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!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Weekly Schedule from Sally Cousins

I don't know how many of you follow the "Best of" on Eventing Nation but Sally Cousins posted an "ideal" schedule for getting your horse fit at the lower levels.

Click here to read the whole thing, its good!

It works on a 5+ day a week riding schedule which is great if you can do that. I can only get 3-4 days per week with my work schedule and I feel like I am constantly flying around all over the place to get there!

My weekly schedule varies considerably, but I at our training stage, I try to get three separate days although sometimes it does end up being three days in a row.  The first day's first half hour is usually going over what we already know and staying quiet while getting back into "work mode".  The second half is adding in something new and working on that then cooling out on a little trail ride around the farm.  I try to introduce him to new stuff on our rides, whether its a kayak down by the pond/lake, or maybe walking across the dam or near the tractor or something. I like to get him exposed to as much as possible in a calm way.  The second day's ride is a warm up, a more brief review of what we already know, and then more work on our "new" thing.  We usually jump this day as well as long as things are going quietly and well.  We end on a good note and cool out the same way.  Usually the third day I just do a hack out and try to keep it a relaxing experience without doing anything new or stressful.  I agree with what Sally says about getting a OTTB a bit too excited with doing galloping sets and not going past the point where they are physically still fine, but mentally tired.  That is definitely a factor for Lego.  It never really was for Chick or Connor except maybe a few times in all those years.

Lego tries so hard to figure out what I want and how he can do it, but usually he just wants to do it faster :o)

What is your schedule like?
Any comments, questions, or suggestions are welcome!!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Lesson with Molly

I had my first eventing lesson with Molly Bull at Plain Dealing Farm a couple weeks ago. It was really great.  She was very helpful in giving us some insight into Lego's left lead issue. It had been going on for so long I was starting to wonder if there was an orthopedic issue which I was just dreading.  I had pretty much exhausted my repertoire of drills and techniques so it was great to have someone else watch us and see if she could pick up on anything. She hopped on him too, and couldn't get a different result either so we thought maybe we should get someone to watch him trot off to see about any hind end lameness.  We definitely couldn't see any so we decided to get some spurs on to help with the clarity of my asking, and to give him a little forward inspiration.  We went from the dressage ring to the show jump ring and popped over a crossrail a few times asking for the left lead as we took a direct left hand turn over the fence.  It worked the 2nd or 3rd time so we worked on that a few more times and then gradually lowered the fence to just a collection of poles, then just one pole, then no poles and asking for the left lead each time.  It was successful and he was surprisingly just as well balanced as on his right lead.  Im so glad we were successful and I am thankful to Molly for helping us with our plan of attack.  She was very determined to help us get that left lead and attacked that problem systematically.  I really appreciate that in a trainer for sure.  We then cooled out, loaded up, and returned back to our farm.  When we got home,  the other horses all came galloping over to greet Lego, which was a bit surprising.  He was missed!!! He did such a great job at Plain Dealing, he handled it all beautifully.

Our Firsts for that day!

1. First time ever having to trailer out to a lesson.
2.  First time Lego was tied while in the trailer (his previous trainer who had him since he was a 2 year old said he always hauled him in a box, untied...so when we brought him up from Raleigh we had to leave him untied and didn't like that at all).
3.  First time riding in a ring!! (Weird, but I ride in our nice pastures which helps to build trust, balance, and mindfulness of where we are riding and what we are doing!)

Go pony!!! My lower leg slipped back...now I have spurs so that's better!

Trotting around the dressage arena

Ears locked on to our target :) 

About half way through our process from crossrail to pile of poles
4. First eventing lesson!

AND, it was a Wednesday...and it didn't rain.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

12 days down!

Not that this is horsey related, but it is most definitely ME related!

I am 12 days into my deprivation of Sweet Tea in honor of Lent.  So far, its not as bad as I thought it would be.  If you know anything about the South, you know to us Southerners having sweet tea is like taking a vitamin (minus most of the health benefits, of course!)!! I am surprised, though happy, to report that I am still alive!

Only 35 more days left!! Whewwww!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

On a serious note...

While browsing the internet to find ways to get more involved in Thoroughbred aftercare efforts I ran across an article on the business of horse racing and fan development.  The article is called “Do Horse Racing’s Hot Button Issues Boil Down to What Benefits Fans?”, written by Amanda Duckworth of ESPN.com.  While mainly talking about the fans of horse racing, which I don’t necessarily consider myself to be, its has a few key points that I can agree with. 
I am an OTTB "owner". I got my first horse when I was 10, he was a 3 year old straight off the track (what was my mom thinking?!).  I was working so hard retraining him to compete in huntseat when many people hadn’t ever heard of that being done.  I’ve since collected three more ex-racers and on a farm where retirees of the Sport of Kings reigns there’s a paradox felt each time you see cute photos of this years thoroughbred foals and you start hearing about how the prep races are going for those lucky 3 year olds deemed talented enough for the Derby and beyond.  As excited as I get to watch these athletes take on their fellow competitors in one of the most grueling races in sports, theres a little piece of me who is unhappy. My conscience can’t really get all that wrapped up in it because I know what life can be like for the thousands and thousands of others who didn’t quite make it to that all important first saturday in May.  Its not just the battle on equine slaughter, thats another conversation for another day.  Its also the safety, the health, the day to day stuff that concerns me on so many levels. In the article, Duckworth states that one of the reasons for the declining fan base for horse racing is that unlike in sports such as football, fans can’t really pull for a “team” per se, and even if they really like a particular “player” (i.e. horse), their racing career is mostly likely no more than a few years before retiring for breeding.  She states “the star of the game has always been the horse.” But is it really? I mean it seems like it when the flowers are draped over their withers, but if horses really truly are the stars it would seem the emphasis would be on them and their wellbeing a bit more. Are we doing the most we can to ensure fair play and the most safety for our star athletes? Is there more than can be done to help prevent injuries, breakdowns, etc?  And I get it, as a former college athlete I know what its like when you are faced with difficult decisions.  Questions of “should I go play this game when I have a sprained ankle? The team needs me but if I sit rest I’ll get better faster!” are somewhat common.  Are we overlooking safety precautions such as injury screens, drug testing (yes, I realize its done already to some extent), weather and track condition checks, etc to make the sport safe?  Notice I didn’t even tough the subject of aftercare, there’s so much more there, but as I’m pretty sure we can all agree with, healthier racehorses make healthier OTTB’s so it really does matter!! There are so many other factors that enter this as well, and so many other questions, but just as Duckworth says later, no matter where you stand on issues such as these, its important that there is dialog happening and that solutions to problems that are facing the racing industry are being developed to benefit all involved. The fans, the owners, the trainers, the tracks, and MOST of all, the horses. 
You can find Amanda Duckworth’s article: