Thursday, May 31, 2012

New Horsey Clothes Are Way More Exciting Than New People Clothes!

You know, it is really difficult to take a picture of a horse by yourself even when said horse is standing in cross ties! Basically, the pictures are a little blurry and not that great. Hopefully someday I might get some nice ones of him. But this is it for now. Our new halter:


I've seriously got to do something about that fro disguised as a mane!


Also our new scrim/cooler came in today. It's from Integrity Linens but I found it on a serious discount from ebay. Of course it didn't get here until after I got back from the barn so I didn't get a chance to try it on Loki yet. It's red with black trim and very pretty. I'm super excited!

There won't be anything new coming for a while after that. Geesh, is there some sort of law that says that EVERYTHING related to horses has to be expensive!! Oh well, there are lots of things on my wish list but nothing left that I'm going to need right away.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Keep Those Shoulders Straight

The last couple of rides we've been working on straightness. Loki just loves to pop his shoulders out when we turn and I have an unfortunate habit of relying on my reins to try and correct this. As I'm sure most of you know relying on your reins for straightness just isn't a great idea. You have to ride that shoulder! I grew up riding endurance/trail horses and hardly ever rode in the ring the first five or so years that I started riding so I guess it isn't a big surprise that I am having a tough time with this concept. When you ride on the trail steering is not usually much of an issue as your choices in direction are usually limited to forward or backward. I completely understand the concept in my head and can even execute when I think about it but whenever we get into a situation where I have to react quickly without time to really think about what I am doing (i.e. when we are jumping) my old habits show up like ants to a picnic! So, for the foreseeable future we will be working on steering from my seat and legs with as little rein as possible until, hopefully, it becomes second nature.

Sorry, still no pictures. My new halter did come in today and it is SO pretty!! I will try to get Loki to model it so I can show it off. :D

I hope you all had a great Memorial Weekend. A belated thank you to all of the men and women (my husband included!) who have and are now serving our country!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Life Is Just Too D*** Short!

By now I'm sure anyone who would bother to read this blog has already heard about the trailer accident that has claimed the lives of three of Michael Pollard's event horses. I can't even begin to imagine what a horrible time this is for the entire Pollard Eventing team. My thoughts and prayers are with them today. You can read the story here if you haven't already.

A few days before my husband told me that someone he worked with just lost his wife and infant when she fell down a flight of stairs while holding her baby. Again, I can't even imagine how horrific that would be. Certainly there are no words to express it.

It seems like tragedy is right around the corner all the time these days. I don't say all this to be morbid but rather to just remind myself that none of us are promised tomorrow or even the next second. I'm going to go hug my kids, the people kind and the animal kind, now and try not to take my time for granted.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Shop Till Ya Drop

So far things have been going great! I still don't have any new pictures of Loki :( but hopefully will get some soon. We've had a couple of very nice rides the past few days. Right now I am mostly just working on rhythm and brakes. I'm really trying to get him used to listening to my seat. He's going to have to be a really good listener since he's so big and I'm so small. :) We've been practicing stopping with just my seat at the walk. When he's relaxed he's getting it and I can definitely see some progress!

I've also been spending loads of time online looking for things to buy. I'm not having any trouble finding all kinds of great things but unfortunately I seem to have misplace my money tree (dang it)!! I'm having a hard time deciding on how to prioritize my want/wish list. So far I have purchased a new halter from the Tack Shack of Ocala. It's, of course, going to have a brass name plate with Keep It Low Key on it. I've also managed to pick up a few things from my trainer. I got some used shipping boots. They are fairly nice, just a little faded in color and I sure spent a heck of a lot less than the $100+ I was seeing online. I also got a set of ice boots. I probably won't need them any time soon but again, used is so much less expensive. Let's see, I got a very nice Fleeceworks half-pad from someone else at the barn for a huge bargain. It's not the color I would have chosen but it had only been used once and it was less than half the original price so I'm not complaining! I'm trying a set of Tri-Zone XC-boots from my trainer. If they fit and don't rub I'll probably end up buying those too, again at a significantly less price than new.

Since Loki is quite a bit bigger than my last horse none of my blankets are going to fit him which means buying all new clothes. Am I the only one who gets overwhelmed by all the millions of blanket/sheet/cooler choices out there??? What kinds of blankets/sheets/coolers do any of you use? As much as I'd love to just buy whatever I think I *might* use I don't really have the extra cash for that at the moment. I know I'll need a turn out blanket(s) of some sort before winter. My trainer highly recommends the Rambo duo blanket but YIKES! have you seen the price on that one???

And of course there is the usual saddle lust that seems to never go away. I found this on ebay:

It's a Stackhouse Monoflap Dressage saddle, 16" with short flaps. In the description it says it was made "for a slender adult female 5 feet tall and a 16 hand normal withered Hanoverian." It even has custom red piping! It's like it was made for me! (I'm exactly 5' tall.) *Sigh* Unfortunately I don't have an extra $3,700 sitting around. But it sure is pretty!

I jokingly asked my husband if he ever thought about what our lives would be like if I didn't have/want horses and the things that go along with them. He told me he doesn't let himself think about it. Can't say that I blame him, poor guy. Ah well, I wouldn't be me if I didn't love horses. 


Sunday, May 20, 2012

KEEP IT LOW KEY and don't ask TOO MANY WHYZ

As you are reading this post you should be imagining fireworks exploding, thousands of balloons being released and a band playing some sort of victory tune in the background.

Why?

Well, after a few weeks of soul searching and internet searching for the "perfect" horse I have finally found one. (Okay, actually I came to the realization that there really isn't a "perfect" horse and sometimes you have to decide what you can and what you can not live with. My compromise was height as in my horse is a little taller than I'd ideally wanted. Actually his height is just fine it's me who is just too short!) He is now bought and paid for. That's right I'd like to introduce you to my Loki!:
Isn't he nice and shiny?!
If he looks familiar that is because he was formally known as Frankie. Last week we decided to have Frankie's(Loki's) front ankles x-rayed. Not only were the x-rays very positive my vet and his assistant absolutely oo'ed and awed over my (now) horse. The first thing my vet said to me when he called with the results of the x-rays was "I feel really good about this horse!" No chips or lesions to be found!

I realized that even though my trainer has about 5 or 6 horses available to ride over and over again I kept picking Frankie/Loki. For a while I told myself it couldn't work b/c of his size and the possible problems with his ankles but that didn't keep me from really falling in love with him. I absolutely love his sweet personality and working with him on the ground. He loves attention but he isn't pushy about it. We certainly have some work cut out for us u/s but with the help of my trainer I know we will get through it. He isn't flashy but when he moves he's going to be the kind of horse you stop and watch. (Of course I'm not biased at all!)

His registered name is Too Many Whyz which I find very appropriate b/c I certainly had a whole lotta whyz I should and whyz I shouldn't buy this horse.

So my goals for this summer now are:
  1. To develop a positive relationship with my horse on the ground and u/s.
  2. To get Loki confident in new environments and help him realize that going somewhere new does not mean RACE TIME.
  3. Try not to go broke buying all the new things we need/want :D
  4. To do at least one starter horse trial by the end of the summer.
I'm not sure we'll make that last goal and I'm not going to sweat it. Really it is just something for us to work towards this summer. There will be plenty of time for us to make our eventing debut in the years to come and who knows how far we'll go?
 
I'm hoping I'll get some better photos here soon. My husband and son made it home from Japan this past week. (More fireworks, balloons and band music!) So hopefully husband will come out and play camera man for me one of these days. (It's pretty hard to photograph a horse without a helper!)

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Horse Buying Blues


I've now been home for about 3 1/2 weeks. In some ways it feels like a lot longer. The search for a new horse has been... well it hasn't been much so far. It feels like there were all kinds of horses last year that I would have loved to go see but now I can't really find much of anything. I'm continuing to ride Frankie and Monte at the farm. I've already decided Monte is just too much horse for me right now but I've wavered back and forth over Frankie. I actually enjoy riding him a lot even though he did get pretty strong the one time we went XC schooling. I'm sure we could work through that, though, but my biggest hang up is still his size. I don't feel too small on him in the sense that I can't ride him effectively but I definitely feel self-conscious about how I look on him. Silly, I know, but there ya go.

Frankie
Lori does have at least two other horses I have yet to try. But as far as going to see anything else... nothing so far. I did really like a mare on dream horse but unfortunately she has less than stellar knees over fences. Her smaller size (15.1) combined with her knees has Lori worried she just wouldn't be very safe cross country. I've said I wouldn't buy a horse without the assistance of my trainer but I was really disappointed about this one. 
Her knees looked a little better in some photos but mostly looked about like this
And of course the hardest thing of all is that big, black hole that is Japan waiting to suck up another 9 months of my life starting the end of August. *sigh* I've been asked if it would be better to wait and buy a horse next summer. If we were better at saving money I'd say yeah, maybe, but unfortunately I think no matter when I buy my next horse it will most likely have to be something green and I'm not sure I want to do the green horse thing two summers in a row. 

But it hasn't been that long so I need to be patient! Surely, I'll find something out there eventually!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Disaster!

Wow! Do you ever wonder what it is about horses that keeps us coming back for more even when everything seems to go wrong?

For most of us our hearts were stolen at a very young age!
Yesterday the plan was to go to the Kentucky Horse Park for some schooling. I was excited but a little worried since I'd be riding Frankie who is still pretty green and still tends to deal with his anxiety by running... really fast at times. But I'd already survived gone cross country schooling with him once so I figured it could only get better, right?

I got a call the night before saying we'd have to leave a lot earlier than planned as my trainer's horse, Rio (a.k.a. The Devil) had somehow managed an incredible feat of acrobatics and pulled his left front shoe off (with bell boots on no less).  So, okay, I got the babysitters rearranged and made plans to be out there earlier.

Unfortunately early is not always something I do well so I was running a tad bit behind and by the time I got there we were scrambling to get everything loaded up so we could run to a designated spot to meet Lori's farrier who had so kindly agreed to reattach The Devil's shoe. I quickly threw my tack in the trailer and grabbed Frankie out of his stall. I gave him a quick look over and he looked clean so I grabbed some shipping boots and we loaded up.

We met the farrier and got the shoe reattached and were finally on our way. We even got to the horse park early. After we parked and signed up and paid for schooling we went to get the horse's out of the trailer. Normally Rio jumps right off the trailer so when he and Lori didn't appear right away my sister and I asked her what they were doing in the trailer so long. When I heard her say "there's something wrong with my horse" I think my heart dropped to my feet.

Lori was fairly sure that he had choked so I quickly ran back up to the sign in tent and asked if their was a vet on a call. They called for a vet who was about 25 minutes away but said he'd be there as soon as he could. I went back to the trailer to wait.

And then we got a little surprise. Mindee and I unloaded our horses and were walking them around when Lori suddenly says to me, "why do you have Monte?" "Uh, I don't have Monte, I got Frankie out of his stall this morning." That's when I really looked at my horse and realized. OMG! I have the WRONG horse!! This has never happened to me before. How did this happen? Well, it turns out that Monte and Frankie had gotten switched to the wrong stalls that morning and since I had been in such a hurry to get going I didn't even notice!

Guess Who!
It's not that Monte and Frankie really look THAT much alike but they are both about the same size and both just plain bays so if you aren't really paying attention it is easy to mix them up... as I discovered.

Meanwhile the vet came and told Lori that he felt Rio would need more medical care than he could provide so The Devil was loaded up and took a trip to Rood & Riddle. Mindee and I stayed behind with our horses. I did attempt to ride Monte but he was just way too fresh for me especially without Lori there to give me advice/confidence. I rode him for about 2 minutes before I gave up. Luckily Mindee was able to take her pony out over a few of the smaller jumps so the whole day wasn't a complete loss. I got to be the crazy girl leading the way too big for her TB around the XC course. Wow, people either say hello or stop staring. Geez!!

Lori came back and picked us up. Rio has to stay at Rood & Riddle for at least 3 days or more. It turns out he did choke and had aspirated fluid and hay into his lungs and has the beginnings of pneumonia. I feel so bad for Lori. She loves that horse just as much as any of us love our horses. It's so hard to see them hurting.

When I told my husband this whole story his response to me was, "are you sure you still want to do this?" I wish there was a way to make non-horsey people understand just how much horses mean to us. But unfortunately you either get it or you don't.

Here's hoping/praying/wishing that Rio gets better quickly and that there is no permanent damage to his lungs. His story is also on HJU.
Feel better soon Rio!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Tales From Adult Horse Camp ~ Okinawa Style

I've been meaning to post this for a while but with everything going on I thought it would be best to save it for a time when I could do it justice. Let me just start by saying adult horse camp is so much fun! I really have to give credit to the instructors at MHC. They do a heck of a lot with the limited resources that they have.



The first day of horse camp started out very relaxed. We sat around and did some introductions as most of us didn't know each other. There were a couple of ladies who either had never ridden before or only a very little. They had children who rode at the stables but this was their first opportunity to come without their kids. (And of course I say GOOD FOR THEM!)  After that we went up to the roof of the barn and did some Yoga. We practiced a lot of balance positions which was fun and caused a lot of laughs as some of us are a little balance impaired!





After that the first group of riders went out for their lesson while the rest of us just hung out and chatted. It was a lot of fun. I have to say I try to never take for granted having other adults to talk horses with. It's nice to be able to talk about things like lead changes and tack with someone who knows what you are talking about!

I rode Mocha with the second group. We did some flatwork for warm up and then some small gymnastics. I was very humbled afterwards as so many of my fellow campers complimented me on my riding. It was very nice to hear as I can be quite critical of myself. It was a good reminder that even though I still have so much more to learn and I want to be much better I have also come very far and learned so much.

We ate lunch after the second group lesson and we had an unmounted lesson at the same time. Eden discussed how we can keep ourselves and our horses motivated and meet our training goals at the same time. It was a great discussion with lots of participation. The third group had their lesson next and then afterwards there was a beach ride. Unfortunately I opted to not go on the beach ride. I knew there was a good possibility I was going to be leaving Japan for the summer so I was a little anxious to spend as much time with my husband as I could. But, I heard the beach ride was a ton of fun.
Campers enjoying an hour at the beach.
The second day of camp dawned with lots of rain. We had to cancel the yoga session and we all huddled under the awning to see if the rain would stop. We decided to have our unmounted lesson first while we waited on the weather to give us a break. This time the discussion was about the training pyramid. It was presented very well. Some of it was maybe a little advanced for the beginner riders but I still think they enjoyed learning as much as they could.


The rain settled down after that so the first group of riders mounted up for their lesson. I was in the first group this time so I got Mr. Mocha saddled and ready to ride. For this lesson Alexis video taped us while we rode on the flat and then we did some more gymnastic exercises. Mocha can be such a fun little jumper. I still have a tendency to jump ahead from time to time and I still need to work on staying closer to the saddle but it wasn't terrible. We practiced two bounces in a row and that got a little interesting as we were riding with Sky (the giant) so the striding was a little tricky but Mocha got it most of the time.
After our lesson the second group went. There was only two groups for the day but they lasted quite a bit longer about an hour and half+. After the second group we started setting up for Alexis' goodbye party as this was her last day at the barn. While we did that Alexis called us up individually to go over our riding videos. Can I just say that I HATE to watch myself ride! I know it is very important to do because it really can make a difference in how you ride but ugh! I think I'd rather pull my teeth out sometimes! Alexis had a lot of positive things to say, though, so it wasn't too horrible.

The last part of camp was pretty much a party. Adult beverages were present and there were lots of laughs and fun.
Some of the girls after our ride.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

From Okinawa To Rolex

Wow, there has just been so much going on these past couple of weeks that I have had a devil of a time keeping up with this blogging thing. It's pretty easy when you are stuck in Japan and have a lot of free time on your hands but ever since I've been here if I haven't been at the barn I've been doing stuff with my family. It is great to be home for sure!

So a quick recap of how things went. Sometime on the weekend of the 14th of April I noticed that there was a flight leaving Kadena that was destined for Columbus, Ohio. I had sort of resigned myself to waiting until the week of Rolex before trying to fly home but as soon as I saw this flight come up I knew I had to try for it.

We got to the PAX terminal about a half hour before role call and made sure we were on the space available list. The next 30 minutes was quite the nail biter! Would we make it on the plane? Well, we all know the answer to that. We did make it! We pretty much got the last seats available but I was so excited and quite nervous.
Waiting for our flight at the Kadena PAX terminal
Our Plane looked something like this
Our flight lasted about nine hours and it was on a KC135. It had netted seats that went along the side of the plane and it was very loud and cold but the cool thing was we could stretch out and sleep by taking the netting down (the seats themselves were like wide cots and the netting was just for the "chair" back). We wore ear plugs for the sound and that sort of made it peaceful. We couldn't do much talking so the girls slept a lot and I read and slept some. In all honesty it was the most comfortable flight I've ever been on.

We had a layover in Hawaii which I knew going in. What I didn't know was that our layover was going to be over 24 hours long!! The thing about flying Space A is you have to be very (and I mean VERY) flexible. I luckily had my American iPhone set back up before we left so I was able to call for a hotel and taxi.

I was also lucky in that I have a good friend who is stationed in Hawaii who was able to take us around the next day so we got to see some of the sights.

Passed Out After the Long Flight
View From Our Hotel Room
Just One of the Beautiful Sights in Hawaii
After spending most of the afternoon driving around Hawaii with my friend we headed back to the PAX terminal to wait for the next leg of our journey. And here is where things got a little bumpy. When I looked at the scheduled flights I noticed that our flight was not there!!! Oh my gosh as panic set in! I went and talked to the customer service folks to find out what was going on. According to them our flight had terminated and we would potentially have to wait for another flight and compete for seats again. There was a lot of drama that I won't go into but suffice it to say that by the end of it there were a few tears and I'm pretty sure I lost at least a year or so of my life just from the worry/stress but the kicker is about a half hour before the next flight took off I was finally told that the whole thing was just a computer error. $#%$#@!!! (I guess every journey needs at least a little drama.)

The flight from Hawaii to Columbus also lasted about 9 hours and when we got there my Dad and MIL came to pick us up and we were finally home!! I was so glad that I came home a week early for Rolex because, man, jet-lag is a pain. It was nice to go to Rolex NOT feeling like a Zombie.
Cousins Unite!
There are about a billion blogs on Rolex out there so I'll spare you the details and just say that it is truly the most fun thing I get to do every year. We went two days this year on Thursday (to do our shopping) and on Saturday to watch cross country. I tried to be conservative with my shopping but I did come home with a new Dressage Bridle from Stubben, new stirrups from Bit of Britain, a new pair of Dubarry boots!, a couple of shirts/sweatshirts and a new Mountain Horse Coat from USEA. I really really wanted to come home with a new saddle. I found one that I absolutely loved but of course it would have been silly to buy a saddle before I buy a horse so I restrained myself. :)

Here are the pics!:
I wore my MHC t-shirt on Thursday so they could be "officially" represented at Rolex.
Courageous Comet and Becky Holder (I felt bad for Becky; she had some bad luck this year.)
Philip Dutton
Will Coleman and Twizzel. I was so happy for them to finish on their Dressage score, only 1 of 3 to do it.
Marilyn Little-Meredith Flying!
Karen O'Connor and Mr. Medicott also had a great showing.
Michael Pollard and Icarus
 And a Video:
 

I had another video but for some reason Blogger isn't letting me upload it. Maybe later.

I'm still working on the horse shopping. Not much new to report and if I could sum it up in just a few words they would be, "why oh why can't I just be a few inches taller!" Ah well such is the story of my life. :D