Saturday, September 29, 2012

thinking ahead

I had a great ride on Thursday. Lucy warmed up nice and long/low on a loose rein, but when I picked up some contact she got a bit self-righteous about it and gave me the mare face. Below is a video that shows the progression in just a few short minutes from "hell no" to "I'll consider it" to "ok that sounds good!" I think this video, which is unedited, shows her growing up big time. After working on the flat, we jumped around a bit and I was really pleased that she was able to keep it together to canter up the little step into the ring and then go straight to a jump just a few strides out. I like to keep her thinking about what is coming next so that she doesn't lose focus. You can see her wanting to get silly after the pile of logs, but I kept my leg on her and didn't let her pull the reins out of my hands (hence the head tossing), and looked forward to the next challenge (in this case the step). Once she realised it wasn't play time and she needed to pay attention, she was good to go!

Lucy might be used for a clinic in October that focuses a lot on groundwork, so before tomorrow's wedding I am going to tune her up a bit on the ground and we will incorporate some groundwork into each of our rides from now til then. Here's some video from today, first of her getting some energy out in the indoor and then of going through some basic groundwork:

Next weekend, we have a hunter pace on Sunday and then I signed up for Valinor Farm's fall schooling horse trials on Columbus Day (Monday Sept. 8). I can't wait! We are going to do Elementary again and I just hope we have a safe and solid day. I don't expect ribbons but I do expect to complete all three phases. We need to do some brushing up on our dressage test and the hunter pace will act as an XC school to get us in gear.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

last night's trail ride

 I had a super ride last night. Lucy and I left around 5pm and jumped all the little redneck jumps I built out in the woods, zipping through the trails and in general having a blast. Then we explored the trails a bit on the buckle. Lately she has been more bloodhound than horse, walking along the trails with her nose on the ground, sniffing everything. It cracks me up! I don't know what she's smelling but it must be very interesting.

We crossed the two wooden bridges to get over to the boat launch, but instead of going in the water we continued past it and trotted toward the sports fields, where I like to have a little hand gallop around the perimetre of the practice areas. I didn't think about there being practice now that school has started up again, and the whole place was packed with minivans and small children running around. Unfortunately I couldn't go back the way I came because it's a very small one-way road and I didn't want to come face-to-face with a car so we had to walk past a bunch of kids who were waiting for a practice to begin. There must have been 25 kids and of course they all swarmed Lucy. Lucy is usually really good about this type of thing, probably a product of being handled so much at the track, and so I let them pet her with about 15 warnings to watch their feet. They were all so excited and they asked lots of questions (Lucy's name, how old she was, what she ate, how much she weighed, how fast she ran...typical kid questions). Lucy stood like a rock and let them stroke her face, neck, and shoulders. She was nothing short of a superb OTTB ambassador. The moms were thrilled with her bell boots (which is a common thing, and I think it's so funny) and the dads were mostly interested in my eventing vest lol. One of them asked if it was a kevlar vest.

On the way home we took a tour of a little neighbourhood that is really cute. It's right off the trails and I like taking Lucy down there so she can stay comfortable with cars passing her, because we never ride on the road at this current barn. A few cars passed her and she was fine about it, and then at two different houses, big dogs came running at us from the yards, barking and growling. That really scares the crap out of me because I have no idea if there's an electric fence underground that will stop the dog, or if it is going to keep on coming and attack us. Really scary! I was much more freaked out about it than Lucy was - she just calmly watched them run at us and didn't even flinch! Luckily both dogs stopped short of the street - they must have had electric fences.

When we got back to the barn, we jumped a pile of logs in the XC area, jumped up the step into the ring, jumped a few little jumps in the ring (some bending lines and a roll back) and called it a night. She was SUPER.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

a quick lunge to test soundness...

...ended up being a lesson about manners and listening!!

On the upside, she was totally, completely, 100% sound.

On the downside, the cool weather and a few easy days had her high as a kite.

Here, have some really fun video stills!

This first one is obviously of inexcusable behaviour, and it has been a LONG time since she pulled a stunt like this, but it was a very quick up and down, back to work. She didn't offer to do it again and I made it VERY clear that I didn't think it was cute or funny.

Channeling her inner Stephen Colbert, Lucy says, "I just wanna DANCE!"
[And yes I am lunging in a white button down work shirt and a skirt.
This is the reality for a rough boarder who works full time.]
Her other really cool move was deciding that trotting in circles is for BABIES, and she needed to jump a jump. I had her on a 15m circle that went in front of this little barrel with some guide poles. We had been working on this path for about ten minutes with no problems, well, minus the war horse move pictured above, which I quickly dealt with. During one of her trips around the circle, she deliberately aimed for the jump and jumped it sideways, so across the length of the barrel and over both poles!!

After that little trick, I put her on a 10m circle and we readdressed listening, manners, and personal space.


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Sunday snuggle session

Lucy got her feet done today and when I rode a few hours later, she was very sore :( I could tell as soon as she picked up the trot that she was ouchy. I am 99.999% sure it's a foot soreness issue because she was reaching out just fine through the shoulder but when she put her RF foot down, there was a second of hesitation and a head bob. Poor girl.

Instead of the jumping session that I had planned, we had a snuggle session.

handmade is better

Being artistic can sometimes be a curse. While I am crafty and capable of making things myself a lot, sometimes I wish I just let myself buy things! I have wanted a stall sign for Lucy's stall door for ages. I was going to order one online and then I looked at the photos and thought, "but I can MAKE one!"

So in all my spare time (ha, ha), I made this:

I bought the plaque at a craft store, found a font online that I liked, sketched out the text, and went to town with a Dremel tool.

the swirly bits were the worst parts!!

After I finished with the Dremel tool, I sanded the whole thing down to get the extra pencil lines off of it, then stained it with a really beautiful rich wood stain. I am really pleased with how it came out!

Lucy is spoiled

I have been getting 10lbs of carrots a week from a local farm. Lucy gets
carrots with her breakfast and dinner, and for photo taking purposes
she even got to stuff her face with them straight from the bag.

She thinks this totally rocks.
She got her tootsies done today. About 6 months ago I started her on a hoof supplement. I actually really hate buying supplements, even though SmartPak owns my soul, so I tried to fix her feet without adding yet another supplement. I tried painting her feet with hoof hardeners and all sorts of conditioners and still her feet looked like crap. She was losing shoes left and right. At one point despite being on a 6wk schedule, the farrier was regularly coming out to re-shoe her at 3.5 and 4 weeks because she couldn't keep shoes on her feet. The hoof wall was crumbling around the nails and the foot was falling apart. It was really bad. Finally I realised that I had no other options but to try a hoof supplement, so I added one to her SmartPak (and that monthly bill is over $70...UGH) and crossed my fingers that it was going to help.

So before she started the supplement, the farrier would compare her feet to soft cake. When he hammered the nail into her foot, the foot hardly resisted the nail. He barely had to tap the nail with his hammer to get it in, which is a bad sign. You want a hard foot to drive the nail into so that the nail stays put!

Today, my farrier exclaimed, "wow, this foot is actually making me work today!" What he meant is that her hooves have hardened up so much since starting the supplement that they were much more difficult to nail into. This is great news!

Her feet LOOK much better, too. She is growing nice heel, something that has always been a challenge. You can actually see lines on her hooves that signify big changes. These changes are moving barns (back in January) and starting the supplement. They're easier to see in the second photo.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

2 years

Today is my two year wedding anniversary. I can't believe it has been that long since I married my best friend. For an anniversary gift, Kenny had two large canvas prints made from photos I had taken of Lucy, which I thought was just the greatest thing ever!

Here are a few images from my trash-the-dress session with Lucy, from back in 2010:

Monday, September 17, 2012

54" of win

When I bought Lucy, she wore a 48" girth that was almost too big for her. She was so skinny! Gradually, she gained weight and we moved up to a 50" girth, then a 52" girth. Earlier in this week, I got tired of fighting with the 52" girth to get it buckled up, because she has gained so. much. weight!!

So, I went out and bought this bad boy:

54" of WIN
I felt like I had won a marathon when I walked out of Dover. I am just so thrilled at how well Lucy is doing. I know it may seem stupid to some people, but having to buy a new girth because the old one is too small for my "hard keeper" means that I am really doing something right!

I had a superb ride tonight - ironically I didn't use my new girth ;) because I rode in Lauren's bareback pad. I am kind of a bareback pad skeptic but this one is so awesome. It has a suede seat and is quite minimalistic so it doesn't get in your way, but given the fact that I haven't ridden bareback in ages, I wanted to play it "safe".

Lucy was such a good girl. Here's some video:

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Polo at URI - Cornell vs. Harvard

I went to college at the University of Rhode Island and then worked there for four years full-time. If someone asked me what the school is most insane about, I'd say their athletic fields. They are so hard core about the grass on that campus and they even have turf management as a major! Sod farming is one of Rhode Island's main industries and anyone with nice turf around here would have a cow if you tried to ride a horse on it.

That is why I was SHOCKED to hear that URI was hosting a polo match. They were actually going to allow horses to run around on one of their precious fields and rip the turf up. Of course I had to go, so I bought tickets for myself, Kenny, and a few friends and we went to watch the match yesterday.

The other matches we've been to were professional players in Newport RI. I wasn't quite prepared for the stark differences between a professional match and a college match, but the riding yesterday was absolutely terrible. The whole thing was very unorganized, the announcer didn't know what he was supposed to say and you could hear someone feeding him lines in the background, and one of the horses sustained a horrible injury when a player accidentally hit another players horse in its eye with the mallet. AWFUL. The police officers at the game knew me from my days working at URI, and knew I had a horse. They came over and asked me if I knew of any vets in the area because the people who brought the polo horses were from out-of-state and they had no idea what vets were in Rhode Island. I gave them my vet's number and luckily there was a vet just 15 minutes away. I hope the horse is ok. It sounded like a very bad injury - the eye was filling up with blood within minutes of the initial injury.

Lauren and her boyfriend came with us and at one point, her boyfriend said he thought Lucy might be a good polo horse. I can say with certainty that even if she would make a good polo horse, I'd never let her be one! They all looked miserable.

Here are some photos.

I mean, come on...
At one point, this rider hauled so hard on his horses face that he pushed
the saddle forward onto the horses neck and had to get off the horse to
readjust his tack.

Cairo had a nice time sunbathing and getting lots of attention.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

whiskers, dapples, and hot chocolate

I just love this time of year. Lucy's chocolate-coloured winter coat peeking through her sunbleached summer coat, the bugs subsiding, the cool weather sliding in, the humidity level falling, and the leaves on the trees hinting at golds and reds all make me feel nostalgic and content.

Lucy has been so good lately. With the cooler weather, I always worry that Winter Lucy will return. While I'm sure that she will perk up once it gets really cold, for now she seems simply content and happy to do whatever. We've been keeping a good balance between ring work and hacking out in the fields and on the trails. Earlier in the week I took her out for a breeze through the very field she bucked me off in not too long ago, and she was superb. I even rode her in the snaffle! Today, we had a short and sweet 20 minute school in the outdoor ring. I think she is in heat because as soon as I started asking things of her, she pinned her ears and gave me some attitude. I stayed consistent and didn't waver in what I was asking and she got over herself, but the attitude thing kind of surprised me, since she has been so happy to work lately. We'll chalk it up to hormones and hope it subsides in the next few days ;)

mare 'tude...I was like, you are preaching to the choir, Lucy!

that's better.
Here are some more photos from today - she got to have some fun in the paddock. She is a pleasure to watch move. I sometimes look at her and think, wow, she is a NICE horse. She looked so happy and free out there zooming around tonight.

I just love her whiskers

that horse can move!

Monday, September 10, 2012

rule #1 of horsing around:

...don't run over your videographer.

Exhibit A:

Luckily he still loves us.