Saturday, December 31, 2011

Review of 2011 and Plans for 2012

It's that time of year again; time to reflect and plan. :) 

2011 was a little quieter in the competition aspect than former years, but it was still fun and full of new experiences. 
Such as Daisy getting a pasture buddy! Daisy had spent 4 years with no other horses in her pasture, but that changed in February when I had her on pasture board with Dixie at Jean's farm. I was surprised to find that she's actually not dominant at all in a pasture. . . mostly just passive.  She was also on 24/7 pasture board for the first time since I've had her, and she survived ;).

We took a few dressage lessons, which didn't amount to much but it *was* the first regular lessoning I'd done on Daisy since I'd owned her. .  .

The opening days of April brought the worst colic that I've experienced yet. Daisy and I spent a lot of time walking up and down our driveway to keep her from rolling, during which time I prayed and cried to God to heal her.
Which in due time He did, of course (and I'm thankful for that and that it was not as violent a colic as some colics can be). This colic lasted three entire days. I've been able to keep her from colicing in Fall the last two fall seasons, but not so far in spring. I'm planning on putting her on apple cider vinegar in mid-March already this coming year to try to keep her digestion in balance to avoid that, because. . . it's horrible.

In May I joined United States Pony Club with Miss Daisy.  A few days after registering, we went to our first PC clinic, a jump position clinic. Daisy was a speedy terror, but we got good pictures! ;) I had fun anyway, even if it was crazy.
With joining pony club, I started going to weekly mounted lessons. What a great opportunity to lesson at a great farm, on a regular basis! I was also really blessed that the farm was close enough for us to ride to for lessons and that the farm owner graciously allowed this. We even tried some dressage tests in June, which I really enjoyed.

Our Pony club organizes a hunterpace twice a year to raise funds. Jenny graciously trailered Daisy over and she and I rode the hunterpace! It was such a complete blast. Daisy loves going new places, and was game to canter away to my heart's content. We also had the opportunity to do lots of cross country jumps! I'm definitely looking forward to more hunterpaces; they're probably my favorite form of the competitions that we do. Jenny and I placed fourth in the hunter division.

July brought more pony club lessons, with a new instructor that I absolutely love! She was very positive in all her teaching, which makes a huge difference! I can't stand the instructors I've been under in the past who focus on the negative for the whole ride. Abby did such a great job of being positive and upbeat while still being firm in her teaching. Such a nice change!
July also, of course, brought County Fair. This time I rode Ladd for English day. What a blast! I made great memories with him and I will never forget him and what a good boy he was.

And of course Daisy was fabulous as well. She was her usual well-behaved self, in Mounted Games, Western pleasure day, and Gymkhana.  We placed first in Versatility for the second year running and for the third year, we were awarded Overall High Point for the week in our division! The only thing different this year was that since I'd taught her voice commands through ground driving, she took it upon herself to simply do what the announcer said. . .  before I could even convey the command. I suppose that wasn't too bad ;)

August was even more pony club lessons, this time at a new farm. God blessed me again with a person to trailer Daisy and I to the farm multiple times! I was really thrilled that I still was able to attend, despite not having  a trailer. 
(Daisy and I to the left, Lydia and Bella to the right)
These lessons were focused on show jumping. I was always under the impression that Daisy was terrible at show jumping because the jumps were so open and airy, she didn't respect them. Not so! She was certainly not, and will never be, a flawless amazing jumper, but she accomplished much more than I had originally thought she could, and I was pleasantly surprised! She always seems to amaze me with her talent. I love her! I also found out more about how my anticipation of jumps was making her rush. When I sat back and was careful not to anticipate, she did much better. She's a pretty fearless jumper, which I love. 
As an added bonus, Daisy can load and unload herself onto and off of trailers as of this year. 

In August I also purchased an easy-entry cart on craigslist that I'd been eyeing since February. My brother drove an hour away to pick it up with me. Daisy and I started taking regular driving lessons.

When it came time to take Daisy home in September, I rode her home from Katie's house! This was fun because it was through a small hamlet which I had sort of hoped to ride through sometime, because who doesn't like riding their horse through a town? It was such fun.

We continued driving lessons at home, until eventually Daisy was good enough to not need our instructor anymore. 
Daisy and I also rode in a trail trial again in September. This one did not go as well as the one in 2010, in which we placed 5th, but that's ok, it was worth it anyway for the experience. We also did a second hunterpace with my Pony Club and placed third!

In October I took on my first regular lesson student. I love instructing! Daisy can be a pill sometimes, but I think it's good to experience ;) :
I also purchased saddle number six, a kid's sized saddle for lessons.
In the first few days of November, Ladd was placed in a new home, and I went to say good bye.  I was sad to see him go, but I know he's in a great new home and hopefully I'll see him again one day.
The goals I had for 2011, which I posted on the eve of the year, were as follows:
  1. Teach Daisy to truly drive...a cart. Obtain this goal by doing a lot of bomb-proof training style stuff. Accomplished
  2. Take regular lessons! For dressage. Accomplished 
  3. More trail trials...GET TO A HUNTERPACE AGAIN THIS YEAR! Accomplished (One trail trial and two hunterpaces!)
  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! Was not attempted, but this goal will continue into the New Year
  5. Swim with Daisy some more. Unfortunately did not happen because no one else was going who could trailer me along to a swim spot.
  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. As discussed, we had a colic in April. .  . but none in fall again!
  7. Celebrate our 4th year together (wow...time flies!) and have a blast next show season. :) Accomplished, and then some
I'm very happy with how the year panned out. 
Goals for 2012:
  1. Team penning, for real this time. Tentative plans are already in place for this. (at this point, Daisy is afraid of cows. I am not deterred from at least trying)
  3. Personal goal: Take equinextion trimmer 1 (and 2?) course in Calgary, Canada with Lisa Huhn. 
  4. Sledding with Daisy
  5. Drive on the road!
  6. Do all the fun stuff as in the past (Hunterpaces. . . . trail trials. . . swimming!. . . county fair. . . cross country schoolings!. . . pony club. . . etc)
This is the end of my goal list. I've accomplished a lot in the past, leaving little left to do. And I know I don't need a goal list to have fun and find new things to do that I haven't even dreamt of yet. :) 

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas from My Barn to Yours :)

Daisy in her pasture at Jenny's upon my arrival: 
 I brought Daisy in, groomed her a bit (Yep, there was nothing I could do about the muddy legs. . . ) and headed out with buckets and hat in tow to a spot behind the barn with a nice woodsy backdrop.
We are located in the hills above our town, and so we have a good two-inch covering of snow. It's absolutely beautiful. Just in time for pictures today! 

It's a good thing Daisy ground ties well, as I had to run back and forth for the self-timer shots, for which I had my camera set up on two buckets. 

There is a hole in the seam of the hat, perfect for sticking the halter through to keep the hat from falling off Daisy's head ;) 

At random intervals I'd pull peppermint wrappers out of my pocket to get Daisy's attention. It's tough getting her to put her ears forward. You literally get a split-second. 

I'd press the shutter, and run back over to her for the self-timer photo. When it was over, Daisy would get a treat ;) Yummm. 

After we were done, I put her rain sheet back on and brought her to her pasture, with extra hay and water. I crouched down, took this picture, and all of a sudden. . . 

I was ambushed by Hannah ;) 

Panorama shot in which you can see the set-up of the barn. The green and red building to the left is the barn and indoor arena. Daisy is in the pasture to the right -->
<-- And (Left to right) Jordan, Jayda, and Skyler, are to the left
The tan building is Jenny's house. 

And thus, our card. Merry Christmas! 
Christ by highest Heaven adored, 
Christ, the Everlasting Lord; 
Late in time behold Him come, 
Offspring of a Virgin’s womb: 
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see; 
Hail th’ Incarnate Deity, 
Pleased as man with men to appear, 
Jesus our Immanuel here! 

Hail! the heavenly Prince of Peace! 
Hail! the Sun of Righteousness! 
Light and life to all He brings, 
Risen with healing in His wings. 
Mild He lays His glory by, 
Born that man no more may die, 
Born to raise the sons of earth, 
Born to give them second birth.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Fun Stuff :)

I went to New York City this week for three days. Unfortunately, sans any horses, so I guess I won't share anything besides a picture ;) : 

Daisy wasn't ridden Monday-Wednesday, which for this horse, is a big deal. We went out in a drizzle on Thursday. We rode past this water pipe (below), which we have passed many times, but never with water flowing apparently, because Daisy was spooked a bit as we went past. I love that when she spooks, it's not dangerously dramatic. She stands still and freezes and raises her head and snorts. Sometimes she might spin to run, but she spins slowly and never without warning. We simply rode past in each direction a few times until she was over it. 

 Today I rode Daisy bareback and planned to jump a small crossrail. . . after going over it a couple times, I thought I'd grab this road work (nylon) sign to throw over the jump to fill it a bit. She spooked sideways a bit as I picked it up (while on her) so I dropped it and got off her. We spent about fifteen minutes desensitizing with it. I tried a new method that I found out about recently. . . I'm not sure if I read it in a horse magazine (of which I subscribe to three: Equus (Favorite!), Horse Illustrated, and Horse & Rider) or saw it on HRTV, but it worked well! The method was as follows: to apply "pressure" through the object you're desensitizing with, and then when the horse submits or stands still, you 'release' the pressure by removing the object from where it was.   

 With Daisy, I started out waving the flag on both sides of her. I would wave for a bit and she would circle around me or away from me; once she stood still and wouldn't move I'd stop waving and put the flag behind me and rub her for a bit. Then I'd start again, and then move to her other side, and then slowly touch it to her until she didn't move away, and finally moved to putting it on her. I gave her breaks (releasing pressure) throughout. It worked so well! It makes so much sense, but I've never really thought of it in that way.
 For an added bonus, I had Daisy stand on it and walk over it as well, since she has trouble walking over tarps. 
Tomorrow is Christmas Eve, when us Germans celebrate. I'm excited!
I'm getting a second lesson student in January. Funn!

 I love my mare :)

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Journey to Driving

I feel like reflecting upon Daisy and my latest feat of this year, 2011.
In the waning days of 2010, I found myself stuck inside an arena once again, and after quickly exhausting my options of what to do to keep us busy and entertained, I sat twiddling my thumbs and wondering. . . English, western, jumping, barrel racing. . . besides parades, I had yet to try something with Daisy and truly fail(the parade wasn't a complete fail). People would often comment that my mare "does everything" to which I would quickly reply "Well, she doesn't drive." December of last year brought me to wondering whether it was really that difficult a skill to master. So I set my mind upon teaching her to ground drive. I emailed with Sydney for some helpful tips on how to get started, and consulted a ground driving article I found on google. 
And so we began. Our first, few days I believe, looked much like this, just doing some sacking out and helping her get used to the feel of *things* brushing all over her legs:

Once she seemed fine with that step, we progressed to actual ground driving, with crude tack; english saddle and two longe lines, laced through the stirrups. It looked silly, but it worked. Many thanks once again to my good friend Lydia for filming help that day as well as being an assistant. She was there from the beginning with the driving training, and was helpful both back then and this summer, as we practiced with the real cart:

Notice how the title of the next movie is no longer "Ground Driving Training Part III" but rather " *Driving* Training Part III". Daisy took to the ground driving rather well, and I decided to go a step further and teach her to drive. I added "driving harness" to my Christmas wish list, and began doing more desensitizing. This video featured the barrel, however I also worked dragging a pole and soda bottles on a rope.
We ground drove once a week or every other week for a few months. In August I purchased a simple easy-entry cart that I found on craigslist, and hired an instructor, Gracie :)
I used the driving bridle with the blinders for the first time. . . 
Daisy was a little confused that she couldn't see me, no matter how far she turned her head behind her, but otherwise she was fine :)
 The first time we hooked her up, we had a spook that sent Daisy and cart, with me in tow, doing a 180, followed by a pony frozen with fear and snorting at the crazy object behind her.
The next lesson, we took it literally two steps at a time, as she got used to the feel of the cart around her.
Lesson after lesson we made our way around the field at Katie's, slowly eliminating the helpers at her sides.
I brought Daisy home and we continued, until finally. . . 

The helpers became passengers ;)

Lydia and I drove Daisy once or twice a week for a couple months up and down our driveway to gain more experience. Sometimes Daisy still had trouble turning up by our house, but I think this was a barn sour issue, not necessarily a training one. I really appreciate Lydia coming out to help so often! Especially since Daisy seems to like her quite a lot ;).  Hopefully in spring we can start up again with that, introduce a car coming from behind (as the sound without seeing the car will be a new situation), and then move to the road.
Driving Daisy is really a lot of fun; she's so talented! Notice the tight turn that is required of her on our driveway. . .
Trotting is such fun too! 

Driving has been an excellent experience for Daisy. She's very accustomed to the feel of lines and harnesses all over her back. She hears the clacking of the cart behind her and doesn't worry. The voice commands are put into use in our every day rides, which makes things much more fun. And Daisy has learned to trust me more, and I her!

As I write, it is snowing heavily outside. I'm excited to get back to this in spring :)

Monday, December 12, 2011

Daisy's New Digs

Firstly. . . (is that a word?), how do you all like my new layout? The blog was seriously in need of a change. I like it. 
We decided to just leave Daisy at Jenny's farm because of the worse weather that is likely coming. . . not that it has come yet. All the photos are taken with my cellphone. . . one of these days I'll actually bring my camera along to the barn. Above are Daisy and her ex-pasture buddy, Jolee. They got along fine; the last day they were out together I actually came up and saw them eating together nose to nose on the same pile of hay! Hence the above picture. Daisy didn't seem to care either way about whether Jolee was near her or not, but i do think it was nice for her. Jenny decided to put Jolee out with her other new boarder instead because Daisy gets different hay from everyone else ( my hay instead of Jenny's) so it it would make things simpler. 

Daisy's hoof marks are below. I love when I move her off the concrete and find these. . . concavity, anyone? :) 

Below are photos of Daisy's old evening arrangement. . .she was on that side of the fence, and Stuart (the only gelding on the farm, the other boarded horse) was on the the other side. It's essentially still the same except that they swapped spots. These photos are already outdated (by a couple days). Shows what a *great* blogger I am! (Sarcastic remark).

I was really happy with where she was because she actually felt safe enough to sleep lying down at night; I found shavings in her tail for days. When she was in a stall at Jenny's last year she rarely slept lying down, and I figured it was because the stall was small. . . here in the run-in she slept lying down! I'm hoping she still will on the other side. She probably will once she has a couple days to get used to the situation change. Notice the board placed over the water trough; that is there because the little Missy pooed in that big trough while I was gone! Poor Jenny had to clean it out. So now most of it is covered. . . anyone have any tricks for getting horses not to do that? Daisy has a habit of pooping in buckets. 

 Yesterday Daisy and I went on a road that we haven't gone on since last winter, so naturally Daisy was all excited and energetic. I love when she's like that! It's so much more fun to not have to squeeze her along every step. We met a mare out hand walking with her owner. We rode up to this farm and this draft-cross came cantering down the pasture to visit. Daisy whinnied out loud! Sweet horses. We'll visit again soon.
A fellow rider stopped to introduce herself, and we're hoping to swap numbers and go trail riding sometime this winter. I hope it works out. It would be a nice change!

I gave another lesson on Daisy today in Jenny's arena. We had fun lunging and learning to post. It's so funny to teach someone to post, as I've never taught it before and I'm not sure how to go about it. I just repeat "up down up down up down up down" over and over as one of Daisy's fore-legs moves forward and back. It's so fun instructing!

How are you all holding up? We've had a pretty mild December so far, snow and temperature wise. 
Happy trails,

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Home Again

I enjoyed Florida for a week. My Mom and I went riding on Wednesday last week at a tourist-style farm. It. . . left things to be desired. But here are the pictures anyway. 

 I rode a horse named Bush. He was 3x grumpier than Daisy, which I didn't think was possible, but it definitely is. 
 My mom rode a sweet Belgian cross named Flare. 

 Most of the week was spent enjoying the nice weather and the beautiful beach,
 within the dunes. 

I'm happy to be home though. Daisy was pretty happy to see me, I must say. She was completely muddy, she apparently had a grand time out with the other horses for the week. I groomed her and let her loose in Jenny's (60x60) arena and free lunged her, joined up with her. No matter how many times I join up, it's still so cool! Daisy followed me everywhere afterward and even side passed away from me as I stepped toward her, something she's never done. 
Today I joined up with her again (I just couldn't resist) and then I rode her for a bit. I spent 95% of the ride not using my hands, just my legs, and I rode her walk/trot/canter with no hands. I sometimes had to use a short tug to reprimand her when she tried to turn to the barn gate, but otherwise it was such fun and she was sooo good! I love my mare :)


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