Sunday, February 17, 2019

Updates


Good news! The warm weather has returned. By warm, of course, I mean roughly 20 degrees Fahrenheit. This means I can venture out into the winter wonderland to visit my filly. The footing is still problematic due to ice under the foot or so of snow, so I haven't done any training. I did throw a halter on her in the pasture, however, to see how much she remembers. I was pleasantly surprised to find that she is soft and responsive. 


Thankfully, as you can see in the picture above, Ava has grown hair over all of her bald patches! She still has a few suspect scabs I'm keeping an eye on, but this is a huge improvement. 


I noticed that she has lost her hay belly, so she is now getting half a cup of grain once a day. Depending on how she responds to that emotionally and physically, I might change it to twice a day. 

So curious

As for me, I have been spending my winter months doing the whole college thing. The highlight of my weekly schedule is that I have once more enrolled in a college level riding course. It is an introduction to reining and cutting, which is completely foreign to me. What an exciting learning opportunities. While Ava enjoys her winter vacation, I've been enjoying another of my hobbies: fish keeping!

This is Astor.
If you have read my last blog, you will know that I have owned several bettas. My first betta lived a long life, but all the fish that followed died quickly and I couldn't figure out why. A little research later, I discovered that it is actually harmful for bettas to be kept in unheated 1 gallon fishbowls like mine.

Astor is now comfortably situated in a 2.5 gallon heated, filtered aquarium. I even got some marimo moss balls to keep him company. I was amazed by how active he became when I put him in the new tank. He moves around more and his fins have grown out. Hopefully, this means he will live a longer, healthier life.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Trust


After weeks of cold and snow and illness, I was thrilled to find a warm day to visit Avalon. To my delight, she was as cuddly as ever. I love this horse so much! She appears to be in good health - thinner than the last time I saw her, but not enough to cause me any worry. Fun fact about Ava: I don't take selfies because I like selfies. I try to take pictures of Avalon, and she follows me around too closely to get a good angle! While I was crouching in the snow taking pictures, I remembered a piece of advice that her old owner gave me the day I brought Ava home. She reminded me not to trust Avalon until I had gotten to know her. As my filly stood behind me and stretched her head out to sniff my phone, I thought to myself, "I'd say I trust her now." 





Of course, if the wind was blowing or we were in the arena, it would be a different story!

Monday, January 7, 2019

Another Day of Saddles

  

Let me tell you about this filly of mine. She is dirty. So dirty. Caked in mud and hay and manure, full of dander - she is so dirty you can barely see the white markings on her leg. And she stinks! I can not wait for spring weather to hit 70 degrees so I can wash this dirty, dirty horse.

She even snarled her mane.
However, despite her appearance, Ava is healthy and happy (the rain rot has cleared and new hair is growing back). The stink and dirt are just a minor inconvenience. She is enjoying being a horse and I am too thankful to have a horse at all to mind her scrappy state.

The 40 degree thaw arrived right on time to try (and retry) saddle fit. 


She wasn't sure what to think of the CSI pad. I bought it for my mom as a gift, but I had to try it on the pretty filly. It's too long, and as you'll soon see, the western and aussie saddles don't fit. Doesn't it look delightful on her though?

What this?


Next I tried the Aussie, which is a beautiful saddle, but definitely too wide for Avalon.




The western saddle wasn't too narrow or too wide, but the angle seems to pinch her shoulders.




I took a closer look at the wintec that I've ridden her in once or twice. It didn't fit her as well as I thought before. Like the western saddle, it seems to pinch her shoulder blades. 





The saddle that continues to offer the best fit so far is the wintec lite dressage saddle. At least I think that's what it is . . . it's a dressage wintec and it seems much lighter than the average saddle. I don't know what the official name is.



It's well-used; perfect for a young horse in training.
It will be interesting to see if any of these saddles fit in the future, as Avalon develops muscle along her topline.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019


She's so cute as a teddy bear! Not quite as elegant as she looks in her summer coat, but still adorable. The weather is crazy lately. I've never let winter keep me away from horses, but this is my first winter at this particular barn and the danger is real. We had a lot of snow, then a weekish of warm weather, then a freeze. This resulted in some pond-sized ice skating rinks . . . basically everywhere. Yay Wisconsin! In retrospect, it was dangerous and stupid to walk Ava across the ice, but I had a new saddle to try and I might be able to return it. I didn't want to wait too long to contact the people I bought it from if it didn't fit. Herd-bound fillies that aren't in regular work and sheer ice don't mix well, but we managed to make it across the ice to the hitching post with only one serious slip/near fall.

This is the newest saddle. As I suspected, looks too wide.
I put an extra saddle pad on in case there was any rain rot bacteria left. Didn't wanna get anything on the pad that came with the saddle.


Here you can almost see how the pommel lays too close to the withers.
This is my dressage saddle. It fits better . . . not perfectly but better.


Lil better
The dressage is a Wintec Lite with an easy change gullet system. It is missing a billet, which I will have to get fixed before I use it for any riding, but I was able to test the new dressage girth. It's a little big . . . so I just need to decide if I want to keep using it or return it and purchase a smaller girth. I don't think it's too big to tighten, so it might be worth keeping as she grows and gains muscle. So many decisions (and run-on-sentences)!

I have a couple more saddles to check. Tomorrow is supposed to be 35 degrees so hopefully I can safely lead Avalon across the pasture. For now, here are some old saddle-check photos. 

This is the saddle I used on Gambler. It fits decently, but it's too long and wide.
If I remember correctly, this saddle fits her pretty well but the blanket changes the fit to be a little awkward.
I could have sworn I had more pictures . . .but I don't know where they are hiding.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Generic New Year Goals Post

because goals are underrated.

Isn't she gorgeous? I'm so thankful for this filly. <3
It's 2019 already (technically not yet, I know, but almost). 2018 started with the death of Gambler. That may seem incorrect since Gambler died in September of 2017, but during the New Year his death was still fresh on my mind. My New Year's resolution was to take more risks, in honor of Gamby. 

An old photo of the Gambster.
Ava is one of those risks. I purchased my second horse as a birthday gift to myself on May 15th, 2018. Ironic since I brought Gambler home in May. Avalon's training progressed quickly since I am more experienced than I once was. It helped that she came to me with better manners than Gambler had when I first got him. 

Winter colors really her!

Concise overview of things Ava has learned so far:
*to back up from light pressure
*to change directions while lunging without sass
*to lead more politely
*to yield the hindquarters immediately (she came to me knowing this skill, but liked to take her precious time responding)
*to yield the forequarters (an accomplishment with a dominant equine)

A few other highlights:
*introduced ground driving
*introduced ground poles
*introduced transitions between gaits
*introduced rider (roughly five 2-5 minute rides)


On to the goals.

1st Quarter Goals (January, February, March):
*Find a saddle to start Avalon in
*Start regular groundwork again (when the weather changes)
*Continue messing around and bonding 

January Goals:
*Get to the barn regularly 
*Try all the saddles I currently have on Avalon
*Keep plugging away at the warm up exercises
*Play with some desensitizing (weather permitting)

If, and this is a big if, we get a deep fluffy snow that isn't slippery, I'll put a couple more rides on Avalon. However, at the moment the ground is either mud bog or ice skating rink. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

My Horses

I keep catching myself using the phrase "my horses." This is how I prefer to lead my horses. My horses have all been babies. I love just spending time with my horses. And then I realize awkwardly that it sounds like I have more than one horse.

I guess . . . it feels like I have more than one horse. Enough time has gone by that I can think about Gamby without breaking down. I still tear up if I think too long, but in general I have fond memories. I find myself thinking about him often. Even talking to him in my head sometimes. Avalon will spook at something and I'll think, oh Gamby still spooked at that... He is still mine. My mind is never going to truly accept that he's gone.

Winter Afternoons


Ava scared me half to death a couple of days ago when I arrived at the barn to find her laying down. My immediate instinct was to imagine that she was dying (the same thing happened over the summer when I caught her napping). But I had nothing to worry about. It was a warm day and she was just resting. I managed to get some pretty cute pictures before she got up. 



Do you have treats?

That awkward sitting-like-a-dog moment.
See mom? I'm fine!
I've had a few thirty-forty degree days in the last week, so I've been working on Avalon's warm up. My goal is just to successfully warm her up without bolting, bucking, etc. This is more difficult than usual since she isn't in regular work. The session usually starts with Avalon bolting over and over and over while I attempt to keep her to a high-stepping giraffe-style trot. After a few steps she bolts into a canter or gallop and I when I ask her to stop I'm treated to a series of firework rears, bucks, and kicks. The trick is to sustain the trot for as long as possible, because once she trots in a few circles she calms down. Then we end the session with a quiet walk, head low and emotions calm. Basically, the closest we've come to a warm up is a cool down! Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining. I love the awkward quirky babies that want to run like crazy. My theory is that her bucking has a lot to do with being off balance. We'll be starting pole work this spring to build those muscles!

She follows me to the gate like she loves me, but I know she's only after treats. :P