Monday, February 28, 2011

Lucy's daddy, Untuttable

I emailed Lucy's breeder last week to see if they had any baby photos of her. I was really hoping they would, but sadly they did not. They did send me a photo of her sire, Untuttable:

I see a lot of resemblance between the two of them. She has the same look in her eye and similar conformation, though I like her shoulder angle better than his :) I would love to see what her dam looks like, but they didn't have any photos of her to send me.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

a jaunt in the field

Boy, oh boy.

Yesterday was my 25th birthday and I dragged Kenny to the barn with me to take some photos. I decided to switch it up a bit and ride Lucy in the field.

She was mega-fresh. I kind of expected that, but I had hoped the birthday gods would shine down on me and magically make the pony behave for just one ride.

Hahahahahahah, I know, I know. Crazy!

So she was kind of an idiot from start to finish, but I persevered and eventually got a couple of really nice canters from her, which I was VERY happy with because historically she has had a hard time keeping her brain in her head when cantering in a wide-open space.

When you have a young, athletic, opinionated horse, you learn to look hard for positives lol. So those canters were the highlight of the ride for me and she got lots of praise.

Here are some photos:


so sassy

aww acting like a big girl

I love this photo, this field is so beautiful.

And a really cute shot of my husband and I from Friday night:

It's his birthday today! So it has been a very fun birthday weekend for both of us.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Such a lady

She sure does love her mashes.

And one of her looking nice after I spent a good deal of time grooming her to perfection:

bag of tricks

There are several tools I've learned from various riding instructors who have taught me. One of my favourites is posting to a canter. I didn't learn this until I went to University. It makes perfect sense and as soon as I learned about it, I started using this as an additional tool to get my horses canter right where I wanted it to be.

Then I took a lesson outside of my University's equestrian team and my instructor saw me posting to the canter while warming up and basically asked me what the devil I was doing. According to this instructor, posting to the canter is ridiculous, not effective, and looks stupid. Ever since then I kind of gave up on it. This was a well known trainer and their opinion mattered greatly to me. If this trainer thought it was stupid, it probably was stupid.

This afternoon I was watching some warm-up videos from WEG and to my surprise, one of the riders was filmed warming his horse up at the canter and is very clearly posting.

I was like, huh. If a WEG competitor does it, chances are it's not that stupid afterall.

If you think about it, your seat is an aid. Ideally, any aid (leg, hands, voice, etc) is to be used lightly and though it's important to be consistent, overuse of an aid will cause the horse to tune it out. Following that theory, posting at the canter should technically improve your horses response to your seat when you are in fact sitting on him, right?

Just something to consider. I might do some experimenting with Lucy tomorrow when I ride to see if that helps her regulate her stride a bit more. She is very sensitive and responsive through her back so this might work well for her.

Here's a short video from last night:

Going to the right she was a little bit nutty but sadly my video camera's battery died before we got there. I was so happy, too, thinking it was all caught on camera! Boo :(

Thursday, February 24, 2011

the beauty of flight

Do you believe that falling off is a decision that the rider makes right after they decide they're not capable of hanging on?

I've discovered that if Lucy is being stupid and I tell myself, "I WILL NOT FALL OFF", I typically manage to hang on.

If she's being stupid and I start doubting myself and think, "ok, I am going to eat it in three seconds," then I fall off in three seconds or less, guaranteed.

If you're riding with an instructor and your horse does something naughty that unseats you and may or may not carry on across the ring, your instructor is probably standing in the middle of the ring hollering at the top of his/her lungs at you:

  • "SIT UP!!!"
  • "PICK HER HEAD UP!!!!"

I have had enough instances of this kind of instruction (which is invaluable and half the battle is getting those demands ingrained into your brain and then starting to expect them from yourself) that I am able to silently yell at myself as Lucy is cavorting around.

This came in handy yesterday. The whole time she was going haywire across the ring I was chanting inside my head, "I will NOT fall off. I will NOT fall off. I will NOT fall off." I interjected this chant periodically with reminders to pick her #$*%&$ head up and get this beast under control.

Falling off hurts and it is embarrassing, and all it means is that I have to dig the dirt out of the back of my jeans and brush it off my face and catch my horse and drag her over to the mounting block and get back on and muster up the energy and courage to do it all again. Later that night I get to go home and admire my new bruises, and then I hobble around for the rest of the week like a 80 year old lady. If that's not bad enough, I have to go spend $70 on a new helmet before I can ride again.

The whole buying a new helmet thing is almost persuasion enough not to fall ever again.

So I am curious whether you think your falls are a result of g-forces beyond your control that literally propel you out of the saddle, or if you make a conscious decision to "bail". If you decide mid-buck that you are going to stick it out no matter what, are you able to stay aboard? Or does ponykins override your power and send you packing anyway?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

omg, how could I forget: miceapalooza 2011

I opened one of my grain bins to get Lucy's dinner ready this evening and what greeted me but a little clan of mice all chowing down inside my locked bin.

How those little [beep]s got in there is beyond me, but there they were, stuffing their cheeks and peering up at me with their beady little eyes.

I got out my phone to take a photo. Sensing impending doom, mass panic errupted within the little mice society living in my grain bin, and half of them made giant lifesaving leaps out over the edge. The other half seemed worried but some kept nibbling. By the time I got my phone out and the camera app going, this is what I had left:

I'm not a totally awful person; I put that red bucket in there upside down to give them a last chance at getting out before calling for backup.

"Where is that blasted barn cat?" I murmured to myself. I called him in a sing-song voice and he came trotting over, expecting a treat (you can see the bag of cat treats I keep in the bin along with the's always good to have the management on my side and this cat owns the whole barn).

It did not take long for the cat to realize that dinner was inside the bin and he got to work.

I think mice are cute and all that jazz, but when there is an entire population sustaining itself on my horses grain and pooping simultaneously (as mice are known to do) into the grain that I will then scoop out and feed my horse, this angers me. Mice and barns go hand-in-paw this was ridiculous, especially since all of my grain bins have lids that I keep on at all times!

building trust, one leap at a time

I am at that point with Lucy where she's doing very well and wanting to stretch a lot, but I have to force myself to trust her. We all know the nonsense she's capable of, and she has been known to take advantage of a loose rein in the past. I don't want to punish her in the present for past silliness but I won't lie to you: every time I ride her on a loose rein, I say a silent prayer. I am not a religious woman but I feel there's no time like the present to pray for good luck.

During this afternoon's ride she was going nicely in both directions and at the canter, wanted to stretch. I allowed her to do so to the left without incident and she was lovely. To the right we went through the same routine: trot, ears pinned, nasty faces, scratches on the neck and slight "tsk tsk"ing, big sigh, signs of relaxation, and finally asking for more rein to stretch. I gladly let her have it all (basically I was riding her on the buckle) and reached down to stroke her along her neck and praise her. This is when she decided that NOW was the time to leap across the diagonal of the ring and throw in a few bucks along the way.

I thought I was going to eat dirt for about a second but if I have learned anything from this horse, it's how to sit up and gain control even when you think all hell has broken loose. So that's just what I did and somehow she landed from her last leap on the left lead, so that's how we continued around the ring. The rest of the ride was fabulous and against every self-preserving fibre of my being, I allowed her one more stretchy canter to the right before calling it a day.

I even had an audience; a girl who is looking to move her horse to the barn was there watching the whole thing.


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

my body teaches me a lesson

After about a week of heavenly rides, I went to the barn and set up some jumps before tacking Lucy up. I started thinking about bending lines and bounces, letting my mind wander to our imaginary first show where we are going to kick some warmblood tail.

I ended up with two crossrails and some trot poles. Hey, you've gotta start somewhere.

This morning I was running late so I did not have time to eat breakfast. I had a busy day at work daydreaming about ponies and never got around to eating lunch. I ate a few chocolates, and candy honestly makes up about 20% of my diet normally, so that was nothing new. After work I went straight to the barn, did my chores, set up the jumps, and tacked Lucy up. I got on and started warming her up and all of a sudden I felt like I had no energy at all.

Brushing it off and trying to concentrate, I asked her for a canter. Normally she is great to the right and awful to the left. Today she was really good to the left and very sassy to the right. In her defense, it has been too icy to turn out at the barn so she has been in the past two days. She did get some time to run and play in the indoor while I did her stall and I heard her thundering around in there and squealing at herself in the mirror (yes, she is *that* into herself) so I know she got some energy out. Still she was very strong and tried to haul me around and every time I sat up to try and get her to slow down I felt like I was going to faint.

I'm sure no one is surprised that I didn't attempt any jumps tonight.

After I got off and put her away, I had to break down the jumps that I didn't use. Each time I'd pick up a pole and stack it in the corner, I'd have to spend a few minutes getting my bearings so that I didn't pass out.

Moral of the story is that a few chocolates do not provide enough fuel for an entire day, including a good ride. I'm sorry, body! I heard you loud and clear today.

how I found out that Gunner likes eating cords

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Beach Puppy

It was a beautiful day today - above 50*! - and after I got out of work and fed the horses, I went home and grabbed Cairo and we headed to the beach. Narragansett Beach is just 20 minutes from my house and dogs (and horses) are allowed on it during the off-season. Cairo loves the beach and she was very well-behaved. She has historically had a hard time listening and obeying, especially the "come" command, but over the winter Kenny and I have worked with her extensively and today she was a very good girl.

yay :)

My ride last night was only the second time I've been on L in the past two weeks. A number of things happened to make it hard to ride:

1. I sold my Toulouse saddle and the matching stirrup leathers that I had been using with my new Stubben, which left me with no stirrups. I don't think Lucy is quite trustworthy enough for a solid no-stirrups ride.

2. Lucy got her teeth done and needed a few days off to recover from that.

3. I got the head cold from hell and couldn't breathe just sitting around, let alone while doing any physical activity.

This week I was finally feeling good enough to ride and I have been really pleased with Lucy thus far. Her leaser rode her after Lucy recovered from having her teeth done and reported that for the most part, L was really good.

Here is a video from last night's ride. She was really a witch to the left...she just hates going in that direction and according to the chiro it's not a misalignment issue. Going to the right, however, was quite nice. At times we were going what felt like 300 mph and careening around a bit, BUT she did some nice stretching that I was happy with. I am so out of shape from just two weeks of not riding that I was about as effective as a sack of potatoes, so ignore me floundering around up there.

And here are some screen caps:

The stretching at the canter was HUGE for her. She has never felt balanced or secure enough that she can stretch down and not balance her front end off of me. I was very proud of her.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

sad day at the farm

I've been quiet this week even though I have had a few good rides because we lost one of my favourite horses at the barn yesterday. Spanky was an elderly grey gelding who had to be put down unexpectedly yesterday. It hit his owners and the rest of the boarders at the barn hard. He was such a character and I will miss him dearly. Even Lucy seemed to be mourning him yesterday. She seemed very sad and withdrawn. Spanky was the gelding she loved to torture the most and he was one of the more studdish geldings I've met, so he dished it right back to her.

RIP Spanky.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

out of service

I got my [rear end] handed to me this week by the cold of doom. I was rendered completely useless starting Sunday and going straight through yesterday. Even today I'm not feeling 100% but I came back to work because I was going nuts at home. That's when you know you've transitioned into the life of an office professional and the sit-around-and-get-fat-while-"studying" college lifestyle is completely out of your system. Sad :(

I think it took me so long to get over this cold because I still had to go out to the barn and take care of Lucy every day. I rough board so her stall and afternoon feeding are my responsibility. I wish I would have asked for help because no one offered any assistance with her stall, and as a result I was out there scooping poop while not really being able to breathe. One of my fellow boarders did offer to help me stack some hay that I had thrown down from the loft, which I really appreciated.

Cairo gets a gold star for this week, though. She is an 11 month old very active dog, yet she quietly and without protest laid on the couch with me and kept me company. I took her to the dog park yesterday because I felt badly for her, and at least at the dog park I can stand in one place while she gets maximum play time with her canine friends.

The horse got the shaft big time. I literally went to the barn, put her in the indoor to let her romp (it has been extremely cold and very icy here this week so turnout has been limited at best), heated some water for her dinner, did her stall, put her in her stall and fed her, gave her a carrot and a kiss, and peaced out. No brushing, no riding, nothing. :( Sorry horse. Her leaser is riding her today and I sent her an email forewarning her that I have done nothing with her all week so she may be even more lala than usual. Lucy you had better be good!

In non-horse-related news, I got to do a fun photoshoot on Monday. I was feeling pretty crappy but I had agreed to do it a while ago and didn't want to back out. My wedding photographer sometimes hosts workshops for other photographers and he has asked me to "model" for them a couple of times. It's a lot of fun and I am comfortable in front of the camera, and since I'm interested in photography I always pay attention to the class itself because I learn a lot! This workshop was on off-camera lighting, which I don't know a lot about, and it was very interesting stuff.

Here are a few of my favourite shots:

(c) Dawn Marie Temple of Bellaria Designs Photography

(c) Jaime Marland of Jaime Marland Photography

(c) Jaime Marland of Jaime Marland Photography

(c) Jaime Marland of Jaime Marland Photography

This workshop was extra fun because all of the attendees were women. We had a great time together and it's always exciting to meet more photographers in the area! When we were shooting outside, they were giving me hilarious prompts to get reactions out of me like, "oh look, here comes the smoking hot mailman!" James Hazelwood, my wedding photographer who hosted the workshop, was really fun to work with and put up with all of the chattering well ;)

Sunday, February 6, 2011

New addition

Kenny and I traded in my beloved 2008 Volvo sedan for this beast of a truck yesterday. It's a 2011 Chevy Silverado.

I will miss my car but it'll be nice not to have a car payment (I am "adopting" Kenny's 2006 Mazda 6, which we own outright), and this truck has the heavy duty towing package.

As in a horse trailer.

As in taking Lucy places without having to beg for trailer rides.

Just gotta actually BUY a trailer first.

Anyway, we took it out for a little photoshoot today:

Friday, February 4, 2011

26 so far...don't be the 27th

I am keeping a running tab of the indoors and barns collapsing around the area. Between CT, MA, NH, and RI, I have counted 26 collapses. It breaks my heart to hear the stories; the horses must have been so frightened. There have been some equine deaths and both equine and human entrapments but miraculously from what I have heard, everyone escaped harm in most of the cases.

My husband and I were discussing this week if we needed to worry about the roof on our house. We have a one-level ranch built in 1961 that has wooden trusses supporting the roof and a 3:1 pitch. These stats are worrisome because wooden structures and 3:1 pitched roofs are what has been commonly collapsing. Lucky for us, our house is in full sun the entire day and the snow has been melting off of it at a good pace. Still I worry, and when I lay in bed at night I listen hard for any creaking sounds.

Has anyone had to remove snow off their roof in fear that it may be structurally unable to take the load?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

pony torture

Lucy got her teeth floated this afternoon. Personally I have been putting off a dentist appointment for about two years now and I felt like a jerk being afraid of a human dentist when I was watching her get her grill filed down.

Her dentist, Dave Ribeiro of From the Horse's Mouth did a great job with her. She got a little bit upset when he was getting down to the nitty-gritty in the back of her mouth but he calmly stuck with it. Overall she behaved very well. She didn't need any sedation and only got a bit high-headed when she got worried. Dave removed two caps from her top front teeth. He said she's a bit behind schedule as far as her dental development goes but it's not anything to get worried about. He found some sharp points and some steps in her back molars but everything is smoothed out now and hopefully she'll be more comfortable.