Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Seneca's Christmas Gift

The best Christmas gift this year didn't come wrapped in pretty paper, or wrapped in shiny bows. It didn't even arrive on Christmas but rather the day before Christmas Eve.

I got off work early on Monday and the weather was rainy, but it was 70 something degrees outside.  So in between spouts of rain I went out and gave Seneca a little bit of a spa day.  I felt guilty for not paying enough attention to her lately, and her jungle woman mane was getting way out of control.  I didn't feel like dragging her all the way out to the horse trailer so I brought some grooming tools to her while she was munching her afternon hay.  Sometimes Seneca is cool with grooming and will stand still, but often she has something more important to do.

That day she stood patiently while I curried the two inches of mud off her brown coat, and combed out her mane.  Then I took out the scissors.  I know, I know grooming no no to use scissors but she wasn't going to be competing and she absolutely can't stand having her mane pulled.  I hacked off about five inches of wild pony mane and while I was doing it Seneca tilted her head around and nudged me gently, then began grooming me in her quiet, sweet way.

The High Queen is not the most affectionate horse on the planet. But every once in a long while she deigns to dole out a sliver of love so that I know she does indeed at least like me a little.  That day I almost felt tears trying to form.  She and I have had such a rocky affair(ie the two years we did the horse trailering battle) and some days I wonder what would have happened had I passed on her, said no, I don't think she's for me and walked away from her that day at the track.

But I didn't and good, bad or ugly she's my girl, and some days she claims me as her own.  In the spring I'm going to try some chiropractic/acupuncture/massage treatments for her to see if I can make her life a little more comfortable.  Who knows maybe we'll finally find out the why for the hind end lameness issues.

Until then Merry Christmas and keep it between the flags everyone.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Feeding the Fox

I've had Fox since early September and the whole time I've had him I've been trying to fatten him up.   When he was at the rescue they had him on a 16% protein feed.  Even then his ribs were showing a bit high up on his barrel and when I switched him to the feed that I give my other two he lost a bit of weight adjusting.  So operation fatten Fox kicked in to gear.

I adjusted his grain to a full scoop at each feeding, plus as much hay as I could stuff in to him.  In the past when I was trying to keep weight on the High Queen I fed her rice bran and beet pulp.  But doing studies I found that rice bran has a lot of Omega 6 fat which is the bad kind of fat.  And beet pulp while great has to be soaked, which is time consuming.

Anyone who has ever held down a full time job and kept their horses at home knows that time is precious.  So I decided to try a supplement on top of some alfalfa cubes.  The horses have been bundled in blankets for several weeks now due to the cold, the wet, you know actual winter. Which means that I haven't been able to see the fruits of the fattening up labor.  Today though while Fox was busy eating his dinner I half way divested him of his blanket and I have to say there is more fat and less ribs.  YEAH!

Fox still has a little ways to go but it looks like the efforts are working and come spring when training starts in ernest my OTTB with by round and ready to go!

Keep it between the flags everyone.

Friday, December 6, 2013

A Step in the Right Direction

It's hard to think about winter riding plans when the weather outside is a downright muggy 77 degrees. Although tomorrow it will start to rain and turn cold again.  But as Scarlett O'Hara says "I'll think about that tomorrow."  Today while it's warm and flashing back to spring I want to think about what I'll be doing with Fox when it really is spring.

So during some down time at work, of which there was very little this week, I pulled up my calendar and started browsing all the usual places that list horse trials.  We aren't quite ready to be looking at the USEA Omnibus, so I directed my computer first to the Central Virginia Combined Training Association to see what might be on their 2014 calendar.  Early I know, but some farms/organizations are just as obsessed with the new eventing season as the rest of us.  Low and behold they did indeed have a few trials that are done bi annually and usually around the same time every year.  Calais Horse Trials is an unrecognized event that is put on twice a year by the Level Green Riding School.  This is where I am aiming Fox for his first HT.  They have a fairly low key Intro course with no water, banks or ditches, the show jumping and dressage are done on grass, and its got a huge field to park horse trailers in.  The added bonus? I've been to Calais three times previously with different horses. So I'll be calmer and more comfortable which will hopefully cause Fox to do his plow horse routine rather than raging psycho OTTB. Which is a side of him I haven't seen yet, but then again I haven't ever taken him off the farm by himself except the one time I was testing his loading.  He's always traveled with Cowboy, hopefully he will remain his calm lovely self.

I have a few other horse trials I want to take him to with the culmination event being the Cabin Branch Horse Trial in May.  I'd really like to do Maiden which is 2'3" but if we aren't that far along or Fox decides to be a cow about traveling alone we'll do the GAG division.  But that is where I want to end our spring season, then work all summer and maybe at the end of the fall season move up to actual Beginner Novice.

These are all just dreams right now, dreams and tentative goals. But it gives me something happy to think about, to plan for, to work towards. It keeps me sane when work drags on and on and on.  Because right now with the warm wind blowing, and the saddle beckoning me to ride when I know I won't be leaving work in time to do it. Thinking about what might be makes me just a little happier about being confined to my desk.

Keep it between the flags everyone.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Seneca's Beauty

This mare beauty will never stop putting me in awe. Love my snobby High Queen.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Fox Finds My Faith

I hadn't really planned to ride anywhere off the property this weekend but Superhubs begged me(okay he didn't have to beg that hard) to go over to the local park that has among other things horse trails, and some cross country-ish jumps, plus some natural ditches.  So we loaded up and off we went, the High Queen screaming her betrayal of having been deprived of her two minions.

It was a nearly perfect day. The weather was just warm enough for t-shirts, the park wasn't crowded with other riders, and Fox was a near total star.  It came to my attention early on that Fox is definitely ditchy.  This will be what we need to work on the most, although he hasn't seen a water jump yet so that too might get added to the list, but we'll hopefully cross that particular xc jump when we get to it.

Today the first two times we came to a small ditch, Cowboy leading the way, Fox happily followed after, even cantering a little(which until today I had thought he didn't know how to do because other than the day I tried him we had never cantered together despite my asking him many times.) but the third time he was a little farther away from Cowboy and had less momentum. So he quite clearly said UH UHH not gonna do it.  Wrong answer Sir.  So Superhubs brought Cowboy back and we got a better start at it, over the ditch we go.

This was followed by a bit of a trail ride, some wooden bridges, which I hoped Fox remembered were okay to cross.  He did, but on the second bridge Cowboy did a sliding hoof scramble and we decided to get off an walk our horses back across rather than ride. The rain the day before had made everything just slick enough to be unsafe. Then we meandered back across the field, and over another ditch, and Fox cantered, I mean really cantered and it was coooomfortable.  As much as I love the High Queen she wasn't always the most comfortable ride, she's rather short strided for as tall as she is.  Fox though he's shorter has a very lovely, long, free shouldered kind of stride, he doesn't have Cowboy's flair, but he's definitely got dressage potential.

After the ditch we hopped over several log jumps, at a TROT!, and cantering away!  I am so in love with this horse.  Yes he's a rather odd chestnut color, with even stranger black spots (Superhubs keeps claiming that Fox is an Appaloosa even though I've told him, repeatedly, that I have seen Fox's papers, there ain't no spotted beasties in his pedigree)  he's short(still have to put a stick on him), he's a he, and I'd never had a gelding of my own before, and he was an OTTB which I swore I wasn't going to have again.

Fox is all the those things. But he is also sweet, reliably unspooky, semi reliable at loading(I forgot to practice this week and he was a little crappy about getting back in at the park), he doesn't mind being fussed with, stands like a plow horse to have his mane pulled, or just to stand at the trailer, and aside from his ditchy-ness he seems like he'll make a decent low level eventer.  One I can trust to get me to the fence and get me over it, then actually get back in the trailer at the end of the day.

Today Fox gave me back my faith in riding, my trust in my horse, and my love for a good ride.  Thank you my lovely red head.  Keep it between the flags everyone!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Trail Fox

Yesterday marked a new begining, a bittersweet one for me. It was the first time I loaded up to go out to a horsey outting without Seneca.  Okay there were days she was supposed to get on the trailer and it wasn't going to happen so I left her home, but this was the first time that I didn't even plan on taking her, yet I was still going to ride.

The local trail riding club of which I am a member had a group ride at a trail system that is about an hour or so from my house. I had already tested Fox's ability to get back in the trailer off the farm so I wasn't worried about him going with Seneca's MO which was to load perfectly at home only to lose her mind after we'd been some place else.  Fox got loaded in to slot number one on the trailer only because recently, and strangely he's been loading better than Cowboy. 

Plus loading practise the day before with Cowboy had not gone well. I got Cowboy in, closed the divider, then left him for a minute.  Came back, unclipped his head as I have down with all my horses, came around to the back of the trailer to find Cowboy had decided to try and turn around in the trailer stall.. I froze because he was panicking and looked like he was stuck almost folded in half.  I almost went to open the divider and then he righted himself by bringing his head back around so he was standing straight again.  I let him get off, then apologizing to him made Cowboy get back on. I didn't want him to have a bad memory of the trailer.  Lots of praise and treats then I put him back, and did practise with Fox.  No problems.

Superhubs and I arrived at the venue, parked in the field and while he went off to sign in I unloaded the boys.  Cowboy came off as usual a little snorty, but chowed down on his hay bag when I tied him and was content.  Fox came off much the same way, snorty, high headed, then proceeded to do his impression of a plow horse while munching hay.

Tacked up, boots on hooves and we're off.  Fox was a super star and all the other club members couldn't believe this was his first time off the farm with me.  I mostly let him follow Cowboy who has been out more than Fox and is quite a bit braver.  But there were a few times where Fox led the way and he seemed okay with it.  We crossed bridges, although I admit I had to get off for the first two bridges and lead him across, but he let me ride him across the last few.  The water crossings were the same. The first one was fairly large and he did not want to cross.  But I got off, hopped to the other bank and turned just in time to see Fox do a spectular leap. We're talking like an UL event horse diving in to the Head of the Lake at Rolex kind of leap.  Woo Hoo!  The second water crossing he let me stay on for and hopped over. 

I was ever so glad I put my grab strap on. One of the other club riders who has a lovely Friesian/Arab cross asked me what it was.  When I explained that a lot of event riders, and people with young horses liked them for that extra something to hold on to she exclaimed that it was an excellent idea and why didn't more people do it.  One of the other club riders, albeit a very insecure/timid rider asked me about Fox's age and such.  When I told her Fox was a 6yr old, OTTB her eyes bugged.
"But he's so calm and laid back!"  Yes OTTB's do come in the "diet" version, all the flavor without the high sugar content. You just have to look a little harder and realize what you see at the track might not be exactly what the horse will be like off the high feed and 23hrs of stall time.

All in all a great first outting.  The farrier comes tomorrow to do Cowboy and Seneca's feet, although I want her to look at Fox.  He's perfectly sound in his trail boots, but out of them at the walk he's hitchy on his front right aka the crappy foot. I want to see if he might be courting an abcess(probably not) or he's just super tender on the foot with the least concavity.

Our next outting will be to a trail/obsticales fun day put on by the local pony club this weekend. Until then,
keep it between the flags everyone.  

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Echoes of Old Ghosts

Anyone who has read this blog in the last two years is well aware of the High Queen's non-loading away from home issues.  Leave it to my drama queen to have the opposite loading problem of every other horse.  So when I got Fox I specifically told the adoption coordinator when I started looking that I wanted something sound, quiet, slooooow, and absolutely NO LOADING ISSUES! None, that is a deal breaker. I spent the last three years arguing with an 1100 lb animal about getting in to a trailer, enduring humiliation, shame, betrayal, heartache, a broken ankle, and accelerated arthritis in two of the fingers of my right hand.  If it doesn't load, I ain't buying it.

The day I picked Fox up he hesitated for a millisecond about getting in to my three horse step-up, but hopped on happily enough.  Fast foward to a couple of weeks later and he's flatout refusing to get in. No, no, NO!  I went through all the methods I tried with the High Queen, the ones that worked with her, and the ones that didn't.  No go.  Really? Do the horse Gods just hate me? WTF?

Then I hit on the sweet spot, or rather the sweet treat. Fox, thank all the holy Gods, is a lot like Cowboy and Cowboy is HIGHLY food motivated.  You offer him something to eat and he will go anywhere.  So one afternoon I half filled a bucket with grain and those Uncle Jimmy's Squeezy Bun treats.  I opened up all the windows, doors and took the removable tack out of the back, then folded the tack area wall in so the whole trailer was as open as possible.  I got my longest leadline, positioned Fox at the entrance to the trailer then went to the very front of the trailer in the first stall, sat down right next to the open escape door, set the bucket next to me and just trailed my fingers through it continuously so it made that tempting grain shifting noise.

It took about five minutes for Fox to get half-way in.  Give a treat. Superhubs had been in the garage washing my car, I heard him exclaim, HELL YES! as Fox got half-way in the first time.  I sat, trailed the grain. Fox got half-way on again.  Treat.  Superhubs who at that point finished with my car came over to me and said if I got Fox all the way in then he'd clean out the inside of my car.  Hmmm incentive.  Superhubs then went over to the neighbors on the four-wheeler leaving me and Fox to do our thing.

Six minutes after the second half-way in Fox stepped all the way on and I gave him a big mouthfull of grain and a Squeezy bun.  We got off,  we did it again, I sat away from him in the front, he walked on.  Fox got on five times before I decided we were done.  I put him away and then texted Superhubs that he now owed me the cleaning out of my car.  When Superhubs returned he told me I had to prove that Fox got on. Seriously? I sighed, got Fox back out, opened up the trailer again, and we did our trick. I sat, made some noise in the grain bucket, Fox got in.

But the real test was not the loading at home. That was almost never Seneca's problem.  It was the going elsewhere and being all high and nervous then losing our mind that got in the way of trailer loading.  So how do I test it without having to walk forever home if Fox decided to take notes from the High Queen?  Just down the road, about 3/4 of a mile there is a church with a parkinglot.  Bingo.  So last week on the last dry day before all the crappy rain set in we loaded Fox and drove over to the church.

I unloaded my little red head and he was up, he was huffing and nervous, and high headed.  There were no other horses around and I'm pretty sure none had ever stepped foot on the church's lawn.  So pretty much a great situation to test the Fox's loading skills. I circled him a little while trying desperately not to tear up the church's lawn or leave too much evidence that we were there. I didn't exactly have permission to do loading practice with my horse there.  After a few minutes Fox quieted enough to try grazing. At which point I towed him over to the trailer, he followed willingly always a good sign, got the grain bucket then went to reload.

Moment of truth.  I would love to say he loaded right up no hesitation. But he didn't.  It took him a minute to stand there and think about it, but the allure of the grain was too much and he hopped back in. YESSSSS!
Sweet mother of all horse Gods, YES!  Gods bless food motivated geldings!  Superhubs closed us back in, I clipped Fox to the trailer tie, got out and back home we went. 

I finally have a horse that loads with a minimum of fuss.  I am one happy, happy girl.
Keep it between the flags everyone.

Monday, September 30, 2013

All About the Cowboys

So I had a really busy week last week.  My Navy unit is prepping for an exercise, it's nearing the end of the fiscal year so everyone is trying to order all those last minute things, I went to a concert, a parade, and a walk in the park.  Whew I'm tired just talking about it and it was last week.

Thursday evening Superhubs and I went out for a rare night out on a work night.  I wisely took the following day off knowing I was going to be really tired, and I also had a mad amount of errands to run that I never can get done during the weekends. One of which was dropping off a horse blanket to get repaired. I don't remember which heathen was wearing it, but someone bent up the chest strap hardware, and yanked one of the straps completely off last winter.  And since I now how two horses to clothe (Superhubs won't let me blanket Cowboy unless the weather is really bad.) I need all my blankets in good repair.

Plus with two Florida bred OTTB's I am definitely going to need some extra clothing for them.  Between Cowboy and Seneca I have one medium weight Weatherbeeta(High Queens), a 100 weight Amigo(Cowboys, or Seneca's on those iffy weather days), a very old and much patched Weatherbeeta sheet, and a very insubstantial Saxon sheet that pretty much only keeps the wind and light rain off. That was an emergency purchase last winter when I realized Cowboy's old sheet was no longer waterproof and was actually keeping him wet and cold rather than dry and toasty.  So I need at least one more 100 weight Amigo, which I love, its tough, and has just the right amount of fill in it.  I sometimes feel like Goldilocks when I'm blanket shopping. That has too much fill, that has not enough denier, those straps are flimsy.  You get the idea.

The concert was great, The Band Perry, LOVE! and Rascal Flats, eh they were okay.  I could have, however, done without the drunk, loud and annoying college girls behind us.  There was an adorable older couple who were rocking and jamming with everyone else. That was cool to see. But half-way through Rascal Flats I fell asleep.  It wasn't that they were that bad, but when you routinely get up at 4am, staying up late becomes really, really hard.

Friday was for errands, but Saturday was all about the cowboys. My cowboys, Superhubs, and his Spotted Beast.  We belong to a trail riding club, and the club does parades from time to time.  Not my thing, if I had something that was absolutely dead broke (Fox in 10 years) then I'd be okay with it but I didn't want to ride. Superhubs did. So I played groom while Superhubs tried to convince Cowboy that going to the parade was a good time.  It mostly worked. Cowboy was pretty damn well behaved for a five year old with not that many rides under his belt this past year.  Superhubs rides occasionally, but because we only had one rideable horse for most of this last year he didn't ride Cowboy much. I hopped on Cowboy occassionally for a riding fix but I was never comfortable there.

The parade went well I got lots of pictures, and Superhubs made it back safe and sound.  Sunday was a non-horse day.  Not that I didn't rub, and love on my horses a bit but I just didn't want to ride.  I did however want to give my dog some attention. Superhubs and I loaded our two canines in the truck and drove to the park for some relaxing trail walking.  The dogs loved it, we loved it, just a good day over all.  Although my short legged Bull Terrier had to take lots of breaks.  He's good for a sprint, but not so much the long distance.

So what's up for us next?  Probably not a whole lot this fall.  But I'm trying to work in some clinics this late fall/winter/early spring.  It depends a whole lot on my work schedule.  I'd like to be prepared enough to take Fox to some very low 18in/2ft horse trials this spring, but we'll see.

Oh and I almost forgot.  I was put in contact with Fox's breeder and they sent me a baby photo.  Sooo cute!

Until next time everyone, keep it between the flags.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Fox on a Field Trip

Sunday's planned trail ride didn't happen, long story, don't even want to go in to it. But I was able to take the Fabulous Fox out for a trail ride with Superhubs yesterday.  Now I may complain about the Spotted Beast. Alot. On most days I really don't like him. But he does have his good qualities.  He loves to trail ride, and almost always the bravest horse in the bunch.  So on the days that he packs Superhubs down the trail safely I forgive his penchant for breaking the gates and ruining my fencing.

Yesterday I got home from work at decent hour, Superhubs had had the day off so he was already dressed and ready to go. So a quick change in to riding clothes and we went to fetch the boys from the pasture.  Here is where my love for Fox really expands.  I tie Fox to the trailer he proceeds to get in to his favorite
"I'm a plow horse" stance, hip cocked, three footed, fourth foot in a ballerina resting toe point. And that is how he stands until I ask him to do something. I think there could be a three ring circus going on behind him and he would still just stand there three legged.

Cowboy on the other hand proceeded his "I'm bored, I'm bored, I'm bored" dance, flipping around, pawing, licking the trailer. Why do horses do that? Seneca used to do that from time to time. Does road dust taste good?  I'm not sure I want to know.

Off we went out through the main gate of our property, Mr. Spotted Impatience in the lead and Fox ambling along behind in his "out for a Sunday stroll" stride.  He did eyeball the trash and recycling cans at the end of the driveway, and sorted huffed his breath (his version of showing his anxiety)at the neighbors five demon Corgis that announced to the world that there were horses on the road.

Cowboy made the turn in to the farmer's fields that we have access to ride next to as long as we don't ride through the crops. And I didn't see it, but when I got there Superhubs had Cowboy in a one-rein stop. Apparently, for one of the first times ever Cowboy spooked at something on the trail.  And then another miracle happened. Superhubs told he'd wished I'd nagged him about wearing his helmet (an on going war) because for the first time he really wished he was wearing it because it gave him extra confidence. Well duh.

But after that the trail ride was uneventful.  We wandered along the soybean fields and we were going to go down by our neighbors who live behind us, but the trail that is usually there had become a weed filled ditch that we couldn't see the bottom of and couldn't decide how deep it might be. We erred on the side of caution and just turned back the way we'd come.

Fox totally ignored everything on the way back including the trash and recycling cans.  In his head he'd seen that threat and didn't need to acknowledge it again. SWEET! The High Queen would have been dancing, jigging and been totally convinced the world was coming to the end. Not that she was always like that but she was not real happy about new situations most of the time.  She had her rare days where she totally surprised me with her ability to take stuff in stride, but that was not the norm.  Fox seems to be totally the opposite.  YEAH!

We're still taking things slow, getting to know one another, and not going off the property yet.  Superhubs on the other hand has decided to take Cowboy out with our local trail riding club on a parade ride.  Oh boy.  I am seriously hoping Cowboy doesn't loose his mind. And I am definitely going to battle with Superhubs about wearing his helmet.  Freaked out horse, and hard road do not ever make a good combination when they meet an unprotected head.  I will be playing groom, hanging out at the trailer and taking pictures. 

Until next time, keep it between the flags everyone.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Baby Needs New Shoes

Today my little Baby Fox had a visit from the Farrier Fairy.  I unfortunately had to work. Who the hell decided it was a good idea to schedule equipment training at one o'clock on a Friday?  Damn you Work Gods, damn you.

So Superhubs, love of my life that he is, stepped in to hold Fox for his very first visit from my fabulous farrier K.  Her word is law and gospel when it comes to my horse's feet.  Her first impression of Fox's feet was not good.  In fact she said she could have quite happily shot the person who put Fox's front shoes on, which I'd requested taken off.  He had thrush, cracks, and the last farrier had put the nails for the shoes in to the sensitive part of Fox's hoof walls.  Which meant that my poor baby Fox had been walking around on feet that were in near constant pain.  K. said Fox was lucky to be sound, and that it was a miracle of his sweet disposition that he hadn't tossed every rider off.  It also makes me think his case of the slows, especially to fences was not because he was stubborn or lazy, but hurting terribly.

Since I tend to spoil my horses horribly Fox got his hideous shoes pulled, feet treated, medication given, and a new pair of Easy Boot Glove Back Country boots.  Superhubs showed me how easy they were going to be to put on, and I hope he's right.  Just in case, and because the Farrier Fairy is awesome, we're all going for a trail ride on Sunday so that K. can show me the ins and outs of the boots.

There is one other thing I have discovered about my new pony.  He has a definite phobia of horse flies. I put both boys out in the side pasture to graze for an hour yesterday evening. After I doused Fox in fly spray I left him with Cowboy to munch on grass.  I came back an hour later to see Fox standing at the gate hot, sweaty and staring at me like I'd lost my mind.  Needless to say he was a little unhappy that I'd put him out in the grass without being properly clothed in his neck to tail fly sheet. It was in the wash.
Fox was not amused.

Keep it between the flags everyone.  

Sunday, September 8, 2013

The Fox of Midnight Hill

Thursday afternoon Superhubs and I went to pick up the new horse. After giving my step-up trailer an iffy look he hopped in. Away we went.  We stopped just short of home to pick up dinner and when I went to check the new guy I saw that the hay bag had fallen and was directly under his belly.  I talked softly, touched his leg then pulled it out.  The gelding never even twitched.  I loved him even more in that moment.

After we got home the new guy settled in after a few antics in the pasture. The next day was just grooming and getting to know each other. The day after that I took him for a ride.  I am now the proud owner of the most unmotived TB on the planet.  He is definitely going to need spurs when we start jumping.

Today was the biggest day of all for the new guy. We introduced him to Cowboy for the first time. It was extremely anti-climatic. I thought given the chance Cowboy would come flying up and the squeal fest would begin.  But no. He ambled up, the new gelding warned him off with a lifted hoof and then they began sniffing and grooming one another.  There was some running around later but all in all I see them being best buddies.

Now what everyone has been waiting for. Photos!

Registered Name: Thrill Factor
Barn Name: Fox, aka Pony Toes
Color: Deep red chestnut
Height: 15.2hds (He was advertised as 16hds, but he's really not)

Thursday, August 29, 2013

And Then I Saw Him

I told myself I really wasn't shopping for a new horse. I was just quietly looking for the fun of it right? Right. I purused the internet with the one track mindedness of a bargain shopper on Black Friday. Every free minute that wasn't taken up with things like my job, superhubs, the farm and all the other things I have going on was spent just flipping through websites. But it was still with the feigned disinterest of a teenage girl trying not to let that super cute boy know that she noticed him.

In short I was hip dip in a large vat of denial. Yes there were still those guilt laden moments when I would glance outside and see the High Queen staring at me from the fence line. I would hurridly close the horse shopping windows on my laptop as if she would know that I was looking for her replacement. But remember I wasn't really "shopping" I was just looking.  Riiiiight.

Twice I actually stepped in to reality and went to look at horses. But they weren't right and I never got that great feeling out of it after I left the barns.

I did really want to try and not get another TB. Not that they aren't great horses, they are. But I wanted something kick along quiet this time and those kinds of TB's are either waaaaaay out of my price range, or rarer than rare to come across.

Google has been my best friend for a long time. A couple of weeks ago I did a random Google search for horse rescues in Virginia. I knew I didn't want to do a lot of traveling to find a horse this time. Among all the other results was one for of all things an OTTB rescue that was less than an hour from my house.  Hmmmm, okay lets just see what kind of horses they have on their website. Remember I'm not shopping I'm just looking.

On the site was a gorgeous, tall, black bay OTTB gelding, and wow what a mover, plus he was already jumping a little. There were a couple of other faces I was curious about so I emailed the adoption coordinator/trainer and asked her about the three that piqued my interest.  When her reply came I swiftly focused my interest on the sort of muddy brown/chestnut fellow.  He hadn't been at the top of my list because at first glance he's not that impressive. But Mr. Tall and Elegant was also Mr. I Need to Be Ridden 7 days a week. Nope, not for me. The second horse Mr. Older, and Experienced was also Mr. Hell Bent for the Jumps.  Nope, again not for me. I was looking for Mr. Uncomplicated More Whoa than Go.

I had already decided to go see Mr. Muddy Chestnut when I found out that the barn that housed the adoption organization horses was going to have an open house.  Well fabulous, no appointment needed, and they were going to demo the exact horse I was interested in.  Double fabulous.

Of course I'm still lying to myself at this point and Superhubs hasn't even taken an interest yet because he knows(16 years of marriage will do that)I am apt to change my mind at the drop of a hat. So I dress in a nice pair of jeans, t-shirt and barn boots then drive the 40 minutes to the barn.  I meet and greet the coordinator and she shows me to the chestnut's stall.  We eye one another through the bars, he snuffles my fingers as I stroke his nose.  He's brought out, tacked up and we go off to the indoor arena where one of the two junior riders gets on and shows off his paces.  Mr. Chestunut's gaits aren't impressive, but there is potential there. I'm already calculating in my mind on how to strengthen him so his gaits will be fancier. His rider asks me if I want to try him. Ahhhh WANT TO WANT TO WANT TO! But I did not bring helmet, or proper boots. It was an open house I didn't think they were going to let the public just hop on.

So I had to decline and walked back to the barn with Mr. Chestnut who nudged and toyed with me in a soft no teeth kind of way.  And I was sunk, I just didn't know it yet.  I also got to watch a demo of Mr. Tall and Elegant which reinforced the fact that he was sooo not for me.  One of the junior riders brought him in to the arena where he proceded to eat the mounting block. I stepped up to hold his head wherein he decided to try and bite me. Repeatedly. Then he showed off his expressiveness under saddle. As in I am going to buck, and invent monsters in the corner because I'm bored. Pass.

 I talked to the coordinator and the trainer a little while and made an appointment to come back. The next day rolls around and this time Superhubs takes an interest and decides to go with me. Bless him because he did something later that day which would help me convince the trainer that I hadn't lied on my adoption application. We tack up Mr. Chestnut head to the arena I get on and proceed to wander around at the walk and trot, checkin to see if he steers well, if he'll move off my leg(I truly hated the saddle I had to ride in, completely put my leg in the wrong place, and the stirrups were two holes too long). I halted, circled, changed directions, and we hopped over some cross rails.  He's still a little hesitant about the cross rails, I mean he goes over, but I don't think he's done it too much so he's unsure about it.

Then we took Mr. Slowpoke out on a little after ride hack, Superhubs and the trainer following next to or behind me.  On the way out the gelding was fine, easy, calm, relaxed.  On the way back, we still don't know what happened exactly. It could have been the bugs, it could have been evening feed-itis, it could have been a test to see if I was worthy of him.  But he spooked and bucked. I don't think he was trying to buck me off, more that he spooked, I pulled back on the reins and he had no where to go.  He did stop when I asked him to(one rein stops are good and all knowing), so I didn't think much about it. 

The trainer on the other hand was freaking out a little. Apparently, and sadly a lot of people lie about their riding ability on their applications. Of course when they come out to try the horses the liars are weeded out. When I did my application I hesitated over Intermediate or Advanced rider.  Because there are so many interpretations and I never like trying to promote myself as something I'm not. I see myself in general riding as a high intermediate or a low advanced rider. So I marked Advanced on the application thinking they meant general riding not like competition level riding.  When the whole bucking spree started(in reality he crow hopped twice) the trainer freaked, and looked at Superhubs. "How can you be so calm?" She asked him. To which Superhubs, bless him, said. "She knows what she's doing."

I eventually got off Mr. Chestnut and walked him back because he was still agitated, although after we hosed him off he seemed calm and unruffled again.  The trainer got waylayed so Superhubs and I walked Mr. Chestnut in to the barn ourselves where I swapped his bridle for his halter. I fed him carrots and he nudged and played with me like the day before. Then he lay his muzzle on the back of my neck like a horsey kiss.  I melted right then and there. Of course Superhubs(whose Spotted Beast has tried to bite me a couple of times) says "Don't let him bite you."  I don't think Mr. Chestnut has those kind of naughty thoughts.

The trainer was apprehensive about whether I would still want to adopt Mr. Chestnut. He had a baby moment, he's six and only been off the track a little while. It was late afternoon, hot. muggy, buggy. And he did stop when I asked him to didn't blow through my aids and take off. So I forgave him, gave the trainer the nod, and just like that I had a new horse.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

You Never Know What You'll Find

When you can't ride because either you are temporarily horseless, or your partner is still on the injured/lame list you often find yourself attending clinics. Because if you can't ride the next best thing is to either help those who can or watch them.

An eventing friend had posted on Facebook about an upcoming clinic with a Grand Prix dressage rider. I'd never heard of this particular rider but he was giving the clinic at a farm literally around the corner from my house with the added bonus that it was at the farm belonging to the dressage instructor that my friend took lessons from and that I had been looking at taking lessons from when I get a new horse. So wanting to kill two birds with one stone I decided to go.

The farm was lovely and had a unique barn layout that I hadn't seen before. It was two small center aisle barns connected by a breezeway.  Interesting.  Not only did the owner have a beautiful dressage arena complete with footing and mirrors but there were the most adorable donkeys hanging out with the pastured horses nearby. On top of that the owner cooked mini-quiches for the riders and auditors.  Yes we like this woman!

All the riders were great, and I really enjoyed seeing my friend's new young horse Teddy whom I had heard about but hadn't seen.  Teddy is an OTTB who had a rough time of it because he was extremely slow, and thus got the short stick on everything including meals.  My friend said that he'd gained at least 300 lbs in the six or so months she's had him.  Knowing that its a little scary to think about what he'd looked like when she got him.  He has the typical greyhound look, a lovely head, and lovely if not extravagent gaits.  When he gains more strength and muscle he'll definitely pick up points in the dressage. His issue right now is that he's four and still all leg so he's trying to figure out where to put everything when asked to move out.

The clinician Alex Robertson was kind, insightful, and knowledgeable. Plus he and the farm owner both, contrary to most of the straight dressage riders I've known showed a definite love for the OTTB.  I didn't learn as much as I would have liked, but this wasn't for a lack of trying. I learn by doing most of the time, so its hard for me to watch and get a complete understanding of how to X to get Y.  The other part of it was that I met a new friend.

Another friend of Kate's who can't ride due to a horrible hand/arm injury she got a few months ago came to the clinic as well.  As we got to talking I realized that I'd read her story about how she got her injury on COTH.  Let me tell you I thought my ankle injury was bad,  A's injury was fifty times worse. So bad I couldn't read the entire story because it was just too hard and I didn't want the images in my head.

But we talked horses and OTTB's, and pretty much just clicked.  So it goes to show you that you never know what you'll find at a clinic.  As a parting note I am an amateur photographer and took some great shots I'm going to share.

Keep it between the flags everyone.

Friday, July 26, 2013

There Isn't Always a Happy Ending

Before you get all freaked out nothing happed to either my two horses, with that said a story from the past that came back to haunt me.

Several years ago I leased an AQHA mare from a woman that we had bought an ApHC mare from for superhubs(he has an obsession with Appys). I fell in love with this mare. She was 14.3hds of the sweetest mare I have ever ridden. She started me in eventing since she wasn't scopey enough for jumpers, or fancy enough for hunters. The kind of horse that is willing to go anywhere, and do anything.  Plus she loaded on any trailer in any conditions(Giving the High Queen the evil eye right now).

I tried to buy this mare several times, but the owner wanted an outrageous amount of money for her. So over the years I kept trying to buy her, the owner kept asking a massive price, and I continued to cyber stalk this horse. I even tried to buy her after I already had the two horses I currently have. But it wasn't to be.

For a couple of years I put my cyber stalking away and concentrated on my two horses. But as I am half heartedly looking at new horses I decided to do a random google search on the owners name.  Not only did her name came up, it came up in an ugly way.  In 2010 she got reported for animal cruelty and 33 of her over 53 horses were seized.  In 2011 she was charged, spent some time in jail(NOT NEARLY ENOUGH) told she couldn't ever own horses again(she shouldn't be allowed to have even a garden slug) and told to sell or rehome the other 20 horses that weren't in as bad of condition.

I freaked. What happened to my mare? Was she okay, did she have a new home? I contacted the rescue that the first 33 were sent to and they kindly checked their records but my mare wasn't among them. Sucking in all my anger I emailed the previous owner, thinking sometimes it takes awhile to rehome that many horses. She didn't have my mare, and I couldn't bear to ask the hard questions.

My hope is that my lovely girl got a new home. Someplace where she is loved, and spoiled as I would want her to be. I hold on to that hope even with the dark things that can and do happen to horses everyday looming in the back of my mind.

Awhile back when I told everyone I was retiring my beloved High Queen my younger sister gave me this half horrified look and asked what I was going to do with her.  I blinked, totally confused.  "Do with her?" I asked.  My sister asked if I was going to sell her, or give her away.  I blew out a little breath and calmly quoted the line from Sea Biscuit. "You don't throw a whole life away just because its a little banged up."

Unable to ride Seneca or not she has a home with me forever.  This is why I can't lease horses I grow too attached and don't want to give them back.  I wish I had tried harder to talk my AQHA mare's owner down to a reasonable price. I wish I'd had the money she wanted for her. I wish so many things, but most of all I wish there weren't so many horrible people in the world that don't realize the kind of life they subject an animal to when that animal has no choice.

Before I made that fateful Google search I had set up an appointment to go look at two mares this weekend. Both are strangely enough AQHA mares. One is a little buckskin that has had little handling and isn't broke. The other is an Appendix mare that's had some riding time on her. I felt almost guilty, and for awhile I wasn't sure I was still going to go. But I realized no matter how much I missed the little sorrel mare from my past she was gone and I had to let her go. I had to move forward. There are other horses who need love too.

Keep it between the flags everyone.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

All the Other Stuff

Because I let so much time lapse between my first lesson and now I felt two posts were needed.   So first off I am finally, FINALLY free of my previous command. I checked out last Tuesday, handed in my security badge and happily skipped away from the prison I've lived in for the last three years.

Thursday I got to mark something off my exciting adventure list.  Superhubs, my two inlaws and myself went white water rafting in central Virginia.  Along with a fabulous lunch of duck proscitto at a great resturante called Galley.  Afterword we all wandered through a lovely antique shop that had a shop cat that had the most gorgeous celadon green eyes I'd ever seen.

I also got to meet, along with all the wonderful staff at Riverside Outfitters, the most well behaved Labrador I'd ever met.  My older sister has two, one is a holy terror(think Marley x10) and the other is fairly well behaved. But Dandy was truly a wonderful dog, and if all Labs were like her I'd have one.

Then I had a blast traversing the James River in a big blue raft, stopping half way through on a rocky outcropping for cold water and trail mix.

And next we all moved on to begining to put the new front porch on my house that I have been harassing super hubs about for years.  But with all the man power available he couldn't say no.  It will probably take us another couple of weeks to get it completely done as we both have to go back to work next week.

Then came the High Queen.  GRRRRRRRR!  I went out to feed her yesterday morning and she was not only her usual hitchy self in the back, but now she had a new limp in the front.  I checked her all over but found nothing.  SIGH.  So I separated her from Cowboy, making them graze in different pastures. Then by using a bit of temporary fencing I created a small paddock connected to the run-in-shed. I had to hope that the High Queen would stay within the paddock and not bulldoze her way out.  Apparently she likes being near Cowboy, but having her own separate area and stayed within her domain.

I also went to a Gary Allan concert last night.  LOVE HIM! And the best part of the evening, other than sitting with super hubs, was hearing Gary Allan sing Smoke Rings in the Dark, one of my all time favorite songs.

And let me just say I LOVE Craigslist.  Yeah there is a lot of crap on their, and some sketchy people. But when you can buy several thousand dollars worth of wood fencing for a 100$ you know that there are some great deals to be had.  I might even get a barn out of it.  The woman we are getting the fencing from sold her house, and the new owner doesn't have horses and wants all the fencing gone.  I asked about the barn and the old owner is checking to see if the new owner wants it.  It's just a pretty one stall barn with a tack area, a loft to store hay, and a nice overhang for shade.  I wannnnnt it so bad. Especially since the High Queen keeps trying to damage herself.

This week I will check in to my new command. I'm hopeful that I will regain all the joy I used to have in my job.  Keep your fingers crossed and stay between the flags. 

The Lesson Update

My lesson went  both better and worse than I thought it would.  Let's start with my mount. He is an adorable, though slightly grumpy, aged TB gelding named Leo.  He enjoys treats and cuddling, but does not really like the whole grooming thing. Eh, a lot of TB's are sensitive and crabby about grooming.

Leo isn't the most forward horse I've ever ridden, but he's not a child's walk/trot pony either.  He's somewhere in the middle.  His gaits are wayyyy different than my precious OTTB princess that I've been riding for the last five years.  Leo's gaits are big and bouncy, whereas Seneca's are flatter, and smaller.   There are about six other riders in my group, which had me slightly anxious. Traffic jams, and constantly having to watch out for said traffic is one of the reasons I've been drawn to eventing.  But we managed to get around the flatwork without getting either run over or in anyone's way.

And here is where I ran in to trouble, not navigating around the other riders, but apparently having ridden my forward OTTB mare for the last five years made me a better rider for her, but not necessarily for other horses.  I rode Seneca a lot by feel.  I could feel when I was on the wrong diagonal or wrong lead. I never had to look, which is the way it's supposed to be.

But when riding a new horse whose gaits feel all strange and funky to me I made mistakes on both diagonals and the leads. I also felt like my position was all crap when I asked for the canter. So something to work on.

More Liebster Award:  Okay so here are my 11 random facts.

1.) I love to cook and make up new recipes.
2.) I love to garden
3.) I have a fear of heights
4.) I am a good speller, but terrible at math
5.) I am definitely a MAC/Apple person
6.) Sinead Halpin is my favorite 4* eventer
7.) I sometimes believe I was an Irish horse breeder in another life.
8.) I love all forms of potatoes
9.) I look better as a redhead
10.)  I am definitely a mare person
11.) I've been married for 16 years!

I'm now off to select my Liebster Awardees.  Keep it between the flags everyone. 

Friday, June 21, 2013

Liebster Award

A few days ago a wonderful, and unknown to me at the time person nominated my little blog for a Liebster award.  Along with the nomination I have to answer a few random questions, and then nominate 11 other blogs for people that have less than 200 followers.  So on to the first part.

Thank you Hawk from over at the Forging Fiction eventing blog. Check her out right here:

Here are the questions and answers to the 11 questions I was given.

What is your favorite childhood memory?  Spending two weeks with my grandparents at their summer place in Maryland.
If you could have a super power, what would it be? Wow, this is a tough one. I think either flight, or healing others.
You have one wish - what would you do with it?  To have the life I've always dreamed of.
What is your favorite color? Grey, I know weird, but true.
What are you most passionate about right now? Taking as much stress out of my life as possible.
You win the lottery. What is the first thing you buy? Land in North Carolina to build my dream farm.
What is something that intimidates you?  Jumping
What is a quote that best describes you? There were two roads that diverged in a wood, and I took the one less traveled by.
If you had a week off from work, what would you do? RIDE!
If you could travel anywhere, where would you go? Ireland
What is the most dangerous/daring activity you have ever partaken in? Volunteering to serve in a combat zone, twice. 

Okay this is just part of the award nomination events. I'll post the 11 random facts some time this weekend.  Keep it between the flags everyone. 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Pictures Present and Past

S I got off of work a little early(I'm in the middle of transitioning to the new job and can manipulate my day a little) so I made a stop at the feed store to get feed and some fly protection couture for my two four foots.

When I arrived home I found my two four foots covorting around the pastures like freaks with their tails on fire. I thought it was the noise from the neighbor mowing next door that set them off. But no it was just Seneca was feeling particularly good and wanted to play. The past several months I haven't often seen her wanting to play which is a good barometer for how she's feeling.

While it hurt to watch the hitch in her stride when she came back own to the walk for short periods it lifted my heart to see her happy and playing halter tag, and whose the fastest horse with Cowboy. Although she doesn't win the fastest horse races any more.  I once looked up Seneca's racing information to see what her speed index number was.  The speed index is how the JC and other racing organizations calculates how fast a horse really is. The closer a horse's number is to a hundred the faster they are.  For example Zenyatta the famous racing mare's speed index number is 127, blazing by the JC standards, AP Indy is rated as 126, and my own girl was rated as an 83, so her speed was respectable.  These days though she's content to let Cowboy think he's faster.

I was digging through some photos and thought I'd show two contrasting photos. The first shows what we were doing last year, the second is this years activity.

(not my best equitation moment but it was fun.)

(Seneca enjoying her retirement)

Where Hunters Live

I finally got out to the hunter barn to audit with the trainer I've been talking to. The first appointment I decided to reschedule due to A.) the trainer was going to be in Lexington, VA at a big horse show and wouldn't therefore be teaching, having handed the lessons over to the assistant trainer, and B.) An ugly tropical storm was making the weather very tricky to drive in.

But last Friday the weather cooperated and I drove the 20 or 30 minutes to the new barn. I love that it has an indoor, that right off the bat is a plus in my book. I still had some apprehension though because in my experience hunter barns are dens of materialism, fake pleasantry, and massive games of one-up-manship. This barn, however, so far is different.  Most of the people who will be riding in my class are middle aged women, school teachers, stay-at-home moms, friendly sorts. There are a couple of teenaged girls in the class but they also seemed well grounded and less inclined to the hunter princess cliche.

The trainer, K., seems knowledgeable and has the kind of ethics that put the horse's wellbeing first. She is also a very big fan of OTTBs, which is another plus in this barn's favor.

I will say after having watched the lesson group that I will be weaving in to tomorrow that I am at the high end of the skill level of the class. I'm not saying I'm the best rider of the group, but maybe my eventing background where you do certain things to get the right response in dressage and jumping have put me far ahead of the rest of my classmates. For example K., told one of the teenage girls who is also at the higher end of the skill scale how to get the horse she was riding to bend in to the corners. This for me is second nature because as eventers we need all the points in dressage that we can get, and making our  horses bendy in the corners is one of those ways to get extra points.

The only thing that I wanted to really do when I was watching the flat part of the lesson was to tell almost every one of the riders to get their horses going more forward at the trot.  I could feel my leg muscles twitching in response to the lazy trotting of all the horses who  all seemed to be wearing a very smug expression on their faces.  I don't  know yet what horse I will be riding, but I can assure you that horse will be moving out at all three gaits.

I'll report back after my lesson tomorrow. Until then keep it between the flags everyone.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

When Eventers Go Behind Enemy Lines

In the last couple of weeks I've done a lot of things, and lots have happened, good, and bad.  Lets start with the bad.  Again with my no patience thing I set up an appointment to go try what looked on paper and the video as a really nice trail/low level eventer in a nice mellow AQHA mare package.  Now remember I said I wanted something safe, sound and honest, plus quiet.

And the mare was all those things with one little thing that I couldn't wrap myself around. I had never met the equine equivalent to a zombie until meeting that AQHA mare.  She had zero personality.  And while she was a great trail horse, her lumber gaits, and hard mouth made her unsuitable for anything but walk-trot lessons for children.  At the end of the test ride I tried to give her a peppermint and she didn't refuse so much as just stand there unresponsive. It was very strange. Needless to say she did not come home with me.

The good.  I plotted what to do next.  In my area of Virginia there are very few eventing barns, and even less that have lesson horses to do said eventing. So what's an eventer to do? Most would take dressage lessons until they found their equine soul mate. Not so with me. Dressage is lovely, and I actually enjoy it, but I know where I really need work is jumping.  So this Friday I have an appointment to audit lessons with a h/j trainer thats about 20 minutes from my house.

A long, long time ago I was a hunter rider. Then I came over to the dark side and never wanted to leave, but with no eventing barns within a reasonable distance I decided to go back behind the enemy lines and venture over to hunter land once more.  I am bitter sweet about it. I want to ride and jump, work on my equitation, possibly even show. But I'm not looking forward to the other aspects of hunter world that made it easy to leave the first time.  First I will not do a flat class, period. My life is not worth getting side swiped by an eight year old.  Second I want functional whether it's pretty or not, if it gets me safely where I want to go fine, but I am not doing the pretty perch thing that  I have been training myself out of for the last ten years.

What am I hoping for in this sojourn in to hunter land? Confidence.  I lost it somewhere on the last two green horses I had. And the last time I cantered the High Queen to a fence was last June, and that was a baby table jump and we had just flown up a bank and I just let her continue on in a good rythym to the bench. It wasn't exactly planned because usually at a canter she hits race horse mode four strides from the fence.  This I wonder if I think back on it might have been caused by whatever hidden issues she has that also cause the lameness.

The other good.  I finally got new orders to a new command in my area, and its looking like it won't interfere too much with my riding, and I'll have all my weekend and afternoons free. YEAH! Soooo happy about that.

The last bitter sweet comment. Today I was moving my much loved Pessoa saddle from the horse trailer where it had been living to the house so I could take out Seneca's narrow plate, and put in the medium one. This was sad because it meant I really had come to terms with retiring my beautiful drama queen.  As I was carrying the saddle to the backdoor that faces the back pasture Seneca called out to me in her deep, soft voice.  It was as if she thought I was going to take her for a ride.  I wanted to cry, but sucked it up and went in to the house. I still ache and feel like I let her down somehow in not finding the cause of her issues. So on Thursday while I have the day off I plan on giving her a spa day, a bath, beautification, the works.  Just because I can't ride her doesn't mean she can't still look like my princess.

Keep it between the flags everyone.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Patience is a Gift

And I don't have it. Patience I mean. In some areas yes, but when it comes to shopping, or wanting things, I have no patience. I want what I want and I want it right NOW. My husband is the same way. We often end up giving each other small goofy gifts at Christmas because we've already given each other really big gifts throughout the year. As evidenced by the new lawn tractor he just bought me out of the blue. Damn that man, he's one upped me right before his birthday.

One year I got a new puppy, a horse trailer and a four wheeler all within a six month span. I can't even recall what I got for Christmas that year. So here is my dilema. I want to be able to ride with my husband, which means getting another trail horse. But every time I do the cyber horse stalking thing I want something tall, able to jump, and do trails.  In my heart I'm still looking for that low level event horse even though my head says stop.  I could get a trail horse, but I guarantee that I'd be trying to teach it to jump within a month.

But if I wait, if I save up my pennies(a lot of them) I could get something really great. So what's my dream, that I'm trying to learn the patience enough to wait for?  I love all things Irish. Super hubs swears I was an Irish potatoe/horse farmer in a past life. I want an Irish Draught.  I want something built for sport, but not bred to race. I want something safe, sound and honest that doesn't even know the meaning of the word buck, bolt, or rear. But Irish Draughts are not cheap. Even the not so well bred ones are pretty expensive.

But I've learned if you want something bad enough you can find a way. I want. So here's to the Irish Draught Dream fund! Love all around and keep it between the flags, wether they be Irish, American, or Eventing!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

The Every Day Sweetness

So today is bitter sweet for me. I finally got my head and heart to agree and said out loud, that I was retiring Seneca to non-riding horse status. I didn't want to but I wasn't sure what another vet visit would accomplish except more vet visits that may or may not get to the bottom of Seneca's lameness issue.  So she is now officially and ornament/babysitter/grooming therapy horse. 

Meaning when I feel like talking to a great listener I go out and groom her, or rub her, or love on her like do every time I go out to feed her. I pour her feed in to her pan, give Cowboy his so he will stop circling like a shark, then come back to her, give her a hug, rub her neck, scratch her withers, then give her ears a last rub before leaving her to eat in peace. She'll have a home with me until it's time to let go, but now her only job is to listen to me whine about work and look pretty.

And she does, look pretty I mean.  It strikes me at the oddest moments that she is one of the most beautiful horses I've ever owned. She may be just a bay with a bit of white, but her classice thoroughbred head, and long graceful neck strke me to the heart.  Like when I came home from work the other night and couldn't see my two four foots hanging out under the trees so I went to the fence and called them.  Seneca came out from around the corner of the view blocking shed and just looking at her profile trimmed in moonlight. My heart lifted just looking at her.

So what does that mean for me? New event horse? Well, yes but not anytime soon. I really need a packer and they are way out of my price range right now. And I'm not ready to try my hand with another OTTB just yet. Sooooo Cowboy is it. He does have all the makings of a good event horse, and as much as I hate the thought of starting another greenie he's what I have.  I will be looking for an uncomplicated trail horse so super hubs and I can continue to ride togther.

Which brings me around to the job issue. So I'm not going to Japan, or Italy, or anywhere far away. And the ship I thought I might get assigned to thankfully was given to someone else. I am going to a unit right around here and it's deployment schedule which I don't know yet hopefully won't be taking me anywhere this summer or fall. Because the plan is for me to take lessons on Cowboy so he and I can get comfortable with each other and maybe event him at Starter level events in the fall.

So that is where I am right now.  Keep it between the flags everyone...

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Forward, Future, Freak Out

While the past week has been warm and mostly dry I haven't been able to enjoy it which only makes me think dark, angry things about this job I used to love, and not so much.  Having the job issue only compounded with the lame horse issue does not make me a happy camper.

Seneca looks sound-ish, but she is not her usual self. She's not chasing or racing Cowboy, she's not engaging in play like she usually would when Cowboy gets wound up and wants to play halter tag. Don't get me wrong, she's eating, drinking, and doing normal horsey things, but she isn't her sassy, bossy self. Which means even if she isn't limping, she's hurting.   The vet will be back out in a few weeks to do another round, but this will be it, if we can't find the cause then I will let Seneca retire to being a pasture ornament.

So is there a new member of Eventing at Midnight in the near future?  I'd love to say yes, and my cyber stalking of all horse sale websites would also love to say yes. But the answer right now is most likely not. There are a lot of things standing in the way, namely the truck's transmission. Because without the truck I wouldn't be able to compete much less pick up a new horse. So that's first on the long list of needs.

Then there is the other thing. My detailer(guy in the Navy who helps you find your next duty station) came up (FINALL!) with three billets(job openings). Two of them I'd take in a heart beat no questions asked. The third is well third for a reason. I don't particularly want that job, but I'd take it if it is the last ticket to freedom away from my current duty station. And it might come down to that.  If I have to take this third option I'll be gone for six months almost right off the bat and won't be back home until late fall.  There goes the entire eventing season, and the hunter/jumper/dressage season as well.  So while I'd love to do some serious horse shopping right this minute it wouldn't be fair to either me, the new horse, or super hubs(who will be holding down the farm in my absence) to bring new horsey home only to abandon him or her.

But there is one small bright spot in all this mess. I sucked down all my fear, fluffed up all my courage and started riding the Spotted Beast again.  I have made it pretty clear, that while he is lovely to look at, and a gorgeous mover, and yes spotted boy can jump, I don't care to ride him.  He's got that stubborn Appy streak, and he's reared up with me a couple of times when he got bored(not a plus in my book)  But I need something to ride, and he's right there. In his defense Cowboy does have one skill Seneca lacks.  He will pretty much load on the trailer every single time as long as the proper edible bribary is offered.

So Cowboy and I are trying to hash out a respectable relationship in which he does what I ask without giving me too much fuss. We'll see where this goes. Maybe if we can get the truck transmission soon I can take him to a couple of shows, and who knows if I get job 1 or 2 I might actually get to take Cowboy to a horse trial or two in the fall.

So keep looking forward and keep it between the flags everybody.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Where Do We Go From Here

Yesterday started my three days off. Three days in which it was going to be 80 degrees and dry.  So we started with a few laps of walking, then 8 minutes of trotting in one direction, 5 minutes of walk, 8 minutes of trotting in the other direction then another 5 minutes of walk.  All was going well, so I did one lap of canter in each direction.  Still all was good.

So we jumped a little, her working on being easy to and from the jumps, me working on getting up off her back a bit and being soft with my hands.  It wasn't perfect but she was manageble.

Then I got up this morning to feed and it had all gone to hell over night. Seneca was off again on the same right rear leg. Insert screaming and banging of my head against a wall here.

So we are back to square one. I have lots of options but none of them I really want to think about too hard right now.  I could have the vet come back out to the tune of another 300$.  I could give her more time off, do flat work only and see if she stays sound with no jumping.  I could just agree in my head and heart to retire her, at which point I will be doing one of two things. I could get a project horse put time, money and training in to it then sell it for a decent profit so I can possibly by the packer event horse I should have.  Or I could roll the dice on another OTTB again.

I'm just not ready to make these choices yet. I'm thinking May is when I'll make the hard choices. Until then I will try to get the Spotted Beast going and content myself with competing him.

Keep it between the flags everyone. 

Saturday, March 23, 2013

I Spy

I spy with my little eye a sound looking Mare-Beast!  It is looking like the gamble I made of going with the joint injection rather than doing the blocks to identify the problem paid off and Seneca looks sound. I say looks because I have only been able to observe her as she moves around in the pasture. Weather and work have endeavored to keep me from riding.

I would like to say that I was going to get on her today but... I'm tired, exhausted even. This past week at work was one of the most stressful I've experienced there. I have been working towards getting a specific qualification for over six months and I finally got to the end and earned it on Thursday.  So I would love to say I am going to go get on my horse right this minute, but I'd rather watch her grazing and just let it go with hope that it won't rain on Monday so I can ride then.

I swear though the minute I finished that qual things in my life began looking up a little. Because I was doing research on the net and found a schooling horse trial that is within an exceptable distance, and far enough away that I can get Seneca fit for it!  Woo Hooo!

So now all I have to do is make sure that the truck is in working order, and *sigh* work on the High Queen's trailer loading. Because when I tried to reload her at Erin's she refused. For two days.  *loud teeth grinding*  I ended up having to walk her home. Four miles!  Past horse eating demon cows!

Those cows are evil! As we walking past them, the High Queen was already freaked, but the damn things started running down the fence so that it appeared to Seneca as if they were chasing her.  At which point she body checked me, jumped the massive ditch(a xc obsticle that we will never have a problem with I see.) and took me with her as I was still holding the end of the leadline.

So here we are at the begining of a whole new eventing season. And we have so far to go. We're both not fit, the truck has a transmission issue, and the weather is still crappy.  Soo the same as last year except the truck was still okay then. Eh, we'll get there.

Keep it between the flags everyone!