Monday, July 23, 2012

A hipster weighs one instagram...

I shall update everyone on Greta via various pictures from instagram (and a few not prettied up with instagram *sad face*). It will show how excitingly repetitive our summer has been. She's enjoying being a horse out in the pasture, though, I'm waiting anxiously for her next vet check so we can see what the future holds. It might not be a bad thing for her have more pasture rest time once school starts up... it would give me more time to hit the books. Because I seriously need an excuse to NOT go see her but for a short grooming visit when given a choice between hours at the barn and hours studying.

I learned my lesson during freshman year that being a barn bum and going to classes do not mix well. Well-planned pony visits that coincide nicely with class and studying schedules DO mix well :)

As for my summer, it has consisted of working between two to three jobs (cashcashcashcash), a craptastic relationship fail (ouchouchouchouch), discovering this thing called a social life (funfunfunfun), art projects (relaxing), and landing a pretty sweet gig helping JenJ out with her ponies that I absolutely ADORE right behind Greta ;)

So now, pictures of our EXCITING summer!

Here's one of her grazing! Actually, this was spring, but still...

Here's one of her giving me a funny face in the crossties.

She is pro at this trick. She should get paid she is so professional at it.

I did sit on her once or twice and walked around. I just couldn't help myself. No swelling or ouchniess afterwards either. Yay!

And then she got an abscess that quickly resolved itself...

...which meant I could use my handy dandy vet tech skills to make a pile of duct tape boots!

And her sitting pretty for grooming, per usual.

Oh, Lizzy has since moved to the big mare pasture and has attached herself to Greta's hip. Greta is being a good mommy and Lizzy is a very good citizen now on the ground, and I'm growing even MORE attached to the Lizzard. Dang it.

Oh, and SmartPak has a SMARTPURPLE plaid now! My prayers have been answered!

And the latest picture of me torturing my horse by putting sunglasses on her head. Pretty cool, huh? She's my homie pony still. That new Lil Wayne song was stuck in my head and killing my brain cells. MY HOMIES STILL!

So, yeah, that's it. Actually, here's one more interesting thing I found this summer:
The sacrum of a rodent. Found in the hoof of Jen's pony, Saga. My inner biologist geeked when I saw this. Geeked. Out.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

May 2012 Portraits


No, we're still here... I just haven't had anything terribly interesting (that is also relevant to horses and Greta in particular) to post about. And if I ever did I forgot about in the bustle of life. Whoops :)

She is enjoying fat happy pasture life and I'm working my way back to riding her whenever I can make it out (I'm 45 minutes away from her now, so I must use my gas wisely) BUT I will be exercising my G-Pa's pony Choco (remember Choco?) and helping jenj out with her ponies (who are all so much fun!) so expect to see some of that stuff soon... if I can get my blogging act together.

So enjoy Greta and I'd first ever formal portrait session to commemorate our three year anniversary (May 19!)

Thank you Greta for getting me through high school and keeping me grounded in college. You're a wonderful friend :)

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Why I will never work in the horse industry...

Life is busy, finals, blah, blah, blah. Sorry I haven't been blogging for a good while now. Not like I've had anything too terribly interesting to say lately. Get over it ;)

But this past week, as busy as it was, was a nice break from the horse world and, you know, having a life and all. And it made me realize further that I am so stinking glad I will NEVER EVER work in it.

Too much estrogen. Sorry girls, but we're already pretty crazy. Something about horses makes us SUPER FREAKING CRAYCRAY crazy. There's also the opposite problem with too much testosterone and something about horses makes some men be absolute over-domineering macho jerks. Not all, but enough that it's noticeable. It's just something about horses makes horsewomen let their inner OCD freakiness/witchiness come out. I don't even want to fathom why, but I'm happy as long as I'm aware it's there.

The super-sensitive people are also mind-boggling. If you're that timid, what drew you to be around and attempt to control a 1000+ animal?! As long as you learn to toughen up from your time with the big critters, then I'm happy. But usually you don't, and then you resort to magical sticks and round-pen-bonding voodoo. And then I cringe.

Oh, and the horse world is chuck full to the brim of first-world problems. Seriously. It's a group of people with their head so far up in the clouds they can't even the see world around them or below them. It's also chuck full of opinions, which is what probably what does every horseperson in: everyone and their pet turtle has an opinion on how things should be done.

The sad part is that I have been all of these people. I would like to think that I have moved on, but I know I still have my moments. At least I'm aware of them and not entirely self-righteous. It's a start, right? I have learned to only take my negativity out on not the entire world. Barn world included.

I love horses. Some more than others. I love riding. I love riding some horses more than others. I also understand that they are horses, not humans. I love the horses, not always the people.

I just want to ride and pet my pretty pony. Remind me to never work in the horse industry and to get my own dang place to keep my horses when I'm older. I understand that the latter entails a whole other set of problems, and thankfully my boarding barn I'm at now has little to no drama. Missed that bullet!


Sunday, April 15, 2012


So I found out that a good friend at the barn and her partner are going to ROLEX! Why? TO WATCH HER FORMER STUDENT! And when I say "former" I mean "she taught him most of his dressage skills". Yay Meg! Like I told her, "It takes a rockstar to know a rockstar."

So, if y'all could please cheer on Clark and Loughan Glen as they compete at Rolex? I wish them the best!!!

Yeah, I can definitely see Meg's hand in that pair of awesomeness. So much to learn from her.

Greta meets sheepskin....

Mudder this is my Y U NO BRING TREATS face! I'm too stinking cute for this nonsense!

STOP STOP STOP! I must smell this strange new material before you place it on my back. I shall smell it INTENSELY and SEVERAL TIMES.

This smells like sheeeeeeeep. No wonder you could never go vegan Mudder. Ooooh, wait, my back LOVES this sheep stuff. NEED DIS.

That Micklem bridle that I would LOVE to write a review on if we did more work in it. I swear to you guys,  when I can work more in it, then I'll tell ya how I like it. I do like it, but I can't say I can be too accurate right now.

Mudder this is my SEXY look. Victoria's Secret is always looking for models. I THINK IT SHOULD BE CALLED GRETA'S SECRET FROM. NOW. ON.

Apples nom-nom

(my ears weren't pinned, I had just finished shaking a fly off my head. I don't get foodles for my noodles if I'm mean about it)

Working Equitation and Haras Dos Cavaleiros at The Pin Oak Charity Horse Show

I have had the fortune to meet Rafa and Carmina Zamorano in person and they are really lovely, down-to-earth people. I had no idea the chaos they had gone through in Mexico nor their journey here in Texas. I have never been to their facility, but OMG IS IT NOT GORGEOUS?!

Pin Oak is one of the largest H/J shows in Texas. Located in Houston, most of the proceeds go to benefit Texas Children's Hospital, the Houston Ronald McDonald House, and Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Family Alliance. Let's just say I'm happy to see Haras Dos Cavaleiros be one of the main sponsors of this show.

And I am also very happy to see classes like Working Equitation begin to show up. Like the Hunter Derby and Sporthorse Versatility classes, they require a horses and riders who are NOT arena-pampered, and THAT MAKES ME SO HAPPY.

So what is Working Equitation? It's like an American Hunter Derby class (notice I say American, because hunters in the UK is the equivalent and more of a hunter derby class... their horses and riders are being tested for their ability in the hunt!) but for dressage horses. It started in the Spanish breed shows, and showcased the training required of these breeds to work on the ranch and in the bullfighting ring. Dressage Working Equitation is modified to make for a less-strenuous test, usually with minimal or no obstacles, and is similar to a lower-level Sporthorse Versatility or Prix Caprilli class. What they will offer at Pin Oak, though, is very much like a Spanish breed working eq class, just slightly more accommodating and costumes are not mandatory.

What does a HARD CORE working eq class look like, you ask? Observe this chunk of awesomeness and WHAT IS THIS A GENUINE ALL-AROUND ENGLISH HORSE?! I should love to see a Lusitano in eventing. I think they could really rock it, at the lower levels if nothing else.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

CRAZY 1967 Grand National Video

"Foinavon Wins Grand National after Huge Pile Up Causes Race Shambles (1967). The 1967 Grand National was the scene of one the most notorious pile ups in Grand National history. Foinavon had odds of 100/1 to win the race. Even his owner Cyril Watkins did not bother to attend Aintree because the chances of a win were wholly improbable. As expected, Foinavon did not play a competitive part in the race until at the 23rd fence, a loose horse cut across the riders causing all the horses to either fall, unseat their riders or refuse to jump. Foinavon and his rider, John Buckingham, are so far behind that they manage to bypass the shambles, jump the fence and take a lead of 200 yards. Although most riders were able to remount, no one managed to quite catch up with horse and rider. Sadly no owner or trainer were in the winners enclosure to congratulate them!"

This plays out like a movie! CRAZY! And I imagine the look on the owner and trainer's faces when they got a call saying "By the way, your horse won the Grand National".

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Oliver 4-9-2012

Video from lesson on Monday. Ollie is drastically different from riding Butters, and I like it. He does not have a smooth round jump, and would rather rush fences versus sputter to a halt or straight out refuse them. Keeping him consistent to the fence is key, and staying with that jump is very good too! I re-learned about the magical world of mane-grabbing... it saved my butt and Ollie's mouth. The first few fences (NOT shown in the video haha!) on him were probably the worst I've ever done: I got horribly left behind and popped him in the mouth, poor guy! Thankfully it was reversed by the end of the lesson. He is also much more forgiving and tries a lot harder than Butters. Don't get me wrong, I like them both... but if I had to choose favorites, well, y'know....

I love learning on different ponies!

Greta has been quite well lately, still not too happy about the lack of a real job ("MOM walking around is NOT work!" If only more people shared the same mindset!) but happy enough nonetheless.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Greta lately...

...she has been enjoying the daily spa treatments so far. Although she still acts like she wants to do work-work again. In time, pony, in time.......

The daily routine pretty much consists of bringing her up, and first thing I do is a quick brush off of her back legs and clean her hooves before putting on her BOT quilt wraps. They did awesome things when we used to use them, and I wish I hadn't stopped. They're a must now.

She gets a gourmet dish of electrolytes, B-L pellets, her antihistamine pill (for her seasonal allergies that cause headshaking... WORKING WONDERS!) and some feed to mix it all up in. Because she's out in a pasture, then I have to give it her so I know she gets it and not other ponies. She gets a good grooming (shedding now, finally) and a warm wet towel on her eyes because they're all puffy and drippy with allergies now, much better though than if she wasn't on her pill.


The wraps stay on for an hour to two hours. I'm working her back up to the six hours or so we used to keep them on. I left them on her in the small pasture for an hour for the first time today, and no problems occurred. They're velcro, so if they get caught, she could easily get of them. One of the big reasons why I chose them over the BOT standing wraps. That and these are more user friendly for when BO put them on overnight. She can do awesome standing wraps, but this makes it so much faster. Also, they go down around the fetlock area. Can't always do that with a standing wrap.

Anyway, they seem to be working. Back On Track = freaking awesome.

Then I do whatever I need to do while she grazes or is turned-out. If there's no activity at the barn and I'm doing something where I can stay close and watch her, she pretty much is allowed to be a lawn-mower. And she comes when called. Seriously, I love how far my pony has come.

Le muscling is le gone. Sigh. Oh, well, at least she hasn't lost weight. Yeah, and I realized after this picture that the wraps were on wrong. They were fixed.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Question for the Readers: Cesar Parra Abuse Case

Yes, apparently Cesar Parra, renowned dressage trainer and Olympic US Team gold medalist, is involved in a particularly horrendous and sketchy abuse case. I say sketchy because, well, we only know one side of the story, and that is the owner's side.

I got this bulletin from a trainer friend who is well-known and practiced in the central Texas area. He's kind of awesome. I'll keep him anonymous, but he did have a very good point when several people attacked professional trainers in general, although this specific comment as you can tell was aimed against Parra's potential practices:
"I see it different. I am glad I have the luxury to be able to choose who I work with and only have clients that care foremost on the well being of their horses. The pressure from some horse owners to make a diamond out of a rock is pretty common and some trainers give in to that pressure instead of being honest and say the truth. Not every horse is Olympic material. I could not work in an environment where winning is above the welfare of the horse and its well being."
I agree with his position on the pressure of the business, especially at such a high level as Parra was at. I also agree with what he (and so many trainers) has told me many times: there is never an excuse for abuse, no matter what the level or stakes.

Now, read the actual article here:

My personal feelings? I had always thought Parra was amazing. This is appalling. While I'm sure it could have been a horrible accident, something about it angered enough people off that it has been taken to Superior Court (but then again, all it took was one angry woman to sue McDonald's for hot coffee... honestly, I don't care if there was no warning and it was in fact too hot, I would never put a thing of hot coffee in my lap and I always wait for it cool. Common sense rules!)

As for the still shots in the article, either that horse was put in a hyperflexion position, or they just caught a moment of bit evasion. The former would be a bit bothersome too, because I have never seen him use those methods before the few times I have watched him teach or school. What also bothered me was that he tried it again against vet orders. I should like to hear his side of the story, maybe some staff members or the vet who treated the horse. Of course the owner is going to be mad, so taking it all from her keeps it very one-sided. If it really was "torture" on his part, then I am absolutely ashamed for him and, once again, embarrassed for the sport of not only dressage but of equestrian sports in general.

What do you think?

Monday, April 2, 2012

Amazing fall video

I translated the description, and apparently this horse and rider landed with a 19 in dressage. Holy. Cow. I will also give that somersault a 10 and the horse's finale a 100%.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

An editorial on AKC vs AQHA

I had to write a casual, informative editorial for a class. Professor really emphasized the casual part. Weird. But anyway, I actually liked it well enough. I cut out all of the explanatory parts (what is AQHA, etc.) because I figured you guys are pretty darn smart, and I added bits to make it more applicable to the blog, but not much. Thought I would share.

AQHA is to AKC as Tomato is to Fruit may not think they're the same... but they actually are.

I have been reading HSUS president Wayne Pacelle's book The Bond: Our Kinship with Animals, Our Call to Protect Them. You're probably thinking "Might as well go to a PETA convention" and I thought that before I read it as well, until I reminded myself that Mr. Pacelle is the head of HSUS, which is typically a lot more practical than their radical counterpart. I still have to read it subjectively, but he seems pretty levelheaded, and it's good read if you're into the whole "animal welfare and what I can do about it" thing. This book really opened my eyes about how freaking hard it is to get anything done when animals and government/big business get mixed together. It's almost, almost comical how it all plays out. Like I had originally imagined, it usually comes down to voters/consumers to push things forward. In this novella, Mister Pacelle brought up a very interesting bit about the AKC and puppy mills. I could not help but think of QHs and TBs in particular. I'm sure there are other breeds, but I'll keep to what I am most familiar with.

Anyway, so I'm sure we all know that it's very, very likely that the cute "AKC registered" purebred puppy you bought at the pet store or online likely came from a puppy mill. And we've all heard one-too-many horror stories about these puppies having a slew of health problems and psychological issues from all the abuse and neglect in their early days. I had never really put AKC and the puppy mill industry (which is very much legal, and like most things governed by the USDA and their sub-categories, it's so poorly regulated it's morbidly funny, if not exasperating) together until I read this book, and it all sounded eerily similar to AQHA, among other big horse registries.

It's a very long story, but to sum it up (do your research to get the knitty gritty details, or read the book for a detailed summary): AKC gets most of their money from registration, so they try to register as much as possible. They are in competition with many other American registries (it used to just be the AKC, and several others have since popped up) so the standards to let anything and everything in has been WAY lowered. I will quote:
There are no meaningful health standards for the breeds in the AKC registry. The standards relate to the outward physical appearance of the animals... not to their overall well-being or fitness. "The best use of pedigree papers is for house-breaking your dog," says veterinarian and animal behaviorist Micheal Fox.... "They don't mean a damn thing. You can have an immune-deficient puppy that is about to go blind and had epilepsy, hip dysplasia, hemophilia and one testicle, and the AKC will register it.
So it made me feel better that the horse industry isn't the only industry that can be laughable as far as "BUT THEY HAVE PAPERS!" And it doesn't have to do with the outward appearance with some horse registries! You could find something that resembles a cow beefed up for processing or a horse with the back of a downhill ski race mountain slope, among other faults, but so long as he's a grandson of some "world" champion (seriously, why is it called "world" when it's really only the U.S. that competes and wins?) who probably broke down before he was even six, then YOU CAN REGISTER HIM! It doesn't even have to be a world champion, just another quarter horse! Which makes people think they can breed them, or sell them for lots of money when in fact, as far as quarter horses go, papers mean next to nothing and the poor horse is just about worthless.

There's no criteria. Sure the warmblood breeds have their issues, but at least there's a stingy criteria!

And what Mister Pacelle rounded it all up to was that the AKC's lack of criteria in registration is a major factor in the overbreeding problem. BINGO! Puppy mills keep popping them out, making money from them by saying they're registered, and the AKC profits from the abundance of registrations that really don't mean diddly-squat in terms of offspring quality. And who suffers? Not the registries....

Hmmmm, that all sounds really familiar! Like, AQHA familiar!

There are nice QHs out there, don't get me wrong. There are lots of them. I learned to ride on very nice barrel racing quarter horses, I have seen many do well in many disciplines, we own one (and a half if you count Greta haha) and I've ridden plenty of nice ones (Butters is constantly mistaken for a pony/wb cross or a nice Welsh Section D pony). In all honesty, I love QHs. I think they're are way under-appreciated in the hardcore English world. But why is that? Could it be because there are so many shoddy ones out there? Littered about craigslist and every equine ad service known to man? Because it's too easy to make one and register it to the point that "quarter horse" becomes two dirty words or absolutely meaningless?

I hear there's a similar problem in the TB world. I have to chuckle when I hear people say "Oh, this horse is a granddaughter of Seattle Slew! And this guy is a grandson of Secretariat!"

What about the little detail that Secretariat alone sired several hundred offspring. Several hundred? And none were of the same quality as Big Red himself. Some were pretty good, but nothing incredibly special. Most just had a cool name on their pedigree. And calculate that Secretariat's several hundred offspring probably each had many offspring themselves, most of whom were also not anywhere near the quality of Big Red. Yeah, it's cool to have that name on there, but it means nothing if there's not regulation to back it up. You just now have a couple thousand horses running around out there with the name "Secretariat" somewhere on their pedigree, quality be damned!

One of Greta's ancestors is Native Dancer! Did I ever see that in her? Nope. Does that alone mean I should breed her? Not. At. All.

When any breeding industry realizes it's all about quality and not quantity, then they will be one huge step further towards solving the overbreeding issue. Yes, that goes for you too, AKC and AQHA.

But until that fantastical day comes around when pigs sprout little wings and fly off into a rainbow of skittles candy poured by tiny green leprechauns from a flying unicorn in the sky (well, if I put it that way, that could also be the day I try hallucinogens) then buyers will just have to keep sifting through the mounds and mounds of unfortunate additions to the AQHA and other registries to find the real gems.

But hey, if the diamond miners could do it, then so can we as an equine community. Granted, the diamond miners also had dynamite and TNT. Whatever. Purely details.

In conclusion, it makes me sad, really, that any registry group with the potential to market great breeds lets them down so easily time and time again. And the animals are born and become caught up in it all. Just ask any child who gets caught up in such a situation: they're not too gung-ho about it. But at least a person can change their circumstances. A dog or horse cannot. But people can just as easily change the animals' circumstances.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Classic Beauty

Taken by Ellen Cody at the Royal Dublin Horse Show 2011. Talk about a classically beautiful horse. Like one you would see in an old painting.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Question for the Readers: When do you step in?

I'm very lucky to have found a stable that is always very kind to the horses. And not in the babying way, but more in the pragmatically fair and caring way. What most horsepeople would consider to be the correct way. There is no needless yanking and cranking, there is no needless beating, there is no strapping down, there is no running into the ground. Every horse is taught to collect and not have their chin cranked to their chest. Every horse is allowed to figure things out. There is only fairness. It is so nice to not see any of the cringe-worthy training stuff going on!

It's also pretty much drama-free. I attribute that to the barn owner/manager.

And you're probably thinking "THAT BARN CANNOT POSSIBLY EXIST!"

Well, yeah, it does. Be jealous.

So it is surprising that a group of people is allowed to trailer in to use the arena a couple times a month. I call them the Yank and Crank Show (YCS for short). Hardcore QH people (which the barn owner and many boarders are, but not in the abusive way, and they go to the same shows as the YCS people do and win alongside them) with some very nice horses that run around blatantly and agressively sea-sawing and having their hands up by their shoulders with split reins as the poor horse is forced into an anatomically-stressful downward position with his chin curled to his chest. The horses' eyes look worried and stressed at first, and then dead by the end of the ride. They're also worked into the ground... and then once they've (kinda) cooled out they're worked again. Western then English, or English then western, depends. You know what I'm talking about. Nobody really goes in the arena when they're there because A) they kind of take over the arena, and B) nobody can really stand to watch. It's funny to watch everybody pile on their horses and head into the arena once they're done. Morbidly comical.

Do I call that kind of riding abusive? Yes.

The horses are in great shape, I'll give them that. There is no immediate physical damage: no bloody spur marks, no blue tongues, no lame horses. I can imagine they will have some slowly progressive damage from being worked that way after a while, and they already have some ganrly knots on the muscle that goes over the third vertebrae behind the poll, where a horse will usually "break" to go behind the bit. But they are lovely quarter horses with great movement that lessens with the kind of restrictive riding used on them.

No matter what barn or show I went to for riding or showing or stewarding or scribing, barrel racing to eventing to dressage to hunters, one rule has been generally given to me: you do not step in unless there is immediate physical danger to the horse. Bleeding wounds (usually from spurs or nasty nosebands or bits most commonly), a clearly exhausted horse (excessive sweating, panting, the poor guy looks like he's about to collapse), excessive beating (that one was always subject to view, but usually incessant beating that goes on for more than three seconds), or hanging blue tongues (think the famous "blue tongue dressage" video). Some shows and facilities would get more detailed, but those four things were almost always touched on, especially for ring steward duties.

Only once did I have to ask a competitor out of the arena (for excessive beating... aka throwing a nasty temper tantrum) and it was backed up by the judge and show host. I have also kindly mentioned to people that their horse looked "a little tired" (shaking, soaking wet, and actually breathing through their mouth and stumbling to their knees) and maybe they should call it a day. Usually that was enough to get their attention that somebody cared and was watching. But anyway, those four things have always been a general rule of thumb.

I will stay out of people's business, as much as it pains me, unless I see those four things. I like to call it "the infamous four" rule.

I stayed out of the YCS business. One, because barn owner was supervising them and it was her arena that they were paying her to use, and I trust her judgement. Two, because none of the infamous four was being exhibited. Well, some of the horses were almost at that exhaustion stage, but they laid off before it was reached and let them cool out so they could almost reach that point again.

So it was ironic to hear that the instructor of the YCS actually yelled at two of another trainer's students who were not in a lesson, but conveniently right after a trainer left and they had praised two students of her's in a lesson beforehand and watched eagerly (almost in a sycophantic manner) , for "not knowing how to ride" because "they needed to keep their hands out of their crotch".

She has room to talk? YCS has room to talk?

Part of me wishes I had kindly spoken up that I had noticed that hypocritical act and then kindly asked for YCS to mind their own business (but I would have not said "because we've minded our own while you've rode around" as tempting as it would have been).

Another part of me says it was okay to be quiet in the background as I put my stuff up.

And yet another part of me wishes I had mentioned something to barn owner/manager about this and about how they ride (because I'm not the only one cringing about it).

And then another part of me says to myself "MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS."

But it got me to thinking. When do you step in and when do you stay out? Do you follow the infamous four rule? Or do you rely on your gut instinct?


Meanwhile on the Greta front...

Sooooo the vet came out today and did another lameness exam for Greta just to check her progress. Basically, she was tender to palpation of the LH suspensory (and boy did it feel inflamed!) and really has not improved any. She has not degraded, but she has not improved. She's just reached a plateau. Which is understandable since she seemed to improve a bit too well before. So the deal right now is to just keep letting her chill for the rest of the year out in the pasture, and just keep toodling around on her at the walk here-there-and-everywhere. I'll also be starting her on B-L pellets just as a general maintenance supplement.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Let's critique each other!

I have got to take a break from studying for two midterms tomorrow. I'm reaching the point where I'm just re-reading sentences and nothing is processing. No bueno. I'm also trying to suppress my excitement for The Hunger Games. I'm trying, I really am!

So, what to do as a quick break besides eat stuff?

CRITIQUE MY RIDING! I mean, how self-centered does one have to be? Oh, well!

Also, I got a hold of this article in Practical Horseman and felt I could definitely use those tips. But which ones, which ones? Let's see....

The Pogues FTW :)

#2... I have gotten much better on keeping my shoulders back and my chest open. It's so much easier in dressage... or if I didn't have the torso of a spider monkey. Well, the body of a spider monkey, really. There was a couple of jumps during this ride that I actually kept a no-tension ideal over a fence! Definitely a lot of core control to move forward with the horse's body, and not necessarily release with your arms (which causes my entire upper body to collapse) but more with my torso, if you get what I'm sayin'.

#3... used to be a problem, and I only did it once on the second fence of the outside line combination, and it felt so bad. That's how I knew I've just about made it a habit to sit up and not truck around like a vulture towards a jump. It's hard, and it's not perfect, but it's getting there.

#8... I kind of have a problem with this, but mainly because my stirrups were a hole or two too long (they were actually two holes shorter, but felt too short, and now they look too long in this video), Butters does not have a lot of barrel to stabilize against (small horses are good in that they can scramble out of a bad situation better than a large horse can, but they don't give you much leeway as far as staying on if you're a taller rider), and this saddle obviously is not forward enough for my Sasquatch thighs. Seriously, if ever I get a jumping saddle, those flaps better be long and FOR-WARD. That's going to be fun trying to find!

#10... I surprised myself here. In dressage mode, my heels usually sink so far down that they will slip from my stirrup. The balls of my foot are just barely touching them! I really could have them pulled out from under me and I'd be fine! Jumping? hahahahaha... no. Totally different balance and set of muscles. This might also once again have to do with having my stirrups just a touch too long. And Pam Baker did bring up a good point in keeping your horse's shoulders in front of you. That is VERY hard to do on Butters. He can do lovely dressage, but getting him to that point is way too hard. Possible, but hard. And he has a lovely tendency to duck out at the last minute on fences (happened several times during this ride, I stayed on, but they were some icky stops) if he doesn't feel confident. It's not always telltale several strides before the fence either. So sometimes in my defensive riding and steering his shoulders to the fence, he will get behind me. And I draw my heel up to urge him on when calf pressure doesn't work. BAM PROBLEM SOLVED. And it's really not that bad, but I can do better.

Also, I still get left behind sometimes. I think that has a lot to do with core control and just becoming more comfortable with the movement and timing of a jump. And I still obviously don't have enough balance in a jumping saddle, so I revert to ancient habits of balancing with my hands, which would probably account for the pumping.


What do you guys think? What are you riding faults you want to work on?

Trick pony, anyone?

Greta's kissy-kissy trick on video. And she has learned a new one, hugging. Cute stuff, really. I've tried teaching her other things, but if she's not gung-ho about it in the first place, I'm not successful in continuing the training. Which is allowed, because she's gung-ho about everything else in training: ground manners, riding, the important stuff. And no, she is not going to learn how to rear. That's one of the stupidest things you can teach your horse in most circumstances.

So far the failed list includes bowing, raising a hoof, and smiling. She doesn't do a lot of "smiling" in the first place, even with funny smells, so I didn't have much to work off of there. She's too smart to put her head between her legs to bow - she'd much rather just step backwards to my hand and/or look at me like, "Girl please." And she is dead-set that the only way to raise a hoof is if you make to pick it. And she has no problems whatsoever with hoof picking or picking up her hoof, so I'd rather not make it a problem. And she doesn't paw, so I have nothing to work off of there. And I'd rather not teach her to paw!

Any trick ideas? Seriously, we're starting to get pretty bored now ;)

Friday, March 16, 2012

Strap 'em down!

Taking "hold your horses" to a whole new level...

Training aids. Such a euphemism. Most of them are more along the lines of training coercion. A little whip, the occasional properly-adjusted side reins session (that should be quite short in time length), a properly-adjusted running martingale, or the occasional nudge of a mild spur: yeah, that's pretty good right there. It's justifiable when needed.

But German martingales, draw reins, crazy nosebands, and 3-ring gag bits............. all at once? I get that some horses genuinely need one of those devices, some horses, but certainly not all of these devices at the same time. That means it time to go back to square one.

Horse rushing at big fences? Before you strap him down with useless gadgets: is he in pain? Is he being overfaced? Is the rider being faulty? It might be time to just pop over crossrails for a couple of weeks and go back to basics. Sometimes for the horse, sometimes for the rider. Trotting at two-point over a crossrail, as noobish as it looks, can have it's benefits. Going through the basic gaits in two-point as you warm-up does fantastic things too. I learned that from Issy King. And I'll take her word for it. It's the basic things that can work very well the farther you go.

Horse being hollow? Before you strap him down with useless gadgets: is he in pain? Did you just never really teach him how to be round? It might be time to do some training level work until he can actually stretch to the bit. You can't run around doing passage when the horse is broken at the poll and has his hind end parked out a million miles away from you. That's not real. That's quite fake.

"But that's what wins!" Yeah, you know other fake junk wins? This bovine excrement:

So fake.

Did you learn how to read in a day? Don't you still have to go back and re-read sentences and look up words to make sure you fully understand something? I've read the same book ten times, plus several essays written about said book, plus did extensive research on various literary elements in said book, all before I felt comfortable enough to write a good essay on it in a very hard college-sophomore-level literary analysis class in high school aka AP English IV (oh the cute names they come up with for these things!) Got an A, passed the course, received a nice little note from professor. The skills I learned there have helped me a lot in real college. Also, I didn't have to retake it and that means lots of money and hassle saved in the long run.

What's that? Do it right the first time and save lots of money, hassle, and heartache in the future?

Some things you just can't bypass.

What caused me to gripe about this?

Sorry, but this is not a round horse. That, my friends, is a horse evading the bit and will need to go back to Dressage 101 before he can do much of anything else properly. Good luck getting him to accept or respect the contact and stretch to the bit. Good luck jumping him. Good luck keeping him sound and sane.

But dangit, it will probably win.

That's all. I'm going to go back to organic chemistry homework (shoot me) and pop some more allergy pills (shoot me again). Cheers!

EDIT: so that video just got taken down. Anyway, it was your typical strapped-down horsey (draw reins, German martingale, basic gag bit, AND a flash noseband so he can't protest too much). And not once was his nose at or ahead of the vertical or his shoulders in front of the rider. And the trot look unsurprisingly stiff. You know what I'm talking about.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Kiss & Show

This is actually a trick I taught Greta. I don't think I ever teach another horse this, but Greta is one of the few horses I've met that's not mouthy. If only they could all be this polite! She also picked up on in less than a day, and will do it without any treats, just me asking. Love that pony!

OMG as for that last picture: either I look like Justin Bieber or Justin Bieber looks like a girl. Please God be the latter!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Girl Crush?

...and don't tell Greta, she might get jelly.

So, I have a secret girl crush that I'm going to come out with. I've known her for several months now, and she's beginning to really grow on me. She's really brave, she's got an attitude, and she's very bold and curious. She's a lovely brunette, and she's also two years old.


If I had the resources to get Greta a playmate (well, something to nanny and mommy over, really) and to start up (with help) for myself (eventing prospect anyone?) I would totally go for it. Seriously, this girl is not scared of anything. She'd much rather play with the bright blue tarp or plastic bag or rake dragging across the ground than run from it. She would much rather fervently destroy it, really.

LIZZIE! She's by Contucci and the last foal out P's beloved TB broodmare Tobin Or Not Tobin.

OMG CUTE BABY PICTURES! You could this "athletic" I guess. I just call it adorable.

She's not as tall as she looks in the picture, P is just short ;) But Lizzie should top out around 16 or 16.1 hands. She's still at that awkward my-front-end-is-catching-up-to-my-hind-end phase and everything is discombobulated, as yearlings do, but she should grow up to be a lovely (if not snarky) young lady. She already stretches like a champ on the longeline (nose on the ground, overstepping) and is picking up ground manners very quickly. P and team definitely did a good job of deterring the orphan baby syndrome before it did anything permanent. She still has her arrogant, bossy moments, but has never done anything harmful by it. She doesn't have a super flashy trot thank goodness, but it still has some nice suspension, and her walk and canter is lovely.

I have the fortune to know (and currently exercise for a week, which I'm still quite flattered about) her half-brother, and he's super awesome, super trainable, and super athletic.

Wow, half-brother Stilts. Could you jump that a little higher? You barely cleared it. This guy is by Art Deco, but also out of Tobin. We all speculate Lizzie will be a bolder, more "wired" version of Stiltsy.

Lizzie's full brother, Flash Forward, who is in training with Robert Dover and is shown here being ridden by Jenna Wyatt. He and his owner, Jodie Kelly, were reserve champions at the 2011 GAIG/USDF Region 3 Dressage Championships at Intermediare I.

And Lizzie's other full brother, Nightlife. He was champion at Pre-Green Hunter 3ft' at a few 'A' shows (don't know which, but oh well!)

And Lizzie's other half-brother, Artistic Impression, by Art Deco (Stilts' full brother). He's also rocked the Houston hunter circuit, which is a very competitive regional circuit.

So, there, a little info on my GIRL CRUSH :) I really can't wait to see how she turns out, and I hope whoever buys her makes an eventer out of her. That girl is bold and fearless and SMART.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Butters Video 2-27-2012 + Greta update

Enjoy another fun bop-around on Butters. He's SO CUTE! And by the way, for all you South Park fans, his show name is now officially Professor Chaos haha!

Greta is doing fantastically by the way. I was freaking out a bit yesterday and today during our ride because her trot felt very discombobulated (yes, that's a word) and it has for the past few weeks, but it was especially noticeable yesterday. So I was concerned that I was trotting around a lame horse and not fully realizing it. Her problem?

She too out of shape to make her hind end connect with her front end. Oh yeah, I almost forgot, it took us a long while to get her into that shape. DUH. Poor pony, what with me being a helicopter mom and all. But I guess being a helicopter mom is not so bad when you're in a careful rehabbing program ;)

Thursday, February 23, 2012


Greta was cleared by the vet to go back into the mare pasture, which will do awesome things for her hooves and legs (hopefully). Like a good child, she made friends without a fuss.

To Breed or Not to Breed?

Since I can't do much of anything with Chemistry until my appointment with friend/tutor/future-male-Abbey-Sciuto later tonight (believe me, I've tried it... it's not clicking... because it's chemistry, and apparently my brain is not as mathematical as I thought, call me conceited... thankfully I will only need basic chemistry for conservation biology, even at UT) I will type this up because I have been going on and off on typing this up and on the whole breeding thing in general, and I need some honest opinions. Don't rip me apart, I do have feelings afterall, but please be honest.

To breed or not to breed? That is the question. Am I in my right mind to even think about breeding Miss Golightly? I am not thinking about this just because she has a uterus. Believe me, I've met plenty of horses who happened to have a uterus, and I am not stupid enough to think that said organ automatically makes for breeding material. So why do I love my girlie so much that I feel the need to make sure half of her chromosomes get passed on and hang around in this world for a little while longer?
  1. First and foremost, this is one of the smartest, most caring, bravest, energetic, pleasing, tries-her-heart out horse I have ever met, and I would like to think I've met enough after twelve years (though I'm no expert). It's like she has all the good qualities of mares times 10. She has never offered to bite at, kick at, charge at, or any other way act dangerous or extremely aggressive towards any person, under saddle or on the ground int he three years I've had her. To other horses in the pasture maybe, but once that lead rope is clipped on, it's YES MA'AM. About the worst she has done is get into my space on isolated accounts and do that naughty I'm-feeling-great jump the other day that I blogged about, and even that was moving away from me. She has an opinion, but tries her damnedest to figure out what you ask. But she's smart enough to take over if she absolutely needs to. She's a good boss mare if she needs to be. There have been several times on the trail we would've both ended up hurt if she hadn't have stepped in. She's complicated, but there are more good personality traits to her than bad, far more. I don't know if personality is for sure genetic, but if it is, then this is one personality I would like to keep.
  2. She's a piece of heart horse. I feel like I really want to have a bit of her when she goes, even if that won't be for a long time. Enough said there.
  3. She's quite hardy. She kept on trucking with a suspensory strain with minimal "off-ness", and it could've been much worse at the rate I was working her while she had it (unbeknownst to my silly self... don't think I don't still feel stupid about that). When the vet did x-rays on her legs, she was surprised at the very minimal amount of arthritis she had for a 14-going-on-15 y/o horse who had done quite a bit of activity in her lifetime (from dressage, to jumping, to almost a year of polo and ranchwork, and who-know-what-else before I got her).
  4. She has awesome feet. She was able to keep on working the day her shoes were pulled, no transition time needed. And she has yet to have a hoof-related lameness *knock on wood*. The looks on people's faces when they would see us galloping on a rocky road without a hitch.
  5. She has good breeding. None of her siblings (that I know of) have shown any major health or lameness issues, and her sire is still a Grand Prix schoolmaster at age 23 in regular work. Bothersome, but I do not know anything about her dam beyond her registered name, who owned her dam at the time of the breeding , and the dam's breeding. But her grandsire, an Appendix QH named Azure Request, has had many offspring very successful in the racing world and who are sound enough to race for many years and then transition into other intensive sports like eventing. Not bad.
  6. She has an awesome walk and canter. Always at least a 7, usually an 8, the few times we have shown or ridden in front of judges and clinicians, and she scored high on them on her inspection papers. I will admit her trot is nothing spectacular, but it can become nice with some elbow grease, and she shows the same ability when she's feeling really special out in the pasture. Can she trot like Ravel? No. And I'm glad because I couldn't sit that. But she can get some nice loft and elevation and suspension and impulsion in it.
  7. She's got a great shoulder and a pretty decent build. She has some conformational issues as far as her back legs go, and that did contribute somewhat to her suspensory strain, so that is something that worries me as far passing on.
And here are my conflicts with the whole thing:
  1. There are so many horses out there. Granted, not all of them are nice, and certainly not all of them are what I am looking for (which, deep down inside, I realize is another Greta haha) and they are certainly not in my budget nor ever will be unless I get a very well-paying job (and who knows whether or not I will).
  2. If I breed her relatively soon after I graduate, then I should have enough money to cover stud fees and basic vet fees. This will also leave me enough time to have enough money to put a solid under-saddle start on the baby once it is 3 or 4, if all goes well. But here's the big what if: what if all doesn't go well? Pregnancy or labor complications (I would never forgive myself if I lost Greta or the baby or both) at the very least would throw the whole budget thing out the window. If the baby ends up with a defect, it would be my complete responsibility for the rest of it's life, and once again, if that defect(s) entails maintenance medical expenses, then the whole budget thing is once again thrown out the window. Not to mention personal things: what if the economy takes another lovely spin and I lose my job or can't find one? What if something happens to me and I cannot put basic work on a yearling? What if I hit a major unseen financial expense that I will not easily recover from? Those among so many other problems have always kind of scared me away from the whole pregnancy thing (and not just for horses) and I know it's all one big what-if no matter how you spin, but how many risks would I be willing to take? By the time I am old enough and in stable enough work, Greta might be too old to be bred.
  3. Finally, is Greta really nice enough to breed? Or am I just so endeared by her that I am perhaps a bit conceited?
Opinions? Be honest. I will get professional opinions, but seeing as it is a big plan, I like to get as many opinions as possible.

EDIT: Another reason for breeding is the ability to be able to start from scratch. Having worked with so many rescue and owner-to-owner horses, it begins to wear on you having to fix all these problems, some of which you just have to live with, and could have been totally preventable if people knew how to raise a horse! The good thing is that I can also do that with any super young prospect, and they're usually cheaper that way than buying them after they're trained. Still the same amount of risks as far as injury at a young age, etc. goes, but I don't risk the chance of anything happening to Greta.

AND I won't be doing ANYTHING as far as breeding until I'm at least fresh out of college. People tell me that now is time since I won't have a whole bunch of time for 4 years so the baby can grow, BUT... who has money like that in college? I don't and I'd rather my parents be funding education than a baby. Decisions, decisions!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Meds for Headshaking

The vet came out today, not only to do a follow-up lameness exam for Greta pony (she is to be on ten minutes of trot per week for the next four weeks, and I can move her back into the mare pasture, which will do wonders for her feet and legs and will get her out of the mud) and then... I asked about her headshaking.

-Very itchy nose, side of face, ears
-Greta never really rolls, especially in mud (I never said she wasn't special) but when this time of year hits, she rolls with a fervor. An itchy fervor.
-Head-flicking, especially when her respiratory rate increases, but she will do it out in the paddock (the only headshaking symptom shown)
-Only shows up in early spring to mid-summer, and when allergies peak

Vet's response:

Photic headshaking does have some allergenic qualities to it, and can be so mild that it is not triggered by extreme light-to-dark situations. It is often an inflammation of the trigeminal nerve, the main nerve that comes out of the skull below the eyes along the side of the face, along some main blood vessels. This inflammation will express itself as itching and headshaking, and is often seasonal. I could go into knitty-gritty details of how the allergies relate to the nerve inflammation, but it would be A) rather confusing, and B) not very accurate as I'm not even entirely sure of the knitty-gritty details. Stupid complex multicellular organisms: they just have to be so complicated!

Compare it to something like, say, photosensitivity caused by hay fever (or any other bad allergies) in humans. Or people who compulsively sneeze when they get too much bright light in their eyes (like me, I'm a freak... good thing it's a common genetic trait among humans).

So, what are we going to try?

A combination of the medications cyprophetadine (an antihistamine and anti-serotonin) and possibly carbamazepine (an anti-seizure drug). I say possibly to the latter because a dosage usually only lasts for two hours, so it would need to be given immediately before riding. They're relatively inexpensive (I can get the former for less than $5 a month on SmartPak, and in alfalfa, peppermint, and apple-flavored!) and have been proven by clinical studies to improve headshaking (call me a non-believer of anything not clinically tested, but what can I say? I'm a science major...).

The term "improve" always does bother me. Does it "improve" by stopping entirely or just reduces the occurrences? It's such a vague word.

Cyprophetadine, however, means that Greta cannot compete in sanctioned competitions, as it is a Class 4 drug. Because we were totally going to HITS or Devon or the FEI Cup or the Pan-Am Games, and maybe the Olympics in August. Totally. Not.

Anyway, be on the look-out. I'm rather excited to get this show on the road, in a ways.

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Awkward Voicemail to the Farrier

Roll with me on this one. One subject leads to another. Whoa.

My farrier was late today. This never happens. And my family and I have been using him for seven years now (and yet to go wrong, no joke). He's usually a bit early, and I'm the one that ends up being late, even though technically I'm on time. But I'm not the most punctual person known to man anyway, but I digress....

He was LATE. I was seriously worried that something might have happened. It was very weird.

So I let Greta grazed while we waited. It's the time of the appointment, I thought I would make a polite call just to see if everything was okay. Before the message tone rang, and I figured I wouldn't bother him with a message since he would probably be rolling up any minute, so I let it pass.

Fifteen minutes later. Greta is feverishly grazing (ground manners needed revisiting aka "*in death tone* OUT OF MY SPACE... sweetheart, good girlie, YAYYYYY, pats for pony!!! *big smile*") and I decide I call and actually leave a voicemail this time seeing if everything is okay if we're still on for the appointment today.

Message tone beeps. I think I wasn't paying attention to the lead rope, and somehow it got wrapped around her leg. She didn't totally flip out, but she was backing up quickly, and instead of standing still like the sane pony she normally is (she was very full of it today, could be anything, don't really care now, and I do like to see some life in her) she decided to back up quicker and quicker. I was calmly reaching for the end of the lead that was attached to her halter, telling her occasionally to whoa, keeping my energy chill as I didn't feel any need to flip out.

Well, Miss Full-Of-It decided once I got the lead and was pulling it away from her leg that it would be great fun to - get this - rear at me. It wasn't a big rear, but it had a lovely undertone of marish-ness in it. Oh, this just got very serious.

Oh, and meanwhile the voicemail is still recording.

So this is what the voicemail ended up being:

"Whoa-ohhhhhhh..... whoa-ohhhhhh..... whoa-ohhhhhhh...... whoa-ohhhhhh..................................... good girl- OH YOU DID NOT. KNOCK IT OFF YOU *poopy face*. TRY THAT ON ME AGAIN *female canine*. GO ON, TRY IT.................... oh *feces*, it's recording."

If only I had used that nice of language :(

Animal abuse, caught on tape. She was a very good girl after my outburst (no physicality involved, mind you, just a mere... intense vocalization). I had touch of bad-mommy feelings, until I realized that it was quite uncalled for, the whole rearing thing. I think it's that time of the month for Miss Greta.

I followed this voicemail up fifteen minutes later with a final check-up call in as sweetly sane of a voice as I could come up with: "Hey, J--, hope everything is okay, just wanted to make sure the appointment is still on for today. Let me know! Bye!"

I laughed then (after I ended the call!) realizing how insane I would sound to whoever found that string of messages.

And on the whole issue of "whoas"... I'll get back to that.

Friday, February 17, 2012

It's back....

... Greta's headshaking from allergies is back with a vengeance, poor girl. And the nose net is not helping in the least bit. It was relatively mild Thursday, but Wednesday when the sun suddenly came out and it was nice and muggy, she was headshaking so violently that she couldn't even walk straight during episodes.

It completely disappeared over the winter, which once again confirms it's allergenic. She also does it without anything on her head, and it's not light-related.

So, a question to you guys (and I will be asking the vet): are any of you familiar with allergenic headshaking? Was there anything (besides nose nets) that helped significantly?

I'm looking at Shake No More Gold, but before I spend that money I want her checked out and get some opinions. I also heard good things about giving an antioxidant with MSM.


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Greta's New Outfit

These were actually taken several weeks ago, but due to technological issues I did not get them uploaded until today :)

Anyway, Greta's old pink camo blanket was starting to fall apart (we seriously had to patch up several holes each winter, and she's not rough on her blankets at all) and look a wee bit tacky and gave her horrible shoulder rubs, so I figured I would spend the money to get her something nice that would last forever and NOT rub off her hair. Granted, I didn't end up spending that much money because Dover was having a sale on Horsewear blankets, and Greta could fit in the Amigo! I love this color on her, so glad I did not get the brick red. Maybe blue should be her new color....

Granted, she has only needed to use it twice this winter, since it has been so mild. It's a rare instance I need to wear more than a light jacket, if that!

Anyway... meet her new blanket (and her awkward looks... hahahahaha! Gotta love her!)

Sunday, February 12, 2012

In response... jenj thinking that I think she and her family and friends are crazy: no, I think you guys are completely sane. Afterall, you did feed me. I think as a "starving" college student I'm going to be good for the next week.

To further enforce the sanity clause, let's recount today's would-be-jousting events:

We drove north to the other side of Austin for jousting practice, all bundled up, Wee Reddums and Saga Munster in trailer, got there, chatted for a few minutes, and then come outside to get the ponies ready and... IT WAS SNOWING!

So we headed back home before conditions got too bad for hauling a trailer. So much for that! BUT WE GOT TO SEE SNOW! THIS IS THE CLOSEST WE WILL EVER GET TO WINTER! So, us running around with a horse trailer in a "wintery mix" does NOT help the sanity clause.

So, because the conditions were fine on the southern side of Austin, we saddled up the pony and went for a ride in the neighborhood. By the way, riding up and down the street in armor on a Saga Munster does NOT help the sanity clause.
Once again, jenj's husband riding down the road in a medieval saddle and armor... completely normal.

OMG... a Wee Reddums! My ride. He was awesome.

The gang, with me lagging behind to get the picture. We were an odd bunch. Definitely not helping the sanity clause. Note the lance in S's hand. That sucker is heavy by the way. I tried. Not a good idea.

Another fantastic picture of normalcy: riding down the road in a suit of armor. Need I reiterate how this does not help the sanity clause?

Well... I guess your guys are kind of crazy. But in a good way. I swear.