Sunday, February 28, 2010

Saturday, February 27, 2010

dogs and barns

Seemingly harmless oversights are usually MAJOR safety issues in a barn. Since when is it ok to have a loose dog running in the barn, especially through the indoor when other people are riding? Lucy did not appreciate this dog running rampant last night through the barn. She was especially peeved (and so was I) when the dog sniffed its way between her back feet to investigate something on the barn aisle floor. It almost got its face kicked in. I took the dog by the collar and went up to the owners and said "this dog WILL get kicked if this continues." Lucy had pinned her ears against her head and threatened with her left hind leg to kick, but thankfully didn't follow through.

The crappiest part of this is that I would feel horrible if my horse kicked a dog and injured it, but I really feel like I have made several good attempts to warn the owners. For a young thoroughbred, Lucy has been remarkably tolerant of this dog but I fear her patience is running out. I can't blame her!

On a positive note, I have been having some great rides. Here's a video from last night.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Make way for Looney

Oops, I meant Lucy. Well, "Looney" fit her well tonight after having a week off! She was so antsy that she tried to trot circles when I brought her in from the paddock and put her in her stall! I was planning on riding, but I always put her in her stall so that she can have a drink of water and pee before I tack her up. She was having none of that tonight, though, so I took her back out and put her in the indoor, where she positively exploded and did all sorts of fun aerial stunts before I could grab the video camera.

Here's what I did get, though.

I had a great ride afterward, but boy was I glad that I let her run around!!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

sitting still is hard to do.

It's been another easy week for Lucy, because I am not allowed to ride or lift anything heavy due to having a biopsy on Tuesday (which was lovely-- so much so that I hope I never have to go through that again). While I am healing, I am having to rely on friends and my wonderful fiance to help me with the horse. A fellow boarder cleaned her stall for me yesterday and Kenny is able to do it today. Kenny and I are going to New York to visit his family this weekend so I had to ask another boarder to take care of L for me on Saturday and Sunday. It's great to have people around who are able to help. I am sure that by the time Monday rolls around, I will be back in business, and probably desperate to get in the saddle!

Going from seeing my horse every day and riding 4-5 days a week to having to "take it easy" has been tough. Last night at 8 I went to the barn for a bit of pony therapy, and I spent some time with Lucy in her stall. I was a bit down from the whole experience earlier in the week and I missed my girl. I crouched down by the stall door and she came over and put her head down and snuffed my hair and let me pet her nose. I know horses are expensive but they are still cheaper than a human therapist, and I think in 20 minutes of petting her soft muzzle I felt much better than hours of armchair conversations could have accomplished.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

playing catch up

I have been slacking off with this blog, but Lucy is doing just fine. Last Friday we had a lesson where we worked on just walk/trot. Trotting for almost an hour was a good workout for both Lucy and I! The goal in our lesson was rhythm and relaxation. It took her about twenty minutes to get the idea but she is so clever that once she figured out what I wanted, she settled right down and got to work. It was a very productive lesson and it was good for us to go back to basics to make sure we had all the details ironed out.

On Saturday, my friend who rides with Johnson and Wales University came down to ride Lucy. I was SO sore from my lesson on Friday that I was just happy she was able to come down to ride! Lucy was able to replicate most of what she learned the previous night, and my friend (who came to ride her back in November, after I had owned her only a few weeks) said she saw a huge difference in Lucy. She was really impressed.

On Sunday, my legs weren't feeling too badly and I was back in the saddle. I stepped it up a notch and after some great trot work, we had a nice canter in each direction. I practiced leg yields with her, which are really coming along nicely! At some points, I had a significant amount of leg on her and her response was 9 times out of 10 to go lighter and rounder, instead of faster. That is a huge improvement!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Feeling Fresh

I took the day off of work today so I was at the barn a bit early to feed Lucy. "Auntie Jenny", aka my best friend and maid of honour in my wedding came with me. We call her Auntie Jenny because she's the sister I never had, which by default makes her Lucy's Aunt.

Lucy scaring the crap out of poor Jenny.

Jenny was feeling incredibly brave and wanted to ride today, so after Lucy ran around to get excess energy out, Jenny got on and walked her around a bit. She did so well! Lucy was very good, too. She got lots of treats afterward!
Jenny did a fantastic job.

"Good girl!"

I also pulled Lucy's mane today because it was getting a bit long. I pulled it short so that hopefully by the spring it will have grown out a bit and evened out. I ended up having to cut the top section of mane because she got really impatient in the crossties and was starting to act silly, and I didn't want to leave it half done. I have never cut a mane before but I don't think I did too badly. It was only a few inches, anyway.

Tomorrow we are supposed to get up to 20" of snow, which seems especially cruel after a glorious 40+ degree day like today was. Nonetheless, it will be here early tomorrow morning to wreak havoc on the commute...can't wait!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Living large on a small budget

What horse doesn't enjoy an apple or carrot? But really, buying fresh produce adds up quickly. Yesterday while at the grocery store that I always shop at, I stopped in at the produce department and asked if they had any produce that they were going to throw out because it was past its shelf life. They had a bunch of apples, and happily put seven apples (that looked perfectly fine to me) into a bag for me. Those apples would have cost about $5 if I had taken them off the shelf, and I got them all for under $1.

I used to work next to a grocery store and regularly saw the employees throwing away tonnes of food into the dumpsters out back that was too old to be sold in the stores. I always thought it was such a waste when there are people going hungry left and right. I know Lucy doesn't mind an apple that may have a bruise on it, or a bag of broken carrots.

Anyway, Lucy enjoyed a quiet night tonight. I had an exhausting day at work getting ready for a training we're having over the rest of the week, and she had a big day yesterday so I doubt she minded. She got a nice hot mash with some discount apples mixed in :) and a good brushing.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Crossrails are for ponies.

I felt like it was time for a change in the routine, so I tried Lucy over a few baby crossrails today during our ride. She was not phased at all. She didn't try to rush or stop, and seemed happy to just continue on her way. I was SO pleased!

The only time we actually got a jump out of her was when we raised the fence to a small vertical.

Next time I am going to ride her with a bit of a looser rein. I would also be happy with a lower leg transplant if I can find one that will stay back ;) I don't know if I'm quite ready for no-stirrup work with this horse yet.

Here's the video from today.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Shedding season

I discovered to my delight that Lucy had started to shed today when I was grooming her before our ride. I was a bit surprised because she hardly grew any winter coat, which could have been a result of her poor condition or it could just be the way she is wired. The horse I leased before I bought L grew a thick, fuzzy winter coat that made him resemble a plush teddy bear but I know thoroughbreds are a lot different than warmbloods.

This of course means that not only are my work clothes dirty, but they're also covered in horse hair :D

My question is, though, how do I get through shedding season with a horse that is so sensitive that I cannot even use a curry comb on her? With Caesar I'd get out the shedding blade and go to town and he'd stand there with a look of bliss on his little horsey face. I think if I used a shedding blade on Lucy she'd eat me. She already pins her ears and swishes her tail when I use the curry comb, and the one I have is one of those soft jelly ones, too!

I have had a very tough week personally but I must say that the promise of seeing my horse every day after I leave work has really kept my spirits up. My fiance is incredible, too. He had the day off today and went and cleaned L's stall for me so that I could just go to the barn and ride without having to worry about chores. I love him!

Here is a cute video of Lucy playing in the outdoor today before our ride, and then rolling after it.

Packing on the pounds

I mentioned a few entries back that Lucy did not gain the weight I would have expected her to. After I had her weighed that second time and the numbers didn't look great, I revamped her feeding program. Lucky for her, her grain rations have been increased gradually over the past two weeks, and that combined with quality hay and a weight builder supplement has her looking (and feeling) very good. We plan on weighing her again soon and I am hoping that the scale will show an improvement to match how awesome she's looking.

I respect that she is a young, athletic thoroughbred and before I ride her I try to let her run in the indoor. I call this self-preservation. Lately she has really been putting on impressive shows with some seriously high bucks. Watching her go is like listening to a symphony. When she trots with that big floaty stride, I imagine the string instruments with their rich, smooth tone. Then she gets to the corner of the indoor, her eyes glinting mischievously, and all of a sudden spins and takes off across the arena, and in my mind I hear quick, deep glints of notes as if it were a chase scene in a movie. For the finale, she launches her front end into the air and as she comes back down, snaps her hind quarters up over her head (that would be the drums) and as the cymbals crash, she kicks out with her inside hind leg, all the while continuing forward with her front legs. She's pretty coordinated.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

horsey laundry

Since I bought Lucy, the amount of laundry I've had to do has increased drastically. Not only that, but I find myself washing my NICE clothes because they have hay/slobber/dirt ground into the fabric. I mean, we all know that barn life is supremely glamourous, but despite my best attempts to separate barn attire from work attire, the two inevitably blend together.

Of course it's going to get much worse once the weather warms up. At least now I can wear my riding pants several times before they need to be washed because it's so cold. Once the warm weather comes, though, it's only once or twice that I can wear something before it needs 30 minutes in the washing machine. Add to that the saddle pads that need cleaning on a weekly basis and that is a lot of extra laundry!

All I can say is that I love OxiClean. That stuff is magical.

Also, it turns out we won't be moving in March because the stall that the barn owner was planning on becoming available apparently is not going to be open. Bummer.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Leg protection on trailer rides

March will be bringing some changes for Lucy and I, and I am really excited. She will be taking a ~15 minute trailer ride to a gorgeous new barn, and I am starting to think about what I will do for leg protection.

When I bought her, I kind of just tossed her onto the shipper's trailer without anything but a halter and she came out on the other side unscathed and calm. She raced up and down the East Coast and so she has spent a lot of time in trailers (another reason to love an OTTB!) so I don't even know if wrapping her legs is necessary. That being said, I'd feel really stupid if I didn't wrap them and she managed to damage herself during the short trip. I feel like with horses, especially young ones, you need to plan for everything, and that often includes protecting them from themselves (sigh).

So then my dilemma is if I am going to wrap her legs, do I get shipping boots, pillow wraps/bandages, or use the SMB Elite boots that I already have? Would polo wraps even be sufficient (probably not; most research points to them being pretty useless except for looking snazzy).

I am hoping to take her to a few small shows and maybe an organized trail ride in May this year, so maybe investing in some shipping boots or a standing wrap set-up would be worth the cost.

I have a while to think about all of this stuff, so that's good!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


Ahh, the ingredients of a delicious and delightful mushy mash.

I put water on to boil.

The water boils and I pour it into the bucket, then go and do various chores while waiting for the mixture to mashify (did you like that? I made my own word.).

Lucy tucks in like it's been weeks since she last ate.

All of this makes for a very happy, very messy horse.

Monday, February 1, 2010

I love my horse x 1,000,000

I had bar none the most amazing ride tonight on Lucy. Normally I get nice soft relaxation at the walk, but when we move to the trot she just wants to canter and so I spend the whole time circling and trying desperately to get her attention. Then I give up (I know, I know) and let her canter, then we go back to the trot and work more on that, but she still goes around looking half-giraffe.

Tonight, though, we had some great walking and trotting, including flexion and suppleness through her jaw(!!) AND acceptance of my leg through lateral movement. She was peppy but attentive, which is totally fine with me.

Ohhh but it didn't stop there! We moved onto the canter and she was SO good that I decided to push the envelope a bit and we did some halt/canter/halt transitions across the diagonal. She was AMAZING!!!!!!! She was cantering right off my leg from the halt. She is so ridiculously clever I can't even stand it sometimes. How did I get so lucky with my baby racehorse? Seriously, I went and tried her in the pitch black of night in a 16" pony saddle and discovered she didn't even know how to turn. Three short months later, we are doing walk/canter transitions and laying a really solid foundation for lead changes (not like she doesn't already do those naturally).

The whole thing just makes me sigh with content and thank the horse gods for not only her being a sane horse, but being a truly gifted and extremely athletic horse (and cute and sweet, to boot!!).

The icing on the cake was that I had made her a hot mash for dinner, which basically means I took her grain and her hay stretcher (pelleted hay for my non-horsey friends) and added goodies like mints, carrots, and other candies, and poured hot water into it and let the mixture sit and get really nice and mushy and delicious. Then when she was all cooled out and ready for her dinner, I poured the concoction into her bucket and she was so excited that she was quivering in her stall and nickering to me lol. I LOVE HER. Then she went at it and before long, had mash all over her face, the stall, and her hay lol. She is such a little piggy.

I am pretty sure I've gotten to the point where I would do absolutely anything for this horse.