Monday, March 30, 2009

A Good Horse!!

I've been away for awhile. Seems all kinds of things just eat up my time these days. But many of them have been of the positive variety. My twins recently celebrated their 6th birthday! We had a great family day in NYC visiting the big Toys R Us in Times Square, having lunch uptown and visiting the Central Park Zoo. The polar bear and the rainforest exhibit were guaranteed kid pleasers! Both boys are also about to lose that first tooth. My money says Harrison will lose that front one within 24 hours!

And of course, the biggie is - I am smitten with a horse! I love him! He hasn't even been here a week and I know he's the one! He's a 5 year old, black and white paint, over 17 hands tall, Percheron/TB cross. Say hello to Rugby.

He arrived a week ago Wednesday amidst a mix-up of scheduling. First he was supposed to be delivered between 10:00PM and midnight on Tuesday. Okay, late but do-able. Then the shipper's office called and said the time had been changed to between 10:00AM and noon the following day. Okay, daylight is better, so I told the office at my barn.

At 6:00AM Wednesday morning the phone rang. In a sleepy stupor I hear my husband say," He's HERE? NOW?". My husband was already dressed since of all days he had a 6:30AM train to catch to work in NYC that day for his company. He told me he'd go to the barn and once I was dressed I could catch up. Now I'm freaking because there was dry bran mash left in the pail for the horse and I didn't want him just walking into the stall and eating it before it could be mixed with water.

So, in my plaid pajama pants, black rubber Wellie boots and big, red, down-filled riding jacket with the complimentary bedhead and eyeglasses, I jump in the truck and go to greet my new horse. Freakin' fabulous. America's next top stylist here I come.

And there he was. Strolling off the gooseneck trailer like an old show pro. My husband already had the feed tub out of the stall (he's well trained) and was walking in with the driver and horse. The driver apologized for the schedule change. I didn't care, he got here safe and sound. And I know when the guy got back in the truck he must've turned to his partner and said, " Did you see the get-up on that gal? I don't care who you are, that's funny!"

He just settled in, like he belonged there. The old lesson horse next to him loves him. He has already become the barn favorite. And he works it for treats. It felt like the connection between he and I was effortless. He's a wonderful, trusting guy.

He's very green. He needs work but he's got a good temper and sturdy body. I got to ride him for the first time this past weekend. It wasn't perfect but the potential is there. I got moments under saddle that tell me with training and time he will be something wonderful. There are many things about his ride that remind me of a younger, greener, Monty. It's exciting! And he's already half mine. I left a deposit on him. I have him for 3 weeks on trial but I just know my search is over!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Ride a Painted "Pony"

I think I have him. I think I found my horse. Thank you, On The Bit. Without your heads up, I never would have found him!

Friday, March 20, 2009

A Worthy Quote and Harry DeLeyer's Snowman

"Some horses you “ride” to victory.
Others find victory on their own - you just have to hold still and go along for the ride."

The credit for this is to a poster named Theresa in her reply to a post about the legendary jumper, Snowman on the following blog Changing Places. Wow, what a great statement. I'm adding this to my favorite quotes listing.

And if you've never heard of Snowman and his incredible story, read the post at the Changing Places blog, then read on here:

Show Jumping Hall of Fame - Snowman

Wikipedia - Snowman

My riding instructor when I was a kid from about 7-12 years old was a woman who trained with Harry DeLeyer. She rode the jumpers and was an impressive rider. Her name was Julie and she was one tough instructor but she really taught us kids to ride and to use our brains up there for more than filling a helmet. She drilled us on basic skills and proper horseman's etiquette. She also took no crap from us. When you became one of her advanced riders, you had lessons on trail, and you took bareback riding lessons that included jumping. I remember jumping lessons where you dropped your irons, tied a knot in your reins to shorten them, rode to a line, put your hands on your head and closed your eyes as you jumped through a gymnastic of 3 one strides! Believe me, you would be called on it big time if you peeked or grabbed for the reins and we knew she was watching for it!

That was so cool!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Horsey Questionnaire, 50 facts

I was catching up on my blog reading when I saw this post at the Gray Horse Matters blog. And she got it from one of my other favorite blogs, Glenshee Equestrian Center. I think it looks like fun so I'm going to play, too!

I won’t officially tag anyone, but it might be fun if readers passed it on by filling it out and posting it to your blogs with your own experiences, and encourage your readers to do the same. Hope you decide to play along! And if you do, leave a comment here letting me know :-)

1. How old were you when you first started riding? 6 years old

2. First horse ridden: Numerous pony rides at fairs and such when I was smaller. As for a lesson horse? I got my first leadline lessons at 6 years old from a lady with horses and a pony in her backyard. I don't remember the pony's name but I know he was a show pony from the "Farnley" bloodline.

3. First horse trotted on: The Farnley pony.

4. First horse cantered on: The Farnley pony.

5. First Horse fallen off of: A big leopard appy named "Dalmatian" when I was 7 years old.

6. Most recent horse fallen off of: Monty, bless his heart.

7. Most terrifying fall: Hmm, tough one. Luckily have not had one so bad I couldn't laugh about it later. But It would have to be the time I was catch riding a horse named "Riley" in the hunters at a show. He was a dirty stopper, where you got no warning before he'd just quit at take off and throw his head down so you plowed into the ground. I was riding him and I knew this but he got me in the middle of a 2-stride line. He dumped me hard into a panel gate jump. When my body hit the gate it cracked so loud everything just kind of stopped in the other rings. I untangled myself from the mess of the jump and was surprised to find I was just bruised a bit. Then I remounted and finished the round. He never got that lucky with me again.

8. First horse jumped with: Wow, I can't believe I don't recall. Might have been an ancient lesson horse named "Cadett".

9. First horse who ran away with you: Tally Ho, who was also the first horse I owned.

10. First horse that scared the crap out of you: Hmm, again, tough one. Luckily have not had one so bad I couldn't laugh about it later. I think it would have been Alta, my mare. She pulled some stuff in our 20 years together that was pretty scary at the time.

11. First horse shown: Tally Ho

12. First horse to win a class with: Sanka, my second horse

13. Do you/have you taken lessons: Oh yes. Many, MANY years of lessons

14. First horse you ever rode bareback: Tally Ho

15. First horse trail ridden with: Cadett

16. Current Barn name: Don't own a barn myself but I board at the West Hills Polo Club.

17. Do you ride English or western?: English

18. First Horse to place at a show with: Tally Ho

19. Ever been to horse camp?: Nope

20. Ever been to a riding clinic? Sure, George Morris, Tellington Jones, Anne Gribbons, ah, and I just asked my trainer, there also was a Conrad Homfeld jumping clinic years back, too.

21. Ridden sidesaddle? My dream!!

22. First horse leased: Never leased. Always owned but I half boarded one, once.

23. Last Horse Leased: The horse I half boarded was called "Sargeant York". He helped me win the Adult PHA Hunt Seat Equitation year end award back in 1991.

24. Highest ribbon in a show: Grand Champion of the day

25. Ever been to an 'A' rated show?: sure, lots of times

26. Ever competed in pony games/relay races?: Lol, at boarder barn summer picnics

27. Ever fallen off at a show: Heh, see number 7 above...

28. Do you ride Hunter/Jumpers?: Hunters and hunter seat equitation. I only did the jumpers as a warm-up.

29. Have you ever barrel raced? No, probably would have when I was a kid but not now.

30. Ever done pole bending?: nope

31. Favorite gait: controlled canter across an open field, heading to a natural jump!

32. Ever cantered bareback?: sure!

33. Have you ever done dressage?: Yes. Successful in training and first levels and trained to second level.

34. Have you ever evented?: no, but it looks like a blast at the lower levels!

35. Have you ever mucked a stall?: more than I care to remember...

36. Ever been bucked off?: Yes, and the best one is where I got launched, rolled in midair and landed in front of the horse, who then hit the brakes, jerked his head up and since I still had a death grip on the reins, he pulled me onto my feet! I ended up standing next to him holding the reins!! But ohhhh, man was my shoulder sore from that yank it got!!!

37. Ever been on a horse that reared: Yes, Alta. Many rearing stories there. That's why rearing is a total deal breaker on any horse for me.

38. Horses or ponies. Horses. Always too big for the ponies.

39. Do you wear a helmet?: Always now. Years ago I was stupid and didn't care but you grow up and "get it".

40. What's the highest you've jumped: about 4'6". never was lucky enough to ride something that could easily jump higher.

41. Have you ever ridden at night?: of course!!

42. Do you watch horsey television shows?: sometimes but then I get caught up in critiquing them and it ruins the moment.

43. Have you ever been seriously hurt/injured from a fall?: No, thank God. May the angels continue to protect me.

44. Most falls in one lesson: one is enough, don't you think?

45. Do you ride in an arena/ring?: sometimes, but trails and fields are much more fun!

46. Have you ever been trampled by a horse?: see 43 above.

47. Have you ever been bitten?: oh yes. Mostly by Alta.

48. Ever had your foot stepped on by a horse?: if you are around them long enough, it's odd if you haven't had a foot stomped on.

49: Favorite riding moment: foxhunting!!!!!!! riding a perfect hunter round! and getting a 10 on my square halt in dressage!

50. Most fun horse you've ridden: Monty, without question. But there were others who I really enjoyed having ridden at different times and for different reasons -

Cadett - the safest most reliable lesson horse a kid could learn independance on.

Tally Ho - the best first horse a 10 year old girl could have ever owned.

Sanka - who started out as my dad's western trail horse and turned out to be a nice maiden/novice/limit hunt seat equitation horse.

Sargeant York - a 100k dollar horse in a 5k body. He was aged, swaybacked, partially blind and had a slight heart murmur and was a lesson horse picked up at auction. Yet, he was totally sound and when you entered the showring with him and picked up the canter, his ears pricked at the sight of the first fence and he just clocked around, gave you every distance, never stopped (EVER) and automatically changed his leads where needed. I am honored to have had the chance to ride a horse like him.

Audacious - a swedish warmblood 3-day event horse owned by the lady whose backyard barn I boarded at for 15 years. He was her son's event horse. Trained by big name professionals, he was one of my silent teachers. Every time I was given the opportunity to ride him I learned things from feeling the ride on a horse with that much knowledge.

Gray Lady - a home bred Secretariat granddaughter. Owned by the same lady with Audacious. She was the best mare I've ever worked with. Whether on a hunter pace or at the Hampton Classic she always gave 150% with no attitude.

Gator - a cool lesson/sale horse catchride that I pinned well at the Hampton Classic with and had a great attitude.

Alta Speranza - my OTTB mare. She wasn't the most fun, or the easiest, but she made me a horseman and taught me sensitivity (even when she had to beat me into submission) I am seriously considering a second blog recounting our 20 years of tales together.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

More to come

I went to see another horse this past Thursday. My husband really wanted to see this one. So, while the kids were in school, with grandma and grandpa on call we just decided to both take the day off and go see him. It was probably the most spontaneous thing we have done together in a long time (ie. since having kids).

This is a horse that On The Bit from the blog A Horse and a Half recommended to me. If he turns out to be my Good Horse, I owe her! He's a big... okay BIG horse, I would guess 17.1 hands. I liked him from the minute I saw him. There was no place for me to ride him but his owner offered him to me on trial and I'm arranging to bring him in. She was a great part of the visit. We have lots of similarities in our horse histories and both my husband and I had a nice time chatting with her.

I called my friend who generously let me try Diego and explained everything. She's picking him up later today. She is great and she understands. I feel bad that it didn't work out. He is a nice horse but just I know he's not the one.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Weekend Wrap-up

We were supposed to check out another horse on Sunday but one of my little guys got sick very late Saturday night. Poor fella woke up around midnight and was feeling very feverish, congested in his sinuses and his asthma was just starting to kick in. Took his temp. and it was 102.2, yikes! We set him up with children's Motrin and his nebulizer. He started to feel better around 1:00am and we all went back to sleep. Even though he was better in the morning and his fever was under control, I wasn't taking the poor guy anywhere so I had to cancel. The lady who owns this horse is just great! She has raised a few kids and was totally understanding. I'm actually looking forward to meeting her. every time we talk on the phone, I feel like we knew each other way back when!

After lunch, I went to care for the big D. We worked the same as we did on Saturday. This time while working him on the lunge, there was a jumping lesson going on in the polo arena. Would I have preferred a more quiet situation to work with this horse? Um, yes, but that is not happening, so off we go to the least muddy, farthest away spot and I cast him out and ask for a walk. He did okay. every time he heard the horse coming down the jump line he was seriously checking it out and once or twice he scooted and bucked but that was to be expected. All I kept asking for was the trot, he'd try to canter, I'd whoa to trot. And he did okay.

Once the lesson ended and I'd lunged a little on the other side, I mounted up. I tried something different. I kept thinking about Saturday's ride - how he would fall on the forehand and start to rush at the trot, then when I tried to take a feel of the bit and steady him, he would hold the bit and rush more. I had a feeling he was holding the bit because maybe his teeth haven't been checked in some time. I was using Monty's Sprenger D with the center lozenge link. It's not a harsh bit and he should have liked it but he seemed uncomfortable and was really biting the metal.

So I switched to this old Happy Mouth D with a roller peanut link in the center. It was a bit I bought used, and the plastic was tooth marked and chewed. Monty chewed it more and now there were some rough spots. Instead of throwing the bit out, I bought a roll of the Sealtex latex tape, like they use at the track to wrap bits with. I covered all the rough spots and added a little extra padding. Now the bit mouthpiece has a soft, chewy surface. Monty used to like it just for hacking about.

I wanted to ride and until I can discuss teeth with his owner I thought maybe he'd be happier with this. I may have been right. He was much happier under saddle. He was more soft in the bridle and actually didn't try to rush through the trot at all! He liked chewing on the soft rubber covering and the roller amused him too. We worked on shoulder ins and outs at the walk, and figure 8's at the trot. It was a short ride, because the 16 year old boy who keeps his horse in the annex barn came whizzing into the arena on his horse after I'd been riding about 20 minutes by myself. I figured better to end now, because it wasn't going to get better with this going on.

But it left me in a positive place. And that was what I have been wanting.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Just to clarify...

Perhaps I should clarify a few things...

Diego gets turn out for half a day every day. And I was told he walks around and around in the turn out, too. But again, his owner told me she used to watch him from her home office window walking along the fence line most of the day at home, too. So I'm not surprised that he's doing it here.

As for him liking me? Well he whinnied when I came in the barn and said hello to him on Wednesday and when I come to see him he's right at the door to say hello, not sulking in a corner. And he sure enjoys the light equine massage I do for him along his topline while just hanging out with him before and after riding. I'm sure he misses his horse and cow peeps at home. So I've made the extra effort to spend "hanging out" time with him so he knows I'm there for him. I don't look at any horse as just a "thing" to be ridden and put away.

I am not looking for the next top show horse. Monty wasn't an A-circuit show horse but if you knew him, you would understand why I have expectations based on him. And he wasn't a big money animal, but his qualities made him priceless. I don't expect perfection, but I already had a problem horse once in my life, as in the mare I had before Monty and I don't have the time or energy for a horse that is that high maintenence again. I should start another blog and tell all her stories from the 20 years we were together. It would be quite entertaining and informative, especially anyone wanting to learn how to keep patching up a horse that was a hazard to herself.

So all I can do is keep trying Diego and keep looking. And it is disappointing and frustrating on many personal levels. I appreciate the support and understanding from those who "get it" and maybe those who don't will learn something from my experience.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Maybe, Maybe Not.

I have been having a bit of a rough patch. Had a nasty headache and just all over body aches. I was worried it might be the flu but I felt a little better when I got up this morning.

I have been checking in on and working with Diego all week, Wednesday I lunged him and he was what I expected. With the ground just thawing out, he felt the soft yet not muddy footing and he bucked, and bucked and BUCKED. Any time he went into a canter, it just became a bucking canter, so I'd gently soothe him back to a trot and keep him trotting off the head of steam. I always prefer a horse trotting themsleves tired than tearing around on the line and working themselves up even worse.

Friday, we did the same thing. Today, I took him out, lunged him about 15-20 minutes and as soon as I noticed he wasn't so intent on whizzing around, I mounted up. I did a lot of walking just to settle him and feel him out. Then we picked up a trot. It's obvious he needs lots of basic dressage. He's not really balanced but he is good to the leg, not overeactive. He's a lot of horse. I can handle him, but if I choose him I understand the level of work he will need. I have to think if it's for me. Also, his asking price is more than I feel comfortable paying. With all this doom and gloom economic forecast, if the price can't meet me in my comfort zone, unless he is the reincarnation of my Monty, I also don't think it will happen.

One thing did irk me. I was informed that he walks his stall, a lot. This is no surprise as his owner told me that even before he came in. He doesn't do it all the time and not enough to work himself into a sweat, I'm guessing it's mainly at mealtimes and when horses are coming in and going out. He still needs to adjust to the vibe of the place. It was suggested that he be given "something" to "settle" him in the hopes this would stop it. That upset me. I will not do that and if it becomes an issue then I guess this isn't going to work out. I think a work program will help him to find his "inner peace", but he has to be given the chance.

I'm looking at another horse tomorrow. Maybe something will come of this next one. Why is it so damn hard to find a horse?

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The day here at work is coming to an end and I have a strange headache. I cancelled the boyz lesson tonight for two reasons;

1: the Master is out of town.
2: I have a strange headache.

I just want to see Diego and go home to the family.

But before I go, I was cleaning up some files on my computer and found this gem which I just HAD to share. It has nothing to do with horses but everything to do with bad taste and fashion sense which is just so dang amusing to me. Dear readers I present: Click and be awed in wonder at the tasteless offerings on this hilarious website. Below are just a sampling of the fashion disasters that await you.

Click. Enjoy. Share.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Diego, day 2

Nothing exciting today. Stopped by Diego after work for a nose rub, treats, hoof picking and a quick swipe with a brush. Getting congratulations from barn pals and feeling guilty as he's not "officially" my horse yet (as in, no money has yet changed hands). Trying not to be too happy in case it doesn't work out but secretly loving having a horse to aquaint myself with.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Snow Day! Diego, day 1

I called in a snow day at work. School was cancelled today. Husband's job was closed, I called the office and only two people had shown up by 9:00am. I said forget it, so I stayed home.

Meet Diego. This is him, with my friend when she first bought him 2 years ago.

Played with the kids, then went to the barn to visit Diego. The big guy has already settled in nicely. I took him out, clipped him onto the crossties and began grooming him. Wow! A horse that crossties! I forgot what that was like! What a sweet gentleman. Picks up each foot like a champ. Has no grooming issues, even let me curry his belly. I fit my bridle to him and put on a lunge line, and out into the snow we went. I didn't want him to just sit after coming to a new place and none of the horses were turned out today.

He was really good on the lunge. Even in strange surroundings with the plows banging along the road he was looking around but no explosion. He trotted and walked quite well. I wish he knew voice commands as well as Monty but that will come. He only whinnied once or twice and when none of the other horses answered him he gave it up.

Two directions and 15 minutes later and we were back in the barn. I took the lunging gear off and gave him a little more grooming and back in his stall he went. All said, it was a very comfortable first day. I noticed he really enjoyed Monty's old Himalayan salt lick. He must have been working on that thing like a beaver last night! It was a large sized one, Monty never really liked any kind of salt lick. This guy had gone through half of it in one night! I'm getting him a new one tomorrow.

The other thing that was cute was last night, The whole family went to check on him at about 7:00pm, just before the snow started. The boyz wanted to meet the new horse. We opened the barn door, and Diego was nowhere to be seen, I walked up to the stall and there he was, curled up in the shavings snoozing! At first my husband and I looked at each other like - Oh no! He's not sick, is he?? Then, as he stood up, shook himself and came to the door we both chuckled. Diego came from a farm where he had a nice, big paddock and a run-in shed but not bedding like this. He was just enjoying being warm, dry and cozy.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

There's a Horse in my Stall!

Diego has landed!

No New Jersey Trip Today

Weather looks to be progressively worsening today. Called the lady with the horse in NJ and she totally agreed that it was not a good day to take the drive to see him. We rescheduled and in the meantime she said she was trying to dig up some video footage of him. That would be great!

Still waiting to hear back from barn owner if I can bring Diego in. If not today, then will just wait until the weather gives us a break.