Friday, December 31, 2010

Another Year Gone By

2011 is just around the corner... just over 8 hours away now.

So. I picked out some photos that showcase my accomplishments through this year. These are in absolutely no special order. :)

Bubba and I at fair. I had never jumped 3 feet before, but we ended up doing three classes, all including this rather large 3 foot oxer. Was I nervous out of my mind? Absolutely (just ask Bethany, who took this photo). Did I have a blast? Absolutely. Do I regret it? Absolutely not. I'm always going to look back and think the first sizable jump I did was on Bubba. That said, I think that was (and will be) the last time Bubba jumped so high... I'm so honored that I had the opportunity to enjoy  him.
Ladd and I!!! Our first show. What a blast! He really blew me out of the water. We didn't place in our first class out of four, but the next three were all blues. He's really that awesome :D.
I'm looking forward to showing the big guy at fair this coming year!!
I did two schoolings with Daisy this year, plus a cross country lesson at camp in August. This photo is from the October schooling. I LOVE. SCHOOLINGS. My goal for the year was to do an event. We didn't accomplish that, but I honestly don't really care. I will keep doing schoolings, and that's good enough for me, whether we ever really event or not.
County fair western day (and Gymkhana and Mounted Games) with Daisy! We recieved western high point for the day for the senior division (and High Point award on Bubba for English day...and overall senior high point division trophy!). Looking back, I remember our first class that day was horrible. We won 2nd, but I totally felt like as an individual pair, we didn't deserve it. She did everything she had to do, but we weren't clicking. We ended up spending a good amount of time in the warm up ring afterward getting the focus back on me. The rest of the day we shined for real :) 
We did our first western reining pattern, very impromptu. We were disqualified for a minor error in the pattern that I didn't even notice, but I was glad I did it, and I definitely want to do it again this coming year.
More jumping Bubba pics! This one was from the schooling period. Notice I jump everything off center? Yup. I treated it all like an eventer would have...little did I realize it was judged like the hunters. I'm not complaining, we still got two seconds :)
I hadn't really noticed this picture until picking through the CD today. By the end of western day, I was just plain happy, and smiling like a dope :P. We did the versatility class, and Daisy was found the most versatile out of 20 horses. That's m'girl.
I don't judge everything in awards...I'm obviously thrilled with individual accomplishments as well, it's just easier to explain in saying what we won, because...well, they reflect what we can do.

Anyway, I swam with Daisy this year! Three times to be exact. The first time (picture below) landed us with a large article on the front page of two different papers. That was pretty awesome for me because since I'm not on any sports teams, I would normally not be in the paper... but we're covered for life with that article, I think.

And the second time we swam in the lake... we really truly swam. She's the lock-ness. :)
I had some goals for this year. I didn't accomplish them all...but lets just take a look.
This is what my goals were for this year, per my last year's New Year's post:
1. Skills: Turn on the hindquarter and forehand, hopefully flying lead changes.(<--We can do turns on the forehands just fine now. hindquarters still confuse her; she won't plant her one hand for the complete circle. Any tips on that? We worked a lot on flying lead changes, and she still won't get them on a straight away, but she'll do them on a figure eight)
2. Events: Eventing. More schoolings, lessons, boarding, jumping, 3 phase eventing...that will be *quite* an experience. But I'm up for it, and I'm pretty sure Daisy is, too.(<-- a) I sound incredibly stupid the way I wrote this and b) we didn't accomplish it. We had the schoolings, lessons, boarding, jumping down, but no eventing. But as I said above...I've come to a point where I know whether or not I event does not determine if we're successful or not).
3. Personally improve in the english riding department :P and work with Daisy to improve dressage. (<--Yes! And still in progress. We got somewhere at camp with our lessons and dressage, and I truly realized at camp that lessons can be fun. So we called a different instructor, and are waiting on a phone call back. So...hopefully we'll have some regular lessons soon)
4. Do incredibly at county fair, SENIOR level this year...but we'll see. :P (<-- Bingo, bingo, BINGO. First year in senior and Bubba, Daisy, and I made it to overall senior high point. A little bird told me that certain people resent me because I came in with Bubba the ex Prelim horse, but you know what...I was on my own pony the rest of the week, and we still got western day high point. So no excuses )
5. Excel at everything *despite* (because certain people think it's a bad thing) being barefoot. Advance my barefoot knowledge and be able to show others the benefits. (<--Just today Daisy and I were out on the road and we were flying across gravel. She doesn't even attempt to avoid it. There's the proof. Daisy is completely happy barefoot. Whats more, I did a presentation for 4H on natural trimming in February,  and have another one coming this February. )
So I didn't accomplish all my goals. Not for lack of effort though.

Goals for Two Thousand Eleven..oh goodness. Looking back, I'm not really sure what to say. I accomplished so much more than I thought I would this year already, that I could say anything really...  But here are some general goals. 
  1. Teach Daisy to truly drive...a cart. Obtain this goal by doing a lot of bomb-proof training style stuff.
  2. Take regular lessons! For dressage. 
  3. More trail trials...GET TO A HUNTERPACE AGAIN THIS YEAR!
  4. Saying this is sort of far fetched, but seeing as how anything is possible considering I'm actually teaching my horse to drive now....try team penning! 
  5. Swim with Daisy some more. 
  6. what I can to keep Daisy from colicing! Which, I've never mentioned it, but....this fall was Daisy didn't colic AT ALL! I didn't want to jinx it, so I didn't say anything all fall, but it got later and later colic! I'm not sure what did it, but I changed a few things this year. She had a selenium block that she's never had before because I read that selenium deficiency can cause colic, she was on ACV every morning and evening instead of probios, I cut her off grazing earlier this year than last year. 
  7. Celebrate our 4th year together (wow...time flies!) and have a blast next show season. :)
Pretty humble goals this year...haha. I've done so much with her now, my goals are dwindling! 

In any case, the New Year is 62 minutes away...HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Harness News & Clinic Details

Tuesday evening, Daisy was trailered over to Jean's. I have absolutely no pictures, but that's alright.
With the help of  my friend Lisa, we harnessed Daisy for the first time. It mostly went well!
Except for what you see below. 
I have no idea what those straps are called, but the two parallel ones are supposed to be right there....but there are no keepers to keep them from sliding. How's that supposed to work? What's more, this is a horse size harness, but Daisy's a small horse. The harness fits her fine, but how it would be able to fit a bigger horse, I don't know. In a few places, we have it on the looses hole possible. Like I said, it fits her, but her being a "small" horse, I can't see this fitting anyone bigger...which is a little strange.
But the 'biggest problem' is still those straps.

We simply put them through that other strap (so I have no idea what the terms are for the harness parts. Crupper I know... that's about it.), which works, but I just wonder if that's where it belongs? That's where I'm putting it from now on in any case, though.
I ground drove her in Jean's arena with the harness. It was so fun, it's much easier to do with the harness. Lisa gave me some tips as she watched me go around...I hold my reins and whip the right way  now ;) I was holding them like a lunge line for whatever reason, but now I can hold them like regular reins.
The pictures in this post were all taken with my cellphone; I forgot my camera.
Yesterday I took her out and ground drove her outside in her paddock.
She was a really good girl.

We have excellent weather right now.Yesterday and today it was in the 40's!
The clinic was very cool as well. It was done by Joann Long of Gentle Dove Farm. Various obstacles were set up around the the end, there was a "car-wash" (tarp cut in strips to walk through), followed by cardboard and flowers to step on on the ground, then a tarp with pool 'noodles' and empty plastic bottles all over it to walk over. Along the way, there were noise distractions. We all rode in a long line with a leader (me) through the obstacles, one after the other. It was cool the way it was done because you were constantly keeping your horse busy trying to keep up, or turn at the same place as the horse in front of you, that you didn't simply ride up to an obstacle and try to get your horse through. It flowed nicely. By the end, Daisy went over the tarp half way unfolded, didn't even flinch over the crackling water bottles under her feet, and got through the car wash with all the strands down (we started with no strands, then went to one, then two, then a few more, etc). We practiced a technique called "head-away" where if there was an obstacle that could potentially spook your horse and you didn't have enough time to completely work through it, you bend their head the other direction and shift there hips toward the object. At the very end of the clinic, we rode the horses around, getting closer and closer to, a flare in the middle of the arena, which the horses were surprisingly good with. We also heard and air horn, and if the horses handled it well at distance 'a', we would step closer, and then closer, etc. Most of the horses were alright with that.

If I have time, I want to do another post tonight. But if I don't get to it... Happy New Year's eve! ;)

Monday, December 27, 2010

I Just Can't Help Myself...

I want to blog!
Today was an excellent day at the barn. The last few times I've gone to ride or ground drive have not been stellar. Riding as been alright, but she's already getting bored of the arena some days, and so the riding doesn't go as well. Before today, the last time I ground drove (I don't remember one) was sort of chaotic. I was trying to enforce the "whoa" by voice command, and then "back" by voice command. She would stop, but then she'd get impatient and want to walk, so she just would. Or she'd stop, and then all of a sudden move sideways, so that the lines ended up over her back. At one point she turned so sharply from a standstill that the line went over her back and slid under her saddle. She tensed up into a spook (a stationary one). I talked her off the ledge, fixed the lines, and had her going again, but she was just too antsy that day. She was in more of a mood for galloping hills than placidly walking the arena. I was a little worried about how that all ended.

Today I ground drove her again, with her English saddle (tomorrow a friend of mine is going to harness her for me and show me how to do it when Daisy gets over to Jean's house). She was the opposite of last time! She was really excellent. She had the voice commanded "whoa" down perfectly, and she stood until the moment I clucked, and then she'd move right off without any help from the whip (I found what I think is a driving whip in Jenny's barn. It looks like a long whip, but with a much shorter line at the I'm going to think it's a driving whip). I realized that I was probably confusing her last time I ground drove because 90% of the time when I asked her to stop, I asked her to back as well. Today I made sure to do very little backing, so that each time we'd stand it would be only for standing. She backed very well as well. Her only problem at this point with it is that the lines keep pulling on her mouth even when I want her to just stand, so it sends mixed signals and takes her a minute to realize I only want her to stand. But considering that, she's doing well. 

I longed her a bit before I drove her, just to see if she was lame, or how much energy I was up against. She was great on the longe, even at the canter she didn't buck, so I knew it would be a good day. It was. :)

I emailed with the clinician for Wednesday about what we'll be working on. Police techniques for handling situations like tarps, gates, flares, balloons, horns, and dragging stuff (etc). I'm so excited! I've never gone to a clinic.

Alright, I've got the blogging out of my system.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas, Hay Net, and Barn Tour

I hope you all had a Merry Christmas! Daisy did. She had a nice salad of apples and carrots (like every other Christmas...) and a little bag of skittles (no, I do not feed my horse skittles on a daily basis, just her birthday and Christmas). She happens to love skittles. :)

I had an excellent Christmas as well. The biggest (and only) horse gift was the harness my parents got me for Daisy! A friend of mine is going to show me how to harness her on Tuesday...but that's for later.

When Daisy is kept at home, she is given a flake of hay about every couple hours. This is for a few reasons. Partially to give her something to look forward to and do while I'm not home and she's alone in her pasture (and to keep her from eating other such things like...manure...trees...dirt...etc). We also do this because it's better for horses to eat continually (or at least in small meals like that) throughout the day because it mimics how they eat in the wild. When Daisy goes to board, however, she's given 3-4 flakes at 6am when she's brought to her pasture, I imagine she's done within the hour, and that leaves her with nothing to do the rest of the day, as well as cold, when it's winter. Similarly, at night she's given 3 flakes that she quickly eats, leaving no entertainment or heat for the remaining 12 hours. 
Enter hockey hay net! I first saw this idea a (long while) back on Laughing Orca Ranch's blog post. I decided to try it myself this year. I ordered the hockey netting online, and when it arrived, I cut it into pieces and tied up the sides of two of them. Today we went and got screw eyes and carabiner clips and hung it on the stall!
It wasn't actually that easy. The walls are oak and I had no drill so I had to use a nail, then remove it, then screw in a screw eye, lose the nail in the stall, find the nail in the stall, attempt to make another hole, lose the nail again, find the nail again so Daisy wouldn't wake up with a puncture wound, finish making the hole, screw the screw eye in, have it break in half half way into screwing it in (yes...I couldn't find the perfect screw eyes at walmart), be forced to make another hole, almost lose the nail again, and screw in the last screw eye.
Needless to say, if you do this probably won't be that frustrating. :)
But it's finished! And stuffed with Daisy's dinner hay.
It looked very small hung on the wall, and I was a little worried it wasn't big enough, but it stretched perfectly and held all her hay. If I ever need more, I can just put a flake or two on the ground anyway, and I'm sure she'll survive ;) For now I only have one in her stall, I have to figure out a way to make it possible for her to have one outside.
I brought her in for a test run.
This is a dark video, it is:

On Saturday when I rode shortly, I took Daisy out bareback and bitless on the trail in the snow, had a wonderful time, and then took her in for a little Christmas barrel racing...she slipped going around one barrel and her hind end went down; for a second, I thought she'd completely go down. She didn't, and she trotted out fine on the lunge and didn't seem hurt, but I called it a day anyway. Today when I brought her in, I trotted her out again..she seemed totally fine. I didn't ride today anyway though.
Tuesday Daisy goes to Jean's...and Wednesday... !! We're doing our first ever clinic! It's with the mounted police officer who hosted the trail trial we did in September. It's going to be all about bombproofing and sensory training your horse...pretty exciting!
That said, did I mention I love being at Jenny's? I love the use of the ring, and the trails, and the cleanliness and how small it is; just me, two other boarders, and her horses. It's very homey. :) So I took an impromptu tour on tape today...I didn't mean to, but I wanted to see if my camera flash would turn on if I taped (it didn't). So anyway I decided to upload the tour anyway. The dark opening behind Daisy is the entry to the arena. Lydia said it well when she said it's like a 'farmette'...has a little bit of everything. :) Here it is:
And so I leave you until later, bloggers :),

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas from Our Barn to Yours

I have a German heritage, a large part of which means "the day" for the Christmas season is actually Christmas eve.
So I know I'm a 'day early'...but I just thought I'd cover it now. 

I wish you all a wonderful Christmas celebration!

Gloria in Excelsis Deo.
Glory to God in the Highest.

Much love and good wishes,

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Mish-Mash of Subjects

Bonjour Bloggers!
Just a quick post..first of all, I've read many a horse quote in my time, but the one I found today (above in photo) is by far the winner. So well said. :)
The photo is of Bubba and I at fair this summer... He's a champ.

I rarely talk about things outside of my life with Daisy. But this is not to say that I do nothing besides work with Daisy ;) 
The picture above is of the friends I had over for a party on Friday... (minus 2). I love the picture is all :)
And above, last but obviously not least, Daisy, standing in the cross ties at Jenny's barn. I have yet to talk about how much I like having her there, but...  there's a picture. :) We've been doing a bit of playing around, some ground driving, some bareback & bitless barrel racing (probably her favorite ;)), some outside riding and galloping...and such.
5 days until Christmas! We all finish our shopping yet? ;) I did. I can hardly wait. :)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Dragging a Groundpole...& All That Other Stuff

I can't remember exactly, either Monday or Tuesday of this week was "drag a ground pole" day. Daisy was just fine with it, and so I declared Wednesday to be "lets drag a barrel day"...and, basically told myself that if she took to the barrel without too much trouble, then I would go on with the training with the end goal being her pulling a cart. You can see how that all went in this video:

I didn't start with leading her and dragging it. I got right up on her back. She was fine with it until it ended up next to her (the "Ahh!" moment) and then she was a little wigged out, so at that point I got off and dragged it while leading her(cropped it out because of time constraints). Then I got back on her and kept going. I know it looks like she's power walking, trying to get away with it...she's not really. While I was riding her, it felt totally normal, like she was focused on the barrel and knew it was there, but wasn't really worried about it all that much, even when it dragged over loud stones. Also, when she trots, it's because I asked her ;) She's a horse with a naturally active walk; that's something I love, because I've always been one who can't stand lazy walking horses. I personally think she did really well with the barrel...she's a horse that doesn't spook and totally lose it. She spooks in stages that you can see coming; it's easy to prevent them, or at least see them coming, and it's easy to talk her off the ledge. She's sensible, and she doesn't get so caught up in spooking that she doesn't listen. I'm so proud of my mare :)

Do any of your horses poop in their water troughs? 
Well. I think Daisy was trying to get back at me for the work I've been making her do. She pooped in her trough. Two days in a row. I got to empty it, scrub it, and refill it, two days in a row. I moved it a foot sideways the second time it happened, and spent the lesson that day getting all her bucks and energy out roundpenning. Not sure if it's connected, but her trough has stayed clean since then xD. 

Friday and Saturday I rode her outside for the first time since I came to Jenny's. We rode out in the snow (about 1/2 a foot) and walked/trotted/cantered...she was having a blast, and so was I. I feel like the ground driving and ground work is forcing her to track up more...because she felt like she was tracking up the whole time we rode outside. She tried to buck out of sheer joy a few times... ;)

So. I'm a little torn, but I've decided I'll ask for a harness for Christmas...and I've been checking out simple EZ entry carts on just never know ;)

Until next time,

Monday, December 6, 2010

Ground Driving Day II

Details! Finally! ;)

Daisy was excellent at picking up the ground driving. Lydia came to the barn to be my assistant, and at first, every command I gave I had Lydia reinforce at her head. Within a short time, I had Lydia walking farther and farther away from Daisy (which scared Daisy, I think. She kept trying to follow Lydia anyway ;)) ) until it was just me and her. She did wonderfully! We were walking and turning circles and figure eights and stopping and backing. 
Sydney gave us the advice to practice dragging things, so that's what I've been doing. Sunday I started small with just a jollyball, but she obviously did that fine ;) so yesterday we dragged a wood ground pole. Granted, it is a sandy arena floor, but the pole did scrape against stones randomly, and it didn't bother Daisy at all, at the walk or the trot. Maybe it's ridiculous, but I actually have hope that she could learn to drive. Today (or tomorrow if we run out of time) I'm going to drag a barrel with her. (by drag I mean sitting on her and dragging it by holding on to the longe-line it's tied to.) If she takes the barrel in stride, I may just ask for a harness for Christmas. Who'd a thought Daisy could be a driving pony? :)

Thanks Sydney for all your help!

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Journey from Bare, to Shoe, to Bare Again

I'm all about hooves. It's something I'm passionate about. Which is why my 4H public presentation coming up in February will be about hooves-as it was last year, though that was an impromptu- and it's going to essentially be what this post ends up being. So here we go, my presentation.

When I purchased Daisy, coming on 4 years ago now, she was barefoot. I had her trimmed every 6-8 weeks, and she remained barefoot that entire first year I had her, all the way through a summer riding season, though I wasn't showing yet at that point. We road all over roads and gravel and she was pretty fine. There was one time where she went lame on a front, but it seemed to be from a deep cut in her frog. That was my first experience with treating my own ill horse, and though it was a barely noticeable lameness, it stressed me out. I ended up soaking her hoof in epsom salts twice a day for a week, and she turned out fine. Unfortunately, I have no pictures of her hooves during that first year, because I didn't know at that point that in the future I'd wish I'd taken those photos.

The following year (2008) started out barefoot. Early into the season, she went dead. lame. and I couldn't ride for at least a week.
This is what her poor hoof looked like.

You can imagine that, after seeing that, I no longer felt she could go barefoot. And I bought into my farrier's ideas. Now, I have nothing against traditional farriers. I just think they're mislead. And at that point, I didn't know any better, few people do, and so I agreed with everything he said. He said that because she had white feet, her hooves were very weak, because 'all white hooves are weak'. And he gave the whole "we've bred good hooves out of horses" spiel. 

And so on came the shoes on all fours, with barium. And pads and silicon on her fronts as well. 

I shudder looking at this picture. Can you imagine having steel on your foot? 
Gee, sounds comfortable.
So no, she was not lame with the shoes on. Of course, now I know she didn't feel much of anything, but that's fine as long as there's no pain right? Ummmm.....

Moving right along...
Christmas 2008 I received a copy of The Soul of a Horse: Life Lessons from the Herd by Joe Camp. And I was hooked.
The section that got me hooked went like this (copied from the Soul of a Horse website):
Have you ever crossed your legs for such a long time that your foot goes to sleep? It's because you have cut off the blood circulation to your foot. Essentially that's what's happening when a metal shoe is nailed onto a horses foot. The hoof no longer flexes. Which means a substantial loss of blood circulation in the hoof. Which mean the nerve endings go to sleep. And the ill health the hoof is suffering from lack of circulation is no longer felt by the horse. In other words, the "ouch" never reaches the brain.

That made a whole lot of sense to me. I kept reading. I learned about how it's not enough to simply go barefoot, but you have to have the proper trim. A traditional farrier trims a hoof flat as if they were going to apply a shoe. This puts pressure on parts of the hoof that aren't supposed to face that pressure; like (almost ironically) the sole.
It's all been completely and utterly eye-opening. I started Daisy with a local 'natural trimmer' July 2009. She took about 6 months to completely change over, but by 3 or 4 months she wasn't at all sore or visibly off anymore; I simply noticed that her conformation still improved even after the 4th month.  I wish I'd taken shots of her hooves pre-first trim, post, and monthly afterward, but I didn't. Now, it's been over a full year, and she is never. ever. lame. She prefers grass over stones most days, but if I truly ask, she'll walk on stones without being very careful about it, unless her hooves are soft due to particularly wet ground.

And so, I present, Daisy's current hoof. No wait! Go back and look at that poor bruised hoof. I'll wait.

TA-DA! Is that not a gorgeous hoof? Nice wide heels too. Lots of flexing goin' on there.

When Daisy was trimmed with a traditional farrier or when she had shoes, our appointments were always two months apart. Now it's between 4 and 6 weeks, mostly 5 weeks. When we had the traditional farrier visiting to have shoes put on, Daisy always had to be held, with a chain lead rope. She hated. shoes. She would rear and hit her head on the barn ceiling, and rear and rear and rear up to avoid having them put on. I started truly dreading farrier visits.
Now? She likes my trimmer, no doubt about it. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that he bothered to learn her name and actually socialize with a her a little before even gets to her feet at each appointment. He brings her carrots, and gives her moments to rest while he trims. In return, he doesn't even have to touch her leg and she picks up her hoof for him already.

Traditional farriers are also hesitant to take any toe off the hoof, and often times hooves won't have the proper hoof angles and look like blocks standing upright. Depending on the season, you can pick up one of Daisy's hooves and actually pull them around the heels and see them truly flex. Pretty cool.

I know I've shared this thermograph before, but it just gets to me so much. Check out this page to see it:

This is Daisy's hoof a few weeks after a trim...if I had to guess, I'd say about 3-4 weeks into the trim; her bars don't look as long as they do when she gets them trimmed. I make appointments that are flexible; Whenever I see that Daisy's hoof needs it, or will need it in the next week, I simply make an appointment.

This year, I purchased EasyBoot gloves for Daisy's fronts. Though she doesn't truly need them, and I don't use them every ride, she does definitely appreciate them when I do use them, and she steps confidently.

I've received a fair share of ridicule for going barefoot in the past. But the last few months, there have been no comments. Because what is there to comment on? She has beautiful, strong hooves.

Just like God intended. 
Obviously, the good hooves haven't been bred out of the horses.

Ground Driving Training Begins

Daisy has been moved over to Jenny's! :) It's pretty exciting, especially because the day afterward we got a snowstorm that iced up our driveway and I wouldn't be able to ride anyway ;)

I've started teaching her to ground drive in the arena, per instructions that I found on google. Day one included sacking her out with the longe line and then letting it drag behind her as she walked so she'd hear and feel it rubbing on her as she walked and turned. She did so well! :) I'm very happy with it so far. She didn't move at all the whole time I was sacking her out, and she was really nervous about the line dragging either. She glanced behind herself often, but she still moved forward. Yesterday I just reviewed a bit before I rode, and she accidentally stepped on it once, but surprisingly she just stood still and wasn't even worried about it. Could she truly become a 'driving Miss Daisy' after all one day? I'm not sure. I'd LOVE to try, but I have no driving experience, and no cart. :-/

Yesterday after I rode I let her go and walked all over the arena with her following me; I hadn't even done a join up. Pretty cool :)
I'd say Daisy's happy there, with her horsie buddies ;)

Here's my short video of Day 1 training :)


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