Click any photo to enlarge!

Jan/Feb ~~ March/April ~ May/June ~~ July/Aug ~~ Sept/Oct ~~ Nov/Dec
Updated: October 31, 2011

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Welcome to September, the busiest month of my year - football season, school starting, all that fun stuff. Every day I work until 5pm, make the 15 mile drive to the barn, trudge through cleaning stalls while my stomach growls, and maybe I find time to do something with the horses before heading home around 8pm. I find there isn't a whole lot to report on when you are prepping a longe liner for Congress. Yep, longed my yearling today for 10 minutes. Turned him out. Cleaned his stall. The end! Not very riveting stuff, I am afraid. I still am struggling with getting him to move out with energy while on the longe. He is just so ho-hum about it and even the longe whip doesn't faze him much.

In planning my show outfit for Congress, I feel the need for a new shirt (yes, buying shirts is a vice I struggle with!). I really want one of those cool ones with the "V" pattern on the collar, or some other cool zigzag. I just can't get myself to part with $100 for a shirt that you only see about 6" of if you are lucky. Heck, I don't have $100 for a shirt! I did get a gorgeous brown shirt on the clearance rack for $20 and bought some ribbon at Wal-Mart...I am going to attempt to make my own nifty collar. Wish me luck!

Today I did my usual stall-cleaning chore, then Tango got a slight workout (it was in the mid-90's and high humidity today). Afterwards I clipped him and gave him a bath. We are hoping to hit an open show tomorrow if the weather holds. There is a chance of rain in the morning and a bigger chance after 1pm. I just might risk it and make the 90 minute haul to the show grounds. On my way home today I stopped at Wal-Mart once again, this time to buy a timer for Tango's stall lights. I knew I was rather dirty and sweaty so I figured people would stare a bit. While I was shopping I noticed a LOT of people staring, including the cashier. Yeah, I figured out why once I got home. NEVER clip your horse while you are bathed in sweat! All of the tiny black hairs from Tango's ears and bridle path fell on me and stuck to the sweat on my face. I seriously looked as if I was sporting a full beard on my chin and cheeks. Yikes!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

I opted out of the show since it rained most of the night. No sense in risking his legs in sloppy footing! I slept in, and it felt glorious!

I got Corky out to ride today and noticed her tail was a complete snarled mess. I keep it in a 3-piece tail tube and normally this keeps it protected and tangle-free. yeah...normally I am showing every other weekend so it is getting washed and conditioned regularly. I realized I haven't taken it down all summer. ugh. It was a horrible snarled mess. I decided since I had the time I would finger through it and get the tangles out, wash, and condition it and put it back up in the tube. It took 2 1/2 hours to finger through the mass of knots and mats...using only my fingers. Thank goodness Corky has the patience of a saint (and I always wondered why saints are touted as being so patient?). When I was done, I rode her for a bit. She was very light in the bridle, but also a bit reactive to my leg, which meant when I put leg pressure on her to slow down she slowed waaaaay down. That's OK, I'll take that over ignoring my legs!

I put the lights on a timer for Tango to try and keep him slick through Congress. Of course he is in that weird size that I have NO blankets or sheets in. I had a yearling blanket, or what I thought was a yearling blanket...looked at it and it is a 72"...ain't gonna fit! All of my other sheets and blankets are 82" or bigger. I think Tango probably needs about a 78". I ordered him a sheet and blanket on sale at Schneider's. Ugh, hate buying horse clothing that I KNOW he will outgrow by next spring, but ya gotta do what ya gotta do! I will put them away after Congress for my next yearling, whenever that may be.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Isn't Tango funny-looking in his too-large blanket? I received my 78" blanket and sheet from Schneider's yesterday. The blanket is a bit too long, but the sheet fits him decently. I left the blanket on him all night, fully expecting it to be torn to shreds by morning (he seemed fascinated by the thing draped over him and was nuzzling it when I left). Amazingly enough the blanket survived a whole 24 hours intact! I longed him a bit today, and put his sheet on him since it had warmed up a bit. The sheet is a brilliant shiny purple, I love it!

I have been working with him on a "head down" cue with the lead rope and halter. I teach all of my horses this lesson - makes future bridling and haltering a lot easier. I have been trying and trying to get him to listen to my cue to drop his head a bit when leading him at the walk and trot. FINALLY yesterday the lightbulb sparked on and he dropped his head on cue as we walked. He even did it at the trot, though not so much when we turned corners. Today it was even better. It took him a while to learn this concept, but once he did he seemed to master it quickly.

Now if only his front end would grow to match his back end...he is SO unbalanced it has thrown his movement off. We have about 5 weeks to get this gangly body evened out. Not much I can do other than hope and pray...if we go like this it won't be pretty. Oh well - it's just for fun, RIGHT??? Fun, fun, funfunfunfunfun. Please remember that! (I am lecturing myself, don't pay any attention to this).

I longed Corky a bit today and started thinking. I am almost sad that Tango is growing up, and his baby years are behind him. Imagine if I bred Corky...imagine that awesome baby I would have. GAH I can't believe I am even letting that thought enter my head. I would DIE if something happened to her like it happened to Taylor. I don't think I can take another tragedy. 3 breedings and 3 deaths in a row, that's enough for me!

Friday, September 9, 2011

I had a good ride on Corky today. We just meandered around the arena, w-t-c, nothing special. I am rather aimless without a goal or reason or specific something to work on. I discovered something very sad and disconcerting today. I CANNOT mount the 17 hand Corky without a stool. I tried, couldn't do it! This is a landmark moment for me...I have finally reached that age where I just cannot physically do something I have always done before. This is upsetting to me!!! Seriously, it has me feeling a bit down. I mean come on, we are all growing older, right? I guess I never really faced the fact that I am growing older, and that each day I wake up and I will probably never be as fit or as strong as I was the day before. I feel like I am positively deteriorating!

Anyways, Corky rode well today, though she was a bit heavy in the face. I call this her "gritty" self...she might be a little harder and heavier in the face but I can also train on her a bit harder without her overreacting.

Before I did anything with either horses, I turned them out while I cleaned stalls. Tango ran and ran and played. I was SO happy to see this. The past week or so he just kind of wanders around the arena without much energy....has me a bit worried. Today he was happy and playful. This also made him longe a LOT better! Today on the longe line he wasn't lagging and looking sloppy-legged. He actually was doing a really great trot, and even his canter was looking better (the canter went all to pot when he became so uneven the past few weeks!). We had one of our best longe sessions yet. I loved all over him when we were done. I love how he does everything with a happy attitude.

He got to wear his new Sports Medicine boots today. They are a putrid color combination - bright lime green with purple trim. GAG! They were on sale...the other boots were $79, but these are a closeout color and were only $40. I figured for half the price I could stand looking at those ugly things for a while! It was either that color combination, or hot pink and purple. Lime green may not be really pretty with purple, but it at least won't insult Tango's manhood (what little he has).

Monday, September 12, 2011

Tango was a slug today! I turned him out with Corky and free-longed them a bit. Corky got a wild burr up her butt and did a lot of running (which meant Tango ran also because she refused to let him come in the middle and quit!). He was back to his old lazy self - had to do a LOT of urging to get some decent forward motion out of him. I think I have conquered my bad habit of walking the circle while I longe, so now I am going back to using the whole arena to longe and purposely walking with him. I think it's important for him to not get too used to that longe circle. That will tend to shorten strides sometimes. Instead I urged him forward in a big trot using the entire indoor, and he looked a lot better. It was just a pain having to urge him again every 4-5 strides. Lazy boy! He has been wearing his sheet at night and during the day. So far (knock on wood) it has remained intact. I hope I can at least get through Congress with his new sheet and blanket, but I am not holding my breath. I've seen what he can do to his stuff when he is bored.

A friend stopped by, and we got to talking about Tango and what traits he inherited from Taylor. Dang that made me sad...just thinking about Taylor and how special she was. What a crime she wasn't around long enough to have more babies for me. What a crime she isn't still around to hang out with me and demand to have her butt scratched. I have so many great memories of her and how she really made me into the rider I am today. I can finally think about her and not cry (OK, I do tear up a little!). It really makes me wish I had saved some embryos or eggs from her...makes me think I need to do something about saving Corky's now before something happens. Yep, that's me, always the pessimist! :-]

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

I am getting so frustrated with Tango's laziness. I had hoped by now with some regular schooling we might have licked the problem, but still every day when he goes out on the longe line he slumps around unless I really get after him and make him move out. When he does move out, he looks great...but when he slumps around he looks awful. I would like him to go out and just do his job on the line without constant encouragement (and whip cracking) but I suppose that is asking too much. I know, I know, it's better than having a wild yearling that drags you all over the place! It's just frustrating because when he does move out he looks fantastic, but it really detracts from the picture (and from my longe line score) when I am chasing him with the whip and kissing every stride.

Corky has been coming out of her stall extra stiff lately. It takes a long time to warm her up and get her moving freely, and she doesn't seem as comfortable with her movement. I don't know whether it's just my lack of regular riding and working her that is catching up with us, or if she has some sort of body soreness issue going on.

There is a chance the temperatures might get down to freezing tonight! That's rather early for mid-September. Looks like Tango will have to sleep in his hood tonight. I am going to put an old sleazy hood on him and hope he leaves it somewhat intact overnight.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

One month from today we show at Congress!

Could winter have arrived this early? There is a chance of temperatures going below freezing tonight, so I dug out a couple old hoods that belonged to Corky. Tango was less than thrilled, but forgot about them quickly. I wonder how many pieces they will be in tomorrow? He manages to rip out braids under his hood overnight before a show, so I know how hard he can be when things bug his neck.

I didn't work anyone today. Today was farrier appointment day. Corky was an angel as usual (she is so nice and polite when having her feet worked on - a true woman that loves her new shoes!). Twice Tango almost fell over when his front foot was propped up on the hoof was almost like he forgot his foot was up there and went to put weight on it and almost crumpled over. Weirdo! He was a bit mouthy and restless during his appointment even though he had been turned out all afternoon. I sure wish I could direct this energy to his longe line and not his farrier appointment.

Next week I will be taking him to one last show on Sunday, our last ditch effort to prepare for Congress. A good internet friend of mine from Michigan will be coming down for the show and I am really looking forward to spending time with her. Every day I realize how precious and rare true friends are, and I hope I never take them for granted. I have a handful of really really great 'real life' friends that I see a lot, and then there are some that are my 'internet' friends - though I hate not considering them real life friends since this is real life also (contrary to what others may say!). Some of my pals have seen me through a lot of rough times. I have a good friend that I started e-mailing with way back in 1997 when I bred my mare to Last Detail and got Taylor. We have been fast friends ever since, we talk almost daily! Those kinds of friends are real, I don't need to see her face to know she is a true friend to me. Friends are so important, we could all use more of them.

OK, enough rambling about friendship! We are all friends here in some small or large way. I love getting your comments on my diary entries, and I have gotten a lot of helpful advice...that alone has paid for the internet cost to host this diary! Cheers to you!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

I am hoping to get by without having to shoe Tango for Congress. I bought some Keratex hoof hardener and am applying it to his feet every day to hopefully keep them from chipping. They chipped badly the past few months. I really don't like the idea of putting shoes on such a young horse, though I know probably every other horse in the class will be shod. Well, we sure aren't doing things the same way everyone else is, are we? Tango is getting minimal work before Congress, mainly because of my insane work schedule. Oh well, what will be will be.

I longed Tango for a little bit inside, but the bright sunshine outdoors was beckoning to me. We headed outside and did some nice big longeing circles in the pasture. I have been purposely walking with him while longing the past few weeks to get him moving in a bigger area. I don't want his stride to be shortened from too much longeing in a circle, plus isn't not good for their joints. He had a fun time outside, bucking and carrying on (I finally found something that bothers him - a weedwhacker!). After our session, I took him out to the middle of the field and let him graze for a while. We were in a huge patch of clover. I have never found a four-leaf clover before, so I decided to look. I looked and looked and looked...and after a long time I finally found one!!!! This is a good sign. I took it home and laminated it. It will go in maybe my boot or my hunt cap when I show at Congress. 4 weeks from today....!

Still Saturday, September 17, 2011 (barely!)

I felt the need to post the pro pictures I got from the Kentucky State fair - by Fletch:

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Today starts the beginning of what I call "Heck Week". For you civilians, this would be also called "Homecoming Week". Being a high school band director, my life is a fried, frazzled mess this week. To top off my week, I end it with our last show before Congress. Today started the week with a parade in town. Afterwards I headed out to the barn. It was gorgeous outside. my friend came along and she longed Corky outside while I longed Tango. Both horses were feeling good (though Corky was a lot more wild and woolly than Tango!). Tango longed pretty good, other than a few bursts of energy and some kicking out. I like seeing him having fun and playing (although I will regret ever saying this if he chooses the show ring to express his playfulness!).

I took a quick spin on Corky inside, then my friend long-trotted the snot out of her while I cleaned stalls and worked on Tango's feet. Corky ought to be nice and tired tonight! She got a good workout.

Being the cheapskate that I am, I opted not to pay $1000 or more for one of those nice ribbon-V hunt shirts. I just can't swing that kind of money, and it seems crazy to spend that on a cotton shirt, ya know? I took one of my $20 bargain shirts I got and experimented with doing my own ribbon V. It turned out really cool! The shirt is a chocolate brown, and the V is a metallic gold (and a bit wider than the usual V's on the collars). I will wear it this coming weekend at the show and if it holds up I will use it at Congress. I glued it with fabric glue, and I never really trust fabric glue. We'll see if it makes it through the show Sunday (which incidentally is the day before my birthday...and since it is a $100 added longe line class, that would be a GREAT birthday present from Tango!).

Tuesday, September 19, 2011

I had a rare moment this evening to actually get some stuff done at the barn. It was pretty warm today, but I see the temperatures dropping for the rest of the week...makes me sad to see summer leaving so quickly.

I had a very good longe session with Tango, he had some decent energy and kept his pace very well. I am still using the whole arena to longe, walking with the line to allow him to really extend out and stretch. I also did a bunch of jogging with him in hand. He drops his head so nicely with the slightest pressure on the lead. I think this is a good sign for when we go to train under saddle and need to learn how to give to pressure- a HUGE lesson for any horse!

It seems so much of my "barn time" is spent dealing with stuff that has nothing to do with riding or training. I have a tiny window of time on some evenings to get barn work done, and I spend the vast majority cleaning stalls, going to get bedding, unloading bedding, cleaning water buckets, dealing with tack and storage issues, trailer maintenance, watering the arena, yada yada. I wonder what it would be like to be one of those people that keep their horses some place where someone else does all the dirty work. How wonderful would it be to show up at the barn and spend your entire time riding or actually working with your horses instead of mundane barn chores? Oh well, I imagine I will never know. That's OK, I am sure there are plenty of other people in my position! It just feels so solitary to me. No one is out there at the barn, my family is completely uninvolved with the horses, I feel like a loner half the time when I am doing things out there. It gets old after a while, and my horses just aren't great conversationalists! It would be great to have someone else boarding at the barn with me that I could ride with, bounce ideas off of, etc.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Today was a mediocre day. Tango did everything I asked, but he just looked sloppy-legged. I also noticed he was really tipping his head to the outside when cantering to the left. He does have a habit of doing this - he does it even when he is not on the longe line, but some days it is more noticeable than others. I think it is a balance issue?

It was fairly warm this evening, so I decided to go ahead and give him a bath for the weekend. I won't have much time on Saturday evening, and it is supposed to be a lot cooler then. I am heading to one last open show this weekend to practice for Congress. The added bonus is that there is $100 added to the longe line class at this show. The downside is that the longe line is all open, so we will be competing with all dead-broke western horses. Oh well, it's all for experience anyways. The show is right here in my home town, but I am going to bring him over on Saturday evening and stall with some friends (mainly for the social aspect!).

They posted the numbers for the classes at Congress. There are 12 entered in the hunter longe line, which means there will probably be 15 or so that show since a lot of people wait to late-enter their yearlings. I am trying to not think about 12+ entries and where I might place. I am trying to not even aim for a specific placing. It's all a weak attempt to stave off disappointment. Yep, feeling positive today, aren't we???

Saturday. September 24, 2011

A friend of mine from Michigan came to the show this weekend, so I decided to haul Tango to the show this evening so I could stall with her and be better prepared tomorrow. I LOVE having a big show in my own hometown!

I got to the show and they were just getting ready to start the contesting. I longed Tango for a little bit in the makeup arena and he got his first experience with contest horses whizzing around him. It wound him up a bit, so I quit and decided to come back out later when the contesting was done. Unfortunately, the show wasn't going to end until well after midnight. Oh well...I got Tango settled in his stall, got myself organized, hung out and chatted with friends for a while, and then headed home to sleep in my own bed (what a novelty!).

Sunday, September 25, 2011 - My Birthday Eve!

I got out to the show grounds at 6:30am and took Tango out to the arena to longe him. It was FREEZING cold! He had a few bursts of energy, but for the most part he did very well. The footing was very very deep after the contesters got done with the arena, and he struggled to get through it (and looked like a sewing machine!). I didn't work him long so he wouldn't get too tired.

After I longed, it was braiding time. He is such a pain in the butt to braid. Luckily my friend was there to hold his head still (or at least attempt to hold his head still!). I actually got a pretty decent braid job done all things considered (and I was in a MAD rush!). I barely made it to our yearling halter class - luckily another friend showed up and I sent her to run to the entry booth and enter me right before I walked in the class. Tango was being his bratty boy self and trying to grab my hand and the lead as I walked him in the class. Dang it I thought that problem had been licked! He set up great for me - I had to move one foot a few inches and that was it. I still have to manually move his feet, he just hasn't yet grasped the cues from the chain.

There were 3 in the class, and amazingly enough we won it! Oh the joys of having a judge who is primarily a HUS trainer. FINALLY I will get a fair shake in the longe line against the westerners!

Next was the longe line class. I love that they gave us all time to warm up in the arena. There were 4 in the class, the other 3 were very nice western yearlings. I noticed when warming up that the far end of the arena was much deeper than the end closest to the makeup arena, so I took a gamble thinking that the first horse to go in the halter portion would probably be sent to the far end, so I got in line second. Good thinking, it worked! e did our class on the flatter end of the arena, and Tango did great! He did pop up at the canter ones (almost like a half buck) but other than that he was very smooth (and I think his topline looked better). Here is a very very dark video...I apologize for the bad quality but it's hard to take video in a covered pen when the sun is out.

I am proud and happy to say that we won the class! I was pretty happy with Tango, he has really come a long way. This is a good way to prep me for Congress...mentally. No more defeatist attitudes!

I went and looked at the score sheets for the class, and tango had way higher scores in all the gaits than the other horses. that was exciting! What was weird is that he scored him a 12 for his first direction trot, and a 6 his second direction trot. Now I could understand the discrepancy if he was talking about the canter since Tango definitely has a better way and a worse way when cantering, plus he threw in that little hop the one way...but the trot is pretty equal both directions! I watched the video and couldn't see any glaring differences, though the video is so dark it's hard to tell. I wish I could have asked the judge. Oh well, I am happy with my wins today, happy with how Tango behaved, and the best news yet - Tango kept his braids in all day and never touched them. Hallelujah!!!

Monday, September 26, 2011 - HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MEEEEE!

Yep it's another year! I have nothing to report today. Life goes on as usual! I am giving Tango a few days off. I think Wednesday is the big day...sheath cleaning day! Oh the joys of owning a gelding. I had forgotten...the last gelding I owned I sold back in 2000, so it's been a while since I've had to do the nasty deed. Stay tuned, I am sure the story will be riveting!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Tango got a stay of execution, it was too cold for sheath cleaning today (plus I was just plain exhausted from work and NOT in the mood!). I hate the fact that it is September and yet Tango has to wear a heavy winter blanket and two hoods. What is up with that? I bought a brand new purple hood and put it on him Monday, but it doesn't fit. He is NOT a medium horse, I guess. He has to wear a size large hood. OK, no more big head jokes LOL! Yes, he does have a big head, but he also has a loooong neck so the sleazy ends up being too tight on the face and doesn't reach to his withers.

Today's longe session wasn't good. He didn't want to move out at all (could be because of the icky arena footing), and he was dropping that left shoulder something fierce. I have tried and tried to get him to go straighter when going to the left, but it's a lost cause. There is only so much I can do (or am willing to do), so I guess it is what it is!

Times like today I get overwhelmed with feelings of discouragement. Who am I to think I can take this second-generation homebred gelding who hasn't been in training or on high-powered feeds all year and pit him against the big beefy monsters being trained and shown by professionals? I realize that he is going to look smaller and more yearling-ish than everyone else in the class. I just didn't want to risk any leg or joint issues with rapid growth (especially after seeing the nightmare my friend has been going through with her Hot Ones Only filly). I am frustrated because I am at a training impasse and not sure where to go, and not sure I even want to go there. I remind myself constantly - this is just for FUN, and what's really important is how he does as a rider in a couple years. This longe line stuff is just for FUN, for kicks. Yeah, easy to say, but sometimes I can't control my thoughts and where they meander...and I have a huge fear of dreaming too big and becoming disappointed. I don't want to have these huge hopes or expectations and become disappointed and then my memory of this Congress experience is tainted by a sense of failure. I also don't want to go into this experience with a negative attitude. This is just for FUN. Whatever the outcome, I need to remember that the pride and sense of accomplishment should come from the fact that I did this on my own (with a little help from some very good friends) and that just getting to this point is something to be happy about.

Maybe I need to write this on the bottom of my inspirational stool! of course, since I am not riding I really have no need for my stool, but I might bring it anyways just to keep myself grounded. OK, some of you that are fairly new to this training diary might be wondering what I am referring to. It's my stepstool - I use it at the shows to get on Corky. I decorated it with gaudy colors to keep the stool-stealers away (after losing 3 stools in one month I came up with this plan). Underneath the stool, I wrote my favorite quotes (you can read them here). Strange? Yes, but that's just the tip of the iceberg of my strangeness LOL!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

"You've got to get to the stage in life where going for it is more important than winning or losing."- Arthur Ashe

Today was another tough session on the line. I decided to free longe him with Corky for about 10 minutes and then work him while he was still fresh. For some weird reason today he decide he didn't want to reverse. He would stop on "whoa", I would switch whip hands and ask him to reverse and he would walk off going the same direction...this happened 2 or 3 times before I finally had to get a little angry and remind him of what he was supposed to do. I think she gets so used to everything he just thinks of doing other things. Today I set a couple poles on the ground to wake his brain up, and occasionally I would move the longe circle over the poles. I am still using the whole arena to longe so that he gets his legs extended. I wish we could work outside where there is more room and softer footing, but it has rained ALL week.

Speaking of rain, of course today since I decided to work Tango first before cleaning stalls, the torrential downpour waited until the wheelbarrow was completely full and ready to be taken out. It rained so hard I couldn't even see where I was going. Of course, 30 minutes later the sun was out. Gotta love Ohio weather! It's so cold this week...I am really hoping we will have a burst of warm weather when I head to Congress.

I noticed since Corky hasn't been worked with much this summer she has been acting very over-reactive to everything. That's a bit annoying, but I am sure it can be dealt with. My plan after Congress is to let tango just hang out for a while and start getting Corky back in shape. That will be a monumental task for sure!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Every now and then, even a little squirrel gets the nut. However, the little squirrel's gotta shake some big trees first!

Today was a GOOD longe session with Tango! Everything that went wrong all week went right! My spirits were definitely lifted. I do notice (and this is typical of all huntseaters) that he is SO much nicer-moving after he's had a chance to warm up and move around a bit. I know that if we end up going near the end of our longe line class and he has to stand still for 30+ minutes, we are not going to look the greatest. I think the optimal position for us to be in would be to go fourth. Yep, that's what I am hoping for - 4th in the order of go and a really cool back number. YES, that IS important! Corky's great year had an awesome back number: 7400. After that year, I used that back number at every other show we went to. Right now when I haven been showing tango I have been using the number that Taylor always used her entire show career: 8118. He needs to earn his own cool number. I like numbers that have a double digit somewhere. I also like numbers with a round shape, like zeros and eights. I also am wondering why on earth this is even crossing my mind, with everything else I have to worry about. Oh well, you know me - obsessed with the details (that would be a GREAT name for a horse!).

I worked some halter practice with Tango. As much as I try, he is not mastering the foot-movement cue via the lead shank, so I am just going to have to bend over and place his feet. I am practicing doing that as fast as possible, because longe line judges are notoriously impatient and don't like to wait for the exhibitor to set their horses up properly (unless you are one of the "special" exhibitors who seem to get all the time in the world LOL!).

Ok, we have two weeks until showtime. I am excited, a bit nervous, and my mind is swimming with details I need to take care of. I just want to be fully prepared and not have any of those last minute panics I always seem to get caught in.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Tango and I took a day off of work today to play. I know, I know...less than 2 weeks until Congress...I am sure the other yearlings and their trainers are training hard. I know my yearling - I raised him from hour one, and I know he needs his play time! So this is how we spent our afternoon:

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

I had a good longe session with Tango both Monday and today (yesterday was a turnout day). Today especially I noticed he was really using his long stride. I think longeing in the whole arena rather than a longe circle has really helped this. I had hoped to go longe outside, but the ground is still a bit too wet. It has been gorgeous weather this week - sunny and 70's! I wish this weather would have waited until next week.

Corky is looking so fat and out of shape! I feel like I have really neglected her lately. I vow that after Congress she will become my #1 priority.

I went home tonight and put an hour polish job on my English boots and Tango's leather show halter. The countdown begins...we leave a week from tomorrow!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Things are going good. Tango longed great today, he seems happy and energetic. I free-longed him with Corky, and then I did about a 5 minute session on the line. He was awesome, so I stopped early and let him play in the indoor while I sorted, cleaned, and organized my trailer to prepare for next week. I am such a nerd, I have this huge list and I checked off each item as I packed. It's a bit intimidating to show at Congress on your own. I did it once before, and that was when I showed Corky in longe line back in 2005. It seems a bit different this time - maybe more pressure? I think I am going into it a lot more intimidated. I am trying to block out some friends' negative comments. I keep reminding myself that the joy is in the experience. Yeah, but there would be a heck of a lot more joy if I had a good outcome - if Tango did his job and did it well. Ahhh, the great "X-factor" - showing a yearling! One never knows for sure what the youngsters will do!

I have a friend who feels the need to continually remind me that I am going up against a lot of professionals and people who put a lot of money into training, and that I won't even get looked at. That is exactly the attitude I am trying to avoid! I hate those excuses! I get looked at, if for no other reason than I am bucking the trend with my show outfit and my yearling is homely with a big white face!

Tomorrow I am headed to Congress to help Darla and Brian set up their stall area. I will also drop off my hay, get Tango's stall bedded and ready, and get a good idea of the layout so I am prepared when hauling in on Thursday morning.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

I headed to Congress in the morning to get my stall ready and help Darla and Brian get the stalls set. The cutting was going those cutters have it good! Congress was quiet, uncrowded, and almost no traffic! Must be nice! I know when I get Tango down here later in the week it's going to be the typical Congress madhouse.

Our stalls are located in the northwest corner of the Voinovich barn. It's fairly close to the bathroom and right next to the Cooper arena. Pretty convenient! I spent the day painting and varnishing...and thinking. Thinking is such a dangerous pastime for me.

On my way out, I stopped and bought a program. My number is 1482....blah. Nothing nice or round about that number! Worse is that I am listed first in the longe line class. If they go in numerical order then I will be first!!! I guess that is better than going last. Tango will be so stiff and icky if he has to stand for 30+ minutes waiting for his turn to go. Optimally I'd like to be 3rd or 4th, but you can't have everything!

I headed back in the evening to go clean stalls and give Tango a quick workout. Afterwards, I was cleaning his back hooves and putting the Keratex on them when I felt something on my back. Eeeeeew! He pooped on me while I was picking out his back feet! LOL...only Tango...

Monday, October 10, 2011

Today I did a short session, then we went outside in the sunshine and I did a little longeing in the field. This really perked Tango up, he was feeling gooooood outside! I let him graze for a while, and then it was time to do a thorough clip job. He is so very bad when I clip his legs and I have no idea why. He is fine for his ears, face, and nose. But dang it, when you put those clippers on his legs he jumps around. Frustrating!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

We are SO ready! Tango was phenomenal today. He had just enough energy that he had a beautiful suspension in his stride. When he has this bit of suspension, his legs flatten out and he just floats. The trick is getting him to have enough energy and vigor to look like a million bucks but not so much energy that he wants to buck and play. Ahhh...the eternal balance we all seek to achieve. It's so elusive!

Tomorrow he will get a back, the final items will be packed in the trailer, and I will hopefully get to bed early. I am nervous, excited, and pretty wound up right now. I am sure my friends are pretty darn sick of me and my one-track mind this week.

The best thing about this whole experience is the incredible response I have gotten from this diary and from Facebook. The messages of good luck have been inspiring. A lot of people had some very good things to say that made me think and feel more confident as the week wears on. Here are a few snippets from my messages this week:

"It's not about the money, the trainers, and the results. It's about the journey that you and Tango are having together."
Oh, you are SOOO right! It's not about the money (or lack thereof), it's not about who has the trainers or who has the "name", and it's definitely not about the results of 4 judges' opinions. The journey...gotta remember the journey...this has been an incredible one. Going from excitement (breeding Taylor), anticipation (waiting for Taylor to foal), incredible joy (watching Taylor foal a beautiful healthy colt), intense heartbreak (watching Taylor pass away on the surgery table), hardship and difficulties (paying that 5-figure surgical bill, finding a nursemare, raising an orphan), and then the fun (playing with Tango, watching him grow and learn). Remember the journey (and thanks for reminding me, A.!)
"Its so hard to think of how time has flown..and all the sadness and heartbreak you have managed to weather !! I have always believed every cloud has a silver lining and am soo happy that finally you are enjoying your amazing horses again:))"
It's hard to think about the silver lining when the clouds are as black as can be, but generally God puts one in there for us to discover if we try hard enough. The joy these horses bring to our lives is like no other (and J. agrees with me!).
"Good Luck and don't borrow worry or allow the negativity in---SHUT THE DOOR! :)"
You are darn right, C.! Shut the door on the negative thoughts and just go out there and do the best job that you can. My best may not be up to everyone else's best, but it is MY best and that's all that counts!

Stay tuned, the adventure is just beginning!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Tonight Tango got a short workout and then a bath. was cold today! It was a nostalgic moment when I pulled Taylor's old cooler out of the trailer and put it on him to help him stay warm while he dried. Taylor would be proud, I think!

The trailer is packed, my brain is organized, and we are ready to hit the road bright and early tomorrow. Wish us luck!!!

Thursday, October 13, 2011...early afternoon

Forgive any typos here, I am attempting to post this entry from my phone (whose name is Stewart, in case you were wondering!). Everything went smooth as butter this morning - I woke up on time, loaded Tango, and arrived in Columbus around 9am. Tango was pretty wide-eyed walking into his stall, and got very wound up after he realized he was the only horse left on earth (no one had moved in to the Voinovich Barn yet). I decided to take him out to the covered arena and longe his first before parking the trailer. There were only a few cutting horses riding in the arena. Woo-hoo! Tango felt goooood! He bucked and ran and played, and like usual within 10 minutes he was calmed down and relaxed. Then a couple other hunter longe liners came out to work. Ugh, talk about intimidation! These yearlings looked like 2yos, they were huge and pretty. Does my boy even stand a chance or will we look foolish and out of place?

"Dance with the one you brung"

That quote was posted on my Facebook wall after I posted my update. So so so true! It shouldn't matter what everyone else has, Tango is mine and I need to do right by him and not psych myself out. I had so many great comments on my Facebook wall today, I actually got tears in my eyes! Thank you, I feel better now. More later...

Thursday, October 13, 2011...later that night

I got Tango out again in the afternoon and waited in a long line to longe. He was SO annoying - biting on me, the longe line, the fence....ugh! I wasted my time waiting in line. The footing was SO deep, I didn't dare longe for more than about 10 minutes. Instead, we went for a walk on the grounds. Tango didn't care about the golf carts whizzing by, he checked out all the food booths and stall decorations. He did pause when he smelled the cattle that was gathered for the cutting classes. That worried him! Hopefully that smell will be out of the arena before our class.

All in all it was a good day. I feel good about things....or I did until someone walked in this huge, gorgeous longe liner into the barn. This horse had to be close to 16'2 and beautiful. Here come the feelings of intimidation! That yearling just sold for $25,000...that is a year's salary for me! How crazy of me to think I was anywhere near this class of people. Oh well, no one can deny the bond I have with Tango. That's more than what most people can say!

So tonight I sit in my $35 room at the Motel 6 (that doesn't even have carpeting!). I have to wake up at 4am to feed Tango and head to work. I wonder how many owners of $25k yearlings have to work the day before they show? Oh geeze, stop whining already! Seriously, I am having the time of my life. This will be a FUN weekend!

Friday, October 14, 2011

I woke up at 4am to take care of Tango and get to work on time. Last night I got to the luxurious Motel 6 and ordered a Domino's Pizza and killed the whole thing! I didn't realize that I had gone 24 hours without food...yikes! I actually woke up this morning feeling pretty refreshed. I got to the show grounds and got Tango out for a little longeing session before breakfast. At 4:30am there was only one other person longeing. I used half of the covered pen and walked with him and let him stretch out. It was a bit chilly and the wind was blowing HARD, this made Tango pretty wound up. Eventually he settled, and I brought him back to my stall. I checked my watch, and it appeared that I had plenty of time, so Ii fed him, groomed him really good, and cleaned his stall. Then when I checked my phone...CRAP! My watch must have stopped because now I was suddenly running late! Yep, I ended up about 10 minutes late to work even though I hit very little traffic on that 2 hour drive. Oops!

Kelli and Jim got Tango out a couple times today and took him for walks. The wind was revving him up a bit. Hopefully his mind will relax and his body won't be too tired tomorrow.

I got to check out more of our competition. I also found out some interesting things regarding ownership and purchases of some very very very high-priced yearlings that changed hands less than 3 weeks ago. I guess I don't get how someone could get a whole lot of satisfaction in buying a horse right before Congress, I mean can you really take any of the credit for your win? It's interesting trying to decipher other people's motivations. Those of us who love our horses and treat them like family find it hard to understand the money-and-win mentality. I just can't see where the fun would be in that. I guess maybe there is something to it, people do it all the time. Congress is always so very interesting. Sometimes I wonder why do I show? Is it the competition? The thrill? The pride? The money? (Hahahahahahahaha!). I guess I show because today even after 20+ years it is still fun. Please remind me of this tomorrow when I get my butt handed to me LOL!

Oh, and just once in my life I would like to experience the win thing to see for myself how much fun it is! :-]

Oh joy...just found out - longe line practice in the Coliseum is from 4-6am! YUCK! Plus we are 10th to go in the class...NOT where I wanted to be. He is going to be so impatient and stiff waiting that long time. Oh well...FUN, remember?

Saturday, October 15, 2011 - CONGRESS SHOW DAY!

I left last night after the football game and arrived back at Congress around 1:30am. I was exhausted, and I struggled to stay awake the entire drive. I managed to stay safe by eating a TON of junk food - pretzels, Cheetos, Special K bars, a few cookies, and Diet Pepsi. Ugh, not great for the stomach but it did the trick in keeping me awake. I think I am getting too old for all-nighters!

Jim Dettmer was napping at the stalls when I arrived. He offered to stay the night on the grounds and help me get Tango worked and prepared for the show. We got Tango out around 4:30 am and headed to the Coliseum. It was packed with yearlings being longed. Tango was a bit fired up and wanting to play. I think his days and nights are confused! They had taken about 2 1/2 inches of footing out of the arena after the cutting classes were done but it was still really deep, especially in the east end. I hope I don't end up on that end of the arena for the show. I longed for about 15 minutes (that's all it took!) and then walked him around a bit and let him absorb the atmosphere.

My braider showed up around 7am to braid (yes, I splurged and hired a braider so I wouldn't have to stress out about it!). She did a fantastic job, despite Tango being annoying and not standing still. Then I spent the greater part of the morning sitting on a stool outside of his stall keeping an eye on him so he wouldn't mess those braids up. I learned my lesson from previous braidings - Tango cannot be trusted!

Show time was approaching! I got dressed around noon, and then sent a frantic text to Jim asking for his help. He came to rescue me, and took care of spraying Tango's legs and blacking his feet for me. It was time to walk over to the Coliseum, I think we are ready (breathe, darn it!).

It was rather cold outside and WOW was it windy! Serious wind gusts were blowing us around. I went to the Coliseum overhang and warmed him up a little bit. A lot of friends came by to give me good luck wishes. This helped chill me out. All my preparation had a chance to completely blow up in my face when we entered the tent chute to go into the Coliseum. the wind was blowing so hard, the plastic sides and roof of the tent were blowing and rattling, and a lot of yearlings came completely unglued, including mine! We went in for the halter portion and Tango was a ball of nerves. The more nervous he got, the more mouthy he got. I never even got to set him up correctly, he was totally not paying attention to me and instead was trying to grab the lead or grab anything to put in his mouth! I know out halter score will be very very low. We got through the halter portion and I got sent to (darn it!) the east side of the arena to wait for my turn to longe.

Stacey Ryan came over and handed me my whip. She has been a great help to me in the past 2 months - giving me training advice and ideas as I ran into problems. She stayed at the rail and talked to me, calmed down my nerves and helped me calm down Tango. By the time it was our turn, he was a LOT calmer (and so was I!).

It was our turn! We did our warm-up walk while the exhibitor before me competed. Then it was our turn to start. As soon as I asked for a trot, I knew this wouldn't be our best class. Tango was SO tired, his trot was a bit draggy and had very little suspension. I was afraid he would be too tired to show off his best movement, and I was right. I asked for the canter and he went right into it nicely. Then the reverse, the trot, the canter, back down to the trot, and we were done! He behaved wonderfully, kept his circle nice, didn't pull, and best of all hardly dropped that left shoulder at all! Unfortunately I don't think his legs and topline looked the greatest because of his exhaustion...but my MONTHS of hard work and training showed through with his behavior (and that was my biggest goal as a non-pro trainer and exhibitor!).

Eleven ended up showing, and we placed 10th. Not a great placing (and there were some issues with the placings that have me scratching my head) but my biggest goal was achieved - to have a clean go and to have FUN!. The absolute best thing about the class for me was hearing the large amount of cheers after our go - we had the most cheers of anyone in the class! That meant everything to me, my friends and supporters make this experience GREAT.

Pictures from the show!

Trotting in the halter portion of the class. I look frustrated? Yes, I was! He was constantly trying to grab me with his mouth!!! I like this picture because it shows off my shirt - I couldn't afford to waste $110 on a cotton show shirt with the V collar, so I bought a $20 shirt on the bargain rack and made my own collar!

I love this picture - getting our medal from the Congress queen. I am smiling - all went well and we survived!

This picture took 20 minutes to take! Tango was such a bad boy - he would not stand still. the poor photographer's assistant had to set his legs so many times...I was embarrassed! Tango kept grabbing the white medal column, me, and anything else within mouth's reach. Our efforts were worth it - we got a great picture after all.

Yep, Tango WAS exhausted! This is a picture of him about 3 hours after the class. He wasn't even awake enough to open his eyes when I went into his stall. Poor guy! I guess I should have longed him a lot more over the past months in order to build his stamina up. Someone told me that doing 10 and 15 minute sessions with him wasn't enough, but I just didn't want to risk his legs or burning out his mind. I guess I can be overly cautious at times with my horses.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Tango was tired today - he decided to eat while staying down for a while. I think he was more than ready to go home! Today I picked up my photos from the photographer, bought a video of the class, got my stall release, loaded up, and headed home!

I am kicking myself for responding to a negative post on the Pleasure Horse Forum regarding that since the longe line class was so small a Congress top 10 was "easy". Back a few years ago a friend of mine got 9th out of 10 in the class and received some of the same backlash and I defended her to the hilt - people are so quick to minimize someone's accomplishment by calling it easy. I love how the people calling it easy have never even showed longe line at Congress, probably have never prepared a horse at Congress, and don't have any understanding of what is involved. It's frustrating for me and I hate that I responded on the forum. It shouldn't matter what other people think. I alone know what it took for me to get to this point and I can be a little proud in my own mind of what I have done and let that drown out the naysayers.'s a good thought, but comments like that still bother me. I shouldn't take it so personally! I guess if it didn't mean so much to me I wouldn't care, or if I have won so much already that this class was irrelevant then comments like that wouldn't matter.

So, goodbye negativity! Thank you to EVERYONE who sent me messages from this training diary or posted to my facebook. I read them all on my phone while guarding tango's braids the morning before my class and it really was uplifting. I hope people realize how powerful that is - taking the time to drop a note or write a comment to someone wishing them good luck has such an impact to the person.

A special thanks to Jim Dettmer (owner of Thanks For Com En - Tango's daddy!) for all of his help on Friday and Saturday, Kelli D. for taking care of things on Friday and taking Tango for walks on the Congress grounds, Stacey Ryan for training advice that was strictly from the heart as she didn't make a dime off of me, Darla and Brian Lee for letting me stall with them and making me feel comfortable at Congress. No one really trains "alone"! Now it's time to take a step back, plan the next step in our training, and get Corky back in shape!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

This is the "letdown week". You know that feeling - when you build and build your anticipation and work and work towards a goal...and then *POOF* it is over and done with! Tango has been enjoying his turnout time with Corky (I think he came back from Congress with even more self confidence and is now starting to initiate the squabbles with Corky!). Now comes the job I dread - getting Corky back into shape and back into a working frame of mind. Getting her strong and in shape won't be a big deal, but getting her mind back to the job will be tough. She was always rotten when she had 3-4 days off in a row...having weeks and weeks off will make her a very angry person once she has to go back to work. I am thinking today might be a good day to get back in the saddle and get her moving again.

I am just grateful that this week's weather didn't happen last week while I was at Congress. It is COLD (high 40's) and rain rain rain rain. Yuck!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

After every high point always comes a low point. It never fails! I went out to the barn today to RIDE, yes, actually ride Corky! Nope! She is lame in the left front. I don't feel any heat or swelling, but she is definitely off at the trot. I am suspicious it might be the same issue we had last January. I wonder how this could be, she has been in wedge shoes since that episode and her angles have not changed, and she hasn't taken a lame step since. Now what? My mom is in the hospital with a sudden emergency surgery and I am 3 hours away, it feels like a lot of things in my personal life are crumbling around me.

I had my English saddle and saddle pad sitting on a stool in the arena, and Tango actually shorted at it and acted fearful! This horse generally isn't afraid of anything! I swung the saddle pad all over his back repeatedly and he didn't seem to mind. I think I will wait until I remember to bring out my $10 breaking saddle from my garage attic before introducing the saddle to him - that way if he acts out he won't ruin my good saddle.

Friday, October 21, 2011

I longed Corky today. It's definitely her right front, not her left. The right front had some swelling on her lower cannon bone near the ankle. So...could be an abscess, could be the same foot problem as January, who knows?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Today Corky looked OK! She came out of her stall very stiff, but loosened up and looked pretty good. I went ahead and saddled her. Immediately she started balking when I asked her to walk off (she did this to me on Thursday also). Once I got her trotting and moving forward, she did a lot better. She seemed rather annoyed and angry about the riding. I had to go back to the old method of making the right thing easier. I did some tight trotting circles and bending (which she hates), then sudden;y she was much more willing and happy to travel nicely along the rail. Her canters were surprisingly good after having so much time off.

When I was done riding, my friend got on and long trotted her a LOT. I got Tango out and did a little longeing (he still looks good!) and then worked a a few showmanship maneuvers that I started teaching on Thursday. I started working with him on moving certain legs on cue, and also moving away from me as I walked at him to pivot him. He wasn't getting it at all on Thursday, but today I was able to get a decent quarter turn pivot out of him. That's what I like about him - we can have a rough training session when teaching something new, but give him a day or two to digest it and generally he comes back and does very well. I think that will end up being our method - try a new concept briefly, then a day or two later try it again.

I think tomorrow I may \try a saddle on him, and perhaps start the basics in ground driving if he accepts it well. Wednesday I would like to attempt to pony Tango off of Corky. I may not survive the experience!

Monday, October 24, 2011

I rode Corky again today. Dang she was bad - just not wanting to move, and then when she did move she tried to bully her way around the arena. I did a lot of circles - she is back to the old habit of speeding up any time I take her off the rail. I am trying not to get frustrated and totally discouraged. I keep reminding myself that she has basically had the past entire year off, other than occasional casual riding, and it will take a long time to get her back into work mode. I worry about her work ethic. She is the sweetest, kindest horse, but when you ask her to do something that hints at work she often acts so resentful (kind of like a few people I know!). I hate that, because I feel like I am making her miserable when all I want to do is ride and enjoy it. I will give it a good month - ride every day that i can and try to keep the fights and "arguments" to a minimum, and then re-evaluate in a month.

It was a beautiful day, one of the last we will see. I took Corky's tail down and conditioned it. It probably won't see daylight again until spring approaches. How depressing!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Today I introduced the saddle to Tango for the first time! It's an old saddle I picked up for $5 - functional yet cheap. I kind of figured we would have no issue with saddling, and I was right. Easy-peasy! The saddle flapped a lot as he trotted. I thought this would bother him, but he really didn't act like he noticed anything at all. The first time he cantered he seemed a little more aware of the saddle. He didn't actually buck, but he dropped his head several times and acted like it crossed his mind. Then he realized that bucking would take some athletic effort....Naaaah!.
I rode Corky again today. It was more of the same - deal with the grumpiness until she finally gave up and went around willing and somewhat pleasant. I think she is a bit divided - she is enjoying all the attention again, but not enjoying having to work. I think she'd be happiest just being a showmanship horse - very little labor and lots of primping and grooming LOL! I think her soreness waasn't really in her front foot, but rather that left hock is bothering her again. I definitely see signs. That is a bit depressing since I had it injected in June and she's done very little work since. The vet did tell me that since it isn't a spur but rather a weird bone, the injections will always be needed regularly. Riding today was very therapeutic for me, and boy did I need it. Things in my life are in a major upheaval, and I predict there will be drastic changes in my life coming soon. I will keep you updated. My mind and emotions are churning. Don't you just hate that?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Tango took to the saddle today like he has worn it all his life! He was more sluggish today. I should have gotten video yesterday when he had a lot of energy and suspension in his stride (amazing how that great movement comes and goes so quickly!). I took a short video clip today just for fun. In 2 years when we've had a successful 3yo year in hunter under saddle, I will look back at this training video and smile.

MY plan for Saturday is to do our first ponying lesson - Tango and Corky. I will have help that day, so hopefully things will go safely and smoothly. I suspect Corky will hate this exercise far more than sociable Tango will, but it's time she learned to deal with having horses close at her side again. We got her through this fear back at the 2007 Congress...I think I rode that pony horse almost as much as I actually rode Corky! It worked miracles, but she hasn't been ponied since. This time she will be the pony horse and we will drag Tango around with us. Hopefully all of us survive!

I was interviewed by about Tango's story and what we went though to get to Congress. Here is a link to the article: "A Bittersweet Moment at Congress". Kind of schmaltzy, but it still makes me melancholy to think about Taylor. I miss that horse...every single day!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Corky was really sore in the hock today. Of course she didn't show a thing when she ran around the arena like a maniac...but when I saddled her and went to ride her she felt off at the trot. Since she was saddled and I had help, I decided today would be a good day to try and pony Tango off of Corky. It actually went fairly well. Tango tended to want to surge ahead a bit and get his head right next to Corky's, which caused Corky to lay her ears back and threaten him. As long as he stayed back by my knee, she did OK. She was definitely not happy about having him stuck to her side only inches away, but she tolerated it. I think this exercise would be much easier if I had a western saddle on...and if Corky actually neck-reined! I will have to work on that. We actually did some trotting, though a couple times Tango slammed on the brakes and fouled things up a bit. All involved managed to survive, so I call it a success!

Tango wore my "good" saddle today - as in my English work saddle. I dropped the stirrups down so he could feel them banging on his side. They actually moved very little when he trotted and cantered. I wonder if this means he will have very smooth gaits? Either way, the stirrups didn't bother him in the least.

Next on the training agenda...ground driving!

Monday, October 31, 2011 Happy Hallowween!

Corky and tango finally decided to enjoy each other's company today! Of course, they placed and chased each other first. Tango is finally taking control of their relationship and is picking with Corky (much to her annoyance). Corky always seems to end up at the bottom of the totem pole no matter who she is turned out with. Today they stood and groomed each other for quite a while. I had to get a picture since this was the first time I have ever seen the two of them do this. It's good to see everyone getting along!

Today was Tango's first ground driving lesson. It was strange - when I first put the saddle on him he squirmed around like he was almost afraid of it. I had to be very patient and talk to him while I put the girth on. He was fine for the girth tigteneing, just seemed a little wide-eyed at the saddle going on his back (nothing major, just weird to actually see a reaction after being so ho-hum about it last week).

I longed him first, he looked great today. Then came the big moment - I put a sidepull on him (no bit), attached my "driving reins" (which are two longe lines without chains), ran them through the stirrups of the saddle, grabbed my short whip, and asked him to walk on. He was very confused at first, but it was amazing how quickly he got the hang of steering via pulling the driving reins. We walked around the arena, did some circles and changes of direction, then I figured "What the heck" and asked him to trot. He went right into the trot...seemed a little uncertain about why I was chasing behind him, but he went around on the rail like an old show horse! I discovered two things with this training lesson today: 1. All those longe line lessons and cues paid off because they transferred seamlessly to the driving, and 2. I need to get in better shape to be able to run and keep up with him! Ah, who needs a membership to the Y, just come jogging with Tango every day!

When we were all done with the lesson, I said "whoa" and he stopped on a dime with NO pressure (more longe line training cxoming to fruition!). I walked up and hugged him and said out loud "I love this horse!" This training stuff is such fun!

I measured him on a whim today, and he hasn't grown a speck in months. What is up with that? He needs to GROW already! he is too small for me to even think about getting on his back early this winter.

On to page 6....

I love reading your comments! Drop me a note: