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A Little Monday Morning Comedy

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Have you ever had those moments where you do something and you suddenly have an epiphany of exactly why your horses acted the way they did that one time? Lord knows it happens to all of us, but I thought I’d share some of my funny experiences that I can say the majority of horse people have probably done at one point or another. (Though for your sakes I seriously hope you’ve never had to deal with #2!)

1.)  Cutting your nails to short:  You freshly trimmed those nails that were steadily growing into claws and collecting heaps of horse dirt under them. Then you head out for your morning feeding and you go to pry that pesky supplement’s lid off and BAM Screaming agony! You grab your thumb and hop up and down. Stick your thumb in your mouth cause somehow saliva is gonna make it hurt less and when that fails  you shake it while holding your wrist, cursing every known deity and asking why you trimmed your nails!  Then make mental note that if the farrier ever trims your horse too short to shoot him.

2.) Getting a penicillin shot.  Have you ever gotten a penicillin shot?!!! It’s called the peanut butter shot for a reason! That is hands down the worst pain in my butt, quite literally,  I have ever experienced. Have you ever tried to stand still while a very strong nurse or possibly two weaker nurses labor over pumping the entire injection into your exposed posterior? Talk about death grip on the table, trying not  to pass out from the pain, while also trying not to kick said laboring nurses with your good leg because the leg that is connected to the butt cheek getting the shot is now completely useless. The second worst part is it takes AGES for it to go away so your constantly reminded of the horror you had to experience in the doctors office.

Now I can’t even look at liquid penicillin the same.  If I ever get told by the vet I have to give a horse THAT shot I’m like “I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry…..heres a bucket of carrots and some apples and probably a box or two of peppermints and sugar cubes!”

3.) The pokey underwire. To the ladies out there…ever have that underwire that keeps poking you in the mammary? That really annoying poke that seems to distract you from everything you are trying to do that day. As the day wears on and no amount of adjusting will work you go from annoyed to straight up  bitchy with any and all people who dare come near you and ask for anything or even speak in your general direction. If it’s pokey enough it drew blood,now you have to deal with itchy boobs to go along with it. No wonder Jack tried to buck me off with that one saddle!

4.)  That Itch. Have you ever had THAT itch inside your boot. The one that seems to pop up at the absolute worse moments because you can’t just take your boot off and scratch it… like being in the middle of a dressage lesson. There is the internal screaming of “NO NO!!  Please no! Not on my foot! Not in these boots. I gotta focus on my trainer…..focus fucus …Smile…don’t think about it…..OH GOOD GOD IT HURTS….Please just make it stop….I just need to scratch it!” And then you discreetly try to hit the side of your boot hoping that just maybe it will stop the itching but No it makes it worse until your squirming so bad your instructor starts wondering if you’re having a weird epileptic seizure.  Yeah needless to say I let my horse scratch his legs when he wants to now.

 

Well I hope you enjoyed a little Monday morning comedy that all us equestrians can relate to. Hopefully it helped start the day off right with a laugh, a cup of coffee and some horsey love!  (Boys….you can ignore #3 or equate it to sweaty boxers….at least my guy friends say it’s just as horrible)

 

Until next time!

 

 

 

**image: author unknown**

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Settling In Horses To New Areas

Cash and jack HOME

For the first time in 7 years I can sit at my kitchen table and relax with my beverage of choice(Okay lets not lie it’s either coffee or wine) and watch my horses graze in my back yard! That is right the boys are home and are settling in just fine! 😀

I can say I moved into the right neighborhood. What is it about horse women that we seem to literally just know when someone new is in the area? I was hooking up my horse trailer to go get the boys and as I turned around a horse and rider were walking down the road. It turned into a fateful meeting of new friends. And funny enough her horse is named Cash as well but he was an older grey gelding. Though I think there must be something in the name because he instantly began nuzzling my hoodie pocket and licking my hand for treats….My Cash does the same thing…..hummmmmmmm…But back to my new horse friend. She even introduced me to two other riders and explained how the trails work around the area and who the neighbors were, and even who the guy is that used to hay my pasture! Talk about awesome friends!

Horse women can either be the nicest or frankly the bitchest of people you meet. Thankfully those I met  are distinctly of the former variety. They are even being so kind as to ride with me to show me all the local bridle paths and trails tomorrow! (stand by for a post on how this adventure is gonna go) Cash better mind his manners!Needless to say I have a fantastic feeling about the local horsewoman here and for once in a very long time I truly feel at home and at peace here.

So on the topic of settling in horses I thought I’d do a little info post. Some standard things when you bring horses to a new environment whether it be at shows or moving to a new barn.

1.) Check the area your horses will be living and working in. Make sure there are no sharp objects or anything that your horse could get caught up in and hurt. If there is fix it before you put a horse in there because, Murphy’s law, they will find it within 2 seconds.

2.) Some horses get really nervous and anxious, especially where they are by themselves or have very limited views of other horses. I have found having their food in their stall really helps. Food quite literally calms horses down, so if you can coax them to eat it will help settle them in much more quickly.

3.) Take the horse for a walk around the area. Let him see the scary sights. Keep everything positive. Let him take his time looking at stuff that looks odd to him. It’s a new place and any prey animal is gonna be nervous to start until they can check their surroundings. If you can ride it do so, if not put on those walking shoes and bring some treats.

4.) Try to keep what ever routines your horses have had before (such as feeding times). Whether by you or the staff at his last barn. Normal routines will help to settle them in. Once they are used to the area then you can mix it up if needed, until the horse gets used to moving (ie. to shows and back)

5.) Be ready for them to need a day or two to fully relax. If going to a show and it’s possible try to coordinate before hand to get there a day or two early IF your horse needs it. If it is not possible(cause we all know it costs that illusive thing called money) then long before the show start to trailer you horse out to different locations and get them used to new areas and going riding soon after you get there. It will make going to the shows a tad less stressful on you and the horse if you’re used to going new places.
-*note*I try to make my trailer a safe place that they know they are ok. If they are tied to the trailer they understand there is treats and goodies in the tackroom, and while they may be nervous  they seem to be more interested in begging for a treats then bolting or pulling back.

6)Take it slow. If it’s their first time out and about be ready for a lot of slow walking or trotting or stopping and staring.
-*note* If at all possible(and really its best safety wise in general to ride with someone else) take a “steady eddy” with you. A good horse that is not prone to spooking and who can act as a guide horse for the inexperienced one. Horses will feed off each other and if one horse isn’t scared the nervous one will calm down a lot more than they would on their own. It also helps to have that horse that will cross streams or ditches that an inexperienced horse would put up a fight over.

7)DO NOT beat a horse with a whip or kick it like crazy to make them go towards something they think is scary. A horse is a prey animal. If you start adding pain to a situation where they are scared that’s when you can induce their “fight of flight” response and create an accident where you and the horse can get hurt.  Give the horse some time to reason out the situation. There are often times where an unsure horse will willingly go forward with just little encouragements and it will be an overall very positive situation. (Check out my post Conquering Ditches to see what I mean about keeping it positive)

 

Have you ever met unexpected friends? Or had some crazy experiences moving your horses?  Let me know in a comment below or on Facebook!

 

Until next time.

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Being Thankful for New Beginnings!

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Its official! I can finally share the amazing news I’ve been holding back for months AND right before thanksgiving!!! I am the proud new owner of a mini ranch! 5 acres of wonderful amazing horse property:D And it is AMAZING!

It’s gonna be some work getting everything just how I like it and up to snuff but for the first time in 7 years I will have my horses at home. MY home!  I will be able to look out my kitchen window and see their faces as I drink my morning coffee.

My little farm house of course came with a little barn (pictured above). It’s not a perfect horse barn but by golly it is mine and I can use it for horses so that is all I truly care about!  I have two small pastures for the boys to run and graze in during the summer and soon I’ll have an arena to go along with it.

It’s such a wonderful feeling knowing I’m paying towards something for me and my horses. That I have a place to call my own no matter what. My favorite part of the morning, besides coffee of course, is feeding horses. There is just something so peaceful about hearing the excited nickers as they eagerly await their morning ration.

Of course there is a downside to this as well. Mucking stalls. Which is something I’m still trying to figure out where to put the manure but I will figure out something 😀

Well the workload is high so I better get my butt off the computer and start unpacking all my boxes. (thank goodness for horse trailers! It dutifully carried all my stuff to my new house :D) and of course go to that thing called work so I can keep my new house!

Have a wonderful thanksgiving everyone!

 

Until next time!!

 

P.S.If anyone has ever debated donating I’m sure the boys would appreciate it more so now then ever. With hay to buy, fence to put up and arenas to build (and of course treats for the boys to) they would gladly appreciate it!

 

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Dealing With Setbacks

Have you ever had those times when it feels like set back after set back happens? Like the world is against you and somehow you missed the cosmic sign that you shouldn’t do something and yet you forge ahead.

These times are very very hard to over come and not get down in the dumps. When motivation to do anything seems lacking. Well I have had one of these months but looking at the latest set back I’ve had, I finally came to a realization.

Set backs happen. They are an annoying and frankly down right infuriating sometimes but after each setback there is another step forward. Sometimes we get so caught up in the setbacks that we forget to see the progress we have made.  Many times in our endeavors whether with our jobs and especially with our horses we focus on how far we still have to go and forget how far we have come.

Lately I’ve been getting so frustrated on the latest change in my life. (I’m not mentioning it yet so I don’t jinx it at the last moment…but have no fear you will now very soon I promise) And I realized that no matter how much longer it has taken I am almost to my destination. It was not the smooth sailing I had anticipated. But ya know what I’m almost to the finish line and it’s ok!

How many times do we do this with our horses? We drill and drill and drill a technique, a new exercise, a new aid, and our horse doesn’t get it. Or they get it one ride and seem to completely forget it the next. Some days it feels like we are spinning in a circle and not making any headway because we are looking for that perfect score at our next show or that amazing ride we dream of and we forget to look at how hard our horses are trying.

We forget that they are learning just as much as we are. That we are not infallible and neither are they. Some days they just have bad days and some times they have great days and no matter how hard the road there is always an improvement somewhere some days we just have to look for it

For anyone having one of those times please stay strong. If it’s with horses feel free to reach out and ask for help. Sometimes it’s the most obvious things that we don’t see until someone points it out.

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Finding the source of problems

Cash-man Cash-man Cash-man….you are my problem child….okay not really. He’s just a horse that really makes me think outside the box.  Our latest adventure has been learning turn on the forehand.

Since the ground has been a mix between soup and a skating ring depending on the day, I’ve really slowed down what I’ve been doing with him and I realized he has a fairly large gap in his training. He really isn’t proficient at all on anything leg yield especially turn on the forehand and turn on the haunches.

Well I worked with him on the ground until he understood the basic aids for turn on the forehand in a halter. The problems started when I got in the saddle. The instant I would give half halts on the reins to stop his forward momentum it felt like we hit a brick wall. He would ignore my aids I would tap harder on his side. He would go forward, I would say no and he would stop and we would repeat and repeat and repeat. He could not understand that from the saddle I was asking for over not forward even when I was only tapping with one leg. I eventually got a tiny try from him. Praised him and ended the session with some easy walk trot and some nibbles of grass.

So I started over the next day. I started on the ground in a halter again and he got it perfect first time up….It was here that I began to have suspicions of where my problem with him was but I wasn’t quite sure so I asked him to come over to the mounting block and I jumped on bareback in a halter. I walked him around a bit before stopping him and asking him again. He went to move forward I gave a slight pull on the halter and BAM his haunches moved over and he didn’t go forward…..Now I really had an idea what was going on…. So with lots of praise we did good steps both left and right on turn on the forehand in a halter with me on his back.

Following my suspicions I jumped off and ran to grab my bridle. I quickly returned and put it on him over the halter and started on the ground again but this time instead of using the halter I bridged the reins over his neck and took contact on the bit. I asked for turn on the haunches. He went to move forward. I gave a half halt on the reins and suddenly we hit that brick wall again.  He leaned into the bridle and planted his feet or pushed through my aids and walked in a circle around me. I brought him to a halt and asked again. I got one step of sideways before he went forward and when I put pressure on the reins there was the damn brick wall.

I knew exactly what the problem was. For ages and ages Cash and I have always fought over contact on the reins. I have tried multiple bits and I’ve changed how many wrinkles were in his mouth from none to 3 and everything in-between.I’ve tried thin bits and big fat ones… nice simple single break snaffle’s to kimberwicks. The kimberwick was almost a disaster. He hated it and any bit like it and so the best one I’ve found has been a bradoon KK ultra by Herm Springer…but it still isn’t perfect.We would have good days where he seemed quiet but most of the time if there is any contact on the bit he truly gets extremely frustrated and leans and just plain fights the bit.

Cash is a very hard-headed horse and in anything that elects even a modicum of a pain response he fights it. I’ve seen him do it with horses. If a horse bites or kicks him he moves closer to them as if to say “HA you think THAT will make me move….oh oh you’re funny…please try it again” He has always been this way even when he was a baby so it really shouldn’t surprise me now that I’m having issues with bits. Inevitably a bit will elect a pain response. If I put too much pressure on the reins it will put pressure on the bars of the mouth or the palate and cause pain, it’s the simple fact of any bit no matter how kind or severe. When we put something in a horse mouth eventually you will cause pain if you ride with any contact on the reins. That is why we always strive for quiet, calm, following hands in our riding. In this way we will cause the least discomfort to the horse.

*sigh* So I foresee for the near future at least, some investments in bitless bridles. I’m not sure I would quite trust it out on the trail, but if it makes Cash more happy in the arena and opens him up to understanding then I will hands down try it! Once he understands what I’m asking then I will slowly reintegrate the bit back into arena/dressage work so we can compete. To bad bitless still hasn’t been approved for shows.

Any who the point of this article is…Don’t be afraid to look for the true root cause of issues with a horse. For Cash at the moment our biggest issues is the bit but it also  goes for saddle fit to as well as injuries. Sometimes it’s something we don’t even think about. If a horse is resisting I’d say 99% of the time there is something impeding their ability to understand whether it be confusing aids, a wrong fitting saddle or even a bit. Horses are extremely will creatures that truly want to please because like every other creature, including humans, they just want love and praise and to know they did right.  So if you seem to be having recurring or escalating problems with your horses. check your tack, Check your saddle fit. Don’t be afraid to call a vet out to check that there is no injuries that have been overlooked.

Now it’s time for me to go shopping!!!! Muh hahahahahahah….

Until next time my friends!

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Getting used to Rain!

 

Wet winter

I have written once that I’ve been spoiled growing up in pretty good weather. It has been affirmed. I am really annoyed with the rain. I don’t mind riding in the rain per se but not having good footing to jump really sucks.  Not to mention I had to buy my first ever rain sheets. I have never had to buy one before but both boys now have a sheet I can throw on them in case I don’t want to brush off the mounds of mud they like to roll in, if the wind kicks up really badly, and to prevent rain rot if it gets to really pouring. Jack is the only one wearing one at the moment cause he’s a tad skinnier and his coat is a bit thin. Cash couldn’t figure out why Jack suddenly changed colors when I put them back together.

In so many ways I feel like a newbie here! Dealing with issues like rain rot and mud fever and just over all issues that come from being constantly wet is so new to me thats sometimes I feel stupid. Some things are so normal here that I feel like an idiot asking but hey we all gotta start somewhere!  good thing I’m a quick learner!!!  Not to mention a cooler is also on my list because it is so easy to get the boys worked up into a sweat and I don’t want to shave them since they live outside.

Now on the bright side to all the poor footing. It has made me re-evaluate some of my ground work and begin working on it again. I think ground work is some of the most under utilized exercises through out the horse world.  For dressage especially everything you are taught to teach in the saddle you can teach on the ground (future posts coming).

Now if I can just get Cash used to muddy footing. He was doing his best western horse impersonation yesterday. He is most assuradly a fair weather horse. Any uncertain footing and he really doesn’t want to move fast. Not a bad quality but it does get very annoying sometimes. I do think he will get used to it eventually but for now everything this winter will be on the slow bordering on cold molasses slow until he gets his “Mud” legs.  The good news about cold weather is a great reason to embrace the “no stirrup November” and just say “no saddle” and ride bareback to keep warm!

Has anyone ever completely changed environments and suddenly didn’t know how to do basic care to keep issues at bay like rain rot or mud fever, or to dry places and had to deal with cracked hooves and dry skin? If so let me know! I’d love to hear your stories!!

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Nickers and Whisker Rubs Help Ease All Pains!

 

These last two weeks have been some crazy ups and downs emotionally wise. I had an amazing time going home and seeing my family and friends! And of course going riding with my mom (sorry Cash and Jack but I couldn’t help it!) I mean a girl can only take so long without something horsey going on right?!

I got to ride some amazing horses when I was home. One of my favorite, surprisingly so, was this little andalusian cross that is a total blast. I won’t lie, I wasn’t sure I’d like her. I’ve very biased when it comes to my horses though I do have fun riding other breeds/horses. She’s such a fun little horse with so much potential to go in any direction and so willing to please!  Her energy was just so much fun it made me want to try all sorts of stuff with her but I withheld and just had some fun doing basics. A huge thank you to her owner for letting me play with her!

As a kinda random note: I got to see the lion king in broadway while I was home and all I have to say is it was AMAZING! If anyone loves the lion king movies then I highly recommend seeing the broadway show. They did an amazing job and if I could I’d seriously go right back and watch it again! Plus having some amazing friends with me helped to.

The hardest thing these last 2 weeks was actually filing for divorce. I did not realize how much of an emotional upheaval that was going to be. It’s different just talking about it but actually going through with it and saying good bye to a part of my life really was heart wrenching. My ex-husband and I are still good friends so that’s a plus, but maybe hating each other would have made it easier. I wouldn’t have felt so damn guilty or continually questioned our decision. But in the end we both still agreed it was the best to do in our current situation and filed.  It’s such a hard thing to describe emotionally. It’s as if relief, guilt and regret vie for dominance in a swirl of emotion. Even though our situation wasn’t working I still love him very much and I think thats the hardest part. We truly never had a hate phase. A frustrated and disappointed phase but hate was not really one of them and still isn’t. So trying t adjust to a friendship relationship only  and not be tainted by the guilt of failure has very hard. But I definitely never want to loose him as a friend as he has had such a huge impact on my life in so many amazing ways.

Coming back home to Washington was a welcome site since work wouldn’t let me go back to my parents. They say I actually need to work for my pay check. Geesh. I of course had to run out and see the boys even though it was almost dark. They were happily awaiting me with nickers and whisker rubs begging for treats. There is nothing like those low nickers and lovings you get from a horse. It’s likes something deep in my soul just relaxes and find a small sliver of joy no matter how sad or really emotional I am at the time.  I don’t know what I’d do without those beasties!

Washington’s winter has definitely hit full force and the wind and rain have finally made their appearance. The boys both say the LOVE the mud and insist on coating themselves in it as much as possible.  So while our riding plans might be a bit slower then normal at least I can still get my horsey lovings from them! 

Until next time my friends!

 

muddy jack and cash