not torn, but her colon was, and it was torn beyond repair. I cried...cried and cried. I begged him to try and save her, I told him money was no object, I pleaded with him to do whatever it takes. He told me there was absolutely nothing he could do, that she was going to die and he wanted my permission to put her to sleep. I stood there crying and told him to do what was best. I couldn't stay and watch. My last view of her was lying on that padded table upside down with the breathing tube in her. One of the other doctors came and led me away and took me to the other part of the hospital where Tango was being stalled.

As I was walking over there, a good friend (Ashley) showed up. She had heard about what happened, and came to be with me. I don't know how she knew the exact moment that she needed to be there, but she did and showed up right when I needed someone. That's friendship, just like last year when my friend Barb came to be with me during my ordeal with Lazlo. Those kinds of friends are priceless..

I started focusing completely on Tango. Now I had a colt that was only 12 hours old and was motherless...a totally new experience for me. I looked at him in that stall and I decided I would move hell or high water to keep him alive and healthy. He is my last link to Taylor. First on the agenda is to figure out what to do about nourishment. My first desire was to find a nursemare. There is just no way someone like me with a full time job can bottle or bucket-feed a baby...every 2 hours 'round the clock. I got a phone number from one of the doctors of a nursemare facility in Kentucky and stared the chain o phone calls. This guy didn't have any, but gave me a phone number of a guy he thought would have one, and that guy didn't have one, but referred me to another one, and so on and so on without much luck. I was on the phone for a long time making call after call...getting more and more panicked. Then the first guy called back...seems he 'suddenly' did have one available. He had a thick Kentucky accent (which normally I love but this accent was VERY hard to understand!) and I couldn't catch most of what he was saying. I did hear that he wanted $2400 in cash when he arrived. CASH, at 7:00 at night! This was going to be a challenge. After giving him the address of the vet hospital 4-5 times (and explaining that yes, Ohio State University was indeed in the state of Ohio) he made arrangements to hit the road in an hour or so and head to Columbus.

Ashley stayed with me the whole night. Tango had a feeding tube inserted down one nostril to keep him fed until the mare arrived. The staff gave us a bowl of milk to occasionally try and teach Tango to drink from, though they said colts are generally really slow to learn to drink from a bowl or bucket. Amazingly, by the last feeding Ashley had managed to convince Tango to drink from the bowl, and he got to have that last feeding via the bowl rather than the feeding tube.

Ashley ran me to several ATMs to try and get enough cash to pay the guy bringing the nursemare. I ran my ATM card three times and did manage to get $900 cash before they cut me off. I was surprised I could get that much from an ATM within minutes. I was out of options, I could just hope that he would be willing to take a personal check for the rest of the money.

I spent a night bonding pretty hard with Tango. He was most comfortable sacking out next to me. I look at him and it just kills me knowing Taylor is gone. It's unbelievable to me. What hurts the most is knowing that I am the one responsible for her death. I was the one that bred her, which caused this to happen. I would have never ever bred her if I had known this would happen. I expect to have issues with foals - they are so delicate when they are young. Taylor never gets sick, never gets hurt, she has always been my solid rock that I could count on. For 12 years she has shared my life. I watched her come into this world, take her first steps, and take her last steps. I thought I would have 20 more years with her. I just can't seem to get a grasp on why this is happening to me. I think I have completely lost faith. I am angry at the unfairness, I am frustrated that I can do everything possible in my power to make sure everything is done RIGHT, I am hurt that once again my prayers were ignored. I don't know what to think, or why I seemingly deserve this.

The nursemare arrived around 2am. I think it was around 2am. Time seemed to become very foggy being on my second night without sleep. The nursemare owner talked just as cryptically in person as he did on the phone. At times I felt I was trying to lip-read him to figure out what he was saying. He unloaded the mare. She was a black mare of unknown origin, probably around 15'1" hands or so, covered in muck and smelling so badly I could barely stand next to her. However, when she allowed Tango to nurse, she became the most beautiful mare I have ever seen. She was slightly tranquilized for this first nursing. Someone held her while another technician brought Tango into her stall, and Tango immediately went for the milk source, and all looked well. What a relief! The nursemare owner was so nice, and he accepted my personal check for the amount I owed that I didn't have cash.

This is a picture of Taylor took while sitting in her stall in Findlay waiting to load her and Tango into the trailer for the trip to Columbus. This is the very last picture I will ever have of Taylor. It's kind of a silly picture from a weird angle, but it is the last memory I have of her and how I want to remember her. I hope I can erase the horrible images of her surgery. rest in peace, my best friend, my confidant through good and bad times, my partner, my 'oldest daughter'. Taylor made me the rider I am today, and she made it possible for me to not only dream but to dream without limits. I can't imagine life without her, but I guess today starts the first day of living it.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Well, I got home this morning from Columbus around 4:30am. Immediately I got busy on the computer transferring money around to cover the nursemare check and other bills. Sitting at my computer looking at my accounts brought reality home with a crash. I did pretty well last year...after spending thousands trying to save Lazlo, I pared down my show year, skipped Congress, and put a good amount of money aside to replenish my 'emergency fund'. That was all gone now, and this is only the tip of the iceberg. Well, I am not going to panic. I will make it somehow. At this point all that matters is making sure Tango does well.

I took a nap for a couple hours, got back up and headed back to Columbus. When I got there, I found that they had moved the nursemare (her name is "Oreo" so that's what I will call her now) into Tango's stall, and they put Tango in a caged-off area in the stall so they could see each other and touch noses but not actually be able to make any real contact. Oreo stood in the back part of the stall with her head very close to the cage and watched Tango and I the whole time. She seemed a little protective of him, which is a good sign.

I spent the day with tango in his little "cage". He tried to nurse on my a lot - leaving wet spots on my knees, arms, feet, etc. I really think he is a little confused as to who his mother really is. I hate the thought that he seems to have zero memory of Taylor. Not once has he nickered or whinneyed for her. It's like he doesn't remember her at all. I guess it's a silly thing to be bothered by, but it does bother me.

I talked to both doctors that were working with him. They both had guarded optimism for the nursemare situation. It seems she needs to be held right now while he is allowed to nurse every 2 hours because at first she does try to bite him and get angry. After a minute or two she does settle down. When I watched the 4:00 feeding, she didn't try to bite him but she did kick out a bunch as he nursed. The vet thought that he was probably nursing a little too hard and it was bothering her, and this was a normal mare's reaction...being a "mom" and letting the baby know he needed to behave. After Tango was done nursing the walked him up to her head and she did nicker at him and was pleasant...this was a very good sign. Tonight they were going to try and give her a mild tranquilizer and see how they did with both of them loose at nursing time. Tomorrow if things went well they would try it completely loose with no tranq. If everything works out, I might be able to bring them home Saturday. If she still shows signs of aggression, then we might have to call the nursemare facility and have them exchange mares (there is a guarantee in my contract that the mare will accept the foal within 7 days or they will exchange her). If this happens, then I am looking at probably another week at the OSU hospital. Cha-ching! Oh well, whatever. You gotta do what you gotta do.

I love this horse...this tragedy has bonded us in a way I never thought possible. I look at him and I cannot blame him for Taylor's death, I blamemyself. If only I had known...of course this applies to all areas of life. If only we did know the future consequences of our decisions or actions. I would have never ever ever done anything to put Taylor in jeopardy. I feel that even though I agonized over every decision throughout this breeding phase and did everythihg in my power to do things right, it still was all wrong. Yet I look at Tango and wonder how can I call it all wrong?

The outpouring of concern from my friends have been amazing...overwhelming. Words cannot describe how I felt when I got home today and saw the messages on my computer (over 100 on Facebook alone), and all the help people were willing to give me. A lot of these people have never even met me, yet they understood the pain of losing a horse and the crushing blow of high-end hospital bills, and they wanted to help. I got home and looked at my computer and cried. I never knew there were so many wonderful people out there that really understood and cared. I read every note and every message and it really affected me. I don't know how many of you read this diary full of drivel, but want you to know that your messages and everything means the world to me, and you will never know just what this has done for me. Ok, now I am crying again...but I wanted to say "Thank you".

Thursday, April 29, 2010

It stinks going back to reality. Back to work today...with lots of stuff to make up from my missed time over the past 2 days. I called OSU in the morning, and so far everything was still OK. They were still holding Oreo while Tango nursed, but when they took him away to weigh him she got very agitated and whinnied a lot and acted like she was upset he was gone...good sign!

I got the best phone call around 1:30 today. The doctor in charge called to let me know that Oreo and Tango were loose together in the stall and she completely bonded to him. She let him nurse a full meal, and now he is sleeping and she is standing guard over him like a protective mother. I was so relieved I almost cried. Finally some good news from OSU! Things are looking up, and looking good to bring them home on Saturday barring any setbacks.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Today I woke up angry. Yes, I am angry. I want to know WHY...why this all has happened to me. After 9 years of healthy foals and somewhat uneventful foalings, I had three disasters and deaths in a row. 2006 - Fruit delivered a huge, gorgeous stillborn Hot Diggity Joe filly. I swore I would never breed again. Jump ahead a few years, and in 2009 Taylor delivered a gorgeous, healthy Hot Diggity Joe colt, only to lose him at 30 days to tetanus. And now we are at this year. 2010 was supposed to be MY year, remember? It's definitely someone else's year, not mine. I am angry. I am angry at life, at God, at fate, at mother nature.

Now come the financial worries. My bills are skyrocketing and I dread seeing what it is all going to cost. Last year I was in the same place - paying for a HUGE vet bill for the death of one of my horses. Damn. I sat here this morning and realized my second Tom Powers payment was due for Corky. I paid it, but not without some thought. I worked my butt off all year to get Corky to a place where I think we can have a more consistent show year, and I was hoping to really hit the shows this year after having to take off a lot of last year because of those vet bills. I am in the same boat again! I had already made plans to go to a show next weekend...scheduled my personal day and everything. Now I debate as to what to do. This will probably be my only show until the Tom Powers, so do I just go and worry later, or should I stay home and worry at home?

Tonight after work I am heading to the barn to ride Corky. I haven't seen her all week. Thank goodness my good friends have been taking care of her while I spend all this time in Columbus. I dread going out there and realizing that Taylor will never be in her stall throwing her butt in my face wanting to be scratched. How strange will that be - after 12 years - no more Taylor.

Sorry, this post is rather depressing. Things will get happier once I bring Tango home. Hopefully that will happen tomorrow.

Friday, April 30, 2010 (later)

The vet at OSU called in the afternoon tl let me know things were going great and that Tango and Oreo were now a "family". She felt they would be ready to head home tomorrow! It's so nice (and unusual) to get good news on the phone.

After work I headed to the barn. It was a bittersweet time cleaning out the big broodmare stall, knowing that Taylor would never be there again. Yeah, I cried again...I am so tired of crying at the drop of a hat. that's one thing I hate about myself...the tears come easily when I am emotional. Ugh. It was a beautiful sunny day, almost 80 degrees. The wind was strong, but I went ahead and headed outside with Corky to ride. She hasn't been ridden in a week, so I expected her to be a bit wild and full of herself. While I could feel she had a lot of wired energy, she was so careful to be gentle and take care of me. It was weird - I swear it's almost as if she knew. That sounds really stupid (and sappy) but I could see her looking at me strangely and being rather wary. I must be sending off some major stressed/emotional vibes or something. If only I could bottle this up and use it next time we are at a show!

Our ride went really well. I only rode for about 20 minutes. Canters were nice, everything was smooth. After my ride I took EVERYTHING out of my trailer to prepare for hauling Tango and Oreo back from Columbus tomorrow. man I have a lot of crap in my trailer. Is it really necessary for any one person with ONE show horse to have about 8 sets of now-bow wraps? We are talking 8 sets - sets of 4! Geeze. I could use a clean set to haul to every show this summer and not have to do any washing. Anyways, the trailer was cleaned out and ready for transport, and Randy and I discussed one little wrinkle in the nursemare contract - she has to be bred back to someone within the next 30 days. Luckily, he has 3 stallions at the barn available and more than willing to do some live cover breeding. Should be an interesting week next week. I picked out the good stud, Oreo will have a very pretty baby next year for someone to adopt, it will probably be buckskin. The whole nursemare idea doesn't sit well with me, but when it comes down to saving my precious colt's life, all that flew out the window. God bless Oreo...she will have a fantastic, pampered summer with me.

My friend and I were talking about Hot Diggity Joe, and it made me realize that now I am truly destined to never own a "Joe". I was a fan 5 years ago, before most people had heard of him. I had picked him out for Taylor back in 1995, he stayed on my short list for years. I had always assumed that I would have a foal by him out of Taylor eventually...so sure it would some day happen. Time to focus on new dreams that don't include breeding. Focus on Tango, and doing all that fun baby training stuff that I love love love, plus still focusing on Corky's year and determined to have the best show year yet...even if it is pared down quite a bit. I don't think I'll be hitting the shows every weekend like I had planned, but I hope to still do some. Oh well, it is what it is (that's one of my favorite phrases), and somehow things will work out. I am not going to tear my hair out about the money I spent on another fruitless OSU surgery. Like with Lazlo, I wouldn't change a thing because never would I NOT try to save Taylor, regardless of the cost.

Enough money talk...yuck. I have received many messages from this website (always amazed that people actually read this nonsense!) and believe me, every message makes me feel a little bit better. It's heartwarming to know that there are tons of others out there who totally understand how I feel about losing Taylor. Those non-horse people in my life just don't 'get' it, they don't understand that we grieve for our horses with true sincerity. So, thanks for your messages. I will try to quit my pity party and make this blog a bit more interesting in the near future. :-]

May 2010

Saturday, May 1, 2010 (Derby Day!)

Today finally came...I left with my friend in the morning to bring Tango and Oreo home! It was an ugly rainy day, but the sun was shining in my head at least. OSU is so frustrating...I hate when I settle up my bill and they only have a small handful of the charges listed. That means I get the joy of receiving all these extra separate bills in the mail for the next few weeks. Just when you think all your bills are paid, another one pops up from OSU. Last year they strung on for a month after Lazlo's surgery. I sure would like to know exactly what my financial dilemma is right now, but I guess that fun news will just have to wait for a while.

Tango took some encouraging to walk up the ramp, but Oreo loaded willingly. When we got home, Oreo did NOT want to back out of the trailer. Once we did get her backed out, Tango was easy to maneuver down the ramp, and into the indoor arena they went! I left them loose for a while to see what Tango would do. I shot a few moments of video of his first time out in the arena. He is a bit behind any other normal 5 day old colt because unfortunately he has NEVER had a chance to be out of his stall, so he has never even taken a trot step! He was pretty gangly on his feet and fun to watch. I can't wait to let him go out in the big pasture to play and get strong. For today, he and Oreo went in their new stall to relax from the journey. Oreo was very protective of him. Oreo is also impossible to catch once she is loose. I can see why they left a short rope on her halter at the vet hospital. She just doesn't trust people at all, which is understandable considering what she has probably gone through in her life. I am determined to give her the most pampered summer of her life this year.

By the way, I won $8 on a $2 bet on the Derby...got the 2nd place horse. Go me!

Sunday, May 2, 2010 (Derby Day!)

Today I headed out to the barn to spend the day getting my work done. turned Oreo and Tango out in the indoor while I cleaned stalls. Tango leaped and played and ran...it was so cute. I wish I had my video camera with me. I put them back in and rode Corky. She rode pretty good, though the arena was dug a little too deep so she struggled in some areas. I didn't push it because I don't want anything happening to her tendons in that too-deep footing, so we only rode for about 15 minutes. She rode well, but today was one of those days where she liked to ignore my downward cues, so we had to school our canter-to-walk transitions. After I rode I turned Tango and Oreo back out. I stood there and watched them for the longest time. Tango, at one point, actually left Oreo and walked up to me to visit.

I didn't do so well this evening. I feel really down, even watching the Tango video didn't help. I found myself watching tons of old videos of Taylor and it hit me fresh that she is really gone. I need to get a hold of myself and start concentrating on Corky again. Weighing on my mind is whether or not to go to the show this weekend. On the plus side - it's one of the cheapest shows around, and I already scheduled a personal day on Friday since I planned to go to this show months ago. On the minus side - money is squeaky tight (or it will be anyways when those bills start rolling in) and I haven't had a chance to really work Corky the past week or so, and this week doesn't look much better. I am pretty sure I won't be going to a show the rest of the spring, until the Tom Powers in June (provided I can afford that last entry payment due in June). I have my show pretty much funded by braiding jobs... What to do, what to do....

Oreo is drinking an abnormally large amount of water - we filled her bucket up SIX times today! I know lactating mares drink a lot, but I've never had one drink this much. She seems to be warming up to me a bit. I spent some time today brushing her and cleaning her up. I made her look so shiny (and then she went and promptly rolled in the dirt). I picked her feet out...mainly checking to see how she handles having her feet picked up. Her frogs of her front feet are completely gone - there is just a hole where they should be. My farrier is going to have his work cut out for him this month. It looks to me like she hasn't had the greatest of hoof care (putting it mildly). Tomorrow we are going to see if she is coming into heat by teasing her with the stallion. Should be fun! :-]

Monday, May 3, 2010

Heck, I don't think I can go anywhere this weekend. I can't even bear to leave the barn after cleaning stalls and doing my normal chores. I find myself sitting in the indoor watching Tango and worrying. I spent hours just sitting there yesterday. Poor Corky is feeling neglected, she is really demanding of my attention and "in my pocket" while I am cleaning her stall.

Today Oreo seemed to warn up to me - she allowed me to catch her easily (which is new for us!). I guess all the treats and the long grooming sessions are making her trust me and enjoy my company. That makes me feel good. Tomorrow I will walk her and Tango around the perimeter of the back pasture and then give them their first pasture time.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Lots of stuff happening today! We teased Oreo with the palomino stud (did I mention I have to return this nursemare PREGNANT?) but she is not the least bit interested in breeding yet. Hopefully in a few days she will start entering her foal heat.Today was a banner day, I walked Oreo around the perimeter of the pasture so she could see the fences. Tango galloped around, rearing and leaping in the air around us! Once this was done, I turned them loose for some play time!

After I took a million pictures (Ok, only 45 but still...) I saddled Corky and went to go ride outside. I had already free-longed her indoors and she was full of energy. I tried longeing her outside but she was dead, so I hopped on and did some trotting. Suddenly, she got her second wind and was FULL of herself! My friend came out to ride with us, and she didn't really pay any attention to him. She was so full of it, I hopped off to longe her rather than fight with her constantly under saddle. She ran and ran and ran like a crazy woman. What was up with that? I got back on and it wasn't much better - lots of corrections, lots of stopping and backing, VERY frustrating. I feel like we took about 20 steps backwards today. Talk about lowering your spirits...I am wondering if 2010 might just end up being a disaster year all the way around. Yep, feeling pretty negative tonight! I am bummed...not going anywhere this weekend (foolish of me for even thinking I could), so it looks like I won't show until the end of June. I had such huge plans for April and May, how did things go so wrong? Oh yeah...it's called LIFE and it bit me in the butt in a big way.

I love my parents, they are the absolute BEST. They are completely non-horsey but they let me ramble on the phone and seem almost interested! They sat around and discussed possible registered names for Tango..."Thanks For The Dance" as a play on his barn name of Tango. My dad came up with "Thanks For The Love". That's cute. I have a lot of options. As soon as I get the breeder's certificate I am making a decision!

Tango - 1 week old (a quick one-minute video)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Frustrating day! Tango and Oreo are doing well, but Oreo just does NOT want to be caught. Randy could not catch her in the pasture last night to bring them both in, This means I will have to bring them in each evening while I am there...hopefully I can convince them to turn them out in the mornings so they have a full day out in the pasture every day. We teased Oreo with the palomino stallion again today. I actually kinda like him. I scratch his withers every day in his stall, so now when he sees me he leans against the door and pushes his withers at me. Anyways, Oreo was showing signs of heat just ever so slightly. I am thinking maybe Friday is the day?

I rode Corky indoors today as the wind was blowing up a storm. I rode in the gag since she has really been heavy and leaning on the smooth snaffle. I hoped to have something she couldn't lean on. Of course, this idea backfired as when she did try to lean hard on the bit, it bugged her and she over-reacted by flinging her head up and slamming on the brakes. After this happened over and over again (and I wasn't even TOUCHING the bit!) I got back off and longed her with side reins, allowing her to feel the pressure and learn to release rather than fight it more. I got back on and worked the canter a bit more. I did get both directions cleanly. I could tell the one way (she is far worse at her overreacting when cantering to the right) she really thought about reacting, considered it, and then made the good decision not to do it. Yay for her, she is learning! It still was a frustrating ride. She was soaked in sweat, I was in extreme pain from my sunburn/blisters from Monday's day in the sun, so overall it was not a good ride.

I got the surgeon's report on Taylor from the OSU vet hospital. This is what it said (for all you science-y people):

Exploratory Celiotomy: There was a moderate amount of hemorrhagic peritoneal fluid and gas present in the abdomen. An approximately 12-14" mesenteric rent in the small colon mesocolon was found and the corresponding segment of distal small colon was necrotic and had ruptured and the mesenteric attachment. The mare was humanely euthanized with the owner's consent due to the presence of diffuse septic peritonitis and grave prognosis. Unfortunately there is nothing that can be done to treat affected horses that results in survival.

Jan, we are truly sorry for the loss of your beloved mare Taylor. Sadly her foaling injury had caused loss of blood supply to a portion of the gut (small colon) which had leaked and ruptured. This is a known phenomenon in mares unfortunately. Please know that your decision to euthanize your mare is both selfless and the kindest decision for her.

Ugh, makes me ill to read it and relive all that. Physically sick. Will this ever get any better?

Friday, May 7, 2010

I took a personal day from work today. I had scheduled it a month agho thinking I was going to show in Winfield, WV, but obviously those plans went down the tube. It was a warm, sunny day, and I spent it at the barn. We teased oreo off of the palomino stud. She must be in heat because Tango has a lot of dried diahrrea on his butt (from the mare's milk changing slightly while she is in heat). However, she wanted nothing to do with him, and threatened to kick his head off. This is puzzling...and frustrating. I wonder how I am going to get her bred if she is so hateful to other horses?

I spent a lot of time brushing Tango and getting the crud off of his butt. He loved it! He was bending like a pretzel trying to get me to keep rubbing the stuff off his butt...shades of Taylor! He wants to constantly put his mouth on me, and that needs to be nipped in the bud. I am trying to be very consistent with NOT allowing him to put his mouth on me in any manner. I was pushing his face away and saying "no" over and over again. I might be wrong, bit I think he actually caught on to what I was asking and he stood there next to me quietly and kept his mouth to himself. I hope that means he is a quick learner! we'll see how mouthy he is tomorrow. I put Tango and Oreo out in the pasture when I was done and got Corky out to ride.

I first longed Corky briefly with side reins on the plain copper snaffle (I think I will retire the gag for good!). I longed maybe 5 minutes, then got on and rode. She was really really good! Maybe that's what I need to do for a little while - use the side reins on her warm-up longe. I was extremely happy with her canters. I did a lot of cantering, transitions, and lots of trotting circles and figure-8's. She tends to really speed up in the center of her figure-8's, so I worked on that for a while until she kept a stead, even pace. I was sitting her canter much better, yet allowing her to move out a bit more. I found that if I really sat with my outside seatbone back against the saddle, I was a lot more secure and comfortable. I am typing this so that I remember it the next time! Overall, it was an excellent ride (a much needed one) and I left feeling very happy.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Where is the spring? The temperature dropped 30 degrees from yesterday! I talked myself out of tiding. It's hard to stay motivated to ride when you don't have any shows coming up in the near future. I'll ride tomorrow...today just felt like it needed to be a lazy day. I cleaned stalls, and did a little bit of handing of Tango - picking up his feet (just briefly), brushing him and trying to scrub the dried scours off of his butt. He smelled so bad today from the diarrhea...yuck! Tango and Oreo stayed in the indoor today. It was too cold to put them outside in the howling wind.

Got another bill today in the mail, so I sat down to write out checks. The amount is staggering...I mean, I know good equine vets are worth their weight in gold, but I never knew it was a literal statement. I drained my accounts to pay everything, and I still haven't received the bill from the breeding farm yet. I am not sure how I am going to buy groceries or pay the household bills this month, but I guess I will just take it day by day and see what happens. I am cutting every luxury out of my life (not that I had all that many LOL!)...I want to salvage something of my show season this year and in order to do so I am going to have to sell some possessions and really cut my expenses. Unfortunately the new showmanship outfit is already half-finished and the deposit has been paid...that's another bill that will be due at the end of May. Oh, if only I had known... Same goes with my last Tom Powers payment on June 1st... I would have never entered that crazy-expensive show had I known. I would have much rather saved all of this and squeaked out Congress, but that is becoming a very distant dream right now. Oh well, such is life, right? I am certainly not the first person to struggle after a financial disaster strikes. I can sit here and rail about it and feel jealousy towards the people who have it easier than me, but in reality we all have hardships...some are just not as public as others. I do have a lot of blessings that I need to be counting right now.

I got the nicest card today from Stacey, Matt, and the crew at Golden View Training Stables. It made me cry, especially what Stacey wrote. They will never know how much it means to me to received their messages on the card about Taylor. Taylor spent a lot of time there in Kentucky...they know her almost as well as I do. That is one great group of people over there, I miss them a lot. I have received many messages from this website from people and I hope you all know how much it means to me. I am hoping in the near future I can have something to post here other than whining and tears LOL!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Tango is still wanting to mouth all over me today. I hope this doesn't become a real habit. I gently pushed his face away every time he tried to put his mouth on my. Yeah, it's really cute until he is 17 hands and has TEETH!

I longed Corky in the side reins for about 5 minutes and got on. At first she decided to be over-reactive to my legs, so I did a bunch of leg-yielding at the trot...then of course she decided that a little leg pressure on the rain ain't nothin' compared to leg yields! I did a lot of circle work with her, and canter transitions. I even did some counter-cantering (my most hated task). It was a pretty good ride today - no major problems with her head or frame, and I corrected her speed several times and we got some decent canter work done. She was in one of those ultra-touchy moods where she wanted to react to every little thing I did, but actually I could tell she really held herself back from being a total jerk and did as I asked. I think that's progress...any time I can talk her out of giving in to her silly moods is a good day! I worked a little on her turns on the haunches and forehand, they were pretty good today. Hopefully this week it dries up (and warms up) enough so I can do more riding outside. It's hard to know what kind of horse I really have indoors, because she doesn't have enough freedom to really take charge and pick up speed if she weants to. That's the true test of her 'brokenness'. Can she control her need for speed outside with no fences? That's my ultimate goal for this year - control.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

I rode Corky today after cleaning stalls. I really felt tired and lethargic, but I made myself saddle her up. You know what? It was the most awesome ride. I am talking a Congress ride. You know the kind of ride I am talking about - where your horse flows in one supple, pliable form from bit to hip and rounds up and just carries you floating? Yikes...that sounds sappy. Honestly, it was an easy, pretty, gorgeous ride. Her canters were round, slow-legged and deep, and she actually held her pace and tempo with very little reminder from me. I loved it! I didn't work her hard, she did everything I asked for perfectly, so I did a few things and then called it quits (and gave her a huge head-hug). Days like today fill me with optimism and hope for the future. I don't know if we will ever have a ride like that again in the show pen, but just knowing that Congress ride still exists in her fills me with happiness.

Oreo is still frustrating all of us - she will NOT be caught by any means. You cannot bribe her, she doesn't even let you get within 50 feet of her in the pasture before trotting off to the farthest corner away from her. The only way to put them in at night is to grab a friend and try and herd her into the indoor arena or into her stall. It's even tough to catch her in the stall to halter. Once you have a hold of her, she stands quietly and doesn't put up any fight. I know everyone at the barn is getting sick of her because at night itis no fun trying to chase her down in the pasture. I don't know what to do.

I watched Tango do the slowest-legged lope across the pasture tonight. It was so cool...a vision of the future (I hope!).

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Today was another great day riding Corky. While I wouldn't exactly call it my "Congress ride", it was very very very good! I really need to get her out somewhere other than our indoor arena to see if this good attitude and training holds up in a strange place among strange horses. I am considering finding an open show somewhere next weekend to go to and see how things are. I really need to get her out before Tom Powers, and since I can't really afford to do any QH shows, I need to find some cheap open shows nearby. If I braid her up and approach it as a regular show, Corky won't know the difference. I really want to see where our training really is at when in a show situation.

Today I worked on trot-to-canter transitions, pivots, and the ever-necessary speed control. Our circles are getting better - more relaxed and less rushing in the centers. I love love love the spur walk Darla helped me with. More than just a rein-free tool to slow her walk down, I have found that (although she doesn't really care for the leg pressure) when I ask her to slow her walk down and she does it, it actually relaxes her and stills her mind a bit. Even sometimes when I have her pretty jazzed up from getting after her about something, I can ask her to walk extra-slow and I can feel the tension drain out of her body. This could be a great tool in the show pen if we run into a situation that gets her riled up. I can't wait to try it.

Tango was pretty quiet today. He actually didn't try to put his mouth on me like he did the other day. Either he is learning, was tired today, or wasn't feeling well. I am not sure. He has the scours so bad, he actually welcomed me wetting the stiff brush and scrubbing his butt and tail to get some of the crud off. I lub this horse...I try and try to see parts of Taylor in him but I think he is still too young. Taylor was such an individual. It sickens me to think that beautiful horse will never pass herself on to any more foals.

Oreo, on the other hand, is a real pill. What a pain! She is plain impossible to catch when loose. Plus she HATES other horses with a passion. We have teased her with every horse in the barn, and even though she is in heat she tries to savage them all. I am talking KILLER! She is perfectly behaved when people are working with her (once you catch her), but bring another horse anywhere near by and she becomes a kicking, biting, striking machine. How will I ever get this horse bred to send her back to the nursemare farm? I think it will be impossible.

Friday (morning), May 14, 2010

This morning I sent in Taylor's obituary information to the QH Journal. I picked out my absolute favorite photo of her. I love this picture - she is just cruising along and I have a big smile on my face because she is so much FUN! I think this will appear in the July issue of the QH Journal. This weekend I am heading to Cleveland to visit my parents. It will be the first time spent away from Tango. I have a sick feeling, mainly because I have become a "glass-half-empty" kind of person.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

I actually spent a day away from my horses this weekend! I cleaned stalls Friday evening and played with Tango a bit, then headed to Lorain to visit my parents for the weekend. I cane back this evening, and overnight Tango has entered that 'fearful baby' stage. Suddenly he was shy and wary of me and everyone else around. I had to keep reminding myself that this is a normal stage all babies go through, and that he will snap out of it soon and be his friendly, curious self. What was odd was that Oreo was actually kind of OK with people. She came into her stall from the pasture several times while I was in there cleaning. Normally she tries to stay as far away from people as possible. It looks like Tango is growing! I am glad to see he seems to be getting good nutrition from Oreo.

I received a package in the mail from OSU when I got home this weekend. It had a big piece of Taylor's tail, plus a cement imprint of her hoof. This is precious. I am not sure what I will do with her tail hair, I will save it maybe until I have the money to have it made into some jewelry.

Monday, May 17, 2010

It was a cold, ugly, rainy day. It doesn't even feel like May, more like March. Yuck. Tango was much friendlier today in his stall. Yay, he didn't put his mouth on me for a change! I "captured him and held him still while I rubbed on him. He is getting better about things - still rather touchy about having the underside of his belly touched, but that will come. He was itching the side of his neck and I reached over and started scratching it for him and you could tell he was kind of surprised, and then it dawned on him that I was a very useful person because I could scratch him in hard-to-reach places. It was cute!

When I turned Corky out to clean her stall, she took off running, twisting, and bucking. Uh-oh, one of those days! Sure enough, she was very tense and "up" under saddle, and wanted to flat out ignore my leg. We did a bunch of leg-yielding at the trot, and at one point she 'gave me the finger' one direction (leg-yielding to the left) and flat out refused to move. OK, the battle was on! In the end, I got some very good (albeit tense) trotting leg-yields both directions. Even though she was tense and up, her canters were decent. Not great, but decent! We will try again tomorrow and see if she is in a better mood.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Nothing much to report on the Corky-front. Real life has gotten in the way of riding the past few days. Tango has seemingly overcome his fear of me (wow, that was quick!) and now has been actually leaving Oreo's side to seek me out at times. I like that! He has been very good this week about not putting his mouth on me.

One more bill arrived today. Maybe, just maybe this is the last bill for Taylor? I really hope so, but one can never be too sure. I think I crossed over into the 'anger' stage. I have been holding my anger in check as best I can. A lot has to do with the major lack of sunshine we've been having, but I've been fighting a foul mood for days. Maybe I need one of those sunlight lamps to sit under each evening.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Today I rode Corky first before cleaning stalls to make sure I got a full ride in. She was very energetic, but was actually very willing to listen to me today. Yep, it was a good ride! I so badly want to get her out somewhere to ride and see how she is, but this weekend looks to be another rainy one.

Tango is becoming very independent. Several times while out in the pasture he left Oreo and came up to me in the stall doorway. Oreo doesn't even seem to care when he leaves anymore. I guess that's a good thing? Tango was so good today, I worked on rubbing all over his legs and he stood there like a good gentleman. I want him to get used to my touch, especially on his legs. I only had to push his muzzle away from me once, and he kept his mouth to himself. He looks kind of ribby to me. I don't think he is gaining much weight on Oreo's milk. I wonder why? I need to investigate some sort of creep feed for him.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Ok, now I am really starting to get worried. Tango is so thin and ribby. Others are remarking on it. I am just so overjoyed every day to see him alive that it's like I didn't notice he isn't growing very much! I don't think he is getting nearly enough nutrients from the mare's milk. I am heading out this weekend in search of some good foal pellets. Yay, something new to worry about!

My ride on Corky was pretty good today. She felt kind of heavy in the bridle, but listened really well to what I asked her. I got on and rode with no longeing at all, and that's a mistake. Not for any behavior issues, but because she is so STIFF when she comes out of her stall that she is really bound up under saddle when I first start riding. She is always so much better when I can long trot her on the longe line for about 5 minutes to loosen her up. I am sure it's probably not good for her to go under saddle and in frame fresh out of the stall without any good stretching (since she gets her turnout time AFTER I ride, which is bass-ackwards, I know!).

I should mention that Tango was very friendly and kept seeking me out tioday while I cleaned stalls. He is letting me run my hands up and down his legs now with no issue.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

I had a great ride today on Corky. I did some figure-8's at the canter with simple lead changes in the middle, she was very responsive. Overall her canters were slow and she was in a good, willing mood. I love that! A little girl that rides and takes lessons at the barn gave me this card today. She was very sad when she found out Taylor was gone. I can't believe it's been over 3 weeks and I still tear up when I think about her. I wish I could control my emotions better. It feels like such a weakness.

I spent a lot of time brushing Tango today. He really enjoyed it! He stood like a rock and even let me brush his belly and his legs. Days like today make me fall in love with him all over again. It gives me glimpses of Taylor, the way she used to love being brushed and fussed with. It's important for me to have a horse that likes my affection, because I have lots to give! Corky is a lover like that also...she will follow me all over the place just to get some attention. Maybe Tango will be the same way.

I bought 2 bags of Omelene 300 (mare and foal feed) today. I searched high and low for some milk pellets or other milk-based foal feed but non one has any for miles and miles. To order a 40 pound bag of the milk replacer pellets would have been over $90 with shipping! Yikes!. I think this feed will help. he is still nursing well, but does not seem to be getting much nutrients or fat from the milk. He's so skinny! I don't think he has grown much either. I never measured him earlier, but today he stands around 42 1/2" at the withers which seems kind of small for only a month old. I don't know...wish I could remember where Corky was at this age. I just remember almost seeing her grow right before my eyes, and he is not changing much at all.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Here comes the heat! Today it hit the mid-80's with high humidity. That's MY kinda weather! Corky was NOT in a mood to work, and she really let me know from the get-go. I had to crack down on her hard when she gave a brilliant show of attitude, and immediately after that I had a great ride. I could tell she didn't feel like working, but she sucked it up and did everything, and did it well! That is awesome...she is getting to the point where she knows she has a job and once she is convinced she must work, she buckles down and works. I had a great ride after our rough beginning. I worked some showmanship when I was done, and she was really good (especially with setting up, which is always our downfall).

Tango was a good boy again today. He really is liking the attention.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

I got a rather unsatisfactory ride in on Corky today - lots of stuff happening in the barn so I had to work around things. It was OK though, she still rode pretty good. My master plan is to ride outside on Thursday. I am hoping I can!

Today Tango is 4 weeks old! Yep, time for more pictures! Click on each picture to enlarge:

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

It was 91 degrees and so humid you could slice the air with a butter knife. I decided it was perfect weather to ride outside! Between the intense sweat and hordes of bugs, it wasn't the most pleasant of rides. Corky was really heavy on the bridle and just completely distracted..."Oh look, a tractor! Oh look, another tractor! Oh look, that same tractor again but going the other way!" Argh! It could have been worse, her canter was decent although I had to correct her about every 3rd stride. At least it was controlled. I am going to wait until later tomorrow evening and ride again. Maybe if the sweat isn't rolling off of her she might be easier to ride. Our post-ride cool-down involved hosing both of us off!

Ok, time for my weekly Tango worry! Janet noticed that he has something hanging down a bit where his umbilical stump is. When we felt it, it felt like it was about an inch and a half of the umbilical cord that just never fell off, and now the skin and hair has grown around it. It's not a hernia, it's not hard at all, and it doesn't seem to be an infection since it is completely dry and it doesn't hurt him when we touch it or slightly squeeze it. You can just barely see it in this photo - click the photo to enlarge it. Is this something I should worry about? Of course...I worry about everything (and with good reason!). I am going to try to take some close up pictures tomorrow and see if anyone has any thoughts. Then the next step is to call out a vet and dump some more money into the horse money abyss and try to get a diagnosis.

Tango was such a good boy for all this poking and prodding on his belly. Have I mentioned lately how much I lub him? Hah, I am such a sap!

Ok, my plan this weekend is to take Corky to an open show on Saturday and school school school in my classes. There are about 4 riding classes I can enter (for cheap money!) and my goal is to see if I can get her to give me a clean ride by the last class.This is the poor man's preparation for the Tom Powers at the end of June :-]

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Real life interfered with my horse schedule, so I had a very limited amount of time to ride tonight - about 20 minutes. I had to ride inside since it was storming. Corky was pretty good. The arena was freshly drug and rather deep, so she struggled getting through some areas. I rode in a wonder bit today for something different since she was getting so luggy and heavy in the plain snaffle. It lightened her right up, and was gentle enough that she didn't flip over bit pressure like she does with the gag. My plan is to hit an open show Saturday and see where are training really is...should be interesting! Tomorrow is a farrier appointment, and after that I will barely have time to wash and braid, so we will be showing rather fresh on Saturday. I hope and pray and hope some more that Corky proves to me that all this hard work in re-training her this winter wasn't in vain.

Taylor has been gone one month now...can't believe a month ago I was saying goodbye to her but not realizing it would really be a final goodbye. Tango is showing more and more of Taylor's patience and kindness, so I hope she lives on in him in some way (the good ways, I hope!).

Friday, May 28, 2010

Farrier day! Corky had a few little abscesses forming under her shoes. Looks like I need to get her on that supplement again. Oreo was a fruitcake, seriously! My farrier walked into her stall and just the act of walking in made her flip out, run into the wall, and act like she was going to be killed. Once got a hold of her halter, she stood perfectly still for him to trim one front foot. When he finished, he put the foot down and walked to the other side of her and she flipped out again, about went through the wall. Once again once I controlled her by the halter, she stood perfect. What a freak.

After the farrier appointment I washed and braided Corky for our show tomorrow. It was a late night, and very tiring after a full day at work. Hopefully the show will be worthwhile tomorrow. My goal is to get her through her issues and see PROGRESS...please!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

I got up at the crack of dawn...heck, long before dawn cracked (4:45am) and loaded up and headed to the show. It turned out to be a pretty good-sized show. Our first class was the added money showmanship, and there were 16 in the class. The cones were set so narrow that Corky literally could not fit between them when doing her 270. It was kind of messy, but she nailed her pivot and her setup. Oh well...such are the drawbacks of having a big horse!

Our second class was better - but this old-fashioned judge had us do a lineup, and of course standing there for 11+ patterns was not her cup of tea. She stood perfect until he actually walked through and judged it...he stood there and openly watched as she shifted and started walking sideways and I had to correct her several times. We ended up with a 3rd place, so it wasn't too bad.

One thing I dislike about some open shows are the lack of consistency. The showbill clearly said there would be a lunch break after the showmanship and before the HUS, but they announced at the last second that they would not be taking a lunch break, so I had to rush to get ready. I had some minimal warm-up time in the makeup arena, and then it was in to the first HUS class (which had 16). Her trot started off great, then the canter came and she tried to fight me. I used this class to really school her hard, and make her pay attention and listen at the canter. I did end up getting results, although we blew the class.

The second class she tried some things again, and again I schooled her and didn't let her get away with anything, and the second half of the class she was much better. We ended up placing 3rd out of 12. The last class she was waaaay better - it was a pretty smooth ride. It wasn't the best ride, but she listened every time I asked her to back off of her surging at the canter. Yay! We made progress! It was a good show to go to and get these issues worked out, and I spent less than $30 total. Can't beat that!

I'd like to get her to one more open show next weekend and then that will be it until the Tom Powers Futurity. Of course, I was so giddy that I had received my last vet bill, thinking that now maybe things might even out financially...then I found that my metal hinge to my trailer door snapped in half. So, the trailer is in the repair shop...yay. I hope they can finish it this week.

Monday, May 31, 2010 - Happy Memorial Day!

Hot hot hot! After my morning parade (that was a whopping 3 blocks long) I headed to the barn. I mainly did some drudge work - cleaned out the stalls really good, etc. My sister-in-law, father-in-law, and 5yo nephew came out to see Tango and Corky. Corky was perfect - stood like a rock so my nephew could brush her. Corky, of course, feels it's her due to have all this attention lavished on her.

I felt like taking a few more pictures of Tango today. Hey, why not? Digital is free! I firmly believe one can never have too many photos.

June 2010

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Today I totally didn't feel like riding, but I did anyways and I am glad. Corky was pretty good. there was a lesson going on at the same time, and we rode around the other horse with no issues. I didn't do much, just some w-t-c, basic stuff. I did a lot of walking. The arena was kind of deep in spots and she swam (especially at the trot) in the corners, so I took it easy to save her legs. I am always a little paranoid about her tendons after that injury back in 2008.

Tango was in my face the whole time I was cleaning their stall. Oreo was out in the middle of the pasture and Tango hung out in the stall with me and neither seemed to care that the other wasn't within sight. I am still a little worried about that little piece of umbilical stump still hanging. I am going to try and take a picture of it tomorrow and post it to get some opinions. /p>

The older Tango gets, the more I sense Taylor's quiet air - she always had that peaceful feeling about her and Tango stands so quiet while I handle him, it's very much like Taylor. I miss her. I stood in that stall and thought about her and felt depressed all over again...I was so hoping to do some riding on her this summer and have som fun with her. I just have to look forward to the future, and in a couple of years I will be riding her son.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Today's ride on Corky was pretty good. Her canter transitions were pretty fluid. I have been noticing on the longe line this week that she has been a little sticky on her left hock (which is the one with the tiny apur). Today I felt it a little under saddle occasionally. I am afraid it is that time of year again...another big expense. She last had her hocks done in late August, so it hasn't been quite a year. However, she was worked harder this winter than probably any other winter, and with a lot of athletic activities, so it is to be expected. I called Darla, and of all great coincidences she is having the vet (the same one that has worked on Corky for years) come out on Monday. So Corky will head to Darla's on Monday to get all lubed up for the rest of the show season.
I haven't taken any pics of Corky lately, so I didn't want her to feel neglected in case she ever reads this. :-]

Tango has not been eating out of her foal feeder. I think it is because the feed in the feeder is very different from the pelleted stuff we are feeding Oreo, and she likes to eat with Oreo from the regular feeder. I am thinking maybe if I put some of his feed in the mare's feeder, he will eat it with her and get used to the taste. Looks like it worked! Tango is actually getting a tiny little potbelly...entering that awkward stage. I am glad to see he is not ribby anymore.

I am still worried about that piece of an umbilical stum still attached. I took a couple pictures of it:

Anyone out there have any idea what I should be doing about this? I hate to call my vet out, it's not a hernia and it doesn't seem to bother him at all. Just something else to worry about, right?

Video time!!!!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Today I hauled Corky to Darla's. It was a nice day - 70 degrees and sunny and not the least bit humid. We rode outside and it was great, Corky was very good for me. I didn't push her too hard, but we had a smooth and quiet ride. I am feeling more and more ready for the Tom Powers...kind of! Darla's so cool, she is making it affordable for me to show there by allowing me to work off fees and such with slave labor - feeding, stall cleaning, all that fun stuff. I love it! Hey, I am willing to work my tail off if it means I am able to show.

Well, I probably won't be back on this diary for a week or so unless I hear some news to report. I am heading to Colorado on Wednesday for a week for Kevin's niece's graduation party (and a chance to see my cool uncle in Estes Park!). Be prepared for a lot of mountain pics when I get back. Being from Ohio, I am always fascinated by mountains...you know, the real kind like the Rockies. :-] I get back home next Thursday morning and then 2 days later I head to Michigan for the AQHA show and Tom Powers Futurity.

Video time! This one I didn't bother to upload to YouTube...so annoying to have them remove my audio tracks every time. Easiest way to view this is to right click and download to your computer...or click on it and wait (and wait and wait...). It's a video of Tango in the indoor today...

TANGO 6-10

Thursday, June 17, 2010

I am back home from Colorado!

I texted Darla while I was gone to see how Corky was doing, and she said "Pretty darn good". Corky needed her hocks and> stifles injected. I have never had her stifles injected before, I wonder why suddenly she needed them done? I am excited for the Tom Powers show...I am leaving Saturday morning. This gives me a whopping 2 days to get my laundry done, unpack, and re-pack!

I headed out to the barn to see Tango. I was a little worried because my friend who was taking care of him told me he was becoming quite a handful. Heck, he was pretty much the same sweet baby I left. The first thing I did was put a halter on him (which he accepted no problem!) and brushed him all over. I even picked up each one of his hooves about an inch off the groubnd and he accepted it with very little movement. I cleaned his stall and then went outside to work with him a little more. At one point he tried to pull away from me and I held his halter. I was happy with how quickly he gave up pulling and stood there. I think it's important that I commit - when I hold on to him I need to keep a hold of him until it is my decision to let him go. So far it is working.

Here are some random pictures of Tango from today - he is 7 1/2 weeks old, stands around 47" tall. Click on each picture to enlarge

Friday, June 18, 2010

I picked up my new showmanship outfit today, it's awesome! I'll post pictures next week. It hurt like a @%$#! writing out that check. f only I had known what dire financial straits I would be in back in March when I ordered the outfit! Oh well...what's a few more months living on pretzels anyways?

I cleaned Tango's stall and messed around with him a little bit today. I leave tomorrow morning for the Tom Powers Futurity/AQHA show. I am working slave labor to pay for this show - doing everything under the sun LOL! Gotta do what you gotta do! I am really looking forward to this show. I think this will really help me figure out exactly where we are in our training and talent - how will we compare? I hope I can find some place with internet so that I can post some updates. This should be a very interesting week...to say the least! Stay tuned...

Saturday, June 19, 2010

I picked up my trailer at the shop (the hinge STILL wasn't fixed) bright and early in the morning and headed for Berrien Springs, Michigan and the Tom Powers AQHA show and Futurity. I arrived there around 2pm. They had experienced a huge storm the night before and many areas were flooded and without powers. Our stalls originally were supposed to be in the farthest corner tent, but they got moved to the poultry barn (figures...I hate chickens!) which was on cement. this would be a blessing in disguise later in the week...

While I waited for Darla and Brian to arrive with the horses, I parked my trailer in a shady spot under a tree, hooked up to electricity to run my a/c (it was a LONG hot drive in a truck with no a/c!), and decided to fill my water tank. While the hose was filling the tank, I was playing with pasta (my dog and travelling companion), and I walked around to the door of the trailer to check and see how much water I still needed to add. To my horror, I found about 2" of water on the trailer floor. the hose of the water tank intake had broken, and I was basically filling my my trailer with water from the hose! What a mess. This was NOT a good start to the week. Thankfully I had a brand new mini shop vac I had gotten for Christmas, and I vacuumed up the water (emptying the container 5-6 times). Oh well, I was going to wash the floors anyways, now they are clean!

The horses arrived and we unloaded, unpacked, and settled it. I longed Corky in the arena, she had a lot of energy. I got on and started trotting her, and she was zooming at the trot! Brian kept reminding me to make her trot at MY speed, but within 10 minutes, it was too late as she grabbed and sprung a front shoe. $20 later, the show was straightened and put back on and I was back to riding,. Even with all of her energy and the excitement of a new place, she listened to me and gave me a good ride. So, Saturday ended on a good note!

Sunday, June 20, 2010 Tom Powers/AQHA show day 1

I got up early in the morning to feed all of the horses, and then headed to one of the outdoor arenas to longe and ride. The show started at 4pm today and started with the hunter under saddle, so I had a lot of time to prepare. As I stood at the gate waiting to go in and longe, another mishap happened. the fence and the gates to these arenas are very low (maybe 3' high if even that?). Either the wind blew it or someone knocked the fence which jarred the gate, but the gate swung shut and got caught between Corky's front and back legs. Needless to say she freaked out! Before I could get her to stop, she had kicked and stomped that gate to pieces. It was a rather scary moment, but it could have been a lot worse. Her lower legs were fine, she just had one long gash and some scrapes on the upper part of her right hind leg. I guess she won the battle between herself and the gate! It was kind of embarrassing as everyone looked when she made such a clatter. That's my Corky!

She was kind of stiff-moving this morning, but loosened up and rode really good for me. When I was done, I took her back to the stalls and washed her and cold-hosed that leg to keep the swelling down. She didn't even flinch when I touched the scrapes, so I knew she would be OK. I braided in the afternoon and got ready to show.

SHOW TIME! The first class for me was the senior HUS. She went in that class and rode like a champ! I practically rode her on a draped rein, she was that soft and willing. Only one uh-oh moment - at the canter second direction her back leg tightened up (not sure if it was just some travel stiffness or an after-effect from the gate battle) and she took some weird steps at the canter. I was pretty sure the judge saw it, not really sure. We placed in the middle of the pack, and I didn't really care because the ride was so good! I had a couple classes and then I went back in for the Amateur HUS, and again she rode great! Part of our lower placings is MY fault (go figure...*sigh*),. For some reason have been riding her at a very fast trot and pushing her tempo way too quick. Brian and Darla reminded me countless times, but it kind of blew through my head today and I trotted her way too fast and spoiled out pretty, relaxed picture. Add to that an ugly downward transition because I was daydreaming (it was so nice to have such a relaxed, easy ride that afforded me time to dardream in the class!), and our placing was lower than I would have liked. BUT...Corky behaved like a champ - willing and pleasant and an absolute blast to ride. I love love love days like this. So in the end the placing didn't matter to me as much as the joyous ride :-]

Monday, June 21, 2010 Tom Powers/AQHA show day 2

Today was showmanship/halter day. I got up really early to feed and did a little longeing. Our amateur showmanship pattern was extremely tricky and had a ton of blind spots. I practiced it a lot, but in the end I ended up about a horse's width too far to the right when lining up to the judge, and that crapped my placing (deservedly so). It seems lately the showmanship dings have been MY fault and not Corky's. I had also entered amateur and open performance mares. Of course the halter people tried to talk me into entering the aged mares class instead, but this time I was not doing it. Countless times I have filled an aged mares class for someone and then no one is to be found when we are one short in the showmanship...plus I am tired of all these last place halter placings on my horses' show records. Plus I feel the performance halter class is a good idea and I want to support it. Too bad more people don't feel the same. I was the only one in both performance classes..a double win LOL!

The rest of the day was spent cleaning stalls and riding Corky again (she rode great again...yay!). Darla and Brian have been great - they know my financial situation and are helping waive some of my costs by having me work for them - feeding the horses in the morning and night, cleaning stalls, all the fun dirty work LOL!

When I was done riding, I had Corky tied in her stall to cool off, and a horse that was tied in the crossties backed into her stall door and spooked her. She leaped backwards and broke her halter. She only ever breaks the halters that I spend a lot of money putting her name on. Now she is wearing the rainbow tie-dyed halter. I have a bunch of halters left that Taylor won in her show career, but I feel weird using them on another horse that didn't earn them. Makes no sense, I know, but I think Corky needs to earn her own halters.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010 Tom Powers/AQHA show day 3

Another showmanship/halter day. It rained overnight, so they held the classes in the indoor/covered arena. Corky was a little sluggish in her showmanship pattern, we placed somewhere in the middle as usual. We were again the only one in the amateur performance mares, but we actually had another horse to compete against in the open performance mares class, and it was a western pleasure mare that actually had performance halter points. Drum roll....we beat her under one judge - placed 1st and 2nd out of 2. Holy moley, finally beat another horse in halter! It is a banner day.

The arenas dried a little bit, I rode both inside and outside that evening until the rains came yet again...rain, rain, and more rain.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010 Tom Powers/AQHA show day 4

The morning started off with hunter under saddle. it had rained ALL night, and the arena was wet and had some sloppy spots. I was in the 3rd class, and while the 1st class was going in I walked down to the show arena. Immediately after the first class, the thunder and lightening came and it started pouring! We RAN back to the barn, and they paused the show to wait it out. About 30 minutes later, the snhow continued and we walked back down to the arena and showed in the senior HUS class. The arena had a lot of puddles and it was an art riding around them, but amazingly Corky was really good and rode really well for me, despite having to slalom the wet spots. We placed in the middle (yet again), but I was really happy with the ride and her attitude. I had a couple classes before the amateur HUS class, and then a HUGE storm blew up! Once again we RAN back to the barn, and it poured rain for over an hour while they held the show up.

This time when the rain stopped and we went to the arena, I saw the arena was filled with water - standing water EVERYWHERE! Oh boy, this was NOT going to be good. Corky won't even walk in a puddle on the ground. She hates water. I told Darla to stay by the gate because if she was horrible-acting, or if I felt her take one slipped step in that footing, I was coming right back out. We went in and started trotting. Actually the footing was great under all that water. However, every step splashed water all over her legs and belly, and she did not care for it much. She moved like a saddlebred (especially in the back end), but she went through that whole class and did everything I asked and did it willingly! I was amazed, and thrilled. I know she hated the water, hated feeling it splash up on her belly with every stride, and I know she was even a little afraid, but she did it. We didn't place well (saddlebreds generally don't do well at QH shows!) but the win in my mind was getting her over her fear.

Corky - exhausted after conquering her water fear!After my class, it started storming again and rained off and on all day long. In the evening I left the show grounds and headed over to Wal-Mart to get some food. While I was in the store, the power went out and it was pitch black! Wal-Mart is a very scary place to be in complete darkness. After the lights went off a few more times, I headed out to my truck. It wasn't raining yet, but the sky was BLACK and the wind was blowing. As I drove back to the show grounds, the rain came. The radio was buzzing about tornado warnings and 'circular cloud motions' in our county. Gah I HATE tornadoes. I got to the show grounds and it was storming and blowing so hard I could barely keep my truck on the road. the grounds were deserted...everyone had taken shelter. I had no idea where to go, so I parked by the open barn and sat huddled in my truck listening to the doomsday reports on the radio and prayed everything would be OK. By 10pm, the storm had subsided, and I went to bed...stressed and exhausted but way too wired to sleep for hours.

Thursday, June 24, 2010 Tom Powers DAY OFF!

Today was a scheduled "day off" - now showing or classes today. Every arena had standing water in it, the grounds were a muddy mess. The tent that we were originally supposed to be stalled in had flooded again, and the people stalled there had to be moved out in the middle of the night. I am sure a lot of their tack got ruined. That stinks! Thankfully our chicken barn was up high and dry and everything was OK.
There was no way to avoid working in the water and the mud. Horses had to get out of their stalls! Other than our two classes in the morning, Corky spent all of yesterday in her stall, so she needed some stretching time and play time. I was very hesitant about longeing her in the water, but I watched a lot of other people do it and their horses seemed to have no problem with the footing, so I decide to try it with Corky. The footing was great - not a bit of slippage in the sand. Corky once again had to face her water fear.
I had a lot of fun snapping pictures of her on my phone (I am sure people thought I was strange!). The cool thing was that after going around a few times, Corky actually seemed to enjoy splashing through the water. Several times she pulled on the longe line and actually aimed for the biggest water areas. I would have never guessed in a million years that this diva princess would like getting filthy, but she splashed wet sand and dirt all over her legs and belly and had a good time doing it. It just goes to show you never know what little personality quirks are hiding in your horses' brains.

Friday, June 25, 2010 Tom Powers Futurity Day 1

I had to show in the morning today - I had the Non-Pro HUS Maturity, and the Open HUS Maturity (which everyone told me not to enter since it was all trainers on their legendary horses, but I figured what they hey...I am here so let's SHOW!). I longed Corky in the morning and she was exhausted - I am talking bone-tired don't-wanna-move exhausted. I tried pushing her to see if I could get the usual burst of energy, but even cracking the whip didn't set her off, she was too weary. Unfortunately, this exhaustion usually means a BAD ride, because an exhausted Corky is a cranky and unwilling Corky. Yep, that pretty much described her today. The Non-Pro Maturity wasn't too bad, but definitely wasn't up to this show's caliber, and the Open Maturity was far worse - she was pulling on the bridle, not wanting to give her head, etc. When she is this tired, she doesn't want to go slow and collected at the canter because it's too much work, so I dealt a lot with her old problem of surging and ignoring my signals. Ugh. Of course when actual money is at stake, she would be too tired to give me a shot at it. If only I could grab my Sunday rides (minus the pilot errors) and transpose them onto today.

I do have video from today, it is coming as soon as I have a chance to upload it so stay tuned!

Saturday, June 26, 2010 Tom Powers Futurity Day 2

I didn't ride or work Corky at all yesterday after her bad classes, in fact I woke up to rain this morning and that helped reinforce my decision to not even longe her today. Rain...AGAIN! Sheesh. Anyways, our class (HUS $2500 Limited Maturity) was later in the afternoon, and the rain stopped and the heat came back. It was HOT and humid my kinda weather LOL!). I lightly schooled Corky a little bit before my class and tried to keep her happy. No go...today was our worst ride yet. It was terrible - it was nothing but a big fight all the way around the ring. She would not give her head, would not listen to my cues, just wanted to zoom along on her forehand and not rate her speed at all. What a depressing end to a very long hard week. Sometimes I just feel so frustrated with my horse life...it seems I am faced with so many dumb disappointments. Maybe I should lower my goals or my sights? Man, that's hard to do...I don't want to "settle", I want to improve and reach that level I am aiming for! Ah well...it's not quittin' time yet! Pasta (my faithful 12 year old German Shorthaired Pointer) needed a bath before our trip home. She was less than thrilled, as you can tell. 4 hours in an un-air-conditioned truck with a stink dog is NOT fun.

I loaded up and headed home later that afternoon, with Corky in the trailer and Pasta sleeping in the front seat. About 20 miles from the show grounds, I heard something that sounded like a gunshot, and my truck and trailer started going crazy. I had a tire blowout on my truck!!! It was probably one of the scariest events I have ever lived through. By the grace of God no one was driving next to me on the highway, and I managed to steer it to the side of the road (on a bridge over the St. Joseph River, no less). My right rear tire on my truck was shredded. It had blown so hard it blew off my running boards on that side of the truck and put a dent in the side..my truck's first dent (and I've had this truck for 15 years!). I got on the phone and called my friend Paula Carr, who brought one of her customers and came to my rescue. He changed my tire for me, bless him and his family forever for doing that! I had called US Rider, an emergency road service for trucks and horse trailers (LOL when they asked, I told them my right hind tire had blown) but their service person wasn't going to make it for a long time and it wasn't safe to stay parked in the heat for so long. Paula and her friend saved me...people like that are totally golden. My spare hadn't been touched in 15 years, and it only had 20 lbs of air (supposed to have 80 lbs). I limped to the next exit and got to a gas station. They charged a dollar for about 2 minutes of air! Seriously...charging for air? Seems so wrong! I spent a ton in quarters because the air sure wasn't coming out of the pump very fast. On the way home I stopped 3 times to check my tire pressure. I even bought a new tire gauge just in case my old one wasn't accurate enough. My greatest fear is a blowout...I lived through it but I don't ever want to experience that again.

Oh, and you know what else really made me mad? Pasta actually slept through the blowout (she is SO deaf LOL!), and I checked on her periodically while we were changing the tire and she continued to sleep. But at some point she woke up and decided to rip open my brand new family-sized box of Lucky Charms (purchased as snack food to keep me awake on the drive home) and not only ate half the box, but flung the rest of the box all over the truck. There were Lucky Charms covering the seat and floor and even stuck to the windows! What a topper to an alltogether miserable, rotten, awful day. We made it home safely after that, but the 4-hour drive ended up taking over 7. Fun...NOT!

Video montage from Friday, June 25, 2010

Sunday, June 27, 2010 HAPPY 2 MONTH BIRTHDAY, TANGO!

In my life, when it rains, it doesn't just pour. It hurricanes, tornadoes, typhoons, and floods. On the way to the barn today, my purple Ranger truck broke down and left me stranded. It's either a radiator issue or a water pump problem. I don't know, all I know is that BOTH trucks have major repairs needing done this week, and I am frustrated and unhappy about it.

Today is Tango's 2 month birthday! I have some birthday pics, here is a sampling. You can see all the pics from today HERE. I can't believe Taylor has been gone 2 months. It made me cry again today. I hate that she isn't around anymore, there is always something missing in the barn when I go there. I have been trying to figure out what master scheme or plan God has for all of this that is happening to me. I am thinking he is amusing himself to relieve boredom.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

I am in a rotten, foul, noxious mood today. I picked up my purple truck today only to have to promptly take it right back to the mechanic because they screwed something up. Now I have a feeling I am going to have to fight with them about the new issue they caused.

I headed to the barn and decided to ride Corky. It was really the wrong thing to do given the mood I was in. I had zero patience and ended up picking fights with her that were totally unnecessary. After about 15 minutes I forced myself to get off of her and call it quits. I hate myself for taking my mood out on her. There is no excuse for that! Now along with being in a horrible mood, I have a big load of guilt also.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

I am so bummed, I left my work bridle at the show with Darla. t has my favorite (only!) long reins. Darla texted me and told me it was a sign from God that I needed to stop always riding Corky in that plain snaffle and switch things up a bit! However, I don't think God really wants me to ride without a headstall or reins! Then again, he has been crapping on me lately so maybe he is bored again and needs amusement? I dunno...

I threw together a bridle from a bunch of old junk I had, but put the twist on instead of the plain snaffle. I even had to cut apart an old hose in the weed/trash pile to make rein stops. Ugh, the reins were really short. I want my other resins, I finally got them broken in!!! Anyways, Corky rode GREAT today! I don't know if it was the change in bits, my better mood, or the combination of the two. She was extremely light in the face (oh that makes me feel so much better because I HATE when she is hard in the face) and responsive. we had a great ride. Only once did she overreact to the bit pressure. I rode her right through it.

I put the halter on Tango with a lead rope and started his first leading session. It was a very quiet pulling match...I just tugged lightly and released over and over again until I got one front foot to move forward, then I quit the pressure. I got him to give in about 4 times before I quit. We only got one step each time, but one step is a start, right? I tend to take things really slow. Tomorrow we will go for two. I don't like stressing out the babies so they get worried when people come around. I picked his feet up (which he doesn't care for) about an inch off the ground one at a time. Then I took his halter off and let him go. He still kept coming back in the stall to visit me as I cleaned. That was my goal - to have a short, stress-free schooling session that didn't make him afraid.

I posted a video from the Tom Powers above (under the June 26th date). Tomorrow is July 1st, and you know what that means! PAGE 2!!! Change your bookmarks tomorrow :-]

Page 2...starting July 1st, 2010

Click HERE for Page 2!