Sixteen is a good number

Guess who turned a whopping 16 yesterday?!

Yup, this girl!

She got many carrots, a good grooming and lots of face rubs and pets and some more alfalfa. I think she’s looking great. She’s sound, she’s alert, her weight is wonderful, her topline is strong and she’s getting muscled, and she’s still enjoying work. She’s now been with the family for 12 years, and I think we’ll have many more years with her (honestly I think she’ll get close to 30 lol). But we didn’t really do anything special for Whisper’s birthday lol.

Other than that it’s been very non-horsey this week. I’ve only gotten to ride Tuesday because Wednesday it was windy and I wanted to pack/go through some more of my things, Thursday I didn’t get to ride because it was windy AND rainy, today I won’t get to ride because it’s windy and I work late, and then I’m working the weekend to grab some extra cash (and weekend will be freaking windy, too). The carpet is getting replaced, so all I need to do is grab a few books, and sit there and read while the carpet gets replaced. Not a bad way at all to earn a bit extra. But since I can’t ride I’ve been grooming, and Amber is losing tons of hair. Yay shedding season.

This picture will never not make me laugh lol

So now I’m left with continuing to chip away at all the things that can be boxed or thrown away. It’s a process, but it’s coming along! Happy Friday all, and I hope everyone has a fun-filled, horsey weekend!

Supplements: magnesium – yay or neigh?

While this post is going up as a “review Wednesday” post and will appear on my reviews list, as with every other product I’ve tried, this piece is merely my opinion based on my experiences. Supplements are extremely difficult because what works for one horse doesn’t necessarily work for another horse, and many times you won’t have the same results as someone else. But this is my experience with magnesium, and I hope it gives you guys additional information.

Please have fun with all the random pictures of Amber that have nothing to do with the subject content lol

I will freely admit that I’m not the best researcher, and I don’t necessarily like researching things – except most things pertaining to horses. That I WILL try my best to research until I can’t research any more. I’ve gotten better about researching companies and products and finding reviews, and actually taking the time to wait for feedback on potentially polarizing subjects. But maybe I wasn’t Googling correctly or something, but I couldn’t find any veterinary published pieces that were recent (2016 – present). Most were blogging posts, and perhaps the closest I found was Kentucky Equine research and this article by Fox Den Nutrition that really went into how magnesium affects the body (although that was published in 2010 so….perhaps a bit dated on how it affects horses?). Of course please do your own research and speak with your trusted equine pros and don’t just take my word for it!

I feel that magnesium is sort of an understated necessity. In my nutrition classes and other equine college courses, I remember the calcium:phosphorus ratio being very important. Which don’t get me wrong it is very important, but I don’t remember going over magnesium a lot. It’s a little puzzling to me that we didn’t, considering all the things magnesium does. I liked these three articles explaining magnesium, though this one actually said what it did – “Calcium is in charge of contracting the muscle and magnesium looks after the relaxation or release of the muscle….. When a muscle cell is triggered, the cell membrane opens, letting calcium in and raising the calcium level in the cell setting off a reaction and the muscle contracts. When the contraction is done, the magnesium inside the cell helps to push the calcium back out of the cell releasing the contraction. When there is not enough magnesium in the cell, calcium can leak back in causing a stimulatory effect and the muscle cannot completely relax. This can put the body into a continually stressed state. Low magnesium makes nerve endings hypersensitive thus exacerbating pain and noise. Magnesium is required for proper nerve and muscle function.” Which….that’s pretty important.

(She was sooooooo itchy and happy a bunch of her hair was coming off!)

Leading up to buying magnesium, both Amber and Whisper were showing increased stress at our previous barn. Both were a lot more reactive than normal, so we began asking around – vets and other horsey folk in the community, and magnesium was a topic brought up a lot. At that point both Amber and Whisper were on an electrolyte (electrodex – they LOVE the cherry) since it was a million degrees and we didn’t have the lightest rides. Since we only wanted to supplement with magnesium, we found the regular Smartpak magnesium pellets since Amber will eat anything pellet but not always powder.

Within a week we noticed that they were much better. Amber was back to her usual self, and while Whisper was still a bit agitated at times, she too was much closer to her old self. Amber was less nervous, and whenever I’d put my leg on her she was also less reactive. For about 2 or so months, that worked really well for the both of them. They were much better on the magnesium. At the end of those 2 months we moved them to our backyard, and the rest of Amber’s nervousness dissipated. Amber liked the open spaces as did Whisper, and the barn was calmer. Whisper would still get agitated at things, but not like before.

I’m attempting to be artistic lol

Since then, they’ve stayed on the magnesium until the beginning of February this year. This winter though has been bad for Whisper. She paces a lot, and is a lot more nervous than we remember her being for the first 10 or so years that we had her. We personally think some of it has to do with our previous barn – we’d get bad winds and storms and most of the time she had no good protection from the wind. Wind storms are tough for her, but her pacing has worsened over the winter. (We think it has more to do with insecurity and sleep deprivation, as this article here seems to describe her to a T). I do think it is important to note that when Whisper seemed especially worried/nervous/agitated, we would actually give her more magnesium. So my mom had my vet, Dr. W, pop out for a visit and assess her. It’s really nice to actually have so many people interconnected. My vet and farrier went to school together, and my trainer is my vet’s assistant, so I feel I have a good network of good, knowledgeable equine pros.

After asking a lot of questions and Dr. W listening to my mom talk about Whisper’s differences, he suggested to take her off of the daily dose of SP magnesium as well as her joint supplement. He began explaining that there’s been a conversation recently amongst vets that too much magnesium may be negatively affecting horses. Unfortunately there isn’t an article I can reference, but I thought this was a very interesting concept. So that magnesium said to help calm horses, can actually end up potentially making their nervousness or anxiety worse? A lot of the articles I perused would say that what the horses didn’t need, they would pee out. But what if instead of “peeing it out,” it was affecting horses?

Well, the only way to know was to wait. I kept Amber on her supplements, but within about a week, Whisper was noticeably different. She wasn’t anxiously pacing. She was still pacing, but it was more a leisurely walk instead of the trot/canter/speed walk/trot that she had been doing. She was actually beginning to stop herself and stand still to sunbathe like she used to. We also noticed that she was a lot more herself during rides: she wasn’t as quick-moving and was willing to go slower, and she was also much less reactive when I’d put my leg on her. She actually felt lazy! Which is actually normal for her – I think we’d just gotten used to her being keyed up (for her anyway) that until she was “lazy” again we hadn’t realized something was different. While we don’t think the magnesium was the sole cause of everything, I can absolutely see that taking her off it has really benefited her. Storms still upset her, and while we will be trying different things in the future, it was really crazy to see how taking her off of the magnesium helped.

Huh. So interesting, right?! This stuff really fascinates me, and after Whisper did so well off of it, I took Amber off. She’s been off a month or so now, but I haven’t really noticed much of a difference in Amber. I think she is a bit better, but hardly noticeable for her. Not like the improvement with her going on the magnesium. She’s also in light to no work, so I don’t think the magnesium is really as needed as it was during the summer. Plus, not having her on that saves me some money, and any of her “problems” (kicking and whatnot) I think was due to her missing work rides and not the magnesium (since we’ve been “riding” more she doesn’t kick as much). As I’ve mentioned before, Whisper has more TB influence than Amber, but she also has a tendency to be more nervous and insecure than Amber just because that’s her personality, so maybe that has something to do with it as well. Personally, I do think personality has a bit to do with the pros/cons considering the different reactions we’ve noticed in the two girls. However, if Amber does go into slightly heavier work come summer, I’ll probably put her back on the magnesium, except at a lower dose every few days. I think it really helped her last summer, so I want to continue with that.

We’re not very good at selfies lol and Amber is soooooo enthused lol

And while Whisper isn’t my horse, I do think that when she starts working harder and sweating in summer she should go back on magnesium a day or two a week. Especially with how hot it is here and how sweaty horses can get, I think the magnesium certainly helped last summer, but in the end it’s up to my mom what she’d like to do for Whisper. I just wanted to also say that while Whisper is so much better off of it, I would personally use it again for her in the dead of summer.

I hope this gave everyone some food for thought. This has been a very interesting subject to get some more information on, and I am eager to keep learning about it, too. I wish there were an article about the vets’ conversation, but when I asked Dr. W, that’s what he told me – no articles, just conversation. I’ll have to pick Dr. W’s brain next time I see him about the vet conversation and hopefully be able to repeat it and share it on here. It’s especially cool to me to compare and contrast our two horses – even though they’re the same breed, their bloodlines, personalities, and ways they were raised are different and create two very different horses.

What about you guys? Have you used magnesium with your horse, and if so how has it gone? Have you noticed negative affects on your horse or have they remained the same? Have they initially improved and then gotten worse or stayed improved? I’d love to know your thoughts!

The weekend from hell

This title of course has nothing to do with Amber. Unless it’s me selling a kidney due to vet bills but thankfully, nothing horse-related went wrong this weekend. No, this was a specifically non-horsey weekend. The news I was going to tell you guys last week?

I got a new apartment!

We’re not very good at selfies, lol. We rarely take them anyway haha

That is, my best friend and I decided to room together. This has been a pretty gradual process, starting from when she moved up here from Phoenix and we actually planned to make this step December of this year. As things started to work out – or actually, they DIDN’T work out – we realized that rooming together earlier would be beneficial to us both. Those hectic weeks of little blogging and little riding were due to apartment/house hunting, until we randomly decided to pop into one place on a whim and it was seamless. So, we put down a deposit, and planned. Our walkthrough was just last Thursday, and it was gorgeous. We both loved it. It’s on the second story, but it has vaulted ceilings, a gas fireplace, a cute little patio, and bedrooms with attached bathrooms and walk in closets.

We’d planned to drive down to Phoenix to get my roommate’s things from storage, and had everything planned. And about 2 hours down the road we realized that I’d forgotten my overnight bag. Everything basically went to shit from there. The rest of the drive was great – my truck was her usual badass self (I mean, only using a half tank in 6 hours? I just love her). But we get to the U-Haul, and suddenly realize that though their website said they had trailers with ramps, something somehow got mixed up and the size we were looking at didn’t have a ramp. She has a super cute upright piano that we were going to move – no way in hell were we going to be able to move that thing into a trailer without a ramp. So about an hour and a half later, we manage to find a Penske which had a truck with a ramp available – for half the prices U-Haul was quoting us. Great – we head over. Only, they don’t have furniture dollies. Back to the uhaul to rent utility and furniture dollies.

We’d made the drive in good time, getting there around 2:30 as was our plan, but getting everything worked out meant we didn’t even get to the storage unit until about 6:30 in the evening. By this point both of us stressing because the hotel we’d reserved was all the way back in Kingman – about a 4 hour drive from Phoenix. The piano itself was the first thing, and it took us a solid 45 minutes to load that thing. But let me tell you – us two girls loaded it. A 400+ lb piano and we were able to get it up that tall-ass ramp and into the truck. We were basically prone on the floor but hey lol. From there, everything else was easy and took us about 2 hours. I made a Walmart run to grab us some energy drinks and water, and considering I didn’t have anything for overnight bought a few items and a shirt that defined the whole trip to that point (it said Nope across the front).

We finished packing the whole thing by 9:00 pm. Then the lock we’d brought didn’t match the key, so back to walmart we went to get a lock. While there, we were updating the hotel again and letting them know that we’d be there pretty late – probably 1 in the morning. The lady then proceeded to cuss out my roommate on the phone even though we weren’t obligated to let the hotel know when we would be checking in. We wanted to make sure someone would be there to let us check in around that time, and she wasn’t giving us straight answers, kept cussing us whenever we’d try to mention getting in very late. And we even had a credit card on file and she basically refused to let us come in so late, so we cancelled the reservation.

We then spent the next hour finding a different hotel room. We must’ve hit the one weekend or something but EVERY hotel was booked. It was ridiculous. We guessed it was partially because it was St. Patrick’s Day weekend, but are thinking it was more spring season/practice (something to do with baseball and it’s apparently very big). We FINALLY found a room – one with a king bed that we’d share. And the bathroom tub was atrocious. Like, dirt, hair and whatever else backed up from the pipes. There was trash still in the room. I mean, wow. I have never had a hotel room that was that bad. By the time someone came to clean it and we were actually going to sleep, it was 1 am.

Random insert of adorable Amber from Thursday!

Thankfully, the drive back was uneventful. We made good time, got back to the place by 4:30, and had a few extra hands helping us unload and carrying stuff up the steps. We could finally relax that evening. It took a bit Sunday morning for me to pack some of my stuff into my truck before heading over there and putting together my Ikea bed. Of course I had to use my new Dachshund stuff! It’s adorable and I love it even more off of the hanger.

I’m surprised I’m not sorer from the trip. I am certainly not in good shape, but I really didn’t have hardly any aches or pains – much to my roommate’s annoyance haha. But I’m glad that none of my stuff is really packed at all right now. I’m doing a whole “purge” type thing – going through a lot of my stuff and deciding whether I need to keep it or toss it. Of course most of my horsey things are freshly bought, so those clothes/tack items aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, but it feels good to get rid of clothes I don’t wear, random papers I don’t know why I’ve kept, old mementoes that I’ve kept that I really don’t want to keep (my 7th grade yearbook? Yeah no I don’t want to keep that lol). I’ve boxed books that I won’t be reading anytime soon but will still be kept whenever I DO decide to read them, and I still have a desk to go through, painting supplies to sort, craft items and a lot of things to go through but so far, my clothes purge has been the most rewarding. Even though Friday was certainly not the day we were expecting, I can tell I was ready for this change. Everything else has been easy, uneventful, and not stressful, so I’m pleased with the move. True, no more free rent, but it felt really nice to sip wine in our own space and watch a bit of Spirited Away before calling it a night.

I got absolutely no horsey time this weekend, which I’m sad about, but I’ll try to ride tonight and I have a few days I’ll have plenty of time in the afternoons to dote on her. She actually looked very pleased to see me Saturday evening, and I scratched her withers which made her happy. I’ll be able to ride soon, though, and now comes readjusting my days/times. I’ll still be going over every evening at least to do chores – hopefully ride depending on my work day, but I’m excited for the change. I’ll miss not being able to see her when I look out my window, but I’m only 8 minutes away so it’s going to be pretty easy, I think. I hope everyone else’s weekend went well!

Review: Smartpak collection of mini reviews

Alternate title: Collection of reviews for Smartpack products that I don’t really have a whole ton to say about so they don’t really need their own review.

Also, because I don’t have a ton to say about them, these are all in the same category – stuff that wasn’t up to snuff. Because I do have many Smartpak things that I love, there are also Smartpak things that I don’t. This is a 4-item review of things of theirs I’ve tried but haven’t worked for me or that I didn’t like.

SP Harwich padded fancy-stitch bridle w/ long reins – full size

Before going any further on this one, I will say that this bridle is discontinued, which is why I didn’t give it it’s own review. But I still wanted to review it, so here it is. The long reins and fancy stitching were my draw in purchasing this for my hunter show classes. The raised part of the reins softened nicely, but the laces remained stiff. The length wasn’t as long as my Ovation reins, but worked for Amber. However, I didn’t like the very dull, brushed brown look of the bridle. I love how rich the colors in my PS of Sweden and Lund bridles are, and this one was just…flat. Not even matte. Just flat. And it never really darkened nicely, either. This fit more like a true full size bridle than my Ovation, but after a few months the throatlatch strap started to crack. Also, because the noseband was so heavily padded and Amber’s jawline is short and curved, the bottom of the noseband continuously wanted to slip towards her chin which made the top of the noseband tilt back towards her eyes. And it was just bulky on her at times. The reins bothered me, and overall, though I liked it better than my Ovation bridle, I still didn’t like it enough to keep it or think it was quality enough to be worth $150. I think there are better bridles out there for that price.

When I first bought it, and it does look cute
But here you can see the noseband tilt, and it looks a bit bulky on her

SP medium diamond deluxe AP pad – navy/emerald

The only thing I really like about this pad is that it’s navy/emerald, and matches my navy/emerald breeches from SP. Other than that, the pad is made of a slick, non-breathable material that Amber always gets overly sweaty from. The pad isn’t really contoured, and I’ve found that while Amber’s withers are not substantial by any means, her roundness requires pads to have that extra fabric a contoured pad provides. Her back and ribcage are so broad that the extra contour keeps the billet holders from actually pushing the saddle back. This pad is always a bit lopsided on her, so I only use it for light hacks. Mostly though, it now just stays on my rack and gets little use.

You can see in the picture the crinkles in the pad – the breastplate is keeping the saddle in its place because the pad wants to move the saddle back
Matches the navy/emerald to provide ultimate matchi-ness

SP bug-off fly spray

At least, that’s what it was when I bought it, but it looks like the new title for it is the same stuff. This stuff…. There’s not much product wise that I will say I dislike intensely, but this is one of them. This particular fly spray didn’t seem to work at all for Amber. It smelled like peppermint (which don’t get me wrong I love peppermint) but the smell just seemed to attract the flies in greater number. It was also a sort of peppermint smell that would get stuck in your nostrils and throat and was pretty ick for the whole day. Plus, it stuck to your horse’s fur in a way that attracted ALL the dirt. I mean, Pyranha does that, but Pyranha also works lol. So this product is a huge resounding no for me.

SP bug-off regular pellet

This particular pellet contained apple cider vinegar, which I’d love to pour in Amber’s feed I just…..have no idea if she’ll actually eat it. My mom’s Arab/TB mare loved it when we’d mix her grain with oil and ACV, and I know apple cider vinegar helps to keep the flies at bay. So I grabbed the pellets because Amber will eat any type of pellet, and tried that. I think it worked a teensy bit? I’m not sure. I really didn’t feel like I noticed a difference. It’s a great theory, but probably straight ACV works a lot better than if it’s molded into a pellet. It just didn’t seem to work for Amber or Whisper, so my mom and I stopped ordering the product. Most of the time I try to be on board with these types of products, but if it doesn’t work for your animal then there’s no point in buying it. There are a lot who like it, but again I didn’t notice that it helped at all, so it’s not something I’ll be buying in the future.

All that extra light

It’s only been 2 days, but I don’t think I’ve ever been this much in love with spring forward as I have this year. I got home and I didn’t have to rush to do chores because it didn’t even get fully dark until 7 pm. That makes me so happy. I can actually start to ride again on my long days. It’s not just this huge 10 hr chunk out of my day anymore.

Granted, the extra light must’ve keyed up my body because I don’t think I went to sleep until midnight or later, and had to wake up at 5. Coffee is my friend right now. But I’m still happy about DST for once. I always get more productive and feel better when the days are longer. Here’s to longer days, but we all totally enjoy them because that means more horsey time, right?!

I have no new Amber pictures so have a picture of a spoiled doxie. This is what I want to be doing right now.

It actually rained

Can you believe it? It actually rained in the desert. And it was a really lovely weekend.

Hai ma! Just chillin here

Because of my long work days Thursday and Friday I couldn’t ride, I made sure to ride Saturday and Sunday. Amber was looking a bit upset again Saturday and had some good glares in store for me (thank god not as many as Wednesday) but that went away once her SleekEZ was engaged and scratches were had. Once I started tacking her up, she was ready to go. It had been drizzling intermittently for the morning, and I’d determined to just go out there and grab towels if needed (because yes I love my saddle and don’t want it to get wet which….if I’m eventing I’ll go through water. I know; I make no sense lol). Thankfully, it didn’t drizzle almost at all while we rode.

Amber was definitely happy to be out again. Her walk was a little fast but after a little bit of pushing she had her nice swinging walk. It’s a balance between having her understand that when I put my leg on she lifts her back but maintains the general speed or pace of the walk – she’s just now pushing with a more rhythmic swing instead of hollow and short, speedy steps. Because I’ve trained her western, putting my leg on to have her lift and be soft in her mouth usually also meant rocking back on her haunches to slow the pace. She’s really trying to understand though that I want her still on her haunches but to push more. It’s almost nice just getting to walk/trot. Things that may have been overlooked before because she generally “knew” are now front and center because that’s all we can do.

Look at that side-eye lol. Not really good but still there lol

Either way I spent a lot of time walking, and walking to the left. I really tried to keep my inside rein loose and really just focus on the outside rein and having her push into it. It was super hard for me – I had to keep my eyes on my left hand while trying to feel and pay attention to everything Amber was doing because my left hand just has a mind of its own. It liked to tighten and move and fix things and it was definitely a battle to just not move it. But Amber was definitely venturing into the “mother I’m really confused and I don’t understand why this inverted bend isn’t what you want” so I realized I had to come up with something different. I settled on a western training tactic I’d been taught that I’d used with her – the problem would be for me not to get defensive in my position because it unfortunately encouraged the curling up AND no moving hand aspect I’ve been fighting with.

So I’d put my leg on, and when Amber wouldn’t move her shoulders to meet the outside rein, I’d rock my spur on her side and then bump up softly with the inside rein. She’d push her shoulder out and I’d wait for a moment of contact and release and praise. Then rinse repeat. After only 5 or so times, I’d put my calf on, and she’d move her shoulder out and her nose inside without me needing my inside rein and moved into outside contact herself. I’d ask her to hold that for a stride or two, then release and praise. It added a whole other sense of difficulty to also keep her forward, too. She wants to sit back and slow, which is great because that’s what I taught her, but she’s slowly and surely beginning to understand the push better. Then the lightbulb went off for her, and we were able to get a good 4-5 strides of actual push before I’d release and praise.

Um, mom, WHY so many pictures?! I just stand here

We were both feeling pretty good by this point, so I decided to trot. Still lame pushing off, but I asked for contact and she was really really trying to repeat her lightbulb moment at the trot but I could tell it was hard. She kept on trying, though, and was evenly trotting. I’d give her a scratch with my left hand while trying to maintain my outside, and she was really being super. Then it felt like she completely just lost her footing or her leg for that matter, and she pulled up pretty quickly and just kept her RH cocked. I felt pretty bad, and she didn’t respond her usual way when I tried to scratch her. But she licked her lips (which I now realize is where the “grind” sound I heard came from – so she’s not actually grinding her teeth which is a huge relief) as we stood there.

Sunday was such a pretty day! Such a gorgeous, happy girl. For some reason she also looks less fat from the left side than she does right LOL

I called it quits for the trot but kept on walking. She got better at pushing into the outside rein and her ears went up happily, so I got off for the day. I rubbed her down with her sore-no-more and put a bit of bute in her grain just in case. Shortly after the rain started in earnest, but it still wasn’t a downpour which is good. It slowly soaked the ground so there was no flooding. (The adorable little ground squirrels know when it’s grain time. They always come by and grab the pieces Amber drops! The one with striping is the one that always comes; we’ve named him/her Scamper)

Sunday I was a bit apprehensive to do more, but figured she’s been doing better so I just needed to monitor how she was feeling and keep going. Since my parents got back the night before, my mom hopped on Whisper and had a nice walk around as I rode Amber. It was even warm enough to wear short sleeves! She was really on top of things on Sunday, and really trying hard to do what I was asking. She had a bit more trouble with the RH Sunday, but I think it was because we were in the bad footing sections of the arena. Once I moved her towards the middle it was easier for her. We did some trotting to the left, and she felt really really good. She was pushing very well – though not she does when going to the right but she was really starting to understand. I changed direction and she lost that RH again, but not as badly so I kept trotting and within a couple steps she was okay again.

That was sort of hard…. I’m tired now. NOT lol

To the right she was quick and expecting to canter, so I had to remind her and just try to relax to tell her that we were only trotting. She finally relaxed and we got some great, minimal work to the right. I had a lightbulb moment – she was starting to lift that outside shoulder up but then letting her inside shoulder drop. And she’d lost the really cool-feeling push. It was now a moderate push. Ah ha! Confusion figured out. She thought that she only had to push into my left rein. Now she thinks it’s just pushing into the right rein. She’s nothing if not an overachiever and sometimes tries too hard. But it’s one of the things I love about her. Now we have something else to work on at a mostly-walk-with-a-teensy-bit-of-trot ride. Me especially because my right side is my weak side and it tried to fix that lean like “fuck how do you do this, left side?!”

It’s great to go back to basics, and I think if she can understand (and that I can actually present it to her in a way to understand as well) that each direction we have an outside push, that will make coming back into real work (hopefully) after her stifle and knee are checked (please god let that be soon) that much easier. So while we’re stuck at a walk for a bit again, and a little bit of trot to keep her metabolism up and her muscles loose, we have a PLAN, and something that is actually challenging for little Miss Thang and her ever-active mind. It gives me more ride time to keep my riding position up to par as well and strengthen that right side so it doesn’t fall apart again. I think I still sit a bit forward but hopefully I can remedy that with all this walking lol.

Seriously these bunnies. Only one isn’t too afraid of me, but she always brings her friends lol

Because of the rain, it got the arena nice and wet – perfect riding conditions and perfect dragging conditions. Because it was also such a nice day, we hooked up my truck to our new drag, and proceeded to test out all it’s parts. It really lifted up the sand nicely and it felt very nice and fluffy when I was done. Just need to keep it dragged more often!

The arena looks so so so good! I can’t wait to ride in it ❤

I’m not sure when I’ll have another lesson. This week is going to be pretty busy but I’m definitely going to keep my goal going of at least a lesson a month! I hope everyone else had a good weekend!

Can horses feel that?

Since Amber’s abscess has been dragging, I haven’t been blogging much “real” content lately. There’s only so often you can talk about it, and I don’t necessarily like discussing it all that much because there’s really nothing to say, I’d be really repeating myself, and I just want it to HEAL! lol But things have also been busy. It was a bit hectic for a while, and has since calmed down, and hopefully I’ll be able to share it with everyone by next week!

As the weeks have gone by, I’ve tried to assess a sense of weirdness I’ve felt during the weeks. It’s been strange, and I’ve been trying to figure it out. I’ve just felt really….off. As I thought about it and I would look at Amber, I’d see her get upset, too. I could see a sense of unrest and unhappiness in her eyes, even if I did get her out. She’s been kicking for no reason so much more now (seriously, look at the freaking dents in the door). She’s been binge-eating just about everything, and has just been upset. She just doesn’t seem herself.

Her nose is attempting to tell us those dings aren’t her fault

The last weekend in February I’d hopped on Amber to see if it was my mom’s way of asking Amber to do something or if Amber was just half-assing things. It’s what helped me decide to have my mom and I switch ponies, but the previous day I’d played around in a bit and she remembered contact. That day, as I started to move my hand up to the notches that were Amber’s “perfect” contact for now, Amber just lifted and pushed into the bridle. It was absolutely like coming home. It felt wonderful. It almost felt as if we’d never been out of work since November.

Sequence of pics: holy crap check out that glare lol

I sat there the other day thinking of that one moment, that little moment where everything felt amazing, and finally realized – I’ve been depressed. Whisper is a great horse to ride and I still love her, but I miss riding Amber. And not just toodling (which granted I love to do and she’s down for, too) but really riding and working on things. Amber actually likes to be in work and shows up every day. Some days we’re not successful because things didn’t click, but the both of us want to be out there working on things and improving our relationship. We love the toodle days because we’ve also been working. But with her knee and stifle, I know too much more than a walk is very difficult for her. And I’ve missed doing more than a walk on her.

Mom WHERE are the rest of my scratches?! (I FINALLY got a pic of her weirdness!)

So as I went over that, I started thinking about the way she’s been kicking, very moody, and pushy, and honestly, I think she’s depressed, too.

It makes sense to me. She went from being in a lot of work to suddenly no work. And I suppose the thought is – can horses feel depression? I don’t see why not. I mean, not like a person of course, but I can see where a lot of it is coming from. She isn’t getting ridden with real purpose, we aren’t having as much bonding time as before, and I think she’s confused and upset. I do also think she’s been giving me the cold shoulder because I’ve been riding Whisper too LOL.

FINE then. I’ll just stick my tongue out at you

Part of my thoughts of this came due to the 3 word blog hop, and I got to thinking what 3 words I’d use to describe Amber. And I realized that those 3 words suited her still, but in other senses she was different. And I think the lack of work is why. Perhaps then depression wouldn’t be the right word to use to describe Amber, but I think the word encompasses all that I’ve witnessed from her for the past month or so. It’s difficult because I want to ride, too, but with her in pain I don’t feel comfortable riding her. But, she also wants to work, so I figured I’d try something.

Posing nicely but….

Since I had short days Tuesday and Wednesday, I made the plan to get out there and do….things. Not just a walk. But not cantering, either, which is hard for her. Just a bit of trot here and a bit of trot there. She looked upset as I tacked her up and had a lot of side-eye going. This was after we had a big grooming session with her SleekEZ to get a lot of her hair starting to come out. Shedding season is officially in, and she was absolutely ecstatic about all of the scratches.

I’m off on an ADVENTURE!!

We walked for a bit and I set about reintroducing/reminding her about contact and pushing into the bridle. It took her a little to remember, but not for want of trying or because of her mouth. I could feel her trying to get the right amount of push I was asking for. When she came into the contact and I could feel her stride even out, I found it interesting that she seemed to have less trouble with her knee and stifle.

So I asked for a trot. Pushing into it she took quite a few very lame steps, and instead of letting the reins go, I picked up contact. And amazing little mare that she is she just put her head right into it and stepped up. And it felt amazing. I mean, honestly it really didn’t feel that amazing in terms of what we’d been doing, and she was still off, but definitely not as much. She was pushing into my outside rein, I could feel her moving through her back a little, and so I asked her to walk. Even her walk transition she tried to push into the bridle.

Kavalkade girth is still doing well. BTW this pic is taken as I’m kneeling. That’s how wide she is

We trotted a little more. To the left she was very quick and uncertain, and I had to remind myself and apologize to her that I was getting defensive again and forced my left side to stretch out and she was better. Not like before because I think that push is hard for her right now. She was also expecting to canter, and I think expecting it to be uncomfortable, but she settled once she realized I just wanted something light. After that we walked for a while and once we stopped I swear she felt happier.

Her mane and tail got washed afterwards, and as I left the barn, she looked to have her usual sparkle in her eye. She was affectionate before dinner and not just food-food-food centric.

Such a pretty sweetheart ❤

Wednesday was cloudy, and she was ready to go. She still was giving me some major side eye, but she didn’t look upset when I started tacking her up. She just about grabbed the bit when I put it in front of her mouth, and seemed quite happy to get out there and start going. I’d noticed Tuesday that I had a lot of trouble getting my left leg to lengthen and I just couldn’t seem to sit straight. I figured it wouldn’t hurt anything to try lowering the stirrup again, so I lowered my left stirrup one hole. It….actually wasn’t bad. I felt more able to sit even, but I knew the kicker would be the trot. When I tried it once before it was a disaster, but that was probably when I was unaware of my unevenness.

The bunnies love her stall

Her walk was much better starting off, and she didn’t have much of an issue with her stifle. And just felt a lot more steady. Happier if you will. No rushing. Just nice, even steps. I asked her to track right first since that’s her easier side, and as she started off I heard her grind her teeth. She’s never done this so I was a bit worried, but kept trotting for about half a circle. Her trot was good – still off but not as bad as she would have been without contact. In the walk transition again she tried to push forward. I asked her to trot again shortly after – if she ground her teeth again then I was just going to call it quits and get off. But no grinding, and she actually hopped into it pretty enthusiastically. She was initially quick again, but a lot of encouraging words and tone and she relaxed pretty well. I got some good work and let her walk. Then we kept walking for 5-10 minutes, and I worked on having her push into my outside rein. To the right she’ll give me really steady contact. To the left she feels the contact but after only a second she’ll come off of it, then touch it and then come off of it again. Which I completely understand – that’s how I wanted her and trained her to be for western. So for dressage I just have to work on getting her to understand that.

Oh let me pose…..

Which makes me feel a lot better actually. We have “something” to work on – it won’t just be mindless walking. But since she was so good and we had a few good moments of contact, we practiced going out of the gate (which she aced – I was so surprised there was no rushing no nothing – like we did it every day) and went on the teensiest walkabout ever. Which was up our street to the intersection (not that far) and back to the house and down the driveway. She very much enjoyed it. She was a bit lit and quick-stepped but I practiced a moderate pushing into the bridle for those long, reaching steps. She got it pretty well by the time we quit.

And she just looked….happy.

So happy after the little walk

It isn’t that I haven’t been getting her out. It’s just we don’t do anything but walk a bit (and that’s really nothing to blog about, either). But I think she was happy to have that purpose again. To really do something.

After my lesson Trainer G and I had a long discussion. It’s really nice that she’s also my vet’s vet tech, so nothing has to be repeated twice. She was actually more apprehensive about Amber’s knee than her stifle in terms of jumping. Her knee did take a lot of damage, and something has been bothering it recently. I’m hoping it’s just in need of an injection like last time, but of course my brain jumps to “there’s still a bone chip in there so maybe it’s moving now – she’s special remember?” But as sad as I am that realistically Amber may not have even a short eventing career, I’d be okay if we only did dressage or western dressage.

This whole thing has really caused me to look at everything going on and really assess what it is I want to do if certain things happen. I want to do English. I love reining and will go back to riding it again one day, but for now I want to do English. I really want to event, but if realistically that can’t happen, I’d enjoy continuing with dressage for her or western dressage. It’d be a better carriage for her since she likes to be downhill and on the forehand anyway, and while we may not go very far in dressage, we may have potential in western dressage. Which kind of defeats the English and “dressage” aspect if I’m doing western dressage, but I’d simply be doing dressage in a western saddle.

It’s a lot of potential planning even if we haven’t assessed her stifle or knee yet, but I like to have an idea or plan of where to go. Hope for the best but prepare for the worst, right? Amber’s always been a good healer, and I’m really hoping for the best with her. There’s just a lot we need to check and a lot of options. Either way, we’ll see how it goes, but man, waiting is HARD lol.

Review: Cashel rawhide one-ear headstall

A western product made it out here on Review Wednesday! Since last week I wrote about the Ovation bridle this week I will write about a western bridle I’ve had for about a year or so. Today we’ll go over the Cashel Rawhide One-ear Headstall.

Cashel headstall in action

There were a lot of things I liked about the bridle: the rawhide, the intricate buckles, how easy it is to change bits, and the fact that when I saw it in the store it was $40. Now it is about $45+ depending on where you find it. This was a bit of an impulse purchase when I bought it – I wanted a western bridle that didn’t require too much maintenance, but would end up being a training bridle before I’d switch out the bits to my show headstall. And as many pictures I posted can attest – the bridle actually ended up becoming my show bridle.

The fit is what I usually expect for a western bridle. It’s a little big on her, but I didn’t need to punch any holes and it’s not on the tightest holes, either. Her head is cob-sized, so I’d say this would fit most western horses from maybe 14.3 up to 16.2-ish hands.

See? Never gonna not share it lol

There isn’t too much to say except for $40 it’s a nice bridle that does it’s job. English bridle works have spoiled me to really quality leather, so I won’t say that the leather is really good because I’ve felt much better. The leather is a bit scratchy and not the most supple. I’ve tried softening it with neatsfoot and Passier lederbalsam, but it’s only softened a little. The rawhide is nicely done, and despite rawhide being pretty much impossible to clean it really hasn’t gotten dirty despite Amber’s propensity to sweat buckets. The leather has lasted this long without a problem, but then again while I rode in it nearly every day for a few months, I was also not switching bits which could potentially wear out the thinner leather where the bit is attached faster than other parts of the bridle.

I actually started to show in the bridle due to the rules of the Ranch Riding and Western Dressage classes that were part of the requirements to win a buckle. In those classes it is against the rules to have any type of sparkle on your gear. This was an open and local show, and considering that horses were competing in numerous other classes (pleasure, horsemanship, trial) back to back we were allowed to wear bling shirts (though I did dress down for WD) and have bling on our tack if that’s all we had and we didn’t have a break to change. Since my saddle doesn’t have any silver and I had a nice looking bridle that matched pretty well, the Cashel one-ear became my show bridle.

Other than that it was very easy to clean and keep clean, and held up to all of Amber’s sweat and my abuse – which is to say that I never kept it in a bag or in a very climate controlled area so it got the intense heat of Vegas summers and the chill of the winters as well. I’d throw it over things in the tack room, or it’d get tossed with all my other things in the back of my truck, so it took a lot of abuse and still looks good. I’ve also hardly even cleaned the thing – I probably cleaned it before the November show and didn’t even bother to clean it before then.

Despite the leather not being the same quality of my English bridles, again for $40 I think it was worth it. Plus, the bridle has functioned really well for me in the shows and just riding at home, and it’s proven so far to be a very hardy strap good despite the cheaper price. I definitely don’t regret buying it and think it’s a great starting or even long term bridle for those that want a good-looking headstall without (seriously AT ALL) breaking the bank.

The wind-ridden uneventful

Especially this weekend (and today really), this meme is my spirit animal right now.

My parents are gone for the week in NC visiting my grandma, so I’ve got the horses. The winds were horrible Thursday to Saturday, and Friday night was especially bad.

9:30 pm – Checking horses; they seem fine. Winds are at 12-13 which isn’t too bad, so I’ll just leave Amber’s stall open (winds are usually from the south and since Amber’s on the south side of the barn she gets closed in) because they should be that way all night till 7 Saturday morning.

11:00 pm – Go to bed.

1:30 am – Woken up by winds because the weather app was wrong and they’re now in the 20s. Jump out of bed, run out to close Amber. Both horses are a bit frantic. Amber calms down with food (of course). Whisper is still a bit harried. Take her to arena. She calms down, but now Amber is getting worked up. Stand in the wind for a few minutes deciding what to do. Walk Whisper back to her stall where she proceeds to pace again. Change blankets because it’s actually not that cold and Whisper will sweat in her heavier weight one. Ply Whisper with alfalfa (it doesn’t work), and finally give up and go inside to go back to sleep. It’s now 2:15.

Streeeeeeetching

4:05 am – Hear Choco spitting up. Find thankfully not a whole ton of liquid but 3 chunks of food. Clean it up and go back to sleep.

5:00 am – Hear Choco licking a lot. A LOT. Hazy sleep brain wants to go back to sleep but then aware brain thinks OH GOD NO. Jump out of bed and take Choco to the laminate flooring just in time for her to throw up. Since it’s 5, clean it up, put her out, and feed her breakfast. Take a quick look at horses. They seem okay. Push back alarm to 6:30 because it’s 5:30 and tired brain wants to sleep.

Very much before
All finished! It looks good if I do say so myself

6:30 am – Go out to feed horses. Whisper and Amber are okay but it’s still windy. Put Whisper in arena anyway and tie a bucket in the arena for her so her alfalfa mix doesn’t blow away. She looks pretty content. Let Amber into her run in hopes she’ll pee (horse holds it like a house-trained dog; I swear). She doesn’t, so close her back in and go back to sleep.

8:30 am – Wake up again. Wind is bad. Hear horse calling. Jump out of bed and Whisper is cantering in the arena. Throw horse clothes back on and bring her in. Feed them some more food because food helps everything. Whisper is calming down with her fly mask on and more food. Realizing that inside she’s out of the wind.

New painting. Learned a lot from the previous painting so I’m going about this one in a different way

After that I took the whole day to chill and paint and play my game and only pause to feed grain and muck when there was a small break in the wind. Saturday night was infinitely better – I actually got enough sleep, and Sunday was beautiful. Horses were turned out for a long time and I wanted to ride but I had a lot to do. So I proceeded to shop and do my laundry amidst my friend watching Hercules, Hunchback of Notre Dame, Prince of Egypt, Pocahontas and Dances with Wolves (whish didn’t work too well because I’d sit down and watch it too lol). And am now super tired because we didn’t realize what time it was and ended up going to bed past midnight.

I really really really want this dog’s life

Permanently exhausted pigeon is my jam right now.

RW purchase lot

I mentioned in a previous post that I’d talk about what I bought for the RW president’s day sale. It was unfortunately underwhelming. I put a bunch of stuff in the cart, but due to other monetary needs (and let’s face it – I really didn’t NEED any of that stuff) I slimmed it down to sore-no-more, a sweater that was on too good of a deal to pass up and a girth I didn’t need but wanted to try.

Let’s do tack first, shall we? I grabbed this Kavalkade girth in a 28″ because girlfriend is not at a 30″ anymore (thank god, even though she still looks substantial). I really like my Nunn Finer Passage girth, but I still have kept my eyes out for a brown girth that was good quality with a d-ring in the middle to make it easier to attach any breastplates and that won’t break the bank. It looked like a nice girth, and with RW carrying more Kavalkade items that look really nice, I figured what the hell. It was 15% off. So far, I’m really liking it. I like the width to disperse pressure and it fits the same as her other 28″. I like that there’s less leather above the buckles than what the Nunn Finer has, and it feels soft.

Less leather above the buckles

I already provided a link to it but I’m also really liking the Ariat merino wool sweater I got. Due to the closeout price and then the 15% off added to that, it was about $35, which is definitely a good deal for Ariat for me. I think it’s very flattering, it isn’t too tight on my arms, and it’s been a very warm addition to my wardrobe after the weather has turned so cold suddenly.

The last thing I bought was the Sore-No-More ultra performance gelotion. I really liked the properties of this one more than the classic. This one has arnica, ginger and a few other essential oils I can’t remember, and to me it doesn’t smell bad which is also a plus. I also loved that it was described as helping loosen tight tendons, ligaments and muscles, and I thought it would help perhaps with joint pain as well. As I mentioned in a post before, I was noticing an increased stress on her outside tendon, and am hoping that until we can get a knee injection or take a closer look at her knee, this will help. I’ve already applied it a few times, and I’ve noticed that each time I used it (on her knee and stifle) her gait was easier and she definitely felt better. I will be adding this to our regimen as well.

Unfortunately not a huge haul but it’s good when I like everything. I was thinking of joining the blogger yard sale but I still have things for sale from the last time I put stuff out there so I figured it’d be redundant. Oh, well lol. Happy Friday all, and have a good weekend!

TBT – 2016 buckle show

I don’t usually do Throwback Thursday posts, but I was hit with a wave of nostalgia while looking through pictures as I was trying to find others. I found the huge stash that I’d grabbed from my sister’s pro camera, and was set laughing and “aww”-ing at them. So have fun with a bunch of pics!

We are always just so put together
I’m not sure what we’re worried about but we’re worried about something lol
WHAT IS THAT?! It’s a bird, it’s a plane, its – oh nope; wait. It’s just a horse trailer leaving
So smart with her feet!
And out with no touchies!

It looks like she’s calling but she was actually just chewing lol
Turn looking good!
I have no idea what I’m trying to do here – maybe I’m attempting to connect to her telepathically?

And last but certainly not least (but this was not taken in 2016 – it was sometime….eh before-ish lol) is a dachshund photobomb! Holding an injured pigeon that she actually managed to catch lol. She just held it in her jaws and was so proud of herself. And while she would shake it if it moved, she had the gentlest hold on it and never pierced the skin. She definitely got the bird/small foul hunting gene!

Review: Ovation Breed Specific Hunt Bridle

Yay! Finally another Review Wednesday! Today, I am going over the Ovation Plain Raised QH Hunt Bridle with reins. With this review comes a new review category: Stuff That Wasn’t Up to Snuff. If I put a product in this section, it will be based mostly on my personal opinion that it wasn’t up to my standards, or didn’t perform the way it was advertised/supposed to perform. Let’s get started!

Picture from Dover

Initially out of the box I really liked it. I also loved that it wasn’t going to break to the bank, and that it came with 64″ reins which Amber needed. I loved that it was chocolate, and I loved that it was plain and without fancy stitching. My mom has had good luck with Ovation products in the past, and as I was starting my foray into English I wanted something that was also matchy with my new bling browband. The bridle was about $109 when I bought it in Full size, and it’s now gone up to $115, which I believe is still a very manageable price. I wrote a review for this product on Dover a week after I’d had it, which approximated to about 3-4 rides. I oiled it and took care of it, but I should have known that a few of things I commented that I wasn’t a fan of initially that they would become a deal breaker. So, let’s get into those deal breakers.

Looked good with the matchy browband tho!

I was initially drawn to this bridle because it was breed specific. As stated on the website it is “designed with specific consideration for the conformation of the stock type Quarter Horse….It’s sized to allow for a wider jowl and broader forehead, but without a larger noseband. The browband, noseband and crown are padded for horse comfort.” For a QH, I think Amber actually has quite a hard-to-fit head. Either that or every single QH has a difficult head to fit and nobody knows because they’re mostly ridden western haha. But to get back to it, Amber has a very large brain space – as in she needs slightly bigger than a full for an anatomical bridle to fit her ears just right, and she can easily wear an oversize browband because a full browband isn’t long enough most times not to pinch her ears. She’s also a cob length-wise from the corner of her mouth to her ears. But she’s also got a much more curved jawline than most horses I’ve seen, so I prefer a full-size noseband to give her room.

The browband was absolutely perfect. I’d have kept it if I could have sold the bridle without it, but alas. Even though the browband was perfect, I felt that the bridle really didn’t allow for a wider jowl. I’ve seen plenty of jowls bigger than Amber’s, and hers isn’t even that big, but even a full-size throatlatch strap barely fit her. I had it on the very loosest hole and there wasn’t any room to make any other holes. So that part of the bridle didn’t fit her well. Interestingly enough, the cheek pieces fit more like a cob bridle, which fits Amber’s head well since it’s cob-length.

The noseband wasn’t changed, as stated in the product’s description, and this was the part that had me more concerned than others. Amber was transitioning from western to English, and I’d never put a noseband on her before. Perhaps this doesn’t seem as concerning to others as it did to me, but this was after I had read quite a few articles about nosebands – especially tight nosebands – causing tension and increased heart rate in horses. I didn’t think the noseband was going to be a problem though. I was thinking that full-size bridles still come with a good amount of leather, so she should be fine. But I could barely get the noseband on the second hole, and after only 5 minutes of riding I could tell that Amber was bothered by something. I loosened the noseband to the loosest hole, and she was much more comfortable after that. Because I could barely close the noseband, I found the 4 keepers on the noseband strap so cumbersome I ended up cutting one off. The strap with the 4 keepers also had padding on it, so that also cut down on noseband space I could use, though I can completely understand that the keepers were to keep a very slim look.

Padding + lots of keepers

After two months, I kept looking at the bridle, wanting to take it to a leather maker to see if I could fix the noseband and take off the padding and then maybe I could live with the cheek strap being really small. But I finally gave up. At that point it wasn’t worth it to pay the money, and I just didn’t like the bridle anymore. After 3-4 months of use, I found someone who loved it and bought it from me.

Of the whole bridle package, I still have the reins. I actually use these a lot, and I don’t think I’ll get rid of them. I’ve been using them with Whisper since they’re long enough for her long neck, and I used them in the last 3 local shows for English/hunter day. The length is just perfect for the QHs. They aren’t my favorite strap good that I have – I do wish the leather was better quality, but they work very well for what I need them to do and they still hold up well.

Perhaps the bridle is more suited to the hunter QHs. They seem to have a more TB head structure (just look at Whisper) whereas Amber looks much more like the ranchy side of the QH breed. However, I still don’t think that should make that much of a difference in the bridle. I do think there are better quality leather goods out there for only a little bit more money than this one.

Unfortunately, this bridle made it into my “not up to snuff” category, but this doesn’t mean that in and of itself it isn’t a good bridle. This could be great bridle for someone else and work perfectly; I just didn’t like the way it fit my horse and I do wish that the leather was of better quality.

Lesson grid

I have pretty much no media from this weekend. Otherwise, though, it was a good weekend. We actually got snow on Friday. SNOW. Like wtf weather! We were only supposed to get a 45% chance of rain which basically means there was going to be no rain (for rain here it must be 60% or above usually). But noooo. It skipped the rain and went straight to snow. Which, coincidentally, we’re supposed to have a 60% chance of snow/rain tomorrow, too.

Thankfully, the few items I’ve bought in preparation for the winter that has just now visited us in February are finally coming in handy. The Ovation fleece griptech breeches have pretty much become a staple at the moment, and the thicker Pipers and Horze Grand Prix breeches have been good in the 45-50*+ weather. I also took advantage of RW’s president’s day sale and got a few things I’d been eyeing, a few things for fun, and another recent staple in the past few days – a really warm Ariat merino wool sweater that’s also on closeout for anyone who’d like to grab a lovely, warm sweater. And I’ll do a blog post on what I got because so far I’m liking it all!

Recently, as I’m sure you noticed from a few pictures, I put Amber back in a bit! It was just to test things out and to see how she was coming along. She was a little unsure at first, and not wanting to lift her back, but after a little time the lightbulb went back on and she was remembering what we’d been working on before all of her time off. She did seem a little hesitant to push into the bridle, which I completely understand, but I didn’t ask for much and it was a good day of walking. I could tell that she was happy we were actually doing something more than walking on a loose rein.

Pretty girl! ❤

Saturday I started off riding Whisper and then popped on Amber for a little bit, then drove to north town to have a lesson. While it was pretty simple, it was an absolutely perfect exercise for me. It was a simple 3 jump grid set 18′ apart as a pole exercise first and then pushed out to 24′ as she raised the jumps to 2′ or so. This exercise was great in that it was one jump right after the other, and really challenged me to better my position.

This lesson really felt like a breakthrough for me. I’ve been working on little things, and as much as I enjoyed a mini “course”, I felt again as though I had a lot of realizations in this lesson that are really going to help push me forward. Liam was an excellent guy through the lesson, and I was really pleased with how Liam and I are starting to speak to each other better, that I’m learning better about him and what he needs and vice versa. But to keep things short and sweet, I’ll outline the biggest takeaways I got from the lesson:

  • When I try to give over poles or a jump, I tilt my shoulders forward in an appearance of giving when my hands don’t move. I need to completely switch that and keep my shoulders forward and extend my elbows or arms. I was sort of successful at that.
  • When I feel insecure about the approach to a fence or pole because I feel I don’t have the stride count right, I pull. Well, who hasn’t heard of this one? Haha! The slightly bigger problem is that I bring my hands up to do so, and that really compromises my position over the fence.
So silly lol
  • Heels down. Also, everyone’s heard of this one, too. For me, my lower leg doesn’t scoot too far back so I don’t necessarily lose my lower leg. But because I’ve been really focusing on my dressage position for the time during shows, I got used to keeping my lower leg back so I could support my upper body and be in a great position for Amber (which worked for dressage work). But with jumping, I need to let that lower leg come forward. I need to tell myself that even if my stirrup slips back to jam those heels down and close those calves because when I actually did that my upper body took care of itself. My shoulders didn’t tilt and I felt secure enough to push my arms forward.
  • I also learned to start simultaneously getting ready to jump but pushing for a stride or popping in a half halt, and to utilize my leg and seat better because you know, you have to think about these things as you jump, haha. As stated in the previous bullet point, once I got my lower leg further under me, even squeezing to push was easier.
  • I’m used to multi-tasking, but welcome to SO MUCH MULTITASKING. It’ll take A LOT of practice, but I’m game to keep chipping away at it.
  • Trust your gut. One the last few passes that Liam and I made to the grid, he just felt very behind my leg and had a bit of head tossing in there. I didn’t think about it that succinctly at the time, but I just had this gut feeling that something was off. So I turned him away from the grid 2 or so strides out and asked Trainer G to hold on because it just didn’t feel right. And she completely agreed that it would not have been good had I actually decided to go. So I circled, got a good chance to get Liam forward, and we had absolutely no issue through the grid.
Vivid setting on my phone camera. Compared to a photo without a filter, this really brought out what her color actually looks like.

There were good challenges – like in learning how to utilize my leg in that the first one was a pole on the ground but still set at 24′, so I had to push to get the one stride before jumping 2, and then sit and wait on the last one since then we’d be motoring. Also, I got left behind badly one go through on the middle jump (poor guy was an absolute SAINT because I felt how hard I got him in his mouth), but I was actually able to catch up over the third one and still make it an okay go through. This lesson was just really great in focusing on my position over fences.

Ending the lesson we had 4 passes through the grid – 2 each direction and at a trot and the jumps back down to poles. This exercise was really good to reiterate Liam’s pace, and when he got a little speedy through it to do a half-halt, stay quiet, and keep his pace in mind. I was super tired after; mind blown! But in a very good way. I can’t wait for my next lesson; hopefully with scheduling and everything going on I’ll be able to do one this weekend but we’ll see.

Yeah, it’s been a bit colder here than the past few months….

Sunday I rode Amber and Whisper again, but I decided to switch it up. Amber did well the previous time I’d had her in a bit, so we tacked up English and I had my mom hop on her. Whisper is a hard horse to feel things on – it’s one of the reasons I started riding her English because there’s less leather in the way so we can feel each other better and communicate better. Amber is much easier to feel – she has a more forward walk and more animated movements, and everything you do has a reaction. So I challenged my mom to ride Amber – only at a walk – and to feel what she’s doing (i.e. when her left hind hits the ground and when her right one does, though one side at a time). Since Whisper has been benefitting from the hip in but still moving forward exercises I’ve been doing with her, I think it’ll really help my mom to feel it with Amber and then transfer that to Whisper.

The other thing I think will be great about my mom riding Amber is that if you don’t do it right, Amber won’t do it. Not out of spite by any means; she’s just used to me asking her, so if it isn’t quite how I ask, she draws a blank it’s a little wonky lol. Whisper is a better ammy horse in that regard, but I really think this will help my mom. Since it’s only at a walk, it’s not hard on Amber, and it’s a good place to start for my mom. Plus, I enjoy letting others enjoy my horse. She’ll never run off and is never mean under saddle, and she’s also a very very forgiving horse, so even if you both are struggling, she never holds it against you.

So this week, my mom and I officially switch horses so she has Amber and I have Whisper. Hopefully, the weather cooperates since it’s supposed to get windy later today, snow/rain tomorrow, and gusty winds again Thursday – Saturday. Well, I suppose we’ve escaped the weather Nov-Jan so it’s about time it’s all hitting us lol.

30 Things you might not know about me

As those of us who’ve done this particular blog hop have noted – a lot of us talk quite a bit about our horses and aspects of our lives that revolve around horses but not too much else. Since I’m still a relatively new blogger, I’d like to hop on the hop and share 30 things about me that you might not know.

1. I am very artistic. I love to draw and paint and write fiction. I still have an old binder full of my pencil sketches, but I’ve moved to painting more since I love color but hate coloring with colored pencils. I still currently write fiction when I have time, and maybe one day I’ll actually publish the story ideas floating around in my brain.

2. I took piano lessons when I was younger, and know how to play the basics (and only 1 full song lol) but I disliked having to play boring pieces. I still play occasionally.

3. I only have a few very close friends; it takes me a while to warm up to people, but if you do become a good friend, I am fiercely loyal and will hurt someone if they hurt my friends.

I also love photography and playing around with my phone camera settings

4. I am a germaphobe…..yet not. I do not wipe everything down all the time – I am especially non-germaphobic when it comes to horse germs. But I greatly dislike people germs, and I get claustrophobic in public restrooms, so I’m “that person” that uses the handicap stall.

5. I was (and honestly still am) a tomboy. I am not the most athletic person but I love playing sports. I played soccer for 4 years and was good at it. I also played volleyball for 2 years, and am a pretty good catcher. As much as I love playing sports, I do not enjoy watching regular sports on TV. I’ll maybe watch a season game or two of hockey or volleyball, I’ll watch the Olympics, but other than that nada.

6. On being active, I can’t do too much cardio if I don’t bring my inhaler. I have exercise induced asthma due to really bad bronchitis when I was very little so my lungs have scarring and don’t function as well as they should.

7. Despite how active I was as a kid and the sports I played and all the horses I rode, the worst injury I’ve had was 3-4 cracked ribs and a mild concussion – and that was actually due to a horse.

8. I have been horse-obsessed since before I can remember, but when it comes to things like decorating I do not like to decorate with horse things. I like southwest-looking patterns, but the only real “horsey” aspect I decorate with are pictures of horses (with or without me) that I rode/ride. Most are of Amber (of course).

9. But I WILL decorate with dachshunds. Because DACHSHUNDS.

DACHSHUND QUILT YAASSS

10. My favorite horse I’ve ever ridden (besides Amber) was a little filly I named Pippa. She was out of Tejana Chic (full sis to Chocolate Chic Olena) and by Gunnatrashya, and she had talent in spades. But she was a super sensitive, one-person horse, and I was amazingly lucky to start her and she bonded to me. Unfortunately, shortly after she turned 2 the owner decided to turn her out with a mare that disliked younger horses, and she got kicked in the shoulder and it fractured. It never healed properly and she became a broodmare.

11. The only online “gaming” game I play is Star Stable Online, a 3D horse game. It’s mostly made for the younger crowd and teenagers, but I love playing and in game I can have 40+ horses when that is SO not gonna happen IRL haha. Otherwise it’s only Mario Cart for me. I really suck at all other video games.

12. Most people don’t believe that my favorite music is rock/heavy metal. I can fall asleep to Evanescence, and Disturbed, 5FDP, Nothing More and Starset are just a few of my favorites.

13. I have 2 sisters – both older than me and all three of us look alike.

Yeah we don’t look alike at all….

14. I love taking quizzes. Be they more on the legit side or just “what Disney character are you” I enjoy taking them.

15. I love Disney movies, and my favorite one is Fox and the Hound. I am not sure why it’s my favorite. Still kind of can’t believe that Mickey Rooney and Kurt Russell were Todd and Copper……

16. I like movies more than TV shows, but my fav TV show is Cold Case. I’ll watch any movie that I think is pretty good and honestly can’t really watch any horse movies. Other than that I’ll watch things like Forensic Files or some other true crime things but mostly I don’t watch TV. I just Netflix or Amazon Prime. I loathe commercials.

17. As I’m sure most of us are, I would much rather hang out with animals than people, and I have a natural inclination towards them.

18. I may live in the desert, but despite my giant aversion to the cold, I don’t think I’d mind living in inland east coast (preferably VA or lower because warmer) away-ish from the cold Atlantic wind because there is now really good cold-specialty clothing. (There wasn’t when I used to live in VA)

19. One of the reasons for my aversion to the cold is that I get seasonal depression. I thankfully am very lucky that I don’t have to do too much for it – I just need to get a membership to a tanning salon and go 3+ times a week if it’s too consistently cloudy. I had to go to a tanning salon after just 3 days of clouds when I lived in Colorado, but thankfully mine is manageable. I haven’t had to go while living in the desert since it’s usually sunny.

Always lots of sun!

20. I have only lived in 5 different states – Nevada, Virginia, Hawaii, Colorado and Texas. I’ve visited (or driven through) many more due to cross-country road trips. My favorite state that I visited was Kentucky (so much with all horses) and my favorite state I lived in was Colorado.

21. I love spicy food and the way it tastes. Unfortunately, I am mildly allergic to it. I don’t need any emergency help, but my throat will close and my tongue will swell if I put too much. I’m also allergic to Champagne and the sulfates in red wine. Even if I only drink a little bit, I get flu-like symptoms.

22. I have RNF – resting nice face. People come up to me all the time because I apparently have a nice resting face. I really kinda wish I had RBF instead.

23. Being an extroverted introvert describes me to a T, and I am the type of person that really enjoys being in the same room with someone but not talking.

24. I don’t think I’ll ever have or want kids.

25. I may not be very old, but I remember riding in all the old saddles – the ones without knee patches. I also remember giant computers and TVs, dial-up internet, and the AfterDark programs with flying toasters and the rat race. My friend’s sister who is perhaps 13/14 doesn’t know what a landline phone is or how it works. It makes me feel old.

26. Humor is my thing. I like making people laugh. I like telling corny jokes and I have a very sarcastic and dry sense of humor. I will choose humor over drama (like TV or movies) any day.

27. I could live without my phone. I enjoy all the things a phone does, but I know as long as I have GPS and a camera I’d be fine without it.

28. Reading is my favorite non-horsey activity. I am an insanely fast reader, but have to force myself to read slower because I will speed read and miss things. For reference – I read the ENTIRE Harry Potter series in about 8 days (I found the series after the 7th book came out and borrowed all 7 from a neighbor). And yes, I barely slept when I was reading it.

29. Harry Potter is my favorite book series. I could write essays and have hours and hours of discussions about the nuances of Harry Potter and STILL have things to talk about.

30. My major in college was Equine Science – I work at an engineering contractor as the office administrator.

And there we have it! I totally got stuck around the middle mark like “crap what else do I say?!” but hopefully I found other interesting things to make up the other half haha. TGIF and have a good weekend!

Whisper goes english

The three day weekend was nice, but now it’s time again to get back to it. The wind was absolutely atrocious over the weekend – my lesson that I was supposed to have Monday morning got cancelled, our barbecue was blown over and subsequently broke. Thankfully the footing in our arena didn’t appear to be too affected, but our backyard was basically a swirling dust storm with sustained gusts of 35+ mph. Thankfully, we’d gone riding before the big winds on Sunday.

As I had mentioned in my post-show posts, I was going to put Whisper in English tack to help revisit that canter. Because I’m the most comfortable in my Prestige, Saturday my mom and I hooked Whisper in the crossties and I placed my saddle on Whisper’s back sans all pads. And…uh….haha ha ha. That saddle basically took a nosedive onto Whisper’s withers. And Whisper has very typical TB withers.

Yup. VERY TB withered lol

The saddle was popping up in the back, and the channel was too wide for her spine. I just kept shaking my head because I am still reminded just how wide not only Amber’s shoulders are, but how wide her back is. A table, that thing. So, we grabbed my mom’s English saddle and put it on her. Usually, Whisper doesn’t necessarily need a half pad, but considering she hasn’t been ridden in an English saddle in forever, I wanted to make sure the memory foam provided extra cushion so we wouldn’t have any issues with her wanting to lift her back.

And Whisper in English is just too cute. I put my Lund bridle back together and it looks super adorable on Whisper as well. I hopped on with no intention of doing any type of more forward hunter movement, and Whisper hardly offered, so I was glad. The last thing I was intending was to confuse her – I didn’t care what pace she decided to give me – my main focus was leg yields/lateral work and her canter. So for a good ten minutes, we walked a circle in the middle of the arena. We started with hip-in exercises, just a step or so at a time. She definitely had a little more trouble to the right – she really just wanted to sidepass, so I played around with a cluck here and there and using my inside leg to keep her shoulder from moving as well. Then I played around with letting her bring her shoulders back to “center,” keeping her body lifted but curved for a step or so after and then releasing.

I focused on her right side more since that’s her tougher side and she’s much harder to bend or “scoop” that direction. So when I started asking for a hip-out, to the left she was like “OMG I got this!” and gave me some great work. To the right, asking her for a hip-out was like “uhhhhhhh…..huh?” and just hitting a blank with her. She got upset because even though she was moving INTO my leg for a right bend, I wasn’t releasing the pressure. I’d never completely take my leg off, but I’d relax it and ask again, relax and ask again. And finally she gave me just the smallest of tilts to the outside, so I released and praised her. It only took 2 more tries before she really understood it, and then I’d ask her for hip-out to hip-in, and she was really doing well. It wasn’t perfect my any means, but the flow was natural for her, and she was soon confident in it.

Her jog was nice albeit a little fast, but I only corrected her when she became flat. In no time at all, she was giving me what I call her show jog, and she felt very correct and lifted. When it came to the canter tho….I wasn’t too encouraged by it. I’d had a quick “make it a teensy bit better” session at the show, but she’d had about a week off so I wasn’t expecting the moon. I was hoping it’d be a bit better though. I really had to reiterate my inside leg to her. I know for me, crab-stepping is a term I’ve heard in conjunction with WP horses a lot, and what I want Whisper to have is a healthy, sustainable, collected canter that is right where she’s the most comfortable. So I’ve been taking the dressage “inside leg to outside rein” and playing and tweaking that to western, especially in the canter. When Whisper lets her hind end drift to the outside, I think so much falls to the wayside like steering for example. And when she lets that drift happen, her canter just feels so disjointed. So, really encouraging the inside hind to come forward – check.

The right lead was pretty “meh,” but after a few rounds working on it, I decided to scrap it and save it for another day. It would give me more time to think about what else I could revisit to get it better, and then pushing is never a good idea for Whisper. On working with the left lead, it was better, but she was just getting so behind and flat. I could tell she was a bit tired, but I’ve been planning on more fitness for Whisper before the next show, and this would be part of it. So I kissed her up into a hunt canter (which I’m sure is what it looked like and I’m sure Whisper was thinking “OMG this is SO FAST!” Unfortunately no video, but she had her ears up and remembered all the other times I’d asked her to push forward before slowing the rhythm but keeping the collection and forward thought. I’d asked her to do just that, and she’d just flatten out again so back up into that canter. After 5 or so tries, she finally gave me just a few collected strides, so we broke to a jog and quit.

Sunday was already windy when we hopped on, but first, I still revisited the lateral/leg yield work. She was definitely on top of it, so we moved into a jog and I experimented on her hip-ins and outs and she just gave me a few great ones at the jog. Awesome! Then we practiced that going straight on the rail, and she was just really getting it. I really reiterated my inside leg again – this time at the jog and especially to the right, wanting her to curl around me to get that push. Her first instinct when I go to remind her that she needs to lift, or to help her get it, is to invert herself against the pressure. She’ll push her shoulder to the inside and tip her nose out instead of lifting her shoulders off of my legs and transferring it through her back. I could also just feel her body movements so much clearer, so I could tell when she’d start to revert back and let her hip drift out to the rail. But I’d shift my leg back and she’d politely straighten herself back out.

When I asked for that right lead though – she was awesome. The work REALLY paid off. Even though I hadn’t done so to the right, having her increase her speed on the left lead really stuck with her. She was much more confident in what I was asking, and really trying to keep that right shoulder at the same height as her left and keep her hip straight. She was more forward and was more successful at maintaining her collection, so when we got a good one time around the ring we quit any subsequent work on the right lead. I went to work on the left lead a bit, and she started to let her hip drift inside, a bit like that crab-stepping, so I used my inside leg and let it slip back every time she felt too bendy to the left. And she straightened, her lope was more correct, and we quit the ride there.

Happiest of chunky ponies ❤

I do need to get her fitness up, but I prefer to still keep training rides short. But we’ll get there. Soon, the one time around the ring will be a no brainer and we’ll progress to more.

I hopped on Amber after – she was most excited to be out. She had a little bit of head shaking in there, so I knew the wind was getting her very excited – which is to say, she was still not that fast haha. At one point she lost her foot a little, and then proceeded to get very upset that she lost her footing lol.

Losing the left hind
OMG THIS IS SO UPSETTING
Ugh I can’t believe this. Stupid footing!
How horrible. I suppose I’m done now…. – Amber probably

Just a bit of cantering later and she was done. She’s definitely not in shape anymore, and I think too by the end she got her excitement and her run out and then was a bit ouchy. But she was so happy to be out and about. Zoomies!! Yet not really lol.

Monday I didn’t ride. The wind was still pretty bad and it’d caused the temps to drop. It got into the 20s Monday night! It’s not even supposed to get into the 50s today – staying in the 40s! Now it’s more like the winter in Vegas I’m used to. The lows are remaining in the 30s, only just getting into the 40s at the end of my 15-day forecast. The highs are still up there in the low 50s, but we have a chance for rain. I knew our REALLY NICE weather wasn’t going to last. Please bring it back!

Google famous

So I’m not going to go into the full background story of how all this came about because it’s very long winded, so I’m just going to start at the part where I google-mapped the old house I rented in FoCo and was Amber’s first home when she officially became my horse. I noticed from the satellite images that it looked as if the new owners had (finally) done some updates to the old place (I couldn’t see remnants of 2 of the old sheds) so I figured I’d go down to street view and see.

Such an awesome property to have horses on; despite having serious insulation problems causing winter to be extra freezing, I loved spending the majority of my college years in that house.

And…..strange it looked as if one of the trees was back. Huh. So I moved to the side of the house (it was next to a street) and noticed that dilapidated shed was still there when it didn’t appear to be before. Aaaaannndd that’s my old roommate’s OTTB in the front pasture. So I hurriedly moved to the back of the property and boom.

Look who it is! Way in the back. You may need to squint lol

Baby Amber! After she had to be separated from the OTTB but before her injury. How cool is that? I think it’s pretty neat, even though she’s not famous, it’s pretty cool to be on the streetview! Then, of course, that spawned me reminiscing about being in college, and it not looking any different than I remember (before my brain kicked in with a DUH, Mandy – streetview hasn’t updated in SIX YEARS so OF COURSE it’d look the same).

It’s funny what we remember and how much we actually can remember if we really put our brains to it. It was just a great blast from the past.

Fixer Upper

Amber has been doing okay although I haven’t been able to do anything really remotely horsey all week. It’s been a whirlwind of being suddenly busy. Amber had lost a shoe at some point, but the farrier came out pretty much 2 days later so she didn’t get a chance to ruin much. Thankfully it was her left front, the one that is pretty much like iron.

Late night walk. She was so happy to be out

I chatted with my farrier before he shod her (one of these days I’m just going to take the day off of work so I can be there because it’s so hard to convey things when on a phone), just sharing some of my concerns with her RF leg. I had noticed that her wear was going towards the outside of her foot – not down the center. Her tendon that had swelled never got better, and I saw that it seemed to be strained and went along with her growth pattern of inside hoof growing more than outside. I wanted to share what I saw and compare that with his thoughts. He’s always so observant, and really cares about the horses he does, and he mentioned that she was taking the weight off of something – probably the inside of her knee – so she’s shifting weight to the outside. Which of course got me thinking.

I’ve been keeping the lid on my panic but I do really worry that these things with Amber may only be manageable for none-to-light riding. But this one doesn’t have me worried as much. This time last year, Shoer D and I noticed Amber was wearing her RF differently than before. We waited a few shoeings before it just wasn’t getting better, and then around early June she got a trip to the vet for her knee to be injected and she wore her foot just as she had before. Put in that perspective, a lot of the idiosyncrasies I’ve been noticing with her can very logically be linked to her needing another knee injection. Which, the injection lasted about a year last time, and with my plan to stick her on adequan I think one will last another year so I’m cool with that.

Always so itchy and ready for scratches

Her abscess still has puss, but nowhere near as bad as before. There’s no smell, and I only go out once a day to clean off what has dried and to help a couple drain spots reopen. I am starting to think that the abscess won’t go away until her tooth pocket has completely healed, but here soon I’ll have a chat with Dr. W about steps forward with Miss Special. It’s fine. It’s all fine. I’ll just drown my stress woes into RW’s 15% off President’s Day sale.

Have a great 3 day weekend everyone!

NSHA V show part 2

Sunday dawned sunny but chilly. North wind had blown in through the night and the breeze stayed around through the morning. Amber didn’t have her usual tantrum, no doubt learning from Saturday that she wasn’t going anyway but definitely not happy that Whisper was leaving. Whisper though hopped right in the trailer. It’s nice that the show grounds are only about 35 minutes away, so it’s not a huge endeavor for us to haul.

Whisper was a little more lit coming off of the trailer, but after a short walk around and perhaps only a 5 minute lunge, I could tell her eyes were softer, and she was definitely better/not as wide-eyed as she was Saturday. I was a little overzealous in getting ready right away – I should have talked to the office to see what class they were on, but I think it was okay. When I hopped on, Whisper felt almost exactly as she does at home – relaxed and easy. We walked around for a bit before I realized that they only started the reining class and there were about 10 people in the class (approximately 2 minutes each run). My class was directly after reining, but the last thing I wanted to do was overwork Whisper in the warm up, and leave our best work in the warm up ring as well.

I don’t remember what we’re staring at lol

So I hopped off, and proceeded to be very pleasantly surprised when Whisper cocked a leg and started to fall asleep. It was almost 9 at that point, her usual nap time, but I was so happy that amidst reiners practicing patterns and whatnot that she was sleeping. Good girl!

I hopped back on 3/4 of the way through the class and did just a bit more warm up. Her left lope was doing well – her right was strung out. Which….eh. As I’ve said I was more concerned with her feeling comfortable at the show, and she was really trying hard to be relaxed and listen to me, so I called it good.

She’s just so cute and dainty looking ❤

The first class was a walk/jog warm up – a sort of “train” class to warm your horse up but the class doesn’t count for anything. It allows those in canter classes to cross-enter (same rider/horse combo can’t go in “official” walk/jog classes if also entered in canter classes). She was a little fast at the jog, and I hadn’t gotten a chance to ride in or let her see the main ring, so to a judge, her lifting her head to look out of the arena to the street is a problem, but she kept her pace well. I was happy with her. We ended up getting second in the class, so yay! She also didn’t do her nervous tic that she’s done many a previous show – it’s hard to describe. But she’d nod her head very quickly while biting at the bit, and sometimes take the reins out of your hand. None of that happened, so she got many many pets.

Our next class was just an AA lope class, and I was very proud of her. She was actually close to breaking gait a few times! Oddly enough it pleased me lol. Probably because she only breaks if she’s tired or feeling comfortable, but I talked to her a bit through the class and she was so super! Her right lead was strung out still, and we had a bit of a problem steering off the rail (which is something I plan to work on before the next show), but overall I was super pleased with her. Again, no nervous tic, and the judge was nice and gave everyone little pointers before the ring steward called the placings (Whisper better left side, right lead strung out – accurate lol). But we still placed first! Good girl Whisper!

I did a little more work in the warm up ring, then let her chill again. Whisper was really being great and holding it together, trying her best to listen. I knew that right lead REALLY needed to get fixed if we were going to continue doing well in the classes, but I knew the show was not the place to work on it or fix it. I’ve always taken with me a piece of advice Andrea Fappani said in one of his clinics – “If you haven’t fixed something before the show, you aren’t going to fix it AT the show. Better to show off the things you can do well and conserve on the things that aren’t so good.”

Slogging a wee bit, but still cute

Our next class was senior horse, and it was a pretty full class. Whisper was excellent. Her jog was getting better, but her lope was starting to deteriorate a little. She was probably also tired, but as I said she was still trying her little heart out, and keeping it together despite some “OMG” looks she threw to the outside of the ring. The judge actually called for an extended jog, and I laughed at myself because Saturday after the ride I’d looked at my mom and said – “Wouldn’t it be funny if we had to do an extended jog? I haven’t done an extended jog on her in years. Huh.” Well? Extended jog both ways, and I felt like we nailed it. Good girl with her rusty buttons that still work! lol I tried as best as I could to support her at the lope – really keeping my leg on to help but it wasn’t working the best. We ended up in second, with pointers again of her being close to breaking gait and looking like she was slogging in the lope, but there was no way I was disappointed in her. One of the hardest things I had to work through with her was trusting me enough to help her, that my “correction” or “lift” wasn’t punishment in any way. So the fact that she readily accepted my help at a show and really put her trust in me was a win in my book. It’s only February. We have until the end of the show year to continue improving.

Settled and almost sleeping lol

Our last class was jackpot. And her jog was the best yet. As she got a little looky again, I gave her a few upward “bumps” instead of the hold I usually do, and she finally seemed to accept that okay, we’re in here to do work. Her left lead was a bit slogging, and I knew she was getting tired, but boy was that sweet mare trying. She was so solid in the walk work too – no anticipation! Which is miracle of miracles for her since anticipation is her middle name haha. She just walked and walked until the judge called for the next gait. Our right lope was definitely more forward, and I preferred it actually to our previous slogging. She was definitely tired, and I knew the right lope was too fast for the judge, but there were no nervous breakdowns or resistance when I reached out to help her back on her butt just a bit. My lift probably cost us a higher place in the class, but she hit that perfect lope I was searching for for a stride or two, then got a bit fast again. But usually she shows a bit of resistance, and I was so happy there was none. We ended up getting third in the class – and winning $20 – but I was still a bit miffed at the placing. The first place horse broke 3 times, which fortunate for the first place winner the judge didn’t see, and Whisper was actually nowhere near breaking gait that whole class. The second place horse (who I’ve known for years and absolutely adore that little Arab gelding) deserved first, but…well, if the judge didn’t see (and did see my corrections), then the judge can only judge what they saw. I think after Whisper doing so well, I thought she deserved better than the placing she got. So pleased that there was no nervous tic again either, but she did want to make friends with every horse there lol. Which is why she is way better suited to these classes than Amber haha.

Boy this girl can really get her hocks under her

All in all, it was a good successful day. After that class I did just a little bit more with her canter. I didn’t completely feel okay with leaving the strung out as it was, so I really squeezed her into a good right lead lope, got a couple great strides, did a simple lead change, lifted the left, got a couple great strides and hopped off. I was a little worried that when I hopped off she might remember the nervousness (she wouldn’t stand still and I had to back her a bit while I tried to roll up my chaps), but I think she’ll be okay. She got many many face rubs, girth loosened, and then we took her back to her food. I wanted to let her roll, and it seemed like she might after a second, but she didn’t. I would’ve loved for her to do that, but that’s okay. She was definitely ready to go home, but refused to load for only about a minute. We’ve learned it’s just because she has to pee (she’s done this for years so it strikes me as super funny that she AND Amber do this), and my mom did a great job of just waiting, not looking at her, and Whisper finally hopped in, pooped, and peed a minute later haha. Silly mares!

Amber was very excited to see Whisper when we got home, and Whisper did finally roll in our arena. That was about it for the day!

I did find out that I’d actually won some stuff with Amber from the previous year though! Not only did we do well enough in the buckle series for us to win a buckle, but we managed to get Champion in Ranch Riding, Western Dressage, Western Horsemanship 18 & Over and Reserve Champion in Reining Open. What do you know about that?! Way to go Amber! I was very surprised by the horsemanship and reserve in reining – those were definitely classes I was not expecting to get anything in! I guess it’s because we just were always in them even if we didn’t have the best placings….? lol I got a hay bag, a bag that could probably fit half a bale of hay, and strap to go with it, a hay bag helper (those black things that help keep the bags open so you have more hands) and a plaque! They did spell Amber’s name wrong, so they’re in the process of getting the plaque fixed, but I am tickled pink that Amber and I won a plaque!

Always gonna share this pic because I love it. Those are plaque-winning faces right there haha!

It was definitely a tiring day, but I felt so happy with Whisper after the show. Such a trooper, and her attitude was miles different from the last time she was there, and even different from Saturday. I couldn’t be happier. The show brought to light things that I’ll have to work on with Whisper, but all in due time. She’s had the past 2 days off, and we’ll start back with light riding, getting her supple and starting to give her heavier works so she’s fitter for the next show.

All in all – a huge success!

NSHA V show part 1

First show of the season!

Thursday was our last prep ride at home. I felt pretty confident with her paces, and then decided to test a few of her rusty buttons. She surprisingly responded with no more than an “oh sure, I remember that” instead of her usual very quick response. I have a theory about that but I’m going to end up writing a blog post about it after the show because it’s potentially a long winded one. But I am not sure if it’s the bit, other factors, or what, but she was SO SLOW on Thursday. To the point it worried me haha. I’ve been trying to get her to go forward for that clear canter but still rocking, and either I was hard of feeling or she was tired because it was 75 – I am not sure what it was, but I had to really get her forward. It worked mostly. Ish.

She was very tired lol

Her left was good albeit a teensy bit slow, but after working on her lope we came back and jogged around. It was good to do this sort of “throw it all to her and see what she gives me” type of ride. It gives me new information on what I need to continue to work on not just for showing, but overall for Whisper being able to perform her lope without cheating as she tends to do. It’ll be difficult since as soon as she gets a bit close to the rail she lapses into her old habits. Lots of canter work in her future. Lots of circle work for her. Lots of lateral movement and sticking her back in snaffle. The lateral work helped Amber and I exponentially getting more supple for getting a little straighter at the canter so I’m hoping this will be a good starting point for Whisper.

Either way, for the few classes we signed up for and as it is the first show of the season, this was good. I knew I was going to be a lot more concerned with Whisper’s head space during the show than her pace or even quality of her gaits. She’s excellent at walk and jog, we just have to work a little harder on her lope. Her last show was many years ago, and only once recently did my mom and I take her to a show to just ride around and she was honestly pretty good. I was hoping though that with her more comfortable with her work that she was going to be great Saturday and Sunday.

After Thursday’s ride, I turned Amber out but hopped on her bareback first because she was really jealous that I had Whisper out.

Miss Jealous Jealousy Pants

She really enjoyed the walk around the arena. I had wanted to saddle her up, but time just wouldn’t allow it. She was especially loving, probably because she doesn’t want me to get ideas about riding Whisper full time and leaving her out of it. She wants to be out and riding, and a few times when I’ve cantered her she’s shaken her head – her biggest expression of joy under saddle (otherwise I feel it build as we canter and you can feel her go OMG LET’S RUN and that lasts for like 2 laps lol). Other than that, she’s not more comfortable going faster than a walk right now, poor thing.

Friday I worked an all day shift, so no ride time. My mom bathed Whisper and trimmed her up (western pleasure and all that. No whiskers and ear hair allowed! lol). Saturday, we took it easy and arrived at the show grounds around 10:30 to get in our preliminary ride and let Whisper get settled to seeing the place again. Amber threw her regular tantrum as my mom hooked up the truck and trailer, and then proceeded to be very confused that we were loading Whisper into the trailer. But Whisper walked right in and we were on our way!

Getting to the show she was a bit rattled – the announcer startled her a bit, but I worked with her just as I had been, and she came around very quickly. She was definitely calmer around other horses, and it’s quite interesting the difference between Amber and Whisper – Amber likes other horses around but she’d prefer to be by herself. Whisper wants to be near other horses and performs best when there are others with her. Which is absolutely perfect for their disciplines haha.

She was really ready to go when I started to tack her up, and a bit tense and speedy. However, after about 5 minutes, she really started to come around and give me the work that we’ve been doing at home. I was right in that the show definitely perked her up a bit so I actually had a better lope on her. I was expecting her usual, nervous work at the show, but I was really pleasantly surprised how well she settled. She got upset only twice, once from a horse pawing inside a passing trailer, and another time when the other horses were leaving the arena for a class and she couldn’t follow. I was expecting her to be a little worse, and I was so happy with how well she handled it. And only after a minute or so she came right back to me and gave me some great work. Almost borderline too slow, but I was very pleased with where her mind was so I called it a day after about 30 to 40 minutes of light riding, and headed home. I was very hopeful for Sunday after feeling her response Saturday, and I thought we had a great experience to move forward.

Stay tuned for Sunday!

The scoop

That was probably a very poor attempt at a pun because it’s for the dip but that was scooping…. but whatever – on to: THE DIP.

“Mom, you are NOT funny” – Amber

Here it is everyone! Creamy Crab and Artichoke Dip

1 pkg 8 oz crab delights

1 pkg 8 oz cream cheese, softened

1 cup mayonnaise

1/3 cup chopped yellow onion

1 lg can (13.75 oz) artichoke hearts, preferably un-marinated, drained and chopped

1 cup Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375. In mixing bowl, blend together cream cheese and mayo. Stir in remaining ingredients and place mixture into a glass pie plate. Bake uncovered for 15-18 minutes. Serve with crackers or French bread.

“OMG that sounds so good! CAN I HAVE SOME.” – Amber

Hacksaw ridges

I believe I have mentioned this before, but just in case I haven’t, I have never body clipped a horse in my life. I don’t even remember seeing a body clipped horse until I was much older. By the time I WAS old enough to pay attention to that sort of thing, I wasn’t doing English anymore and most western people I met never clipped their horses. My eventer friend is bomb at body clipping but….she lives in Washington.

As I mentioned yesterday, it has been hot here. It’s going to be 78 this Friday, and even though Sunday is forecasted for only 58 (WHY the cold day for the show?!) it’s still going to be back in the upper 60s by Wednesday and upper 70s next week. Amber has been sweating, poor thing. She LOVES to sunbathe, but recently, she won’t even nap outside because she’s too hot.

So, I embarked on an “Attempt to body clip your horse for the first time” endeavor and just winged it. Here’s how it went.

Step 1: Draw some semblance of a line. It may change.

Step 2: Proceed to clip. Realize your horse hates all things that may rub/pull on her hair, so you thankfully remember in time to leave her girth area unshaved. Which then looks…..so awkward.

Step 3: But hey, it’s not that bad! For the first time of clipping it’s decent. Especially since as you were clipping pony was leaning into you because she thought OMG SCRATCHES as the clipper blades ran over her fur. So, go on to the next side.

Step 4: Repeat drawing a line, and completely miss it and mess up. But it looks a little better on this side actually! So, cover the mess up with something inventive.

Step 5: You picked a heart cause Valentine’s day was coming up? WHY. You HATE Valentine’s day. Well, at least you love your horse, and she loved the scratches, and the heart is a very sentimental gesture. How fun and cute.

Step 6: Call it good because hey it really doesn’t look that bad, and go ride the other horse, who is NOT happy to be ridden again.

However, Whisper was great! Just a couple things to fine tune before the show and we’re on our way! Also KC over at The Pilgrim Chronicles, when I mentioned if she’d like the recipe for the artichoke and crab dip, said she’d absolutely love it, and since all of my commenters mentioned it, I will dedicate a blog post specifically to the dip! My mom will get me the recipe and I’ll post it for everyone, so give it a try! I’ll post it tomorrow. Happy Hump Day!

The no-prep weekend

I remembered today that I was actually supposed to use last weekend as a prep for Whisper but uhh….I completely forgot that there’s a horse show this coming weekend lol. But I’ll make sure to ride these next few days, and even with a 10 hr shift on Friday, we won’t be showing Saturday – a perfect opportunity to drive down to the show grounds, let her see the sights again and get in a ride as the final prep for Sunday.

Such a cutie pie ❤

So instead of preparing this weekend, we toodled. Amber and I played around, my mom rode, and then Amber got a bath. She was not enthused.

But she was clean!

Her tail is getting so long, though; I love it. I also can’t wait to get video/pictures of Whisper with her mane and tail just gorgeous….I’m excited.

Little miss poser is back! I swear she knows and is such a ham lol

Superbowl was a great surprise with the Eagles’ win, but we really didn’t do much. My mom did make us her artichoke and crab dip (which is HEAVEN OMG) and then we could make up nachos with as much cheese as we wanted with salsa, black beans and avocados because superbowl is really about food and commercials.

Legit one of her favorite ways to sleep lol

It’s been hot here. Like in the seventies. I know, I’m so sorry for all of you guys in the cold, but I’m really just amazed that it actually has been so warm. We’re usually in the low 50s for the day and mid 30s at night, but this has been a surprisingly mild winter. Don’t get me wrong I’m absolutely not complaining; I wish I could send some of our warm weather to you guys!

Cause it was warm enough for a bath w/out hot water

Amber’s abscess FINALLY looks on the mend! She had her last dose of antibiotics over the weekend and I seriously can’t wait. I’m just hoping all her hair grows back! It looks….weird lol. But so far so good!

Cheers to the weekend

Happy Friday everyone!

The yawn attempt with the hackamore didn’t really pan out 😂

I hope everyone has some good plans for the weekend. I am not really doing anything superbowl-ish. I mostly watch for the commercials and root for the underdog, so in this case the Eagles. But hopefully it’ll be horsey-filled! What is everyone up to? Are you planning to go to/host a superbowl party or is football something that you are indifferent towards? If you aren’t doing anything superbowl-related, what are you doing instead?

Amber doesn’t care about football either lol

First lesson of the year

After all the shenanigans Amber pulled (my bank account does not thank her), I finally felt like I could do a lesson. So I had my first one of the year yesterday! A lot of the ride I had improved on, and a lot of the ride I needed to re-fix a few things – like my very wandering left hand. Half of the time I don’t know what it does. It just….does.

No #mareglares for this dude. Liam is chill

I was pretty excited when I got there – lots of colorful jumps in the arena! It looked challenging but fun, and I was definitely ready to get going with the lesson by the time I finished tacking up Liam.

The cavaletti oxer started out at their lowest point 9′ apart for a 2 stride trot through or a canter bounce. For the beginning of the lesson, we worked on warming Liam up while working on my timing trotting through the cavaletti. It was really good to reacquaint myself with his movements by Trainer G asking me how many trot strides were between the poles. I haven’t ridden Liam in a while, so it was a relearning curve familiarizing myself with his pace. It was also something new to start learning that Liam likes to go up and get behind, instead of powering over. So I had to time it right with my legs to push him over the cavaletti. He was very very lazy this lesson lol. It was also 70+ degrees, so poor guy was probably very hot. All the horses looked pretty lethargic.

After a couple trot passes we started working on suppling him with serpentines off of the rail. It was good for the both of us – me and my freaking hands wanting to cross the neck (thank you western for continuously making this difficult for me lol) and getting more assertive with Liam with my leg and body, and for him since he likes to be unbent and just going places lol. He has a bad left lean, and it took my brain a bit to reinstall the software if you will that “Uh Mandy this is NOT Amber and he does not just volunteer things with light touches; you have to assert to him that you will make it hard for him not to do it”. Which took up the majority of our serpentines but while not pretty we were eventually getting the job done.

Hopefully this makes sense. Start near the little white vertical lol

Also because of his lean, I noticed that when I went into 2 point, my brain to leg circuits died and I’d try to correct with my rein and not my leg. So going over cavaletti, in 2 point, hands on either side of mane, correct with leg AND push to get the 2 strides was very difficult for me to do. I usually forgot something in there lol (spoiler: it was my hands). But after once or twice I got it pretty well, and we moved into cantering. I’d start with the bending serpentine again, then in the corner I’d ask for the canter, canter the bounce (I have to admit I remembered STRAIGHT to the fence much better this ride lol), then back to a trot, serpentine, rinse and repeat. Then the bounce became the oxer, and I was pleased I was doing much better with waiting, seeing a stride and supporting with leg. It was by no means perfect, but progress, right? We did that both directions and took a small walk break to let Liam catch his breath.

My biggest issue with jumping (so far) is my difficulty to place/keep my hands on the neck. I think in my effort to have independent hands and not catch Amber in the mouth (since if I do she thinks she’s in trouble) it’s really making my form worse. By not having a place to aim my hands, my body suffers, so I have to throw myself into place. All good things I need to really work on. Maybe on walk days Amber and I can do poles and I’ll do 2 point WITH MY HANDS ON HER NECK. Which may mean I fall forward or off since she carries her head so low HA.

Next we made a bending line between 2 jumps, and really made me plan, aim, and get it done. I had to trot the first jump up, canter and hit my curve. Going from the orange flowers to the purple was okay. I messed up on my line, and my trot in wasn’t great but holy hell it at least felt like less of shitfest than last lesson. We went the other direction, and suddenly from this side those purple flowers were menacing horse eating flowers! Liam practically stopped with a “oh hell no! not the flowers!” and I pulled a “oh hell no Liam! I supported you to this and we had it we are NOT stopping!” And it was super messy but we popped over it and got a slightly better bending line to the orange flowers. First time Liam has stopped with me, but I’d been warned before that he can very randomly be prone to doing so, so at least it wasn’t out of the blue for me.

It was nice to realize that I actually hadn’t lost my “nope we are doing this!” attitude, especially on a horse I don’t know well. With Amber and Whisper I’m so used to toning it down for them and only occasionally having to bring out the determination, and even then it’s light. I have been wondering if at some point I lost that attitude only riding one horse – especially one that over-gives. And while I definitely feel more comfortable on Liam than maybe another horse, it was still nice to know that my gumption is still there – alive and well.

Once we got a better trot approach and a good bending line, Trainer G gave us some fun things: a light rollback turn on a “course” of 4 jumps. It really gave me something to focus on, keeping up in between the jumps, and then continuously attempting to press my hands into Liam’s neck on a short crest release on the landing of the jump. So we cantered to the purple flowers, a bending line to the orange, a quick rollback to then have the challenge of sitting up and waiting for the brown, then heading to the skinny white vertical. It looked something like this:

If that’s confusing for you (it was for me even when I was the one drawing it lol), Trainer G was so great in being willing to film that one. It’s all I got of the ride, but still – media! Youtube was also being very sketch and not loading my video, so if anyone can’t see it please let me know! I’ll try to get it on youtube later.

Even if it was only that video, I am so glad I got it. I could see that I start to let my body fall back away from the horse on landing, so my brain attempting to keep the hands on the neck forced my body to realign itself. Especially on the jump closest to the camera, I can see that by me getting my hands back in front made my weight come forward, back where it should be so that my stability was again in my heels and I was moving with Liam’s motion. It was pretty eye-opening, and I’m more determined than ever now to really start trying to work on getting that better somehow.

By this point poor guy was getting a bit tired.

I mean look! He’s jumping with his eyes closed! No falling asleep, Liam!

He was really balky on the next bending line going through, so we stopped, gave him a bit of an extra breather before trying it one last time. We cantered to the orange flowers and then the purple, and had our best bending line yet. I really got him to bend around my inside leg AND we got the lead change and made it very nicely over the purple. As we were making a rollback turn, I could feel that he still had a bit of power left, so I’d jump the white vertical but leave out the brown. I told him to come up to the jump, last one, and he very willingly said yes. Great end to the day! He received many pats and loves.

This ride I felt a little bit more comfortable playing around with Liam and his frame. Amber requires a ratio of 2:1 for leg:hand, and Liam was no different. I just had to figure out how much leg:hand I had to use. Once I got a little firmer in my fingers/arms and felt him resisting, then started to really put on the leg (there could’ve been seat in there – I can’t remember if I did that lol) I could feel that was the right way to go. After trying for a bit here and there every now and then, I started to get a better response from him – especially in the serpentines. And one thing I realized? I love and miss Amber’s buttons haha! Liam is still a good boy, but it really makes me eager to see how Amber would do with all of this.

I just love his expression ❤

As a super fun aside to the lesson, I received a generic email from Rob, the owner of Lund Saddlery yesterday. I had pledged to their December kickstarter – and partially kicked myself for buying the snaffle bridle early as they had some great combos for great prices. It ended up working out since I had to have the vet out so many times in January and I was charged in January. I am for sure in no hurry since I am not doing anything with Amber and therefore have plenty of time to try out the rubber reins I will get, but Rob had emailed that they were a little late in getting all the orders out. So, to make up for being late, and to sweeten the pot, Lund was offering up 5 different pieces of tack. I mean, FREE TACK. YES. They had their dressage reins, any type of H/J reins, their 3 pt breastplate, calfskin leathers and their 5 pt breastplate. I was very torn between the calfskin leathers and the 5 pt breastplate. I plan on trying the leathers once I get a dressage saddle, which now won’t be for a long while. I’ve wanted to try a 5 pt breastplate for a bit – I’m pretty sure it’s going to be too much hardware for Amber and I, but I’ve been intrigued with the design. I just really haven’t wanted to put out the money for something that I may or not try and may or may not like. And I’m trying to sell 2 pairs of leathers already, so I didn’t want another pair just sitting around. I’ve been wanting some more Lund strap goods (I think I’m hooked) and the 5 pt would be FREE. So I emailed Rob back, and voila – I have Lund rubber reins and the 5 pt breastplate coming to me. I’m pretty excited. YAY TACK. As I was looking in my room yesterday, I also sadly realized I’m going to need a bin to place all of the nice tack I have that I’m not using: the flash piece to my PS of Sweden bridle; the running attachment to my PS of Sweden breastplate and now the running attachment to the Lund one whenever that comes in; all of my western bridles and bits that are not being used…. I guess the main question is:

Am I now in Tack Ho territory? lol

The wild one

This weekend was a lot a fun. I rode Amber on Saturday, and tried out our new piece of equipment: a hackamore! Amber actually seems to like this better than the halter. I feel that it’s because it leaves her chin alone, and the pull is a little different from the rope halter. I pieced together her Lund bridle and the cob pieces from her PS of Sweden bridle so it’d fit. The nose piece is a little loose so it can relax against her chin, but I think we looked good!

She and I then took a walkabout with my mom and Whisper. She was absolutely excited to go out again and wanted to be the leader the whole time. She was so brave and passed by the goats that really freaked her out:

OMG GOATS (to the left of the picture lol)

But Whisper helped her to be brave, even when one popped up onto their platforms and made her plant all four feet when she startled.

Her very worried face. So wild

She only had a couple moments where her stifle bothered her, but otherwise she felt very happy to be out. Her abscess is doing better – it’s still draining, and I have to express it a bit more, but she’s being a good sport about it. She’s not happy, but she’s at least grudgingly letting me do it. At least she gets her grain directly after to soothe her.

Happy poneh

My mom had a really good ride on Whisper on Sunday, and then decided to head out on a trail ride. I decided to let Amber out in the arena to see if she wanted to run and play, and also so that if she did want to go crazy, she could (and not hurt herself like freakin last time). I had thought she was going to be pretty chill – and she was for the first 5 minutes. And then this happened.

That tail LOL much wild haha

This girl can move haha. Have fun with the video! I couldn’t get the part where Whisper and Amber nickered at each other, but it was still cute.

But after that she was calmer. She kept calling, but came over to me for scratches. She was definitely excited to see Whisper again – she didn’t even mind when Whisper gave her a little love nip! Such a silly pony! She got to stay out for a while after, and enjoyed her sun bathing and naps.

We are so matchy matchy!

Horsey-wise, that was mostly it for the weekend, but the alternator is out in my truck so I’ll need to fix that, and this Wednesday I finally have a lesson! I’m very excited for that – just not quite looking forward to the fact that it may be stirrupless. But hey – stirrupless is a good, impossible difficult exercise to do.

We so crazy and wild

Otherwise, Amber is finally not thinking she’ll starve. I’ve gotten her diet down slowly and now that we aren’t working so hard (or really at all), her metabolism has slowed. I had started to use her 30″ when I got back in the saddle, but shortly thereafter realized she still needed to go back in her 28″. Yay! She unfortunately still looks fat. But I KNOW she’s lost weight. Oh, well. At least she’s an easy keeper?

Oh hai! I no longer pose for pictures. I come over so you hop on and we go

I hope you guys had a good weekend! What did you all do? Did you get a lot done or did you just have a down time weekend?

Riding + video!

And Amber makes an appearance! She’s pretty much always in here, but Tuesday I rode Whisper, then hopped on Amber. I’ll start with Whisper first.

It really is lovely being on such a subtle ride again. Most of the time you merely have to think turn, or think stop or just think something and Whisper will do it. Which is good and bad haha. When I let her do that, then she tends to anticipate what I’m going to do instead of waiting for me to ask, and then she gets so upset because she got it wrong. So, it’s a fun game of keeping things different for Whisper, while maintaining that something has to move for the cue – legs + voice for forward; rein and/or leg for turning amongst other things. Whisper has a hard time with the waiting game, but she’s also come to trust that when I ask her for something, I in turn will wait for her if I can feel she’s trying to figure things out.

So for such a sensitive horse that really knows her stuff, we mostly work on finesse, with a bit of basics thrown in there. Basics being moving forward into the bridle, reminding her to continue pushing her hocks underneath her. Her right lead canter is more difficult for her – she likes to revert back to tilting her hip in a little too much and letting her nose and shoulders point towards the fence. So it’s just a matter of reminding her to keep her body straight. It feels weird tho – like we’re in slow mo haha. Which I suppose we sort of are.

It’s also fun to play around with bits with her. I can definitely tell that she was schooled in a snaffle and that she absolutely remembers. I’ve been noticing in the videos my mom’s taken for me that Whisper is closer to being too slow than when she’s in a shank bit. She’s in a simple shank, with the same Myler type mouthpiece (it’s just not a Myler) as I use on Amber. In the next few days I’m going to use a soft ported shank on her, to see how she does before going back to what I’ve been using as her schooling bit – the Myler-ish one. And then potentially see which of the shanks work. Whisper is fun to do this with, though. I can find out more about her previous training based on the bit I’m using and her response to it – pretty fascinating to me. Amber, however….yeah, no haha. I’ve attempted to play around with bits for her…. It’s either the Myler or things don’t work so well.

Like seriously, Amber, you need to look at Whisper’s lift in the canter and do this lol

I’ve also got 4 poles set up around the arena to use as exercises and just getting her more comfortable with them. Then I work on the finesse – keep a small bend around my inside leg, don’t look to the outside, sweetie, pace is good, not too flat, let’s lift, oh hey that worked! big improvement honey, I’m so proud – you know, the works haha.

For me, I’m always trying to overpraise her when she doesn’t overreact to something. Since she’s easily worked up, when she chooses to be calm I make sure to pet her. Even if she made a mistake, but through the mistake she’s stayed with me, she gets wither scratches. This has proved to improve her attitude by leaps and bounds. She knows she’s not supposed to step on poles – no horse wants to canter and step on poles purposefully. So I praise her for thinking and relaxing through the mistake, we try again, and when she gets it right she gets to stop and/or gets tons of praise. She did have a moment as you can see in the video where she wheees! over one of the poles, and I bring her to a trot before resuming the canter. At that point I was correcting the quality of her canter, and I think that thought in my mind makes a difference to her. She can tell I’m not attempting to correct her try over the pole, just the fact that she blew past my request to slow down after the pole (she’s so WILD about it isn’t she? lol).

Doxie photobomb!

After that, the poles weren’t really a problem. She remained relaxed, and I wanted to let her find her way over them. After a few times where I let her move up to the pole since she was worried, she’s hit it wrong, and after that it’s like she says “okay, I’ll let you help me. please help?” and it’s easier for me to ask for that mini half halt, or just let her keep pace and it works out. But I know not every horse is like that haha.

I worked on her spins a bit – or more like turns. Amber spins AND turns. Whisper just turns. No fast reining moves for this slow poke lol. But I do incorporate certain aspects of teaching and working on spins with Whisper that has made her turns more successful and in turn has improved certain aspects of her lope. With the buttons of hers I’ve been playing with, Whisper has been very trusting, and she gets many face loves after her rides. She’s a cool gal.

More dachshund!! Choco loved her walk

Afterwards, I tacked up Amber, and off on a walkabout we went! She was SO EXCITED. She walking so fast lol. She even started jigging, but it was a different jig than before. Before she’d be behind my leg and stop. This time, it felt that if I asked her to go, and slipped into 2 pt, off we’d go towards a cross country course. It was a fun feeling. She was also an angel. Despite her jigging and her being so excited and not having been out in forever, when a big dually truck sped by us, she just shook her head with a few jog steps, and then walked. Such a good pony.

So, since she’s played a bit in the arena during turnout – meaning she loped with a few bucks from one side to the other then called it quits – I decided we’d walk back to the arena and I’d let her lope around a little. She started off on the wrong lead and I wasn’t going to push, but when she tried to switch her leads, I think her hind leg hitched a bit and then she tripped….Oh sweetheart haha. but her ears were forward, and while she didn’t feel her most comfortable, she definitely felt happy. We did a little to the other side, and when she came back to the trot a second time I called it quits since she felt like she was done. I know she misses being ridden, and having a job. I just want this freakin tooth and abscess to heal so we can finally get the arthroscopy done on her stifle.

Whisper and I had a few fun moments on Wednesday!

And speaking of her abscess…. It filled with a bit of puss again. After a chat with the vet, I took a very alcohol soaked needled and poked a hole in the mushiness. Some help and a bit of squishing with a towel, I got a good bit of puss out. Hopefully now that it has 2 parts to drain, it’ll drain a little better. One of the vet assistants was passing my way, so she was able to give me some more antibiotics. So Amber started them this morning, and hopefully this’ll finally kick this. I mean, really, Amber.

Then, Whisper and I had a fun day on Wednesday! She was already turned out, so I just put her bridle on, hopped on, and had a play day with her. She was awesome! I haven’t done a ride with her bridleless and bareback in years! Whisper was amazing, and was so willing to take my direction. I still absolutely love this girl.

MOAR DOXIE

Hopefully the video isn’t too long for you guys. Please feel free to fast forward to our bareback ride starting at 7:57 and tackless at 10:38. Whisper doesn’t go that fast lol.

Easy weekends

So, I am a wimp. I really didn’t ride this weekend. It was only 50 during the day with a cold north wind coming in. Which like…I know 50 is warm for you guys. I’m just….a delicate flower haha! Totally joking but after it being mid-high 60s, low 50s with a 20mph wind is very chilly. But I DID have more sister/friend time, saw Star Wars 8, lots of episodes of my fav show, and got more done on my painting. It doesn’t look like much but….I did get a lot done haha.

Before….
After! Paint by number makes things easy and mindless lol

Amber is doing well, though! Her cut is healing nicely. Today marks the day we stop with the betadine flushing, but keep on with the salt water flush for her mouth and bute 2x a day for only 3 more days! So now I can start putting some Neosporin on her cut, and hopefully it’ll close up nicely!

Her jawbone is still pretty swollen – I’m really hoping that’ll go down and she won’t have this lopsided jaw, but if it stays at least it’ll just be cosmetic. Her nosebands will be even harder to fit, but we’ll take it as it comes!

Quite lopsided and weird looking, but she’s still adorable!

Because I didn’t ride and didn’t get anything of real consequence – here’s a quick video compilation of my ride on Whisper on Thursday. I’m chatting a lot through the ride explaining to my mom what I’m doing so I just silenced it. Whisper got a little behind and flat in the canter over the pole, but poles and trail brings her a lot of worry. I think they over-drilled her when she was younger, but the whole ride I was so pleased that after every miss with the striding on the poles, she’d only have one over-try before settling and letting me help her just the fraction she needed. Usually when she gets very worried about things it’s so hard for her to settle again, so I was so happy with where her brain was the whole ride.

After I rode, I had my mom hop on and play around with Whisper’s tuned-up buttons, and they looked great! Well on the way to really getting it.

I must need to investigate all of this!

Hopefully, I’ll get a product review in this week but if not, I’ll keep everyone updated on Amber’s progress!

Hopefully a good turn

She’s feeling better! Looking a lot more alert, too. I’ve been disturbing her sleep unfortunately – whenever I come out she’s been lying down! I guess 4:45 is her sleep time lol. So far, she’s doing well. Crossing my fingers she’ll continue to improve over the weekend!

I’m also going to try to get some fun videos of Whisper to put together for you guys. Have a great weekend everyone!

Perky pony!

The special one

Amber is special. In many ways. Cute, adorable ways. And not so adorable ways. Because her face just kept swelling until nearly the whole right side of her face looked like she’d been bitten by a poisonous snake. Okay, maybe not that bad, but before it did get so bad I’d called the vet and his soonest appointment was yesterday. Unfortunately, I couldn’t take time off of work to be there (right in the middle of the day), so my mom kindly took over the visit for me. (I have a few bloody pictures in here so if you can’t stand blood just don’t read or bypass the pics!) And what does the vet think? She abscessed underneath where her tooth was pulled. Even the vet said she’s special and weird – the only horse he’s known to do that. And what, per chance, caused this abscess?

Poor drugged baby

After sedation and some poking around, he found an infected piece of bone that her body was obviously trying to push out, but was still attached to the jawbone. Thankfully, he was able to get it off so I won’t have to trailer her down there in a few days. And it’s a super rough, jagged piece of bone, too. That absolutely could not have been very comfortable. Then he made a small incision and drained and flushed the abscess. Poor baby was pretty drugged but she needed to be!

That is no small piece of bone, either

Interestingly enough, he asked about her scar on her jaw. She’s had one ever since I was first assigned to her – miraculously in the exact same spot that was her fractured tooth. Hmm. He theorizes that perhaps that bone fragment was from a previous injury – where her scar was, and that it may have started the process of her fractured tooth, and (where I’m theorizing) potentially when she smacked her leg and perhaps even just lightly hit her face, it caused everything else to snowball from there. I’m glad at least we got down to what it really was. I wonder if perhaps that piece was hiding all along, and only popped up because that tooth was gone and as the body was healing, it thought it was foreign whereas it hadn’t caused a problem before.

I’ll need to flush her abscess 1-2x a day, which I’m totally on board with, of course. I flushed it last night, and goodness if that girl wasn’t a saint – no halter, no moving, she just let me gently stick the syringe full of betadine solution into the incision and flush it out. I think it may have even felt good, because she just stood there and let me do it, then put her face against me afterwards as if to tell me thank you. I swear, this little horse, you guys. She absolutely looks so much better – her eyes were more alert, she was more perky, and she genuinely looked a lot more herself. I woke up early to do so again this morning, and she was again a trooper. I have to admit if I’m going to have a horse that needs vet care like this then I’d get a dozen like her. She makes meds and caring for things like this so easy.

All the meds – 2 giant bottles of betadine solution, the syringe and vaseline for her chin since the betadine will sting her skin

The 3-day weekend was great – a good hang out with friends and my sister again watching some more comedic movies/shows with lots of wine, beer, popcorn and frozen foods. The best, right? Lots of dog snuggles, too.

Dachshund pants to go with the snoozy doxie

It’s been in the high 60s, which is so awesome. I was wearing short sleeves or thin 3/4 shirts when I rode Whisper some as well, and hopped on Amber for a nice ride around the block. We stay to the asphalt or the not-too-rocky area right by the road since that’s easier for her to walk on. I know getting out and seeing the sights with Whisper is certainly better than aimless wanderings inside the arena.

Goin out on trail! Here you can see just how puffy and swollen her face looks

Especially with Whisper around she gets very slow on the walkabout! She cares about a lot less, but is a good buffer when Whisper gets a little unsettled before relaxing again. It’s still pretty quiet here, though, not counting the lovely vet visit haha. At least on the asphalt or just next to the road I feel a lot less of a hitch in Amber’s step, and she stays happy through the whole thing. Many times it’s been a good 20-30 minute walk, which I know is good for her mind and muscles.

I’m also a little glad that because of all this time off, Amber will lose most of her built up muscle. As strange as that sounds, I have worried that her muscle mass was still a bit too heavy for her to really be able to do some of the things, and if we can get everything situated, then we’ll start off at square one building the lean muscles for eventing and not the heavy muscles she had from being ridden on inclines.

Hopefully, though, we have no more tooth problems and are in the clear with that!

Introducing Whisper

I don’t talk about Whisper much because this blog is mostly about my adventures that I drag Amber along with me (although she likes the attention). But, I figured I should formally introduce blogland to Whisper since I’ll be riding her a little more this year, and showing her for my mom. She originated from Tennessee, was trained for A circuit western pleasure, but flunked out of the program. And that allowed us to luck into grabbing her.

Whisper in 2018 – she’ll be 16 come March

Quick Stats:

Registered name: Fistfuls Conclusion (not the most inventive name ever….)

Breeding: Whisper doesn’t have as much Foundation in her as Amber, but her bloodlines go back to Conclusive and Impressive, and on her mom’s side she has a lot of TB hunter blood. I find that very interesting since Whisper is technically 78% Foundation (yup, did the math on her, too haha) and though there’s only a 10% difference between her and Amber, she definitely looks more TB than the typical stocky QH.

Nicknames: Whisp, Whisper-doodle, Doodle-bug, Sweetheart, Honey

Breed: Quarter Horse

Born: March 2002

Favorite things: Alfalfa, grain, face scratches, pawing ever so politely, laying down and napping, turn out, and being ridden

She hates: any type of medication no matter how much molasses, blankets, and being cooped up

When my mom was horse-hunting, she was looking for a very dependable bay gelding. We had been looking at another horse, and when it sold, the lady told us to just hear her out, and contact this guy she knew who had a horse for sale. We almost didn’t look at her because she was a mare. But there she was in these pictures, following this little seven-year-old girl in a giant pasture. So we got videos. She was only four, and the trainer had his seven year old hop on her, and lope her in this huge pasture. We knew we had to snap her up.

Since then she’s been a huge part of the family. My mom adores her to death, and Whisper adores her. Whisper isn’t as open about her personality as Amber is, but I like to think that after all these years, Whisper is learning by watching Amber that it’s okay if she leans into scratches. It’s okay if she wants to press her face to us so we’ll love on her. It’s okay if she wants to be playful on the lunge line. And consequently, she’s teaching Amber to be more vocal – Amber nickers now! – and hopefully a little sweeter though I doubt that’s happening lol. (Unfortunately, Whisper has taught Amber how to paw. Thankfully, since I don’t say anything to Amber about it, she doesn’t do it much)

Back (again) when Amber loved Whisper and was actually nice about it lol

Whisper was the horse that got me into western, and took me to a lot of shows. I’ve won plaques with her, tons of ribbons, and she’s been an absolute trooper for both my mom and I going to the local shows. She really has influenced my expectations and desires in a horse – a good-brained one, one that is kind, respectful of space. Things that I never knew you could teach a horse, she showed me that you could – putting her head down to bridle, not being girthy, being ground-tied, and so many other things.

This was maybe ’08? ’09? I don’t remember lol. But it was a bit ago

Whisper is a very very sensitive mare, and gets offended very easily. Because of that, Whisper tends to get very nervous and she’s also not one to trust easily, either. If you break the tenuous trust she shows you, she doesn’t really come back from that. I’ve been working with her for the past 2 years, helping her re-understand her training and to come trust me more and through that trust my mom better as well. Recently, she’s just started to show improvement, and I know that’s because she really trusts us now not to take advantage of her. So now, if I have to school Whisper a little firmer than normal I will give her that scratch on the wither, or small pat on the butt to “soften the blow” if you will, she absolutely trusts me to correct her, but also that I’ll always come back and be soft with her. After reading so many people’s blogs that have OTTBs or even ones that didn’t race, it has given me a lot of insight actually into how Whisper is and how she thinks. She’s QH, but a lot of her has been influenced by TBs. Since she’s so sensitive, just that bit of reassurance that I’m not upset and that she’s okay really helps her to thrive.

I honestly think that’s why she flunked – she’s not the most trusting or forgiving horse, and since she gets nervous so easily, she doesn’t travel well at all. She internalizes a lot, and it doesn’t show in misbehaving like acting out, she just gets very mouthy, extremely tense, and her brain will go into a place that sometimes you can’t reach. When not given a lot or any reassurance, her attitude quickly goes downhill. And I think her personality type is just not suited to a trainer’s operation, where 1 or 3 people may end up riding her and/or there may be a lot of shows. She likes her one person (my mom), and I think the other reason she and I get along well is because she’s had a relationship with the both of us for almost 12 years. However, that flunking meant we got an absolutely marvelous little mare. Even though she’s actually not that little – she’s at least 15.3.

After-ride kisses ❤ (and WOW my hair was long haha)

Being in the backyard seems to suit her (though she’s not fond of not having a horse next to her). Our place is quieter and more peaceful in certain ways, and I feel that with her being more comfortable and seeing us all the time, she’s getting to be more expressive about how she loves on my mom. It’s very sweet.

Unfortunately, she gets a lot of judgment from people when we mention Conclusive or Impressive due to HYPP. She’s double negative, but people still sometimes tend to think she has the plague. They get very nasty about it too, so we don’t say too much to anyone anymore if they ask her breeding. Judgment also comes up a lot because she’s western pleasure trained, even though I’m trying to help her understand a better collected, more natural lope. She’s got an absolute heart of gold, is the perfect match for my ammy mom, and has a lot of talent to do the job my mom wants – a nice, slow, smooth ride. Any time when my mom has been getting back in the saddle after knee replacements or when she hasn’t ridden in a while, Whisper always makes sure my mom is safe. She’s not spooky, and is consistent every day. Plus, she literally has the best smelling nose ever. And it’s smooshy. That’s really all that matters, right?

Talented mare ❤

I do still love to ride her. It’s nice to hop on a horse that’s old enough and trained in 1 thing long enough to where she knows her job. I do “train” with her a bit, but it’s a lot less now, and it’s nice to be able to relax my brain and not think about all the things as I ride her. Just like Amber, she always gives 110%, and desperately wants to please you when you ride. She’s really the horse that instilled my love of mares, and has always reminded me how to be a better, more sympathetic rider. With her, “less is more” is pretty much the answer to everything, and I’m so thankful to have ridden a horse like her since 2006.

Best Friends ❤

Whisper will always technically be my first horse since I am on her papers as part-owner, and I will always have a special place in my heart for her. She’s still going strong, and looks better than ever now, and I know my mom will continue to have a blast with her for a long while!

Just another day

Yesterday was a great day to go riding – and ride we did! Our arena looks like it’s up to heavier rains, so while many places were still damp, the arena got a great and much needed all-around sprinkling. Monday and Tuesday we had a lot of rain, but the most came on Tuesday. Thankfully the majority of rain wasn’t of the flash flood sort, but we still got about an inch and a half which is a lot for us.

Thursday was my usual short work day, so my mom and I headed out to ride. We got Whisper ready first and I had a quick ride on her. We focused once again on reaffirming the basics, which she was much better, and then played around at the jog and canter. She’s lost some tone since she had to be on stall rest for a few months while we figured out the special shoes for her front feet, but she’s always a trier and was no different yesterday.

Why are we taking pictures? I do not think I like this picture-taking

I’ll need to work on a few more things with her before I decide to show, and I want to play around with some things as well, but we’re getting her back into work again so it’ll just take a bit more time. My mom hopped on her after I did and rode her around some more.

One of the very few pictures I got with Whisper’s ears up. She is absolutely not a ham like miss Amber haha

Then I got Amber out! She was reluctant at first, though now I’m pretty sure her protest that time before was because she thought the bit was coming, because since I’ve been using the halter, she’s been totally fine. We started slow, but as we kept walking, I could tell she was getting happier by the second. Her walk once again was purposeful, and her ears were pricked. I asked her to trot a little bit, and she seemed unsure at first, but as we trotted I could feel her relax. Poor thing has missed being ridden so much. We walked after only half a turn, and she was a little sore in her walk after. So we paused, then did a bit more walking.

See? Posing. She literally stood there and posed for me for a few minutes lol Also, check out the no-work hay belly

My mom took Whisper around the block – a perfect time to leave us in the arena since we’re pretty sure that she fractured her tooth because she had a temper tantrum in her stall. She called and called for Whisper, we walked a little fast, but ultimately, she was fine as I knew she’d be and hopefully this taught her to not throw tantrums in her stall. It’s already banged up enough as it is – as is she.

So happy to be out!

Poor thing is just a ball of hurt right now I think lol. We actually have another appointment for Amber on Tuesday since the swelling is back and she’s not eating like her usual self. I think she got the pack out and perhaps has more food stuck in there because she’s salivating a lot and chews strangely sometimes. Safe to say that while she’s not eating her hay as well, she’s eating money very well haha.

Adding bedding pellets to your stall is a perfect time to revisit sacking out. She’s obviously very distressed.

Other than that it’s been quiet. And now, on to a 3 day weekend!