Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Greta Goes Avatar bahaha!!

When life hands you lemons...

Greta yawn-age. Because it's SO tough being her heehee.

You make lemonade! It may be bitter, not-very-sweet lemonade, but lemonade nonetheless!

We had an unconventional longe yesterday, in which Greta did wonderfully going to the left, nailing all of her transitions and being really in tune. Going to the right, she was doing great, until she stumbled and scared the snot out of me and it certainly startled her based on the the little fit she threw afterwards, and it looked like a big stumble and I immediately pulled her in to feel her legs. She felt fine, so I put her back on the longe line. She walked fine, she trotted fine, but she kept breaking into a canter without me asking, so that worried me. She would not listen to the trot commands, so I had to gradually make the circle smaller to see if I could get her to trot again. Just the slightest tug and she veered to the inside like I had jerked her in or something, and pulled up her back left like it hurt. She did that for about two paces, then walked on it just fine.

So as you can imagine, I'm internally freaking out now. I feel her legs again, they felt fine, so I put her back out on the line to look for any lameness. Nothing at the walk, nothing at the trot. Spooked at little at a gate closing, broke into a canter, looked fine, brought her back to a trot, spooked at a little kid outside of the arena (Really, Greta?) broke into a canter again, brought her back to a trot, and just let her walk. We really were getting no where now, and I was worried all of her legs that she kept tripping over. Jeez, Greta. I had gotten some good up and down transitions out of her, and we were pushing seven minutes going to the right, so it was time to just calm it down and cool down.

I put liniment all over her legs and still saw nothing, so I figured I just see what they look like today.

They looked fine today, cool and tight.

As for today's ride: can anyone say Pocket Rocket?

She was star gazing half the time and really rushing through my aids and trying to be a polo pony again haha, so instead of getting frustrated, I followed that little lemonade philosophy and just made the best of our ride. She definitely wasn't perfect the entire ride, maybe only 30% or so, but I just focused on the good moments. The minute she put in a few paces of a round trot or a controlled trot, I let her trot on a loose rein for a few strides. We cantered a circle or two, trotted a lot more, and called it a day. Whew!

All of that made me realize that my low posting has gotten rusty from Greta being so chill lately. Something to work on!!

Her legs were still cool and tight, but I still hosed her off and put liniment on her legs again.

I'm still keeping an eye on them, though. She's freaking me out, man!

It has been raining on and off here in Central Texas what with Hurricane Alex coming in from the South, but on the positive side (if you can find anything positive about a hurricane) the days have been overcast and in the mid 70s until around midday, then they go up into the 80s and the air gets quite humid. Yeck. On the down side: the stalled horses have to stay inside because it's quite muddy and maybe 1/2 of the covered arena is open because it rained vertically and got a nice portion of it wet and sloppy so it had to be coned off. I can't wait until it is dry enough that Greta and I can add the outdoor arena and the pastures to our Riding Zone List again.

But rain makes grass, which makes for a happy mare and more hay, which makes for MAYBE lower hay costs next year? Cross your fingers!!!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

"My troubles are all over, and I am at home"

WATCH in HD if you can!

Quote from Black Beauty by Anna Sewell (as if none of y'all don't already know that!) As is the music. I love the most recent movie rendition of the book, although it is still a bit more toned down from some of the things that happen in the book. The music by Danny Elfman is just perfect.

One of my friends is going back to Europe (can you imagine that I am a bit on the sad side?) but wanted to see Greta before she left (because Lord knows I talk about the girl all the time). So Friday I took her and her host sister out to the stables to watch me ride (I was surprised they even wanted to watch haha, but touched, really) and they took pictures. And they turned out beautiful! They took a little over 500 pictures, I believe, so I had to narrow it down to a few that I wanted to share on the blog :)

It's hard to notice, but I realized that I have a big grin on my face in the last picture!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Why I use crossties.......

This video is just for fun. I do tie her up with both crossties. It's just if I don't, then, well......... you saw what happens ;)

Isn't she a cutie??

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

That's what you get....

This is what I get when I don't ride the girl for four days due to issues, like (you won't believe this, I know I hardly can) a life outside of the stables.

  1. Greta is a little rusty
  2. The sheep penned near the arena are no longer something she has encountered multiple times and learned to get used to, but HORSE-EATING WOOLLY MUNSTERS! And they will eat her alive with their hay-chewing chompers. Greta told me. She insisted and was quite upset when I told her that they were harmless herbivores. She said, "You lie, Bre! So I will scoot to the inside of the arena! They cannot see me here! HAHA!"
  3. The driveway that we like to cool off by going up and down now has an invisible sign reading "Danger! Turn back NOW!"
Of course, a few new additions were added to both Scary Zones, which would be some random new pile of plywood and pipes on the other property next to the driveway. I could see that being ominously scary. But we're going to just have to get used to that, now aren't we, Greta?

Also, the big manure holder came back so the manure pile has now been moved into that so the manure can be more easily removed. May I say manure one more time? This is on the Scary Sheep end of the arena (far off though, it's not like Greta nor the sheep are near waste products, too unsanitary for Miss Greta!) But it still new, and far off, so Greta can't get a good look at it. And if she can't get a good look at it, then she won't go near it. Of course, she might just be thinking, "EWW! Horse poopies! I'm not going near that!"

So, first I made her go near Woolly Munsters and now a manure pile? What kind of sick, inane person am I?

So today's ride could have been better, and now that I know what to expect, I will be prepared tomorrow.

Also, we have just been introduced to trot lengthenings. And boy do they look ugly right now! But like everything else Greta and I have been through, practice makes perfect and there is always a tomorrow!

Yay for tomorrows! And for going forward into First Level movements!

(As cringing as they may look right now haha)

In all seriousness though, it could be much worse. Greta was very good tacking and untacking though. She even stood without a halter the entire time we were untacking. She rested her head on my back when I went to get her front hooves. She peeked her head into the tack room occasionally like, "Whatchya doooooin'?"

I love my Greta Goober :)

Things will only get better!!!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Riding Video and the "Dressage Team"

Greta has been extraordinary lately. I think we reached our climax last night at lessons. She was really working hard and our trainer continually praised her for her roundness, and even noted that she was actually taking the bit nicely, as we saw a little dribble come out her mouth. I've always noticed some moisture around her mouth since I started using the French link eggbutt but Thursday night it was quite nice, I suppose. She was visibly reaching for the bit also, creating a nice little arch in her neck and her mouth felt just like a small weight in my hand, not like she was hanging on my hands like I have felt before. It was very nice to have Miss Greta being so work(wo)manlike, and when our trainer gave us both pats on the back (well, Greta got a pat on the shoulder haha) I was very proud of my princess.

The video is from Tuesday (June 15) and shows a fairly nice ride - definitely not as nice as Thursday (I don't think I have ever heard so many "GOOD! GOOD!" from my trainer before haha! She seemed to be thoroughly impressed) but it was still very nice. Around 0:20 she is spooking, I wanted to put that in there just to show how things like that are overcome haha. But yes, that is a video of us working on serpentines and the Wolfgang Bowtie Pattern (as I like to call it, because I don't know the technical term!) and more canter work. She is counterflexed at some moments on her left lead canter, but she was trying to take a looky-loo at my dear grandfather (THANK YOU GRAMPY!) filming us from the fence, but that was quickly fixed with a little tap with my inside leg. She was like, "OH! I'm sorry. I'm supposed to be focusing. You know how me and focusing go! Like lions and antelopes!"

Yes, Greta. I've realized that ;)

AND more exiting news....

I'm on a Dressage Team! My trainer finally got enough people to regroup her "Dressage Team," as the original team slowly converted into eventing. It's just four of us, including her, and the other three girls are the girls in my lesson and we are all the same age, which makes things nice. Our trainer will be putting some "show mileage" on her Oldenburg gelding and his sister (who can Greta's occasional little spooky skitters look saintly! YES!) and the other two girls are eager to show without having be in eventing. I just want to learn dressage, to be honest, and the first shows we go to in the fall will be solely schooling trips for Greta, no competition, just to put some "mileage" on her as well.

Although I think Greta will just be too good for all of her competitors, so I'm just giving them a head start so they can win something before we strut our long-awaited stuff before the judges. And with that kind of attitude and talent, why show at all? haha ;)

But yes, the Team will be an exciting prospect for me. We'll be getting polos, shirts, ballcaps, windjackets, everything. This will probably be the first and ONLY successful "team" venture in my lifetime (soccer = fail, tennis = fail, etc.)

While this whole new world of "YAY I CAN SHOW!" does sound exciting and fun for me, first and foremost is Greta, and the whole concept of showing might give her ulcers haha. So, once again, we're going to take this one step at a time.

Besides, I'd much rather go to a million clinics and learn as much as I can than go to shows and possibly not learn much at all outside of lessons and how to handle Her Nibbs in a show environment.

Did I mention that Wolfgang May is building his own stable AND I found that there are a few FEI-level riders (Ashley Hammill and Lindy Taylor) in San Antonio at the Double Diamond Equestrian Center? Schooling with such riders at their facilities for a few days strangely sounds far more exciting than winning a blue ribbon. I'm a bit off-beat for an equestrian, aren't I?

But nonetheless at the moment I just want to enjoy how far Greta and I have come, and the future will present itself in time.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

And with her new ear nets she went galumphing back...

Galumphing. Is that not a fun word? The first thing that it brings to mind is a ploddy lesson pony. We all remember those days, I'm sure.

A play on a quote from Alice in Wonderland. Fantastic. Now, onward....

Greta got a pair of black ear nets (black because it matches all three of her pads and her polos) that look just absolutely sharp on her. I clipped out her ears for the sake of tidiness, because I'm cruel like that even though it doesn't inhibit her a bit haha, so when her fly mask wasn't on I noticed her shake her head here and there during rides and while tacking up. It also keeps her forelock in place (which is constantly braided, let down for a day, and re-braided to keep her hair from going everywhere underneath her fly mask and halter) and lastly, and I didn't realize this until after I used it one ride that it pads the crownpiece of her bridle!

I love her Wintec bridle to death because when I hose off her bit after a ride, I can get the bridle wet too! It was also one of the only black bridles I could find that didn't have a flash noseband, which is pointless for Greta because to have a flash noseband would A) inhibit her breathing because it would fit funny, and B) it would just treat a non-existent problem that the flash noseband was create to treat, which is gaping of the mouth. Greta doesn't do that, so why pay extra money for a noseband you don't need? But NO, it seems all dressage bridle must have flash nosebands... until I found the Wintec. And it's just nice to have synthetic. So that rant is settled. But now that Greta's fine summer coat is in, her facial fur rubs easily. It was that way last summer even with a padded leather halter. The sweat just makes the hair rub off behind her ears, and the little padding on the Wintec crown piece does not help any. I have yet to find a crownpiece pad that doesn't have some sort of super-special magnets in them or look like Greta has a giant fleece caterpillar on her poll. It grew back quickly during winter, so I figured I would just have to wait it out, but I did feel bad because I didn't know if perhaps it was causing any discomfort....

I pulled off the bridle and the ear net after my first ride with her new ear nets and et voila! No sweat to cause the hair to rub. It'll be a few weeks before I can truly see whether or not the hair is not rubbing off, but until then I accidentally discovered a solution to a previously-thought-to-be-incurable problem! I will let everyone know if the ear net does what I think it might. If your horse has that problem, I'd look at getting an earnet. I found some nice ones on that don't have the silly fringe and come in some good basic colors.

So... I will see if my ear net adventure will lead me anywhere. I won't get rid of them, because they look really nice on Her Nibbs and she willingly puts her head into it, so she must like them. Or maybe I'm just thinking it. Probably the latter.

Anyway, conformation shots! The first one is from when I got her back in May 2009.

The second shot is from Tuesday, June 8th. I love how nicely her topline is coming along. Really it shouldn't be getting much bigger at this point in her training, I believe. Once we start moving up and going beyond the working paces, then I'm sure it will strengthen with proper training. She was so sweet and good for this, my little narcissistic pony!

I will put some more stuff of our riding up soon. I keep forgetting the set up the camera and ask people to get new videos. Oops. But until then enjoy some sweet pictures :)

I had been out for two days with parties for graduating and exchange friends after these photos were taken. When I came back Friday and went to go see Greta, she was all nuzzles and "AM I EXCITED TO SEE YOU!" It was one of those many moments when even though so many of my best friends are leaving to go back to Europe or to college, I still got my buddy just down the road :)

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Admiration: Shocking, Laredo, Guusje, and their owners

I saw this video on YouTube, and I had heard a bit about this girl and her horse Shocking (love the name, don't you?) However, upon further investigation I realized that Shocking's owner pays for EVERYTHING (boarding, showing, lessons, etc. and she raised up the money to buy him in the first place). I know a lot of you adults are probably going "YEAH? And your point is, child?" My point is that she is SEVENTEEN. My age. And she manages to find time between school and being with her horse to raise up all that money. To be honest, I have nothing short of true admiration for this young lady.

I work off some of Greta's bills by doing barn chores (which do for fun and so I can feel SOMEWHAT responsible for her upkeep!) and some babysitting for the previously mentioned "frivolous things" haha. But seriously, it's my family that sponsors the basics. And I cannot thank them enough. To try and raise that much money at my age and still ride and still upkeep good grades in what will be all AP classes my Senior year? I cannot possibly fathom it.

So my topic today is admiration. I will show three short videos of people on YouTube who I strive to be like as a horse person. Not to necessarily turn Greta into my own Walden Pond and go to the extremes of "living to solely support myself (and Greta)," but to encourage myself to continue to work hard, to take a strong sense of pride and responsibility in horse ownership and riding, and never take things for granted. It's not all about ribbons and shows and fancy clothes necessarily: it's about bonding and the love of the horse and of the ride.

So here's the first video. This is Sydney and Shocking from Canada. Their YouTube account is ilubshocking:

Now, I don't know much about the finances of this second rider except that she does work for a lot of her horse ownership by working other peoples horses and showing them etc, but I do know that she has learned solely from books, YouTube, friends, etc. the sport of hunters and jumpers. And did I mention that she doesn't keep her horse at a "fancy riding school"? Or the fact that he's not a "fancy warmblood"? Laredo is the cutest little palomino Quarter Horse I have ever seen. And he can clear 4' fences. And they rock the local circuit all by themselves! So from Florida, here is Taylor and Laredo. Their YouTube account is Laredo454:

And lastly: this is one of my favorite pairs, and they inspired me to further my dressage career after Slugger, who I got my first pleasant whiff of dressage on. These two show that once again, dressage does not always require one to have to be a member of the aristocracy, to have an extremely nice warmblood, and to have Phillip Karl as your weekly trainer (but wouldn't that all be nice?)

While this rider now works as a model, that was long after she worked hard to get to where she is now. The video explains the basics of how Jolanda and Guusje came to be. What it doesn't say (and this from her website that she had to strive for a year to convince her non-horsey parents to buy a horse they clearly did not like (I'm sure that is a familiar story for many) she had to find a place where she could keep Guus for a low price - which ended up being an unused cow pasture owned by a local farmer - and that up until a few years ago, her main guide to riding was The Complete Training of Horse and Rider by Alois Podhjasky, which is not a bad guide mind you.

Now they train under Marlies Van Baalen (one of the elite riders in the Netherlands who does NOT practice rollkur) and other riders, give clinics, and have ridden at multiple venues, including a demonstration at the FEI Dressage World Cup. I cannot wait until her published book about Guus is out in English! So, from the Netherlands, this is Jolanda Adelaar and Guusje. YouTube account is aaadriaaanaaa. Very sweet story:

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

My OTHER hobby...

So I do ride. We all know that. But I do other things too. While I may not rock the dressage show circuit, nor do I really care to right now, I am proud to say I have made progress in the Austin area art "circuit". Notice the unintentional smug looks on some of the pictures. I'm not cocky, I swear!

"Forest Unicorns" on display at gallery in Austin

"Yata" on display at a district show. First in it's division

"Sunkawakan" on display at the same show. Second in it's division haha.

"The Last Unicorn" one of my favorite works.

(Title Pending) one of the works I will submit to the A.M.O.A. (Austin Museum of Art) as part of their local and emerging artists exhibit set for next year. It's worth a shot!

This was the 2010 logo of my school district's annual art show.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


Now that it is summer, I can ride Greta in the mornings before it gets hot (7:45 AM wake-up call? No problem!!! It WAS a problem during the school year, but that's just because it's school. Greta is different.) And by hot, I mean here in TEXAS it's 80 by 9:00. It's 90 by 10:00. Ain't that fantastic, y'all?

But this is a good thing too, because now the stalled horses are being left in during the day with their fans and fly-masks and constant supply of hay and all that jazz and then they are turned out night, when it's cool and there's no bugs and once again, there's a constant supply of hay. Ain't that the life?

It's also a good thing because this means we can ride in the pastures! We've been riding in the same pasture lately, so I'm considering shuffling around pastures to spice things up a bit. I found one of the smaller ones has a really nice mildly steep incline that we can back up 10-15 steps to work her haunches. Greta's pasture, the mare pasture, has some really nice grass turf growing, so I would feel bad riding around in it. But I must remember, if it can withstand 8 or so horses walking around on it for several hours, then it can withstand just Greta, too. But I have concluded that probably the best thing to do is... ASK THE BARN MANAGER!

Also, the outdoor arena has been very good to us. Today it there was a slight breeze in the morning, but enough to make the big hay shed that borders the scary corner of the outdoor arena to moan. So Greta tries to totally push past my leg PUSHING her, BEGGING her to get into the corner. She stares at it and tries to walk past it as quickly as possible. But at least she is not spooking, and the rest of the ride went well. We got some nice canter transitions. That was the big thing that made me happy. I got to show off some of our mad skillz to the parental units as well. YAY!

But things are going to be busy the next two weeks. I have my beloved Senior friends going off the college and abandoning me haha. Same with my exchange friends. Boo.

Also, I have an SAT test this weekend. You should hear the excitement in my voice. Yay.

AND I have a bunch of artwork I'm doing as going-away gifts, Father's Day gifts, museum submissions (PLEASE TAKE THEM A.M.O.A.!!!) and greeting card work submissions. I might be painting a mural on one of the walls in the covered arena, and paint the different tack room doors as well.

But it will all be great fun, I hope.