Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas Eve Eve!

We've recently gotten all the rain my county will get for the next year, a quarter of our arena was washed away to nothing but base, and the barn was inaccessible to cars that don't have four wheel drive for like 3 days because there was so much water. I don't have much to report on Bijou except that she's happy and mostly dry. I checked on her and gave her a good scratch on the withers, but other than that there's no news.

So much for riding a LOT during Christmas break :(

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Rain rain go away!

Hello again! So, updates. I haven't gotten all the cookies packaged yet... but it will happen soon. I'm a little worried because I might not get a chance to go out to the barn since it will be so wet. It's supposed to rain for 7 consecutive days!!! That's a TON of water!

Updates: Thursday I re-clipped the hairy beast because 1) I had a ton of time to play with her, but her shoe was loose so I couldn't ride and 2) because I had finally had a warm day to rinse her off the day before so she was actually VERY clean! I gave her a real trace clip this time, and I think I did an ok job, if I do say so myself. I got a B+ from the CI** rider at my barn... so I think I'm doing ok.

So, she also was unshod and trimmed on Friday. I figured I would keep it easy and de-worm her that day too. She was not stoked about it, but we got it done. I did it with SafeGuard this time. I rode her Friday too. We warmed up at the walk just working on keeping a long low cadenced walk, and then I picked up a trot right as the BM started working putting more sand in the runs for the stalls, which are all along one side of the arena. He was about 6 feet from the arena fence dumping buckets full of sand and we rode calmly past like it was nothing, again after not being ridden in a few days. So we worked at a trot, and I really lifted with my inside hand, but kept it gentle and spongy. She liked this kind of contact and came nicely into the bridle. She's still fussy through transitions, and I didn't work them as much as I should have. She was nice and forward off my leg and felt really good for being just trimmed and unshod. I did a fun little easy exercise. I trotted two large (30 meter?) circles at the end of the arena, one right after the other. Then I would change bend over the center line and ask for a canter. She seemed to really get it and picked up a nice balanced canter both directions! The right lead canter is coming along which I'm really happy about. I was worried I was going to have a big fight on my hands with it, but she seems to be picking it up well.

So then, because all the jumps were at perfect little 18" x-rails, I decided to practice a 'course'! I picked off the second fence of the outside line, and kinda just wandered around picking off fences until I had done each of them at least once. Then I let her walk and gave her a good long pat. She's finally getting brave to the fences. No more almost stopping to look at them before daring to put her feet over. She doesn't rush, just pricks her ears and gets all bouncy! So I picked up my trot and did our first combo, a 4 stride line. She was PERFECT!! trotted in, pick up a nice balanced canter, and got a really nice modest distance to the second fence. I love my little mare! I think I'm going to start working more on combos and pole to fence combos to make sure that she understands what a bounce vs. two stride vs, three stride is etc. I'm also thinking that after the rain clears up I'll put up a vertical! My little baby is growing up! I hope to be jumping 2'-2'3" so that I can show at 18" this show season with confidence. I'd love ideas for gymnastic exercises you've found helpful, or websites with helpful hints or whatever!

Phew that was a long post

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Christmas Horse Cookies

For the past few years I have enjoyed making delicious home made impromptu cookies for all the deserving horses out at whatever barn I happen to be boarding at. It's my way of saying thanks to everyone for catching my horse when she decides to run away, or for yelling out which jumps they were going for, or just for smiling and asking how my ride went. This year I tried to perfect last years recipe. I used only four ingredients:

Oats, molasses, carrots, and water

I kinda just guesstimated but I think it was about 1.5 cups of oats that I put through a food processor to make them more like flour, two whole carrots put through the same process, and probably about .5 cup of molasses. I sprinkled about 2 tablespoons of water in, just enough to get everything moist and mixed together. Then I formed little balls, tiny really... but I like having lots of little treats.

I took these balls and squashed them a bit, then placed on an ungreased baking sheet. I put the oven to 400 at first, but decided that 350 would probably get them drier without burning them. I baked them for quite a while, up to 25 minutes. I like my horse treats crunchy, I think they like them better that way. This was the only way to get them dry enough to feel crispy. This year I used no oil, no flour, just the above ingredients. I used dark corn syrup last year too, they didn't smell like real molasses, probably because they weren't. Overall I'm much happier with my product this year... Roxie (my roomates dog) was a willing tester. She loves carrots and thought they were delicious. Hopefully the horses think the same!

The finished and wrapped product!

Monday, December 13, 2010

The weather outside is... actually beautiful

Amidst all the postings of frozen ground and infinite inches of show/sleet/hail/other frozen precipitation, I rode yesterday in a tank top... it was 78 degrees. Yay California!!

So now that I'm done bragging (sorry guys! I know winter sucks!) I will tell you about that ride. It was just as pleasant as the weather. I haven't been out to ride since my last post... I know I'm a horrible mom. I had finals to study for, shifts to cover for other people who were studying for finals, and finals to take! This meant that last week was a bust as far as barn time went. Then I had this whole last weekend of my BFF's graduation!! She's so old (but I'm going to be doing the same thing in June, eek!) and it was a lot of exhausting fun. We went out to eat umpteen times, swam in indoor pools, played drinking games, and crashed. So it's been another 10 days. I went out, and feeling brave I just hopped on. I was expecting to just have to get off and lunge due to impeding crazy pony syndrome... but no, I had a sane and reliable mount. She didn't even really mind the large dark drainage ditches they just put in, or the scary picnic table or anything. We had one leap into the air spook when a flock of birds took flight directly behind us, but other than that we had a normal walk/trot/canter ride. I even tossed her over a fallen x-rail (one rail was up, one down) to make her pick up her feet. She was, dare I say, brave to it! She didn't get fast, she just ate the ground up to it like she was excited. No bucking or stupidness afterward, just a nice back to trot transition. She wasn't the absolute antithesis of a giraffe, ok maybe there were some genuine giraffe moments, but she worked on the bit and moved laterally when I asked. I didn't ask for much, suspecting that too much would blow a gasket, and it all turned out perfect. She even picked up perfect controlled canters on the correct lead both directions.

I know I'm oozing over some pretty simple things, but I just love that I have a sane horse. For a while there I was a little worried that I'd fallen prey to the typical Crazy with a capital C TB mare. *knock on wood* I think I was wrong!

Oh, I finally took her tail out of her tail bag... whoee! It's going to be so thick and delightful come show season. I can't wait!! She also got rinsed off because it was warm.

Stay tuned, next time I think I'm going to make a list of things to do over winter break. Any suggestions? I want to have accomplished some things in the next few months so that I'll be ready for show season. Everyone says that the shows are really won in January, not July.

Thursday, December 2, 2010


I hadn't ridden my mare in 12 days.... Yah, I was prepared for a mess. I took her into the round pen to see what she would do. She lunged like a normal horse, no tail flagging spiraling out of control, dragon snorting monster that I expected. So I went and put on her bridle and figured I'd cool her out by walking and doing some bending before they decided to feed her way out in her pasture. I hopped on and after being mildly annoyed with bit contact she settled right in. I even did a few really nice trot transitions just to get her thinking forward. I was so pleasantly surprised. I think my little mare might be starting to grow up!

I was worried that after 12 days of not seeing her I would go out and she would be a skeleton horse because I hadn't been out to feed her her extras. Nope. She's just as fat as she was at the beginning of winter, so I'm hoping that she stays a good weight if I feed her when I ride her. I weighed her with the weight tape and she read 1136. I think that's a really decent weight for her. Her feet are getting a little chipped, and that front left(?) crack never fully healed. I'm going to set up a shoeing appointment hopefully. I don't know whether I should pull shoes for winter or not? I just finally got her to keep her shoes... but I would rather let her feet do some natural growth and not spend the extra $30 or whatever.

Her clip is almost non-existent so I'll probably be doing that some time over winter break, depending on how cold it gets. I'm still planning on getting her a blanket liner for the colder days when she is clipped. My pampered little mare :)

I got to ride two horses at the barn back home when I was there for thanksgiving, a horse named Jackson, and a pony named Wall-e so CUTE!!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving Eve!

Well... I'm here to tell myself that I'm a horrible horse mom. I haven't seen my horse in.... 5 days! and I won't see her for 4 more! That's NINE days with no pony. Blah!!! Things just keep popping up out of nowhere, or I'm too cold or too busy or something. I almost want to go out there right now in the dark and snuggle her. I hope she's nice and warm with her new sheet on, but I have no idea! It has been getting really cold (almost 20 degrees!) at night, and I've been looking around for a lining that I can stick in her blanket to keep her warm, but I haven't found anything yet.

It's been so wet so I can't ride, I guess it's just that time of year again. The clip I did is almost invisible now, which I guess is good so she stays warm now that it's finally cold. I'll have to see if it dries up for winter break, I'm really looking forward to it so that I can ride her, but who knows how things will pan out.

The last time I did ride was awesome! I took her out after 4 days of being a pasture puff, and expected her to be a tad frisky. I don't know if it was because we finally had the barn to ourselves or if she just felt good, but she was perfect. No looky loo, no fighting with me for the first ten minutes, just a calm easy going mare. I love her! We worked on a lot of things, and I got her bending really well to the right and left, then we worked on trot transitions, which were pretty awful at first, but she was very responsive to my leg, just tossing her head everywhere. So I went ahead and got her thinking about using herself by doing this little thing I thought up after taking a lesson with a friend. I basically just let whatever cue come into my head, and then do it. This includes turns, leg yields, transitions up or down, etc. I just create this random pattern that has no pattern and it really amps her up. So I tried a walk/canter transition, because I thought, what the heck? It won't hurt anything. It kinda failed. So I kept after her until she really felt like she was waiting and anticipating for me to ask anything of her, and asked again, it went really well!!

There was one x-rail in the arena and we popped over it with no hesitation! I think it's because it's the same one that's been there forever, but I'm still hopeful that she's getting used to the idea of just jumping things that are put in front of her.

I'm getting a kind of cabin fever since I didn't get out to see her today. I was really planning on it but then found out that I'm basically responsible for Thanskgiving dinner.... wooo hooo! I'm excited but scared that things won't go as planned, but oh well. That meant that I needed to do some shopping instead of going to see my beloved. I know she's fine, eating and playing out in pasture, but it doesn't mean I don't want to go see her :(

I'm consoling myself by going back to the barn I rode at in high school, Miwok Livery Stables. I'm so stoked to go back and maybe ride one of their horses. I think I might end up spending the whole day there, just chatting with everyone and petting all the horses again! I have a few favorites who I'm hoping are still around, Oprah the big grey percheron mare, Marker the strong willed and opinionated but very fancy warmblood, Rosebud the quirky paint mare, I can't wait to see them all again!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Late is better than never

I've been a horrible blogger lately! I can't seem to find time to put down all the things I want to say, and I can't open a new post without fully going through everything that's been happening.

Sunday November 14th was the one year anniversary of this blog, and of my owning Bijou!!! I didn't really have a ton of expectations at the get go, and I liked it that way, but I think I've overcome some huge stuff and I'm really proud of my little mare. My favorite thing about Bijou and I is that I feel like she's MY horse and I'm her one and only person. She really didn't trust me in the beginning, and it took me breaking my ankle, her getting a hole in her head, many days crying, many days laughing, and many more days of work to get her to understand that I'm her mom and she can trust me. I've never really worked with a seriously distrusting horse before. I'm glad I've gotten the experience and I am so much more thankful for the stuff I can do with her. I've just started riding her (halter and blanket as tack :P) back to her pasture. It's really adorable because I pretty much just get on and squeeze and she knows where her buddies are and just marches along, but there've been a few times where something scary comes up and I don't have steering really so I just hold on, and she gets it. She knows when I'm feeling off balance, and her ears flick back to make sure I'm still there, and then we go on our merry little way. I love those moments, because even just 2 months ago I would never have dreamed of doing that, and now it's no big deal.

I'm starting to see all the hard work pay off. This is where I knock on wood because every time I say that I take two steps back but I'm starting to get a horse that I can leave out in pasture for 4 days, pull her out, and have a really productive ride. That's saying something for a 6 yr old TB mare I feel like. It used to be that every new alternative of the same question was too overwhelming, now I can point at a x-rail, and it happens. Today I took her over 5 trot poles and instead of stopping and snorting at them, she processed and daintily tiptoed over them, just as if they were only trot poles, instead of the toe biting brightly colored monsters they were before.

I think another thing she's taught me is to appreciate the little things. I really do appreciate the days when she feels super sound and wants to bend and lift her back for me, even if it's only for a little bit. We don't have to accomplish a huge goal, just something small. Two steps of really good 'back', one really good long side worth of bend, one correct lead.

Then there's the big things, where she just wows me. Like the day I took her to Twin Rivers. That was amazing. I had so much fun and she was SOOO GOOD!!! And it's those days that I look back to when she's rooting her face to the ground only to put on her giraffe impression two seconds later all because I asked her to trot. It isn't perfect, but it's not who won or lost, it's how we play the game right?

Ok, enough self reflection, I want to plan ahead for next year! I want to have some real goals:

1) Compete in at least 3 shows from now until November 2011
2) Start schooling bigger fences, working our way up to 2'-2'6" (???)
3) Work on confronting scary things under saddle (cows, sheep, tarps, waves at the beach, etc)
4) Try Bitless to see what happens
5) Try Chiropractic to see what happens
6) Find a saddle that fits us both! (I'm hoping that my bates will when I find my other gullet... now where did it run off to)

There, better late than never...

Monday, November 8, 2010

New bit plus rain equals...

So I bought a rubber mullen mouth from Stateline because it was on sale. I've been fooling around with different bits just to see what happens and pretty much I've only found one that she really didn't like, it was this huuuge clunky full cheek snaffle that she couldn't stand. I've been riding her in a loose ring french link, but she liked to hollow out in her back rather than stretch into the contact, so I thought I'd try to give her something easier to grab onto.

So far there's a few differences in it. I certainly feel like I have less control on days when she is extra fresh, but not anything dangerous. I've also gotten my forward horse back. This could be because she has only been getting out once every other day or so or it could be that she was hiding from my other bit. Its hard to know if she's responding to the bit, or to more training, or to not getting out as much, or who knows what.

I found a new tack shop in town! We went to the Equine Expo that one of the vets put on every year, and the woman who owns it was there. Who knew? She has a Dr. Cooks Bitless that she'd be willing to let me buy and bring back if it really doesn't work out. I have to wait until Friday to get to her, because the store's only open until 3 :( I'm still really nervous about riding my 6 yr old TB mare in a bitless bridle, but I'm going to video it at least so that whatever may happen I will have evidence. I'm really a skeptic to the efficacy of something like this, but if it works then I might start using it.

The arena's been closed most days due to rain... which means I get very little riding done. If Jou's been out in the last few days then she's usually sensible enough to be taken out on the track around the property, but if not I'm liable to have a bronc on my hands especially because we have the neighbors sheep running amok around, hiding behind bushes, stampeding at odd intervals, and generally being nuisances.

MM is back this week, so hopefully I'll get some real workouts in with her and Jou. This last week the one time I was able to get out two days in a row I jumped a big (over18") crossrail! We had warmed up, and she was feeling really good off my aids and nice and forward without feeling rushed. I trotted her up to it, she stopped, walked over it, and trotted away. We trotted up again, she picked up a canter two strides out and jumped it like a pro. I was proud of her for finding her distance so nicely and being bold to the fence for once! Next time I jump her I am going to really emphasize that she jump it the first time. I also need to go to the dollar store or something and buy some fake flowers. I want to have her ready for all the little x-rail classes next spring! Speaking of jumping... I know a lot of people limit jump days to once or twice a week. Should that still be the practice with a young fit horse who's only doing 18" max for now? I feel like she needs more practice than that, but I don't want to stress anything too much. I will for sure only jump her once or twice a week once we start jumping over 2' but I'm not sure if limiting is necessary now.

One last thing... I just have to say how crazy it is that just a little less than a year ago my horse couldn't lunge, could barely canter, bending was out of the question, jumping was WAY too intimidating, she was at least 150 lbs lighter, had no idea what contact meant, and could barely stand still while I groomed and tacked her up. Now we've conquered all the above :D I'm going to do a 1 yr anniversary post soon, I can't believe it!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Rockstar should be her new name

So... about that x-country ride... IT WENT SOOOOOO WELL!!! I am so happy and proud and hopeful for the future. I feel like giving her a report card, so here goes:

Trailer Ride: It has been several months (I'm pretty sure March was the last time) since Bijou's been in a trailer. We walked up to the door after Wyatt had claimed his spot, took a sniff, backed one step, got reprimanded, and jumped right in. She stood quietly the whole ride up, even when us sleepy girls went to grab some coffee :D. All in all I say that deserves a A-

Tacking up: We got out of the trailer, she backed out like a champ, and took one tiny look around before I 'tied' to the trailer. This basically means that I loop the lead rope once through the tie on the trailer and tell her "whoa" in a stern voice. She stood. stock. still. even while girthing! We got all spiffed up, with my lilac bell boots, white splints all around, lilac reins, lilac pad and I wore black... oops oh well. No nervous energy at the trailer, just game for whatever was coming her way. A+

5, 4, 3, 2, 1, Have a great ride!: we went out and warmed up in the dressage rings, which was good because Bijou has never seen a judge stand before. She definitely looked at it, but overall wasn't too concerned. We did some circles, etc and then went out in the big open warm up area and I just let her pick up a canter to see how fresh she'd get. She came right back to me after a good hand gallop with only a change in my position. At this point I'm getting a very good feeling about the day :D. So we head out to the course. I love Twin Rivers because they have the big big big stuff, and they also have baby x-rails sized stuff too. So we start off by being Wyatt's decoy. He does this thing where he really doesn't want to go straight out of the box if there's another horse behind him, so S worked on that a lot and I got to teach the Jou Jou about how to stay behind. This was something she used to have a lot of trouble with, but she's mostly gotten over it it seems. A for effort

The Course: I pointed her at the first jump once it was our turn to use the start box, and she didn't even hesitate, just popped right over it. I love how close she gets to the fences, my other mare always took a GIANT leap over everything, so taking the little ones at a close spot again is so nice! We cantered happily away to the next little 18" log and hopped right over that one too. We messed around like this for a bit, until we got to the first water complex. It was really full this time since it had been raining. She didn't like the look of it at first, but with three or four good kicks she finally leapt in. We went sloshing back and forth through it a few times until it only took one good kick to get her in and called that one a success. Next we went over to the banks. S and Wyatt took off up the set of novice obstacles to encourage Jou to follow up, and we took the Beginner Novice bank up along them. She stopped right at the bank, I had a supporting leg, and between her momentum and my leg we jumbled up the thing. Now was the hard part, the down bank, so much fun on a horse that loves it, but very hard on one that doesn't. Again we had Wyatt lead us down a few strides ahead, but Bijou knew just what to do and took a playful leap off the bank with very very little hesitation! Superstar pony! She did the happy headtoss to show how proud of herself she was and we went to do the last big question that I'll probably ever answer on an x-country course, the ditch. S and Wyatt schooled it first, then I walked Bijou up to it. She had her usual reluctance to get close to something that I wanted her to get close to, but got a good look at it without going over. I thought we needed lots more momentum, so I circled around at a trot. She stopped right at the base, I kicked and meant it, and she reared, and somehow got her hind legs across the ditch. At least that's what it felt like. I had grabbed mane, and I was glad, and I cantered away petting her. We did that one a few more times, and then put it together with a few other little baby jumps and called it good. Lastly, S wanted to go do her whole course, just to make sure she was up to it, so I told her I would just canter along behind her and pick off fences here and there. This was the only part that Jou had a problem with. Once Wyatt went out of sight, we had a little neighing melt down. She still got to work, but she seriously refused the ditch when I tried to take it again. I let it go and rode around a bit waiting for them to get back, and then re-schooled the ditch and called it a day. Overall A for answering all the tough questions on her first day out.

I wish I would have taken the day off of work and learned the dressage test because I could have totally kicked butt at the One Day Horse Trials they had the next weekend, but that's what I get for not planning. Next year we will be SO ready! Phew!

In more recent news, the arena's been closed a lot due to rain, Bijou is losing weight :(, I had a lesson with a CCI** rider who boards where I do which went well, aaaaand I've been busy. I bought a pair of clippers, so I'm stoked to clip some horses this winter, and now it's time for bed :D

Thursday, October 21, 2010


ahhh, so finally I figured out how to get these darned pictures up. Here's the fun story!

We started out on a lovely warm day, and Bijou had been enjoying working mostly like this:

She's had been very simple with relatively little head tossing, wanting to stretch down, almost plodding along at times?! This was our nice happy pace and she has been happy to take longer and longer stretches to get a really nice trot. It's so much fun to ride, and I have a feeling that it is largely due to the fact that I'm getting her out more with the help of MM.

I just love her little face! And then we started jumping. This was the first time she had approached anything with standards with the intent to go over it in about 7 weeks, due to losing a shoe and my lack of gung-ho-ness to make her do it. So, MM suggests that she would like to see what she does when she jumps so that she'll know what to expect. I told her that she hasn't jumped in a while (not really realizing at the time how long it had been) but we set everything to what I thought would be almost too easy heights and trotted up to the first jump set on a diagonal:

I tried to make a caption "Oh! You want me to JUMP that thing?!" but I think I failed. Next time I'll do it in photoshop instead of being lazy and doing it in paint :P. So ya, I think she just didn't even expect that to show up in front of her. She wasn't totally paying attention, but I gave her enough space to see it, I think she was in denial. Oh well. Despite how off balance I look, I actually stayed on and it didn't ever feel like I was really going to come off, although after looking at the photographic evidence I have to say it looks pretty dramatic. So one dirty refusal down, we go around and take it again, now that we're paying attention:

And we jump it a little big, with a funny spot, which is why I'm perched atop her like a bird. It really does show you how good your position is over fences when the horse has NO CLUE what she's supposed to be doing. I did it a few more times, along with a few other x-rails in the arena, and we called it good on a last good note:

Hooray! that was... 10.8.10 and we're now at 10.21.10 phew. I have taken her around and raised the x-rails to 18" and even cantered one or two when she gave me a beautiful controllable canter. Not bad progress in 2 weeks if I do say so myself. I even trotted her across a 'liverpool' made out of blue astro-turf :P So basically we are learning that things near the feet don't eat the feet, but we have to pick up the feet. I really need to get some flowers and a gate to put up in the arena to get used to how those look too.

In more current news... Phew, there's a lot of that too. I have my first x-country schooling day planned on Sunday!!! I'm nervous but excited but nervous. I've taken Bijou elsewhere than our own property, and she's usually done just fine. I just hope it stays that way. She was also in a lot worse shape physically and I think she didn't have the calories to allow her mind to do that crazy TB thing that TB's just love to do. I'm just going to go into it with the idea that if we walk around on x-country for a bit, look at scary jumps, maybe even touch one?! then we'll consider it a success. It's hard because I'm going with S, who's had her horse for 4 years, and has gone through all this stuff with him. He's always been a super champ about not getting spooked by anything... so she doesn't really get it (or know how to deal with it) when Bijou is. I'm hoping that she'll be understanding but not really expecting the best when I just want to take things slow for my first time out. I've gotten a serious dose of caution since I broke my ankle, I don't want to do something STUPID again and get hurt and hate my life. But I'm still excited and hoping for the best :D

In other recent events, Bijou choked on her beet pulp last night. I went out late after running around finishing up some errands and rode pretty much until dark. I walked her around several times, trying to take extra care to cool down. I guess it wasn't enough, because she was still really hot when I finally felt under her chest. All that hair (even after a low trace clip) is making her retain a ton of heat. I really wanted to try this new calming supplement, its SmartB1 from smartpaks. I thought, oh give her a handful of beet pulp (which I wetted like always) and let her eat it. Well, I don't know if it was because she was hot, or just a fluke, but she got some stuck. It was the strangest thing I've seen in a horse in a while. She picked up her head, did the Flehmen thing where they flip up their upper lip, and then with every muscle in her body she heaved like she was trying to puke, but couldn't. There were two other girls I know out at the barn, so I took her over to them like "what is this?!" and one of the girls used to have her horse at a place they fed cubes, and the horses would choke all the time. So I called the vet out and had him pass a tube to unblock it. She got some anti-inflammatory and antibacterial stuff just in case she aspirated anything and went off to the medical layup pens because she couldn't eat for a few hours. I checked on her today and she's fine. I wish that I would have taken video or something because it was just so weird.

Ok, this post is long enough now I'm going to bed :D

Friday, October 15, 2010

Pictures coming!

So MM took pictures on her super nice camera, and I'm going to get them tonight! Which means that I'll probably put them up soon. I'll also have lots to update about, but it's more fun with pictures.

Friday, October 8, 2010


Today was a good day, and I just have that feeling like I can sigh with relief. I only worked a few hours, so that was nice, only had one class, so that was easy, and then I came home and got to get a few things done. I picked out some stuff to donate to goodwill, and that got me thinking about any/all the horse stuff I have to sell. I think I'll be putting some things up on Craigslist soon. Then I headed out to the barn where Mavericks mom was going to meet me. I ended up helping S clip Wyatt and doing a pretty darned good job if I do say so myself. I'm going to have to get pics so you can see just how darn good of a job I did. I can't wait to do Jou because she got SWEATY today. I'm going to save you the story until I get pics, because I'm pretty sure they illustrate things perfectly! Lets just say we ended up cantering our first x-rail!!! Ok, so it was only like 10" tall, but she cantered it in stride and everything! I was really proud of her. Then MM got on and I took pictures of her, but I'll do a discussion of that later, again so I can illustrate with pictures.

I'm feeding beet pulp, MSM, smartjoint thingy maintenance and a vitamin supplement. I'm trying to do that most days I get out there, so that way she gets some in her most days. I'm going to get her some HA for joint health, and some more MTG for the winter season when I plan on putting her tail up for most of the mud. She's also going to get a really spiffy purple plaid blanket to keep her dry and hopefully mostly clean...

Monday, October 4, 2010

Winds of Change

So... I'm not moving barns like everyone else seems to be doing, but I feel other momentous things moving. Most of this has to do with me being almost a big girl in the big girl world and figuring out how to get a big girl job. Some of it has to do with a change in who I'll be riding since I finally sold my other mare! This means I can focus on Bijou and her progress. I'm also going to be getting help from one of my good friends who I met my first week in college. Her horse Maverick popped a rear splint and will be rehabbing for two months and she needs a way to stay fit so that she can deal with her crazy pony when he's ready to be dealt with again :D

She came out today to try her out and had all sorts of positive things to say about her! She couldn't stop talking about how cute she was, how well put together she was, how much of a big mover she is... etc. It's nice because I haven't exactly been getting the most positive of comments about her and was starting to feel down on her in general. Bijou was AWESOME today. She hasn't been ridden since Thursday, when I just did a light ride in the dressage arena. I took her out, tacked her up, and lunged her for about 4 times around at a trot and 4 times around at a canter. She was really good, not a lot of head tossing or anything, and then hopped on. It was WINDY!!! and she didn't care one bit that stuff was blowing around (mostly huge dust clouds and debris, not like jumps falling over or anything) or that all the horses in the vicinity were playing/bucking/galloping around the pastures. She didn't bat an eye. I kept her mostly in circles and we trotted/cantered around for a bit to show Mavericks mom how she ticks, and then she hopped on, Bijou went right into a nice (if very inconsistent) 'frame' type thing, where she started lifting in her back and using herself. It was so nice to see someone else riding my pony mare, she looks so big from the ground! Mavericks mom looked small on her! But I guess that's good because it means I probably look pretty normal :D. She also did a really good job working with a young TB, which is so nice. I just love people who can ride!

I've been really busy with homework. I'll be glad when all my English classes have a check mark next to them because all this reading just takes too much time! Blogging is not higher on my list than homework, so I might get a little sporadic. I'll try to keep up :)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Drumroll please.....

The verdict is in, well sort of. I called the vet yesterday on one of my rare moments not diligently taking notes in class or working hard for my money and he had some... ambiguous things to say.

We took more rads of Bijou's RF hoof this time. He said that he does see some things that are suspicious, such as some remodeling of the coffin bone to give it a little lip at the toe (I have yet to see the films, so I don't know how much we're talking about) which could have happened recently, or could have happened as a youngster. He also saw some slight navicular changes, mostly because that foot is more upright, and he thinks that all the tendons/ligaments working around that area might have pulled a few things slightly off kilter. He also said that her pastern bone doesn't sit as nicely in dead center of the joint as he'd like to see. So... what does this all mean? Not a whole heck of a lot since when we nerve blocked out those areas, she was still mostly off. That's when a whole picture type thing really comes in handy. I'm glad we did the blocks first, because now we know that all of that might just be 'normal' for her. Some horses have bone chips that never bother them, some have calcifications that should cause pain but just don't manifest as painful in some horses. Right now I'm not sure how much of this I need to worry about.

I had to rush through my conversation in order to get to my next class on time, so I had to cut short all the burning questions these findings brought up. What he did suggest as a plan of action was to shoe her like I had before (which made her sound) and until that wasn't working, we could continue like that. I'm a big believer in preventative medicine, so I'm already looking into getting some generic Adequan and/or some oral joint supplements to stave off any potential degradation of those joints. I have a friend who might be able to get me some of the generic at cost, so it might not even be thaaaat expensive.

Then I have thoughts like, if my young 6 yr old horse can't even stay sound barefoot, on really great footing, doing flat work, how is she ever going to stay sound enough to event no matter what I do with her feet?

I really love this mare. She's got the cutest personality, loves to be loved on, wants to please. I went out today and 'rode' her around bareback with her halter in her pasture (ok, so maybe we walked in like, 1/2 a circle a few times and I just laid there the rest of the time). That's the kind of thing I've always wanted to be able to do with my horses. I just met a girl the other day who wishes desperately that she could just go hop on her guy and wander around in a bridle, but can't because he's just not that kind of horse. I know that's not an amazing aspiration to have (and I've always been pushed to have aspirations) but is there really something wrong with that? I've really gained a trusting bond with this mare, she followed me around jumping little 6" cavalletti today and it was so cute because she would jump them just as high as I did. If I ran at them and JUMPED over, she would do the same, or if I just walked over them calmly, she'd follow along with her nose on the ground.

I'm at so many crossroads, my last year in college, what do I want to do as a profession, what do I want the rest of my equine career to look like, will I move? Where? Everything's up in the air and I guess I'll just keep taking things one day at a time.

Please, learn from my mistakes. Even if the horse is free (which Bijou was not), get rads and a soundness done, because this is no fun.

Friday, September 17, 2010

not much, but some

I've barely touched Bijou in the last week. I took her out for our vet visit, but I haven't wanted to do anything with her since we didn't get anything conclusive.

I've been doing lots of online 'stalking' instead. Watching tons of youtube videos and finding some amazing stuff. Some of the things have challenged the way I think about riding horses. I've found that some people ride in nothing but a string around their horses neck. That's taking bitless to the extreme! I have no idea how, but I want to start playing around with the idea.

I've also been hearing a lot about clicker training and playing with horses. I'll post more details later, but some of the video's are amazing. I started a little bit of play with Bijou today. I figure the basic thing is that I have to get her to want to follow me. I went out to her, stood a few feet away, and talked to her. She came right over to be scratched on. I obliged happily for a little bit, but then I stepped a few more feet away. I wanted to see if she'd follow me for a scratch, and she did, slowly but surely. We did this a few times until I had to go. I don't really know what I'm planning on doing with this, but the urge to get a bitless bridle (or heck, a shoe string around the neck) is getting stronger and stronger. I think I can do it. I've never spent that much on a single tack item other than a saddle, I know, I'm a cheapskate. I'm going to look into return policies just in case I need one to try but it ends up fitting badly, or not being the right bitless for Bijou and I.

I have my second vet visit on tomorrow, we'll see how it goes. Keep your fingers crossed!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Vet Visit, still pending

The Dr. was in today, finally. He called me around 3 to let me know he was only running late, not standing me up again. He showed up, I explained that she's been on again off again for a while, and I think I was just chocking it up to her being unbalanced/unfit and young. Well now she's plenty fit and not that unbalanced but still off. So he has me run her up and down, nothing there, we go find a tough spot of ground and sure enough she's way off on her right foot. So we block the navicular. I'm cringing as I send her out to trot around hoping desperately that she's still off... and she is! PHEW! So it's not a navicular thing. We add more carbocaine to block the pastern, trot around, still off. More, to the fetlock, and she's not miraculously better, but much more so. We take like 5 views of her fetlock on x-ray and off he goes to run them through the developer. I won't hear back from him until tomorrow some time, hopefully.

He says it could be that she has a little bit of a lack of cartilage around the joint, or something else, he's not sure what. Hopefully the x-rays show something, because I want to know what it is! I guess I should count myself lucky that I can just slap plain ole front shoes on and have her be sound, but I want to make sure I'm not doing anything to her that I shouldn't.

Also, I don't know if I've mentioned this before, but my little 6 yr old mare has been pin-fired. No one really knows why the race track trainers do this, but they do. I have no clue if this has anything to do with her soreness but ya...

I called the vet today (after not posting this post late last night for some reason which I forget) and he says that her x-rays show.... nothing! I don't know if that is good or bad at this point. The Dr. wants to come back out to do some more lower limb pictures (why he didn't already is beyond me) just to rule out anything down there. Those were the ones I wanted anyway, so yay! Or boo, considering I have to pay for them. Let the diagnostics continue!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Will anything ever go as planned?

My vet called me at about 3 today saying that they would not be able to make it out for my appointment at four basically because everyone else was more important. Someone had a bunch of horses they weren't prepared for about a 30 minute drive north, so the vet needed extra time there, and they were going to skip me in order to get him back to the clinic for his clinic appointments. I have another appointment for Thursday at 3, let's see if this works out. The thing that bugs me is that they have a 24 hr cancellation policy, if you cancel you get charged like $25. I want to have them take that off my bill because they canceled on me! If I didn't have to wait for the vet I could have gone to school Twin Rivers on my other mare.... URGH!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Hurry up and wait

I made an appointment with the vet today for Tuesday the 7th at 4pm. That's five days away. That's a long time to formulate really crazy worst case scenarios. I think I'm just going to stick to walking her around, maybe some lateral work and lots of stretching with no thinking allowed on my part. I don't know how sane she'll stay if she doesn't get the chance to get sweaty, or how sane I'll stay until the vet gets here. I'm a worry wort, can you tell?

I'm off to fight the urge to google lamenesses..... wish me luck!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Not a good day

Where to begin. I started today, the first day of September, by realizing that I have only 19 days left until I begin the rat race of trying to obtain a degree. The degree, I have discovered at the end of my third year, that will get me nowhere I want to go. So, I guess you could say that I woke up on the wrong side of the bed.

Went to work, where I got my first evaluation ever. There were 5-6 categories, and I only got "excellent" on one. I thought I was valued a little more than that. So not only am I working hard at a degree that doesn't get me anywhere, but I'm working my butt of at work to not be fully appreciated.

Went to the barn after paying out the nose when I dropped off rent and board. Not a particularly good feeling. Went to get Bijou and began my grooming. She was a little antsy which is just annoying since I know she knows better by now. I picked her four feet, and realized on the last one that she had thrown a shoe. Oh boy... I had decided that after my last scare of not knowing what was wrong with her feet to make her sore enough to need shoes, that the next time I needed to swap out shoes I would get some radiographs just to rule out anything that radiographs would show. I had also planned on saving up for the ensuing vet bill over the next 6-8 weeks, hopefully giving me enough to feel comfortable spending that. Well, since she lost the one shoe today, I put in the call to the vet to see if they could come out sooner rather than later. The only problem is that I'm not quite comfortable with paying for it yet. I did get one piece of good news, the farrier used a different shoe that's softer and he's also been having problems with them coming off. He's decided to re-do the shoes for free with his standard shoes because he feels like it's his fault. I don't know for sure either way, but it's really nice of him.

After all this, I feel like giving up. If Bijou has something wrong with her that won't let her jump... I dunno if I will keep her. I hate that, but it's not fair to either of us. Of course I would disclose everything to any potential owner, but I really like her! I don't want to sell her, I don't want to buy another horse. If she doesn't work out... I just don't know how I will keep doing this whole owning horses thing. I know I can't keep two horses, I just don't have time for two personal horses. I learned that when I was (am) trying to do my other mare along with Bijou. I just hate this. I don't care if everything doesn't work out perfectly, that's fine, but when it all comes crashing down around you over and over again? I guess I shouldn't say that yet, but I'm preparing for the worst and hoping for the best.

I know I'm probably being way over-dramatic... but I just don't deal with not knowing very well. Everything should turn out just fine, and I'm just going to try to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

In other news, I pulled the wild beasts mane today. It went from probably 8-12 in long to only about 4-6. She was a pretty big snot about it, but I think it's because I only walked her around rather than work her before hand. I'll try to get some pics of that just because I like them.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

how hard to push?

I've recently been getting more of a chance at getting Bijou out. The other mare had a really promising sale prospect that fell through because of nothing but the 'mistake' of her gender. I hate it when people are so stereotypical. I love my mare because she is so not mare-ish. Yes, I would probably have had a problem if she were, but some are not. Don't turn down the perfect horse just because of it's gender.

Anyways... I've been focusing on my girly more. This means crossrails!!! I've really been working a lot on her trot, getting her to relax into a collected, ok maybe lazy, trot and canter. I've been working on getting her round through her transitions to the trot. I think today was the first day she didn't throw her head up into the trot for only one transition, but it was there! We also sneaked into a very very nice slow canter to the left.

There's a really cool woman out at the barn who owns 3-4 TB's and understands a lot of my issues raising a TB. She's always really helpful and SOOO knowledgeable. She walked by today and asked "when is she going to start jumping?" and I thought... oh ya! I'm supposed to be working on that! So I put down a line to just poles, had her trot towards them. She stopped right at the base of the poles, I squeezed, and she walked over them. The next time through I kept my eyes extra up, and put leg ON over the poles and she went right through. I did this from both directions 5-6 times, then put up the smallest x-rail I could at about 8 in in the center. We did this and the first time she stopped, I squeezed, and she walked over. I went back around and put leg on and she jumped it and came right back to a little trot. We did this in both directions until it was no big deal and she wasn't trying to be squirmy towards it and called it a day.

I am just not sure how hard I should push it. When is the point that I just start putting the jumps up? I know I just need to work her over poles and x-rails all day long every day in order to get her used to them but I want to make sure I don't over-face her and turn jumping into a big fight.

I guess I'll just keep on keepin' on. I also tried to do a BN USEA test B 2010 and got video... it was... interesting. I'll have to steal the vid from my friends camera so that I can post it on youtube :D

Monday, August 23, 2010


The long awaited pictures:

A nice easy canter

"ugh, mom this putting my head down thing sucks!"

Mostly just us trotting around in various forms of frame/impulsion/etc but pictures nonetheless. I haven't been riding Bijou much thanks to my other mare's sales prospects looking up. A catch 22 if you ask me. Ride the other mare more so she stays 'tuned up' and hope for the best, or just know that people can't read/understand my ads and ride Bijou like I want to and when the sale falls through I won't have lost all that time with her. She's happy standing out in her pasture I'm sure.

Friday, August 20, 2010

I've been learning a lot this week. I took three lessons, and came away from all of them with the same basic things. I guess that's good that horsepeople can at least be consistent.

1) Sit up tall, let go of some classic hunter equitation, soften through my back, and don't get in front of the motion
2) REWARD for good behavior (in Bijou's case anything that isn't her best giraffe impression)
3) Slow down a bit, what feels like a big happy stride, looks like she's running away with me.
4) Circles and transitions are my bestest friends.

So with those things in mind, I've tried to change a few of the ways I do things. I'm no longer riding around like I'm the Queen of England. I try to sit perfectly vertical (which feels like I'm practically laying over my horses butt) and plug my seat-bones more forward than backward. I've tried to get rid of the arch in my back, but that one's slower to go. I do a lot of "goooooood giiiiiiirl!" and baby talk when JouJou is being good in addition to scratching withers a bit. She seems to really get it when I make sure to praise her in a way she understands. We get more done when she's not breaking from walk to trot or trot to canter every time around and circles make sure that I'm sitting up straight, and that she's bending. Bending and lateral softening at the poll are hard, but getting there.

I finally feel like I have an idea of what 'things' to do, what steps to take, in order to get to a more round, forward, gorgeous horse. We're still not having tons of fun going over poles/x-rails etc just because I want to make sure our groundwork is fully operational.

I had one big mishap that was no fun. I was trying to circle in one of the corners of the arena and when we hit the rail again JouJou wanted to make a 1/2 circle in reverse, rather than a full circle. I put on the breaks and tried to correct, which sent her head up, which brought her feet off the ground. Rearing is one of my least favorite behaviors and one of the hardest for me to stay on. Needless to say I freaked a smidgen, and came down with her in an over protective crouch. She decided that one rear wasn't enough but that two would suffice. Unfortunately the second time my face was in the way :( This resulted in a very sore nose. I teared up a little from the sting of it, and made her get her butt back to work. Since then there has been no incident.

For record keeping's sake, I weighed her, she's right at the 1150 mark. It's hard to believe that there's only an extra 150 lbs on her since when I got her, but I think she looks great :D

Also, I wormed her on the 19th of August with Fenbendazole this time.

As far as the soundness goes... she's been TOTALLY sound for the last few days, but today might have stepped on a rock or something? She took a few off steps. I'm starting to look into this homeopathic remedy for strong bones/hooves... it's called "silver lining" but it's like $55 for a 60 day supply. Everyone I know that's used it says it works wonders, but I just can't really afford it if it doesn't! I'll have to see what my work schedule looks like for the next few weeks to see if I can splurge a little.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

And that's horses for you!

Somehow cosmically the world of horses is all about irony. Here I am at my wits end trying to think of what could be wrong, how hard it will be to fix, and how wrong horseshoes feel. Well, as it turns out the fix was quite simply to shoe the horse.

She worked sound the day after her shoes were put on, and I swear it was like having a different horse. I don't think anyone realized how much pain she was in. She went from being slightly rushy (I think trying to get off her sore feet faster) and disconnected all around to lighter, brighter and so steady! All the hippity hops and wobbles were her trying to stay off her front feet, because it's like my horse has whole new gaits.

So I've been riding a lot. She feels amazing. And all the desensitizing stuff has TOTALLY paid off. She's now trotting/cantering past packs of dogs playing fetch with running yelling children, not worried about poles in the arena or standards outside the arena, all the little things that used to make her flinch away have become non-issues.

I also got reacquainted with an old friend that used to teach lessons at a summer camp I worked for. We'll call her Kevin (it's a long story) She's an amazing rider and has this amazingly well trained Appendix gelding and she events ** level and wow... So today she decided to let me borrow one of her bits and give me a few pointers. I got a long lesson in a circle about how to get Bijou to stretch down and into contact. It was awesome to have someone on the ground to say yes when we were doing well, no when we weren't, and give suggestions for when something needed to be changed. I think she really enjoyed having me as a student because I understood what she wanted me to do and got it done for the most part. She kept having me slow the rhythm with my posting and I could feel the difference when she mentioned it and it was so intuitive for me but I just needed someone to tell me which pieces to put together. Overall, this week has been awesome.

I also started a new job that sounds really fun and pays well too. No I'm not licking envelopes or doing online marketing from home, I'm working as a hostess for a portable photo-booth. I get paid to enjoy someones wedding and entertain the guests :D

This summer is coming together nicely!

Stay tuned for the next episode featuring....................... Photos of Bijou WITH ME ON HER!!! never before seen!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Truth Is....

This is going to be a lot of stream-of-consciousness without a heck of a lot of structure so be forewarned.

I put shoes on Bijou yesterday. I don't really know why. I know that is dumb but I did it any way. Probably as some sort of coping/denial mechanism.

I have an off horse. She's been a grade 1-1.5 for the last three weeks since I've been paying attention. I was riding and S says to me, "you are going to hate me for this, but she doesn't look perfectly sound" and I think, "Deny deny deny!" only to have 5 other respected horse people tell me that she looks off to them too.

Now's the part I feel bad about. I was just chalking it all up to the fact that she's been young and wiggly and hard to tell if she's bobbing her head a little because she's stretching, or because she's scooting away from something or because I asked her to turn when she didn't want to, or any number of other things. I know she's been iffy lately, but that's the thing about a grade 1, they sneak up on you. The other thing about it is that because it's not acute but probably chronic, it means that I'm not going to fix it tomorrow.

WHY ME?! I've had a mysteriously lame horse already!! Didn't I pay my horseloving penance? I keep thinking to myself, it couldn't have happened to me AGAIN, but it has.

So I had the farrier look at her. He hoof tested the crap out of it with nothing. I don't really know what that means. I think hoof testers are a bunch of bull since they can only put so much pressure compared to when a whole horse lands on that spot, but if farriers use them, then they must be worth something. So at this point I'm freaking out. I just want to know what it is so that I can prepare myself. I hope it's not navicular, because that gets really annoying/expensive really fast! I hope it's not degeneration of her coffin bone, because that's not reversible. At this point I still have no idea what it is. Farrier tells me that shoes aren't going to be the Panacea I was hoping for. So I gave it a few days, took a few more poll respondents and then ended up picking the most popular answer. "Just put shoes on her" they say... so I do.

I hate shoes, I think they are archaic and probably not very scientific, but at this point, if they work, then I'll be happy. I would totally do the barefoot thing, but I don't know enough about it to do it myself, and I don't know anyone I would trust to do something radical with my mares feet. No hoof, no horse!

I'm going out today to ride her and give her a thorough check over to see what the heck I think of these things stapled to her feet. I don't know what to say other than I'm trying to make her comfortable enough to ride her without hurting her feet.

I haven't blogged lately as an additional form of denial. Once I put it on the WWW for the whole world to see then it must be true! So here it is, truth. I have a lame horse.

I'm going out right now to trot her in circles to see if I can catch anything. Here's to hoping.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Well, not my own yet... but Ashley over at A Process of Learning is having a giveaway for a blog makeover! Hers is really adorable, so I'm blogging to see if I can get double entries and to let everyone know!

On the horsey news front: We did crossrails today!!! I just set up the second smallest crossrail we could do and did it. Well, I walked her over it first, but there was no stopping or even a big hesitation. I think it's finally starting to click.

There were all sorts of fun things to play around with since my barn had a desensitization clinic recently. The funniest part was that the brush they set up with scary tarps etc was not nearly as scary as the seating area for Bijou. She really doesn't like lawn chairs. I got her to let me put one on her back last time I worked her, but she still shied away. I let (or maybe made) her walk up to anything scary, sniff it for a sec, and then it was time to forget about it. For the most part it would work. She would start to fixate on the scary thing as we approached, and I would leg on with my inside leg to correct her counter bend. She would flick an ear back toward my leg as if to say "oh ya, you're over there and I'm supposed to be working" and by the time she thought that we were past whatever it was that was so scary to begin with.

I also started bareback 'training' with her today. I like riding them from the pasture up to the trailer bareback, but I haven't really had the guts or trust to do so yet. She was really cuddly today when I went to get her, so I thought I'd try it out. I scritched on her really well and then just hopped up and down next to her a bit. When I first got her that would have been impossible! Now she doesn't even raise her head or flick an ear. She's too tall to just pop up onto, so I tried taking a step back in order to get some momentum. That's the part she wasn't too fond of. I made her settle back down and did it a few more times til I found a gopher mound that I could use for a stepladder. That worked out just great! I laid across her for a second or two til I started slipping and called it good. I'm really impressed with her, I think that she really trusts me now and we're going to go far as long as I can keep her that way :D

I've got quite a few days off this week, so hopefully we'll get lots of practice in!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

big girl steps, here we come!

So a few posts ago I was bemoaning my baby steps. I've finished moving, figured out a schedule at least for the next week, and now we're taking big girl steps!!

Well, ok. Maybe like 10-15 big girl steps at a time. We've gotten to half circles of good trot and canter, and we're working on going over raised poles and dealing with all the scary things in the big arena. Everyone whines about scary indoor arenas, but I have a scary outdoor one. There's construction in one corner, a high walled roundpen in the other that makes interesting noises, and a whole barn full of horses waiting to spook, or snort, or something along a whole long side. Most of this isn't really that scary, until it is!

I'm just so happy to be on my beautiful mare

My ankle is almost back to normal, we're w/t/c/ and over poles again. Everything is looking up. Now hopefully I haven't jinxed myself for my ride today. I'm going to think about trying crossrails again! Maybe I'll be ready for the x-rail class in the August show my barn is hosting?!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

two steps forward, one step back

I've been moving! We moved into this awesome large farmhouse tucked away in a little valley just outside of 'town' without really being that far away from town. It has a huge yard for the dog, a whole shed for the bunnies, and lots of gardening space and FREE water!!

This means that for whatever reason (usually because I tell myself that I should be unpacking) I haven't been out to the barn in oh.... a long time. It feels so miserable because I finally got to the place where I was taking Bijou out enough that I didn't have a ticking time bomb on my hands and I could work on new things because there wasn't a crazy pent up sugar high horse meeting me at the fence every day (or at least holding still so I could catch her:D).

I almost don't even want to go out and make that effort now because I know something else will catch up with me and take me away. I have a job pending and they're very mysterious about what kind of hours I will be needed for so I can't even really fathom planning what the next few weeks will look like as far as barn time. I also picked up a few odds and ends jobs that schedule on a weekly basis. I want to get in as many hours as I can working to pay for the horse, but at the same time I need to make sure I can get out to DO STUFF with her! I'm ranting... it's not really helping...

So. I am going to take the time I have and use it to prioritize and then get things done.

1) Unpack some crap, or at least stack ALL my stuff in my room somewhere so that I can still open/close the door so that I stop getting the stink eye from my room-mates.
2) Figure out the job thing, seriously. All I have to do is ask when/if they want me scheduled and let them know that I need to know, right?
3) Get out to the barn. Do something with the crazy ponies. Period.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Summer is here

The flies are out, the grass is growing, and the ponies are fat, shiny and happy!

And I also finally have time to do things like... you know... RIDE!! including getting Bijou out almost every day over the last week or two (time has a different meaning during summer, days of the week are unimportant, weeks and months are way too complicated).

We've been taking baby steps. I've done a lot of research over the last few weeks of being laid up and I'm trying to use what I've found and move forward. I tried side reins, partially because that's what I have, and partially because that's what I've always done. She really didn't seem to figure it out. She'll put her head down for half a second as more of a 'shoo fly' movement to rid herself of the pressure than actually stretch into the contact. I'm afraid if I make them any shorter she'll just end up behind the bit, and that's not a habit (or muscles) that I want to be developing.

I feel like my baby steps are so small compared to what I'm reading about on other blogs (for example, the whole bitless journey at Science Vs. Tradition or the path to barefooted-ness with Andrea) but I know that when I was looking for blogs I loved to hear about all those people who were right where I was, or one or two steps ahead so I'll continue on for you phantom readers. The normal day consists of walking the eight million miles to the FURTHEST pasture they could put my horse in (but whatever, she's on grass 24/7 so I'm ok with it) and walking up to her as she walks up to me - Improvement #1 - since it used to take me 20 minutes to catch her. I can't tell if the carrots or the neck and belly scritches did it.

I have been working on dragging her over to the trailer. She's pretty not enthusiastic about leaving her friends to go hang out with me, to the tune of tiptoeing her way slowly forward as I keep even pressure on the lead... not ok. Today I stood only at her shoulder, didn't let her get behind, and every time she'd get extra sluggish I'd take the end of the lead and flick it at her rump. Boy did that speed her up! All of a sudden she's so much happier to be following along :D. Then I park her near the trailer somewhere, tell her to "whoa!" and brush off the dusty dirties. She gets her saddle pad, with no flinching now, and her saddle, with only one or two steps to the sides rather than 10-15 like it used to be. Improvement #2 - I can tack up my horse without fearing a loss of toe, finger or both!

Depending on if she's been out the day before, I'll lunge or not lunge. Usually over a pole in the small arena. I don't know why but she does better in smaller spaces. Or maybe I'm just a wounded shrimp who's lost all her chutzpa? The big arena still scares me/us. We're putting that on the to-do list for a day I feel brave, in addition to walking the outer loop around the pastures where there are stinky cows! Lunging has become a non-ordeal - Improvement #3 - I can lunge in many surroundings and over obstacles!

Riding consists of a lot of head in the air and impressions of a giraffe. She'll happily walk over poles, although with much care taken to EXACTLY where she puts her feet. I'm glad she's careful because hopefully that translates to clean jumper rounds long down the road? My current sequence of thought goes something like:

"squeeze for a walk, Good girlie! now sponge the inside hand, hold outside steady. Use alternating leg taps to swing the barrel and keep her forward, sponge more inside hand, more more more there! Good GIRL!!"

"squeeze.... squuuueeeeze...... trot yay! keep hands steady against all the jostling around between her imbalance and mine, no really, steady hands! ok yay there was a moment of give at the poll! sponge inside hand, both hands steady, inside leg, inside leg, inside reign, outside rein supporting... awesome giraffe impression... then two steps of brilliance"

"sit, outside leg to canter, bumpity along for a moment while she thinks about which direction and hopefully picks up the right lead?! yay we have the right lead! Light in the saddle, following motion with the hands, must steady that lower leg that's swinging everywhere, little more contact, beautiful!!"

reverse, rinse, repeat. Her canter work is somehow stronger than trot work? She seems to get the being on the bit more. I'm wondering if it's a contact thing, I can keep contact better at a canter.

Overall, many important improvements with only more to come! I'd really love to hear what people are thinking the moment they ask for a trot, or when they finally get roundness from their horse. I feel like the thought process will give me clues to the series of perfect cues I'm supposed to be giving.

I'm happy with baby steps for now, its tough because I want to be progressing so fast, but muscles don't grow in a day, and neither does either of our patience. I'm happy it's summer time and I get to spend all the time in the world (after I'm off work of course :P) loving on my beautiful girl!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Back in the saddle again

I got on the other (slightly more sane) mare that I have access to today for the first time in 6 weeks!! She was only slightly naughty, but being able to figure it out gave me the sense that I could still hold my own even against a silly moment or two. I think Bijou would actually be easy compared to her because this mare is so bouncy and flighty. Bijou would be harder because she is more liable to spook, but less likely to take off. At least with the other mare I knew when she was going to get uppity.

Bijou did the sweetest, kindest, lovingest thing today. I went out into the pasture to grab the other mare, but I thought I'd get some scritchin' in on Joujou first. I walked about 30 ft into the pasture and Bijou met me halfway! Today is the first day she's walked up to me (other than the one day after I thought I'd ruined her face) since I've got her. She walked right up, and presented her shoulder (one of her most favorite itchy spots) and I gladly obliged. It's days like today when I feel like she and I will make progress eventually. I'm jealous of all those people who's horses are naturally just easy going, but I know that I need a little pep for when I get where I want to go: the eventing world.

Speaking of eventing... I need to buy new reins... and has these adorable 'ice lavender' reins for a really good deal. They're rubber reins, which I like for x-country anyway, but then I got looking and they have the same brand bell boots, and the same color saddle pad!!! I'm such a dork, especially because I know that my eventing days are going to be a long ways from now (I'm still debating on whether I'll be able to do w/t and 18" in October at Twin Rivers) but I could be SO SPIFFY if I went all decked out.... We'll see.

It feels a little useless going out to lunge and only lunge, but I keep telling myself that it's good for us to build a bond (which definitely has grown) and that she needs to get out somehow. The trainer that I had coming out to ride had an old injury flare up, so she's out of the picture for probably as long as I am.

Lately I've been using lots of ground poles. It worries me that every day the ground pole is still something to be startled by. She's gotten better, but I'm worried about when I take her somewhere new and she has never seen the fences before and we're expected to have no refusals. It's so hard to think about jumping her because I know I'm a long way off from it, and especially from training a youngster because my left leg will just get run through every time. I try to set up interesting distances to make her think about her feet, and she's gotten pretty good at it. I think she's got a nice balance between getting excited over fences, and just lolligagging around them. I still want to set up some bigger stuff, but I don't think it'll really work out in the small round pen. Anyone have any good ideas of teaching them to jump stuff... even when you can't be on them?

Goals: get to the gym because I'm out of shape! Ride the other mare more to get my equine legs back, brush out the snarly tail...

Monday, May 31, 2010


It is amazing the difference in a horse when she's been worked the day before. I goes from overreacting to everything, jumping many feet in any direction at the
slightest provocation, walking over her human for no good reason, shivering when the saddle is placed on her back, CAREENING around the round pen, and totally forgetting that she knows some english words (like eeeeaaasssyyy troooot, and WHOA!) to a calm and well mannered mare.

We had a good day, lots of arena stuff, had her following hand signals and voice commands. She really didn't want to jump over the pole but oh well. Got a few nice shots of her oh-so-green pasture with her buddies that she's all to familiar with. I think she knew I had carrots, that's why I got happy pointy ears instead of a big fat butt like I did yesterday when I showed up. She and I are really so lucky to be living somewhere so beautiful. Overall I'm really happy with her sane-ness after being worked only one day. It seems to really make a difference for her, and if that's all it takes then that is what I'll have to do. I did take some more time to braid her tail back up and put some moisturizer on her feet. I still haven't located my MTG, but I found my purple bucket, so one piece of the puzzle is in place. She does need her feet trimmed, so I'm going to try to have the kindly BM rasp her down a bit to minimize chipping (I thought she was supposed to be getting all the nutrients she needs for good feet?)

My ankle is not exactly happy about the whole process. I'm not super sure I should be trekking out into the very uneven pasture, but if that's what it takes then that's what I'll do. It keeps me sane too!

Here's more pics from work time:

yes, I think that's called suspension - no feet on the ground! Hope she keeps that up for when I'm sitting up there :D

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Tomorrow is one month

from the break, and today I got Bijou out! I had a trainer who I trust come out to try to get some work done on her until I feel secure enough in the saddle to make sure I'm not going to come off/re-injure myself.

The bad:
- It took Shelly and the trainer 25 minutes to catch her :/ that's embarrassing. I think I'm making a pit stop for carrots for next time. I will get that horse to WANT to come to me. I think I'll practice by chasing her in the roundpen and then turning away to make her follow and 'catching' her and feeding her a carrot. Anyone got any suggestions? I know she's not afraid, but just likes to play that game.
- She snatched away from me just after I had gotten her bridle on and ran off with her reins dangling. I am going to brush up on all my pony club procedures because I know there are precautions for these kinds of horrific experiences (she didn't hurt herself, but the reins died) and I've just gotten lax with all my well trained mounts. And now those days are behind me, and it's time to take the dang precautions!
- Her feet are cracking, so I oiled them up. I thought being on fresh pasture she should be getting exactly what she needs for good feet, but I guess not. I'll have to have the BM, who's also a farrier, trim her up a smidge. (Sydney, I'd appreciate your input on this one, how do you get a horses feet strong?)

The Good:
- The trainer got on her with very little incident, but only walked around because she didn't want to get into a fight she couldn't win. Understandably, Bijou was a little hot.
- she's fat! And she's got so much shine to her it still shone through several coats of dust.
- She trotted out REAL big for me, and even paid attention to voice commands after over a month of not practicing. Took a few body language reminders, but we got them back after about 5 minutes.

I also found that I was capable of handling her, so I think we're going to be spending lots and lots of time in the roundpen. The only thing is I have to do a lot of stuff with her 'free' because I can't be tugged around.

I do have a Dr's appointment tomorrow, hopefully he gives me the go ahead to start hanging out with her, otherwise I'll probably do it anyway. I've missed my pony soooo much!!!

I also have someone who's not really a trainer, but just a rider who wants to exercise horses. She should be coming out Sunday, so we'll see. That way if she rides a few days a week, I lunge once or twice, and the trainer comes once a week, Bijou should mellow out really nicely and get some miles under her belt.

Goals: Check saddle fit now that we're fat, Shop for new reins, figure out the feet thing, and finish healing up!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Bad ideas that somehow never seem to go badly

I rode today. I hopped on Wyatt when Shelly was taking him back to his pasture. Couldn't help myself. I got a few funny looks, but there's no horse (or person) I would've trusted more to walk across the flat green grass with me in my broken state. It felt so good be up there again. Can't wait til next time.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

I'm Broken

Last Thursday I finished up my ride on my other mare, and 'cantered' on foot (goofing off as usual) back into the arena to get my jacket with my barn buddy. We both decided to jump in tandem over one of the large cross rails on the way to get our stuff, only she jumped forward and to the left, and I jumped forward and to the right. To avoid totally knocking her over, I twisted midair. When I landed, still in twisted fashion, the twist transferred itself down to my ankle, where I popped the knob on the inside of it off.

I've broken my other ankle in this same place, only I fell from about 10 ft because I was jumping on a trampoline. This time the jump was only from about 3 ft, so I didn't tear or do any severe damage to the tendons or ligaments (hopefully). This is only a fracture, with a smooth joint surface and only one real fragment, which includes basically that whole knob. I've been on crutches for the last few days and at least my upper body is getting a workout. If all looks good, I should get a walking boot on Friday.

I'm considering putting Bijou in some kind of training in order to keep her going while I'm out of commission. It would be at the same facility that I keep her at, and only probably 1x or 2x a week. I don't really like putting her in training with someone else, because I want the 'bond' to form between us, and because I like being there for the 'aha' moments (and I like being able to say I did it all myself).

I know she can't just sit in pasture for 6 wks (OMG 6 wks!?!?!) so I'll do it anyway, but I'm just overall super bummed.

Anyone got any great time killing activities that don't involve walking/getting off your butt?

Monday, April 26, 2010

Following the leader!

Is what we played on Friday.

It all started with the trip to the trailer to tack up. We got to the last gate (after an arduous journey out through two rows of gopher-hole-ridden pasture) and all of a sudden all the slack goes out of my rope. I look back to find a Jou Jou with her head up in Giraffe imitation, nostrils flared and ears pricked so far forward that they point inward (which I find ADORABLE). Turns out she was oogling the newly constructed x-country fences in our mock course. The nearest one was a few barrels turned over that were new and scary.

I've been worried that her reactive nature will make it hard to go somewhere new and get her over a set of fences that she's never seen before, so I took this opportunity to test her. I got her to walk up to the barrels, let her realize they were just going to stand there, and then I hopped over them, and tugged along for her to follow me. She wasn't super game at first, but after another tug or two she came leaping over them after me. We went around the whole field playing follow the leader like this. She jumped almost everything both directions as long as I was paying attention and not letting her duck out.

Then I tried to 'lunge' her over things. This was really hard for a few reasons:

1) I was on the end of a 10 ft lead, so when she did jump it was hard to reward her by not pulling on her, although I did get the hang of it.
2) We'd never done this before
3) She's not so sure about what the concept of a circle looks like sometimes, even when there's nothing in her way.

But in the end I got her to jump the biggest scariest black irrigation pipe twice in a row. We were both sweaty from running around the field, so I walked her around and made up her grain.

All in all a fun day, and I hope with many more of these experiences I'll start to gain some real trust and respect that I'm not going to put her in a situation where she'll get eaten.

Goals: as always, ride more. We'll see with the dang on again off again rain

Thursday, April 15, 2010


Looking back on the last 5 months (to the day) with Bijou:

1) She's gained SOOO much weight! Happy!! In addition to just weight, she's got muscle now. That's from lots of lunging after realizing that part of the 'calm and cool' attitude she had was due to her lack of excess energy in the form of food.

2) Not as many riding goals as I'd like to report. It's been tough since I really couldn't do anything with her at my old barn because it was just so damn muddy there ALL the time. I do miss the privacy. There are some days I don't want to use the arena because all the girls on their pro-trained, jumping 3'9", 3rd level horses wouldn't be too appreciative that I can't quite guarantee that I won't spook into them or randomly lose steering and run into them.

2a) She's gotten so much better about lunging, voice commands - check, on a lunge line - check.

3) Just so I have a measurement I took my fingers and wrapped around just under the base of the tail to see how thick it was. I can get my thumb just to the first knuckle of my index finger in an O around it. I put her tail in a tailbag again, and I have to find my MTG because it went missing o_O

4) We're forming a bond. It's not as strong as it could/should be, but it's getting there. Today I did a bunch of 'scary' stuff with her, and she really is paying attention and listening. She learns fast, I just have to use my instincts (huh! what a concept?!) and somehow we figure each other out.

5) I hope that after moving to this facility I will make more progress in the next 6 months than I have in the last 5. I'm really hoping to make it to the Twin Rivers w/t and x-rails division by the end of October... we'll see!

It stuck

So I went out today for the first time in a week, and went over all the stuff we did last time, and apparently it stuck :D

I also had a big scare, when she smacked her head on the pole it made her shake her head around really erratically at times. I came home all worried about headshaking syndrome, did all this research, and life kept me from going out to the barn to test all these things on her. Well... today, after what I'm sure is a reasonable amount of time for her mouth to heal, she had no headshaking symptoms. I'm still going to keep an eye out just in case... I'm such a paranoid mommy.

Oh, and to make my day after the bad catching experience last time I went out to get her in pasture and she came nickering up to me right when I whistled for her. It was a great way to come back to the barn :] It really felt like a "hey, it's ok I know you don't want to hurt me, and I might even kinda like you" for the first time. Aaaaand she gobbled up her new grain/supplement mix. I've got her on some cheap alfalfa pellets with a little bit of corn and molasses in them, rice bran, and a maintenance joint, vitamin, and digestive supplement. She was literally licking her pan clean.

Good times, can't wait to go back tomorrow :D

Thursday, April 8, 2010


I had the trainer out today. Turns out she's exactly what I expected, much the same as I am, with the same kinds of ideas, none of which is a real goal oriented list type problem solving fixer upper... which is disheartening. I was hoping someone would come out and be like "I had a horse that did that exact thing and here's how I fixed it" but no. Now I'm out some $$$ and still in the same boat. Trainer did say that her body language was off and that her reaction made her think that there may have been something traumatic while tied in the past. The thing that gets me is that she trailers great, will stand tied forever until confronted with something scary. Its at that point that all hell breaks loose. I hate that I did this, but I'll confess it so that I know never to do it again......

Trainer requested that I show her how she reacts to being confronted with scary somethings while tied... so I rustled a baggie, trying to get her to react and pull just a little. Well turns out plastic baggies are TERRIFYING and she had the worst freakout yet, which bore forth her first tying related injury that I'm aware of. She struggled so badly that she gave herself a bloody fat lip on something. All I saw at first was that she pulled back and her mouth was bleeding. I knew this before, but I know even more now that I cannot tie her until we get her seriously de-stressed about all this stuff. I feel like a terrible mom, and it was a total mistake to provoke a reaction, I just didn't know how to accurately describe what she did and how she acted without triggering some kind of response for Trainer to see. I realize now that Trainer suggesting this in the first place should have sent off red flags, but I'm so desperate for a solution at this point that I just want to do whatever it takes to figure it out.

So for now I'm going to put a hiatus on the riding thing, work her butt so she's tired by lunging, and do lots of groundwork. Trust building exercise ideas? Give me your best shot. I'm going to go on a treasure hunt through the house and make up some really fun ways to desensitize/build trust. So far my ideas range from tying a bunch of plastic bags onto a yarn or twine string and putting them up across the top of the round pen/laying them all over her, get the tarp out, filling old water bottles with pebbles, water balloons, yard chairs, I really want to do confetti, the sparkly kind, but that would make a bigger mess than I'm willing to clean up. I might try to create some kind of headdress from those shiny twirly-gigs:

just to be extra creative. Please let me know if you have any other ideas for potentially scary things. Also, if you know of a good brand of rope burn proof gloves that I can pick up online somewhere, that'd be helpful. I'm going to try the cheap method of a 'blocker' tie, where you just wrap the lead around the tie post once to give you a little more pressure control. I also found that there are two nice high (taller than withers) tie horseshoes in the round-pen which I will utilize eventually. I'm going to try to get her to stop pulling back on the ground, so that she realizes that running away isn't going to solve anything.

I am just really disappointed about today. I was hoping for a concrete "do this and she'll tie" solution, even if it meant lots of time, effort, whatever. I'm still up in the air with what the right thing to do is. All I know is I can't tie her.

Goals: channel my inner monk to gain the patience needed for this ordeal.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A brand New Horse

I have a fat horse, a brand new shiny penny of a gorgeous horse. I desperately want to post pictures, but have no camera :( I'll have to steal a friends because I need to document this.

Unfortunately, I do not have a new horse brain. Maybe I need to get her on some kind of calming supplement because the green grass makes her higher than a kite if I haven't gotten her out in a few days. Today for example:

I lunge, in side reins for the first time!! She was admittedly less than happy and tossed her head some, but eventually accepted the pressure. She's got a really great nice carriage with her poll up high and her little nose tucked in, but only for moments. I got her sweaty, which is my general indication that she's done some work, hopefully enough to burn off the initial sugar high, and I can get on her and not get bucked around. Well.... that's the assumption anyway.

She doesn't like it when the dog waits for her at the fence, and then races after her once she's gone past, or how the round pen makes noise with another horse in it because the sand flies up and hits the walls, or how the drag marks in the arena are shadowed and look like she might have to jump them, or how I keep contact on her face, or how I expect her not to crash into things, or how I expect her to be able to hold still when I want to mount/dismount. But I can guarantee that by Friday, she'll have forgotten all these problems, because she'll be less full of it. So I'll just keep looking forward to Friday.

Also, tomorrow I have a 'trainer' coming out to help with the tying thing. I'm hoping that she'll be worth the money and really help solve the issue.

More for my own records than anything else, I lunged, she was sound, I hopped on in the small arena and she was DEAD lame on the right fore? but only around half the arena. I think the footing was just really hard in there from the rain, cus I went into the other arena and she was fine. I checked all feet/tendons and she just seemed to have broken off some hoof. No cracks or anything, but little chinks missing. I'm guessing toe bruises from running like an idiot in her pasture, we'll see next time we have the farrier out, which is when I'll probably have to do full shoes. I'll look into a hoof supplement too, although she's on a multivitamin which should cover everything right?

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Most Exciting!

I found my tailbag!!! This is after 2 weeks of rummaging through the long grass in any number of pastures that she's been in before I noticed it was missing. I'm going to use this and an amazing product called MTG on a photo documentary of the adventures of Bijou's tail, and it's journey to infamy.

ok, so maybe that isn't the most exciting news of the week, but it's all I've got. Now my question to you... any good ways to keep conditioning fun? I feel like it's all just lather, rinse, repeat (to use a saying from another blogger).

On another note, I feel like I've turned Bijou out for a week (while I was prepping another horse for a show) and I went out today to get up close and personal and work her, and she's a new horse! Fatter, healthy, stronger, and shedding out so nice!! Such a cool surprise!

Also, I've noticed that show season is ramping up. I'm getting emails from local barns announcing all their schooling shows, and it makes me wonder what I'll be able to accomplish this year. I think I'm gunning for a W/T class soon, and by fall I hope to be showing over cross-rails. Is that realistic? These are all just local schooling hunter/jumper shows so I don't have to be perfect to place, but I think one season should be enough to get a horse ready for their cross-rails debut. Let me know if I'm on track or off my rocker on this one?

Goals for this week: Lunge in side reins, even if it has to be free lunging in the round pen. Ride over lots of trot poles to get the long and low thing going.