Monday, January 31, 2011

In which Lucy has a very clean mouth.

Shh, Lucy is a *C Word*.


Oh, you thought I meant something different. No, no, and to be honest, "cribber" is as much of a bad word as that one is anyway.

Her stall has taken the brunt of the abuse, since she gets turned out in a paddock with plastic flex fencing.

Lucy says, "Wood is a lot easier for me to chow down on than plastic fencing...DUH. Stupid humans."

Needless to say, my barn owner is not very impressed with her new habit. I knew I had to find a solution before she did too much damage, so I started doing research and asking around.

Someone said to me that they had used Irish Spring soap in the past and rubbed it on the wood where she has been chewing, then she will stop chewing it because horses apparently hate the taste of this particular soap. It was reiterated to me that it can't be Dove. It can't be CVS store brand. It must be Irish Spring.

So off to WalMart I went, and I purchased the Magical Anti-Cribbing Irish Spring Soap. I applied it as directed:

By the time I was finished applying it to all of the areas she has chewed on (and the few areas that haven't been chewed yet), I had used half a bar:

I brought Lucy in from her paddock and put her in her stall. She immediately noticed the half bar of soap sitting on top of her blankets on her door and of course was curious. She had a little taste and mulled it over for a minute, trying to decide if it was edible or not. I sat with a wild smile across my face waiting for her look of disgust, camera on and ready to capture her reaction:

"Mmm, that's a tasty treat!" she said to herself. She went back for more. My smile turned to a look of horror as my horse ATE the soap:

After a few bites and no sign of stopping, I just could not stand it anymore. I took the soap away. She was sad:

I am not kidding you when I say she took bites out of it:

Thursday, January 27, 2011

fresh powder

Another foot of snow. We're running out of space to put it all! Lucy's solution: just plow through it.

I've also added some pages to this blog. We now have a page about me, and a page about Lucy, so that newcomers can get the basic gist of the blog without having to go through hundreds of entries.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

quickest ride ever

We are getting yet another snow storm today so after work I went over to the barn not really expecting to ride. When I got there, however, I suddenly got the urge to hop on without even taking Lucy's blanket off. The Princess needs to stay warm, afterall.

We wandered around the farm, down to the little field that borders the woods, and then back to the barn. I think it was ten minutes tops but I left the barn smiling and that's what it's really all about.

naughty horse

We all know Lucy is a sensitive soul. She often appears to be more annoyed and prone to be silly when I pick up contact, and her leaser has noticed also. She suggested that we might try a bitless bridle or a hackamore, so I arranged to borrow one from a nice lady in New Hampshire whom I don't really know but she gladly sent me, a stranger, her bitless bridle for a month's trial. How nice is that?

Sunday was the first time we tried it. Her leaser was riding and Lucy did alright with it at first, and then a couple of times got really pissy in the ring. At one point she popped a small rear but came back down when asked to go forward.

She seemed to be getting more and more agitated in the ring and since she's usually so happy outside, I suggested we take her for a walk, offering to follow her leaser on foot while she rode. We followed a little trail through the woods and Lucy seemed really happy. She responded well to the bridle and we had a nice time. I wasn't even out of breath trudging through a foot of snow!

Then, when we were almost back at the barn, and we had to cross a small field to get to where the far paddocks are that lead back to the main parking lot and barn area. Lucy all of a sudden got very worked up, as if she couldn't get back to the barn fast enough. She didn't bolt, but she got wound up like a rocket ready to burst. This is a horse who has never offered to be barn sour, but she had made her mind up. When her leaser pulled back to ask her to woah, Lucy went straight up in the air. She came back down and went up two more times, each time getting consecutively higher. Her leaser sat all but the last rear, and she said it was more a decision to bail than anything else. I stood in the corner of the field watching the whole thing feeling totally helpless. Once Lucy was riderless she galloped up the very icy path back to the barn. I was furious at her! I checked to make sure her leaser was ok, but luckily she had fallen in a nice big cushy snow drift (yay snow!) and she was fine.

Somehow Lucy managed not to wipe out during her trip back to the barn, but she had a hard time stopping on the barn driveway (because once again, it is ICE), and she had to run up a snow bank to stop. Then she trotted back to the barn doors and waited expectantly to be taken inside.

I wanted to KILL HER.

The more I thought about it afterward, the more I realized that her rearing was probably a reaction to the mechanism of the bitless bridle. This particular bridle works by applying pressure to the underside of the chin and jaw, and both areas are very sensitive on a horse. When we were back in the woods before she reared, I had to adjust the straps several times because on a few occasions they got twisted, and they also didn't release pressure well at all. Even if there was no tension in the reins, they were still tight against her face.

Needless to say I don't think a bitless bridle is going to work for us, but I am really glad we gave it a shot. I'd be hesitant to try it again because I do not want to teach my already very athletic and slightly unpredictable horse that rearing is an option. Even the fact that she thought she had to rear to get away from the pressure is very alarming, but it makes sense. I feel awful that she acted like that with her leaser and I am very grateful that no one was injured. It was scary.

So it will be back to the regular bridle from now on, and I've set up a dentist appt for her to see if her teeth are bothering her.

And to add to the drama, I slipped going up the muck pile with a full wheelbarrow and landed with all my weight on a solid piece of ice with one knee. I had to stand there and collect myself and just breathe for a few minutes before I could continue because it hurt pretty badly. And now my knee is all sorts of fun colours.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Happy 5th Birthday to Lucy

I am sorry to report that Lucy was a very bad girl this weekend, and maybe I'll have the energy to update about that this afternoon (the short version is that she has decided rearing is a whole lot of fun), but for now we'll forget about her naughtiness because today is her 5th birthday.

I think that all she's going to get will be some frozen carrots because really, she was AWFUL. Maybe, if I'm feeling really nice, I'll add some peppermints to her mash tonight.

Lucy enjoying the nice crisp -2* weather this morning.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Are You Prepared?

My day job is working in emergency management for colleges and universities. Part of EM is having an emergency plan, i.e. planning ahead should any type of disaster happen and how the school would get through the disaster with minimal loss (both property and life).

I started thinking last night about plans for barns and I am curious if your barn has one. What would happen if there was a fire? Do you have enough paddocks to get all of the horses out of the barn and into a safe place? Do you have spoken or written agreements with neighboring farms for them to temporarily house your horses? Similar arrangements would need to be made if your barn flooded, sustained major structural damage, etc.

If you keep all of your paperwork in a barn office, do you have copies of your horses health certificates, proof of ownership, and registrations in a separate location should the originals be destroyed?

If you don't own a trailer, do you have contact numbers for people who do in case you need to get your horses out of danger? This also links in with medically-related instances where a trailer is needed, like if your horse colics and your vet tells you it needs surgery. This always weighs heavily on my mind, as I don't own a trailer.

Do you have an updated catalog of all the tack in the barn with photos and serial numbers (specifically of saddles) in case you lose everything? Replacement via insurance claims will go a lot more smoothly if you can provide that documentation. Homeowners insurance will often times cover the loss of privately owned equipment. I know the policy that Kenny and I have for our house does, but I have been slacking big time on putting the information about my saddle on file with them.

No one likes to consider that disaster and loss could affect them, but the reality is that you just never know what's around the corner. In the past few years we have had major flooding (at least here in RI where parts of this state are still recovering from the catastrophic flooding we had this past spring), and there have been numerous barn fires in this area. In California you have the incredible rain storms, which lead to land slides. Earthquakes and hurricanes can cause major and widespread destruction. Tornadoes are like mother nature's way of rolling a dice and seeing which building gets sucked up. The moment when you get the news that a major disaster is imminent is NOT the time to wonder what to do with your horses.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

videos from tonight

Another great ride on Lucy tonight! I rode last night and she was so amazingly good that I set up a little crossrail that she happily trotted over. Unfortunately no one could video for me yesterday, but today my friend Jenny came to the barn with me and she took some video!

Lucy on the flat

Lucy over a crossrail

A screencap:

Not gonna lie, I am THRILLED :D

Also, don't forget to leave a comment with a question for Lucy here.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Stylish Blogger Award

Kristen from sweet horse's breath awarded Lucy and I with the Stylish Blogger Award :D

There are 4 duties to perform to receive this award:
1. Thank and link back to the person who awarded you this award
2. Share 7 things about yourself
3. Award 15 recently discovered great bloggers
4. Contact these bloggers and tell them about the award!

The Thank You:

Kristen and I have a lot in common. We are both young artsy professionals, starting our married lives with our significant others. And both of us fell in love with a thoroughbred who wasn't in the best condition, and we have both made our horses shine again. Her horse, Lazarus, is a handsome bay OTTB whom Kristen got fresh off the track. Like a lot of OTTB's, he needed some weight when she got him, but you'd never know that now because he is shiny, happy, and there are no signs of ribs :) She has also worked with him through a bout with laminitis, but he is back on track now and feeling great. She inspires me to keep at it, even when Lucy is really pushing my buttons, because something awesome is always around the corner.

Seven Things About Myself:

1. I have been riding since I was 3 but my earliest memory of horses isn't from riding. Until I was six, I lived next to a horse farm and my mum would ride the horses over to our house and come up the driveway. I remember standing there as a very young girl and looking up in complete awe at my mum on a gigantic bay thoroughbred, and then off she went, into the hunt fields to jump big fences. And that is how I got hooked.

2. Lucy is my very first horse, and I bought her for myself in November of 2009. I got tired of asking "Santa" for a horse. All he ever got my was a My Little Pony, or a Breyer. Those are lovely, but I wanted a real live eating and pooping pony! I've always liked the project horses and boy oh boy has Lucy been a project. I adore her and I am glad I keep this blog, because it makes it easy for me to click back through our progress and realise just how far we've come.

3. I grew up all over the place. I was born in Hong Kong, and have lived in England, the Annapolis MD area, the Boston MA area, and now I live in Rhode Island with my husband. I have also traveled a fair bit, and I try to ride whenever I travel.

4. I love, love, love to eat, and I will try almost anything. I draw the line at some animal products (and tofu, because that just sounds gross) but I do try to be adventurous! I am screwed if my metabolism ever slows down.

5. I also love cars. I plan on having a mid-life crisis and buying a Mini Cooper. After my first car (a Honda Accord) died last year, I was *this close* to buying a Mini but at the last minute bought Lucy and a used 2008 Volvo instead. If Lucy weren't almost 17hh, I would name her Mini Cooper. ;) Just kidding.

6. I work in Emergency Management, which is basically the art of predicting unpredictable events and trying to be as prepared as possible for them. This is not my passion, though. I am an artist by trade and training and I have a BA in Fine Art. I post my artwork from time to time here, but if you'd like to see more, you can check out my DeviantART account.

7. As I mentioned above, I live in New England with my wonderful husband, whom I married this past September. He is a pretty good rider himself, though he doesn't spend a lot of time at the barn these days. I fell in love with him when we used to ride two horses down in the Southern part of the state. We could ride right to the beach and boy did he look handsome on the Azteca mare with his cowboy hat on.

15 Great Bloggers:

1. A Collection of Madcap Escapades
2. Eventing-A-GoGo
3. Green n Green = Black n Blue
4. Grey Brook Eventing
5. Jessi Makes Jewelry
6. Lovin' from the Oven
7. Saddle Fitting: The Inside Journey
8. Sweet Horse's Breath
9. Tacky Tack of the Day
10. Team Taco
11. The George Morris Chronicles
12. The Jurga Report: Horse Health Headlines
13. Wanderlust
14. Tucker the Wunderkind
15. Tails and Trails of a Barn Rat

200th Post: Ask Lucy

Wow, two hundred Lucy-centric updates in a little over a year. That's not too bad, right?

The thing is, Lucy is bored, and getting slightly annoyed, because I never let HER talk:

"seriously, mum, will you shut up already?"

Now I don't know if all of you have had the pleasure of interacting with a young, bored, and slightly annoyed mare, but it's not pretty.

To switch it up I thought I'd give everyone a chance to ask Lucy some questions. I will relay the questions to her and let you know what she says. She can be a little bit loopy and sometimes she rambles, but I think underneath all of that 'tude she is quite intelligent.

I'm sure she'd love to talk about her boyfriend(s), her wardrobe, her routines, and her dinner. She'd also probably like reminiscing about her short-lived stint as a racehorse, and musing about what she envisions herself doing in the next few years.

Monday, January 17, 2011

I love my horse, part 3

The last batch of photos I have are of Lucy in the outdoor after we first got all that snow last week.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

I love my horse, part 2

Yesterday I ventured out with my friend Alicia and her horse Mollie, the pair we went to the field with a couple weeks ago. We hit up a really nice trail down the road that I had gone to just the day before with someone from my barn. Lucy had put up a little fight when we had to cross a stream, but after a discussion she went over the stream. Yesterday she put up the SAME fight and I was like, jeez Lucy, we just went through this! But once again she went through it after about 20 minutes of being stupid about it, and just like yesterday I made L go back and forth a bunch of times:

I finally got back on and rode her for the last crossing. Here she is doing a giant deer leap over it even though she had just walked through it FIVE times in a row! Oh well, at least we got across!

But the thing that REALLY impressed me today about Lucy was that we were trotting along the trail in the snow and all of a sudden Mollie bolted and I heard Alicia saying, "Mollie STOP! Mollie HALT!!!" and then she said as Mollie got closer and closer, "I'm really sorry but we're going to come past you!" and in a chestnut blur, Mollie galloped past us. I was a bit concerned for my safety seeing as I was riding an ex race horse and they tend not to like being passed by another horse who is galloping, so I hung on for dear life as Mollie and Alicia disappeared down the trail. Lucy was mad that I wasn't letting her run but she came back to me easily and without much fuss, and then she walked, though high headed, along the trail! I was so happy with her! eventually I got a little worried because Alicia and Mollie were nowhere to be found, though the hoofprints continued along the trail and not into the woods thank I let Lucy trot, which turned into a canter, and we were actually going along at a good clip down the trail. Mollie had gone about 3/4 of a mile before Alicia was able to pull her up! Boy was I glad when we found them in the next field...but I think Lucy enjoyed playing Search and Rescue! She was quite pleased with herself and I was pleased that I didn't die lol.

When we got back from the trail ride, I decided to take Lucy in the outdoor again because we had so much fun the previous day. I asked a fellow boarder to take some video for me. Here are some screen shots from that video:

And the video of me riding her in the ring.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

I love my horse!

Ok, I know she's been a gigantic wench lately, but over the past three days I have had a BLAST with Lucy.

I have a ton of photos to share so I'll probably break them up over a few posts. But here are some from our ride two days ago, when we went on an epic trail ride and then I rode her in the outdoor when we got back:

boy oh boy do I need a tan!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

snow day!

We got over 20" of snow yesterday and it was so bad that the state of Rhode Island basically shut down, so I didn't have to go to work! I had a great day and got a lot accomplished. Kenny was once again stuck at work and ended up pulling a 36 hour I did a lot of the work at home cleaning up the driveway and whatnot. Our house has a legal apartment attached to it that we rent out of a friend of ours, and he was home and came out and helped me, which was nice, because that was a LOT of snow!

Here is a photo of me using the snowblower for the first time:

I actually had to call my father in law to ask how to turn it on! Haha. But I got it going and with our housemates help, cleaned off the whole driveway. It took four hours to do because we had waited until most of the snow had already fallen before starting the removal process, and it was very heavy, wet snow. I also did a bit of shoveling and I am paying a handsome price for that today :(

Then I went off to the barn to see Lucy! She was happy to see me. I rode her in the indoor and then went on a little ride around the farm with two other girls from the barn. Here is Lucy posing for the camera:

She likes to stick her whole face in the snow and eat it, so she kept wanting to stretch down and bury her head in the snow. It was so funny. Check out her bridle! Good thing that's the cheap hunter bridle and not my nice Pessoa.

She was so happy to be outside.

Monday, January 10, 2011

trying my patience

Lucy has been an unholy terror over the past few days. I tried to have a nice hack around on her bareback and we got around the ring once and then she leaped straight up and down in place four times for no apparent reason! I was SO mad at her that I did my best to get at least some semblance of a "normal" walk out of her and went home and spent an hour looking at horses for sale on

I talked to some horsey friends about my frustrations and we came to two conclusions:

-I was stupid to try to ride bareback in this weather so I kind of set myself up for failure on that one...I also found out (after the ride, of course) that the horses had been in ALL day. It was like trying to ride a rocket.

-I needed to change tactics when she's naughty and push her through her antics and keep her feet moving, rather than halt her and start from scratch. Pushing her through it will teach her that being bad is NOT an evasion tactic that's going to work, and halting her tends to piss her off more than anything else.

So tonight I went to the barn with a fire lit under my rear end. Yes, we've entered that stage of the cycle where I get sick of her nonsense and put her in her place. I first let her have her time in the indoor to get the kinks out, as is our routine. She has been putting on a real show lately after she rolls. Here are two videos:

A couple of days ago

This evening

As you can see, she's been pretty full of herself...

When she was done being silly, I brushed her, tacked her up without any issues, and we went into the indoor. I let her warm up at the walk for a long time and we did lots of circles and serpentine's. A few times she tried to break into the trot and I did a one-rein stop. I know I said I was going to push her through when she was naughty, but I think breaking into the trot from the walk when I am allowing her to walk on a loose rein is different than when she broncs around at the trot or canter. In my last lesson w/ my trainer he said I needed to put a stop to that breaking into a trot from a walk business asap, and I didn't have to be nice about it. So that is what I did.

After she was warmed up I took a deep breath and we got to work. Honestly I thought I was going to get tossed tonight, I really did. I wore my XC vest and carried a long whip just in case I had to battle it out. She tried to be silly a few times and with every fibre in me screaming "HALT!" I urged her forward. I think she was like holy cow, I am still being made to work even though I'm acting like a HUGE jerk! Funny that all along, my trainer has also been in the school of thought to keep the horse going when it acts out, and once again, he has proven to be SPOT ON. It worked and like magic, we had a great ride. I also had both of my legs firmly against her sides the entire ride and actively asked her to give me her inside shoulder. To the left she was ok...she tended to lean on my inside leg but didn't try much silly stuff. This was a huge breakthrough...I don't think we've been able to canter to the left in a month or so. To the right she was stiff to start. She wanted to be silly and you'll see in the video that I just pushed her forward. But at the end I was rewarded with some genuinely light 3-beat canter where she was stretching into the contact, not fighting, not hauling me around, and my heart literally was magical.

Here's the video.

Friday, January 7, 2011

why you need to be very careful when selling something online

(click on images to make them bigger)

Exhibit A:

Exhibit B:

This is a scam. I've gotten a few scam responses to my Toulouse saddle that I'm trying to sell, which I have listed on several online classifieds sites. Ironically the least number of scammer responses have come from Craigslist, which historically has the worst reputation! Funny how that works.

Anyone who isn't aware of the scammer's MO might look at this and say, "Wow, Robert Pattinson, the famous Twilight actor, wants to buy my saddle! That is so awesome!" but spend about 30 seconds thinking about it, and examining the grammar and language in the email, and you will hopefully see that this is a scam. For kicks, I plugged the IP address into an online site that does reverse look-ups, and surprise! it's in Nigeria. Do they have a lot of need for cross country saddles in Nigeria? Probably not.