Thursday, April 29, 2010

pause/fast forward to tomorrow

Ok I know I said in my previous post that it was "a bit windy", but that was when I was still sitting in my office. Originally I was all set to ride but as I drove down the barn's driveway, the outdoor ring resembled the desert in a sand storm, and the jumps were being knocked over from the high winds. It was incredible! I decided to let Lu have another day off (sigh) and we will really get back to business tomorrow, which is supposed to be beautiful.

In lieu of riding, Lucy had a spa day. She got her feet done, this time with shoes all the way around. She did a number on her back feet when she galloped down the middle of the road the day that Cinnamon took her in the field, so Frank didn't think her hinds would hold up for another six weeks, especially if I am planning on riding a lot. So we opted to do the hind shoes and re-evaluate in a little while. I'm hoping to be able to pull them again maybe in the fall.

I also clipped her legs and her bridle path, and brushed her until she gleamed. She is looking awesome.

brrr

This week has been slow and unproductive. We've had lots of rain and temperatures ranging from the 30's to the 50's, and the horses spent most of the week inside. I rode L on Tuesday and it was a terrible ride, but what does one really expect from a 4yo who has been pent up all week? Poor thing has completely shed out her winter coat out so she's had to also wear her blanket again.

Today is looking a bit better, and aside from it being quite windy, the sun it out and the temperature is back in a reasonable range. I really need to ride every day for the remainder of the week before the RISPCA ride event on Sunday. This will be L's first time in a trailer since the day I bought her so let's hope that she behaves herself! One of the bonuses of having an OTTB is that you know they're used to being shipped all over the place. I am not expecting any drama from her, though she may get excited at the ride. One of the reasons I took her to the show a few weekends ago was so that I could get an idea of how she would act around a bunch of strange horses. She was totally fine and her only issue revolved around the ring not having a gate on it, but this weekend's event is a nice long trail ride and ironically my little racehorse is much more at home on the trail than in a ring.

I did a ton of disgusting horsey laundry last night. I soaked everything in piping hot water with some detergent and some OxiClean (best stuff ever) for a long time before throwing the pads in the wash, and it seems to have worked well. Only a white baby pad had to go through the wash cycle twice, the second time with a touch of bleach added. So now our gear will be nice and fresh for the weekend.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

new addition



Meet our new puppy, a Rhodesian Ridgeback. Kenny is still deciding on a name :) She's almost six weeks old. We can bring her home on May 10 but today I went to meet her and her litter at the breeder's house. Talk about love at first sight.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

houdini

Some days I go to get Lucy out of her paddock and she's got her halter over one ear and hanging off her face. Other days the halter is still in perfect form but laying on the ground in the middle of her paddock. Since we've added a fly mask into the mix, I'll sometimes find her like this:


"Are you going to stop laughing at me and feed me?"

The good news is that she seems to be totally fine now. She trotted out sound yesterday but I chose to give her an extra day off just to make sure she was 100%, and my plan was to ride her this morning before work. I do the overnight on the ambulance on Wednesdays so I have to go early in the morning to do her stall, and the barn owner brings her in for me in the afternoon. Well this morning I was running behind so by the time I cleaned her stall and did everything else I had to do, I didn't have time to ride. So she gets another easy day today, and I'll ride tomorrow.

Monday, April 19, 2010

progress, well, almost.

Lucy warmed up beautifully today, jumped three little crossrails, and pulled up lame. Coming down to the third crossrail she felt like she was cross-cantering and then she had a little stumble and once we landed I knew something was wrong. I pulled her up and you'll hear me say in the video, "Is she lame??". I let her walk for about ten minutes, then tried a little trot, and she still felt off. I trotted her out for Kenny, which is at the end of the video below. He thought it was her left hind. I untacked her and cold hosed all of her legs even though I couldn't find any heat, and then trotted her out for Frank, who couldn't see anything wrong, so maybe the cold hosing worked. I gave her some bute with dinner. Hopefully she just tweaked something. I was so bummed because she really was going so nicely.

Here's the video.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

going in a straight line: way too much to ask.

Lucy and I hacked across the street to a show at the neighbouring barn today. We weren't showing; I just wanted to introduce her to the horse show scene. She walked over there and through the crowd like she owned the place but then was not happy about having to go into the warm-up ring.

Here are some photos:

(a tantrum)

oh! here we are trotting like a normal horse and rider in a straight line.

prancy!

a moment of quiet :D

Saturday, April 17, 2010

sunshine on a cloudy day


And to top it all off, I can see some faint dapples starting to come through.

Friday, April 16, 2010

an open gate is not an invitation.

Lucy and I had a little discussion about the gate to the outdoor today. I decided a good challenge would be to leave it open so that she could learn that just because the gate is open, does not mean you can run through it whenever you please.

We warmed up nicely and then the barn owner came over to say hello, so I stopped on the rail about 10 feet away from the gate and we had a nice chat. Lucy must have thought we were done for the day so when I tried to ask her to walk past the gate, she got 3/4 of the way past the gate and threw a little tantrum. I sat quietly in the saddle, kept my outside leg on her so that she couldn't side step out of the ring, and kept contact with my inside (left) rein so that she couldn't turn to the right and get out that way. Her tantrum lasted for maybe ten seconds, at which point she completely gave up and walked off like a nice horse, and got some praise and then the whole thing was forgotten about. She then proceeded to w/t/c on some nice soft contact for half an hour with the gate wide open and nary a step towards it. Good horse. As a little reward for being such a good girl, I stopped at the grocery store and bought out their entire stock of reject apples (3 packages/18 apples) for a grand total of $4, since I've found them hard to get lately. Maybe someone else caught on to the bruised apple section at the grocery store and is buying them for their pony ;)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

that's more like it.

I was so excited to ride tonight. I thought a lot about Tuesday's ride and realised that rides like that are necessary to make me really appreciate what an amazing special horse I have. I can't expect her to be perfect all the time, and with the recent fun she's had in the fields (even if it wasn't necessarily fun for the rider), who can blame her for not wanting to concentrate in the ring?

So I approached today's ride like an opportunity to have a clean slate, so to speak. I did decide to switch her bit to the copper french link snaffle I had bought when I first got her, before someone recommended the Waterford. I think the Waterford has been perfect for her so far, but it's time to move on.

She did really well with the new bit. I also used my figure 8 bridle on her so that she couldn't run around with her mouth open to escape the bit. It took a few laps around the ring for her to figure everything out but once she relaxed, wow, what an amazing ride. I didn't really ask a whole lot from her and let her be forward as long as she was light in the bridle. As soon as she started hanging on me, she got a speed check. I know she likes to cruise along a bit, and letting her do so was her reward for not dragging me around. We had the most lovely trot work and when we cantered, it was a clear three-beat gait and we even had a few almost-rocking-horse moments. I think we are getting there!

On Tuesday I had tried to canter her over some poles and she would see the pole, lock down on it and take off. Today she was able to canter over them on a fairly loose rein without changing the pace at all. She was happy and relaxed and so lovely. She got a ton of praise and I made a huge deal of it every time she did something well (which was like every two strides ;) ). She gets so proud of herself when she knows she's done well.

After our ride, I rode her all over the property at the walk and took her across the street to walk through the development over there, where she added two little girls to her fan club. They were in their yard playing soccer and squealed in delight when they saw the horse. I called over to them to tell them they could come pet Lucy if they wanted to, and they both ran over to say hi. Lucy got lots of pats and was very good about the whole thing, even though it was past her dinner time. :D

She was mostly cooled out by the time we went back to the barn, but I untacked her and let her graze, which I never really do. She was in horsey heaven. Then she got her dinner and a ton of carrots and mints and treats and I told her about a million times how awesome she was. It's supposed to be in the 40's here tonight and tomorrow so I had to put her sheet on her, which was kind of weird after it being almost 80 degrees today. She also got some extra hay.

Also!!! I found a trailer ride for Lucy to the RISPCA Ride that I designed the logo for!! I am so excited. It's on May 2 and I think Lucy is going to love it.

And for the grand finale, here are some photos of OC looking like the King of the Backhoe:


frustrated

It must be the "let's remind Kate that she owns a 4yo OTTB!" week after the whole throwing Cinnamon into the woods and then being very difficult. I had the worst, most frustrating ride on Tuesday. It was like a battle of wills. Lucy was such a pain and I was determined not to let her drag me around. She fought me with every little thing I asked her to do. If I had known it would be such a bad ride, I wouldn't have ridden at all, even though I know rides like this one are crucial to a young horses development.

I felt so frustrated, even after the ride was over and I was home. I felt like she had zero respect for me the entire time, at times acting like she didn't even know I was riding. She wanted to run and careen around the corners and pull me out of the saddle. She tried switching her leads and dragging me around to the opposite direction when I was trying to do a circle. I wanted to end it on a good note but we literally had no good notes! She would have a stride of relaxation and then I would release a bit and give her a pat and she'd try to speed up again immediately. It got to the point where I got off, untacked her, put her in the indoor and round-penned her until she was licking and chewing and begging to stop, and then did some ground work with her. It was long and exhausting for both of us and I don't think anything really positive came from it, which is very disheartening.

She had last night off because I did the overnight on the ambulance, but today after work I am going to try again.

Monday, April 12, 2010

sprint

This is my friend Cinnamon riding Lucy in the field this weekend. I'd love to say that it ended well, but shortly after this photo was taken, Cinnamon went through the motions to ask Lucy to slow down/stop, and discovered that she had no brakes. Lucy ran Cinnamon right into the woods, Cinnamon fell off, and then Lucy took off at lightening speed and ran out of the field, down the road, and back to the barn.

Needless to say Lucy will NOT be running again until she learns how to stop.

Meanwhile I had to check to make sure Cinnamon wasn't injured (luckily she wasn't) and then run after Lucy. I had my SLR camera with me and it weighs so much with the big lens on it that I couldn't run with it, and I just left it in the field. I figured no one ever goes there and it would be safe until I returned to get it. Lucy is much faster than me and I am not in shape to be sprinting after her down the road so she was long gone by the time I even got out of the field. The most comical part was that the road was lined with residents who had been working in their yards, pointing to where they saw the horse run. I felt like I was in some sort of parade, running down the middle of the street with people on both sides staring at me.

I ran probably 1/4 mile before someone asked if I wanted a ride. Normally I don't jump in strangers cars but my lungs were on FIRE so I choked out "yes please!" and got in the car. Cinnamon wasn't far behind me, and she got in the car too. Then the lady drove us the rest of the way to the barn, where my lovely mare was waiting for us in the driveway, probably wondering where her dinner was.

At that point it was too late to discipline her for taking off with Cinnamon/dumping her into the woods/running away because the fact of the matter was that she could have very well run past the farm and ended up someplace near the highway, but she was smart enough to run home.

I checked her over and she seemed fine. Cinnamon was feeling a bit sore but nothing was broken. I was absolutely fried because I think a situation like that is one of the most stressful things to go through.

I cooled Lucy out and put her away, after applying a brace to her legs because I'm sure she'll be sore after galloping on the pavement. As Cinnamon and I were about to leave, someone drove up the driveway and got out of the car holding my $4000 camera and $700 video camera, asking if it was mine. "We saw you walking to the field holding the camera and then we saw you running from the field with no camera so we went to get it for you!" I thought that was just the nicest thing ever. I would have been devastated to lose my camera but these nice people brought it back for me.

So all in all, it was an extremely stressful experience but the good news is that the rider and the horse were both fine, albeit sore and winded, and I got some great photos :)

Saturday, April 10, 2010

1053lbs, and our first gallop

Lucy has gained 42 lbs since her last weighing, and the scale said that she now weighs 1053lbs! I was hoping for close to 1075 but I'll take it! I think that ~14/lbs a month is a reasonable rate of weight gain for her, especially now when I'm riding almost every day.

So to recap, she was 1020 the day I bought her. She weighed 1011 on 1/23/10. At that point she looked better but I was concerned that she had lost weight, so I revamped her feeding program, putting her on a weight supplement and the alfalfa cubes, and also started the Black Oil Sunflower Seeds. It's coming together!

Today I had a great ride. We galloped. It's funny; I've spent all this time teaching her how to be a horse and not a machine, and yet today as soon as I crouched over her and let the very thought of speed go through my mind, she was instantly a rocket machine. I felt the power come from her hind feet, through her hocks and hips, flying over her back and zipping around her shoulders, blasting up her neck and bursting out of her nostrils in quick steamy breaths. It was thrilling and absolutely terrifying all at once. It's like a rollercoaster ride: as you see the world flip upside down right next to you and fly past you at a rate of speed you know is not natural, you're wondering when you're going to die at the same time as thinking "DAMN this is awesome!".

Well thankfully the world wasn't doing somersaults beside me because that would most likely mean I wasn't attached to the saddle anymore, but it was whizzing past my ears, through the vents in my helmet, and whipping my hair into my face despite the fact that I thought I had tied it tightly in a ponytail at the nape of my neck. It was like the loudest whisper I've ever heard, the blur of field and sky and tree all dancing in a whirlwind to the beat of her hooves. I fully believed that if all of a sudden the ground she was running on dropped out beneath her and all that was left was open sky, we'd continue down this stretch as if nothing had happened. My horse had wings. I could feel her coiled beneath me like a spring that's been locked up and planning its freedom. I can't turn that machine part of her brain off, though she's done a nice honest job of trying to push it aside while I school her in circles and ask for things like relaxation and lightness in the bridle. Those qualities were not in her vocabulary today and she was so intent on her job, on covering as much ground per stride as physically possible, that for a moment I wondered if she had instantly reverted back to being a racehorse and all my hard work over the past few months was lost. The end of the field fast approached, though, and with a bit of persuasion and a toss of her head, she came back down to earth, seemingly annoyed that her little thrill ride had to end.

And still through all of this, I didn't fully let her go. I held back, petrified that if I gave her all of her freedom, we'd never stop. It's not even that big of a field, especially when your horse seems to cover 100 feet with each footfall.

So that was my ride :)

Sunday, April 4, 2010

bug defense 101

My pink-eared Easter pony.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Another few cute jumping photos.




So that was yesterday, and she was a very good girl.

Today we went on a nice "relaxing" hack down the road to a field. Relaxing is in quotations because that's how I intended it to be, but my lovely horse had a different plan. She walked on the road on a long rein and was super relaxed, but she was like a fire-breathing dragon as soon as we got to the field and just wanted to RUN. Too bad so sad, I said, because there are gopher holes everywhere in that field and I am really worried she'll step in one, so we had to go nice and slow. Well at one point she got excited and grabbed the bit and was like "PEACE, woman!" and freight-trained her way along the long side of the field and narrowly missed a gopher hole. She actually jumped it. She got in BIG trouble for that little show.

She pranced all the way back to the barn, got to stand in the driveway for five minutes before I got off, and then I cooled her out and fed her.

What a beast, what a beast.

Friday, April 2, 2010

boing!

Lucy had her first real jump school today!

Let's just cut to the pictures, shall we?

We started over baby crossrails, first at the trot and then at the canter.

Moving up in height we had a few awkward baby moments, but...

We also had a few GREAT jumps!

She got a nice cooling hose-down after the ride and lots of kisses and treats.

My gorgeous girl :)