Friday, January 29, 2010

Michael Gill: not a winner

There is a whole lot of talk going on about Michael Gill, an apparently infamous trainer based mostly out of Penn National Race Track. I thought his name sounded familiar and so I did a bit of research, and it turns out he owned Lucy before she was retired.

He is infamous and strongly disliked by the majority because of his poor record with horses dying under his care. It seems that perfectly sound, healthy, and successful race horses are bought by him and then the next thing you know, they're going 40mph down the back stretch on a broken leg. Apparently he has shipped significant amounts of horses directly to Canada on slaughter trucks from his farm, to avoid gaining unwanted attention by going through auctions.

Somehow Lucy managed to get out of there before she broke down and/or was shipped off to the slaughterhouse. Lucky girl.

Here's the COTH thread.

Here's where it says Lucy belonged to him.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Birthday Girl

Today is Lucy's 4th birthday!

I have been debating for a week about what to get her, but I settled on a Jolly Ball because I thought she would enjoy playing with it. Kenny and I went to the barn tonight together to give it to her and she seemed to like it!

She played with it a bit in her stall and then we turned her out in the indoor to let her get some energy out, and of course we were hoping that she would play with her new toy a bit more. She seemed not to be interested in the Jolly Ball while turned out, though, so we just had a bit of fun watching her run around, and then she wanted to cuddle so she got lots of pats and attention (she is the birthday girl, after all!).

After she was done running around, we tied the Jolly Ball around one of the overhead beams in her stall, and it now sits against the back wall in her stall, so that she can nudge it around with her nose and play with it. Before we left, she had already figured out how to push it, so I hope she enjoys it.

"Thanks, Dad!"

I think what she really wanted was a kitty.

O.C. was not interested, though. Sorry Lucy!


Over the weekend, some friends of mine came to visit and they brought their horses! My barn owner was kind enough to let them keep their two geldings in some of the empty stalls at the barn, and the girls stayed at my apartment.

In the photo above, Erin and her horse Willie are on the left, and Dom and her horse Ozzy are on the right. Lucy and I are in the middle. They arrived from New Jersey on Saturday, and were totally exhausted because they had spent all day in Boston at MIT at an event with the horses (they have the craziest adventures!) so as soon as the horses were settled in, we went back to my apartment and crashed.

On Sunday morning, Lucy got her feet done and then we all rode out for a trail ride. The barn owner had tried to tell me where the trails in the back of the barn's property are, but we lost the trail after about 1/4 mile because everything was so overgrown. We gave up and turned around, and headed to the field down the street instead.

Ozzy and Willie are super well-behaved. They are both Standardbreds and they were great trail riding mentors for Lucy. She was in love with both of them, too, which I'm sure helped ;) In the above photo, Erin and Dom were sitting "side saddle" on their horses, but I feel comfortable doing that on Lucy, so I was joking around and I took my legs off of her for the photo, saying "this is all that I'm willing to take off of the saddle!". She was a good girl and stood for our shenanigans, though!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Now I can take her wherever I go!

Earlier in the month, I ordered a custom key chain from a fantastic artist, Jessi Sawyer.

The key chain came today and I am thrilled with how it came out!

This is how it was wrapped up. I love finishing touches like this!

Now I will get to carry "Lucy" around with me wherever I go :) Thanks Jessi!

Jessi's jewelry blog is here.

Her Etsy shop is here.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Successful first canter around the field

Lucy calmly was able to w/t/c around the field today WITH another horse :) I was worried she might have taken the "must race!" mentality with her but she seemed happy to be beside another horse no matter the speed we were going, and was cool with going away or towards the horse, too.

Here are some photos:

Lucy also got weighed today, but the results weren't what we were expecting. She has actually lost weight since she came in November. If you think back to the photos I have of her the day she arrived, she looks much much better now, yet according to the scale she has lost 9 pounds. With horses, 10 pounds here and there is really trivial, but I was expecting her to gain at least 50 pounds, so I was very disappointed.

No matter what, she looks better than when she came. I don't know if the weight has just redistributed itself (though with a starting BCS of 2.5, there wasn't much weight to redistribute...) or if it was an error, but at least she looks and feels better than when she stepped off the trailer back in November.

Strategy, not force

Lucy's basically had the week off this week due to me being too busy at the car dealership banging my head against the wall, but I finally brought my new car home on Wednesday, so last night I had time to ride after doing her stall.

I spent at least ten minutes getting on because once again she refused to stand at the mounting block. She got two chances with me patting her and going nice and slow, but walked off both times. Using strategy over force, I asked her to turn her head to the right, since she tended to either walk off or swing her hips to the right. I figured if she had her head turned to the right, it would be almost if not totally impossible to turn her body the same direction. If anything she'd turn her body to the left, but I was standing there on the mounting block so she wouldn't get very far. Anyway, my plan worked perfectly and with her head turned, she stood quietly while I mounted from the mounting block! She got lots of praise.

After I finally got on, she walked and trotted around on a loose rein and we did some (zoomy) canter work. For having four days off, she was really well-behaved.

I am looking forward to this weekend because we are going to have two visiting horses at my barn, and both are excellent on the trails. Their owners have promised me a real trail ride on Sunday! I hope Lucy behaves herself...

Monday, January 18, 2010

Why am I wearing the fake water jump?

For a change of pace, I didn't ride today and instead introduced my very brave mare to the plastic blue tarp like the ones I've seen used as water jumps a lot of lower level eventing trials.

First we walked on it and listened to it rustle.

Then we tried it on! Lucy was already like, ok, so what's the point to this exercise?

Then we put it on our heads!

Clearly I have a very very very tolerant three year old. This gives me hope for our future in the eventing world.

Thank you to Stewart for taking these photos :)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Lucy the Trail Horse

I was worried that Lucy was scarred for life after the close call with the inconsiderate driver in the jeep yesterday, so I was prepared for battle this morning when I took her out for a walk on the road. This time, though, I tacked her up before leaving just in case I had enough faith in her by the time we reached the big field at the end of the street to get on. It was just us because the barn was otherwise deserted. Yeah, I was feeling brave!!

She did great with the cars passing her, and only got excited when we walked past Heritage, because all of the horses in the fields were going NUTS. They were running, bucking, squealing and kicking at each other, all having a blast in general. She was trotting in place beside me with her tail flagged and ears pricked as much as physically possible, but she behaved herself and didn't make a fuss about walking away from the farm.

We got to the field and she looked at everything, but I didn't get a "nutso" vibe from her at all so I decided to get on. She stood perfectly still while I tightened the girth and climbed on (she is tall and we were on a hill, so this was no small task!) and then calmly started walking. We walked the perimeter of the field in both directions twice. Cars traveled along two sides of the field, as it sits next to a four-way intersection, but she didn't seem to mind. We even had a little trot! We discovered a back field that linked to the one we were in, so we explored a bit. There was a large tree filled with little black birds and of course they all exploded out of the tree when we got close, and she spooked at that, but she didn't go anywhere; it was more a shy than anything else.

I talked to her the entire time, telling her what a good/pretty/clever girl she was. I also had cookies with me so I'd give her one every few minutes. When it was time to go home, she started getting excited about going in that direction, which included flipping her head and prancing, so then she got to stand for five minutes, and that solved that problem! I hopped off and ran my stirrups up, and then we walked home with no issues.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

heat wave!

Lucy was very chipper today (then again, so was I! It was 50 degrees!!). I went to get her out of her paddock and she was like, "hi! hi! how are ya! hi! what's up! where's my treat! hi!"

She was fantastic under saddle, but it was because she wanted to canter so badly during what I wanted to be our warm up, so finally I was just like, fine, get it out of your system, and she proceeded to give me the most lovely, relaxed, happy canter we've ever had. Going to the left, she picked up the wrong lead along the long side of the arena, with the corner fast approaching. I was going to ask her to do a simple change (trot first, then pick up the correct lead) but she saw the corner and on her own accord executed a lovely flying change. Smart girl.

After I let her canter both directions for a good five minutes each she was able to concentrate better on the trot work, and I felt like the whole ride was very productive! Yay!

She was quite sweaty and I decided it was the perfect opportunity to take her for a walk on the road (in hand) so I untacked her and put her cooler on, and off we went. She did great with the cars, bicycles, and dogs until some jerk in a souped-up Jeep passed us at like 40mph without moving over hardly at all or slowing down, and then GUNNED it right when he passed us. I could almost see her little brain melting. Poor thing was on pins and needles after that and spooked repeatedly at the cars...great. I decided to just have her stand on the side of the road perpendicular to the pavement so that she could see the cars approaching and driving away, and this seemed to help a lot. We also said hello to the Heritage horses, who were out enjoying the sunshine in their gorgeous grass turnouts. She was very interested in the horses and kept nickering to them.

When we got back from having our brains fried, I turned her back out and did a bunch of chores (her stall/grain/water, threw hay down from the loft, cleaned all of my tack and boots and bridles, and tidied up in general) and then brought her in and fed her.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Lucy's Mysterious Mirror Friend

Lucy has always been infatuated with her mysterious friend in the mirror.

-This friend looks exactly like Lucy
-This friend seems to be in an indoor that looks exactly like the one Lucy's in!
-This friend copies everything that Lucy does! Amazing!

I catch her going up to the mirror with her ears pricked sometimes. Then she'll see if she can outsmart her friend, and look away all coy-like, and then when her friend is least expecting it, quickly glance in the mirror. Then she seems to get frustrated because this friend always knows when she's going to be looking, and the friend looks at the exact same time!

The video below is about 7 minutes long but she was such a joy to watch tonight playing in the indoor that I had a hard time cutting down the footage.

She was much more manageable under saddle tonight but that was probably because the barn was totally deserted so we had the indoor all to ourselves, and she had plenty of time to get all of the kinks out hehe. She was having a great time.

The best part of our ride, of which there is some footage in the video, was our canter to the right. She was so much more relaxed than she has been, and I felt so confident in her that after a few laps, I gave her a longer rein, sat back, and really trusted her. She was awesome.

Here's the video!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Make way for hormones!

One of the boarders at the barn was feeding his horse Poulin MVP and had to stop because it made his horse nuts. He had a bit left over and asked if I wanted to see if Lucy liked it. I decided it couldn't hurt (it's just vitamins and minerals) so I have been giving her a handful with each meal starting this past Saturday. Last night was the first day I've ridden her since I started giving it to her and she was like a bottled up rocket. I expected to get on and do at least WT, and hopefully some canter, but she was so UP that she could hardly concentrate enough to trot without bouncing around. So we spent almost 40 minutes walking, doing leg yields and shoulder in/out to get her attention, and then at the very end I got a few nice circles at the trot and we called it a day. It has to be the new grain that's doing it; nothing else has changed and she has been getting turned out full days in one of the bigger paddocks, too, so you'd think she'd be calmer. Needless to say, no more MVP for that horse!

I think she is also in heat. She is my first mare so this whole hormone thing is new to me, but she did not like me around her hind end last night, and seemed very sensitive.

One of the horses at the barn was having a bad colic last night when I got there, and the vet had to come out. Things were not looking good for a while, but luckily a dose of banamine and some fluids from the vet had him looking and feeling much better. He is one of my favourite horses at the barn and everyone at the barn was rooting for him. So, yay banamine!! He was looking much better this morning, too.

I also was able to buy a new tube of banamine to have on hand for future emergencies since the vet was there treating the other horse. The one I had bought when I first got Lucy was used on another horse at the barn a few weeks ago. I have felt uneasy about not having it on hand ever since, so I am really glad I had a chance to get a fresh tube last night.

This morning, Dr. Katz the chiropractor was at the barn bright and early to do an adjustment. As soon as he stepped towards her back end, she pinned her ears, tried to BITE me as I was standing there holding her, and swished her tail. Hello, hormones!

Despite her wanting to eat the poor guy, he was able to do a great adjustment on her, and said he was really happy with her progress so far. He said that she is 50% less sore than the last time he was here, and he's happy with her muscle development. Her pelvis was not nearly as out-of-whack, and she reacted much less to his palpations down her spine.

At the end we did some stretching exercises with her and her neck got a nice adjustment. She got some treats and then she was happy again. Silly mare!

Sunday, January 10, 2010


Lucy's had an easy week and I have been a bit quiet because there has been some major drama, which resulted in some large changes at the barn where I keep Lucy. I was given the option to leave with a large group but at the last second chose to stay. Lucy is happy where she is and so am I, and the barn has everything I ever wanted in a barn and is very convenient for me to get to. The future may hold some changes for Lucy and I but for now we will stay put.

The biggest change is that G is no longer around, and I am now trainerless. This sucks because I was really looking forward to having more lessons from her, especially now that the canter is coming along. I guess I need to consider finding a new trainer, which I am not looking forward to...sigh.

Since I was part of the now defunct co-op, I'm having to go out every day and clean her stall, but I kind of like being in charge of everything. I also increased her hay to two flakes in the AM and four at night, with one flake for lunch. Hopefully she'll fill out over the last sets of ribs, towards her hind end, where hay really counts more than grain for weight.

I noticed a hard, small lump on her right front leg, just below the front of the knee in the middle of her leg. It's cold, there's no swelling or heat, and she doesn't react to me poking and prodding so I am going to leave it alone for now. She's completely sound (phew!) and has no problem playing like any normal 3yo in the indoor. I have no idea what this would be...she may have whacked herself on something but there is no tenderness or swelling, so I don't think that's the case. It's not the right place for a splint to be an issue. Any other ideas?

In the coming week I am hoping that things will be much more low-key! Lucy has a chiro appt on Tuesday first thing in the morning. I suspect a lot of the issues that were addressed during her first chiro appt are starting to reappear, especially in the hind end, so hopefully with a second treatment she will be feeling great again.

Along with horse drama, I also found out that my car is completely toast so next week I guess I get to go car shopping...delightful. I really hate car shopping, especially when it's not my idea! Silly car. So this has been a long and very stressful week for me.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Canter progress!

Tonight's ride started off on the wrong hoof. She fought me with everything, and I fought back. After ten minutes of this we were getting nowhere, and let's face it: a 130lb person is rarely going to win a fight against an 1100lb horse.

SO, we started over, and I am so glad we did. Our canter work was ahhhmazing compared to what I've gotten from her in the past. She felt relatively balanced, wasn't out of control, wasn't four-beating around the corners, and I actually enjoyed myself! Amazing.

Here is a video :)

I have been giving a lot of thought to Lucy's show name. Technically, Kenny gets to pick it, but I have still been daydreaming about some ideas.

I've seen a lot of horses lately with numbers as part of their show names. Is this a trend within certain breeds, or a common thing? I came up with Phoenix 11 last night and for whatever reason, I really like this. 11 is for November, the month that I bought her in. Phoenix is after the bird, not the city. A phoenix symbolizes rebirth, healing, and second chances.

For those of you who show, how did you come up with your horse's show names? Did they come with the name, or did you think of it yourself? Did you have the show name picked out and then base the barn name off of that?

Monday, January 4, 2010

Barn Drama

In the middle of the week, I got to the barn to find a whiteboard instructing people to reserve the indoor for any upcoming riding/lessons/truck-ins. There was no explanation as to why all of a sudden we had to do this. I've never boarded at a barn that made boarders reserve the indoor...I figure we're all mature adults who can ride fairly well, and as long as our horses aren't complete nut jobs, we can share the ring. At one point late in the week last week, we had four young TB's ranging from 15.3hh all the way to 17.3hh in the ring at the same time, and no one died! So why did we now have to schedule our time?

Anyway, because of the lack of an explanation, all of us were kind of freaking out over it, and I was supremely annoyed. I went home and ranted to poor Kenny about privileges being taken away and micro-management of things that were going along perfectly fine by themselves.

On Sunday, I had to do stalls and while I was there, someone who knew more about what the sign was for clarified it for me. The reason they put it up was that there are going to be people trucking in from outside with their horses to rent the indoor, but just because they were renting it does not mean that the boarders at the farm can't use it at the same time. Furthermore, the board is really for scheduled lessons, so that everyone's aware of when someone else might be in the ring with them, should they want to come and school their horse.

A lot of the horses at the barn are either retired, laid up with injuries, or their owners don't ride very often. I've arrived at the barn and found it dark and deserted more often than finding someone else there, especially someone who is going to ride. I enjoy riding with other people...this is why I wanted to board at a barn. The horse I rode before I bought Lucy lived with just one other mare in a backyard situation, and I got so lonely sometimes with having no one else to ride with.

There is often a lot of drama in barns. I don't think it's a hunter thing, or a dressage thing, or a western thing. It's a horse thing. So much of it is based on "he said/she said" or poor communication. Next time, before freaking out, I'll just call the source for more information and then base my reaction on what I hear from them!

I did not ride on Sunday, because it was freezing outside and snowing. It took me over four hours just to muck five stalls and do water and grain! It was nuts. After I finished with the chores, though, I did let Lucy out into the outdoor and she trotted around for a few minutes.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Resolutions for Lucy

Happy New Year!

Kenny and I spent some time last night coming up with resolutions for 2010. Personally I hate resolutions; I feel like it's my responsibility to continually improve myself, not wait for a calendar date and then madly scribble a bunch of stuff on a piece of paper that I'll lose in the next ten minutes.

That being said, 2010 is going to be a huge year for us. In September, we will be married. We have also talked about buying a house. In addition, Lucy will be turning four and hopefully moving along in her training. For these reasons, I agreed to write down my goals for the coming year.

Naturally, some of my resolutions were horsey related :)

1. First and foremost, Lucy needs to be fat and shiny by the time she sheds out in the spring. I feel like we are on the right track with this, but seriously, nothing will make me happier than seeing lots of dapples and zero ribs.
2. I want to conquer the canter (hehe).
3. I want to take L on trail rides once hunting season is over, because I'd prefer not to get shot this year.
4. I'd really like to start her over fences.
5. Once the spring rolls around, I want to put her in a little green horse walk/trot (or if I'm feeling brave, wtc) class at the barn across the street from mine, which is unfortunately a rather large fancy hunter barn and has hosts large and fancy shows. I'd prefer to go to a small, low-key schooling show where people would probably be more patient and understanding than they might be at a rated hunter show, but we'll take what we can get. We're lucky to have a barn that hosts shows literally across the street from us, so I don't have to pay a shipper to truck L all around Rhode Island.

Today I started the year off right with a fabulous ride. My friend Samera, one of my gorgeous bridesmaids, came and took some video for me. I laughed when I watched the video because I talk through the entire thing! So if you watch it, please ignore my incessant chatter.

Lucy has discovered that she looooves stretching. She loves it so much that she has started asking for it, constantly. Today she almost got a little bit demanding about it. I'm torn as to what to do about this. Normally I'd be like, ohhh good horsie! because I want her to stretch through her back. but at one point she pulled so hard that she almost pulled me right out of the saddle! After that, she got her stretching privileges taken away, and any time she pulled against me, I planted my hands and let her pull against herself. I will have to ask G about this next time I see her...actually, what I really need is to set up another lesson!

We did get some great leg-yields in both directions, some of which you'll see in the video. After Samera stopped recording, we also had a very nice canter to the left and a messy canter to the right.

After I was satisfied, Samera got on Lucy and walked her around to cool out, which was awesome! She has ridden Lucy once before, but doesn't ride on a regular basis. I walked beside them around the ring once, and then let Samera go. She had Lucy walking, halting, circling, and looked awesome through the whole thing. She is my bravest friend!

Here is the video that Samera took.