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: