Saturday, February 28, 2009

Mamma told me there be days like this

I take vacations in a few places, I either go to Europe, Canada or home.

I haven't been home in two to three years, and frankly I'm due for a visit.

Home is New Jersey. Right outside of NYC, although I have family in and out of it. I love the city, it's a huge change of pace and an innoculation of culture, pace and colorful language.

Things have, of course, changed. Whether for better or worse, I don't know yet.

But it was a comforting sight when I walked in through the door of my bedroom to find things still pretty much looking the same.

The trip itself was mildly unpleasant.

We got to CVG on time, go through security, took a turbulent flight to Dulles only to find our scheduled connection canceled. The nearest available flight was 5pm to LaGuardia and we quickly booked via customer service rep that had zero clue how to operate a computer.

We busted to get out at the terminal to have it pushed back not once, not twice, but three times. To about 8.

Didn't take off until 8:30. We were out on the tar in a tin can until 8:30, arrived at Penn Station about 10:13, waited for the next train until 10:45. Got home exactly at midnight.

Somewhere between this our luggage wasn't transferred from the EWR plane to the LGA plane. So we're fending off of what we have until the courier arrives.

I promise to post pictures-- eventually. Considering most of my wires (not the cameras) were in the checked bag.

Miss the ponies already, but breakfast calls.

Monday, February 23, 2009

100 horsey things

100 Horse Questions
Share-Please complete this and tag me so I can read about you and your horse.

1. How old were you when you first started riding? Three.

2. First horse ridden: ponies at Snowbird, but my first real memory is riding at Desidario.

3. First horse trotted on: Pony's at Snowbird

4. First horse cantered on: Equalizer

5. First Horse fallen off of: Miss Muffit

6. Most recent horse fallen off of: Sinari

7. First horse you trotted over poles with: Equalizer

8. First horse jumped with: Miss Muffitt

9. First horse who ran away with you: Merlin (in a waterford gag no less)

10. First horse that scared the crap out of you: Jamie

11. First horse shown? Merlin

12. First horse to win a class with: Equalizer

13. Do you/have you taken lessons: too many to count

14. First horse you ever rode bareback: Jamie

15. First horse trail ridden with: Grenada (in Vermont/NH at camp)

16. First Barn: Snowbird, but really it was Desidario

17. Do you ride English or western? English

18. First Horse to place at a show with: Jester

19. Ever been to horse camp? Yes, at Roads End Farm

20. Ever been to a riding clinic? Yes, Tom Poulin, Chris Hickey

21. Ridden sidesaddle? No

22. Horse you hate the most: Didn't hate her, just didn't get along: Jamie

23. First horse owned: Jamie

24. Highest ribbon in a show? High Point

25. Ever been to an 'A' rated show? Yes

26. Ever competed in pony games/relay races? Yes, graduated C-3 Pony Club

27. Ever fallen off at a show: Yes

28. Do you ride Hunter/Jumpers? I did

29. Have you ever barrel raced and done poles? Yep

30. Do you own a horse trailer? What type?: At one point

31. Favorite gait(s): Extended canter

32. Ever galloped bareback? yes

33. Have you ever done dressage? Yeah, a lot

34. Have you ever evented? yep

35. Have you ever mucked a stall? Gajillions

36. Ever been bucked off? Yep

37. Ever been on a horse that reared? Yes, by accident and during Levade.

38. Horses or ponies? Ponies

39. Do you wear a helmet? yes and no

40. What's the highest you've jumped: 4'5 with 5'0 spread

41. Have you ever ridden at night? Yes

42. Do you watch horsey television shows? yep and youtube. Supposted to get RFDTV next month.

43. Have you ever been seriously hurt/injured from a fall? yes, dislocated both shoulders, concussion.

44. Have you ever ridden without anything (no saddle, bridle, halter etc.): no

45. Do you ride in an arena or ring? five days a week

46. Have you ever been trampled by a horse? No

47. Have you ever been bitten? Yep, but by accident most times

48. Ever had your foot stepped on by a horse? Several

49. Do you clean your tack regularly? Well....

50. Ever showed at a breed show? Yes, Arabian and Welsh.

*YOUR HORSE*-or if you have many pick your favorite (I'm cheating here I have my obvious favorite but you know).

51. Show Name:
  • Bro A Bryn Siwrnai
  • May's Diamond Nine
  • Castleberry Chianti
  • Bella Breeze DHFK (Owned by Deer Haven)
  • Fibonacci K.
52. Barn Name (in order):
  • Sinari
  • May
  • Chianti
  • Bella
  • three-quarters, Fibbo, Fibbers
53. Any nicknames (in order)?
  • Po-nay/the mare
  • May-bay/Mamma
  • Chi-Chi
  • Boo-boo
  • .75
55. Goes english or western:
  • English
  • unbroke broodmare
  • unbroke
  • English
  • unborn
56. Sex?
  • Mare
  • mare
  • mare
  • mare
  • undeclared
57. Age?
  • 9 years
  • 7 years
  • 8 months,
  • 6 years
  • 3/4's born.
58. Primary Discipline(s)?
  • Dressage
  • producing babies
  • undetermined
  • dressage
  • unborn
59. Show experience:
  • Dressage to second level (schooling third/fourth)
  • none
  • none
  • dressage (intro)
  • unborn
60. Good on the trail:
  • Yep
  • dunno
  • dunno
  • sometime
  • dunno
61. Did you train this horse yourself? With help (all)

62. Vices?
  • None
  • herdbound/baby bound
  • none
  • herdbound
  • none yet
63. Spooky?
  • A little
  • a little
  • probably
  • can be
  • not yet
64. Is your horse able to be ridden bareback:
  • Yes
  • no
  • no
  • no
  • maybe haven't tried
  • not even out of the womb.

65. Does your horse come when you call? all of them except the blond Austrian child who is too busy eating her way to china.

66. Is your horse good with children and other horses:
  • Does not like kids
  • loves babies (equine variety), likes the occasional human
  • curious about everything
  • very good with kids
  • is a kid.
67. Is your horse worked regularly: All are worked on various schedules.

68. Ever a lesson horse? Hell no.

69. Does your horse like treats? Yep!
  • Peppermints
  • carrots
  • apples
  • sugar cubes
  • black licorice
  • Water melon
  • Banana bread
70. Do you take lessons on your horse? Yes regularly

71. Is your horse easy to work around?
Can be, but most of them can be pushy

72. Has your horse ever escaped from it's stall? Attempted, the rest live out.

73. Do you feel safe on your horse?
  • Yes (Sinari)
  • yes (Bella).
74. Is your horse hard to worm? No. I can do every one of them without halters.

75. Is your horse good for the farrier/vet?
  • Yes/sometimes
  • yes/needs to be twitched
  • yes/can be a wimp with jabs
  • yes/yes
  • don't know yet
76. Have you ever won a class with your horse? Yes

77. Have you ever had a moment where you feel really connected to your horse? Yes.

78. Does your horse like hay? LOVES it and they can be picky. Ponies, go figure.

79. Does your horse have special feed or supplement?
  • Sinari: Joint/Glazen, 14 percent and alfalfa cubes, mult-vitamin, v. E.
  • May: Mare/foal supplement, M-30
  • Chi: Hay, M-30
  • Bella: Would like to put her on a hoof supplement, Glazen, M-30
  • .75: Gets whatever May gets
80. Does your horse often have a very messy stall?
  • neat only when she has a window and is deeply banked
  • rest: lives outside
81. Does your horse use any special tack? Lots of it, Sinari the most. But everyone has a Qullin's turn out and show halter and shank.

82. Do you use a whip and spurs?
  • Yes/no
  • yes/yes (bella)
83. Does your horse like to run?
  • Yes,
  • yes,
  • yes,
  • no,
  • Mummy makes him/her do it
84. How many times a week do you ride your horse?
  • Every day
  • Every opportunity (Bella)
85. Does your horse have markings?
  • Blaze/snip/2 socks,
  • blaze, 3 socks,
  • Stripe, 2 socks
  • Blaze, four socks
  • fat blaze, four whites (alright I'm hoping here)
86. Do you braid your horse for shows? Yes and for school when appropriate

87. What color is your horse's halter? Brown leather

88. Does your horse follow you? Usually

89. Can your horse backup? Yes

90. Is your horse's trot easier to sit to or post to?
  • Sit (Sinari)
  • Sit (Bella)
91. Have you ever dressed your horse up for halloween? I think I would be dead

92. Describe your horse in one word:
  • Talented
  • Sweet
  • Bouncy
  • Spoiled
  • Active
93. Has your horse ever produced offspring?
  • Not yet (ET in 2010)
  • Yes (this will be her fifth)
  • No
  • No
  • No

94. Do you and your horse have "colors"? Green/black

95. What is your horse's favorite treat?
  • Sugar cubes
  • Dumore cookies
  • carrots
  • carrots
  • whatever mum gets
96. Do you normally lunge your horse before riding?
  • no, unless it's an entire session
  • no, unless it's an entire session
97. Has your horse ever given a pony ride?
  • Yes, she was understanding
  • Yes, she enjoyed it (Bella)
98. How many people owned this horse before you?
  • Including my mother? six.
  • two
  • one
  • none
  • none
99. Does your horse get dirty easily?
  • yes, and I encourage her
  • very clean for having that much white
  • mudball
  • can't tell if she's chestnut or brown
  • mum makes him/her stay clean
100. What's your favorite horsey memory? Currying and talking to them.

I tag everyone who reads this blog.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Plan of action

I'm ending my winter hiatus from competing and spring season is 'officially on'.

I was supposed to show this weekend at a local schooling show, but lack of organisation and some karma interceded and I was furloughed to the March show. Thankfully due to the management blooper, I avoided traveling in snow, high wind and utterly cruddy weather.

But because the season is on me, I'm feeling the need to get 'show ready'.

I take winter off from showing, namely because I can't afford to hitch my way to Florida (also don't have the pony ready to do that yet) and frankly the weather is so catch-all down here that some weeks you can't ride. Even if you have an indoor.

Season usually begins around middle of January, I pull coggins, get my paperwork/memberships in order (and make a gajillion copies of all), give shots to the group and start outlining my calendar.

It's also around this time I talk to my nutrition people over at McCauley's and now, SmartPak. To see if I need to make adjustments to anyone's feed. Health, performance and good grooming begins from the inside out, so I work with these two companies to really assure that what I'm feeding is working. I also believe in 'feed per need'. If they don't need it, they don't get it. So far, it's worked. My micro-herd is healthy, happy and fit in their prospective duties.

I begin tithing a bit more. Show fees ain't cheap, neiher is getting there. So I decide in advance what I want to do, and I put cash and vacation time (joyous amateur status) aside to get out.

Calendar this year includes:
-Snowbird March
-Meadowlake Spring I and II
-KDA I, II and III
(Sinari, Bella)
-T. Poulin Clinic
(Sinari, Bella)
-National Dressage Pony Cup
-Meadow Lake Fall
(Sinari, Bella)
-MSEDA's annual
(Sinari, Bella, .75)
-RPSI Inspection
(May, .75)

Then I turn to my closet to see what I need. Right now I really need summer breeches (schooling), an extra show-shirt, new 'show boots' and preferably a better stock pin. The geek in me would really like to find a sterling silver Phi, simply because it is the 'golden ratio', and is the mathematical defintion for perfection. Plus it's just so darn cool. Probably won't find it. Plus a bag that holds it all. Rolex here I come...

I would like to seriously focus on my garage at the moment and go hog wild, drop fifty grand I don't have. But in reality I can't do it. I really want the stock market fairy to drop me a trailer.

On the horse end, because I actually ended up in the green this year, I invested in some nice show halters for the ponies. Sinari got her's yesterday. May will get her's in a few weeks and .75 (the foal) got the cutest wee figure eight halter ever. I have baby fever. Also need as always: saddle pads and would like to invest in a thin-line. I need to ask my grandmother to put my logo on my pads. Would like to pick up some sheets.

Because I have three and a half to compete (Bella, Sinari, .75, May), it takes a ton of organization to put through and prep soo....

Then I start upping the training. Right now, it's a lesson a week. I like to school twice under experienced eyes to progress. I begin schooling on a tighter schedule, usually five to six days a week including conditioning runs. Those who are going in hand are on the lunge and/or being ponied here and yon.

All in all, it's shaping to be an interesting year.

Friday, February 20, 2009

The final countdown

This was taken in October.
May is now three times as big and ony three months remain until something appears at her side. Despite waddling when she trots, she still keeps up (usually out runs them as well) with a very large herd of Haflinger youngsters and manages to keep all ten of them in line.
Here's hoping that baby will stay a pony and have the grit its mother has.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Old school

I'm taking a break from the usual updates to address something that has been rumbling in the back of my mind.

Not too long ago, I had enough dressage theory beat in to me via dressage judge and schoolmaster. A lot, if not all remains strong.

In my teenage years, I was a strong, capable, headstrong, fearless rider. I'm still strong (mind and body), I'm still capable, I just have a little bit more fear of God instilled in me and much more experience beyond a trained horse.

When I started the sport, I had my reins and my stirrups taken away and I was kept on the lunge for a solid year. Eventually I schooled up to fourth with enough collection to do PSG on said schoolmaster (with stirrups and reins), and in the end, it was well worth the time spent. I understood much more of the fundamentals than if I didn't take the time.

I found out that the basics never go out of style.

Despite being a product of the old-school German system, I'll admit that I dabbled across the boarder to the French ideals. In the end, I'm still a general product of the German school of thought and scale.

Recently there have been flair ups here and there with the blogs I visit and the whole classical versus modern dressage ideals. Discussions like this usually put the two head schools (French and German) not only at odds with each other, and usually involve lots of evoking of the old Gods, random examples, experiments in physics and the e-word: emotions.

The world is changing in my sport, it has been for the past 10 years due to the advancement of technology and access to information. Things the ODG's wouldn't really would have seen coming, or have expected, but would have strived to incorporate anyways.

With the flood of info and debunk, people are becoming confused, using, trying, incorporating new ways in the sport. They're looking for a universal answer for all horses. Some successful and some are epic fails. But still they try no less.

Technology has busted some pretty big myths recently and it's only going to get more interesting as the years wax on. I honestly look forward to a lot of this because it not only provides my geeky side cool stuff to play with, but helps me expand as a rider and trainer.

In my ten plus years as a dressage rider, and twenty plus years as "just a rider" I've found that no one school of thought is the be all end all of producing a top competitor and that very few methods that are truly "wrong" or "evil". Like raising a child, it takes a village.

It is our responsibility as riders, trainers, and people to use the tools/methods at our disposal responsibly, to recognize when certain tools are not for every horse (that every horse is not the same), but beyond our capabilities. It is our responsibility to try to incorporate different things, ideals and try to understand why certain methods work or don't work for certain people and horses. Its important to learn and ride adjustably, learn to recongize the elements of a "good outline" in different horses, but what it feels like.

But above all, we must learn to be open minded. That, for a lack of a better saying, there are many roads to Rome, and no one way is the right way. To close out without fully understanding is not only short sighted but, defeatist and does no one any good in the end.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Baby is on the level

After a year and a half I sucked it up and went to physical therapy (PT).

Three years ago today, I was physically dumped by my young horse. He managed to give me a concussion, and two dislocated shoulders on a soppy wet Valentine's Day. I managed to pop my shoulders back into place (youthful stupidity), get on for another two minutes and get home.

I didn't start feeling the effects until three months down the road when I couldn't really sleep on my right side or breath truly deeply.

My PT-ist came recommended by the girl who does Sinari's work. He is also a rider, and has a dressage background.

I went consistently for six months before I felt utterly broke and really, really, really good.

Roll around a year and a half later (now), I felt like a cripple.

Falling off, walking on my current surface and riding babies took its toll. My shoulders locked, I felt my neck sinking into my chest, and my lower back tight enough to bounce quarters off of it. I felt like a real life Picasso painting.

So I sucked it up. I called my PT person.

I spent an solid hour and change on the table doing and having hard adjustments on my body. For the first ten hours it felt great, then the soreness kicked in, and that wasn't so good. But it's evened out.


It worked. Not 100 percent (still want to pitch forward) and I'm due in four weeks. But it did wonders for my attitude and riding.

The mare instantly responded, the haunches in on the right became much easier. The lesson was fabulous today, working on half steps to super collected to pirouette work. In the end we were working on transitions in and out of the gaits.

Next week though we kick off the season. Doing second level test two. The goal is to bump up in June.

On the side bar, I'm looking into GOV registration for both mares. If not GOV then ISR and/or RPSI. Sinari will easily make Elite mare status in a year's time. May's get will have to speak volumes, but if conditioned correctly she should at least make second book.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Shaved pony

Since the weather turned a bit south (rain) for the day but still was warm, I thought I touch up the pony's styling. We have a show in a week, and frankly I don't want to look like we pulled ourselves out of the field from po-dunk.

The problem with ponies in general is that they love to prepare for the winter. Even if they live in the south. Sinari grows hers starting in October, and doesn't stop until woolly mammoth status is fully achieved. Next to her barn mates (Quarter Horses), she is a giant teddy bear.

She was initially clipped in October because she was in full work and cooling out/coping with the odd weather changes is just too much. I have only recently recovered from the initial shave, only to repeat it again today with much amusement.

The body clippers I was using temporarily died (the motor would turn but the blades wouldn't), so because the mare was tranqued, and I paid for it, I wasn't going to let a perfectly good moment go to waste. I went to my backup clippers, that were meant to be used for just jowels, fetlocks and minor work.

It was like polishing a hallway with a toothbrush.

I managed to get a little under half done, silently praying that the damn things wouldn't fall apart or the blades wouldn't crap out.

Someone in the karma department took pity on me and sent a friend with much more knowledgeable mechancial know-how came by, fixed them and I was back in business, finished clipping two hours later, covered in hair and removing the two pounds of it off the floor.

I have to say though, this is my sixth time body clipping Sinari, and her coat hasn't looked this fabulous. I've been feeding Glazen 5, a coat supplement. I've fed coat supplements before (oil, black as knight, flax, ect) without much success. A friend tossed Glazen over to me in sample packets, and I reupped them in the Smartpak form for the last three months.

On the side I really didn't think it would work, I thought it was just another supplement. But the deep bloom even in her long winter coat was there, but I really didn't see it until I clipped her completely out. Even under the low lights she glowed under her muscles.

Can't help but smile with a beautiful mare.

Afterward I headed on over to see May, now in her 8th month. Bigger, more pregnant than ever. Part of me is excited about this. another part of me is ultra scared about the results. But either way, her time is quickly approaching whether I like it or not.

Monday, February 9, 2009

When the whole world smiles

I forgot about regular life for a bit during the weekend.

You know, bills, torrential weather, money, collapsing economy and stupid people who don't call your insurance back, the entire usual gauntlet of stuff that occupies my desk on a day-to-day basis it was forgotten for the most part and it was just me and the ponies.

I guess it was the weather that allowed me to breathe a temporary sigh of relief. It's been an unusually warm few days.

Saturday was lesson day at the barn, worked on a number of fun things, pirouettes, half pass, cleaning up transitions to and from. The mare was incredibly game, putting it all in under a thick fur coat and warm weather.

We also had an audience from the past. A couple of friends who knew Sinari when she was younger, and then saw her go for the first time in five years. It's a bit of an ego stroke to hear the compliments.

Also got to hash out some other stuff and gained new perspective.

Sunday was equally productive with mostly canter work, emphasis on the ultra-collected and throwing in lateral movements.

Today though it was drama-central between lame horses, catching up, making plans, website re-design, ect. that the little euphoric bubble I carried throughout the weekend popped into a giant sized headache. Nothing seems to be going exactly as planned.

Then car repair people came in with quotes. Overall I'm looking at a 1,000 with all the repairs ala dealership (that's without the tires). Meaning I'm going to have to become really clever with how I'm going to do this.

I was thinking the obvious first:

Then the not-so-obvious:

So I'm looking into buying my own parts, and just paying for service. Seatbelts, which would normally retail for 300 total, I know I can get the entire thing for 24 via web. Breaks and pads would run around 100 for parts, and the bumper would run around 200. This is without shipping and doing an initial search.

So 624 plus labor (tack on 200) is still less than 1,000.

Go me.

With that bill coming, another bill is soon-to-be paid off. Cardi's fee is 100 shy of completing out (much to both breeder and my own excitement). This also begins another round of other payments.

Speaking of the pappa to be, he recently cliniced with Debbie McD to a lot of success. Debbie is gaining success with ponies lately and I'm trying to arrange something so we get a pony only clinic series going.

Hopefully, it can come to fruition. But for now I'm back tabling it until some things clear.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Tuning the Ferrari

The weather finally warmed above twenty to get back to it again.

Actually the weather went from quite literally from zero to 50 in a day and everything (and for the most part everyone) is on the melt down.

Getting on Sinari is always the highlight of the day, but occasionally the Ferrari does need tuning. I'm huge fan of small forward and half halting aides. I love forward horses that are just naturally hotter.

I don't blame the girl for being a little dull, when we work on something new, occasionally we do it at the sacrifice of something else (only to be re-incorporated later).

But lately I noted how much leg I had to use to get her into the trot when we first started. The canter work was the same way. What I could do with a bit of driving seat and upper thigh now took my lower leg and heel.

We went back to the basics yesterday. My favorite of these exersises is the kick sled. Premise is that the horse should go forward on its own from a light aid, and continious stay there until the half halt.

So it goes:
Application of the aid, go, go, go, go, slow down, aid, go, go, go, go, rise, wash repete.

But to get to the kick sled there needs to be a response to the aids.

So I apply the light aid, no response.

Apply the whip. Go forward, immediately reward. Rinse and repete, both ways.

Same with the half halt. If she didn't immediately respond, she was halted, backed up and sent forward again.

Combining this with stay straight and even under me, while staying soft in the neck, it was a very productive session and in the end, she was lighter, through and much more respectful to not only the driving aids but to the lateral ones as well.

The message was very clear, respond to the whisper and not to the shout and you cannot negotiate your way out of what I ask.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Bumper cars

When I thought the week couldn't get any more sour (aside from weather and not riding), I was rear-ended by a SUV driving woman while I was stopped at a stop light. She got the bumper, the hitch receiver. I got her head light and the majority of her front bumper.

Trucks are a lot tougher than they look.

My truck is an older truck (1996), and I've driven it through a lot. I've managed to take care of it the best I can. Its not only my day-to-day vehicle, but my hauling vehicle.

I hold my horses lives more valuable than my own. It is because of this, I have the hitch inspected and the breaks done yearly. She jeopardized the integrity of the hitch, and really jeopardized my ability to haul safely for this year.

So I filed the claim and I'm waiting.

But frankly, I'm still annoyed. Really annoyed. I can't afford a new(er) truck yet, and I'm saving as quickly as I can for another while expanding my portfolio of bloodstock and DOW stocks.

Speaking of things that haul, I'm eying the F250, so I have the alternative of hauling with the gooseneck.

I did manage to get on Sinari today. She felt wonderful for having a week off.