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.