Tuesday, July 31, 2012

P2 Trim (where-in I terrify myself)

Since the mare was such a good sport on Sunday, she deserved Monday off.  Since I didn't really do anything Sunday (aside from dispense carrots) I didn't deserve a day off, so I made grain baggies, cleaned up my tack locker and decided to give the girl a trim. 

(as a side note, my mom stopped by the show for a few minutes on Sunday.  She hasn't been to a horse show since.... ohhhhh 1998? so it was sweet of her to come.  But I nearly died when she asked "someone else is riding your horse? who are you Ann Romney??"  Aside from obvious points for relevancy, if you know my mom this sentence coming out of her is nothing short of hysterical)
But back to Monday's trim.  P2's feet got a few small chips and since it's been a couple weeks since I touched them, I figured it was time for a baby trim.  Only after I 'finished' her front feet did I realize I didn't take any "before shots" but that's an accurate reflection of how organized I've been feeling :)

However, I did still have my camera in my purse form the show, so I managed to snag some "afters."  This was harder than you might think since I forgot to swap out the lens from my telephoto.  So all of the solar views involved me holding P2's foot with one hand/leg/whatever and the other hand desperately trying to balance my camera, angle it correctly and hold it far enough away to get the whole hoof in one shot.

Why I seem to be incapable of taking normal photos of my horse's feet, I do not know.  But it's a trend that seems to be holding steady.

Anyway, her feet:

I think P2's feet are "good."  She grows quite a bit of hoof, and doesn't seem to do anything too crazy with it.  She does produce a bit of flare on all four feet fairly predictably.  On her hinds, the flare is isolated to the medial side of each foot.  Up front she spreads the flare around a bit more evenly, but it's most pronounced on the medial sides as well.  Mostly I just wanted to take a teeny bit of growth, back her heels down again and smooth out the edges. 

I don't quite know how to handle the flare.  My vet tried to assure me that I don't really need to worry about it (in the amount that P2 seems to display), but when I'm staring at her feet It bugs me.  Also, the difference between her tighter wall on the medial side, and the stretched wall on her lateral side is hard to ignore (consistent across all four feet).. So I sit there and furrow my brow at it but I don't actually do anything - because anything more than my 10 rasp strokes to even things out scares me...

As always, would love your comments.  Her angles on the fronts look a little funky to me, and I still see that flare, but her hoof shape is pretty well balanced and her heels/frogs all seem to be doing their job.

Also - Prairie tends to wobble and lean on me less if I have her in the wash rack instead of a normal cross tie section which is dandy, except the mats are wet so her feet are "stamped" with some moisture.  Ok, enough talk, here are the pics:

Head on shot of our front feet post trim

and her rear feet post trim..
Left front lateral

left front lateral (again)

Left Front Solar (in focus, but missing part of the wall)

Out of focus but whole hoof... (whoops)
Right Front....

Right Front lateral

Right Front Lateral
Right Front Solar
Right front solar again
 Left Hind...
Left hind lateral

left hind lateral

Left hind solar
Right hind...
RH Lateral

RH Lateral
RH Solar (out of focus again, whoops!)

RH in focus but missing toe...
 Okay.  There you have it. 

Monday, July 30, 2012

Adventures in Hunter Land!

Our little foray into Hunter-Land proved mostly successful and hugely fun.  Partly due to P2's admirable attempt to be a nice lazy Hunter, and partly due to how fun it is to haul out to a show with friends in tow.  Prairie was lucky to have both 4 legged and 2 legged friends and fans out watching her go's in the little-teeny-tiny baby ring at the show.
 Saturday before the show I had the pleasure of hosting SprinklerBandit and her friend while they cruised through Seattle on a horse-shopping trip, so The Boy was treated to a bevy of horse-gals when we all sat down to evening cocktails and snacks (also joined by Supermom and Denali's Mom).

He gets full marks for not running away - or totally tuning out as we started extolling the virtues of various pieces of tack.  (For the record, the bridles came, the Aramas is gorgeous and we're keeping it.  Full review to come shortly)

But back to the show.  We had fun! I forgot what it's like to not have a 3:30 ride time, so I was a touch cranky at 5:30 when the alarm went off and even crankier when I couldn't hit snooze 8 times without missing our first ground pole class.  (teehee.  ground pole!).   We had a little bit of trailer drama loading some other mares, but once again The Boy proved his worth as profession butt-tapper and horse pusher helping to cajole the cranky mares into the big metal box.  Prairie loaded well and without incident, and was extra pleased to have S's little lesson pony as her companion.  Izzy (the pony) was adorable and I regret not taking pictures of her butt next to Prairie's butt in the trailer.  Too cute for words.

All in all we had 4 horses with us for the day.  P2, Izzy, and two cute mares who belong to another of S's clients.  Enough to keep us busy all day long but still manageable.

P2 had seven classes on her dance card.
Ground Pole Hunter Sr.
Ground Pole Equitation Sr.
Cross Bar Warm-up Hunter Sr.
Cross Bar Hunter Sr.
Hunter Warm-up 18" Jr/Sr
Hunter 18" Jr/Sr
18" Division Hunter Sunder Saddle Jr/Sr
Enough to keep us busy :)
Photo courtesy of Denali's Mom
 The first couple ground pole classes were awesome.  P2 didn't really warm up, but she trotted around her "course" politely and evenly.  She still likes to pitch herself over the poles, but she totally refrained from spooking at any monsters in the bushes or anything naughty like that. For her efforts she got two blue ribbons and two "first place carrots"  which she promptly devoured.  The first place for her "hunter" round is a little suspect, since I accidentally taught Sabrina the wrong course.  The ring steward let her back in for a do-over which was very nice, but then S accidentally snagged the wrong "line-diagonal-line" combo and ended up off course.  Two very nice rides.. just not correct ones.  Either the judge didn't notice or really no one cared.  Regardless, Prairie wasn't going to give her carrot back. 

We had a brief break which involved lots of standing around until our Cross Bar Division started and S took her around two more times.  We ended up 2nd and 3rd which was fair since P2's brakes stopped working about halfway through each round leaving S with a less than consistent stride.  Prairie did manage to sneak in the correct 4 strides in each line, but it didn't look... effortless.  Still - no major spooks or bolts so I was really pleased.
fitting in four strides in her "line"
 Then the real challenge came as we sat around for 3 hours waiting for the Junior divisions to run before our 18" classes.  I took Prairie back to the trailer a couple of times to let her nibble and drink, but mostly I made her stand nicely in the shade and be patient.  I kept waiting for her little egg timer to go off and for the tantrums to start - but for the most part she held it together.

Every now and then she'd get antsy and started pawing around, but she's usually quiet back down after a few minutes and start dozing again. 

S finally hopped back on for a bit of a warm up and I got to play jump crew. 
For the record "jump crew" meant I shoved a burger in my face while adjusting a small warm-up fence from an X to a vertical.  I thoroughly enjoyed that responsibility.
killing it.
Finally it was P2's turn again.  Based on the total lack of brakes with the Cross Bar classes, I switched her bit from the double jointed D-ring to a chunky slow twist full check.  Not much more bit, but we were hoping to canter the whole course without developing a huge, slow freight-train-running-canter.  It seemed to help and Prairie put in a decently even, good looking course.... until she decided to just go around one of her jumps.  It wasn't a particularly dirty runout, but it was a runout which is naughty.  S re-presented her and finished the course smoothly.  Their second round back in was without errors and given all 10 days of our experience with courses looked pretty decent!!

S opted for a few simple changes, since P2's flying changes can still result in some confusion for the mare.  I think that was a smart decision and it gave Prairie some nice, calm, confidence building rides - which was our primary goal for the day.  

We finished with one little flat class for the experience.  P2 has made it known that she doesn't exactly love being ridden in traffic, a preference that she needs to get over.  This division cracked me up because it ended up having a few big horses lumbering around, along with some of the cutest little ponies and their cute little 9 year old riders.

Prairie won the class (not a large, or fancy class), but I did feel a little guilty about beating the adorable bay pony.

I finished the day totally exhausted from nothing more than standing around holding horses.  But I had a blast! And I'm so super proud of my big dressage mare.  She was calm, level headed and played along well.   Next time we do this.  (since P2 now has a fancy hunt bridle there will be a next time..) I'm going to aim for the "big" ring and enter the 2' Division. That way she has to deal with the grandstand and pretty, well decorated fences.  Also, the arena is about three times the size of where she was on Sunday, so we won't have the benefit of such a contained space.  But I think we are up for the challenge and I'd like to up the ante a bit.

The Boy was proud of our girl and was glad to respond with "no.  She's not for sale" to a couple of inquiries.

Part with our big goofy mare? never.....

Next on the docket is another Dressage show in two weeks on August 12th.  I sent my entry in to ride First 1 and First 2.  I'd like to try to get to another Hunter Schooling show, but we have weddings on the weekends that most facilities nearby are doing their "august" shows.  There's a "C" show we could hit in September, but we'll see....  For now, it's back to the Dressage saddle and focusing on increasing our impulsion and keeping our canter uphill!

Friday, July 27, 2012

P2's Baby Course (and gratuitously adorable ponies)

Since the show is Sunday, I turned the mare over to S so that she can have some consistent rides before we make our grand Hunter debut.  It sorta feels like cotillion all over again.. what with shopping for new outfits, practice her "dance steps" and worrying about how well she'll fit in with "society."  lol

Good thing I'm just as nonchalant with Prairie's "debut" as I was with my own...

S had a great little ride yesterday.  The mare wasn't quite as calm as she had been with me the day before, but there was more going on and we made the jumps a little more "visual."  Still baby heights but P2 is getting more patient in her approach.  The biggest challenge of the moment is correcting her leads.  Sometimes she swaps on her own, but if you push for the lead change she tends to get unbalanced and start running (you'll see this).  Other than that, I'm super proud of my girl!!

Here's a quick iphone video of her course yesterday:

Apparently today she was even more relaxed and willing to sit for normal horse strides in the line... so we're still trending up!

And now... for something completely adorable.  Good friend D (the magical caretaker of ancient pony Star..) has a couple (adorable) little tiny welsh ponies that may or may not become lesson ponies.  She recently sent me some pictures and I just have to post a few.  Have to. 

Can you imagine having these adorable things in your barn!?? I want to collect a whole set!
This cute thing had a baby. 
(heart. melt/)
That's Star in the background... I always wondered if she'd be a good mom.... guess not

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Annnnd I Shopped (again)

Didn't take long, did it!?  The Boy is also impressed with how few days can go between horsey shopping events...

High on our success from yesterday's ride, I immediately set off in search of P2's new Hunter Outfit. 
Texts messages went out, emails were sent.  All like-minded tack ho's were notified: "bridle shopping, any suggestions?"

If I had some sort of Tack Ho bat signal, it would most assuredly been pointed up at the night sky...

Tack Ho's UNITE!!!

I didn't want to spend a fortune, as I don't think this will be Prairie's "primary occupation" - more like her hobby (like scrap booking, or crocheting).  But, I also strongly despise cheap tack which usually results me in spending more dollars so that I enjoy touching whatever it is that I get - even if I only touch it once ever 4 months.  By "cheap tack" I mean crappy tack.  Inexpensive, good tack is encouraged.

Emails flew, many a web pages were opened and ultimately, I stumbled upon a great site (courtesy of SprinklerBandit) called Just Bridles

What I really like about this site, is that you can buy all of her bridles piece by piece.  In case your Tack Ho heart just skipped a beat - Yes, that means we can mix and match sizes and manufacturers for that perfect dream bridle that fits little miss donkey ears.

Also, she has flat rate $5.95 shipping.  And, when you call her to ask about rushing an order for your backyard-totally-rinky-dink-schooling-show this weekend, she's really, really nice and will rush your order for... that same $5.95 flat rate shipping. 

She also will tell you about all the bridles you have placed in your cart and what else she might suggest.  She steered me away from one of my selections because in real life it looks really flat and plain, then she scampered off to check her inventory and sent me a picture of a bridle she didn't have listed yet but fit the bill in terms of what I was looking for.
For the record I was looking for:
    DARK. dark, dark, dark brown....
    Wide nose band so P2 doesn't look like a moose.
    Not $400.
She came back with this:

I'm in a fight with Picasa and it won't rotate..
 A nice, chocolate, padded, raised little hunter bridle by Aramas.  This shows it with the extra wide crank cavesson which we got instead of the standard nose.  What's weird is that the cavesson has two hanger buckles (like a monocrown would), but it still has a little hangar strap that feeds through the crownpiece like a standard nose band... why? I don't know. 

To emphasize just how helpful the owner was, when I gave her P2's head measurements, she steered me away from just getting a F/S whole bridle and instead we ended up with:
C/S Crown
F/S Brow
O/S Cheeks
F/S Cavesson
O/S Reins
So either she's crazy, or she's the most helpful bridle person ever.  I'm crossing my fingers for the later. 

Because I prefer to "order once, return twice."  I threw in a backup option as well.  It just so happens to be way cheaper, but I'm less confident the leather will be as rad.  Still Dark, still wide nose banded, but lacks the padded crown and the crank.

Ovation- Dark Brown, Extra Wide Nose, Square Raised Bridle
It is only $160... So if it works, it's a great hobby bridle for the mare while she moonlights as a Hunter (at local, unrated, backyard shows).

Okay, that's it.  Still on the "shopping list" are martingale(s).  But my brain started to explode at the notion of deciding on what martingale I should get.  Clearly if we're rounding out P2's Hunter ensemble, she'd be needing a (matching) standing martingale, but realistically a running martingale is more necessary for our daily exploits... So, instead of frying my brain I tucked my wishlist back into my pocket and will save that shopping adventure for another day...

Da-na-nuh-na-nuh-na-nuh-na Da-na-nuh-na-nuh-na-nuh-na TACK HO!  (Batman theme...)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

H/J Princess In Training

P2's jumping education continues which is wildly entertaining for all of us involved  (which I think is me, S and P2).  Previous attempts have shown that P2 desperately needs brakes installed, but she's eager, forward and very, very willing.

I can't remember if I've mentioned it on the blog (I've mentioned to everyone I see in real life including my incredibly not interested, not horsey, barista..) but the big mare is going off to a (little, tiny, baby) Hunter schooling show this weekend! 


Being a total chicken, I've delegated the entire show to S for the rides, because I haven't navigated the shit-storm that is a warm-up ring at a backyard-jumping-show in approximately 15 years.  This is where some of you might mention "But, didn't you ride hunters in college?"

Ohhhh, yes.  yes I did.  In that esteemed organization known as the IHSA.  Yes... "hunters."  Of course the neat trick there is that there is no warm-up!  Just plop a Hunter princess on a 3-legged lame horse, disqualify her if she picks up the contact before she starts her course then slap the donkey/large dog/muppet on the ass as they trot into the ring for their opening circle....

Brilliant really, it's shocking that there weren't more casualties..

BUT, that whole nonsense did spare me the horror of careening around insufficient warm-up space with wild eyed ponies, crying children and wannabe jumper hotshots...

So yes.  For Prairie's first time in that lovely scenario - S gets the ride :) kisses!

Anyway, knowing that P2 needs to be ready for baby (we're talking groundpole) courses on Sunday, we've been upping the ante and stringing together jumps in a course like fashion.  So far she seems to be loving it.  yesterday I helped set jumps for S and got to watch my mare from the ground. 

(I've gotta say, that every time I get the chance to watch the mare go under S... I get goosebumps.  P2 is muscling up so well, finding her balance and is just hypnotizing to watch.  I don't think I'm supposed to be so boastful of my own horse but I just loooooooove watching her - when she's being good that is..)

Anyway, S warmed up and looked great.  P2 was listening, light and flicking her giant ears at all the jumps.  It would be her first time playing with some fill under the poles.. So we added:
Baby Barrels
Scary Blue Flowers under a skinny X
And a lattice gate.  That for some reason I didn't take a picture of. 

P2 didn't bat an eye.  She was forward to all of them and aside from a slight spook when she whacked the gate with a hoof, she bounded over all three with her big, unnecessarily large jump that she uses over plain jumps too.

She was still wanting to rush after fences, but instead of leaning with all her might on S, she was light(er) in the bridle and capable of stopping without looking like a runaway locomotive.  By the end of the ride S was stringing together a nice round (line, diagonal, line, diagonal..) with a decent amount of rhythm and balance.

We quit while she was being good and tortured her with a bath.

This morning I had the joy of the ride and S reset our outside line, a diagonal with the gate, then moved the scary blue flowers to a small vertical on the other long side.


We trotted through everything as groundpoles (LEAPING over the flowers) and then cantered everything individually working on our brakes.

All this baby-jumping has done wonders for out canter.  P2 is getting really good at a) coming back to me b) patting the ground like a balanced, happy jumper and c) sitting on her butt.   All things I like.

What's crazy is that at this point she is growing my leaps and bounds.  Her brakes were even better than they were with S just yesterday, and even though she was still wanting to land-and-run.  We could stay in the canter and have a lovely, measured, balanced stride by the time we rounded the corner... so that's tangible improvement.

Also, I am trying very, very hard to adjust my comfort zone.  I need to "be ok" with Prairie taking off from a (slightly longer) spot and not hold-hold-hold her to the base of the jump.  it makes her anxious and what feels long to me, is really quite a nice distance when you see it from the ground.  So today I really had to not micromanage her.  And guess what.  When left to her own devices she stays calm, even and relaxed to the fence. 


Here's what we set up:
(when I get fired for blogging at work, I'm totally going to be a graphic designer)
Clearly this is an outside line (to be taken in 4-7 strides) the gate is on the diagonal, and the blue flowers are down the long side... But I'm sure that's obvious to you from my masterful diagram..  Also, I've labeled the "home" end (we gallop toward that) and the "scary-no-good-end" (we gallop AWAY from that). 

We did lots of little mini courses.  Line going home, gate going away... flowers home.  Gate home, line away, flowers home... Flowers away, gate home, line away... etc etc

For the most part P2 stayed with me.  We worked through some land/bolt issues, but the only one we didn't totally master was the damn gate going toward home.  I think it just looked so "open" (the scale is hard on my "drawing") that she sorta just rocketed away.  So, to emphasize the need to chill, S threw in a rollback coming off the gate.  First we rolled left (around the flowers).  Then we rolled right (back to the X).  This helped.

We ended with the flowers (going toward the scary end) Gate going home, rollback to the X closest to the scary end, then all the way around taking the line away from home.  The first time was good but lacked some polish.  The high points were that we cantered all our fences (P2 was breaking to the trot in a response to my constant "holding"), she balanced back to me in a happy light canter before each fence, and no one died. 

We almost quit with that, but a second time through saw serious improvement.  P2 got her lead changes (yay!), and we found a nice rhythm (!!). I let her open up a touch and stayed off her, which gave us even strides to all fences and a nice distance in the line.  Also, when we finished, we had a nice closing circle at the same canter and everything felt very in control. 

super.  star.

For her success, the mare is getting a hunter bridle.  and maybe a martingale.  Because lord knows when I'm good I get new outfits.  So the mare does too!  Also, the ride made me super excited to do baby hunter shows.  And I don't want to look like a goober.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Oops. I shopped.

Every time I get to the point of being able to pat myself on my back for having not splurged needlessly on horsey stuff.... I splurge needlessly on horsey stuff.  It's consistency it darn close to being declared a law of physics. 

Anyway.  While clicking around on weekly specials for tack stores I stumbled onto Dressage Extensions and started clicking around.  While they don't have the largest selection, or the best prices... they do often have "different" stuff and their sales are always worth looking at.  Sadly I fell into the vortex of the clearance section and failed to emerge unscathed.  But, BUT, we did get some cute things.

Namely a fun new saddle pad (I was getting jealous of all the cute hunter pads at the barn... fun dressage pads are so much harder to find... makes me sad). I love Prairie in my plain gray pad - it just looks nice against her coat, and I also love her mauve/dusty rose turnout sheet, so this gray pad with pink-ish piping was a no brainer. 

Then, while tootling around the sale bin, I saw that my favorite type of polo wraps were on sale so we got a new set... in a dusty pink to match the new pad (my middle school self just squealed a little). 

After that it was all basics that I needed (extra boot trees, spur straps, zocks, etc.).  Nothing that set my little tack 'ho heart on fire.

However, I am keeping my eye out for a new Dressage Coat and white breeches.  I haven't bought a new jacket since 1999 (ack!) and... well... I might not be exactly the same size.  I'm not too worried about acquiring new show clothes immediately since I've mentally committed to stay away from any recognized shows until 2013, but I am keeping an eyeball peeled for super steals...

That's not to even consider the dollars I spent on my very spendy (but VERY handy) hoof jack and rasp, and all that jazz.  Though I am happy to report that Prairie happily rests her hoof in the cradle stand of the hoof jack which makes me my back exceptionally happy.. Prudent purchase.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Pia's Ride - Continued...

More shots from our ride out on the trail last week...

Out on the trail...
Classic P face. goofball.

Maybe my favorite shot.  She looks so... stoic (in the face of a scary llama)
Just one leadrope on that halter...

Supermom's mount, Bella.  She's adorable.

Back at the trailer with Miss P
Supermom with her P :)

All three of us. 
P back with her boyfriend

The herd starting to run... P was clueless.

herd on the move (P was still grazing)
"oh.  where'd they go?"

Then we chased the herd back up.. P was out in front this time

She couldn't look any happier....

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Princess P

FINALLY got out to see the original princess yesterday (after a much extended absence).  By my luck, Supermom was able to join me for the trip and her own first visit to P's Summer Camp.  (boarding school... whatever). 

Aside from always being glad for her company, there is the added bonus of having most excellent photos of whatever we end up doing.

To start with she got this great shot of me saying hi to Miss P in the pasture for the first time right when we got there...
sweet happy mare

It was an absolutely gorgeous day out on the peninsula.  The sun was shining, the mountains were out and everything was green, green, green.  As Supermom got acquainted with the place we came up with our plan for the day - Put needles in the puppy (she loves them!), run the herd in from the front pasture, eat lunch, go for a ride, relax.

Exactly the sort of agenda that I can support..

It was an incredibly relaxing day for me surrounded by people who I respect, and horses I adore (especially that one silly mare).  Pia is doing INCREDIBLY well.  I can't emphasize that enough.  I thought Cowboy Man was a bit crazy when he stated that P isn't working in a bridle anymore (that is.. she works in a halter only) but when we got out onto the trail it's clear that she doesn't need a bit (from a safety perspective) and that she is just so much more comfortable moving through the world than she was even just a few short months ago.

We did quite a bit (relatively speaking) of our work at a trot and Pia was completely up for it.  no head tossing, no fussing, no chest biting.  Just big, forward movement and an eagerness to keep going. That eagerness is what we've been missing for so long. 
I couldn't have ask for more. 

I could go on and on about each little twist in the trail, but instead I'll let Supermom's pictures speak for themselves.  She'll probably scold me for posting the unedited pictures but that's what happens when she puts jpegs in my hot little hands.  I can't possibly sit on them without posting. 

Plus all those wise old people say pictures are worth a thousand words.  So without ado, the first part of our day at Summer Camp:
Pulling on the mares ears (they are still firmly attached)
snacks and kisses
Eventually the herd wandered off and P ditched us to go find them
Maisy successfully stole a bone from one of the big dogs
And then she ran like a goober-dog
The herd coming from the front pasture through the main driveway

Pia was last in...

My vet's dog knows how to "fetch" a halter and leadrope then go up to her horse, wait for her to halter it, then the puppy leads it back to the barn....
heading to the barn... Maisy does not know this trick.
P hanging in the herd
Inside of the big gabled barn

Snack face.
Barn Cat

Ready to hit the trail!!
More pics to come of the ride! God I love this place....

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