Wednesday, August 28, 2013

My Horse is a Dork

Since Alex had the day off today (I know, I said lunging, but I was tired, I have no excuse).  I thought I'd post some video of my horse being a goof ball :-)

He is freaking hilarious with the hose! I literally cannot spray his face unless I give him a drink and "brush" his teeth.  He's all like "Mom...look at my tattoo!" LOL.  This is part of the reason I love this horse.  So much personality!
And...I have some big news...Alex is going on his very first field trip this weekend! We'll be traveling up to my aunt's farm in Indiana to spend Saturday night and Sunday morning.  This is a BIG deal, since Alex has not been off the farm since he arrived from Florida last June. 
Typical me, I'm already in super planning mode (I can't help it, I haven't been to a show/event since Gryff and I's last outing (tear...) last May), making lists and obsessing! 
I expect a little mayhem out of Alex...but I'm not sure what kind.  I just hope he gets on the trailer and then we'll see.  Definitely more details (possibly photos and video) to come.
Tomorrow Alex will be back to work, off Friday as I have plans with the girls and probably worked multiple times Saturday.

Also, there's more contests going, head on over to She Moved to Texas and enter her contest for the chance to win a leather Horze Halter! And/or to Equestrian at Hart to win some great Sore No More products!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

A Good Day

Tonight we had a good ride.  It was calm, it was focused and it was pleasant.  Despite the fact that Alex was being chased by the horsefly from hell on the lunge (he was bucking straight up and down every time it landed/bit him), we had some pretty decent flat work once I was in the saddle!

Perhaps Boot Camp is paying off? Alex has been worked almost every day for the last two weeks (I think he's had about 3 days off?) in a myriad of circumstances.  We've fought and we've made up.  I can honestly say I'm happy about the work we've put in and I think we're seeing some of the benefit :-)

Tomorrow is probably going to be a lunging only day, we'll see how things go.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Making up

Turns out tomorrow was another day.  Alex and I went back to work on Thursday.  It was another stormy afternoon, but at least this time there wasn't as much wind and the temperature hadn't dropped.  After working on the lunge, I climbed into the saddle ready to rock.  Fortunately, although Alex was more tense than usual, there was no bucking and only a few head tosses.  I wasn't elated with the ride but I was satisfied.

Friday night was a quiet one at the farm, for which I was grateful after two stormy nights.  I decided it was time to put on my "big girl breeches" and ride in spurs.  Alex did remarkably well with the spurs, although I think he was a little put out :-)  Our actual ride was actually very good, he was much more forward with the spurs and I didn't have to work so hard to keep him forward which was great! 

Our Saturday lunging session was a little wild, thanks to a horse running around in the paddock next to the arena, but fortunately that didn't transfer to our ride.  Alex worked pretty well and even managed to do a few turns on the forehand (not the best ever, but good) and a satisfying way to end four days of riding. 

Sunday Alex had the day off and had his fall vaccinations, so I just cleaned his stall, fed him treats and gave him kisses.

Tonight, I have to admit, that I was tired and not exactly enthused about riding, I tacked up and headed out to lunge Alex and found another person riding in the arena.  After asking if it was ok to lunge in the arena while she rode (which it was)  I started working Alex.  He was surprisingly calm working on the lunge even with the other horse cantering around at the opposite end of the arena (this usually sets him off). 

Right after I climbed in the saddle, the other horse came trotting by which of course meant that Alex felt the need to make a little leap and groan (he always groans, it's so funny!) setting the other horse off a bit (oops!).  Tried this a few more times whenever we got close to the other horse, but eventually after being made to continue forward, he settled, and I was never at any time worried he'd do anything really bad which is fantastic!  I hope I didn't bother the other girl too much.  I'm really happy though because I so rarely get to ride with other people in the arena and it wasn't terrible!  Even though we had a little change of game plan, I'm happy in my decision to start exposing him to more.  It never hurts to ask if it's ok to ride with someone else, all they can do is say no, but if I don't start asking, Alex will never get over his tendency to get wound about other horses.

Despite our struggles, I really do love my horse.  He's never going to be easy, but I do really think he's going to be spectacular.  Just have to be confident, persistent and patient :-)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

No Treats For You!

Alex's vision of himself today

It's been one of those nights... the ones where you get done working your horse and you think to yourself "what a friggin psycho!"

I went straight from work to the barn and was ready to get back to work.  Alex stood to be groomed and tacked giving no signals that he was in a wild mood.  Took him out to lunge, a few bounces and kicks but nothing out of the ordinary.  Right about the time I removed the lunging equipment to climb in the saddle, the temperature dropped about 5+ degrees, it got windy and a few of the horses in paddocks across the farm started calling back and forth.  Since it was still dry and Alex seemed unimpressed, I climbed into the saddle to do a little flat work.  I was wearing spurs for the first time, so on my guard to be gentle.  Not one minute into our ride and Alex commenced shaking his head, bucking and leaping around like he hadn't been worked in a week.  Usually the bucking and jumping around doesn't bother me too much, and I'm willing to cowgirl it out a bit, but I was very worried I'd catch him with my spurs if he got me too off balance.  Considering he's never been ridden in spurs, I didn't want that to be his first experience.

I decided I'd get off and put him back on the lunge until he and the wind settled down.  As soon as we started working again, he decided it was time to tear around at the gallop like he was being chased by the boogie man for like 20 minutes complete with bucking and snorting (made even better by someone driving by on a lawn tractor) even half-way falling down at one point.  When I thought he looked "done," I changed directions where he tore around a little more before finally settling down. Keep in mind that he's been lunged for nearly an hour at this point... Determined that he would be ridden, I removed all the lunging equipment and climbed back in the saddle.  About a ten strides away from the mounting block and Alex throws another series of bucks, leaps and snorts..... WTF?!  Again, I'm worried about the spurs, but have made up my mind that he WILL trot around this arena before we go in to the barn (it's actually raining a bit now).  Another series of fireworks later, I make him trot another couple strides and finally dismount to get the loaner saddle out of the rain.  I was so mad that I couldn't properly deal with the situation, but the weather wasn't cooperating.

Turns out it was good that I went in, because it started to thunder pretty loudly (Alex would have dumped me for sure if that had started while I was in the saddle), but I still wish I could have dealt with him.

So Alex has a new nickname... Captain Psycho!

You know I'm disappointed in my horse's behavior when he gets no treats at all... I don't think that's ever happened...yeah, it was one of those nights.

Tomorrow he could be a total saint... we'll see :-)

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Rain and Contests!

Today we had some scattered rain showers right around the time I got done at work.  Given that my indoor is currently a dust bowl with little circulation and that Alex has been ridden for three days in a row, I decided that I'd give him today off instead of tomorrow when it's more likely to be dry enough to ride in the outdoor. 

Also it seems two of my fellow bloggers are having contests, yipppeeee!

Nicku over at The Polka Dot Periodical is celebrating 150 followers with a contest.  So zip over there and enter!  Just email her your fav horse items under $50 :-)

Amy over at Slow and Steady Wins the Race is celebrating 100 followers with a contest of her own. If you're not already following her blog, I highly recommend it, I love reading about her OTTB pony Steady and their adventures! And don't forget to enter her contest too :-)

Tomorrow Alex and I will be back to work and we'll see how his flat-work continues to progress!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Forward March!

Happens to me on a daily basis...
Boot Camp for Alex is in full swing.  Little did I know that it would be Boot Camp for me too!  It's amazing how much fitness I can lose when we have a little down time.  

Sunday's pointers from my mom turned into.  quasi lesson, which in all reality, we probably needed for a good kick in the butt. I lunged Alex and then clombed aboard to see what 
the day would bring. After a quick warm-up, mom started in with the directions :-) 

I was to ask Alex to stretch and then ask for forward, turning his head and giving with the inside rein to encourage the stretch down and push forward. While I know this exercise from previous horses, it was nice to have someone on the ground reminding me to PUSH!

Alex did pretty well, but he only gets a few "lengthened" steps out before his head comes up and we have to circle or halt to refocus. 
His canter was ok, no bucks, but our departs are so ugly! Lots to work on there. 

Overall, mom pronounced him much improved 
in movement and just in need of consistent work on FORWARD to continue building his strength.

Tonight it was more of the same. Alex and I worked our butts off and were just about to quit when a whinnying horse in the distance inspired one of Alex's baby fits. Of course we had to keep working until I won that battle :-)

Otherwise it was a good productive night, still a LONG way to go. 

Alex still seems comfortable with the saddle, so that's good, I'm probably going to be annoyingly parinoid about that for several months, but so far so good!

Day 4 of 4 in a row tomorrow before a well deserved Wednesday off.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Sometimes You Just Gotta Change the Game Plan

On Thursday, the loaner/demo saddle arrived from County.  I now know why it's been on the demo list for a while, it's Oak bark which means it's a little orange, but beggars can't be choosers and I'm sure grateful to have a saddle while mine is fixed.  Now that Alex and I can get back on track, he's back to boot-camp, which means he gets lunged and ridden every day, regardless of whether he's been worked the day before, until I can tell he's back in a routine.  I've also decided that there will be no more babying for Alex.  He's going to have to work in whatever circumstances arise.

So with that in mind, I walked into the arena to lunge him on Thursday with other horses (gaited horses at that) in the arena.  He was quiet enough until the other horses started doing more than walking.  This brought on the exaggerated trot complete with tail in the air and then grunting and bucking.  I just kept lunging him and waiting for the excitement to abate and eventually it did.  When I finally climbed into the saddle, he was still a little up, but not wild, so we just did some trot work and called it a day.  It was much more lunging and less riding than I would have liked on such a nice day, but sometimes, you just gotta change the game plan.  He's got to be exposed to things if he's ever going to get over them and if that means I don't get to do what I had planned, that's just going to have to be ok.

Saturday I rode late, since the hubs was at a  Diaper Party (read man baby shower) and then that way I could do my barn chores after Alex went out to his paddock for the night.  We were alone in the arena which I have to admit was nice (I said I wouldn't run from distractions, I didn't say I loved them!).  Alex went well on the lunge, so I climbed into the saddle ready to work.  Basically the only bad thing I can say is that he still wanted to buck during the right canter transition.  I'm about 90% sure this is just left over anxiety from his previous back/saddle problems but since we haven't been able to work consistently, it will take some time for me to be absolutely sure. 

The loaner saddle feels just fine, I have to admit that my saddle felt a lot wider, which was probably a symptom of the broken tree.  I feel pretty darn stupid for not knowing about the tree, but live and learn I suppose.

Usually I give Alex Sunday off, but since we've been out of work for a while, I'm going to ride him today.  Taking the MadrĂ© with me today so she can give a few pointers.  We'll see how that goes :-)

Happy riding everyone!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Tomorrow is Another Day!

So when I got the news about the saddle... I had to have a little time to pout, which is why I've been silent a while.  After the appropriate mourning period, I got some news that reminded me of one very important thing...
On Monday, I spoke with County and learned that it would be $900 to replace the broken tree (it's out of full warranty) in my saddle and take 9-10 weeks.  I was, as can be imagined, not too pumped about that piece of information.  Next, I immediately sent an email to the seller explaining what had happened.  She quickly emailed back, horrified about the saddle and pissed at the person who had sold it to her.  She also offered to reimburse some of the money I had paid, so that I could put it towards the new tree.  Color me very surprised and happy :-)  We agreed upon an amount which I won't disclose here, but will say it was very generous considering the situation.
Then I sent an email to the rep at County to ask if there was any way they could "loan" me a demo saddle while I waited for mine to be fixed.  I really thought there was no chance in hell... but thought it was worth a try.  She emailed back and said they had a demo 17.5 Stabilizer XTR with a Medium Tree, that I could use provided I covered shipping, but I might have to ship it back if someone wanted to take it on trial (apparently it's been on the list a while, so she doesn't think it will be a hot item).
Holy Shit! Did that just happen?? A few days ago I was devastated... not sure where to turn and now it looks like everything is going to work out just fine!  Honestly, I cannot say enough about County, they have been just wonderful, I liked their saddles before, but this customer service has really sold me. 
Loaner/Demo saddle arrives tomorrow, so Alex and I are back to work :-)

BTW, thanks for everyone's kind words, I didn't respond to your comments because I was still pouting, but I appreciated them all the same!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Somebody Kill Me Please...

Just got a call from the saddle repair person earlier today... the tree on my newly purchased saddle is BROKEN! This would explain the issues at the pommel.  She said it looked like someone knew about it, because the panels had been glued back on and the panels under the flap had been "overstuffed."  Seriously?? WTF?!?!
I don't think the girl I bought it from knew about it, because she bought it as a transition saddle and hardly used it...but I would bet the person she bought it from knew. 
Soooooo... the saddle is going to be dropped off at County in Maryland (since the saddle repair person is right down the road and does lots of work for County) and I'm going to talk to them about getting the tree replaced.  As I understand it, County saddles have a lifetime warranty, but because this saddle is seven years old, I like likely have to pay for any shipping and labor.  Hubby and my mom have already said this isn't the end of the world, if it gets a new tree, and everything is properly flocked, it will be like a new saddle, which in theory is true (my mom has actually had a tree replaced in a County saddle that had a horse fall on it many years ago).  That is, of course, the logical way to look at it, but I don't feel like being logical right now... I want to cry and throw a fit like a toddler (there have already been tears of frustration, but no fit). Worst of all...this means more wasted time for Alex while this situation gets resolved, unless I can find something to borrow for a while. 
I just don't even know what else to say right now.  I feel pretty hopeless and helpless.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Feelin' Yucky :-(

The last two days I haven't been feeling so great.  I probably haven't mentioned this on here, but I suffer from IBS and have intermittent "attacks" when I don't pay enough attention to what I eat.  Apparently I've been slacking lately, which culminated in an attack last night and kept me from getting out to ride Alex.  Most of the time I can ride when I don't feel well.  Having had a succession of respiratory sicknesses over my lifetime, I'm the master of riding when I'm coughing up a lung or can't breathe; but when it comes to anything that makes me feel like I'm going to pass out (like my stomach issues sometimes do), I have to draw the line, even though I'm usually tempted to stubbornly tough it out :-)
The saddle is on it's way to MD to be fixed and should return next week unless any unforeseen issues arise.  Since I'm still not feeling perfect and I'd only be lunging him anyway, I decided to give Alex another night off.  I feel totally lazy since I was just talking a big game about "Boot Camp," but there's only so much I can get done with the saddle one anyways and the pusher in me is just going to have to deal with the fact that my body is demanding a little break.
Thursday Alex will get lunged, then Friday it's time for him to get new kicks and Saturday more lunging.  Hope everyone is having a great week!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Minimal Nonsense

Alex is starting "Boot Camp."  Although I'm ecstatic that he's feeling and moving about 100% better since the introduction of the new saddle, he's been a little too "frisky/ADD" for my liking.  So I've decided that he's going to be lunged before every ride for the next few weeks.  By that time we'll be back in a consistent groove and hopefully he will start to get with the routine again :-) 
Since the saddle is getting shipped off for repairs on Thursday, he'll get a lot more lunging time during the first week, but I think it will be a great opportunity to continue his muscle stretching/building.  He's still showing me that the canter is a bit of a struggle both mentally (due his memories of previous back issues) and physically (due to his greenness and need for more muscle) and this will be time for us to work those muscles without the burden of me in the saddle.  
I've also been reading (at the suggestion of my mom) Training the Young Horse: The First Two Years
This was apparently one of her "go-to" books for training young horses, and something she used to pull out and re-read every time she started a young horse.  It has some good practical insights which I am enjoying and I'm looking forward to additional pointers/explanations of how to build a really solid flat work foundation for Alex.
Tonight the lunging and then riding went pretty well.  Alex was still overly concerned about the geese in the paddock next to us (even though he sees them ALL the time) and getting him completely "through" at the canter is still interesting, but he put in a pretty workman like performance and I can't pick on him too much :-)
More lunging and another ride tomorrow.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Frisky, Are We?

Sorry for the gap in posts, but it has been a crazy busy week!
Alex is REALLY enjoying his new saddle and his trot finally has suspension which even though I know it's not like schooled Dressage horse, it feels amazing!  I'm kinda even nervous to talk about it, like maybe if I do, the other shoe will drop :-/  The flip side of Alex's new found comfort, is that he feels really GOOD, which means he needs a reminder course in appropriate behavior.
Wednesday night he was dancing around and trying to bite me so much at the mounting block, I didn't even dare set my foot in the stirrup because it seemed like a launch pad.  Out came the lunging equipment.  After about 25 minutes, he became much more reasonable and I got in the saddle.  Oh lovely bouncy beautiful suspension!  No stabbing steps, much reduced stiffness from the rear... could it be true?  Have we found the answer?  Ok Alex... I'll forgive you for feeling a little frisky.
Thursday, I decided we'd try a ride without lunging after all, he's usually fine when he's been worked the previous day.  I managed to get into the saddle without any dancing around or biting from Alex.  After some stretch at the walk, I asked for the trot... Alex took about three stiff steps at the trot and then after I asked him to stretch... bounce bounce bounce... there it was again suspension!  We worked all over the arena and then started to canter.  About the time Alex stretched his nose to the ground and really started to carry himself all the way down the long side, someone drove around the corner and drove over a stick making a noise... explosion!  Buck, buck, buck, groan, hop, turn, buck, buck, buck... halt... snort...back to trot work.
Saturday, I headed out to lunge Alex before riding, since I had already made the decision that Alex was going to be lunged before every ride, until he remembers to behave.  Everything was going along fine... Alex was stretchy and relaxed, with the exception of looking around at a horse that had been brought out to graze.  I was just about to wrap up lunging when... explosion!  A horse in one of the paddocks close to the outdoor started running around with his tail in the air, so of course Alex had to show off adding a few bucks for good measure.  After another 15 minutes, he regained his senses and I got into the saddle.  There it was again... that lovely trot...and it didn't matter that he'd been a little enthusiastic lately or that we were both dripping with sweat, it was wonderful :-)
In other news, I've found someone to fix the cosmetic issues with the saddle, so it will be shipped to Maryland on Thursday, and hopefully back to us by the following Wednesday.  So excited about this, because she's someone who does lots of work for County and said it would be no big deal to fix.  Yippeee!
While the saddle is gone, rather than risk ruining any of our progress, I'll be working Alex on the lunge, so he can continue building his muscles back up and I won't have to deal with a wild pony when the saddle returns. 
Phew, sorry for the long post, but I had to catch up :-)  Hope everyone has a fabulous week!