Hey yall!

Welcome! My blog is about 2/3 OTTB retraining and 1/3 newbie eventer (former hunt seat/equitation girl). Please follow along with my experiences, share insight, and enjoy!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

6/29/11

video
Never ever has this horse wanted anything to do with getting his feet wet.  He fell on the "never gonna happen" side of the spectrum.  However, in our trail rides lately he has expressed more interest in the water, particularly the ponds that we walk beside.  Willingly walking up toward the water's edge and sniffing.  He won't dare touch the water though.  Today on our trail ride was a different story.  We were celebrating the acquisition of additional acreage onto our farm and were riding along the edge of the new back field (or Backfield as my mom and step dad are calling it).  There were a couple of puddles and I figured I'd aim him at them and see what happened....much to my surprise-nothing! He walked right through and didn't even realize he was in water until about the 10th step!! :) Enjoy the video I shot of our 2nd pass through the puddle! :)

Im behind!

6/25/11
6/26/11
6/29/11

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Videos! :)

Here is a video of Lego cantering and Lego trotting poles that my mom so graciously took of us this weekend!

Video 1: Lego Cantering.

The first part is from today, and the second part (which looks wayyyyy darker than it actually was!) is from Saturday.  Enjoy!

video

Video 2: Lego trotting over poles.  :) 

video

Christmas List Started! :)

One of these awesome saddle pads is DEFINITELY on my Christmas List!!  OTTB Designs will also donate a portion of the sales to your favorite equine charity-how awesome!!!


http://www.ottbdesigns.com/home



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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

6/22/11

Lego: I rode Lego today and boy was it warm!!! It was SO humid today!  I moved our ground poles up to the "riding area" and placed one of them oh so carefully on a two little hills so the middle part of the pole was about three inches above the ground.  The other pole was a canter stride in front of it.  I warmed him up and trotted around both directions for about 12-13 minutes.  He was doing really well on figure 8's and circles.  I gave him a little walk break and then picked up a trot going to the left again. I was hoping to really get him to move off of my inside leg to really set him up to get the correct lead. It definitely helped and we were able to get the correct lead and canter a few laps and circles.  He has such a great canter :)
I then figured I could reverse directions and do the same thing, only adding in the poles.  Not the brightest idea I've ever had.  This horse LOVES to canter...and go fast....and be speedy.
We changed direction and trotted towards the poles.  He has been doing SO well with trotting over them but he was a bit excited about cantering so he jumped the first one and then jumped the other one and cantered away.  No big deal, he did great and transitioned back down beautifully.  This is where we fell apart a bit.  The next time I picked up a trot he was already a bit crazy. he tucked his head down and was was doing the "i am about two seconds away from exploding" jig.  I tried to circle and work him through it, but......it didn't' help that much.  We went over the poles and he took giant leaps over them as if they were just obstacles in the way of him getting to go fast.  And he was fast.  But fortunately he listens and I  just circled and asked him for a transition which he gave me...eventually.
Oh OTTB's how we love the antics.
He was sooo amped up after that that I decided not to give in to his little meltdown and just walked him out.  We worked hard though...WALKING over the poles and turning circles and NOT breaking into a trot.  Once he was a little more calm I walked him over the first pole, then asked for a trot over the second.  He trotted it and then cantered away, but it was a good canter so I praised him thoroughly and then cooled him out.
Overall it was a good ride, but definitely the most challenging so far.  :)

Goal: raised poles, canter a little more-setting up better for lead success
Time: 50 minutes

Sunday, June 19, 2011

6/19/11

Lego:
Let the awesome rides continue! I actually rode Chick first and then had dinner with my family and then went back out to ride Lego this evening. It was 9:00 on the dot when I got on and we were only really able to ride for 27 minutes. Lego was soooo good though! We walked up to the "riding area" and as I warmed up in 2-point he spooked at a bird (it was past dusk after all) but it wasn't too big of a deal. I realized I'd have to ride him more boldly and forward than I presently was if we were going to ride so late!! It really made me focus on sitting tall and back and riding him forward confidently. It worked really well. He was great the whole rest of the time and didn't look at a thing! He actually was circling and bending through the turns pretty well. The corners still need work, but the circles are getting MUCH better! I only trotted him for about 10 minutes before we went back down towards the barn to cool out by the flood lights. We worked there on turns and smaller circles :)

Chick:
Chicky was good. He had been in a bad mood all day as reported by my mom so I rode him first to try to cheer him up. He was great. We just walked to warm up and then I had him do some leg yielding, haunches in, shoulder in, etc. He was really cute, probably thinking "after how many years you want me to remember how to do this??!!" :) But he did pretty well considering! I trotted him just a bit and then cooled him out.

6/18/11

Lego:
Lego did GREAT tonight.  He was such a good boy.  We warmed up with 5 min of walking, then did 5 minutes of bending, circling, walking straight lines with a straight body (trickier than it seems sometimes).  We then did 5 minutes of trotting, lots of changes in direction, circles, figure 8's, etc.  He was great.  There is just one side of our "riding area" that he has a difficult time with good turns.  Its on the downhill part and its close to the "in gate" towards the barn.  I think all of those things add up to a loss of focus and a little loss of balance in our rhythm.  He was stretching a LOT which was awesome! :)

Goal: Conditioning, flexibility
Time: 40min

Chick:
Chick stared at us out of his stall and watched Lego and I ride the whole time so I knew I needed (and very much wanted) to ride Chick too.  I tacked him up and it began sprinkling.  Great.  But it stopped so I had time to get a quick LSD workout in.  We just walked around the farm up and down hills, looking at stuff which in his previous life he was terrified of.  Including our family of Canada Geese who ran down to the pond (which we were standing right beside) and dramatically splashed into it right in front of him. Which of course perked my lab Georgia's ears and she took off and started splashing too.  Fortunately she knows better than to chase geese though! :)
Chick did great, we had a wonderful ride.  It amazes me how he can change my mood so much.  I wasn't in the greatest of moods when I got to the barn and while Lego did help it, Chick really changes it.  :) I love these guys and I am SO thankful for them!

Goal: LSD
Time: 20 min (due to light diminishing)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Lunging, Posing, and Cantering!!

6/14/2011
I went to the barn after work on Tuesday since I knew we'd be doing formal portraits of the horses with Brant Gamma Photography early Wednesday morning. I wanted to make sure I'd have enough time to get the horses all groomed up for the photos so I decided to stay the night at the barn. I decided to lunge Lego, since I hadn't recently and tried to photograph the workout, but it was prettttty bad with the lighting....and holding the camera with one hand and the lunge line in the other... :)
We worked on speed self-regulation as I lunged him on a slight incline due to lighting. He was pretty good. I think it was helpful for him to have to figure it out and balance himself on the downhill portion. He was actually stretching pretty well to, which is something we've been missing a little of under saddle. We also increased the amount of time trotting just a little bit.

Time: 30 minutes
Goal: Speed regulation, balancing, conditioning

6/15/11
Today was our long awaited photo shoot with Brant. I have been working closely with Brant Gamma and Pete this spring/summer as a photographer at regional events. Brant's level of skill and talent is AMAZING and it has been such a privilege to work with her. I have learned SO much these past few months and am eager to continue learning and shooting for her. I had actually contacted her back in the fall about coming to take portraits of the horses this spring so we could have some really awesome shots of them. We finally got our stars aligned, and although she and Pete are leaving tomorrow to go to New York she took the time to come out today and do portraits of my guys. I am so very thankful. We had a great time and I am SO excited to see the results. The anticipation is already killing me! :)

Check out Brant's webiste at http://brantgamma.exposuremanager.com/g/
After our portraits I tacked up Lego to go ride. We decided to deck him out in orange and blue in honor of the University of Virginia baseball team making it to the College World Series. Go Hoos!
So Lego and I worked on conditioning mainly today.  We warmed up at a walk for 5 minutes, then trotted for 5 minutes.  I had read about some different exercises to do while conditioning and someone suggested riding a dressage test, just at whatever pace you want instead of changing gaits.  So I trotted a dressage test (novice A) changing directions and circling, etc.  It was a great way to work on bending through corners and circles while being pretty consistent on each side through changes of direction.  I then let him have a walk break before trotting again.  He is circling much better as I continue to focus on riding both sides of the horse (Ive apparently gotten a bit lazy thanks to Chick's ease of going).  The corners are still pretty rough though but there's definitely progress in the shape and balance of the circles.  At the end of the trot I asked him for a canter going to the right and he picked up his lead perfectly.  He has a nice big, smooth canter and Im so excited to develop it more.  We cantered for about a minute or a little less and then transitioned back down through the trot to a walk.  We changed directions and did the same thing.  He isn't as consistent about his lead on the left, but he was very good during the transitions.  I am amazed at how well he relaxes back down into a walk.  I remember with Chick it was always a jig more than a walk after we'd canter when I began his retraining.  I was able to let Lego relax into a free walk on the buckle rein for a few minutes before getting back into a medium/working walk to finish up and then cool down.  I am REALLY thrilled with how this  horse is going.  He's worked four of the last five days so I'll probably give him tomorrow and *maybe* friday off (mostly because I don't think I can make it out there after work on Friday).   I made it in to work early enough today that I could take a yoga class (with my favorite instructor) so I am super excited about that!

Time: 40 minutes
Goal: Conditioning (add in canter), suppleness

Monday, June 13, 2011

Fall 2010

In an effort to make this blogging thing a little easier on my part, I'll just update on what I was doing BEFORE this past spring and continue on from there. The only downside is that some of the photos from our first ride and first lunging sessions aren't on this computer so they'll have to wait, but I think I can edit them and put them in after I publish each post. Here are some photos from this past fall. Our rides typically were 20-30 minutes in length and I was lucky if I got to ride him 1-2x per month due to my crazy hectic schedule. We did just a little bit of trotting, not too much on bending yet.



Sunday, June 12, 2011

6/8/11

5/8/11

Happy Birthday Chick!

5/1/11










6/5/11

I rode Lego and Chick on Sunday. They were both really good.  Lego had a 40 min ride focused mainly on gaining flexibility and listening to my legs and seat.  We did a bit of trotting, but mostly just walking in circles, serpentines, changing directions, etc.

Chick and I just walked up and down the rolling pastures to work on base level conditioning.  Since he is a wee bit older, I don't want to risk stressing his legs out with conditioning, there's not time rush so we are taking it slowwww.   :)

6/12/11

Lego was great this evening.  The weather was perfect and he was in a great mood.  He really seems to be happier working :) 
We started out just warming up at a walk, lots of circles (noticing a trend here?).  After about 10min we began trotting nice large circles with a change of direction and a figure 8.  We trotted about 3.5minutes then took a short walk break and did it again.  He REALLY wanted to Canter after our fun we had last evening but I didn't want to encourage excitement during our rides so we kept it at a trot today.  We also did the ground poles again which we hadn't done in a few rides.  I typically ride those in 2-point and he was great.  His turns are getting much better as he responds to me riding both sides of the horse and shaping the circles. I had my wonderful mom take a few photos of us so we can see our progress! 



Ride time: 45min
Goal: The goal was to canter again, this time with smoother transitions, however he was pretty excited about going fast so we reinforced a steady pace at the trot instead.  :)

I rode Chick again this evening also, just for 30 minutes of walking up and down the pasture hills.  We did about 2 minutes of trotting.  He was super...as always :)

Saturday, June 11, 2011

6/11/11

Lego:
I was able to get out to the farm to ride this evening in between thunderstorms.  We desperately need the rain, but its hard to coordinate riding with time off from work and good weather! I was able to wait the thundering/lightning out (and watch the Belmont) though. Around 7:15 I was up on Lego and we had a GREAT ride.  We warmed up with about 7minutes of walking...which it takes us a few minutes to walk to our "training area"...since we don't have a ring...yet. I actually prefer not having an arena most of the time, but sometimes it would be really nice to have one.  During our warming up we work on circles and bending through turns.  The circles get progressively more intricate, adding in some serpentines and things like that once we are warmed up.  Then we picked up a trot and trotted nice and straight (also a challenge) and bending through the turns.  This is where not have an arena comes in handy. I had read that George Morris has his equitation students sometimes ride in a field and he'll pick the shape of the riding area that day.  So for example, he might have them ride a square, a circle, oval, triangle, etc.  I have found myself implementing that same thing in the past with Chick and really liked it. With Chick I'd also move around my riding area.  At our old farm we had a flat area at the top of the pasture that was almost exactly the size/shape of a ring, but sometimes we'd go down and do our whole training ride at the bottom of the pasture where it was just slightly sloped.  I think it made us focus on balance, rhythm, and carrying ourselves a lot better than a flat space.
Anyway, while we were trotting I focused on riding a square then an oval, then a circle, etc.  on the long sides of the oval I'd throw in a few circles too. After a walk break we'd do the same thing again, only this time we trotted smaller circles and did changes of direction.  Lego was doing SO well tonight that I got really gutsy and decided we'd try cantering! This is the first time we've done it (intentionally anyway...).  I asked him with outside leg, inside rein which he was a little confused about, but after some clucking he picked up the right lead and we cantered the long side and through the turn of an oval.  Wow he has a big canter.  Its awesome though! I asked him to come back down to a trot and he did so beautifully.  We took a walk break and did the same thing on the other side.  I tried to do it so we were facing away from the barn and his friends each time :)   We cantered twice on each side and he did great. Im so excited about this horse! We finished with a few more bending exercises at the trot and then cooled out.

Total ride time: 30 min (due to storm)
Goal: Add more trotting for conditioning, work on straight-a-ways

Chick:
I then rode Chick around the farm, I didn't want to overdo it since he had been lame 1.5 weeks ago so we just walked.  I did make him go up and down the long hills though! :) We went over to the pond/lake and he is expressing interest in it, even though I know he knows that I know that he hates water! :) I had him stand with just the tips of his hooves barely touching the water and just relaxed for a couple of minutes.  Georgia (my 3 year old yellow labrador retriever) was going crazy running around and jumping into the water, splashing around, then sprinting around us, then back in the water she'd go! We did some more hills and walking around (I challenged myself by riding in 2 point the whole time) and that was about it!

Total ride time: 30 minutes
Goal: Slow conditioning

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

6/8/11

I rode Lego this morning for about 30 minutes since it was so warm outside.  He was already sweaty by the time I tacked him up, but his HR & respirations were fine so I went ahead and did a light workout.  We worked mainly on corners, bending, and getting him more supple. Its going to be a long road to get him relaxed and flexible on both sides. His left side is much more stiff than his right. Since it was so warm, we mainly just worked at the walk.  Everything we are working on is transferrable to the faster gaits, and it just isn't worth risking heat illness at this point! We have *plenty* to work on while just walking!! :)
When we did do some trotting, we did big circles and I asked him to bend around the arc and he did the best he's ever done.  As soon as he gave into my cues, I praised him and we walked. He seems very responsive to my praises and pats :) I am trying to be very consistent about vocalization cues to him, both praises and prepping him for gait transitions.

Time: 30 min
Goal: Work on flexibility and getting more supple. (and survive the VERY warm weather)

Monday, June 6, 2011

First Post!

I've been feeling the need to blog about my journeys retraining my "Off Track Thoroughbreds (OTTB's)". I have three of these guys, and one sweet little polo pony mare who keeps them all in line.

Chick is my first horse, he's the one who started this whole thing.  He was three years old when we got him, and straight off the track *crazy*! I was young...my mom was hopeful and I think we were all a little insane.  What were we thinking? More on the boy later :)



We then had JoJo who was a retired fox hunter.  He was so beautiful and so kind.  He had a heart the size of the Titanic. A gorgeous flea bitten grey, he stood around 17.2 hands and had the most amazing mane and tail.  Mom and I would go on trail rides together, she would ride Joey and I'd ride Chick, those are some awesome memories.
Next we acquired Dixie, our little polo pony mare.  We hoped she'd be able to take Joey's place as a suitable horse for my mom to ride, but she just never was happy under saddle.  She wasn't treated the best as a polo pony and combined with her injuries, she just didn't quite make it to pleasure horse world. She is pretty fun though, and really cute.  Even if she doesn't like me all that much she is a great nanny for the babies. :) 
New Year's Day the year after we lost Joey, we got "My Friend Lumpy" whom I gave the stable name "Connor" to.  While I was working at Marion DuPont Scott Equine Medical Center near Washington D.C. I had a coworker mention that she has just rescued a horse from the racetrack that a friend of hers said was going to the slaughterhouse soon.  She showed me a photo and I agreed to come out and take a look.  One look is all I needed.  Connor was standing in the aisleway on a REALLY cold December night just as calm as could be.  He had THE cutest look on his face and was just so sweet.  I was hooked immediately!  You can find the rest of the story on the page labeled "Connor". 

I went to Grad school at Georgia Southern University near Savannah, GA.  I was riding on the IHSA equestrian team there and was really excited about getting back to retraining Connor.  Unfortunately that was not as fate would have it (again, look at Connor's page for more info).  I moved to Raleigh, North Carolina and began working as a veterinary technician in the Large Animal Hospital at NC State's vet school.  While there, I was working on a racehorse named Reel Legend who was there for soft tissue surgery.  The clinician assigned to his case mentioned that his owners were looking for a home for him since he could probably not race any longer.  I talked to them,  got to know the horse a little bit, and decided that I'd be interested.  After Lego's surgery they put him back in training to see if he would be able to take it but everyone involved decided it wouldn't be in in his best interest.  His owner was particularly devastated because he was one of her favorites and they had had him since he was a yearling.  I went down to pick him up in April and boarded him in Raleigh with me until I moved back to VA the following fall.  Now he's in our training program!