Monday, December 28, 2009

Trail Riding Fun & Supplements Question

So I took Miss Greta on her very first BIG trail ride with me yesterday. And I got video, of course. Just a note: the part where we walking on a paved road, the road's closed due to construction and since it was a Sunday, no workers were present. Just our luck! I love where she's slurping from the creek that runs through the stables at the end!

Now, a question for y'all: I've been looking around for a supplement with Selenium and Antioxidants in them, to help with Greta building muscle (along with the extra roughage and grain with an ample amount of fat). I found SmartPak's SmartE & Se Pellets that looked good. Does anyone else know of a similar supplement that they have tried and it works well, possibly cheaper? SmartPak's is about $0.64 a day for their 3.7 lb/112 day supply bucket. She wouldn't be getting them in SmartPaks, because she already gets Black Oil Sunflower seeds for hoof and coat (it's birdseed but it works great, cheaper, but don't some in SmartPaks!) and raspberry leaves to even her out (also cheaper than some of the other calming supplements I've seen out there, Mare Magic comes in SmartPaks, but I've found the bulk package of raspberry leaves on Amazon far cheaper, also works GREAT!)

I also found two others, and these are the comparisons:

E-Se-Mag: $.042/day - 1,000 I.U. Vitamin E - 2 mg Selenium - 3,000 mg Magnesium (Curious, how does Magnesium help?)

Finish Line Vitamin E & Selenium: $0.62/day - 1,250 I.U. Vitamin E - 1 mg Selenium - no Magnesium

SmartE & Se Pellets: $0.64/day - NASC Seal (what's NASC?) - 1,250 I.U. Vitamin E - < 1 mg Selenium - no Magnesium

So... what do you guys think? I've always heard pretty good reviews about SmartPak supplements, but that E-Se-Mag looks good, too. Oh, Greta, the things I do for you :)

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Merry Belated Christmas!!!

So we didn't go trail riding Thursday. A cold front was coming in and the wind was so bad you would've thought a hurricane was coming. Not safe weather to ride in, we all agreed.

Yesterday was mostly spent at home, save for the hour I went out with Miss Greta to wish her Merry Christmas. She downed the pound of carrots I got her in maybe five minutes. I love her.

Lastly, MERRY BELATED CHRISTMAS!!! Now, allow to me to get up on my soap box:

Sure, the presents are wonderful and all, but let us pause to remember the true reason of the season: it is not just about the physical gifts that are wrapped up in pretty paper and pretty ribbons, but the gifts of having family, friends, lovers, and in our cases, our horses! They all give us so many gifts that we may not even realize at the time, but they eventually show themselves. Gifts of teaching us love, patience, kindness, humility, all that jazz. And you can feel warm and fuzzy inside knowing that you probably mean a lot to them, too. Feel good knowing that you are special to many people (and animals) and that they are equally special to you. No matter what happens, somebody out there will always care for you. And that is a wonderful gift, I believe, to have people (and animals) like that in one's life. Those gifts are truly meaningful, and make the best Christmas presents, if not year-round presents, to receive. Merry Christmas, happy holidays, and may you be blessed with wonderful gifts year round, sugarcoating and all.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Trottin' on

We plan to go on a trail ride tomorrow with another boarder! How fun! If I don't post about it tomorrow, then MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!!!! MAY YOU GET ALL YOU ASKED FOR AND MORE!!!!!

Yesterday I rode, and I got some video. This is just video from the beginning of our hour long ride (we had ample walking breaks, so no worries, but it is good for building up Miss Greta's fitness!) and we didn't look so hot. I didn't realize I had let my leg slip back, so I looked like a bad hunt seat rider, and Greta probably didn't like that much either. But if you will notice at the very, very end, we look really nice.

Today when we rode, we looked awesome. Greta was "on the bit" for a good 75% of the time, with a hammer and a dremmel going in the background, also a horse vacuum. I've learned, and I've been told and read, that if you try and think nothing of the tractor rolling nearby or the hammer in the background or the tarp flying on the other side of the property, just to give a few examples, then your horse will read that and not think much of it either. Unless, of course, you didn't see the horse-eating dragon in the corner, because it wasn't there to begin with :)

Also, pictures!!!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Martingales In Dressage?

Perhaps it is just me, but I see quite a bit of people do dressage schooling with a martingale or something of the like. Like about 50%. Something like that.

Anyway, my thoughts are:

If they are not allowed in competition, why would one school in them?

I'm not just talking about those seriously misinformed people who have their horse's chin to their chest in an outrageously tight martingale. Yes, that is bad. I'm really just talking about martingales in dressage schooling general. I honestly think that if you rely on one in schooling it's almost a bit like cheating your way to getting "on the bit". And then you get into the show ring and both you and horse are like "er... what do we do from here?"

If you school in them a lot or all of the time, how would that help you in competition when you can't have one on? Your horse might not know what to do (if you've been using the martingale improperly) or they might just think "YUSH HAY DAY!" and throw their head up in the air when you tighten your reins and look more like a bad jumper than a dressage horse. I understand they are quite practical in and allowed in anything that involves jumping. They are also allowed in almost all of the western speed events. But dressage is not a speed event, so....

Is it just the people who use martingales improperly that should worry, or what? What do y'all think?

I've stayed away from martingales for this reason, not like we need them anyway. I would be afraid of becoming dependent on them. Also because I have no idea on earth how to use one properly. I use polo wraps. Those aren't allowed in competition. I use a dressage whip on occasion (I usually never had to tap Greta though, all she needs is just to see it in my hand and know that I really mean business). And those aren't allowed in most competitions either. So I guess I am a bit guilty of my own argument.

But it was just a thought. Does it seem fair for one to use a martingale in schooling, when used properly? Does one only use them when a horse is acting up, or to get a green horse/rider used to feeling of contact and being on the bit? Enlighten me.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Back on Track


Today was like a confirmation to me that things are back on track, horse-wise. Greta's tendons are back to beautiful, I got in the last of all our registration and membership papers for whatever showing we do next year (USDF and SWANA) and it was just overall a lovely day (in the low 60s, warm enough I didn't need a jacket and definitely warm enough to not need a blanket).

I hand walked and trotted Greta around the indoor arena to warm her up, and she did wonderfully, no gimp, no swelling, nothing! She has been like this for the past two days, so I felt comfortable to let her do a bit more than walk and trot. Warmed-up, I turned her out into the round pen, which was thankfully dry.

Now, Greta has been very polite this entire time. So polite, in fact, that I was almost dragging her about the arena when we were walking and trotting. I would think that a horse that has been in for two days (but thank goodness there's no mud!) would be quite rambunctious and excited to be out and about. Nope. Not Greta.

I turned her out in the round pen, unclipped the lead rope, and shut the gate and watched from the edge. She walked to the center and back, and looked at me. I shrugged. She came up to me, as if to say "You're supposed to be in here. Making me do stuff. Right?"

I told her (because she can totally understand me) that she can romp around for a bit. She walked back into the pen a bit, turned and looked at me, and then proceeded to roll and nice hearty roll. She got up, shook herself off, and looked at me again. "You still not gonna make me do anything?"


At this point she proceeded to kick loose, trot around the pen and whinny at the other horses, mockingly, before continuing on to little leap in the air and nice buck. I had my camera with me. It was just in my car. Why didn't I catch this moment of cuteness?

After bouncing around like a two-year-old on caffeine, she stood in the center, shook herself off, and cooly walked back up to me. "Okay, I'm done!"

I waited for a few seconds to see if she would do anything else, but she continued to stay with me by the gate. I took her, curried some of the dirt off her and picked out her hooves, and we grazed.

That felt wonderful for me and must have felt wonderful to her after those pathetic looks she gave me watching the other girls do lessons last night. At least I think she appreciates having a job. I've told her when she acts like it's just so hard to trot a twenty meter circle for the third time that it could be a lot worse: I could be making her do eventing. How's that for hard work, Miss Nibbs?


I rode her today, and yup, we are back on track!!! Our riding was atrocious (it's always been pretty atrocious, even for noobs) but she wasn't lame! I did shorten my stirrup holes by two, and my seat felt more secure and my aids more efficient. Also, the new half pad is awesome, now that I've finally had a chance to try it. $20, fleece (washable!), super soft and cushioning, on SmartPak. Go look at it.

I will work with Miss Greta again tomorrow and of course for the rest of next week (not Christmas. That would be just wrong. But she will get a special souper delicious bran mash.)

And 14 followers! That's almost 20! How exciting! I need to get some more interesting posts up!

Thanks, really. You guys have helped a lot in sharing ideas on this blog. Go you.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Greta loves Coldplay

And Tayor Swift. And Regina Spektor. And all of the others singers that I like. Perhaps because I like them and so that's the only thing she can really listen to when my iPod's playing :)

That will be explained later....

The Absorbine Liniment Gel (love it, always have) has worked great on her back right tendons. The swelling is almost gone, but not like there was much there before, you had to feel it to see it. I'll still be applying the liniment until she is walking and trotting normally again. Mostly now, we believe, her hoof sole is tender from the mud (if you feel the white line below her cornet - forgive me for my lack of knowledge of hoof terminology, I'm learning - it's squishy. Yikes! But her sole is still quite hard, so that's good to see) and the trim from two weeks ago is still sore from the mud as well. So the combination of those three things, mostly just soft soles at this point, are our woes. Things could be far worse, so I am quite thankful! It's just a little bump in the road. She goes into a stall tomorrow, so hopefully the dry ground and some hand walking and trotting on hard ground will help a lot. Anything else anyone recommends to toughen soles?

Now, to explain Greta and Coldplay. A new YouTube video that I had been messing around with for months while I was bored. Just to entertain y'all!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Bumpy Road

We're still here! It's just been a bumpy road that's all these past two weeks. So that mystery lameness I was talking about last post? That showed up two weeks ago, and we thought it was just some stiffness due to mud. Well, it hasn't worsened, but it has not been better.

I'd been taking her out every day since that Thursday two weeks ago and letting her stretch her legs put, walk around, and graze. Then I would bring her in, hose her legs off, clean out her hooves, and hand walk her and trot her up and down the concrete barn aisle (yay concrete barn aisles!) which made it a lot easier to hear any oddities of the hoofbeats. There was some slight hesitation on the front left, which corresponded to what I saw. Monday I and my instructor took another look at Miss Greta, and confirmed that there was definitely something wrong with the front left. We believed it could be beginnings of an abcess. Had the farrier look at her hoof, and he said that there was definitely no abcess, no softness, nothing. She was not worsening nor was she three-legged lame, so we did not feel the need to call the vet yet.

So the same routine of taking her out continued up to today. She seemed much better these past two days, so I decided to do some walking under saddle. Today, I took her out, cleaned her off, and hand walked and trotted her, both on the concrete aisle and in the arena. She seemed stiff in the arena, but not lame. So we saddled up and started our walk work. Then she got significantly lamer, but not three legged, but I could feel a stiff jar beneath me and I could see it in the mirror. I got off and hand walked her several times around to see if I could work it off. When I got back on, she felt much better. We got a final opinion from a vet tech out there and the hunter trainer (you guys must be going "why don't you call a vet?" but like I said, she is not in any immediate pain, and just let me continue....)

Both immediately noticed something off on her back right, not just her front left. They felt her back right and it there was some swelling in the tendons below the hock. I felt both bac legs and there was definitely some swelling on the back right. As you can imagine, I felt bad, because I had been focusing on the front so much... then I remembered: I am no expert when it comes to lameness!

She has been compensatiing for the stressed tendon on the back right by applying more pressure on the diagonally opposite hoof, the front left, which left it sore. She will put a significant amount of pressure on her back right, but she tries to not put too much weight on.

It was not visible swelling, but you could feel it, so it was pretty minor. We believe we have it solved: the combination of the new trim (which was also corrective for the conformational fault in her front right where she walks on the outside of the hoof instead of putting even pressure upon it), hoof softness caused by the mud, and the stressed tendon on her back right all mounted up to create some wonky walking!

Wednesday we made arrangements for a stall this coming week, once another horse has moved. Greta will end up next to my friend's lease horse and one of Greta's many favorite geldings out there, a young barrel-racing Quarter horse (ooh, a cowboy!) She will probably be in there for the rest of the winter, until it finally dries up enough that we can put some gravel down in her paddock to hopefully eliminate the mud and keep this from happening again! We well have a few days of no rain, but clouds, and then some days-long drizzle. Mmm, winters in Texas.

Until then, her legs will be cleaned off (I was also complimented how clean I kept her legs, because she should have had scratches by this point!) and hooves cleaned out, and then Absorbine gel put all along the tendons from hock to hoof. And just to quell some of you guys, if things get worse, then out will come the vet! But for now, everything seems to have finally been solved!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

The Finger-Flavored Cookie Caper!

Firstly, all is well in Gretalund (I think that's what I'm going to call my clinic or stables or whatever when I'm older and Greta's an old grannie and I am too and then we'll be matching! Same age spots and everything!). We had a little glitch this week from her being trimmed Tuesday: when I went to go ride her for her lesson Thursday, she was gimpy on her front left! As you can imagine, I got this queasy feeling in my stomach and mentally flipped through all of these things that could've happened and what I should do and if she'll get worse or if she'll get better... and failed to consider that perhaps she was still a little ouchy from the trim Tuesday. Of course, a boarder friend and my parents told me that's probably what it was. Friday morning (no school because we had a flurry of snow!) I walked her around and she was still iffy, gave her a gram of bute, let her graze, and crossed my fingers. Come out this morning, and she's fine. No bute, nothing, just let her graze for a good twenty minutes, gave her an apple, cookies, and said adieu.

All of the horses have been kept in for the past few days because the temperatures are dangling above 40 at midday and as you can imagine, none of us Texans are used to this. We were all so excited to see snow Friday (and by snow I mean a really nice flurry and it all melted when it hit the ground, but that was what made it kind of cool!) and Greta was the only horse that seemed unfazed. Of course, she lived in Colorado and Iowa and Idado for the good majority of her life, so that might explain it.

And lastly, just a fun story to share. Yesterday I apparently forgot all of my basic horse handling skills for a split second. I fed Greta an Apple and Oat treat (she is obsessed with those delectable goodies and it's hilarious how she checks my pockets and scans me up and down with that camel lip of hers so she can see if she find any trace of one of those cookies on me!) and held it with my fingers, not on my palm. So Greta takes it... and my fingers too. She starts this sawwing motion with her teeth after she couldn't chomp down, probably thinking "Wow, this is a hard treat!" and meanwhile I'm trying to pry my fingers out from her cookie-obsessed vice grip, and when that failed I tried to pry her jaws open. I was desperate. My fingers were cold, so it felt very painful. Then Greta has a stroke of genius: she tastes with her tongue, realizes "WTH? This isn't apple flavored!" and releases my fingers. Immediately she proceeds with eating her real treat.

Now to clarify things, no bodily harm was done, not even a bruise on my thumb and forefinger, and it all happened over the course of a few seconds. The only reason the pain didn't subside quickly was because my fingers were freezing. So children, have you learned your lesson? I sure did. Serves me right :)

I have a goober horsey <3

Monday, November 30, 2009


I did ride this weekend! And we did very well, I felt. Tonight is a jumping lesson, and it rained, so only the covered arena is open and there's a lesson going on in there so: no riding! Anyway, these are all from Saturday, November 27. Enjoy, and polite critque is appreciated!!

Walking a 10 meter circle to the left

More walking. See what I mean how I can't keep my heel down when I push her on?

I love this picture! Walking a 10 meter circle to the right.

Trotting a 20 meter circle to the left. I'm posting the trot.

Trotting a 20 meter circle to the right. I'm posting.

Pushing her into a more energetic walk before I let her out on a free rein to cool down.


Friday, November 27, 2009

Brooke Animal Hospital

Firstly, visit the Brooke Animal Hospital website in English. Great cause!

Secondly, how do you like the new design? Once I get some newer pictures those will be included too!

Now, the last posting went on to be a mini-discussion of modern dressage, because sadly Mythilus was deeply submerged in those methods. I am dissapointed. But now that I think about it, also with help of Jolanda Adelaar, in the broad spectrum of equine abuse and neglect, these $20K horses subject to such training methods have it better off than most other abused and neglected horses. My comment from the last post, edited:

My theory behind all of this is "Time is money." If it takes longer for a horse to be properly trained that means the owners of the horse will be spending more money getting the horse to where he should be before he can compete, whereas it's cheaper for the horse to be shoddily trained because it's quicker and thus cheaper.

But hey, it looks flashier to the uneducated eye (which is a lot of eyes)! It's quicker to teach the horse to look flashy than it is learn how to properly use its body and become a better and more beautiful athlete.

But I have to agree with the Behind the Bit author: though the practices seen in modern dressage are not usually correct nor good for the horse, in comparison to horse cruelty in general, these horses have it much better off than say, and overworked and neglected pack horse in Peru or a emaciated horse living in a junk yard in the back of somebody's trailer lot in Bodunkville, USA.

Almost all of these dressage horses are 20K+ horses who live in very lovely facilities and thousands of dollars poured into their care. They compete internationally and live in absolutely stunning conditions. (Heated barns and misting fans and padded stalls on air trips, to name a few.) True, they are usually subject to performance enhancing drugs and abusive training methods (WHICH ARE WRONG!) but at the end of the day they get fed with the finest quality grain and hay. Oh, and again in the morning and at noon. Oh, and they are groomed spotless. Most abused horses are far from "not as fortunate."

Rollkur and some other practices in modern dressage (a lot of upper level riders I've seen, almost always the ones not making bukoo$ of money and being shown on TV, actually ride pretty nice but that is ALL another blog post for another day folks) are wrong, very wrong, and give the sport a bad name. But in the broad spectrum of horse abuse, sadly, it doesn't top my list. But because I'm no longer involved heavily in the horse rehab world, then I can devote my attention to people who call themselves "equestrians" and their "modern methods". Yeah, here's to you, fakers :)

I still love dressage. I won't be shaken off yet, if ever. When I become a vet and have a professional career of treating messed-up horses backing me up, I will become the horse right advocate from hell and hopefully help to stop some of this mayhem and foolishness. Needless shoeing, rollkur, slaughter, the lot of it!

Once again, let's look at it this way: at least Mythilus was well-fed for his entire life, not underfed and worked to death by poor and/or misinformed owners (well, that's subject to view hehe). Here is a wonderful group endorsed by a favorite equestrian of mine, Jolanda Adelaar, called Brooke Animal Hospital who help owners care for their animals in some of the most poverty-stricken areas of the world. Great cause, and something I would love to help out with as a vet in the future. The video is all in Dutch (I'm learning :D ) but you can get the idea. GRAPHIC IMAGES // I WAS ON THE VERGE OF TEARS!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

RIP Mythilus and Wolfgang May Clinic

I just saw this in the latest issue of Dressage Today and was sorrowful to hear so. The amazing Dutch Warmblood Mythilus passed away due to complications in a colic surgery. His rider, a favorite rider of mine, Courtney Kind-Dye, wrote a very nice letter concerning his passing. Read it here.

This horse was quite an amazing competitor. He went on to compete in the Olympics and did very well. There was drug scandal that marred his record, but the FEI admits that it was not an intentionally administered drug, it was just a scant trace that ended up by freak accident ( a very scant trace) but they still had to go by their no-slack policy. While it was upsetting, it was a good thing on behalf of the FEI for staying true to their policies, and it was good on behalf of King-Dye that accepted their ruling without a fuss. Good for her.

Nonetheless, I was quite attracted to the horse when I saw him on TV. I mean, look at the picture! Doesn't he look like a charmer? What a lovely face! And such a glowly bay color! And according to King-Dye (though I'm sure anyone will say this about their horse) he was truly a wonderful horse. I was looking forward to seeing him at the WEG like they intended and a long career afterwards. But he lives on in memory and foals! RIP Mythilus.

On December 13, Greta and I will participate in our very first clinic with Wolfgang May! My instructor was a former student of his, and fortunately was able to set up a private clinic for her students at her place. I'm very excited! It'll be a 45 minute lesson with a Spanish Riding School graduate and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity! Hopefully Greta will be just as excited and cooperative haha! I've learned to manage her marishness in the saddle, and it's not like she's a hardcore spook, so I'm sure it will go well <3

Any advice on clinics?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sunny side up :)

Greta is always thrilled with the prospect of riding on a Saturday night!

So that was actually from last Saturday, but real life kept me from updating the blog! My friend and I rode all the way up to the barn closing hour (10:00) Saturday night. No heavy work, just riding and chatting. As you can imagine, Greta was thrilled with that. She could be something more productive, like grazing.

I did not have time to do any serious riding for the rest of the week, but she was turned out all day except for being brought in to eat, so that was good. She was lunged Wednesday night in preparation for our Thursday lesson.

The Thursday lesson went splendidly! She was very good all the way up until she decided that she had trot enough (like three twenty meter circles, poor thing!) and slowed to a walk (which I could've stop) and refused to go any faster. So, we had to bring out the dressage whip :(

I really hate using the whip! She doesn't get tapped even, it's just there for her to see, but I don't want to come to rely on the whip. Nonetheless, she continued on doing as well as she had been doing before. She was already doing well, she just lost motivation I guess! Looking at her in the mirror, she was beautiful! She was accepting the bit and reaching for it, having a really nice working trot, and flexxing nicely on our half-halts at the walk (they were very exaggerated half-halts, and on purpose, we literally stopped and when she flexed and accepted the bit the reward was an immediate release and a few steps of free walk). By the end of the night I wished we could've jump into an Intro Level test!

Tonight we did a similar routine, except for not as long because it rained for about three days straight here, and now's it's stopped and it's sunny again (I love it when it's sunny but still cool enough to wear a sweater, my fav weather, Greta's too because she can get all frisky!) so thus the only open area to ride is the indoor arena and it got crowded pretty quickly, also she did just so damn awesome that by the time the third rider came in (she was lunging a green rider, very green from what I saw so I figured it'd be best if I gave them some room) I figured she done well so her reward was to end the session early.

The girl was a little smartass when we first started out. After warming up at a walk I had us work on our half-halts. Instead of just flexing for the bit like she did Thursday she went all out and flexed her head all the way down between her knees. I figured that perhaps I was asking too hard, but nope, she did it with soft hands too! I made my seat cues firmer, and that fixed the problem along with me flicking the whip out to the side for her to see. (She probably thought "crap she really does mean business!") It was cute though.

Once we got the flexing for and accepting the bit and half-halt bit down we went on to the trot. She was very eager, so initially it was something that resembled a Standardbred race, so I had to bring her into "the circle" lol and her trot improved significantly. We went for another round about the arena and then did a twenty-ish meter circle at one end, changed rein and did another in the middle, and changed rein and did a final one at the far end. I could really feel her accepting the bit in my hand and I could see her being to straighten out with all of these curves. It was beautiful!


So I brought her to a free walk and gave her a big pat and "Good girls!" and after that third rider came into arena with green rider, and I figured that Greta did well enough that we could just cool down a bit more and call it a night.

I love that Greta girly.

In other news, I sent in my USDF 2010 membership and Greta's USDF Lifetime Horse Registration, which means I decided on a show name: GretaKvena! Hopefully all will go well as they did with the ownership transfer with SWANA (yes, it was a successful transfer and I'm expecting the papers back in this week!) I'm very excited for next year!

Lastly, enjoy some Greta artwork by yours truly!

Friday, November 13, 2009

YouTube Spam

Just in case anyone is interested. I went a little crazy with the Sony Vegas program. It was awesome!

Thursday, November 12, 2009


I promise some actual Greta-related stuffz will be coming soon, but until then, one of my posts has been featured on Mugwump Chronicles! Per my request, but nonetheless it made it!

I have better posts, I feel, but this was my best one at the time.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Mmm pictures!

Firstly, I intended to get some pictures and possibly some footage of her while I was lunging her, but then I realized that holding a camera and being serious about having Greta listen to me was a bit cumbersome, don't you think? So, here goes:

Body shot, with tongue out!

Is it really just me, or does she look a little ribby? She's seems to be fattening back up though, so I'm not too worried.

Striking a pose. Diva.

OMG TREAT! Didn't mean for that to be in the picture :D

Bleh. That's it <3

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Mål för November

Goals for October:
  1. A much more collected canter. This has been a goal for a long time, and hopefully by the end of the year we'll be there if not close. Instructor said that her canter looks really nice for our level, so I'll take her word for it. And looking at in the mirror it looks pretty nice.
  2. Trot lengthening and shortening. Least of our worries at the moment.
  3. We need more drive from behind and work on rounding out Greta's back. This will also be a long-term goal, I imagine. It sure will be.
  4. I want to start doing a lot of lounge work - so I can see how she looks on the ground before I hop on her - and walk work - so we can work on more advanced things such as shortening and lengthening and shoulder-in at a slower pace. Check!
Goals for November:
  1. Continue lunge work and walk work, particularly a more energetic walk!
  2. Keep my toes from pointing down when I'm really using my leg. Oops!
  3. Improve my seat (I tend to want to sit on my left seat bone when we leg yield to the left and my right seat bone when going to the right. It's the other way around!)
  4. Continue working on rounding out and straightening Greta's body at the walk and trot.
  5. Continue working on leg yields and turns on the forehand.
  6. Continue working on getting more drive from behind.
And now, let us end this with a fine quote by (and every rider better know who this guy is) Colonel Alois Pohajsky:

"Xenophon was the first one to claim that horses can become only more beautiful with correct training, never uglier. I would like to add to this that if the horse becomes uglier in the course of his work, it is the unmistakable proof for a wrong... training."

So far, so good!

Firstly, many thanks to 10 (count TEN) followers. I'm still geeking out about it. It really means a lot <3

And now, onto Greters. So I've been working with a resident horse trainer and we've been doing some back-to-basics ground manners for the girl. I have taught the ways of "silent treatment" (not as awful as it may sound) and they have been working wonderfully so far! The "silent treatment":

You can love and cuddle and "dress her up in a tutu if you want," but when it's time to work, it's time to work. You only speak when speaking is needed, otherwise "looky" (that's my instructor's wording and it's perfect, I could see Greta being the gossipy girl that has to see what's going on at all times, and in a bossy manner too. Love you too, girl!) horses will get confused with the constant influx of "good girl! oooh, such a smoochie, oochie, woogie sweetie pie!" and not be able to distinguish that from "whoa." You might be thinking, "um no, they should be able to tell good girl from WHOA!" but in my case I say one praise immeditaly followed by a comman and then another influx of praises, so in the end it's just a jumbled BLEH coming out of my mouth to her. So, I only speak, say I'm lunging, when I'm giving her a command. When I tell her to whoa and invite her back into my space at the center of the round pen, then we can do all of our smoochie-woogies.

Same when I'm leading her. I can't get all "ooooh, goody girl!" when I'm walking up to her and putting her halter on. Today I put a smile on my face, thought "YOU are the lead mare, Bre," and simply pat her neck before putting the halter on. She lead without a problem and without any tug-of-wars, which is a huge relief.

Now, why all of these tug-of-wars and refusals to lead, you ask? The simple truth is: Greta's figured me out. She knows what she can get away with, and as my grandmother put it, "she's waited for a horse for such a long time, so now that she has one, she wants to be best buddies with her and not hurt her feelings."

Greta, you can't shake me off, you're still my bestest buddy and I love you, but I'm still in charge.

There's more to it, but.... anyway, I also did have a scare the other day with her left front leg. She was limping a little trotting to the left in the round pen and I was just uneasy with it, so I asked another rider there, and she said she was definitely sore in that left front. I put some liniment on and stretched it out, and it was still a bit stiff today, so not much trotting in our lesson but a lot of walk-work (like I've been wanting to do anyway!). It was, however, significantly better than yesterday.

And we did a turn on the forehand. Go us!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Super freak, super freak, she's super frekay!

Firstly, Sam, I feel your pain about keeping a white horse white. But look at it this way: consider the extra hours you spend keeping Val clean and I spend keeping Greta clean as valuable bonding time!

After a week of rain and no turnout (fail!) but lots of riding (win!) it stopped raining (cross your fingers) and Greta has been able to start getting used to the mare pasture. I rode her and worked with her every day of the week and decided to give her a day off Saturday, plus I helped get a Halloween party ready, though I wish I could have seen how she did being turned-out. I came out today and she was absolutely chill. Really chill. Just dozing, and then grazing, and then going to get some water. It was really neat.

I need to get some pictures up (gee, how many times have I said that?) I don't know if it's just me being a hypochondriac horse owner, but Greta is looking a little ribby. The silly thing also apparently ran into fence and has a nice, superficial slice on her haunches, about 5 inches long that I tended to today. Oh, Greta! I should just bubblewrap you! jk

Also, I am signing her up for a Lifetime Horse Registration with USDF. I'm still debating on a show name. It's down to Gretakvinna/GretaKvinna/Greta Kvinna (I should probably get that solved too, I'm just sure if I do "Gretakvinna" somebody will say Gretak-vinna instead of Greta-ki-veenah) or Der Greters (too cute). What do you think? Ideas appreciated :D

And now something for other discussion. I did a speech for Speech class about some of the controversial methods of modern dressage (and almost everyone actually seemed to find it pretty interesting, go me!) particularly rollkur and performance-enhancing drugs, concepts that would be easy to grasp for non-horsey-folk. The topic revolved around Moorlands Totilas' recent double-whammy where he made a record of 89.4% and then beat his own with 90%! I loved the performance initially, though with time comes learning, and now I realize: holy moly that horse has some freaky gaits! If this is to be the standard for competitive dressage (God forbid we go with what Xenophon or Podjhasky or the FEI rulebook itself established quite clearly) well... can any horse do that without some funky genetics or cruel training techniques? I know Greta can't. Nor can any other normal horse I've seen. And I've seen a lot of normal horses :D

So that was my opinionated opinion. Discuss it here:

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Muddy Saga

This week was the dreaded CRAZY HOMECOMING WEEK! No riding (I'll explain that later), I started my volunteering at the people hospital (I'm the only one in the group who wants to work with horses, not people, and that's another story for another day and it won't be posted....) in scrubs and everything, and me and the entire familia have been arranging Greta's living arrangements. She is now in a lovely little paddock with a gorgeously green turnout pasture that she will get to be in for most of the day.

I haven't been able to ride for the past week-and-a-half because it's been raining a lot (which is good! It means there will be a very green spring and central Texas will be coming out of it's drought! But it's supposed to be a rainy winter, which will mean wet and cold for several months. Yay.) and that meant lots of mud which Greta is always a weenie about. It's really not that bad, but it was impossible to get her out.

I spent about three hours the Sunday before last trying to convince her to come out of the pasture. Another two hours Monday, and I realized we had a problem. Thankfully, we weren't the only ones, and another gate that had been wired shut was reopened and that did solve a lot, though if there were any patches of mud Greta would freeze. Weenie.

But nonetheless, with lots more convincing she came through! We realized that A) I needed to re-establish some ground manners (check!) and B) we needed a less muddy place for Miss Nibs (check!). We started our first session of Ground Work 101 today and it went nicely. With the help of a resident trainer, not our riding instructor, we worked on some basic round pen skills, as follows:
  1. Greta goes when I tell her to go. I must refrain from saying "Good girl! Good job! You got it!" then entire time because then she'll tune my actual commands out.
  2. Greta changes direction when I move away from the center and towards her front. She must learn to move around me and learn my body language. She will canter no more than five minutes one way around, and no more than five minutes the other. This will also help to get some of the energy out if I haven't ridden her for a few days and reestablish that I am the boss mare. Sorry Greta!
  3. When I put down the lunge line and tell her to whoa, she whoas.
  4. Her reward is not only when I tell her she can stop, but also when I invite her back into my space and pet her and tell her good girl.
I am sure there will be much more, but we're not there yet! I was told to really only use this round pen work if I haven't ridden her for a couple of days or if I don't have time for a full-on workout.

We also rode and did a little trail ride around the barn, and she went right over the footbridge that leads to her paddock! Yay! We did a lot of walking and trotting, and a lot of focus-on-me "rein bumping", and those worked really well. We cantered for a few steps, I bumped her with the reins to get her to focus on me and not the mare running through a pasture, and then she did a flying lead change. Okay... what did I do? It was cool, but not exactly what I was looking for. She has also done a half-pass on me with a couple of other riders watching. I had this bewildered look on my face, but then I saw than and I acted like a totally meant to do that. Oh, yeah, they understood haha!

We're both still kind of awkward right now- absolute noobs - but Greta has proven herself to be quite a smart cookie these past few weeks, and she is learning just as quickly under saddle. I'm still figuring things out myself. I love that girl! What a worker!

Pictures soon, I promise!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Well, this last week has been uber busy with (surprise) school and der Greters (lot of groundwork, no riding). It's a rather lengthy and private deal, so no big long essay here, but until the next riding session tomorrow and the next lesson Thursday....

Here is a cute video my friend made about why she rides. It really made me smile.

Do you think I'm a YouTube ho? jk

Friday, October 16, 2009

First Lesson.... again!

This entire week has been super busy. I love it! It keeps me occupied.

Okay, so last night was Greta and I's first lesson with the new instructor. It went really well and I also realized how insanely rusty I was (it was pretty embarrassing) and Greta realized how insanely unfit I have kept her haha!

Instructor's comments: Greta had apparently been ridden in a tie-down of some sorts (I like to call them "I'll Cheat My Way Through This" martingales) so the underside of her neck is much more developed than her topline. It should be the other way around. I always thought that perhaps she was just born with a slim neck. Haha. WRONG!

Anyway, she does also feel that she remembers her buttons and really I just need to relearn how to press them. She hopped up on Greta for a few minutes and instantly Greta was reaching for the bit, bending into the circle (we were doing a big circle in the middle of the arena to get started on the bending bit) and overall looking like she knew dressage! I will be working on all of this until our next lesson next Thursday.

Another major thing we worked on was Greta's "looky looky" habits! I was told to "bump her neck" with the reins to keep her form putting her head up and looking at anything that moves around her, which will sometimes lead to spooking if not forcing her way away from the object. Stuff like the scary cows next door (it's her new "scary jumping barn" that was at the old place) or the scary white chair on the side of the arena. Instructor asked about her breeding, I told her, and she said "Well, that can explain some her looky attitude."

"Do tell."

"She's a racehorse on her dam's side."

"Racehorse? Really? Great."

She also explained that Greta's looky-looky attitude is her way of being the dominate one. Not in a sense of "I am taking over" but more along the lines of "I'll be the lead mare since you're not taking over and lead mare says stay away from that man-eating lawn chair!"

Instructor also suggested polo wraps, though they weren't necessary, to be used while Greta is relearning where her feet go. Just on the front legs to keep her from hitting them accidentally. Sounds good to me!

All in all, she felt that Greta, with some fine-tuning, will be a very nice horse, and she was glad that I already knew some stuff!

No pictures today, but there should be some soon. Depends....

Sunday, October 11, 2009

"Dressage Queens"

This article made me laugh!

I'm sure we have all met somebody like this, or multiple peoples like this. I know I have! And if I ever start to resemble a "Dressage Queen" may God strike me down. Or may Greta buck me off and send me tail-spinning across the dirt (afterall, the hardest part about riding is the ground.) Whichever one works.

"Dressage Queens" by Kristine Oakhurst from

Now, there are a lot of snobs out there. The hunter/jumper world is full of these snobs; people who wear a horse more than ride a horse; it’s the image, the status, the gobs of money everyone knows you have (or at least spend) on one of your bigger accessories, the horse.

Dressage Queens definitely stand alone in their ability to be not only the most obnoxious of all “horse” people, but also the most annoying, egotistical, and often inadequate said “horse” people I have ever dealt with.

My definition of a dressage queen: A woman who owns a horse, usually a nice horse, that is too much horse for her, she has every accessory known to riding, and has every excuse, besides her inability to ride, for why her horse is not going well.

How to determine if your barn has a dressage queen:

When you show up to a barn and there is a loud voice, this is your first clue that you might be approaching a dressage queen. Once you get closer to that loud voice, look for manicured nails, the second sign of a dressage queen. Don’t listen to what the voice is saying, you might get sucked into an hour long conversation you never intended on being a part of, the third sign of a dressage queen. Look for the tack trunk the loud voice is going to, if it is filled with every color pad, matching polo wraps, at least 10 different brow bands, or basically a well stocked tack shop, that is your fourth sign of a dressage queen.

Excuses and drama are a fifth and final guaranteed sign of a dressage queen.

Next, see if she rides; you will find that if she does mount her horse, it won’t be long before she’ll screech with terror about her horse’s terrible “problem” usually associated with not moving off her seat, her leg, not being round, not coming through from behind - none of which is rider error (of course), always a problem with a) the footing b) the farrier c) the vet d) the trainer e) the turnout. Excuses and drama are a fifth and final guaranteed sign of a dressage queen.

There is no way to deal with a dressage queen. You cannot claim to speak Spanish; she knows Spanish so she can scream at the help. German won’t work either; she may have even learned so she can schmooze with the German dressage clinicians. Pretending to suddenly become deaf will not shut her up; she doesn’t actually need anyone to be listening for a reason to talk. Sympathizing with the dressage queen will only make her worse and she will end up misconstruing anything you say and spread some gossip about you throughout the entire area horse world. You can’t complain about her, even though most everyone else hates her, she probably pays more than anyone else in the barn, so she’s not getting kicked out. You basically either have to shut up and keep focused on what you are at the barn to do, or you need to find a different barn....

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Ladies and bits... please take a seat

Yeah, so Greta had her teeth floated today! And bless her heart, she almost acts like she's relearning how to chew. The vet let me feel her teeth before and after, and I have to ask: Good God how long has it been?! They were bad. But it was all worth it in the end.

The little pill needed three shots throughout the entire procedure. It's not that she was bad, but she sweat it all very quickly and then let the vet know what-for with loud growling noises! We tried to push it before we realized we needed one more cc of sedative, because she took her head away from the vet and sat back into the back of the stocks! That was the worst of her fits, and the only one, really. It was cute, in an obnoxious way! She was absolutely sweet Miss Greta once the procedure was over and she way totally conscious again. Love ya, Greta!

Now, as for something the vet also did and I was a bit leery about (I wanted to tell him no, but I thought that I might sound rude, until I later realized that I am the one responsible for Greta's needs until she magically learns how to talk) was a little thing called a "bit seat". He rounded off the corners of the very front molars that way the bit will not hit them and will rest comfortably. My thought: the bit shouldn't be going back that far anyway! If it is then you're bridle is too tight! Am I wrong? Because I had to stick my finger a ways back to feel the front of her molars. After it had all been done, I felt like such an idiot for not just saying "no". I tend to do stupid stuff like that in situation situations. Like when I got rear-ended (I said it was my fault, I stopped too fast, and no information was exchanged. My God, what was I thinking?)

But it won't hurt her. So what am I complaining about?

Do not get me wrong: the vet did an overall amazing job. I was very pleased with how the procedure went and with the results.

Anyway... pictures!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Paper Trail

Well, more like a paper black hole! I'm going through all of Greta's papers (scattered allover my desk, eep!) so we can do a transfer of ownership (apparently you can get in big trouble at certain shows if you are not recorded as the owner on the horse's papers) and I have found a big paper hole on her registration papers. The original breeder/owner is on the front, and the next two on the back. The lady we bought Greta from is not on there, but we do have a legitimate bill of sale. Hopefully the Swedish Warmblood Association of North America (SWANA) can help us out with that....

But in the meantime, I found out that Greta had been evaluated! How cool! There's no date, so I don't know when, but I'm assuming she was foal or yearling at the time. I'm still geeking out over this, even though I don't know what's good and what isn't. The handwriting is deplorable:


Head, Neck, Body: Feminine, low set (neck?), deep (sitting?) shoulder, well formed croup
Score: 7

Legs: Thin below the knees
Score: 8

Gaits: Walk: Energetic, ground covering; Trot: Energetic, needs more (description?) and understep (celeiud?)
Score: 7

Remarks: CI II (?)

Total: 22
So, that's that. I don't know how to interpret any of it, but it's still cool! Also, she was born April 24. Our birthdays are close! I still haven't found out anything about her dam except her pedigree, though I do have a name.

This is all just a fun boredom buster while I'm sick as a dog. And it needs to be done.

Also, any advice on the "black hole"?

EDIT: I did send an email to the SWANA office and we will see what they say!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Mål för Oktober

Goals for September:
  1. Developing a deeper and more elastic seat, especially in sitting the trot - So far so good. We pretty much have this down as far as I know. When we have our first lesson, our instructor will confirm this.
  2. Getting and staying on the bit - Definitely! Greta is getting the hang of it and I am doing very well in using my seat to drive her into the bit.
  3. Collecting and extending Greta's gaits (she can do, I know she can!) - Scratch this. We should be looking at trot lengthening and shortenings.
  4. Keep my legs still when posting the trot - Got it.
  5. Better steering (heehee) - She steers well in the trot in walk. Canter was what I was worried about, and we have canter steering down too.
  6. Confidence: for the both of us! - Pssh. Greta has enough cocky diva-ness for the both of us.

Goals for October:
  1. A much more collected canter. This has been a goal for a long time, and hopefully by the end of the year we'll be there if not close.
  2. Trot lengthening and shortening.
  3. We need more drive from behind and work on rounding out Greta's back. This will also be a long-term goal, I imagine.
  4. I want to start doing a lot of lounge work - so I can see how she looks on the ground before I hop on her - and walk work - so we can work on more advanced things such as shortening and lengthening and shoulder-in at a slower pace.
I am so excited to start having things move along again after all of this rain! It really slows things down because everything save the covered arena is wet and unusable, which means everyone is using the covered arena and I don't like being in everyone's way haha!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

LMAO Nostalgia

I remember this picture.... it still cracks me up. I was probably talking or taking a breath or licking my lips or something. But it came out looking like I was going "GWWWAAAAAAHHH!!!"

This is from my first four months of my first dressage lessons ever on an awesome Appendix gelding named Slugger in 2008. I won my first show on him. I learned all the basics on him. He and his owner/my instructor were the pair to beat back their eventing competition days (Number 4 rider in the nation and number 7 horse in the nation... what level though, I do not know. I do know that they jumped up to 4' and did dressage up to second level). I learned a lot from the both of them.


And those are from our first show. We had a class of a little over twenty. It was Training Level Tests 1 and 2, we got first and second, respectively, and then Jr. High Point with a score of 65.62. Pretty cool way for me to get into dressage, and an awesome way for Mr. Slugger to officially retire.

Now... we'll see how Greta takes showing next year! It'll either be carnage or glory. I'll still love her either way.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

"You're a mean one, Mr. Mud...."

You make white horses turn to brown!

You're as slippery as a lawyer,
You're as sloshy as my Soaps,
Mr. Muh-ud!

I wouldn't walk through you in...
Tall black rubber boooooots! (Oops, too late for that one)"

One of my favorite things about the holiday season: the Grinch!

First of all, some good news and some bad news about the farrier visit today.

The Good news: The mud is no match for Greta's hooves of impenetrable iron, apparently. The farrier said that they are probably the best he has seen on a barefoot horse, and he attributes it to her being raised on very rocky ground (the Illinois hills and then the Colorado Rockies, whoo!) and my putting Thrush Buster on her once a week. Apprently, I only need to put it on twice a month. Oops! Also, she was very good, and he didn't have to really push her to lift her hooves, etc. She was a saint. For him.

The bad news: She wasn't a saint for her Bre-substitutes (the parental units :D). She made it difficult for them to catch her - she just walked in circles though, no running away, as she really didn't want to leave her new boyfriends - and to lead her and keep her still while they washed off her legs pre-farrier. But during and after the trim, she returned to the saint I know she is!

I was able to go out today, as usual, and finally take pictures of der Greters. There was a random 2 inches of rain this morning, and it came in sideways, so all of the arenas and round pens are closed off now and Greta decided she'd give me twice as much work to do Thursday! Riding Buddy said she couldn't stand to have a white horse. I simply said that it means Greta and I have to spend more time together!

Also I saw some deer farther back in the pasture. Very cool.

Monday, September 28, 2009

These are a few of my favorite... riders

I was very excited to find three good riders in my area, that I had to blog about it!

So, recently I discovered a dressage master named Wolfgang May. He had shown my future instructor a technique to get a better flying lead change, and the upper level riders/eventers were practicing it last week. He sounded like a very good teacher, trained at the Vienna Riding School (which automatically biases my decision that they must be a good rider, but usually they are, so it's a fair bias) and then at the American Spanish Riding School in (Wellington, Florida?) and now he currently resides in *drumroll please* TEXAS! And not some place in Lubbock nine hours away, but at a place near San Antonio, three hours away! Still far, but it's crazy for me to think that there is an actual classical master in the "area"!

He also does many clinics in Texas, including some at the beautiful Double Diamond Equestrian Center in Borne, TX (near San Antonio) where I did my first show and the first world-class facility I've ever set foot on. It's amazing. I was fortunate enough to really have a need for the restroom, which gave me an excuse to leave the show for a a few minutes and go see the large indoor arena and stables, where the bathrooms were located. Luxurious. That's all I have room for. To describe it all would be another post!

Wolfgang May is also a very good rider, as are his students. I would love to spend a summer learning under him in the future.

There is also a trainer named Reinhard A. Dorsch somewhere in the San Antonio area who is another Spanish Riding School graduate, and toured with the Lippizaners for several years. He also appears to be a very talented horseman as well. He does a lot of work with Akhal Tekes, which I think is pretty cool. He judges the Fall Formal schooling shows for the Central Texas Dressage Society, and I would have no problem with him judging me!

Another trainer in the central Texas area, Micheal Vermaas. He seems like a very good rider as well!

Another competitive rider I recently looked more into is Lisa Wilcox. She had an article on thoroughness in Dressage Today and I was blown away by her posture and the look of her horses under saddle! Suhweet!

And long-time favorites will always be: Alois Podjhasky (I would have loved to meet him), the van Baalens, Phillipe Karl, Jolanda Adelaar, Gina Miles (yes, she is an eventer, but she is a very good horsewoman), Courtney King-Dye, and Jessica Jo Tate (she better be in the Olympics in 2012!). All very good riders in my mind and idols that I look up to.

All's well that begins well....

Yes, I've been MIA for a couple of days. Oh well, I have a life too!

Der Greters:
Greta's fine, and she just seems to be feeling better and better every day! The little cougar's been hanging out with "Cupid" (the bay youngn' with the heart on his forehead) and a new bay horse - affectionately called "Bay Boy" - who looks like he's fairly young too, both maybe 6 or 7. Greta's 12. She's a cougar. Rrrrawr!

They thinned out the pasture board herd, so it went from 15 to nine in the past week. That plus steady rain means lots of green grass! The big Belgian Wilbur and the big black Percheron Beau have both been moved to stall board, and the herd seems to be more at peace with everyone and everything it seems. I've even caught Greta rolling in the dirt twice now! And it's always been right before I go to get her! Maybe she has, like, "ESPN" or something (Mean Girls reference). In the mornings, when it's cool, she'll hang out under the thick trees at the far end of the pasture (and apparently the pasture goes back much farther than I thought, just with trees, though not insanely far, and there's even a few riding trails behind the pasture!) with her little gelding gang, and then when it's hot the horses move out into the sun.... I'm still trying to figure that one out...........

Oh, and she gets her hoofies trimmed tomorrow. I'm so glad that we will still have the same farrier!

Der Riding:
Riding has been going super-duper well. She had most of the week off last week too because of rain, so that would equate to about three days in the week instead of five....? I don't know. We've been doing a lot of walk and trot exercises, trying to get some basics back down, and we just canter for fun really! Her trot has become very nice to sit and she getting on the bit much more nicely. I've felt the beginnings of her trying to round out her back, and she's gone all the way when I'm doing something right.... That I am also still trying to figure out!

And then I lounged her yesterday just as a warm up and also to see how she looks overall. Her walk was lazy (but that's because I wasn't on her, and I know her walk is good already) but her trot looked beautiful and her canter has become more collected. There is a longer moment of suspension between each stride. I'm very happy! She's thrusting aside the polo world and coming back to her dressage origins! Though she still gets very excited over white objects on the ground and tries to cut in front of other horses. Not bad though. She never tries to take over. I get a kick out of it more than anything haha!


Der Lessons:
We will be starting lessons October 18th: two private to see where our niche is, then group lessons from there on. I'm so excited! I love all the riders and I love the instructor, and they all love Greta! She's hard not to love :D

Der Gogo:
Get well soon Gogo! From what I read you were feeling pretty cruddy today. It all pull through, don't worry!

Und als Schlußfolgerung, Das Morgan Dressage:
In conclusion, I was very excited to see a Morgan in the Dressage at Devon as featured on Behind the Bit. Very cute Morgan. It's not a warmblood! Oh, and has anyone heard of the A-mazing dressage Saddlebred (the first and perhaps the only Grand Prix level Saddlebred out there at the moment...) Harry Callahan? Yeah, go check him out :D

What I was not pleased with though was the opening picture to the blog: the horse was clearly not round in the back and was being pulled into the bit. Quite clearly. The first video: the canter was really good as were the tempi changes, and I loved the music (eternal Disney Tarzan fan!) As for the second video: Um... more being pulled into the bit, silly passages and piaffes and half passes and trot work in general. I cringed. But then again he was apparently quite spooky that night, so he might not have been listening all the way? He was still broken at the third vertebrae, no excuse for that. Way to go half-a$$, modern dressage!

But what do I know? I'm just a lowly first level.... :(

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

What drives them.

What is the meaning of life? No. It is: what is the meaning of horses? What is the meaning of people and horses? What drives us to them? Yes, that is the question.

What drives us to the horse? Is something within them and about them that we wish to see within and about ourselves: elegance or power or grace? Perhaps we ourselves wish we could dwell in the illumination of the present and not the dim of the past and to never look back or look forward, but to simply be. Perhaps we wish to humble ourselves in the present of a creature far greater than us in speed and strength and social. Perhaps it is to feel a sense of risk in accompanying one so large and unpredictable, and to know that we trust them still.

Perhaps it is the longing for a bound outside that of the confines of humanity, and one that blends harmoniously within the realm of nature and all that civilization considers primitive and beastly. Perhaps, to ride atop a horse, we can achieve a glorious freedom we could only visit in the dusky world of dreams and the subconscious. We can laugh without fear of social condemnation, speak our innermost thoughts without an ounce of thought nor a thread of remorse, relieve our frustration before it turns to destructive inner violence. Perhaps it is to relieve our instinctual drive to love, trust, and care for without the unbearable hurt of betrayal that only the complexities of human nature are consciously capable of. For what we give to the horse, they will, without fail, return wholeheartedly.

Or perhaps, more cynically, one might say that some abuse this. Some use the horse as a means of control over their uncontrollable lives. Some use the horse as way to be looked up upon when otherwise they might have been trampled, to achieve something when nothing else was readily available. Some would wish to exploit the horse's unfathomable will and need to please by making them suffer for it in the torturous arms of neglect and abuse, whilst those who care can only stand by and weep. Or, perhaps, give them a chance to be strong and fight for the inalienable right to live prosperously that is bestowed upon all of nature's creations.

Perhaps, then, horses are our God-given purpose. Perhaps it is we - any persons who have been fortunate enough to be within and enjoy the company of the horse - who were blessed with such an opportunity to relieve our emotional faculties by simply feeling the warm breath on your cheek, and the velveteen muzzle brush your palm, and powerful muscles ripple beneath your body, and the gaze of multifaceted eyes connect with that of your own and know that you have achieved a nirvana of sorts:

Something, perhaps, that is truly unexplainable.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Eventing Andalusians

You heard it right, folks:

Yes, that is an Andalusian. Yes, they are schooling what looks to be (Intermediate Novice? All I know is Beginner Novice and Rolex, guys! The horse is 16.2, if that serves as a reference) cross country. And yes, that song is in French. Apparently they are in France, and apparently the French can rock ("French frogs: plan of action!" / "We surrender!" / "No, not that plan of action!") haha!

I loved that last one because of the backdrop! JEALOUS! Oh, and the jumping hehe. I'll be sure to check out the other videos! They look pretty talented to the dressage rider's eye!

Oh, and some dressage. It's looks pretty decent. The sorrel horse is a schoolmaster they had her practice on, as this was just away schooling in Combelles (ooh, sounds fancy!) not a competition:

Greta updates will be coming soon, do not fret!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Time for something sickly sweet!

Mmm. It's September, and it just went from a refreshing 80 degree weather this past week back up to 90 degrees today. Not bad, compared to this record-breaking summer, but with October and November and December drawing closer and closer, I can't help but thing of my favorite time of the year.

Sweaters and wool socks and quarter sheets and big winter blankets, and anything else snuggly you can think of. And feeling the crisp air fill your lungs while you take a morning gallop (which hopefully some of those might be coming when the winter breaks start!) and having your bum all warm when you ride your horse bareback in the cold.

You actually want the sun to come out and warm you up, and so you can see the spindly branches silhouetted against the clear sky. You want a helmet and tall boots on because they'll keep you as toasty as they can get (which for a Texan, won't mean much, because most of your riding apparel is meant for extreme heat, not cold!)

Being all cozy in the stable while you tack up, and warming your hands as you rub down your horse with a towel. And you get to make your horse look classy with a clip! (If you don't let them turn into a yak.)

Spending Christmas afternoon feeding a carrot or two, or three, or ten, while they breath moist breath on you, and taking walks through the bare pasture where you can see every hole and dip (no snow here!)

God, I love winter. It'll be Greta's first in Texas (big difference compared to Colorado winters, I'm sure).

No, we don't decorate Christmas cacti and have longhorns pull Santa's sleigh. Maybe in El Paso! But we do get poinsettias. So pretty!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

For All You Jumpers & Eventers

Particularly Sam....

You mentioned to me a few posts ago about how much dressage is involved in jumping. You told me that you once saw a rider perform something that was just about a pirouette in a jump-off round that saved the clock big time. Well, check this out:

The kick-ass tight turns don't come until the final round, but I was totally geeking out! Those were amazing!!! And her hands remained practically motionless! That is sooo cool! The first tight turn and then The ones where she lands after the double combination and immediately turn left me starstuck. No wonder this girl got first!

"And look: I'm trrrotting!"

Haha. I love the scene from Shrek 2 when Donkey gets turned into a horse. "I can whinny! I can count! And look: I'm trotting!"

So now that we are on the subject of trotting, Greta and I did a lot of trot work today. We cantered twice. The first was a twenty meter circle, and it was A-mazing! The second... well, she took off on me and just zipped through the center of the arena. So we didn't really canter after that. I needed to focus on trotting anyway (okay, I'll stop.)

I feel like I've had another epiphany today, and that is my seat! I kind of figured out how to use it to drive Greta onto the bit, and from the glimpses I saw in the mirror, we looked pretty good! The video doesn't do it justice. Greta reached some "Eureka!" moments for herself as well.When her trot was especially good, her poll was the highest point and her back was nicely rounded and she brought her hind legs further beneath her, and it was a dream to sit.

When I drove Greta onto the bit, I used my inner thighs and seat to sort of "squeeze forward"so to speak. It was pretty friggin' cool.

And then she got a bath. So now she's sparkly white until tomorrow!

I love that Greta girly.

So, now, video of our trotting heehee:

Friday, September 18, 2009

Go Gogo!

Get well soon, Gogo.

Greta did very well today! I actually had a "christening" of owning a first horse: I fell off! Totally my fault, I should've been paying attention. The shavings shed was being cleaned out and I kept having to coax Greta at a walk to just ignore the noise and go past it. Then I wasn't paying attention + a particulary loud noise + a sharp 180 = me on the ground with a loud "Oh!" haha! Yay!!! Instead of taking off, Greta politely stood still and looked back at me as if to say, "Um, Bre? You were supposed to stay on. Duh."

I felt quite embarrassed until I saw the look on the turkey's face. Cracked me up and totally made my day. Kodak moment!

And then sniffed me all over to make sure I was okay. I was flattered.

Got her to do a nice, swinging trot again, and I practiced sitting it. Absolutely lovely!

We will be starting up lessons again within the next few weeks. We will do some private lessons so we can get up to the same level as the group lessons and so my new instructor can see how we stand. I'm very excited! Don't know about Greta, though.... I know she was excited to get back into work after a week off! She deserved it.