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.