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, February 29, 2012

Raining on Wednesdays

Rain, rain, go away!
Is anyone else SUPER frustrated that it always rains on Wednesdays? It does...in case you were wondering, or in case you didn't notice, or in case your schedule isn't like mine in that its one of the ONLY days you get to go ride your horses in the morning before you go to work. It also happens to be a  big day for UPS deliveries of Thirty-One orders to my doorstep which always seem to happen after I've already left for work. Fortunately my neighbors are very kind and take pity on my poor packages and rescue them until I get home so they aren't' laying on my front porch in the rain all evening. 
Anyway, I may have mentioned before that I have been tracking this since like August and it rains on 90% of all Wednesdays.  Which is super annoying.  Why can't it rain on Mondays? Mondays suck anyway. 

I was able to ride Lego during a brief moment of pause from the sky and I got in a solid hour or more of trotting up and down the hills in our pasture (they have pretty good drainage for al the water runoff).  He was stretching SO well today, I love it! He even did some collection for a sitting trot, so that was great! He is getting really nice and very comfortable. I cant wait to get his leads better figured out so I can canter him more when the ground gets better.  His canter is super fun.  I have my first lesson with Molly Bull at Plain Dealing Farm next week and I am very excited! I told her one of my main things that I'd like to work on is our left lead.  It will be nice to have someone else watch us so I'll know if I need to get our vet out to check him for some sort of orthopedic issue.  I hope that it is either me or just him being stubborn, I really don't want there to be something wrong with him that impairs him from picking up that left lead. So let's cross our fingers we can figure this out!! :)  

P.S. My farmer family members would be soooo mad to hear me complain about rain so I'll send this disclaimer.  I love rain.  Just not on Wednesdays.  Rain is great any other day of the week. Except the weekends.  Those should be dry too. 

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Sweet Angels

Good morning greetings from Connor
These horses get me through so much, they are such a blessing.  Whenever I am having a bad day, bad week, bad month, bad year-yes we all have them....these OTTBs are what get me through it.

When you wake up and go out to the barn with a thousand things on your mind and you see this in front of you? And you hear their sweet nickers? How could you not feel like the luckiest girl in the world?

(even if they are maybe, a tiny bit, just using you because they know you are the giver of all things breakfast....I'll take it!!)

Saturday, February 25, 2012

You know you're a horse girl when....

1990: You keep your horse's stall exquisitely clean...your own room-not so much.

2012: You know EXACTLY where all of your horses's registration papers are, but have no clue where the deed to your car is.....hm...

**Don't worry, mom, I don't need it for anything in particular, I was just trying to get some things organized before I move in a month. ;) 

Anyone else? :)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Gorgeous Day!

I was able to ride today in the gorgeous weather we had. It was really nice, about 64 degrees and partly sunny.  Soooooo nice.  I only had time to hop on Lego before it got too dark.  We stayed in a different part of the field today working on circles and balancing.  I remember reading about a clinic George Morris did where he had the students go into a field and ride different shapes, and then ride in circles on a small hill so that you'd have to deal with balancing your horse and keeping the speed and momentum relatively constant.  That's what we worked on today.  Not overkill, just a bit.  I only rode for 42 minutes and he did a great job.  I did some work in 2 point too, and allowed him even more flexibility to figure himself out. I do think its making a difference.  My mom came out to watch and hadn't seen us ride much lately (other than our brief jumping of the line yesterday) and remarked at how much more like a team we are looking.  Im so excited for our upcoming lesson with Molly. I hope we can get some work done on our left lead since we are still have problems with it.  Im crossing my fingers because if its not a training thing then we'll have to get our vet out to see if its a soundness thing that isn't otherwise noticeable, which it could maybe be. I'd also like her to evaluate my position for eventing (you know, since Im an equitation/huntseat girl crossing over to the dark side and all, haha). =)

Cozy snowy rides...in 59 degree temps?

Chick on the snowy trail
So we got about 7 inches of snow on Sunday, and then by Wednesday it was up to 59 degrees!  It was awesome.  I rode Lego, we did a nice long training ride of about 70 minutes.  We trotted for much of it, continuing to work on bending, flexibility (will there ever be a day when that is not our main focus/??!!).  It was a little wet out so I didn't want to canter too much and risk slipping but I figured we could get a lot of trotting work in.  I was looking through my 101 Dressage Exercises book Tuesday night and found number 79, "Transitions with a Sidestep" and thought it looked like something we could do that was challenging, but he does know how to do.  The directions call for a trot, but I just did it at a walk during the later part of the warm up.  We walked a large oval and at 3 spots along the long side we halted, I asked for a side step, and then continued walking. You can side step inward or outward, alternating each time.  The first few times we did it, he was a little fussy with his head, but after a while, he got it and was much happier about it.  During our walk breaks from trotting we did a couple of them randomly too.  I set up a second jump in addition to our low vertical that we usually have and spaced it about 6 strides away and slightly to the left of the original fence.  I did this so we could warm up over our "usual" and then eventually add in the 2nd without being too overwhelming.  We warmed up and he was doing really well, he really loves to jump and is eager (but not rushing) to get to the fences, nice and forward.  I then warmed us up over the "new" jump and he did great.  It was a larger crossrail.  I wanted to then see how he would do on a line.  I headed him towards the first fence at a canter and we found the perfect spot.  We sailed over the small fence and I directed him towards the vertical.  He seemed to focus in on it pretty quickly and get what we were doing and we got a pretty good spot to the vertical.  I was sooooo happy that he did such  good job.  My mom came out and I had her watch our next one.  The second time through was absolutely perfect.  We got the perfect spot to the crossrail, had a great pace, a nice forward 6 stride ride to the vertical, great spot and took the vertical beautifully.  It was great.  I had the biggest smile on my face and such joy at how this horse is coming along.  Im so happy with him.  I think he was pretty proud of himself too.  

So pretty big news, I am having my first lesson with Molly Bull of Plain Dealing Farm on March 7th.  That will be our first lesson in the eventing world.  Im excited about it! 

After riding Lego, I saw Connor near the barn and so I decided I'd grab him and go for another lunging session. I think he felt much more comfortable (though still confused as to the purpose of such training).  He did great going to the left, and definitely better than before going to the right.  The right is WAY more difficult for him and you can see the challenge in how he has to almost cross his hind legs to make the turn.  He tries very hard though and really hope that it will help.  He has THE sweetest look on his face when he does it and glances to me for reassurance.  How did I luck out getting such a nice boy? 

Mr Jealous (aka Chick) was watching all of this going on and was NOT happy about it.  He gets so jealous when I ride Lego he just stares at us with his ears locked in on us and hates it.  So imagine how he is when I then also work with Connor!!!  So I'm lunging Connor, and I hear a noise and I look over and Chick is standing by the crossrail I had been using with Lego.  He is locked in on us and he nudges the pole with his nose sending it crashing (quietly) to the ground. He never stopped staring at us with his ears pricked.  He really does hate it!!! I'll also say that I ALWAYS go say hi to him and give him extra pats, kisses, peppermints, etc on the days when I can only ride Lego due to time constraints so its not like he gets ignored!!!

Anyway, after working Connor, I tacked up Chick who was SOOO happy about getting to go to work.  We went out on the trails and as you can see in the picture, we found some patches where the snow hadn't yet melted.  He was a perfect boy.  Even when I dropped my sunglasses and had to get off then find a bank to climb up on to remount (my OTTBs are tall for goodness sakes!!).

But wait! There's more!!! So since I was having such a great day, I decided to make it an even 4 for 4 and ride Dixie too.  Mind you, she hasn't been ridden since we moved to this farm (um....5 years ago?!). She is retired in part due to a minor hip stiffness but mainly due to a really awful temperament under saddle, she just hates being ridden.  She's the former polo pony who was obviously very mistreated under tack. She is very sweet on the ground, has great manners and loves everyone (well, I'd say she tolerates me...she holds grudges since I obviously love the boys more than her! hehehe).  I hoped on her bareback for a little walk around the paddock and she was great.  Success! All four horses got worked! 

Awesome, awesome day, if only there could be more like that!!! I need to win the lottery!!!  

Lope Texas

I was perusing the internet doing some research for an upcoming blog post with which I will be guest blogging on the Retired Racehorse Blog (here's the link).  I ran across the Lope Texas website.  I hadn't visited their site in a while, and it was nice to wander around it again.  I found this great video on their About Us section which is a great introduction to ex-racehorse rehoming.  Enjoy!

From the Track to the Pasture from Stephen M. Keller on Vimeo.

For more information on Lope TX, click here.

You can also purchase their AWESOME book, Beyond the Homestretch on their website.  I loved it!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Hurry before the flakes get us!

I stayed out at the farm Saturday night since I was housesitting for my parents.  I woke up early Sunday to go feed and everyone was so happy to see me, though still wondering where their other mama was :)

The forecast was calling for the snow to start around 10am and I really wanted to get a ride in on Lego before that.  I let him eat and go out to graze for a while and then hopped up on him around 9am.  We walked over to the flat holding yard that my parents put in for their wholesale landscape and nursery business which was currently vacant of plants and trees.  It is nice and flat and has great footing so it makes a nice place to ride.  I've never taken Lego over there so I was interested to see how he did not being able to see the other horses.  He did wonderfully and I think honestly, he really liked having the structure of a "ring".  He knew where the boundaries were and where he needed to be.  I was also happy to see our circles were a great shape and he wasn't too distracted looking around at our surroundings. We rode for about 45 min again and I was very happy with how he did.  His fitness is really great too,  I'm very pleased with how in shape he is with me only able to get out here about 2-3x per week this winter!

Connor's back on track

Pardon the pun... 
Connor, after four years off from work, actually had to work this weekend! Hopefully I can stay awake long enough to describe the story behind all of this, but Im super exhausted, so we'll see how far I get!
In a nushell, due to racing so long, Connor developed arthritis in his cervical (think neck) vertebrae that is causing compression to his spinal cord and causing him to be neurologic.  We were almost 100% positive we were going to have to euthanize him in Feb or '08 and I am so insanely grateful for each and every day we have with this great horse.  Connor literally worked his ass off, racing all over the country and eventually, at the ripe old age of 9 (!!!!!!!!!) went from claimer to claimer until he was sold from Pimlico to a trainer at Charles Town who knew a lady who worked with me at Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center in Leesburg, VA (near DC).   He retired fine, and was breezing through his retraining until 2008 when he became neurologic.  

His neurology mainly presents in lack of coordination of his hind end, particularly his RH. Even though he was a grade 4/5 when we took him up to MDSEMC for a myelogram (which they were actually unable to do, as he wouldn't have been able to get back up it was so bad at that time), they did do radiographs and were able to DX from those.  He progressed eventually to a grade 2/5, but is probably back to around a 3/5 at this point.  His muscle atrophy is not as bad as it would seem like it should be to this point, I think his large size helps that a bit.  We also keep all of our horses out 24/7 so he gets his exercise outside. 

Anyway, I've been thinking the last month or so that perhaps working him a little either in leading him through ground work exercises, or through lungeing might be beneficial in keeping him strong.  I had the farm basically to myself this Saturday so after riding Chick, I decided I'd try Connor out on the lunge.  Please forgive the following: his not great grooming job, the knocked down jump in the back ground, my dog rooting around for who knows what, and my annoying clucks...it is after all my first time trying to lunge Connor, AND my first time videoing any lunging with my new phone. 

By the way, we were walking on a vey small circle due to aforementioned reasons 1. Connor has never been lunged before, and 2. I was videoing while trying to do the lunging. 

Ok, enough disclaimers. I wish I had gotten more of his leg action, maybe I can have my mother video for me when I go out and lunge him again so I can record his gait progress.  There is definitely some incoordination, and some dragging of his LH toe.  But not bad for a neuro guy his first time out! 

It was SO good to have him back out there! Even if it was only 10 min walking.  I LOVE this horse. He had soooo much performance potential it was HUGE to hear that I'd never get to ride him again, let alone lose him!!!!! Don't take your pony for granted! Get out there and hug and kiss their sweet little (or big!) faces! 

Um, have you seen these?

They are A-freakin-dorable.  Love it. Go get your own here.  Her blog is pretty awesome too, and she donates $5 from each sale to CANTER Michigan.  Rock on!  

Weekend wonderfulness

So after touring Plain Dealing for the horse trials, I was out at our farm and hanging out with my favorite boys in the whole world.

I hoped on Lego and we did some flat work, about 45 minutes or so.  We did lots of circles and trotting through poles and pretend intro level dressage tests.  He was really great.

Next I lunged Connor, see the post about that. =)

Then I hopped on Chickerbee.  We went for a short 25 minute ride around the farm up and down the hills. Nice and relaxing and he was so happy to be out and about.

Winter Schooling Horse Trials @ Plain Dealing Farm

I started off the day visiting Plain Dealing Farm for their schooling horse trials.  It was a really nice, sunny day and the farm is of course, super beautiful.  I was intersted in seeing how the turn out was and the atmosphere, so that next time they have one (June I think?), I can hopefully take Lego and know the flow of things.  I observed the dressage ring and a few Advanced Green show jump rounds.  It was good timing to see those tests/rounds since thats what we would be doing! It was a very friendly SJ course, just some simple, inviting cross rails.  I headed out to cross country next to see the types of jumps, lay outs, etc.  Again, I've seen lots of recognized events, but this is my first unrecognized at a private farm and I was curious what they had and how they had it set up.  There were awesome jumps everywhere.  It was really cool.  Banks, water elements, ditches, trakehners, and of course benches, logs, etc.  There were a good number of lower level elements, which encourages me to contact Molly Bull and see if lessons might be available or schooling over their cross country course.
Here's a pic of the overall atmosphere during BN XC. It was very relaxed and as each rider finished, Brian Ross (of VA Horse Trials and ~1000 other things) and Eileen Kenney (of Wavertree Hall) asked them how they thought it went and offered a bit of insight.  It was nice.

 Below is Jump 1 of BN, and Jump 8 of Adv Green, just some stacked logs.
 Here's the banks, a ramp up if you choose, and then a jump down on the other side.
 This one was a tricky one.  A faux ditch to a small house.

Here's the faux ditch from the side. I think I'd like to build one like this.  
Adv Green and BN show jump
Permanent dressage ring, very pretty

I am glad I went to observe the event, and I got some good advice to attend a "Fix a test" at either Wavertree Hall or Toad Hollow Farm coming up in the next few months.  Sounds like a good idea. It was wonderful getting to chat with Brian Ross and Eileen Kenney, they were really nice and welcoming  of the "new" girl. :) 

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Snowy Delay

Well, I got word yesterday that our first schooling show which was going to be this Sunday is cancelled.  We are supposed to get snow, so I am guessing that's the reason, but I am a bit bummed about it! Its been a pretty rough week around here, so I was looking forward to that as being some positivity amid some sadder times.  I am going to look for another schooling show in the next few weeks, though I am super busy with work (I am a full time personal trainer at ACAC, I am a photographer for Claire Sky Photography and Brant Gamma Photography, and I sell Thirty-One), so we'll see what I can fit in!
I am headed off today to buy grain (snowy forecasts) and then off to Plain Dealing Farm to watch their  schooling CT/HT.  I am excited to see that, as I've only been to recognized events such as Virginia Horse Trials, Stuart Horse Trials, and a slew of events in Southern Pines, NC at the Carolina Horse Park, (which is one of my favorite venues!!) while shooting with Brant.  Hopefully I'll get a lot of riding in today also, since its supposed to be so nice out!
Ive been wanting to do some lungeing work with Lego, but I keep putting it off since I like to RIDE him.  Maybe today will be the day? I'd also like to do a few simple gymnastics exercises and see how he does.

Have fun out there!

Sunday, February 12, 2012


I know we need to cold weather for a number of reasons, including killing all those pesky bugs! Ugh, but seriously! It was sooooo cold riding yesterday, I am definitely procrastinating on getting out there to ride today!! Besides the ridiculous temperatures, the wind gusts were insane! I was just trotting around and a big gust would come by and actually through me off center.  It was crazy!! 
Lego was really great though, we only rode for about 30-35 minutes, and after warming up we just trotted and worked more on bending and such for about 20-25 minutes before cooling back down.  He is still a lot less flexible going towards the left, so that's a big focus for us.  We trotted lots of circles, figure eights with trotting over poles in the center, he loves all of it.  He was stretching incredibly well yesterday, not sure if he was just lowering his head to get out of the wind though!! :P

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Pre-entries have been sent in!!!

I have just submitted my pre-entries for Lego's first show!! It is next weekend, Sunday the 19th of February.  Its a small local schooling show and Im very excited about it!!
While ideally we'll have a great experience in our classes, I am staying realistic about my expectations.  If we get to the show grounds, a local farm, and he is a little too distracted by being somewhere new I'm willing to back off a bit.  We may end up just schooling in the ring and having to scratch if the thrill of running around in an enclosed space with a bunch of other horses is a *little* too eventful. :) We'll see how the early morning schooling goes.  He does take most things in stride so hopefully we'll be good to go!

What is your plan for the 2012 Spring Show Season? You can check out my upcoming shows and events on the sidebar! :)

February 19  Schooling Show

March 16-18  Thoroughbred Celebration Horse Show

Schooling CT or dressage, maybe a couple hunter shows

June 8-10 Thoroughbred Celebration Horse Show

Eric Dierks' 2nd Video

You've waited for it! Here it is, the 2nd in the series of videos from Eric Dierks in the Retired Racehorse Training Project.  Its awesome!!! Check it out!!!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Birthday Weekend!

 Donkey girls in the frosty  morning!
Birthday morning ride on Lego,he was sooo good!
 Sunday afternoon ride in the hay pasture.  He was great!!! If you look closely, Chick is staring at us from their pasture.
Chick and me out on the dirt roads with Georgia leading us :)
Lego and me :) 

Look what we did!

So obviously I am bringing along Lego very slowly, and we finally graduated from the crossrail to the vertical last week!!!  Its a tiny one, I realize, however I am so excited about it and he did soooo great.  He is such a cute boy, when we approached it, he kept his head low over it like he did the first time we did the crossrail.  We did it a few times, trotting up and then cantering up to it.  He did great! Yey! Now when the footing gets better I'll set up a few and do a mini course!! :)