Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Updates and Pictures

Firstly, since school has started riding has not been as consistent as I would like for it to be. Why, you ask? Because the highs have been in the upper 90s (it was 99 today) and it doesn't really cool down into a comfortable 90 or so (you'd be surprised at how comfortable that can feel) until 7:30, and not even in the rideable upper 80s until 8:00 or 9:00 (for Greta's sake, and would YOU want to do a heavy work out in a Texas August? Hate to say it, but the horse is always working just a little bit more than the rider, at least in dressage, imagine how hot SHE gets.) The barn closes at 10:00, and I need to be home and getting ready for bed by then so I can wake up early the next morning and actually stay awake in school. I sound whiny. And I feel lazy every time I skimp out on a ride (I did ride yesterday and Greta was excellent bless her) but I justify it with knowing I'm doing what I feel is best for Greta (my self-preservation seems to lower to 0 when Greta is involved!)

I hoped this week, after giving Greta a week off last week since she had been worked quite hard and quite consistently all three months (and before) of summer, that I could get back into a consistent riding schedule this week. You know, the one I had planned and set-up a couple of weeks ago? I don't believe it will work out this week. I'm crossing my fingers for next week.

Also, Greta's tail has been bagged. In Kensington SmartPink Plaid to be specific. I'm trying to save it. It was long and full when I got her, and over the months it has just... thinned out. I wouldn't have done it, but it has five inches of REALLY THICK FRINGE on the end and her fly spray is absolutely wonderful (Absorbine Ultrashield EX, it stays on even with hosing off after rides and sweating, and it may not say so, but it is made from natural ingredients, Pyrethrins from chrysanthemums) so it's good. We'll see how it does. And she doesn't seem to mind. More spoilage on her behalf :)

In the meantime (I'm going to put up a little post on my favorite hand analogies....)

Hello, this is Greta. Greta Golightly. You know who. Now, observe the beauty that is me.

Bre was laughing when she saw me sleeping like this. But I want to let everyone know, that is how REAL beauty sleep goes down.

And this is how you REALLY enjoy your bed.

I mean, REALLY enjoy it.

And this is how you tell the yearling next door to shut his trap. He chews his hay really loud. Bre says she doesn't know why I don't like "little Rio," but she only sees that cute baby facade when she comes around. She doesn't see the little brat he is when no humans are around. Well..... I haven't either. But I know it's there.

Okay, I'm gone. Buh-bye :)

Friday, August 27, 2010

Golightly, Greta Golightly

I often get the question around the barn: why "Greta"? Why not Penelope like her registered name? Well, besides the fact that she was already used to a "G" name when I got her (it was Goose!) I also have some reasons of my own.

Anyone ever heard of Greta Garbo?

A glamorous actress of a gilded era of film (she was filmed from 1922-1941 to be specific) born in Stockholm, she was named "the most beautiful woman that ever lived" in 1954 by Guinness. She was known to be one of the early "modern women" with her assertive attitude and by playing controversial roles but still remaining feminine - she was a favorite subject of many artistic fashion photographers. Here is a marvelous website about her.

Garbo was Swedish and beautiful. Perfect for Greta.

Also, if you look into the name "Greta" it is derivative of the German name "Gretel" which is derivative of the Latin word for "pearl" which is derivative of the Sanskrit word for "pearl", after much passing through the different languages. Greta means "pearl". Perfect.

So Greta was established.

Now, if you don't recognize "Golightly" right away, you need to hit your movie classics STAT.

Actually, if you've watched the movie, Golightly is Holly's surname. Mister Golightly is a, wait for it... a horse doctor from Texas! Funny how these things work out, huh?

And every time I watch Breakfast at Tiffany's, I always see Holly Golightly's personality as quite similar Greta's, as far as horse personalities go haha. Both are very quirky and... interesting characters. In much of Holly's dialog and actions, I can just see Greta in her human form. If that makes any sense.

And Audrey Hepburn is the epitome of marvelous to me. Not only was she an incredible actress and a fashion icon, she was a very good person, doing a great amount of work with UNICEF and helping poverty-stricken children in Africa and other parts of the world. She was just a good person.

Thus, "Greta Golightly" was established.


From a recent article in the New York Times about air vests in eventing. They, of course, interviewed Oliver Townend (aka "the British bloke who took a doozy fall and is SO lucky to be alive") about his experience - indeed - with the Point Two Air Vest, and here is a little bit of what he said:

“I walked out of hospital the next day, where otherwise I would be in a box or in America for a month,” Townend said in a recent phone interview.

Well...... I find it interesting that he put being dead and being in America for a month on the same level. Thank you, Mister Townend! *big wink*

I'm sure he didn't mean it that way, but I could help but notice how everything was worded haha!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Our 2nd Summer....

And this better not be "our last summer", ABBA. Thanks.

So Senior year starts tomorrow, and I absolutely crashed yesterday (believe me when I say I slept in until 3:00 for the first time in three months.... really, it's the first time I've actually slept in at all this summer) and today I went out to find it was 95 with no breeze, so Greta got her weekly bath and I shampooed her tail in Quic Silver (trying to figure out if her tail is that dingy brownish tint because of where she is still graying out or if it is actually dirty!) Then I came home and actually relaxed and watched Breakfast at Tiffany's, following my Audrey splurge for the past few days (Tiffany's concludes my watching of Roman Holiday and Sabrina and Paris When it Sizzles and Funny Face!) Tonight I might just watch Amelie and call it a summer!

I have this feeling, after going through three years of high school now, that this week will be extraordinarily busy and Greta and Odin will probably get a week off. I'll still go out and visit, perhaps do light riding, I don't know. I really want to try and maintain our schedule, but I suppose one week after three months of consistent hard work and the marvelous sizzling weather of The Texas Summer won't harm anyone. I always feel lazy when I do that, but I suppose the logic fits. I will see how this week goes. It might just be no riding tomorrow and the rest of the week works. I definitely want to go out tomorrow night and groom and pretty up Miss Greta, like I like to every day: honestly, I find it more relaxing and I prefer to give the girl a good grooming than to ride her.

And another fun little Greta story (I don't think I've told this? If I have, just bear with my forgetfulness or not read it all haha!) from Saturday.

I was helping L with her all-day lessons as I have been doing on Saturdays, and I glanced over to see Greta still standing in the front corner of her stall in front of the entrance, her head hung a little low. Worried, I went over to check on her and noticed her dozing, quite heavily. She was snoring, her eyes were closed, her head was propped up against the entrance and she body against the wall, absolutely looking like she was about to collapse. And to top off this ladylike performance, there was at least a 6-inch string of droll coming from her droopy lower lip. The girl was out. I said her name and kissed her on the nose, and she flicked an ear towards me and lazily opened an eye as if to say "Whuuut?" and then she went back to sleep. My curiously normal Greta. Of course, I did not take video because I was busy, but it would have been absolutely hilarious for y'all to have seen.

I also need to get video of her watching me while I help during lessons. She'll prop her head up over the top bar of her stall, ears forward and watching me as long as I'm in sight. As Mariah Carrey would say: Girl, "why you so obsessed with me?"

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Lovely, darling :)

Firstly, Greta has been her usual snuggle-bunny-but-opinionated self lately. Opinionated. Snuggle. Bunny. All you mare lovers will understand I'm sure :)

Ever since being enlightened on stretching your horse to the bit by L, both Greta and Odin have improved significantly over the past few days. Odin was never taught to stretch when he was initially trained 4+ years ago (or canter, eep!) and I don't think the concept was even touched upon when breaking him to ride before L got him. So stretching is a MUST for the Ponymonster. And it seems to be helping him. While he doesn't have the flexibility to reach all the way down, I've noticed his neck will get longer as he reaches for the bit, and I definitely feel contact. He looks more like a dart shooting for the board most of the time, but, by gosh, he can stretch!

As for Greta: va va voom! Yes, I said that. I go once around the arena on a loose rein, then make her stretch for the bit, then pick up contact... and she doesn't hike her head up and have to ease into the bit. She takes it up lightly and nicely and it just looks gorgeous. After some trotting, then we go down to walk she'll hollow, but I ask her to stretch again and she works back to bit just fine. Her eye looks soft, as if she's thinking, "Oh! Okay! Thanks for making this whole riding nonsense easier, Bre."

Greta already stretches nicely (the first and ONLY show we went to, while we got 3s and 4s on everything bahaha... we got 7s on the free walk.... the girl can work it!) but these exercises help to keep the ADHD Pony focused (and boy do they, thank God) and I know for sure she's reaching for the bit and rounding out her back. Her back keeps get wider and flatter (and not in a fatty way) and her upper neck muscles that are connected to her spine (the muscles along the upper neck base, I suppose) bulge when I ask for contact, her lower neck that used to be overdeveloped is now relaxed and loose when I ride her and it is slimming up, the part of her topline that connects to the withers is keeps developing ever so slightly and hopefully will only get better, and she is no longer bent at the 3rd vertebrae! I could still kill myself for that...... but I don't need to because I learned from my mistake and I am definitely fixing it :)

I just need video, just to show off haha. I also need to do more cavaletti work again. AND I need to keep reminding myself that dressage is a slow process, should not be rushed, and that (as dressage Confucius says) the rider who takes their time will be richly rewarded with a superb and happy horse and a strong bond.

Oh, I do love dressage, darling.

P.S. Greta needs yet an even wider "gullet" on her Wintec. Medium-wide is still too narrow. I was able to finally actually measure Greta with the Magikal Measuring Gauge and it told me she was wide, which freaked me out because I was thinking "WHAT?! WIDE? L, is she fat? Does she need to lose weight?" And I was told that the Wintec gauge goes by their own measuring system and no where near your typical saddle tree sizing system, because if it did, then Greta would probably still be in the medium range haha. So, a wide we got and I cannot wait to try it this week when it ships in. Thank you Stateline Tack for always being reliably fast!

And thank you G for putting up with all of Greta's expensive shananigans (new halter, a tail bag for her thinning tail - NOT THE TAIL! - and more saddle fixin's).

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Bony pillow

Okay, I'm going to brag.

So apparently Greta finds it quite wonderful while I'm cleaning out her stall or picking up all the hay she scattered everywhere and putting it back in her built-in hay bin (once again, another reason I love this stable is that the hay rack is on the ground in such a way that is natural to the horse and no shavings get in it, super nice) or just simply snuggling in the stall (or wash rack, or grooming station, or the very rare arena standings) to simply put her head on my shoulder and fall asleep. She just... put her head up there.... like, all 15 or 20 pounds..... and dozes! Seriously dozes! As in, I can feel her do a little jerk to keep herself somewhat awake every few seconds, and I can feel her head slowly weigh down on my shoulder. I look up, and her eyes are almost closed, and of course I'm sure her lower lip is drooping ten thousand leagues below the sea.

I'm sure I make a pretty bony pillow, bless her.

Last night I went out to help with jumping lessons (among many other things) and Greta was watching me the entire time. It's only on lessons nights or anytime when it's busy. Because that usually means I'm talking to OTHER people (oh, the thought!) and not paying attention to her (oh, the horror!)

Ears perked up, eyes alert, one nostril picked up funkily in her "curious" gaze. What a ham.

And today, after we snuggled and she took a nap on my shoulder (I had to prop myself up against the stall wall to support myself, but what the heck.... she does enough for me around here) I had to leave of course, and as I was leaving the stall I saw her eyes go from that relaxed, normal look to having little worry wrinkles above them! Don't give me that look, now, hun!

I'm starting to notice and fully grasp all these little things about her personality on and off the saddle, and the worry wrinkles today just really touched me. She's snuggly but not in an obnoxious way, and just likes to keep her eye on me. I could go on and on :)

Also, I finally received the med-wide Wintec "gullet" (technically, it's more like the tree, but whatever) and switched that out with the medium gullet today. Once I figured it out, the gullet change system really was quite easy. I was able to do it pretty much by myself, with the help of a friend when I needed to line the screws up (but then we realized that I had to velcro lined up wrong, so this whole screw-lining-up ordeal wasn't necessary, oops!)

L took a looky-loo at it, and we believe this one is nice in that it gives her more shoulder movement, but I do need to check the sweat patterns over the course of this next week. We might have to move up to a wide gullet. I hope not, and the sweat patterns today didn't enforce that we needed to, but you never know!

But the Wintec Easy Change Gullet system = win! Who wouldn't rather spend $20 versus buying a whole new saddle?

This is all for you, Greters :)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Very Gouda :)

I was watching Amelie the other night (wonderful movie btw... though for mature audiences) and they had a scene where she recorded this from the Criterium Inernationale in 1997 (NOT the Tour de France as I found out, but hey, one assumes if it's a bike race and it's in France... then it must be the Tour de France! haha) and I remembered how inspiring I find this video. It just makes me smile. And the movie theme music (La Valse D'amelie by Yann Tierson on the soundtrack, but the original piece is Comptine D'un Autre Été I believe, and Jolanda Adelaar and Guusje did a wonderful freestyle to it during a demo at the WEG a few years back) adds a nice touch :)

But yes, this video, just.... inspires me........ in that lovey-dovey-super-cheezy way. Lots of cheese. Very Gouda.

Friday, August 13, 2010

A looming dread rises.....

........ it comes in the form of Senior year and all-college-level classes and its devastation to my new-founded barn-bum lifestyle will be unprecedented.

But I WILL make it work. If normal kiddos can bend over backwards and touch the back of their heels to accommodate school sports and/or music and/or clubs/organizations AND still make ace grades, then I can too. Except for me, it'll just be school and riding haha.

I am excited for some of the classes I will be taking: European history, English and Art (always a favorite) and Biology. I'll be catching up with Sign Language after missing out for a year, so that will be interesting. And it'll be nice to see people that I haven't seen over the sumer because I was with my four-legged friends. And in November a dear friend from Europa will be visiting. YAY!

As for the horses, I plan to do homework and then ride around in the evenings. I will still keep Greta's schedule up and I will be riding Odin (and Tequila, when she gets better). As for the last two horses, it'll probably be me riding Odin on the days Tequila has lessons and Tequila the days she doesn't have lessons. And weekends will be open for all three. I will also be helping out L Saturdays with her lessons. I'm excited about that too. It'll be like an internship :)

Greta has been superb lately. Yesterday I ended up riding her in the evening, and she was VERY distracted. So after a long, careful warm-up with lots of changes in pace in the walk and halt and walk and trot transitions, we ended up with a nie, lovely ride doing.... just about the same stuff. And cantering. But she was very off-balanced and rushing during the canter. But it did make me appreciate and realize how balanced she really has become, because I remember it's been a while since she's done her whole leaning into the circle at a 45-degree angle and going 50 mph routine. Almost two or three months now. She has become much more balanced. It's just yesterday she wanted to GO EVERYWHERE! Halt? What's halt? Slow my pace? Huh?

And today was our FITNESS FRIDAY and she did well. I think I pushed her a little bit more than what she was ready for, but she had just about cooled off after ten minutes of continuous free walk after the whole workout. Of course, I walked her around for a another ten minutes and she was definitely quite cooled off. AND she got a hose down AND a liniment bath AND she came back to a stall (and the following is why I LOVE the stables we are at right now) with thick, fresh bedding AND two flakes of hay AND two buckets of fresh water! She was a happy, happy girl :)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Boom Boom Pow

Thank you thunder for deciding to BOOM and for lightening deciding to go FLASH whenever I was in between putting Greta's halter on and taking her bridle off. And thank you Greta for standing there crapping yourself rather than running the hell away. And thank you irony for making me realize how stupid it was to momentarily leave my horse without anything on her head in an open barn aisle during a thunderstorm :)

But really, the longeing session today went great. And, Andrea and Jen, I kept the longe line off the ground and made her move out. I found that she apparently knows "out"...... considering I never used it then I'm amazed that she remembers. Super smart girl :)))

As for the thunderstorm, after that incident, I took the hint and untacked her in her stall for safety measures, and then I handwalked her five laps around the arena each way since I didn't want an incident to happen with just the line and her breakaway halter. I had more control over her and she definitely relaxed when I was leading the way. Then I hosed her off, and she was awesome in the crossties even with the rumbling thunder. She kept an eye on me.

Lawdy, what a cutie!


I cannot believe I found a PINK PLAID helmet cover. And it doesn't look tacky. It matches the pattern on the saddle pad perfectly. This is just too funny.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Blah-blah-ah-ah-ah, Greta, Gre-ta-ta

Greta, ooh-la-la

BTW, Check out the Starsmith Remix of Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance". I heard a freestyle a-formin'....

Yeah, today's ride was less than smashing, but there were some nice moments. Yesterday: ace. Saturday: ace. Lately: ace. Don't know what happened today. Greta just wasn't up for cooperating, particularly halting (I've had her halting BEAUTIFULLY from the trot lately), and I probably was not asking right. I have a feeling I could've done a lot more stretching at the walk and trot. I will just remember that Thursday, and I'm sure that ride will be better, and Friday will be fun, and Saturday will be nice too. Tomorrow we do some actual work in side reins, according to our new poshy-woshy-schedule!

But Greta HAS been doing very well. I videotaped our ride today, and it seems every time I video myself, then the ride ends up bad. But if somebody else is doing it, then it works? And if there's no videoing at all, then it's awesome!

And Greta is moving up a size in her Wintec "gullet" (it's really the tree that's adjusting, but they call it a gullet? Whatever) because she's gained about 50 lbs since we got her and she's put on some muscle, so it's starting to pinch her behind the shoulders. I could tell because she now has a dry spot right behind her shoulders. And the gullet is sitting higher up on her than it should be. But hey, this is why I got the Wintec! Because the gullet can be adjusted by some Joe Shmoe like me AND I love the CAIR panels because I don't have to worry about pressure points or reflocking, etc. It may not be super duper fancy like the $3,000 Passiers out there, but it's a lot more user-friendly and I didn't feel nervous about getting one, because I knew things could easily be adjusted. And they still look nice. I like my Wintec, and I'll love it again when it's not pinching Princess's shoulders haha.

Until then, some notes from Greta:

Hello, people. These are pictures of me. Gorgeous. I know.

I have a pretty neck. I like showing it off. And I know there's is food in that sink. I check it, like, every time I go by it. But all there was in there today was, like, water. Oh, well, better luck next time :(

Bre likes to make sure I match. I like my pink plaid. Bre even has a pink plaid water bottle and pink plaid zocks. So, really, she likes to match sure we match. Chels and Bentley call it my "Almost Burberry" attire. Appropriate for Miss Golightly, yes :) I'm pretty, I know.

Bre did, like, this super weird thing to my hair (she does weird things all the time to my hair, and she always mumbles "I have to get it to lay flat, it must lay flat, and it will lay flat on the same side as the rest of your hair". Well, I don't know about you, Bre, but I was trying to one-up Justin Bieber with my side swept hair that, like, falls to one side and stays there. It keeps me edgy) but as you can see, she banded it over to one side and now it, like, stays! Of course, I tried to rub them out last night, but it made my hair stick up every where this morning when Bre came to get me from my pasture. She said I looked like a poser punk who DIYed his mohawk. She was laughing at my failed free-my-hair attempt, but I, like, totally wasn't. But when she took them out she was happy that my hair was, like, all flat and on one side and everything and kept telling me how pretty I looked, even with the freaky 'do before. I know, Bre, I'm pretty. You could stand to, like, say it more often ;)

Oh, and Bre's neck makes, like, a really good resting spot for your chin. She was hosing me off and she, like, bent over and her neck was, like, there, under my chin, so I, like, put my chin there. And I dozed. And she laughed and pet me. I don't know what was so funny about it, I was just putting my human to good use. You dozed off on my side one time at this one clinic while we were, like, waiting and I was eating hay, so I'm, like, returning the favor. Love ya, Bre!

XOXO - Greta

Monday, August 9, 2010

Social Graces from Greta

"This... this is my face. It's covered in freckles and the occasional spot and some veins."

Mmmm, this song reminds me of Greta for some reason, probably because of the lyrics in the beginning. I could just see her saying a lot of the stuff in the song. The video doesn't make sense, but it seems hard to find any music videos that make sense nowadays haha. But it's Kate Nash, so that makes up for everything.

ANYWAY, Greta has some lessons in social graces to teach y'all. I just find it funny how she is around other horses. Mares are funny in general.

But anyway, here's Greta....

Hello, my subjects. It's Greta. Greta Golightly. And this... this is my list of my very generous social graces. I say generous because these horses are lucky I even allow them to look at my beautifulness, much less come within a twenty foot radius (even you, next-door-neighbor-Tequila, even you). Now, listen and learn:

  1. Ponies are little impish critters sent to steal your food, probably for some great Pony Overlord or something. You must pin your ears and make ugly faces if they get within a twenty foot radius of your stall, because they WILL steal your food. I haven't seen one do it yet, but I'm taking precautions. I think the Pony Overlord brainwashed the humans to put the mounting block within a twenty-foot radius of my stall so little impish ponies had an excuse to come near my food. As for much smaller ponies, they are evil horse-eating minions for the Pony Overlord and should be avoided at all costs. Spooking is preferable. Sorry, Bre.
  2. I am forced into a pasture with other horses. I tolerate them, and they all seem to want me to like them or something. So I let them come close to me and try and nuzzle me and let them stand next to me, but I try and explain to them that horses can only be within my magnificent presence for no more than ten minutes. Then, they gotta go.
  3. Horses stalled next to me - as of now it is Tequila - have some perks. I will actually humor the idea of being friends with them on certain occasions. I might even neigh at them. But when food or people come around, especially Bre, then I must bare my teeth and make ugly faces at them, because I want to make sure they know that they cannot steal my stuff OR my human. Simple, right?
  4. If you make very cute and inquisitive faces and stick your nose between every stall bar when Bre is near tack box, apples, carrots, or peppermints within one's mouth usually follow.
  5. One must keep an eye on one's human wherever they go while they are tacking up. Because I just know there's food in that tack locker. And it makes Bre laugh when I stand still and watch her, and she tells me silly things like "I'm still here, goober, I'll be right there." Well, Bre, just come back with FOOD!
  6. If a human is riding you, they must ask nicely for a halt. Because I don't like to stop. Even if it means asking several times, because I want to make sure they REALLY want me to halt. Because if they don't, then I have no problem not halting. Same concept applies with everything else under saddle as well.
  7. Oh, and most geldings are jerks, so you should just pin your ears and make ugly faces at them as well. Except very cute ones like Finale. And Odin gets away with things too, because he keeps Bre from riding me for a little bit longer.
  8. When Bre is visting with people in front of your stall, be patient. Wait exactly five minutes through that boring conversation of stupid things like college plans or whatever, and then proceed to make silly faces if they still do not stop. Yawn very big and roll your eyes back and shake your head around. Or play with Bre's hair or fall asleep on her shoulder. Then everyone laughs and pays attention to you again and pets you and starts talking about you. Because talking about me is more important than talking college plans, right, Bre? Right? I'm coming with you to College Station? Well, I guess that counts.... but you're still talking about that silly college stuff and YOUR interests and everything.
  9. And if Bre walks away from your stall and down the aisle to that Mio horse, whicker and nicker until she comes back. Because I am the most important horse here, right? Good, you're coming back. I really am the most important horse to you? Good, because when you walked over to that Mio for ten seconds I was beginning to seriously doubt my faith in you- APPLE! Gimme that!!
Oh, sorry..... but see what you can learn from me?

XOXO - Greta

Greta's First Time in Side Reins 8-03-2010

Some video of this momentous occasion haha. Thanks L!

This is probably not Greta's first time in side reins, but it is her first time as far her time with me heehee. Which means, she hasn't been in side reins for at least a little over a year. She's smart. She nailed it real quick.

Good Girly.

A note from Her Royal Juicyness The Fame Monster:

Oh. My. Gawd. She makes it sound so easy. It was so, like, HARRRD! Like, you have NO idea. Like, I had to work! I mean, I work well anyways, and the snuggling at the end was fun and all, but Bre, like, took me away from, like, my hay and, like, my stall and, like, it was so HARD! But I got over it. Because I'm, like, mature. And it was fun showing off in front those two fancy geldings that watch me when I work. Maybe in another life, Finale and Taran. I can, like, ROCK side reins now. I'm SO over you. Ha!

XOXO - Greta

Aww, Greta. You have such good social graces :)

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Cavaletti and Ground Pole Favourites

Here are my favorite ground pole torture methods, er.... I mean exercises :)

Aww, don't worry Greta. You'll do fine :)

Now, they will be demonstrated on my dream cavaletti set of various shades of pink, and the line of motion is in purple. Of course all of these exercises strengthen the topline, but I'm also big on working on precision, as that's a point Greta and I struggle with sometimes haha! Now let's go.

Simple Cavaletti, AKA The Iron Maiden. I like to make double use out of my cavaletti, because it means more time in the saddle and less time fixing things around. I like to spice up a typical cavaletti setup by making Miss Greta go in between them. It's much easier to do at the walk than the trot right now, but we'll get there. It's good for both horse and rider as it keeps our movements precise and accurate. The turns are the hardest part, because of course, you gotta turn right so you'll make in between two cavaletti :)

"The Big X" AKA The Wheel of Torture. I have to use two of our 6' cavaletti to make it fair for her at the trot, as a 12' circle at the trot going over poles is a bit strenuous. I got this exercise from Horse Illustrated and it helps by teaching "your horse to stay round through his turns and circles; teaches your eyes to look ahead and stay on a chosen track; and introduces the opening rein". Striped poles are a must, because it enforces staying a chosen track, i.e., going over the outside colored stripe on the all the outside poles, or the middle stripe, etc. And it definitely, DEFINITELY introduces that opening rein haha! It's also great to canter AROUND as it makes good geometrical markers for a large circle (it's about a 24-foot circle)..... y'all should know better than to try and canter a horse OVER the poles.

It's also good to go over the center of the X, and I'm sure it helps to prepare a horse for jumping, as they have to go over a very specific and fixed point. But it's also good for dressage, as it keeps both horse and rider accurate and precise because they're going through such a specific point!

A Modification of The Big X, AKA The Pinwheel of Doom. Heehee this one Greta and I have to do at the walk, because it requires a lot of attention to detail and for the horse to really pay attention to where they're placing their feet, and the fact they have to raise their feet a little bit more does require a lot of strength. It's like doing a lap of running where you raise your knee to be level with your pelvis each step, whatever those are called. But it CAN be done at the trot, as I have seen it done several times by more advanced horses at the stables: in fact, I saw it done quite nicely today by Mister Jigsaw during a lesson.

The two middle poles are propped up where the four poles on the ground meet, making the middle poles raised at an angle. You can walk your horse around it in a circle (I know I drew the middle stripe as the focusing point, but it would be MUCH more realistic, and biomechanically correct I'm sure, for the focusing point to be the outside colored stripe or the very outside stripe for starters, like Greta and I!) OR you can also bring your horse through the center as a raised point to go over, the height being the equivalent of a very low crossrail. Same as the previous exercise, it's a very exact focusing point so it's excellent for precision as well.

So, see Greta? They're good for you, and they aren't so bad. Now let me see your happy face!!!

(I couldn't duplicate the cartoon from above haha!)


Yeah, I'm no trainer, but I like to use cavaletti because it just has sooooo many benefits for horse and rider. I learned all of these exercises from my trainers and Horse Illustrated, so I'm not just making any of these up and they come from sources I trust and so far they seem to be working. I'd just thought they'd be interesting to share. Just a little disclaimer there.

Official Legit Work Schedule

So I'm giving Greta an official schedule. It'll help keep things from becoming dreary and to keep us from not knowing what to do when I hop on her, which hasn't been too much of a problem lately, but it has been in the past haha. Also, now that I know how to use side reins (see pictures below of Greta's first time in them on Tuesday!) that'll help with the schedule as well.

This was pretty much taken out of the pages of 101 Dressage Exercises by Jec Aristotle Ballou (what a name, huh?) because it actually will work out quite nicely for me when school *cringe* starts up again. Senior year. All AP classes. This will be interesting......

Monday: One-hour loosening session. I practiced this Monday and what I found works best is to do a lot circles and serpentines and transitions on a fairly loose rein (not floppy, but enough to keep contact) in the walk and trot in the arena, and then take her out for a gallop (which REALLY loosens her) and then come back and finish up with ten minutes or so of trot work, followed by the usual walk on a loose rein.

Tuesday: New material. Right now this just consists of staying on the bit, basic canter work, cavaletti, and becoming a lot less stiff going to the left (she's developed a bulge where she overuses her right side... shame on me for overusing it because it was her easier side!). And a lot of times if anything comes up that needs fixing during a ride, then that'll be what we work on.

Wednesday: Ground work and longeing. I'll be using the side reins for this. Lots of walk and trot work, changing the pace within each gait to spice things up a little. The book recommends using ground poles, but seeing as Greta's only had ONE side reins lesson (and it was, what, 15 minutes?) then we'll be taking it easy. The book recommends to change direction at least four times, and that sounds like a good rule to follow. I'll be timing each one to make sure they're even. I don't want to work her on the longe for more than 30 minutes, so about 7 minute intervals will be good. Initially, it'll be mostly walking until she develops the strength to do more trotting than walking. But she will be trotting :)

Thursday: New material. Same idea as what we'd do Tuesday. Perhaps more cavaletti work this day, because she'll be a bit more ready for it.

Friday: Fitness. What I have in mind is to go for trotting intervals of 10-15 minutes straight, working our way up to 20 within a few weeks. Also, one or two gallops down the "pasture aisle" and up around the round pen (I timed it to be about five minutes), followed by one or two more trotting intevals. Five minutes walk breaks will be in between each session. Initially, I plan on doing a warm up at the walk, one 10-15 min trot session, a five minute walk session, a gallop, a five minute walk session, another trot session, and a cool down.

I have some other fun stuff I want to do once she can do what I initially ask of her, like going up and down the driveway at the walk and trot (it's a long, gradual rise, but sloping enough that it's a nice, slow workout, plus the concrete is good for her feet, and it's lined by grass, so we can swap surfaces without too much of a difference, as turf is still firm but a little more forgiving than concrete) and going over crossrails....... once I know how to jump and when she's ready (I want an OK from a vet and the farrier). We can't do much trail riding as there's not really a good trail riding place nearby without having to trailer her to the park down the way and across a four lane road. I'm not going to risk walking her over a four lane road, even if it has very low traffic. I'm just paranoid about some bozo driving recklessly.....

Saturday: Confirmed movements. Warm up, ride a few Training Level tests, cool down. Keep it simple.

Sunday: NO WORK! So I can sleep in an hour :) I still go out to ride other horses (Odin for now as Tila Tequila will be out for a week due to some lameness in her RH caused by a wonderful little cut) and I fix feed on the weekends (I'm the weird girl who mucks out her horse's stall once or twice when I'm out there even after it's already been mucked out and fixes feed on the weekends for the heck of it) so Greta will definitely at least be groomed and loved on this day. After all, Sunday is a day of rest.

In other news, I will be assisting L (Odin's owner) during her 10 lessons on Saturday. I did it and while it was tiring, it was fun and I learned a lot! Longeing horses, walking kiddos on the leadline, setting up courses, it really is fun. I'm weird. I like doing that kind of stuff. And I learn a lot.

Side reins pictures!!!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Product Review

Desitin. No, not for me. Not for a baby either (you can imagine the strange looks I got, a seventeen year old with Desitin checking out at WalMart... almost as good as the time when I had to get newborn-sized diapers for a foster mare with VERY petite hooves when she had an abcess two years ago. RIP Emma Jean).

Of course, it was for my horse. She got into SOMETHING out in the pasture and I came to the stables about two weeks ago to find her skin peeling all over around her right nostril. It looked like a rash of some sort. I asked our resident vet tech (whose sweet mare is ironically named Itchie) what she might recommend to fix it. "Desitin! I use everytime Itchie gets an itchy."

I was a bit taken aback. I was not about to put DIAPER RASH CREAM on Greta's nose. But I went ahead and gave it a try. I put it on her nose that same night, and she didn't seem to mind. She looked at me like, "What did you just put on me and do I look stupid?"

Oh, Greta, you know me well. I told her that she looked fine and that it smelled like Baby Dior perfume and it was good for her. The next day, that massive expanse of peeling ugliness had been sized down to one last square centimeter. I put it on again and it was gone the next day.

A second testimony: yesterday I took Greta out and thoroughly groomed her, per usual. But Lo! I felt an odd rough spot on the cowlick of her belly, where the horsey belly button is. The very early beginnings of a "summer sore". I not-quite-fondly remember a plump baby gelding in my horsey past who used to get the worst "summer sores". They would get huge and get crusty and then bleed. Absolutely disgusting, but far more worse, it was extremely painful for him and the flies would not leave it alone. Even with a big swath of SWAT around it, there would still be one or two flies messing around with it. One summer it got elongated enough that the girth could be put on some day and some days, even with the super soft fleece covering, he would still pull back and attempt to break his halter trying to get away from the pain. Yikes.

As you can imagine, he was not my favorite horse to ride during the summer.

Coming out of my cringing flashback, I looked under to double check if what I felt was right. I could not see anything apparent, but it still felt unusually rough there. Desitin was the only thing I had that I felt could perhaps do the most good.

I come out today, and the skin didn't feel rough. It felt quite soft, and a some of the hair was growing back. This Desitin stuff is freaking me out.

So Desitin works.

Now as far as me referring to this rough spot as a "summer sore" is not very accurate, as it is not proud or granulated flesh and I don't believe it has been caused by bugs or stomach worms, so it's not really a sore, it's just a weird callous. I have met a few horses who just have this rough callous on their belly button area that appears during summer, and can get worse if it's not checked on, and their owners just called them "summer sores". I looked it up and nothing seems to match one side or the other, so for now I'm just calling them "summer sores".

Any ideas?

That's also freaking me out :)

Thursday, August 5, 2010

L'amour et les chevaux

Love and horses. I'm such a sucker for vintage prints. Vintage prints and fancy crests and old children's books illustrations - the ones with the beautiful ink drawings like in the original Alice in Wonderland or Black Beauty. Oh yes, I'm a big sucker.

As for Greta, she's a sucker for hay. Le foin est la clé du cœur de mon cheval.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Fun Little Equine Survey

About the Rider:

Age: 17
How old were you when you started riding? 7
How many years have you been riding? 10

About THE horse:

Show Name: Greta Golightly (Audrey Hepburn inspiration, much? She IS Miss Hepburn in horse form, afterall)
Barn Name: Greta, the Barbie Horse (affectionately named by the Barn Manager/Owner and her BF and it quite apprpriate), Gretts, Der Greters, Princess, Gretakins, Bahana (long story behind that one.... it means "sister" in Hindi, and I try to use it privately haha) and let's not forget Her Royal Juicyness The Fame Monster :)
Age: 13
Gender: Maresy-mare
Color: Fleabit Grey :)
Breed: SWB/QH Appendix (didn't know they made those did ya? And boy does this girl run like a SWB with the hardiness and personality of a QH!)
Height: 15.3hh
Years Owned: It's hard to believe sometimes, but I've only had her a little over a year. But I'm still discovering quite a bit about her. So it's not that hard to believe.
Tack Color(s): Purple and pink, baby! And by pink I mean SmartPink Plaid :) Black and grey for formal events. She looks very sharp with a black pad with white and purple trim and black polos and a black ear net. Of course, can't do that during the summer haha!
Leg protection of choice: Usually no protection, because she doesn't need it, but when we're working on new stuff I like to use polos, but I can only use those in the winter, spring, and fall. I have a pair of Dover ProSport Fleece-lined all-purpose boots coming in for when we do stuff like cavalettis and gallops and the eventual trail ride. But I can use those in the summer if needed, b/c soft, thick fleece is breathable.
Girth size: 24" (just shy of pony sizes haha!)
Saddle size: Um.... for her or for me? I need an 18" for my spider legs (the seat is a BIT big though haha) but Greta needs the Medium sized Wintec Gullet (might need to make it wider in a few years when she's got a buff back!)
Bridle size: Cob
Bit: French link eggbutt snaffle
Favorite snack: Apples (Red Delicious and Sweet Gala, only, please... believe me, she spits everything else out) and carrots. I wanna try bananas though. And unlike the rest of the horses in the world, she HATES watermelon!

Other (aka Injuries):

Have you ever fallen off? Of course. Nothing serious yet. I've fallen off enough times to know how to fall off gracefully :) I've fallen off Greta three times now. And I've probably fallen off over twenty times since I've begun riding.
Have you ever been bit by a horse? Um... not maliciously. I fed a treat the wrong way :) Sorry Greta, my bad. And it was really cold outside, so it really hurt. But no bruising.
Have you ever been kicked by a horse? I've been kicked AT, but never by Greta. And never has one made contact.
Have you ever been seriously injured by a horse? I had my ankle busted by a horse we tried out before Greta. He freaked out when I tightened the cinch. We were almost sold a story haha! I couldn't walk for a week without a pathetic limp hat I tried desperately to hide. But that's the worst so far KNOCK ON WOOD!
What is the highest you have jumped on a horse? HAHA YOU'RE FUNNY, because it was, wait for it.... A CROSSRAIL! OMG! Actually, I think we jumped a 1' vertical once? Greta's not supposed to jump over 2', and I didn't get her for jumping anyway, and she's definitely not brave enough to be a jumper or (dear God) an eventer, so we've got plenty of excuses. She was VERY cautious about the 1' vertical! And seriously tried to talk me out of going over cavalettis the first time we rode over them. I'm a confident rider, so she is definitely a good match for me.

Pick one:

English or Western: English, but I still have a soft spot for barrel racing. I learned to ride that way ;)
Show or Pleasure: Pleasure. Greta's not much one for showing. We might show in the future, but I didn't get Greta to be a show horse. I just want to learn dressage and to let Greta be the best she can be. Perhaps I'll apply everything I learn to an upper-level fancy-pants show prospect one day after Greta retires (maybe even her baby!) I'm keeping the girl until the very end, so we'll have plenty of time. Like, twenty more years, considering she's been very well cared-for her entire life, and definitely well-cared for now. You see her health just by looking at her SHINY coat and amazing BAREFOOT hooves and BUFF muscles.
Saddle or Bareback: Bareback is fun, it's just not fun when we do a canter-trot transition... because we still haven't got that down nicely haha! But really, I like under saddle. You have just as much fun. I try to keep bareback to a minimum (really just when I graze her) so we actually get work done. I sound a bit traditionalist, don't I? hehe
Tall Boots or Paddock Boots: Tall boots, please!
Breeches or Chaps: Breeches. I've turned out to be quite the traditionalist hehe
Riding Indoors or Out: Depends on the weather. During the summer, it's pretty much the indoor arena for the majority of the schooling, and for everything else we're on the grounds. Greta's still iffy about the SCARY outdoor arena, but when the weather cools down from 100+ during the summer, then we'll keep working in it.
Horses or Ponies: HORSES! I'm way to tall for ponies. My feet touch the ground! I'm not too heavy though. But ALL of the ponies I've very ridden were EVIL, and I would say that I HATE ponies, if it weren't for the fact that the two ponies I know presently are the SWEETEST things ever. Too bad I couldn't learn to ride on Midnight or Peter instead of witchy Jiffy :)
Mare or Gelding: Aw, c'mon. Geldings are fun, but can be a bit too goofy for my likes sometimes, and they can get a bit lazy. I do like them, don't get me wrong, but, you know........ Now, as for mares, Mares make life more juicy :)

Put SNOOKIE GOT ARRESTED FINALLY in your comment if you read all of this nonsense ;)

Post idea courtesy of A Little Black Pony :)))

SOMEBODY likes to model...

Hello Greta's little subjects.

Haha I just found this cute. The horse has the same look as the model doesn't he/she? That "omg I'm sexy now take the picture" look. And I love the model's top. Very cute :)

This is Greta's dream job. Especially if she modeled for Polo. She was a polo horse before I got her, afterall.

As for riding, I did not ride Grta nor did I ride Odin today. The humidity and heat was so bad that the horses were visibly sweating in their stalls with their fans on, and they were just standing. With that high of humidity, sweat does not cool like it's supposed to. The horse just keeps sweating and sweating and nothing happens. Yeah, no riding.

But I did ride Greta yesterday and got an AMAZING canter out of her. Her trot has been lovely as usual, as with the walk, but I went ahead and just cantered a circle just to stay fresh. She would have the first few strides of her canter be lazy and on the forehand like she likes to do, but I kept my contact consistent and suddenly she lifted her poll, softened it, and was just in front of the vertical. I could only catch a glimpse in the mirror as we went by, so unfortunately I could not see whether her back was round or not, but her legs looked like they were reaching under her nicely. Really, it was just the nicest canter I've ever gotten out of her. MY PLAN IS WORKING!

Greta has been in kind of a witchy mare mood lately, but a good grooming and face rub usually brings her back to her relaxed, droopy lip self. She's not mean, except to other horses which is quite usual, she's just a bit uninterested. But she's in heat and she's probably feeling a bit under, just like all us girls can! She still has quite a bit of her usual self shining through, she's just having one of those weeks. We're all allowed to have them. Plus the weather has just been miserable lately. We're supposed to spike into the 100s this week. But it's August, and this is always the weather when August rolls around. Yuck.

Oh well, it's MUCH better than last year, with over 130 days straight of 100+ heat. So you folks on the East Coast, QUIT COMPLAINING! Well, you guys aren't quite prepared for it, so I'll give you a break. Just be aware of the weather we're so used to. You can get back at us by making fun of us at wintertime, with our army of sand and snowplows for when we have the occasional flurry of snow that melts as soon as it hits the ground. God help us Texans if we had a snowstorm. But that's another topic for another day :)

I'll see if I can get some video tomorrow. If I ride. I really hope I can ride. I'll probably just have to get out even earlier to try and beat the weather. Even though it's already 85 at 8:30. Yikes.

But until then, enjoy your NICE weather.

Bre (Official Spokesperson for Her Royal Juicyness The Fame Monster... Greta)
Photo from {this is glamourous}