muttering about the cold

stupid stupid cold. There are 2 days left of classes. 5 Finals. 2 Presentations. One Paper. 14 days until I go to my parents for christmas and 19 days until Ireland/European Excursions. I am slowly checking things off the countdowns. I am also doing that in the first big cold snap to take over Northern Colorado. By cold snap I mean the high the other day was 10*. UGH. Usually this cold does not hit until January or February, which is such a bummer, yeah, global warming my sweet tuckas.

I have not been able to ride for a week, as my four year old thoroughbred reminded me the moment I took up contact on the reins today, he launched like a rocket into racing speed. It took me a while to mellow him out. We did so many transitions mostly from sitting trot to posting trot to halt to walk and variations of the pattern. He eventually loosened his jaw and listened to me, I even threw in some canter transitions, and despite a few jumps from the starting gate some of them were as smooth as butter. It is nice when hard work pays off. Only got the left lead once today, and that was inadvertant, at best. Some days it is like his left leg does not exist, so incredibly annoying, especially on todays like today where one off move turned him into a bundle of nerves again. I am further bummed because work and classes prevent me from riding the next couple of days. Hopefully the weekend temperatures will allow riding, I even feel bad for Chance when it is so cold. I figure if I am miserable he is probably not comfortable either. At the least I probably dont ride my best then either.

stupid stupid cold.

I started looking at the 2012 eventing schedule. I am so very excited to actually have my sights on it. My goal is to do a couple of beginner novice events. Beginner novice is the lowest recognized USEA level with jumps up to 2’7. I think it is a good goal, withstanding that Chance can handle it. I could not be more excited!!! I really hope that it works out. With the whole graduating thing on the horizon, I am a little concerned that I might set goals and then be unable to reach those goals- but it never hurts for a little planning. Here’s hoping I can get a ride to these events, I think the first big purchase when i get a real job will be a serviceable truck and trailer.

Graduation. Impending. What a thought. I really really hope that I can find a job, or something that will sustain me. I could stick with the same job I have now, but it is not really fulfilling, or pay well. I would like something in the horse industry, but who knows. I have been searching job sites and intend to invade the next few equine events with a business card (which I am now making the mental note to create) and my resume with the hopes of conning my way into a job. Here’s hoping!

stupid stupid cold. Back to creating a presentation for tomorrow. Back to freezing my rear off. Back to wishing I could ride my horse.

stupid stupid cold.


first captured leap

Horses lend us the wings we lack 

Today I finally got some update photos!  We got to ride with friend A and her sweet boy. Had a few laughs and mused about goings on as well as jobs in the horse industry. Always a hot topic with Equine Science students in the current job market, therefore we frequently discuss our dream jobs and our potentials for earning etcetera. Hopefully will have lovely news in the future in these areas, but for now I look for options and watch my fellow students find both dream jobs, or coffee shop jobs. It is a bummer.

Anyway, Monday I rode chance for the first time in 4 days, and he was quite hot. For Chance that is, for your usual ottb he is mellow as can be, but for Chance he was rather hot, we got nothing accomplished but a bit of cantering around, jigging and spooking.

However poorly monday went, Tuesday’s ride was solid, although still working on forward motion and going into the bit, while finding a nice balance between hanging on my hands. Right now he is tending to hang on my arms, constantly making my arms sore. I might need to seek some more help with that. Lots of transitions I think might be the cure for that…. also two gals at the barn set up a line of gymnastics, just 4 bounces in a row for now, and they were doing some larger verticals that Chance shied at, making me giggle, but I set up a ground pole to two 18” cross rails. It was also set up going away from the gate which helps me with my confidence going away. Chance trotted calmly up to the pole, but then put on the brakes the first time, so I let him, with a little scolding, but I let him look at it. Then I turned him right around and trotted back to it, where he took a hesitant little stride over the pole, tossed himself over the fence, weaved between the next fence and fell over the second fence. Once he had his first time though to get the feel for it I gave him some kisses before each obstacle. giving him more momentum over the fences and let him bounce right through. He gained quite a bit of scope going over the fences, so I forced my heels down to keep myself from losing balance, but we made it though. Once he gained confidence with those I added a third fence which he wanted to stop at but quickly got the hang of it with some encouragement. Now he bounces through like a pro, sometimes getting even a little too forward through it, getting messy, but we have found a good balance.

Today! Today we rode with friends, giving us some one to chat with, but also more distractions, looking at the pictures I need more leg and a shorter rein. Apparently I got a little lax riding with friends, regardless we did get both some functional pictures and some cute ones, which I will not photo dump, but will spread out over a few posts. The exciting picture of the day was his first jumping photo. He looks very cute over the fence, taking off rather evenly behind, but his knees are hanging and are uneven, so hopefully it might just be this picture and the timing might just make it look a little funny. Otherwise I like his spot, and I love his expression. I also like how he stretched out his neck to allow him to use himself over the fence. That is my analysis of this picture, but I would love to hear more comments about him, always open for critiques. For me I am still a little self conscious about my appearance, but riding wise I am a little pleased. I needed shorter stirrups, but my heels are decent, leg could be more forward, but my back is flat and miraculously my eyes are up. Little too forward, but that is always what I am working on, soooo continuing to work on ‘butt back.’ Phew. Did I tear it apart enough??? Overall good picture and good progress for my little four-year old I think 🙂 Could not be happier with the Chance I took on him.

Late Thanksgiving Post

Happy Late-Thanksgiving to my blogger friends out there in the interweb!
My thanksgiving was filled with family and baby nieces and nephews. What a joy they are to see. My family is from a different town in Colorado, therefore I have been away from the farm for 6 days, and my upcoming week is filled with tests and assignments due. UGH. I have one semester and three weeks left of my college career, if I can just get through these last few weeks. Terrifying. Because I have been away from the farm for a few days, I have no new Chance updates although I miss that little boy just so much…. golly, even though he has been in my life for 4 months he sure has made an impact. I am still toying with the idea of leasing him out, and I did put out some feelers to see if anyone was even interested, but nobody has responded yet.

I have to be so thankful for so many reasons on this week of thanks. I reread my blogs from the past few years, and what a whiner i have been! My oh my, I cannot express how refreshing it is to have a horse in my life who is all mine, who I can have my own adventures on and with, who I decide where we go, if we show, all that fun. What a new and different and incredible experience it has been.

Tomorrow I get to give a presentation about rodeo to kids at work, which I am thrilled about. I love getting kids excited about horses, about the history that horses have with kids and generally the fun they bring to all of our lives. I love the questions, the joy and all of the fun that comes with talking about horses with kiddos. I am bringing my western saddle, which is probably quite dirty…. I am sure. Oops. Bringing bridles, brushes, and all of the tools of the trade. They are going to learn about rodeo events, and see some animals, although I regret not having a trailer at my disposal to bring a horse in…. but it is what it is. Doing things like this make me realize how much I bitterly miss teaching, and I hope that beginning this summer or whenever I get a real-ish job I might be able to start teaching again. It is decent pay, and I simply adore the kids and the incredible experiences that I can give them. Fingers crossed I find some way to begin teaching again.

Well, I am headed back to school tomorrow, cannot wait to see chance and to give my presentation for the kids. Wish me luck on tests and such…. I am really stressing about it. Sorry for the shallow and slightly boring post, but my brain is about to break!

Left Lead Woes

Today was a busy day, I cleaned the barn, which is one of my favorite days. I get to feel responsible, take care of the horses, contribute to the barn looking nice, etc. It makes me feel needed. I miss doing regular barn chores, it kept me in shape and kept me outside for more time than just riding. Is scooping poop a weird thing to miss??

I did as I promised myself yesterday and made myself ride dressage today, although my makeshift dressage arena needs a little work, so I only schooled in there for a while. We did indeed get our left lead in the dressage arena, but only for one lap, and with quite a bit of slippage, so we meandered to the short side of the big arena. Mostly we worked on responsiveness today, and he was actually extremely attentive today. I got him to the point that I could just think about one leg or the other and he would move off of it, which was an awesome feeling. He was a little more forward than usual, but I will take it. I rode with a dressage whip, but hardly had to use it, I wonder if that made just a little bit of a difference. I am also continuing to work on getting my dressage seat back, I am so used to riding in my jumping saddle that transitioning to my dressage is a bit of a fight. Sitting back, opening my hips and looking up are among my main goals. Regardless, we had a decent ride, but getting the left lead off of a bend remains an issue. He seems to only want to pick it up with his haunches thrown in and no bend or a slight outside bend…. teaching him to pick it up the usual way is going to be interesting…. I am going to need to watch him from the ground to identify if it is his bad hip causing the issue or a habit developed from the track.

I read another post about a horse, and they were commenting that they had leased their mare out, which I have toyed with a bit. I wonder if Chance would be a good lease potential. It would take a little financial strain off me, and help him get ridden more, if I am busy. It would be a matter of finding the right rider, however. I think that is the key with any lease situation though. Food for thought I suppose.

It is officially thanksgiving break and I should be doing homework right now, as usual, but instead I am sitting online and watching my favorite tv show, gilmore girls. I am planning on getting in some really solid rides, and hopefully convince someone to take some pictures of us! What a treat that would be. It has been about a month since we have had the opportunity for a photo shoot. Stay tuned for some pictures I hope…. and maybe a few of my superstar baby jumper!! Anyway, on to conquer the world of homework, including a reasearch paper for equine reproduction. Gee, I need to come up with a topic, oh brother.

Cute horse picture from Breckenridge 🙂

reminders and revisiting

Yesterday was my four-month mark for having Chance!! I cannot believe that the time has gone so quickly, and just when I feel like we have something mastered, we come up with more and more plans and things we need to work on!
Today, started with a dusting of snow and a venture over to a local swap meet, where I realize that I should have brought some of my unused tack, but alas, I keep collecting, even though my horsey wish-list just keeps getting longer. Then I took my pony out for a ride. Lately we have been working on little baby jumps, and continuing everything to do with conditioning and flat work.

When Chance arrived he was skinny with very little muscle tone, now I have a moderate BMI horse with still a little weight to put on, and lots of muscle, (relative for a four year old thoroughbred.) Because of our extensive build up from walking to trotting to cantering he did put on the weight, but it has been a little slow going as he is in work 5-6 days a week. None the less we have gotten there, and I think he and I are both working towards getting in better shape.

Today we had a nice solid warm up, although something in my riding is feeling a little off, perhaps I am over analyzing it, but I feel I need to tighten up everything and ride stronger. My hand position (which has been pitiful in the preceding months) has gotten significantly better. We continue to work on bending, and I force myself to go our ‘bad’ way, going to the left. Chance has a tendency to travel with his haunches in going to the left, so my left leg is constantly pushing him over. I think his difficulty comes from his old hip injury and my weakness on that side due to a more recent knee injury. That combined, we are not so strong going to the left. To the right his lateral work is excellent, working on shoulder in and some small leg yields. Some friends came into the arena and changed the jumps before I got to them, so we waited and watched her jump about 2’6+ which made me just want to increase my height and go for it…. but then I remind myself I am riding a four year old and it is more about being correct and gaining confidence, than going for it and jumping for the heights…. which is ever so hard! Anyways, we hung out and watched our friends jump and then I changed the fences if about 18″-2′ and hopped around a bit. Mostly working on myself today, and letting him do his job, but we are still working on finding distances, and me keeping my eyes up and shoulders back. He and I also worked on changing paces within gaits, slow collected trots, to a little bit extended, doing the same at the canter. He seems to really respond to these changes, as he tends to get bored then get a little spooky if we just school at the same pace.

I am really trying to tell myself to be patient with Chance, as I know if I push him I will regret it. As a racehorse I know he already had stressors on his legs and body, so I have to remember to pace myself. I read somewhere that a horse only has limited jumps in him, so I just need to remind myself not to spend those jumps. As a general rule I also try not to jump my horses too much as a four year old, and step them up when they are five, so Chance is right on track to continue that next year. For now we will continue building our confidence and abilities. My goal is to get him up to schooling consistently at 2’6, but my timeframe is flexible. If we can do that within a few months, then I will be satisfied. Like I said I do things gradually, so I will bump him up for a fence or two, then bring down the heights and work on correctness. Chance seems a little bored on the flat lately, so I would like to take him out on the trails or a little xc schooling soon, just for a change of scenery. If not, then hopefully I can keep our rides interesting for the both of us.

In the future I would like to do some gridwork with him, to help both of us find our spots a little better and work on myself keeping my shoulders and eyes up, letting the horse create the motion for the both of us. I would really love to get in some lessons soon, but heck, even finding time to ride is difficult sometimes. We also need to work on more and more dressage. He likes dressage, but still is a bit of a baby and struggles keeping the movements controlled. Again, this helps us with our dreaded left side. I would love to buy a couple of books, one on dressage movements, and one on jumping exercises. I need as much help as I can get, especially with things to help with our problem spots or something to move up to. Tomorrow I think I am going to bust out the dressage saddle and really get down to business. One goal for tomorrow: getting the left lead in the dressage arena

Catch up- Chance’s 1st Hunter Jumper Show

On November 5, two weeks ago, we went to our second horse show, this one was being presented by CSU called the Show in the Snow. The week before we had been blessed with 8 inches of snow, and only about 3 solid days of riding, so I was unsure as to if I was going to actually make it to this show. I had planned on doing flat classes with him, but timeframes were not going to match up, so I thought I was not going to make it.  My barn friends convinced me to just accompany them, school the arena and potentially do a cross rails class. At this point Chance had only jumped about 4 days in an arena, and I knew I was going to have to ask him to face flower boxes and other such scary things. Regardless, we went!

The warm up was pretty good. For never really riding with that many horses he did well. I kept it to a walk and a trot, letting him take good looks, but to work through it all. He was a little more keyed up than usual, but typical for Chance, he kept his wits about him. I asked him to take a couple of cross rails, and as I expected, the ones that only had poles he took just fine, but balked when it came to the flowers. With a lead over from another horse he began to take them like a champ. We completed every cross rail they had in the warm up, which I was thrilled with! To be honest, I was not sure how it was going to go. We did have one sticky fence, a larger spread going into the furthest corner of the arena, but we worked through it.

Well, based on the warm up, I signed up for both cross rail classes. The first one was a hunter class, and we went in, trotted all of the fences and even canted a couple of lines. He jumped everything I asked him to, save one refusal, and generally did AWESOME! I went off course. Yep. I ruined it for him. He did everything I asked and I got my butt disqualified because I went off course. What a bummer. I didnt think I was nervous, but I think I was so focused on getting him over everything, that I did everything in whatever order came to mind.

Before my next class some dear friends showed up to cheer me on which really made me feel great!! I cannot believe I have such awesome support, so I was really ready to show them I was better than going off course. Needless to say I got the course down pat, I watched my other opponent go first, I trotted an awkward circle, waiting for the judge, and we took our first line, took the first jump smoothly and then WHAMO he stopped hard on the jump that hard given us trouble in the warm up, so we gave it a couple of more tries, and he just was not having it. I guess I could have driven him harder, but I did not want to get in a fight his second time in a jumping class. So anyway, we were disqualified again. Bummer. The bright point is that I did request to give that fence one more go after the x rail class was over and the show manager agreed. Of course he trotted in and jumped it like a pro…. either I made some major rider error, or he just felt sorry for being naughty.

As a summary, despite being disqualified from both of our classes, one all my fault, and one shared blame, I think we did great. He handled everything like a champ, and was so patient while we waited for the rest of our companions to do their classes. For a four year old who had not gotten the opportunity to jump much, I think I asked a lot, and he just did his job. I was so proud of him, and of me. I received several compliments on his behavior. What a great day!!! And to top it all off we got our first jumping ribbons…. a second and a third…. hehe, well, maybe the show peeps were just being nice, but hey, we placed kind of 🙂

Catching up- Chance First Month

The day we met

We have now entered November, I have had Chance for almost four months now, and what a journey it has been!! I dont really know how to catch someone up in one post so this might be a series of posts. Within four months he has not only been able to be ridden smoothly and confidently walk, trot and canter on the flat and in the open, but we did our first schooling shows, one dressage and one over fences. Not bad for a four year old off the track thoroughbred!!!

Chance came to me basically straight off the track training-wise, with an 8 month layoff. The story I heard was that after his last breeze (a workout where the horse is asked to run his fastest) he came up lame. This might have landed him in the auction pen, and more than likely would have, but he was taken into a sort of midway home for thoroughbreds. As I mentioned, he came to me via an odd path, but more or less, he found me.

Chance’s first weekend consisted of my conning our farrier to come out much sooner than he was able because Chance had been trimmed WAY too short and could hardly walk on the ground surrounding our barn. I have a couple of photos of him from those first days, but essentially he was coated in mud, had many bangs and bruises, a terrible coat and generally was in pretty sad shape. He also was slightly underweight, and rather listless for a four year old.

First Ride
Chance’s first ride came after a bit of a long wait because of the condition that his poor feet were in. So by the time I could finally get on him, it felt like ages, even though it was only a few days. He settled in well, I spent two entire days camped out in his stall, getting to know him, watching him and learning about him. Chance was decently polite, but standoffish. He stood well to be saddled and lunged pretty well, although was not very good on his right side.

Our first ride was uneventful, except for my giggling like an idiot, and him being a perfect angel. We walked and trotted both directions, with an audience for the entire thing. There is not much else to say about the ride except that his manners were a precursor to the heart that he has shown for the last four months.

Conditioning and Groundwork
In the next several weeks I continued to lunge Chance before riding him, although he never did much misbehaving, other than getting progressively more fresh as time passed. We did quite a bit of walking under saddle, and eventually worked up to trotting and then a few strides of cantering. He seemed much more balanced than most four year olds that I have ridden, although I might be biased. He also quickly picked up on forming a headset. I did this by lunging him for a few weeks in side reins, and then asking him to come into the bit slowly during our rides. I also worked him over poles to introduce picking up his feet and to help his muscle tone.

I feel like this post is rather dry, but it is just a catch up, I regret not posting during the events, as I am sure that they would

Chance's first ride

have been more emotionally stirring and exciting!!!

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