Sunday, December 16, 2018

November/December Goal Recap

As expected, none of my November goals were completed. It's winter. It's cold. It's the school year. All reasons why most of my visits to the barn have consisted of about five minutes worth of cuddles, treats, and Bannix. She is getting better slowly but surely. . Until I get that situation sorted out I'm going to procrastinate the saddle fit check (which is driving me crazy since I just bought a new dressage girth!!!). 

I have high hopes for winter break. As long as the weather isn't terrible, I should be able to spend a lot more time with Avalon. I'm also way behind in reading the blogs I'm subscribed to. Hopefully I can use my time off to catch up. 

How are the goals going?

*Leading: I haven't worked on this one much. I'm still leading from the left side (bad habit), but we have practice the lead cues. I lead my horses a specific way that build toward future liberty work (or emergencies if the gate is left open). Maybe I'll write a post about it.

*Explore: I have not taken Avalon for any walks in the woods. However, we did spend some time in the arena without too much spookiness. 

*Yields: I haven't spent time on this yet.

So curious! I love her facial markings.

We have had a few days of 30 degree weather, which is nice because I can give Avalon a bit of a workout without worrying that she'll catch a chill. I "lunged" her a little in the arena spending time on walk-trot transitions and encouraging her to bend. She has had a hard time holding a round circle, but now that she is getting better I'm going to move her out onto a larger circle. I will be writing about that more when I get pictures of it. 

When you thought you got a million pictures . . . but really you only took this one. 

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Friday, November 30, 2018

"Warm Weather"

I took this picture with a new toy I'll be posting about soon.

I finally spent some time at the barn! It was warmer today, a whole 34 degrees Fahrenheit. Right now, that doesn't feel very warm, but I know once the January -30 wind chill days arrive I will miss days like today. In March when it finally warms back up to 30 degrees, all we country hicks will break out the short sleeves and leave our coats inside. It's interesting how our bodies adapt. Today, I wore three layers and kept hand warmers in my pockets.

Broke out the Banixx, we'll see if it improves the rain rot situation. While picking the packed snowballs out of Avalon's hooves, I noticed how different the soles of her white hooves look from her black hoof. Her hind right leg is a pretty marbled mix of both. Random, but I love those odd quirks in a horse's coloration. 

I've been taking a basic riding class from my university to regain my seat and relearn the aids. I was happy to discover that we would be talking about levels of training in class. During the classroom portion of the class we've talked about the pyramid of training, which has helped me form a plan for starting Avalon next spring. In the riding portion of the class, I have discovered a lot of things I didn't know. 

1) Leg at the girth alternates with the hind legs. I don't know how I lived through years of lessons and never figured this out! I always thought that the legs were supposed to give pressure at the same time. I also thought that they squeezed once to go and then remained passive. Nope, the legs are cuing with each step of the hind legs, each leg with the corresponding hind leg. Makes so much more sense.

2) Half halts at the trot are so so hard. You have to squeeze with the inside leg as you rise, squeeze with the outside leg as you fall (if posting on the correct diagonal), and gently squeeze the rein corresponding to the leg aid you are applying. 

3) After jumping for the first time in years, I really miss it. 

4) "Safety position". I think I was half-heartedly taught this position when I was in USPC, but I didn't pay much attention to it. Now that I am planning on starting a baby horse with a lot of energy and even more attitude, I am so thankful that there is such a thing as what my professor calls "safety position". Basically, you bridge the reins and press them (the extra loop, not the part directly connected to the bit) against the horse's neck while standing in two-point position. This allows extra stability during bucking, rearing, and twisting. 

I'm so excited for next spring. This is gonna be a long winter of waiting!

Tuesday, November 27, 2018


I wasn't the typical horse crazy kid. In fact, I made fun of the girls who liked horses up until I was eight or nine. For me, it was never a phase. I fell in love with equines and, while there are days that I don't want to go to the barn, I've loved horses for over a decade now. One of the ways I developed my never ending love for horses was by reading every horse book I could get my hands on. 

Justin Morgan Had a Horse, Misty of Chincoteague, and a series about Race Horses.
Maybe why I love Arabians so much?

Not sure where the cover of Black Beauty went!
I've read each of these books, and many others, more times than I can count. Before I had a horse, books were the closest thing. Heartland (while fictional and not super accurate) was one of my all time favorite horse series. I didn't like the show as much. But the book series formed much of my horsey dream, with the combined influence of two other books. 


I forget which book comes first and which is the sequel, but these two books are a collection of short stories from a real ranch in Oregon. Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch is a ranch based on the christian faith that rescues abused, neglected, and otherwise unwanted horses and rehabilitates them for therapy purpose. The stories of hope from both dying horses and humans suffering emotionally, physically, or mentally are so encouraging. For a long time I wanted to start my own ranch like CPYR. 

As I've gotten older, that dream has faded. Now I hope to someday own a farmhouse and pasture in the country where I can rescue and retrain horses, as well as open my home to people who need a place of comfort and security. It's a long ways away, but I'll see what happens in time. 

There are a lot of other places like this particular ranch. Spread across the U.S. and I'm sure other countries as well, they seek to offer hope and comfort to horses and humans who have been mistreated. It's "Giving Tuesday" today, but I would strongly urge all members of the equestrian community to find a worthy cause and give generously on a regular basis, not just once a year. Horses are incredible creatures. They do something for us emotionally that is difficult to explain to someone who hasn't experienced it. If we understand that powerful connection, we ought to do what we can to spread it to people who need it. 

I also strongly recommend reading these books. They are for sale here and here, for $8.00 plus shipping. You could also get them off of Amazon, but the proceeds go straight to the ranch if you purchase them from the store on the CPYR website. 

**Disclaimer: I'm not being compensated or anything like that. This is a cause I have been passionate about for many years. (I'm actually a little nervous about copyright laws with the photos copied off the internet)**

Monday, November 26, 2018

Would You Know

I did a little research.

Would you know that winter coats actually create a very good environment for the bacteria that causes rain rot? I'm not sure why I've never had this problem with my former horse. Maybe Gambler had a thicker coat, or a thinner coat, or stayed out of the rain more often. Avalon has plenty of shelter in her pasture, but I don't know if I've ever seen her use it.

The scabby, hairless patches could be nothing, but I'll treat them like rain rot for a couple days and see if it helps. Getting out to the barn on a regular basis to clean her coat should help regardless. A frozen muddy coat isn't going to keep moisture out like a fluffy, dry coat will.

I guess we'll have to see!

Check out the cute grey baby face!

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Always Something

It seems like horses are always ill or injured in some way. It's one of those "horse things." Of course, that is an exaggeration - there are plenty of days when horses are healthy and happy. We are just more prone to notice the strange injuries that show up out of the blue.

A few weeks ago I noticed a large patch of hair missing from Avalon's coat near her hip. It looked like a bite, but a bit larger. I figured it was just a bite or a scrape and it would grow back so I left it alone and checked it every so often. After spending five days visiting family for the holidays, I returned to the barn to find one extremely muddy filly. 

So much mud! I don't know what kind of weather we've had in this area while I've been gone, but my guess is warm and wet. I brought Ava out to the "hitching post" and armed myself with a shedding blade. After attempting to clear the mud, I discovered that not only was the mysterious bald spot still there, it has been joined by a few smaller bald spots. 

The large bald spot is right above her flank area. 

Close up

The hair in the area is stiff and doesn't feel quite right.

Another, smaller, bald spot.

A third small spot.

Has anyone ever heard of horses getting rain rot in the winter? If whatever it is spreading, it's spreading slowly and she seems comfortable and a good weight so far. Still, I've never seen anything like this before!

Saturday, November 24, 2018

November Goals

I wish I had more recent pictures of miss Ava, but cold weather and holiday travel have kept me away since Tuesday.

November Goals:

It's never to late to set goals!!

1) work on polite leading on both sides
          Avalon sometimes leans in with her shoulder and she doesn't like me leading from the right side.
2) explore
          Ava doesn't like being led away from the pasture and other horses, so I want to make it part of our daily routine.
3) yielding forequarters and hindquarters individually
          Sometimes, Ava still responds to a hindquarter yield by swinging her shoulders toward me, or to a shoulder yield by walking forward.

Under-Saddle Related Things:
1) evaluate the saddles
          I checked the saddle fits back in June, but I need to check them again and see what I'm going to use in the spring
2) bareback pad
          Until I get the saddle situation figured out, use the bareback pad to get Ava used to the routine of having something on her back, girthed up, on a regular basis. She doesn't have an issue with saddles/bareback pads, but I want it to be second nature.

These goals are probably going to overflow into December, since there are only six days left of the month. I was going to post the saddle photos I took back in June, but I can't find them at the moment. I will probably post them after I try the saddles out a second time.