Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

May 2011 bring you all love, joy, and success in your endeavours.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

A real update

This week I decided that it was time to get back in the saddle. Between the holidays, the blizzard, and my general laziness, Lucy sat around all last week. I will be honest: I wasn't looking forward to that first ride. Some horses come back from a week or two off refreshed and ready to put 100% effort into the task at hand. Lucy comes back an absolute maniac.

Knowing that I was in for an interesting ride, not only did I turn her out in the ring for a while and let her run around, but I also lunged her. I should add that the horses didn't go out for three straight days, so needless to say she was quite full of herself when I turned her out. She could hardly wait for me to unclip the leadrope before she squealed, spun, and leapt into the air! I was like, have a good time and make sure to get it out of your system before I get on! Unfortunately even after all of that prep time, she was still VERY naughty under saddle, so much so that I got back off and lunged her again. She was like ADD child to the extreme and it took me a while to even get her attention! After another fifteen minutes or so of lunging I got back on and we were doing ok until my husband let Cairo run into the ring (by accident, but still!) and Lucy got FREAKED out and I almost ate it. I wasn't happy!

It was basically a terrible session from the start, but I was determined to end it on a positive note, which I did manage to accomplish. I just hoped that was going to be the token bad ride when bringing this horse back into work that I've come to expect, and wouldn't turn into a theme in our future rides!

Thank goodness that she was AWESOME tonight. I actually trotted her around on a pretty loose rein and she maintained her own pace! She even seemed happy under saddle. I was really pleased!!

She also got new shoes yesterday and I had my farrier put snow pads on so that she could go out in the snow we have right now and not have issues with it balling up in her feet.

Here she is trotting in the outdoor with her new snow shoes :)

Sunday, December 26, 2010


We are in the process of getting snowed in here in Rhode Island. I was wondering when this was going to happen. We've had some cold (for us) temperatures but I guess the conditions just haven't been right yet for snow to fall. Today it's another story; not only is it falling, but it's falling at 4" per hour! We're expecting about 24" in total.

I was lucky to get out to the barn to do the stall in one piece before the roads got too slippery, but my barn owner was kind enough to dump L's grain for me at 4pm because that's when things got really bad! My Volvo is pretty decent in the snow but I don't want to push my luck.

I hope to go for a ride tomorrow in the snow because I have the day off from work. In the mean time, here's a photo of Cairo thoroughly enjoying herself:

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

decent ride

Pretty decent ride on Lulu tonight. Not only did I get up the nerve to put my legs on her, but I sat what she dished out well, corrected her with a one-rein stop, and proceeded to have some nice moments. I asked her nicely to move her ribcage over while going to the right (her worse direction) and she obliged and actually did it. AMAZING! We did lots of trot poles, which kept her mind busy, and then we ended the ride with ten minutes of walk/trot transitions. At the very end I did one lap of canter to the right and she was sooo light and soft, and it was a clear three beat gait. I was really happy with that so we ended it on that note! :)

One thing I have caught myself doing a lot lately, and I wonder if this is exacerbating the bucking issue, is putting almost no weight on my inside stirrup at the canter. Somehow I must be trying to counterbalance her since she just loves to lean to the inside, but what I really should be doing is putting weight in that stirrup along with the outside, and applying a supporting inside leg while balancing her on the outside rein. I really tried to work on that tonight. It's a nasty habit but it's probably annoying as all hell to the horse.

It was warm enough today that the outdoor footing thawed, so I let her have some time to blow off steam. Her knee looked pretty much normal and she was sound on it and she was pretty "up" when I brought her in from her paddock. She had a great time out there! It's been a while since she's been able to play like this.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

silly horses

I got to the barn today to discover a large lump above Lucy's right knee. You can see it on the right side of the photo above her knee. Come on horse, really?! Luckily she's sound! but I didn't ride her. I tried to lunge her at the trot to see if she was sound on it and it turned into a bronco session. When she finally calmed down enough to trot in a circle I was relieved to discover that she didn't seem to be off. I asked another boarder if she'd noticed anything and she said that Lucy and her two boyfriends were out there all day bombing around in their paddocks and being idiots.

FEED ME already!!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

on the ground (voluntarily)

It's been a nutty week here and for some reason (might it be the "feels like 9 degrees" readings on people haven't been hanging out at the barn and riding much. Since getting dumped on my head I have a new rule not to ride alone and Lucy will have to behave herself for a while for me to feel comfortable lifting that rule. This is good for my longevity but not good for our training flow and L's energy level.

On nights that I don't ride, I at the very least do some ground work with her. Lately we've been working on voice commands, and tuning Lucy into me even when she's free-lunging. Also, "free-lunging" no longer means "run madly around and buck and squeal and act like a loon". It means that she may not be on a lunge line, but that doesn't mean she can do whatever she pleases. She must go in the direction I choose at the speed I choose. When it's time to change direction, I put the lunge whip into the other hand and with my body direct her to turn around.

She has challenged me from time to time. She likes going to the left a LOT more than going to the right, so if she's cantering to the right she sometimes does a roll back that most reining horses would be jealous of and in a flash is going to the left. If I see it coming, I simply go "ah ah!" in a "I'm not pleased" tone and she will usually not follow through with the change. If I don't see it coming and she switches direction, I'll use the whip and my body to tell her to change direction back to the right. If she still keeps coming at me going to the left, as she did tonight, I have no choice but to get up in her face a little bit. Tonight she didn't think I would really follow through and tried to run right past me like "ha ha you can't catch me!". She got a rude awakening when I whacked her right in the chest with the whip. She did a sliding stop, spun to the inside, and got going back in the correct direction, and didn't try it again for the rest of the session.

I think doing these type of exercises has really helped our communication. Here is a video of her listening (and obeying!) voice commands while free-lunging tonight.

As I was finishing up with her in the ring, someone showed up to the barn, so I tacked up and had a nice little hack around the indoor for 20 minutes. She was really good and we even trotted and cantered over some poles.

Friday, December 10, 2010

great ride!

Phew, I really needed that!

We actually had a GOOD ride this evening. It was quick and Lauren had already ridden today but Kenny and I are going to NY for the weekend and I didn't want to leave without getting another ride in after my bad fall. I'm so glad I got back in the saddle. I am really happy with some of the work we did!

Well, she was slightly sassy ;)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

gravity wins

Here I was hoping I'd have a new horse after her adjustment, and then she straight up dumped me in the indoor last night. She spooked at something in the aisle and spun to the right and then took off bucking. With no reins to get some leverage with, I lasted for three bucks and then went off to the left and landed on my face. I didn't even put my hands out to catch my fall :( I think I was still trying to hold on to the horse. When I landed the right side of my face was smooshed into the dirt and then my lower back, butt, and legs got flipped upward but because of the position of my head and shoulders the lower half of me just flopped back down into the dirt. It was one of the worse falls I've had simply because I saw the ground coming towards me and then SPLAT, there it was.

I am so sore today and very tired. Not sure if it's a bit of a concussion or the remnants of the 2 muscle relaxers I took at 6pm but I have been falling asleep all day at work. I have a little black eye and my forehead and jaw are very sore. My entire right side is sore and my lumbar spine is sore to the touch. I was so stunned by the fall that I laid there with my face in the dirt crying for a couple of minutes. A fellow border was there and came running in and grabbed Lucy for me. Lucy ran around the ring once and then came over and stood there like "oh man, I am in so much trouble" with her head down looking very concerned.

After I wiped the dirt off my face (I had it up my nose, all in my mouth, in my ear, and plastered all over the side of my face) I did a little self-check and determined nothing was broken so an ambulance wasn't necessary. I got myself together and got back on. We walked once around and that was it.

It sucked :(

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Lucy and the Chiropractor

Lucy was seen by the chiropractor today. I was incorrect in guessing she had ribs out, but I was correct in that her poll was out. So were her withers, a few of the vertebra at the base of her neck, and her right SI joint. She LOVED the chiropractor, though. She didn't once pin her ears at him even though he was messing with her head and her flank. She let him push her around and manipulate her to get the adjustments she needed. And she was hamming it up with him big time, lipping his hands and jacket and hair lol. She CAN be sweet, I swear! The first thing he said when I took her blanket off was "wow she turned out NICE!" because last time he saw her was just shortly after I got her and she was an awkward skinny mess from nose to tail. He had me trot her up and down the driveway to see how her hind end was moving and she was so high, with her tail up in the air and I simply couldn't run fast enough for her to really trot out. Boy oh boy!

After adjusting her, he said "I'm surprised she took so long to tell you she was in pain because of your Toulouse. She must really like you because this problem has been developing for a while."

Cue me being all "awww she likes me!!!". Because sometimes I wonder. And she looked at me with her big eyes like, "yes you idiot, I do like you. DUH."

He checked the fit of the Stubben and declared that it fit her really well but needed a few minor adjustments. My saddle fitter is coming out Saturday morning, but I am really glad to know I didn't totally screw up with that saddle. He also said the 32cm tree was a good choice. All things considered, the Stubben fits her remarkably well. It rocks just slightly but that's it. He also double-checked Lauren's saddle and confirmed that it fits her great.

She got the night off tonight and tomorrow we will attempt "long and low" at the walk and trot. By Thursday she should be good to go back to w/t/c.

Friday, December 3, 2010


Just ten minutes after I wrote my disheartened post about missing UPS last night, the UPS truck pulled up in front of my house and it was my saddle being delivered...for the second time today!!!!!!! The driver said "well I had to drive past this area to get back to the base anyway". I told him he was AWESOME!

I went straight to the barn to see how it looked on Lucy, or Lucifer, as L and I have started jokingly calling her (it was L's idea and I thought it was so funny).

I really like it and does Lucy. It fits her surprisingly well. I'm glad I got the 32cm tree. I think anything narrower wouldn't have worked. There's plenty of clearance for her withers and so much room for her shoulders to move back, which I LOVE. The panels rest really nicely on her. Overall I am really happy with it!

I decided to have a quick ride to see how I felt in it. I already had someone tell me that if it didn't work out they'd buy it off of me, so I wanted to see if I liked or hated it because if it were the latter, I would have shipped it out today. I don't have any more time to waste on this silly saddle search.

She seemed to be pretty good with it. We didn't have any going forward issues and she didn't buck at all. She did bronc around a bit in the middle of the ride but it was her normal silly playing. Some of the trot we got was HUGE and she was moving through her back and shoulders under me and stretching out.

Here's a video.

And here are some photos:

To ride in it was strange but I'll get used to it. The seat is harder than the Premia but that's really my only complaint. Once it's broken in and oiled it will be a lot better. I want to try and darken it, too. It's almost a bright orange colour but I've read with a few oilings it will darken nicely. What kind of oil should I use?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

cruel :(

UPS tried to deliver the new Stubben today but since no one was home (Kenny and I were both at work...damn, I should have played hooky!) and the packaged needed a signature, they couldn't leave it! BUMMER! :(

They left a note saying they'd try again tomorrow, and I know Kenny doesn't have to be at work until noon so hopefully he'll be here for it! If not, I signed the release on the note saying they could just leave it on the front step. Thank goodness we live on a quiet dead end street in a nice town :)

Lucy...well don't even get me started. The freshness is continuing. L (her leaser) rode her today and she wrote an email to me to tell me Lucy was a PITA the entire time. We KNOW L's saddle fits her so I'm thinking it's one of three things:

a) Lucy really IS just a gigantic monster of a horse with a bad attitude
b) Something is pinched in her back/SI/neck/poll, and in that case it's just a waiting game until the chiropractor can actually make it out here (hurry up Mr. Chiropractor! pleasseee!)
c) Ulcers *shudder*

Good thing she's insured, because if the chiropractic adjustment doesn't create stunning and magical changes, I'm going to book an appt for her to get scoped. Now won't THAT be fun?!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

bad attitude and saddle search update

Oh boy, so much to catch up on. Not only did Lucy and I have a lengthy discussion yesterday about how to be a polite pony, but there has also been a resolution to the saddle issue!

We'll start with my ride yesterday:

Went to the barn after work. Pony went into her stall to pee and then straight into the crossties. She gave me nasty marefaces when I was brushing her and immediately got her lovely rear end handed to her (shanked/backed up all the way down the aisle). I wanted to set the tone for the entire session and let her know she wasn't going to get away with ANYTHING, no matter how small it was.

I tacked her up and took her to the outdoor and lunged her w/t/c both directions first without side reins and then with them. Total lunging time: about 30 minutes. I had walked out there prepared with my helmet and already had my body protector vest on (I wasn't taking any chances!), so without delay I removed the lunging equipment and got on. She immediately refused to move forward and bucked. I immediately spun her in a tight circle. When she softened her neck, she got a pat and we went right back to moving forward. She took two steps and planted her feet, pinned her ears, and kicked out. This time I made her back up, probably about ten steps. It went on like this and I alternated between circles and backing up. I started out on a ten metre circle and slowly we worked our way up to 20 metres at the walk. She even started to ask for some rein so that she could stretch. I trusted her (but just barely...) and let her have the extra rein (just up to where the braided leather ended) and we walked around like that for almost ten minutes. I was silently rejoicing our success and then I was like, this is absolutely ridiculous. After riding this horse for a YEAR I am celebrating just walking around?

So we trotted. She took a few steps of trot and once again planted her feet, threw her head up in the air, pinned her ears, and cow kicked. This time I was like, Lucy, CUT IT OUT! and as my barn owner says, "her little world ended". From then on if she even pinned her ears she got a stern verbal warning and I booted her forward. I honestly wasn't afraid of her at all. In fact the word that came to mind was "pathetic". Does she seriously think that highly of herself that she believes she should be made to walk forward?

She ended up going SO nicely at the trot that I found myself contemplating a canter. I was worried about trying too much, that if I didn't end on the good trotting note I could be opening myself up for a major issue at the canter, etc. Almost reading my mind, Lucy made the decision for me and transitioned into the most lovely canter :) We went twice around, changed direction, worked up to it again (and at this point we were using half the outdoor, which is pretty big), and called it a night.

:) :) :)

I wish someone was there to videotape this ride. I think you all would have been super proud of me if you saw how I rode. I didn't back down, I didn't take no for an answer, and I didn't accept any response other than "YES MA'AM!".

And now for the saddle news:

With such a limited budget, I have been looking at mid-range used saddles. I had my eyes on a few used Pessoas but they all turned out to be foam flocked. Then I was chatting back and forth with someone selling an older wool flocked HdR for $550. I was going to take that one on trial until one of my friends sent me a link to Stubben's website, where they were advertising a HUGE clearance sale. Brand new Stubbens were going for less than the price of this used HdR that I was looking at. They started around $450! I looked through all of the listings and admired all of the saddles but with such a small cash reserve, I hadn't looked at ANY of the Stubbens prior to yesterday because it would have been a waste of time; I could never have afforded one.

So I found myself contemplating buying a saddle without ever having sat in it or tried it on my horse. I spoke to a Stubben rep three times, explaining exactly what I wanted, what issues I had encountered previously when saddle shopping (long femur, to be specific), and asking about a million questions. It came down to two models: the Edelweiss NT Deluxe with a long flap, which they had one left in a 16.5" seat and 32cm tree, and a Genesis S Deluxe, which they had in a 17" seat in a 31cm tree. I decided to give my saddle fitter a call before deciding, and he estimated that L would need a 31 cm tree but pondered the possibility of actually needing a 32cm tree since she is rather wide through her shoulders, and then said between the two saddles he thought I'd like the Edelweiss better, based on what I had been looking at before.

So I did the most insane thing I've done in a long time and ordered the Edelweiss. I knew that since it had the long flap, a 16.5" would be fine. In fact that's what the woman I worked with at Dover told me when I sat in some of the saddles in-store last week. I paid $575 for it, and it's being drop shipped directly to me from the Stubben warehouse in VA! The more I read about it the more excited I get. Here's a glowing review:

The new Edelweiss NT Deluxe lightweight event and jumping saddle is a response from Stubben to the very particular demands of a specific group of riders. With the handcrafted Edelweiss saddles Stubben has made some revolutionary changes, including both the development of a new tree and a complete revolutionary outlay to the leather types that have been fully incorporated into this range. Only a very small proportion of hides are good enough for top quality saddle leather. A prerequisite for premium hides is healthy animals and such are those that graze in the lush valleys in the region around the Alps where the Stubben leather hides are selected. Made on the new NT Stubben spring tree, this saddle has a flatter seat incorporating the rear area of a half deep seat with a square cut cantle. The saddle flaps are double leather cut forward, utilising shaped knee pads, with front and rear blocks for greater security. The slimmer panel shape provides a closer rider contact with the horse, allowing greater control and feel for the rider. The make up of the saddle leather is another new addition to the range of leathers available from Stubben. In particular the seat and front knee pad leather is very soft allowing a light comfortable tactile feel throughout the ride. The saddle panel also matches the colour of the saddle. One of the most important facts about this saddle is its weight. You get an extremely well made and strong Stubben saddle both in the tree and leather. Stubben quality and high performance together with real lightness ideal for both disciplines. Simply the best close contact jumping saddle that money can buy.

So please keep your fingers crossed for me that this will work. If it doesn't, I don't think I'll have too much trouble finding it a new home without any financial loss for myself, since I paid such cheap money for it. They normally retail between $2000 and $2500.