Tuesday, January 31, 2012

hill, buck buck buck

I went on a fab trail ride today. Lucy and I met Kenny and Cairo in one of the fields and Kenny took some video for me:

And here's a "family photo":

Saturday, January 28, 2012

excellent news! and check out my awesome t-shirt.

I rode Lucy today for the first time in a few days, since she had seemed sore in her mouth and I decided to give her a few days off.

She was AWESOME!

She was actually quite fresh just warming up at the walk, even after going through the jump chute last night (and getting very sweaty) so I hopped off and lunged her before riding any further. Probably a good idea; she had a lot of excess energy to blow off. I was also taking a big gamble and riding her in the Happy Mouth bit (aka, the Listening Is Optional bit). Normally after having time off, I'd ride her in the kimberwicke but since I was worried about a possible mouth issue, I opted for the much kinder Happy Mouth.

I rode her on the flat in the outdoor and then Kenny came to take some photos, so I introduced her to some of the jumps in the little XC course they have at this barn. She was so good!

The side of the ring has this little cut-out that is a
step jump down into the XC area. Here Lucy was
trying to figure out what the heck she was supposed
to do. "But mom, there's a HUGE drop here!"

Then she was tres awesome.

Then we went in the indoor and jumped around. I randomly completely lost my confidence in the indoor, after I had been jumping some good sized logs outside, and Lucy fed off my nervousness big time and started refusing everything. 2'6" looked HUGE and I spent the entire approach to the jump thinking, "holy sh*t, holy sh*t" and staring at the base of the jump. Well, no surprise here: Lucy was not feeling like being the aircraft AND the pilot and she did not help me out a whole lot. Luckily I had my heels jammed down to China and I did not go airborne! I managed to pull it together enough to get her over all the jumps.

she was jumping QUITE round.

uhh...I guess they can't all be kodak moments.
The main goal today was to get some photos of me wearing my super cool OTTB-inspired shirt!

A fellow blogger (Kristen from Sweet Horse's Breath) has started a t-shirt business dedicated to OTTB's! Check her out on Facebook (click here) and spread the OTTB love.

Friday, January 27, 2012

mouth issue update/jump chute

Lucy seems to have enjoyed her time off. I've been doing a lot of ground work with her so that she's not just sitting around, and tonight we tried a jump chute! She did great!

Thanks for all the helpful suggestions and ideas regarding her mouth issue. I looked in her mouth (the best I could) and didn't see anything abnormal. She's not sensitive to her cheeks being poked or prodded, even behind the eyes as BeBe suggested. I got brave and tried pushing on her gums and didn't feel any bumps or get any kind of reaction from her, so I don't think it's a wolf teeth issue.

She just turned six and had her teeth floated in November, and it was a very routine, straightforward float. The dentist didn't find any abnormalities, but she is floated every six months on a schedule to keep up with the changes in her mouth, so she tends to be pretty easy to maintain.

I am going to ride her tomorrow and hopefully she will be ok! If not, the dentist will come out early next week to investigate.

Here's some video from tonight:

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

"a few days off"

Something is bothering Lucy. She has been weird about anyone touching her mouth, accepting the bit, and she has not liked any pressure on her mouth from the bit. A few nights ago she was being a bit "looky" in the ring when I was trying to get on, so someone offered to hold her for me. As I mounted up, the person pulled down just slightly on the reins. Lucy reacted by violently throwing her head in the air and smacking me square in the nose. I was shocked but it was over as quickly as it began, and the ride went on without any further incident.

Then last night, she was very weird about half-halts. Constant (light) pressure on the bit was ok but when I asked for a half-halt, she flipped her head and got upset. Once again, though, it was over as quickly as it began and she was really good for the rest of the ride, though I was careful to ride off my seat even more than usual so I didn't need to do a lot with her face.

Lauren confirmed that Lucy was also weird about her mouth today, so I decided to call Lucy's dentist, thinking something must be bothering her in her mouth. The dentist spoke to me and as I listed off all of the symptoms, he listened intently. He didn't think it sounded like a tooth issue, because Lucy is eating fine (even hay). He said horses sometimes bite their tongues and maybe she had done that. The solution was to give her a few days off to let anything heal that the bit may be interfering with. Lauren and I decided to give her until Sunday as a little vacation, and if on Sunday she is still exhibiting the same symptoms, the dentist will come and look at her next week.

If this were interfering with her ability to eat properly, I'd call the vet, but I really trust this dentist's judgement and hopefully there is nothing bigger brewing! If she gets worse even with the time off, or starts to not eat normally, I will call the vet.

I don't have very much experience with mouth issues - does anyone have any ideas as to what the issue could be? She doesn't seem sensitive around her cheeks or under her jaw, so I do not think it's an abscess.


It has been like Christmas around here with all these awards! As Zenyatta would say, "blush, blush!". Thank you for recognizing my blog...I do put a good amount of effort into it and I am glad you all enjoy it.

I was given the Kreativ Blogger Award by BeBe over at A Filly's Best Friend:

For this award, I am supposed to share 10 things you may not know about me, my dog(s), and my horse(s):

1. Cairo is a Rhodesian Ridgeback but she is actually considered "ridgeless" because her little baby ridge doesn't meet the breed standard. We love her all the same and she isn't lacking any of the other Ridgeback characteristics!
2. I met Lucy a few months before I actually bought her, and at the time, she wasn't for sale. I liked her a lot then and it must have been fate that brought us together a short time later.
3. My dream car is a Mini Cooper S.
4. I grew up in Hong Kong, England, Washington DC, and Massachusetts, and if I've learned one thing from my international childhood, it's that "home is where the family is".
5. Cairo's parents and grandparents are international champions.
6. Lucy has grown almost four inches since I got her.
7. I have an art degree and my "ultimate goal" is to be a graphic designer for a horse magazine.
8. The saddle pad business started out as a just-for-fun thing, where I'd paint them as gifts for friends. When people started asking me if they could buy one, I realized I may have  a good business opportunity on my hands, and the rest is history!
9. I sold my first commissioned horse portrait at the age of 14.
10. Kenny had only ridden a handful of times (ponyrides) before we met, but he quickly developed a very good sense of balance in the saddle and after a few "lessons" he was popping over little crossrails. He is a natural!

Now, for the passing on of the award to six blogs I enjoy (with this and also the next award, I tried to pick blogs that haven't been given an award yet):

Wanderlust (not a horsey blog, but VERY interesting and fun to follow!)
Foxhunting Friesian
Allie and Gracie
Mad for Smarty
Lovin' From the Oven

I was given the Liebster Award by Thoroughbred Adventures, Hopeful Jumpers, and Liz Stout (THANK YOU!)

Liebster means “dearest” in German, and the award is intended to help up-and-coming blogs get the attention they deserve. Here are the rules:

1. Copy and paste the award on your blog.
2. Link back to the blogger who gave you the award
3. Pick your five favorite blogs with less than 200 followers, and leave a comment on their blog to let them know they have received the award.
4. Hope that the five blogs chosen will keep spreading the love and pass it on to five more blogs!

Thoughtful Equestrian
Comedic Eventing
Capture the Light Photography
Polka Dot Periodical
The View From A Saddle

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

victory in the great hay hunt

One of my biggest concerns since my boarding situation changed has been hay. This is the worst time of year to try and find hay, especially GOOD hay. If my horse weren't one with refined taste in hay, I would be just fine. However, Lucy likes green second cut grassy hay, preferably with small leaves, dancing kitties frolicking around the bales, and sparkly bailing twine.

While I was not able to find creme de la creme second cut, I found a pretty bangin' first cut today, and wouldn't you know, it was right down the street from my house. I bought it from a cow farmer and when we first spoke about hay, I asked him for some details on the hay he was selling. He is apparently a man of few words so it took a bit of prodding to get all the information I needed from him, but I had to laugh when he asked what kind of horse I had.

"She's a Thoroughbred, and she's fairly picky."

"Well that's your fault if your horse is picky!"

Alright, fair enough...

Anyway, he turned out to be a pretty cool guy and I bought two test bales from him late last week, and then another 20 bales today, which was as much as I felt comfortable stacking in the truck when I had no rope to tie everything down with. The drive to the barn was very short and I drove like a human sloth (sooooo slow and soooooo careful), but the good news is that no bales were lost in transit!

Kenny's truck doing truck-like things. One of the guys who work in the same
building as I do said "Nice truck" to me today. Did I say, "Thanks, it's my
husband's"? HELL NO!

 It is so nice and soft that it could totally pass for second cut. I hope the horse is fooled and that she eats every last morsel. There is not much I hate more than throwing hay away because Miss Princess doesn't find it good enough for her!

ahh, the joys of rough boarding. take stacking a bunch of hay for instance! and
then you get home, take off your boots, and a bunch of hay is stuck to your socks.
then you look in the mirror and realize you have hay in your hair. then you
get dressed for bed and realize you have hay down your shirt. SO much joy!

A broken bale: the ultimate hay party foul.

I was so proud of myself for hoisting that last
level of hay up onto the stack. It was about 2' taller
than me! Yay muscles.

Monday, January 23, 2012

on making the right choice

Sometimes you have to protect people, or animals, you care about knowing that it may come back to bite you. I was put in that type of position last weekend, when during a lesson I was teaching, Dreamer was led out of the barn, put on a trailer, and driven away. I hadn't been told anything about him leaving and since he did not belong to the individual who was caring for him, I called his owners to find out if they had any information. They did not, and they were understandably very upset. You may remember that Dreamer, the same pony I leased for a few years when I was in grade school, had been leased by someone at the barn where I was boarding Lucy. In fact, I had played "pony matchmaker" and connected the two parties. I have known Dreamer's owners for many years and I felt I owed it to them, not to mention the horse who had taught me most of what I know, to make sure he wasn't in any danger. I wasn't trying to tattle on the people who were supposed to be leasing him; the only thought in my head was the horse's safety, especially since the whole situation seemed very shady. The thought that this could affect me in a negative way didn't even cross my mind.

It turns out that the person who was caring for him (as part of a free lease/trial to own) knowingly sold Dreamer when that person did not legally own him herself. He was on a trial, and legal ownership was never signed over. If it had been, the contract would have included a right of first refusal. She, along with the people associated with her, shot themselves in the foot repeatedly, changing their story and lying to the police, who unfortunately had to be involved when she refused to tell Dreamer's owner where she had taken him. It took a few days, but Dreamer was located and contact with the person who bought him was established. Luckily, the people whom Dreamer was sold to have provided him with a suitable home and he will be staying there.

The person who sold Dreamer was upset that she had been caught red-handed and made a big stink about it, and I was given less than 24 hours to leave my barn and move Lucy. I had a place lined up to take her to, and a friend who could trailer her for me, within ten minutes of receiving that phone call. Lucy was moved in less than 8 hours. It's amazing that in a time of need, when someone you consider a friend and whom you have gone out of your way to help turns and does their best to make your life hell, how many people show you their best side. I had so many offers of somewhere to take Lucy, I had three people say they could trailer her for me at the drop of a hat, and the outpouring of support was amazing and just what I needed to get through this without losing it. Not one single person thought I had done the wrong thing; it seems the only person who thinks that is the one who tried to sell a horse she didn't own.

I am aware that the person who sold Dreamer has been trying to figure out where we went, and honestly I have no idea why she'd care. I left the barn when they asked, cleaned out all of my things and left my spaces in better shape than I found them (even gutted my stall for them!), and was nothing but polite and cordial to everyone, even when they were being very hurtful and rude to me. I try to find a silver lining in every situation, no matter how upsetting it is initially, and the best part about this new barn is the awesome trail system that starts right off the back of the property. We will get a lot of trail riding in until the weather warms up enough that I'm motivated to do ring work :)

I am also aware that this person is trying to ruin my reputation. I'm not really worried about it, because they don't have a particularly good reputation themselves (and especially not after this stunt with Dreamer) and anyone with questions about the incident can approach me and I will be more than willing to tell them the story.

There is no need for me to trash this individual or "out" her. Dreamer is safe, Lucy is fine, and life goes on. I was initially very hurt by what happened but I learned a good lesson, and I'd make that phone call to his owners again, even knowing what the outcome would be. Dreamer is a special pony who is dearly loved by myself, his owners, and many other kids whom he has shown the ropes. It would have been SO easy for him to fall through the cracks, and in this day and age when there are so many trailers going up to Canada, horses disappear at the drop of a hat and by the time you figure out what is going on, they're already on someone's plate at a fancy overseas restaurant.

Dreamer and I, about ten years ago

snowy ride

I live in New England, but up until this weekend, we hadn't had much snow at all! We had a freak snowstorm back in October but it ended up bringing only an inch or two of snow to my area. This past weekend, on Saturday, we got 8 inches!

Of course in my infinite wisdom, I thought it would be great fun to go for a ride in the middle of the blizzard. Kenny and Cairo came along and by the end of the hour and a half ride, we had turned into one horsesicle, one pupsicle, and two humansicles. We were all frozen!! I dried Lucy off with the hairdryer when we got back to the barn, snuggled her up in a liner and her MW blanket, since I needed to take her HW home to wash it. She had been turned out in it for half of the day and the shell was covered in snow, that then froze and I could hardly fold the blanket up! The blanket needed to be washed badly as it was disgusting. I spent the rest of the day directly in front of our wood stove at the house, and it took a long time for me to be able to feel my hands and feet!

Lucy was superb for this ride, and also for another trail ride on Sunday. Sunday's ride was just as chilly, but it wasn't actively snowing so we weren't quite as soaked.

on the way into the barn

trusty pup and trusty steed, gallivanting down the trail

snack time!

Cairo says, "helloooooo!"

Lucy says, "Oh, hi."
And a video:

Sunday, January 15, 2012

some recent saddle pads

Email me at polarsquaredesigns@gmail.com if you are interested in a saddle pad, or check out other designs on my Facebook page.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

horse? dog? deer?

Cairo, putting the jumping form of most of the horses I know to shame:

Did I mention she's a sweetheart?

Sunday, January 8, 2012

tales of a barn sale, and ponies in my driveway

This has been a highly stressful week for me. I heard through the grapevine about two weeks ago that my barn had been sold. I was really taken aback by it because I hadn't heard anything about it directly from my BO, but I decided to let it play out and see what happened. I wasn't too worried about it.

Then last week my BO told me they had received an offer on the farm but it still had to go through inspections and all sorts of preliminary paperwork, and she didn't seem too confident in the whole thing. This made me feel even less worried about the sale.

Then a fellow boarder told me early this week that the farm had passed inspection, but I never heard anything from the owners about it. I completely freaked out because there was absolutely no communication about anything, and I decided to plan for the worst (being kicked out by the new owners) and I immediately started searching for a new barn.

Then the new owner was suddenly at the barn this weekend, moving her horses and belongings in. None of the boarders had any head's up that this was going to happen, so we were all very surprised. Thankfully the new owner seems really nice and was happy to communicate with all of us as to what was going on. I feel a little bit better about the situation, mostly because I know I am not going to get kicked out on the first of next month, and I'll even be able to continue to work off my board as I have been doing. I am sure changes will occur and I will do my best to roll with it and see the positives in everything.

Of course all of this was compounded by a whole lot of nonsense at work, so between the barn and my job, I was feeling very overwhelmed this week.

Lucy has been doing ok. She has been so forward and absolutely nothing slows her down and she has been exhausting to ride. I've been riding her in her new bit and she certainly seems much happier in it, but it's still constant half halts/setting her up/enjoying a stride or maybe two/her falling apart/rushing/half halts/setting her up/on and on and on. The whole ride.

Here's a recent video:

I was feeling very disheartened last night but today, a friend came and picked Lucy up and we took Lucy and my friends horse RiRa to a near-by trail system. We actually parked the truck and trailer at my house, unloaded the horses, and walked to the end of my road, which connects to the trails. We had an absolute BLAST! I fell in love with my horse all over again. She was a superstar. She took her time getting on the trailer, BUT she wasn't naughty or belligerent at all; she just wanted to have a good look and a good sniff before getting on. It was a step-up trailer, too, and she's not very used to those. I ended up picking up one of her front feet and putting it on the trailer and then bribing her forward with a crinkly candy wrapper, and she walked right on!!

She was quiet for the ride over to my house (about ten minutes), unloaded great along with RiRa, was good to tack up, and was so brave and so happy out on the strange trails. She did have a good-sized spook twice, both times because dogs ran up around a corner and it was the sound of the leaves and the running dogs that got her, I think. Luckily I had my heels jammed down to China and I hung on!

Here are some photos:

happy ears! she is a totally different horse out on the trails.

Nicole and RiRa! RiRa is a QH/Belgian cross and he is

after our ride, back in my driveway. my neighbours
weren't quite sure what to think of this!

pony love!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

brrrrr! and, a "bit" of success?

The temperature has dropped well into the "can't I just stay under the warm covers all day" zone but I have been trying to ride as much as I can. Yesterday I took Lucy and Cairo on a quick trail ride with two other people from the barn. We only walked, but it was just what I needed. Cairo had a good time, too :)

Today I brought the new bit and running martingale that I got Lucy with me to the barn and tried them out. The bit is a happy mouth shaped mullen mouth D ring bit and she actually LOVED it. Could it be, I finally found a bit that she likes and respects? She went well in the running martingale, too.

I will leave you with a photo from our trail ride yesterday!