Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Five Horses We Meet In Life

"The Five Horses We Meet in Life"
This is an email that's been getting forwarded around and I thought I would join in answering.

1. The Intro Horse.
We each came into horses in our own way, but it was always with a horse leading us. This might have been a friend’s first pony, or perhaps it was a draft horse on a farm you once visited It might have been a real-life meeting, or an imaginary one.


I really don't remember NOT liking horses, but according to my parents when my dad rented a pony for my 4th birthday party I wouldn't stop talking about having my own. I just remember being annoyed that the lady leading me didn't let me gallop and jump the logs in our big back yard. I was the birthday girl after all!

2. The Experimental Horse
Once you had crossed the line between “Darn, they’re big!” and “Wow! Can I try that?” you found yourself face-to-face with the horse that would suffer through your early attempts at figuring out the whole horse experience … wherever this horse came from, he probably didn’t benefit from the encounter as much as you did.


This is probably the lesson horse I rode most of my career at Royce Stables in Walla Walla, WA. He was a hardship registered Pinto gelding that was on his 3rd or 4th career teaching Dressage. When I started taking lessons on him he was at least 18 as far as anyone could remember and by the time he passed away a couple winters ago he must have been at least 30 and some counts put him at 33 yrs old. He was sway-back, stubborn, slow, heavy on your hands and dead to the leg and I loved him! He was a pro at putting up with little kids and their lunge-line lessons.

3. The Connected Horse
The first horses we meet don’t really connect with us, nor do we with them. Those are experiences in survival and tests of endurance. The Connected Horse is the first horse you truly bond with. This is the horse that sounds a chord that lives so deep in you that you might never have heard it otherwise.


I would say this is Cas, Spotless's dad. TB OTTB, treated like trash after his decent career and came to me skin and bones. He was AMAZING! I had no idea what I was doing taking care of a stallion and he was one of the easiest horses to keep and handle I've ever had. You could canter on a loose rein through the fields with a mare in heat. He was my dream horse. He passed away only 6 months after I got him, which was decades too soon. His front ankles both broke, just like the famous racing filly that died last year. The vet had never seen anything like it. They said it must have been an old racing injury or caused by injections or something. He was an awesome horse and his son sure has his loving, sensible temperament.

4. The Challenger
Into each horseperson’s life, a little challenge must fall. You’ll have read that one final training book, bought yourself a clicker and heading rope, and there you’ll stand, arms crossed, assessing the situation as if you actually knew what the situation was. It might be difficult to believe, as you are flying down the aisleway on the losing end of a braided cotton line, but you actually need this horse in your life.


I think several horses have been this one for me.

Lady Ghirardelli (Delli), my first horse. 14.3 H, 11 yrs old, Appy/Arab/Hackney mutt mare. She would buck me off and go cantering away. She escaped from her stall the first night and sent us running across the fields in the dark to find her. By the time I sold her she was going Intro Level and was so well-behaved she went on to be a successful 4H show pony.

KT Copper War Rebel, my first ground-up horse. 15.2H, AQHA gelding, bought him as a yearling. He was an easy start as a late 2 yr old, but got more challenging as the years went by. I sold him at 4 yrs old when he made it clear he was NOT going to be a ring show horse, nor was he a fan of Dressage. He went on to be a competitive Barrel horse from what I hear.

Amigo Flame, favorite horse so far. 13.1H, 1/4 Shetland, 3/4 Arab pony. Bought him as a barely handleable 3 yr old stud prospect, got him gelded (when I got him home in the day light it was apparent ALL 4 feet turn out!). I had a great time teaching him. By the time I sold him only 8 months later he was a kid's show-pony. AWESOME little man. If you see him up for sale, SNATCH him up! He stormed the trails like an endurance horse, shined in the show-ring, and took everything in stride. He was a great all-arounder prospect and is now started in jumping by the current owners. He is the one I've sold that I would take back in a heart-beat.

5. Your Deepest Heart
There will come a time when you will look at yourself with a cold, appraising eye, and you’ll have to be honest about your continued ability to deal with The Challenger and other difficult horses. At that point, you’ll seek out the horse that will be your soul mate forever… You’ll have bought him the most comfortable, best fitting equipment… Maybe you’ll still go to shows and ride – brilliantly or barely – in the Alzheimer’s class. Maybe you’ll just stay home. Whatever you do, one day you’ll realize that after all the money you spent on animal communicators and trainers, you only had to stop and listen and you would have clearly heard your horse’s thoughts and desires.


This may be Dazzle, but maybe not. If not, I certainly haven't found it yet. I have a feeling Dazzle will be my forever packer. She is mellow and sensible and I could see being happy with her forever. She is up for anything and will happily change disciplines everyday.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Trudy's Horses...Want to Buy An Appy?

-Want To Buy An Appy?-
Trudy and Melissa had a discussion about how Trudy's horses were doing in training. She suggested they consider selling them in the Spring because they aren't really suited for what Trudy wants to do.

Trudy has had her mare since the horse was 3 and they've been through a lot, but a lot of it was bad. Trudy wants to do really all around riding; Dressage, maybe some jumping, lots of trail-riding in the mountains, parades, team-penning and sorting, pack little kids at family gatherings, etc. Just, anything and everything that strikes her fancy, like I do with Dazzle. Her mare is an awesome horse; long legged, sweepy stride, beautiful rare Appy color. But, she doesn't have the temperament to sit in a pasture all winter while there is 5 feet of snow at Trudy's house and she gets really hot and hyper at the gaming days. She needs a job big time; 6 days a week, hard work, lots of challenges, and she'll go really far. She is built to do Dressage, hunt seat, Jumping, play in Western pleasure for the show-ring, do trail class. She is good on the trails, but really her pasterns are too long for endurance riding that is timed. She does fantastic on the Chief Joe because it's all walking and she has the stamina to go all day. But she wouldn't hold up to cantering over that rough terrain. So, She will be Training or 1st Level Dressage and starting Jumping by the Ride this year and will attend the ride with the goal of selling her at the end. So, if any of you are looking for a sport horse like this, keep an eye out for her on the ride or email for Trudy's info. Her bloodlines are on Allbreedpedigree.com, A Lucky Kiss. She is 15.3H and 7 in the Spring I believe. They paid $2500 for her I think as a VERY green 3 yr old. She is the marble colored mare on Melissa's training blog.

Horse #2 is Mister Lucky Again Jr, 4 in the spring and about 15.2H I think. He is bay with a rump blanket; very flashy. Melissa and I started his ground work and did a couple rides on him in the fall and now she has been doing more ground work with him. He is a half-brother to Sparkles, the above mare. He looks like a circuit horse; hunt seat/western pl/Dressage. He only has a few rides right now, but will be ridden most days after about March and will attend the ride probably as a rental horse to be sold at the end. He is way cute, but not for a beginner. His personality is not puppy-dog. He needs a competent human that knows how to discipline and he will excel. They paid $2500 for him about a year ago as a barely halter broke coming 3 yr old.

Appy #3 isn't in training with Melissa yet. His name is Powder My Britches and he is foundation bred. He is small, I think about 14.2 and he is 4 in the Spring also I believe. He is chestnut with a rump blanket. His dad was a tank, so they expect he will really chunk out. He was in training as a yearling with a lady that worked on halter breaking and lunging and showmanship and they won a showmanship class at a local show. However, since then they have none NOTHING with him, so Melissa will be starting him over again in March or April. He has old bloodlines, mostly endurance as far as I can tell, so he should make an awesome mountain trail horse. He will be attending the ride to sell at the end also. They have probably $3000 in him by now with the training and boarding.

Trudy and my father-in-law will be entertaining offers over $2000 for each at the end of the trail ride.

Winter Wonderland...When I was 10 maybe



So, yesterday we woke up to snow. And it snowed most of yesterday AND last night. It is SO cold. It has been near 10 degrees for the last two weeks so I haven't been able to work my two kids. They are feeling quite neglected. I got to work them once last week and they were both skittish, but well behaved.

Spotless does really well moving his rump and forehand from just a finger movement and his haunch turns for showmanship are coming along great. Now to get him to "set". That is the one that is going to be really hard with him. He hates standing square. We starting doing the squeezing exercise and he was picking that up really fast. Backing is going great, after the one horrible day and the next day where Melissa spent 10 minutes with him. She's a miracle worker.


Dazzle did MUCH better moving her rump and shoulders on cue with urgency. I didn't even have to touch her with the stick. After that review I introduced the baby roll-backs on the lead-rope and she was starting to watch my body to know when I was going to request a turn. She actually did two real roll-backs where she jumped her front end 180 degrees and kept moving. She also was halting on the circle on cue calmly and without walking out of the halt. Spotless is still working on that one.

My plan for Spotless is to have so much ground work on him that I will be able to pay for one or two months of training to get him going under saddle and get him sold next Spring or Summer. If the trainer doesn't have to waste time doing ground-work they should be able to move along quickly with his work ethic and temperament.



We found a girl at the barn that Melissa boards at that does jumping and is willing to try giving jumping lessons to Melissa. The plan is that she will take lessons on Sparkles for Trudy and on Dazzle for me. So, both will be properly started to jump by Spring. That will start after she gets back from Canada after Christmas break. So, I will pay for her to take jumping lessons from the lady at the barn and Dressage from Patricia and then her shows in the spring and summer. Then I will be able to start riding her again mid to late summer. In July she will go on the Trail Ride again and either Trudy will ride her or she will be rented out.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

How Goes The Groundwork?

Whatever your preference of trainers and styles, no one with any horse experience can deny that groundwork is invaluable. Melissa and I have joined Giddyup.com and have been renting Clinton Anderson's groundwork DVD's. The exercises seem really simple, but it's amazing the reactions you get from your horses. They teach the horses really simple things; move away from my intense energy, move out of my space, move when I tell you, stand still when I tell you, and most of all: PAY attention to MEEE. All stuff you think you're teaching them all the way along. This stuff makes SO much sense to the horses. Some of them were NOT pleased about the new clear expectations, but they got over it pretty quick.

Some of it is desensitization, another thing that is great for horses. I tried his tying methods and it's been awesome. My horses weren't bad about pulling back to begin with, but it was awesome to try everything I could think of to try to make them pull back. The most surprising thing to me was that my riding horse Dazzle had more hot buttons than Spotless the baby! I never did find anything that phased him much. I ran at him screaming flinging a bag on a whip. He looked at me like I was retarded, licked his lips, and came towards me for a hug.

In 3 sessions he now has a respectable turn on the haunch, a near flawless back, both beside and in front of me, no longer tries to drag me on the lunge line (I had been having to lunge him on a stud chain or with a bit before).

One of the things Clinton advocates is rope halters. I hate messing with them, I love my pretty pink halter I can quickly slip over Dazzle's ears and off we go. But, I dug out a skinny rope halter for the exercises. He says it makes it easier and faster. It sure did! I no longer have to use a chain when working Spotless, he doesn't try to drag me off. It's not just that is hurts enough he doesn't pull that hard, he is actually starting to leave slack in the rope. He doesn't want to hit that halter at all. I'm very hopeful that by next spring Spotless and I will be able to show in Showmanship and look like we know what we're doing. I'm going to start hunting for a Showmanship teacher so I know exactly what I'm supposed to be doing.

Dazzle was easy to do the despooking with the string on the stick and rope. She only tried to move like, once. That was it. Didn't try to run around me or anything. She's pretty sensible about that. Plus, doesn't have much go. Spotless I had to start with low intensity, but after about 10 minutes he was good. Now he's great. He has more go though, being half TB. The worst one I've worked with is FAITH! Ashley's kid's horse. She was AWFUL. Reared several times, possibly tried to bite me once. She is VERY high reaction and still needs lots of work. But she is getting better.

Yesterday Spotless did so well with all the Clinton Anderson stuff I had him drag a tire. He did awesome. He started spooking when it followed him at the trot so I tugged the rope and got him to halt. Then he walked, stopped, walked stopped and realized it was stopping whenever he did and calmed right down. Even when he was scared he wasn't trying to take off, he just canter really slow around me on a loose rope! Then we switched directions and he was the same calm that way. Then the tire hit something and started to bounce in the air. It started spinning in the air and flew through his paddock fence and back out. It spun and wound the rope up against Spotless' butt. I told him to HO and he did. I unclipped the rope from him and realized that the rope had twisted up into his tail bag. He stood perfectly still and let me untangle it. I was really glad I had done work before attaching the tire with pulling the rope tight around his rear, letting it get up under his tail, etc. and making sure if he was scared he would let me stop him to "save" him. I would NOT do this with Faith at this point. Faith was watching the whole thing and FREAKING out in her paddock. She was snorting and prancing with her tail flagged. Spotless was really relaxed. After I took the tire off his surcingle I walked him around and he was quite relaxed, not upset from the experience at all. It is promising that he will be able to pull a cart later on.

If you have a horse that is pushy or disrespectful on the ground OR undersaddle, get your hands on the Gaining Respect and Control on the ground DVD's. They rock. You don't have to have anything fancy or a round-pen to do them. I have a flat spot in front of the tackroom where we do them and a cheap rope halter and a lead rope to do it with. I don't even have the tie-ring for the tying stuff, I have a horse trailer that is a rock hooked to a truck and I just put the end of the leadrope through the tied ring twice so it can be pulled out like the ring. I don't even use a 14 ft leadrope. I have one, but I am not coordinated enough not to get tangled up in it, lol.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A Hitch In The Plans

So, the plan was that when Melissa moved her horses here this weekend she would then trade training on Dazzle for her board. Then her BO at the fancy barn decided to let her stay in the pastures there all winter. Not a deal to pass up; indoor arena, hot water wash racks, etc. So, she is staying there. Which means no trade for training. We worked out an agreement for me to groom and coach for her and we'll trade those hours for training. Definitely not ideal, but hopefully it'll work out for enough hours to get Dazzle ready to show in the spring. We only need those 15.5 pts to get her Dressage COA and that's my goal for her this year.

Dazzle had her first ride in a month. Melissa just got on and didn't lunge. She was awesome. Not even hyper, much to Melissa's disappointment. They cantered and everything and was great. Not a good ride for her, but she behaved. So, after a month of sitting in her paddock she was ridden walk/trot/canter and didn't do anything naughty. That is very encouraging to me that she will be a great family horse eventually. I was afraid she would be awful. Maybe spooky, bolt, buck at every cue she didn't like. But, she did none of that. She gave one half-hearted kick out at a smack from the crop when she ignored leg and that was it.

Dazzle is done venturing into Western Pleasure for now. They are going to do just Dressage and focus on Training Level with eyes towards First. Should be fun. I just hope enough time can be devoted to her to get her where she should be for the show season.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Big News For Melissa

Melissa got her invitation to the Octoberfest Dressage Championships this week. We are so excited for her! The weekend of the 17th will be stressful and amazing. Her first championship, first big Dressage show, but she will have me there to groom and possibly Trudy also.

The weekend of the 3rd we plan to head west to visit Gatsby, the father of our future children as Melissa calls him. Check out his website and join in the drooling;
www.foxdalefarm.us

Wish Melissa luck and pray for her and whatever else might send good vibes!

PSA: Keeping Weight, Gaining Weight

First, a great post on getting weight on older horses, or ANY horses for that matter;
http://www.fuglyblog.com/2009/best-of-fhotd-old-does-not-equal-skinny-2

A lot of people don't seem to know the basics.

1. Blanket. If it's cold and your horse is shivering, it's losing all those valuable calories to keep warm. I let my horses grow a winter coat, THEN blanket them so they have all the protection they can get. I don't blanket till I catch them shivering. If your horse is skinny, blanket and keep blanketing. It helps a LOT. It can be the difference between losing and gaining.

2. De-worm. Consult a vet for the right rotation for your area if you want to be perfect, but a simple rotation of ivermectin every 2 months and pyrantel in the spring after the thaw and in the fall after the freeze has been working great for me. If you aren't de-worming you are feeding worms instead of your horse.

3. Teeth. Often bad teeth will be the biggest culprit in an old horse. However, it's no excuse for a skinny horse. Thunder had NO chewing teeth and was jiggly. However, it can be very painful to have sharp teeth cutting off your tongue, and the pain can make weight gain harder. Get teeth done first thing if your horse sticks his tongue out a lot, drops food, won't take a bit in conjunction to weight loss, or is old and you doubt it's been done. I have my accupressurist check all my horses whenever she is here to see who needs work. But if you aren't sure, it can't hurt to get it done.

4. Pain. If your horse is hurting somewhere, they will often lose weight just dealing with the pain. Get the vet out and figure out the problem. If it's not something fixable, this could mean it's time to say goodbye.

5. Stress. I had a mare in quarantine who lost a TON of weight in one WEEK because she didn't like being alone. She literally spent ALL day running back and forth in the pasture screaming her head off. As soon as I was able to put her in a paddock near other horses she gained her weight right back.

6. Bullying. If you have more than one horse in a pen, it's quite possible that the skinny horse is being shunned from the food pile. Find a way to keep the skinny horse separate. A little paddock, feeding in a stall, whatever you need to do.

7. Food. What are you feeding? Make sure it's high quality and enough for your horse's work load. If you are riding hard every day your horse is going to eat a lot more than your kid-broke horse that only gets ridden when your relatives come over a couple times a year. When I am riding my Appaloosa every day she eats about 6 flakes of nice alfalfa a day. And she's only 15.2H.

8. No teeth? No problem. Thunder lived on Senior Equine and grass hay pellets. Soaked it in warm water and he slurped it right up. If your horse is having trouble chewing hay or you just don't want them burning calories chewing, soak them some orchard grass pellets. Feed AS MUCH AS THEY'LL EAT! People have a hard time doing that, but DO it and the horse will gain weight.

9. Do it BEFORE it's cold. Get them up to weight BEFORE fall. It's WAY harder to put weight on in the snow. It's a lot easier to KEEP it on.

10. Call the Vet. When all else fails to put weight on OR you have reason to suspect something internal (like a history of being hard to keep), call the vet and have blood work done and whatever else the vet things might give a clue as to the weight loss. Equine Metabolic Syndrome and Cushings both mess with the way a horse gains weight, and both can be managed with a diet and sometimes specially designed supplements.

There is NO reason your horse should be skinny. Whether they are 13 or 33, you can get weight on them and keep it there! Your horse will thank you.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Shorter Days Ahead

Our show weekend before last went alright; Dazzle behaved for the most part and was MUCH better than the last time we showed there in '07. We got EVERY right lead canter! I was amazed. We looked nice in our show clothes. It was the first time I used my show saddle for Western. We placed a few times in Halter and our Showmanship wasn't bad for just starting to learn it and Dazzle thinking it is way too much work. No hi-points for us, but we had made much improvement from last time, so I was happy. I brought home a pile of ribbons, a few default, but not all be any means.

Last weekend, Melissa did a Dressage show to see if she could get another score over 60% to qualify for the Championship show in October. She wasn't planning on it, but I got an email about it and told her to go for it. So, with 5 rides in she went in front of Diane Royce in Intro B. They got a 70.5% and took Intro B hi-point AND show hi-point. She was thrilled with the awards, but knew it wasn't their best ride. Everyone kept reminding her that she couldn't have expected more from her mare after a week of riding. She hadn't been worked since June. So, considering that they did amazing. We had to leave here at 5 AM to get there with time for her to warm up as they got the FIRST ride of the day. We (Ashley, me and Melissa) got there first and so she had time to walk Bayberry around and see everything and warm up leisurely before going in. I took pictures of the ride and then we watched a few more rides, got her score, and went to late breakfast. Then we came back and dozed for a couple hours waiting for the Intro A and B to be done so she could see if she got a ribbon. She got a beautiful blue ribbon and then since she was high score for the class, she got a bag of horse cookies and a hoof pick. We packed up and headed home. She only found out yesterday that she won overall hi-point too.

I found out a few weeks ago that I'm pregnant, so I will not be showing anymore until next summer. I'm going to keep doing the Western pleasure lessons with Ashley for 4H and do some adult lessons with the same instructor. Melissa will be back for the school year in October and will be trading training on Dazzle for board for her two mares. She will then show Dazzle for me when the show season starts again next spring and try to finish her Dressage COA and possibly get some points towards some other COA's as well. She may just end up concentrating on Dressage and get a Superior in that. We'll see. She has quite a line-up planned for the year. She'll have her own two, my one, two of Trudy's for training, AND possibly one or two more for training. Only one of the bunch isn't started. So, most of it will be under-saddle training. I'm excited to have her work all winter with Dazzle. Should be awesome results.

My baby is due May 6 or 7 going by the LMP. We'll know by ultrasound probably on the 12th of Oct. Hopefully this kid likes horses. I'm already working on getting him/her a pony. = )

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Short but Sweet Ride

I put my show saddle on Dazzle to make sure it would fit nicely. Looks like it will. I think I'm going to go wool pad, gel pad, pink wool show pad and it should look nice and be comfortable. I'm hoping the pink covers the wool entirely.

We practiced showmanship with a chain for the first time. She did a lot better today, but still far from flawless. We practiced again after riding. She is paying attention better, but she still is very easily distracted which of course makes it hard to cue her without talking which is kind of how showmanship works. Hopefully she will be focused at the show. HA HA.

I rode her once around the arena canter; half left lead and then switched and did half right lead. We jogged. We opened and closed the gate twice, we weaved the standards and walked over the poles. We jogged a little in the field and walked through the neighbor's yard and she didn't spook at a fluttering plastic bag. We got the mail and walked up the lane. She started at her reflection in the window of my car and I tossed the mail on it and she didn't spook. Then we went back to the trailer and untacked. She seemed a little disappointed at the short ride. It was only 18 minutes. She didn't even sweat. That was the plan after our work out yesterday though. Tomorrow I will ride her in the morning, then bath time and banding! AND the obligatory trip to Boarder Town for show stuff. This time I need a stud chain, fly spray, and perhaps gold glitter for halter class. Ooh, and detangler.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Dressage Horse In Disguise

Since Ashley joined 4H and I get to take the lessons with her, we have been focusing on that. Yes, Dazzle and I have been learning *GASP*...Western Pleasure.

First, I was shocked to learn how similar to Dressage it is. Dazzle doesn't seem confused in the least and since it's what she's bred for I figured it won't hurt to let her do what she's made for and shine.

Ashley is making progress with connecting with Faith, her new TB, but she has a lot of tension to overcome. She is used to slow, old horses, not forward TB's. They'll get there. They will make their show debut next Spring.

Sunday, Dazzle and I will debut our new Western Pleasure skills at the Umatilla Sage Riders Arena Late Summer Schooling Show in Hermiston, OR. Should be fun! If I can keep my nerves controlled and Dazzle can keep on task, we should do okay!

Ted should be there to take pictures, so I should have photos to share! Ashley is going to be grooming for us, which is awesome; she is a great groom!

Training-wise, our walk/job is fairly acceptable, our lope is non-existent and our canter is getting there. She likes to veer off the rail, jumping into the gait, and get too fast. I have three more days. We'll be great. lol!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Dazzle's Article in Rangerbred News!

Dazzle and I did great at our show in June so Debbie North, the lady that runs the Open Show Point program for the Colorado Rangerbred Assc. asked me to write up a piece for the journal. I did, and Lolly that does the magazine put it in! It's kind of exciting! It can be found in the Sept/Oct. 2009, Sept 1st~issue 2009-5, on page 16, AND below!

http://i26.tinypic.com/2h38tx0.jpg

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Catch Up - Hot Summer

7-27-09
Haven't ridden much since returning from the ride since it's been so hot! Dazzle and I and Ashley and Gypsy did a lesson together at her 4H meeting. It went well. Learned a lot. Apparently, Western pl. is a LOT more like Dressage than I thought. That's always a pleasant surprise.

8-3-09
My friend Jessica took me to meet a friend of hers that wanted to find a home for a few horses and I took Ashley along to give her an experience judging horses. That was on Sunday, the 2nd. She had an old Appy/Arab type mare that has had a stroke and isn't safe to really "ride" anymore. A near-foundering grey pony, only 10 yrs old. And...Sally. A possibly Appendix mare with no papers, about 20 yrs old, done lots of showing and 4H. I did a test ride...Ashley did a test ride...and Gypsy was up for a new home. We were in love.

Monday we trailered over for 4H to find out Debbie was away and no one had called us. We talked to her daughter awhile, then headed home. Not a big deal at all, it was hot! We just put them away and called it a good experience practicing trailering. lol.

Tuesday I had a very interested girl for Gypsy. She emailed me about where she'd keep her, what she wanted to use her for, etc. She sounded perfect! If she didn't work out I had 2 other people really interested in her.

Wednesday the girl and her mom came to try her out. Ashley rode her before they arrived and then showed them what she could do. I reiterated to mom that the reason she was available was that she had arthritis and just wasn't up to the work-load Ashley was going to have with 4H and showing and trail rides and schooling. Gypsy was ready to be a weekend-rider's buddy for easy rides. The girl rode her awhile and was hooked.

We signed the paperwork on her and I handed over the papers and called Andy to work something out for trailering her.

Thursday, Ashley and I loaded Gypsy up and Andy came and trailered us into Pendleton to the new home. Her new owner is a 15 yr old girl who needs a confidence builder that doesn't need lots of maintenance. The facility looked great and the owner seemed knowledgeable. Should be a great match.

Friday, we drove Dazzle out to try saddles Amy was wanting to sell, as well as ride the mare again, Sally. We decided to just bring her home with us.

Monday, Ashley did her next 4H meeting (last Monday) on Sally the new mare. I just watched. They did great.

We've only gotten to ride a couple times since then, but things are going great. She is very alert and curious, but not too spooky. Very TB, we have decided to just call her TB since she has no papers anyway. Ashley has decided to call her Faith as her barn name and "Simple Twist Of Fate" for her show name. She came up with it all on her own and I think they are perfect. We totally didn't go to see this horse thinking we'd get her, it was just for something fun to do. Ashley is SO happy. Sally AKA Faith, is 15.2H and an easy keeper. She is very docile but has lots of go in a controlled way. She has been shown a lot, so should be able to teach Ashley a LOT. She makes her use all her tools and learn more. To top it off, she is PRETTY, SO pretty.

TODAY, we rode around the field, then schooled in the arena. I used the saddle I have on trial from Amy. It went well, I think I'm going to have to buy it. My Fabtron is just NOT fitting Dazzle right now.

The other interesting thing that happened was that Maddy rode Dazzle on Wednesday in the kid-size saddle I'm buying from Amy. It fits Maddy perfectly. Dazzle was really good other than kicking at Moonshine and freaking us all out. Maddy did great and we all stayed calm so she didn't get upset. She walked and trotted again before she got down, so I think we avoided any horse-fear.

Tomorrow is the next 4H meeting. Ashley wants me to ride again. haha. I will, should be fun. I'm so excited because Jessica went to the Hermiston auction today and got me new reins for just $10. Right in my price-range.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The 2009 Chief Joseph Trail Ride

Saturday

We were to meet at 6 AM at Shaw Truckworks, Andy's truck shop. We got there pretty close, then had to wait for the late people to show up. It was at least 7 AM by the time we left. We met up with my grandparents and their friends on the edge of town and caravaned to Idaho where we picked up a couple more trucks. We got to Montana and the first camp after 11 hours of driving. We stopped and watered and walked horses 3 times during the trip. At the first stop, we discovered that somehow Toby and Sparkles had switched places. Dazzle was in the front minding her own business.

We got to the camp which was on a river. We tied the horses to the picket-line and relaxed. We missed the brand inspector and check-in as we got there late. We packed into a couple pick-ups and went into Darby for dinner. We took over a little restaurant and filled them up so they closed for the evening. It was fun.

The trip wasn't too bad, especially getting to ride most of it with Melissa and Ted and Norman in Andy's pick up. The horses did fine, even Dazzle who had never trailered more than an hour away before.

Sunday
We made breakfast for ourselves and Melissa and I crawled onto Dazzle and Sparkles bareback with no helmets and flip-flops to go check in with the brand-inspector. Trudy led Toby. We discussed how we were totally breaking all our own rules. We made it through camp to the inspectors and slid down. Dazzle checked in easily since I already had her brand inspection down before we left down. Toby had to get a temporary inspection there and Sparkles already has her permanent from the first time she did the ride.

We checked in and got t-shirts and pins and teased by the guy checking people in. He has been on the ride for years.

After we were all checked in, Melissa helped set up camp and get things ready for dinner. Trudy and I needed to get the horses ridden so they wouldn't be sitting a whole day after trailering 11 hours and before riding a long ways Monday. Melissa was able to come at the last minute. We tacked up Western and headed down the road we had gotten to camp on. It was a long dirt and gravel road. The horses were a little nervous, but relaxed pretty quickly. We reached the end of the road and turned up a new road that wound up the mountain. We trotted and then I let Dazzle canter and Toby and Sparkles followed. We cantered a few minutes and Trudy had a great time. We could see the camp down below, it was really neat. By the time we got back to camp we had been riding about 2 hrs. I burned my nose and Melissa got sore knees from riding in a western saddle. But it was fun.

Back at camp, we rode through all the camp sites and got down to the river. We rode through the sandy beach into the river. It is solid rocks. They all went right into the water. Dazzle went in up to her knees and had a wonderful time splashing the other horses.

Later, we changed into swimsuits and headed down to the river. Melissa observed that you can tell all the equestrians because we all have brown arms and faces and the rest of our bodies are pasty-white. lol.

Dinner was the first meal the crew was responsible for cooking for camp. We got to meet the crew. I already knew most of them from previous years. Big John, Little John, Marcia, Diane, Ervin, Jessica, AJ, Charlene, Laurel, Ted, and Melissa. Charlene was the lady that came to study under Norman from Ohio. She was awesome; always cheery and hard-working, not a complaint all week. We found out at the end of the week she was really sick, but didn't want to give up and go home. They hope to hire her next year. Laurel had been with the crew in past years, but somehow I hadn't met her before. She is awesome. She lives in southern Oregon and currently manages a horse ranch. Trudy and I are going to go see her at the end of the month when we head down to watch the Appy show at Bresda Ranch.

Monday
Rode out with the journal photographer, Tafra. She rode Toby. Trudy rode with a scout since she is a Jr. Scout. They were a little nervous on the road we had to ride out of camp, yes the SAME road we rode on the day before. Once we got into woodsy areas they were fine. We stopped a few times as a whole group for potty breaks and took turns holding the horses. Lunch break, more potty breaks. The whole ride was pretty easy terrain-wise. We had to ride along a river a long time at the end, then through town. My butt hurt so bad I was about ready to cry. My knees were sore. Riding down the main street was fun. Every sort of scary truck and bike and trailer were going by us and Dazzle didn't bat an eye. She is used to all that. I guess she would be good for parades!

Back at camp I was exhausted. It was about 15 miles. I spent the evening trying to find someone to ride Dazzle for Tuesday. It was supposed to be 25 miles and I knew if I did that, I wouldn't be able to ride the next day. I managed to get Kevin and Tafra to agree to the challenge.

Tuesday
I helped feed, tacked up my horse in her pink gear, because all my gear is pink, and sent Tafra on her way. As the horses were leaving, one of the horses reared up, the rider pulled back and the horse flipped over on top of him. Kevin and some other important figures took him to the hospital. The horse was fine. BUT, it meant he had to trade with Tafra later than expected. They were supposed to trade at noon. They ended up trading about 2 pm. Really, it was probably more even that way. He came into camp to report much teasing over the pink gear, lol. But, he said she was good. Jumped the ditches, but other than that. I was very proud of her. That day ended up being 31 miles! I cooled her slowly and blanketed her.

Wednesday
Sparkles and Toby seemed very sore, so Trudy didn't send them out to ride. I tacked Dazzle up in my Dressage gear and she was fine. No one would be riding with us since Toby wasn't going and Tafra had been going to ride him. We headed out. I rode with Mrs. Bobbitt a bit, but Dazzle didn't want to go the same speed the whole day, so we migrated over the group at her leisure as she walked faster and slow and fast and slow. I was pleased when she crashed through muddy spots and went unhesitating over ditches. Went in my Indian Bozal, she was okay. I didn't make her walk a certain speed though. Another 15 mile day about. When I got back we massaged Dazzle and put liniment on her and her cooler until she dried. She didn't act uncomfortable at all.

Thursday
Trudy and Sparkles headed out together, but Toby stayed in camp again so he could for sure go out Friday. Dazzle and I went Dressage again and figured out a better way to attach the saddle bags. You can wedge them under the back of the saddle and they won't rub because the English pad is under them. Worked a lot better than having them in front, but I didn't drink as much because it was harder to get the bottle out with it in the back. Rode by myself until after lunch when I teamed up with the Bobbitts again. At lunch I asked a lady to hold Dazzle so I could take a potty break and when I got back she told me that Dazzle had called for me when I got out of site. Dazzle is never affectionate so that is a real change for her. Apparently she IS kind of attached to me. = )

The afternoon found the most BEAUTIFUL flowers along the trail in the woods. It was like a fairy land. Nice trails through the trees. it was so pretty. Towards the end of the ride I got sick of arguing with Dazzle over her speed because she wouldn't listen in the bosal and my arms were getting tired of pulling her to a walk all the time. I switched back into my bit and she was instantly well behaved again. It turned out we were almost back in camp by that time, but I guess it doesn't matter because at least she had to behave. We walked through a wide creek to get to camp. She went in like it was nothing. I walked around camp, then went back and she didn't want to leave camp so we had some spinning and asking, spinning and asking until she would leave camp. When she did, we went back to camp for rub down and liniment.

Friday
Melissa got to ride on Friday. It was supposed to be a 2 hr ride. There was a lot of stop and go. It turned out people were watering their horses in places and they weren't supposed to be because it was a short ride and the land owner didn't want us using the water. So because of that it turned out to be a FOUR hour ride. Melissa rode Toby in my Dressage saddle and I rode in my Fabtron. We got to go up the side of the mountain and look down on the battle field. It felt like a long ride since I was so tired from the whole week.

When we got back we rested a little, then went to the museum. We looked at the exhibits and then headed back to camp. At dinner we found out the final count of the miles for the week was 92.2! Now when I look at Dazzle online it says her mileage for the Chief Joseph Trail Ride. Pretty cool!

Saturday
Saturday we had to wait for everyone else to leave, then we loaded a donated horse into the trailer with ours and headed back to Idaho. We dropped off the gelding that was donated to the Nez Perce Foundation and trooped the rest of the way home. We were SO tired, but it was fun and by the end of the week we were almost used to the early mornings and sore limbs.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Yey! Dazzle Is Now Pointed!

I just check the Appaloosa.com website and they updated the points finally; when you go to Show and go to Search Lifetime Points, and put in Dazzle Me again....she has 4.5 points in Dressage!!!!! I was only expecting 2 as I didn't think they'd count Trail. Only 15.5 more points till our COA, lol. I'm so proud of us!

Big Day Tomorrow - Big Week Ahead

We have everything packed, all the tack in the trailer, shipping boots and halters set out for in the morning. Sparkles and Toby are in the back paddock to leave from here in the morning. We get up early and are to meet at the Shop and leave at 6 AM. My grandparents and their best friends are going as Non-Riders in their RV. They are going to follow us all to the first camp which is in Darby, Montana. The refrigerator truck, the U-Haul, the live-in Featherlite, and the stock trailer are all going from here. Our horses are riding in the stock trailer, then during the week it will be the trash trailer for the camp. At the end of the week they will dump the trash and we'll take the horses home. The Featherlite is going to be our RV for the week. We are sleeping on the converted couch, in-laws are on the bed, and Melissa and Ted and whomever else are sleeping in the horse part and tents. They took out the dividers so there is lots of room. It's exciting to see all our tack in the tack room of the trailer!

I am SO excited, but also nervous about riding so much every day. I hope Dazzle handles it well and enjoys it. I hope I'm not miserable all week, lol. I look forward to all the people and hanging out and drinking and talking and laughing over everything. I am not very social at home (too busy with horse) so the Ride is our main outlet for friends during the year. Hopefully I will return with pictures and stories!

Short and Sweet

Thursday I decided to be smart and ride BEFORE it was hotter than the sun in the yard. I caught Daz with her bridle, brushed her back off (which she stood on the porch of the tack room for), then led her to the arena. I led her to a chair, stood on it, then walked her up next to it. She actually stood beside it and didn't turn to face me. She suddenly seems WAY taller then she is. I put a leg over and boosted up, reminding myself how I'm always telling Dazzle to "just get up there". Dazzle stood stalk still.

We walked around the arena and I felt fine so I asked for a jog. We jogged around a bit. She has too much withers, lol. Her back is kind of spiny. I would have cantered but I decided I would regret it. So, we left the arena and just walked around the property a bit; behind the shed, up the drive way, down the drive way, up to the neighbor's house. Then I had a conversation while sitting on her, we went up the steep hill between the his driveway and mine, and then back to the tack room.

It was a nice ride. Last time I rode her bareback I felt really insecure and could barely relax at a walk. I couldn't jog at all. I used to race and jump bareback, all over the property and the neighborhood orchards. I wish I was still that secure. Maybe we'll get back three, I would love to be able t show in Bareback class.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

More Than One Way To Skin A Cat (Or Ride Dressage)

Yesterday, Wednesday, I baby-sat the neighbors a few hours in the afternoon. Ashley had Tori over and she looked nice with her hair red and a haircut. She is such a pretty young lady. Maddy was upset as she didn't want to stay with me for whatever reason, and Nick seemed a bit uncomfortable around me, probably because he doesn't stay with me much. Ashley hadn't been granted permission to ride. So, I decided I was tired of sitting around and handed her the video camera and we headed down to the horses.

I tacked up Dazzle and it was HOT. I was dripping all over. I settled all the kids in the corner of the arena and mounted up. We walked a little, trotted some circled, cantered both directions, including an attempt at leg-yield at the canter, trotted more, walked on the long-rein, then I got down and put Maddy up for a picture. She was wearing her helmet but in flip-flops. Ashley had video-ed me, so after taking a few shot of Maddy I helped her down and got back on, informing them we were almost done as it was SO HOT. We did everything again for stills and then I rode up to them and I felt like I was about to throw up it was so hot. "You're gonna have to lead her for me", I told Ashley and got down and handed her the reins. I untacked her and hosed her down, then hosed her chest off more once the wanter got nice and cold. She didn't complain.

She was SO good. I haven't been able to watch the video yet as the computer refused to play it, but there are some nice stills. I still can't turn by toes in while posting or putting weight in the stirrups, but my heels are down and my legs are passive.

I was reading Dressage posts on the COTH forums and someone was complaining of the same problem I have; can't turn the toes in because of leg conformation, and someone finally said that riders with much more serious physical problems ride higher levels than us at the Para-Olympics, so we should quite complaining and just figure out a different way to ride to make it work. That person is right. There has to be a ton of people out there with injuries and not perfect conformation riding at higher levels. Toes out is not the most serious crime against Dressage and definitely easier to work around than a bad hip or one arm. It goes with the I was reading a couple months ago; I just have to find a different way to ride that suits my body, doesn't injure me or hurt, and gets the job done. These last few rides have been wonderful. I feel like we're on to something promising. I hope Melissa sees the same as it's been feeling. I am afraid it's just my imagination or something, lol.

The Arab Kicks In

Tuesday, Ashley was finally able to ride and I had stolen Michelle. We all tacked up and headed into the field. Dan was spooky right off. He stood better for Michelle to get on, then shied going through the arena opening into the field. He wouldn't go into the grassy lane first and eyed everything down the lane to Grandma's. We went around the edge of the field and he was pretty good, then spooked himself walking over a sprinkler pipe. We went to the edge of the field by the road and Michelle walked him over the pipe several times until he did it without acting terrified. Then we went to go around the block. He spooked at everything. Michelle finally decided it wasn't the evening to work on this as she didn't have enough time so we went back and rode home. It took an hour to do all that, so it wasn't a short ride even though we didn't go far.

Ashley and Gypsy didn't have a completely smooth go of it either. Gypsy doesn't like standing very long for mounting. Ashley was taking too long to get on (by her standards) and took off. I had to catch her on Dazzle. I told Ashley she had to make it a swift, smooth movement and just get up there. She was really frustrated by this time as they'd already spent 10 minutes arguing over standing still, but she didn't complain, she just got up there, Gypsy starting to walk off and I told her to discipline her for it. She made her stop and got her foot in the stirrup and all was okay. They did well the rest of the ride. When we got to the gate next to Grandma's Gypsy remembered the training from the session they had a while back and stood next to it while Ashley pushed and pulled the gate. I was quite impressed she had retained it that well. Quite promising.

Dazzle was good the whole time. We were western and she likes that. I let Ashley ride in my Dressage saddle, so that was she and Gypsy's first trip out of the arena in a snaffle and Dressage saddle.

Michelle and Dan and Around the Block

Sunday Michelle came over to ride Dan for the first time since his arrival here. We tacked up and he managed not to freak and try to kill himself being tied. We mounted up and headed into the field. Dan was being pretty good, so we headed to Grandma's house. We walked through the field there and along the side of the road so we could see cars. There weren't any. Michelle said she had been told Dan had never been around cars before, so that's what we were trying to train on. I told her the sure-fire method of getting cars; step a hoof on the asphalt. Sure enough, his hoof touched the road and suddenly there were 3 cars from either direction coming down the road. We waited for them to go by. Dan did nothing. I told her they usually don't care unless some idiot honks his horn and, cue idiot, some guy in a van honked all the way past us. We headed around the block the busy way. Dan was great. A giant horse trailer went past and lots of cars. He only shied at a person, an address marker, and mail boxes. He didn't do anything dangerous, mostly just wanted to get a good look at things.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

I Made Ashley Cry

Today, Michelle was out to ride with us again (she is not able to ride Dan till Sunday per Wrenn's instructions) and Ashley and I were excited to have a group. I videoed some and took some low-pixel stills.

First, Maddy had a little lesson on Gypsy in the Dressage saddle. Ashley led her around. I just watched and didn't hold on to her this time. She did really well. They ever trotted and I didn't jog along side holding her pant leg. I videoed part of that. She probably rode 15 minutes.

Next, Michelle videoed and I gave Ashley a lesson...or a yelling-at, whichever. This was the first time I had Ashley ride Dressage on Gypsy without warming her up for her first...and it was obvious. She couldn't get her to go on the bit. She was getting frustrated. She was about to cry. She tried to get down. I told her to stay there and just do what I said, I told her what to do to get her to flex and respond. She did was I said; hip-release basically, and magically there was a difference. She gets frustrated and stops using all the parts of her body and makes it worse. There is so much you have to keep track of when riding; legs, hips, arms, elbows, shoulders, wrists, hands, head, it's hard!

She finally got it worked out and they had some nice circles and she relaxed enough to canter left a circle or two. Next, Michelle got on and enjoyed a big horse for once (her parent's horse is 14.2H) and a big walk. She got her on the bit quite a bit and pronounced her a very fun horse. We got her to canter a little even though was nervous to try.

Ashley gave Gypsy a bath and I tacked up Dazzle and warmed her up at the canter. She was being amazing; both leads, no wrong leads, I did all three circles to the right, trotting in between so she had to pick up the right lead every time, then to the left just cantering the whole way. I was able to ride with some weight in my heels and my legs quite. I held my whip and I only needed to use it a couple times. She is starting to understand! It's so liberating not to be struggling to kick her to keep going! She stayed in the canter until I asked for the trot. Super!!!! Maybe we'll actually get to work on being on the bit in the canter soon.

Next, Michelle rode Dazzle while I worked with Dan on stopping and backing with his handler more sharply. He seems to be a fast learner. Then, I yelled Intro B for Michelle to ride as she's never actually gotten to ride a test in a show before and it's been years since she got to practice one. She liked that, they were a little all over the place, but it was better than the first time I rode through it this last Spring.

Last, Ashley got on Dazzle and I gave her a fairly hard-core yelling-at, I mean lesson. She has a hard time remembering to steer with her legs and not her hands. It's hard to steer, control speed, and keep a horse on the bit at the same time. I haven't required too much from her up to now, but she's old enough and has enough ability that I can ask more from her. So, we were working on canter and she was getting frustrated with me requiring transitions in a certain place, with Dazzle dumping her hip in/out, etc. Finally, I wanted her to canter the whole arena and not let her drop to a trot at the ends. She keeps trying to ride the corners like corners instead of like half a 20 m circle. She keeps letting her trot so it's to the point I'm sitting in my lawn chair yelling across the arena, "Whack her NOW, NOW, don't let her trot!" and she starts screaming back at me, "I CAN'T!" lol, and starts crying. Finally she adds that her ribs hurt, which she should have said before as I understand ribs hurting, she means her side aches and I get that sometimes too, but I Can't isn't going to cut it. So I had her walk the arena and cool her down for a bit. She probably rode half an hour and was doing great even though she was frustrated a lot of the time. It's good for her, she isn't used to working when she rides and now that's she is past a kid's horse she gets to learn to use all the stuff I've been preaching at her since she was 7.

She is thinking maybe she wants to show Dazzle next year, so that would be a blast. We could share her like we did Thunder. If I get Ashley a membership with ApHC and CRHA she could help get the points needed to get Dazzle her COAs and ROMs if she placed well enough. She seemed to recover from crying just fine and we plan to ride again tomorrow after the farrier does their feet. Dazzle is getting shoes since she has to have them for the Ride and Gypsy is getting a much needed trim. Hopefully she is less trippy after that.

A First For Spotless

Michelle came over to ride with Ashley and I on Wednesday the 8th. With her there to spot, I tacked up Dazzle western, but a chain on Spotless' halter and...ponied him for the first time. Dazzle hasn't really ponied before (other then Thunder once to cool him down after a trail-ride for a circle or two) and Spotless has never ponied in any form. I had the chain on because he tends to like to try to drag you across the arena when lunging. With the chain he behaves really well.

I got on, Ashley handed me the lead-rope and we went several circles getting Spotless used to staying with his head at my knee and not getting ahead or behind us. That went well, so we jogged and he did that fine, though he thought it was way too slow. We went both directions and he was so super I decided to try canter. We took a nice lope, probably the slowest lope-iest lope Dazzle has ever done and Spotless...trotted to keep up, lol. After I finally stopped laughing over that I called it good and we put him away. WHAT a good boy. While we were standing before I got down I leaned off Dazzle onto his back and he didn't care at all.

Next, Ashley tacked up Gypsy and I got on for about 15 minute and warmed her up. She was WAY better than the last time we worked Dressage. I worked her to the right which is her harder side, then was sore from her and had Ashley get on. I yelled instructions from a lawn chair, Michelle watched from the small arena where she was walking Dan around. He refuses to stand tied to the trailer; he breaks his twine and runs to Mister's paddock.

Ashley did really well, got her on the bit a lot more consistently. So, I told her to canter. It was her left so should be easier. I warned her not to get scared because her gait is so much bigger and to remember she cantered her western so she can do it English. She got the canter without TOO much jarring trot before hand and I was very proud of her. She did a couple circles and then walked her around to cool her down.

Next, we tacked up Dazzle in the Dressage saddle and I warmed her up, then Michelle rode her and then Ashley rode her. Michelle enjoyed how easily she goes on the bit. Ashley cantered her for the first time ever. They did great. I'm secretly hoping she will comfortable enough to show her next summer.

Dan Meets The Group

Dan is a 14.3H Arab gelding owned by Wrenn, my new boarder. Michelle is training him Dressage to show for his owner. He is going to board here and Michelle and I can school together; very exciting!

Tuesday the 7th Wrenn and Michelle came over to see how Dan was settling in. He ran right up to them from the paddock but told them he had made awesome new friends. They brought him out to walk him around and brush him. Michelle lunged him off his lead-rope with a bag-on-a-stick.

Wrenn has a nice gel-seat western saddle for trail-riding and she let me try it on Dazzle. It feels a lot different from mine, but it's not bad. I might get to take it on the ride. That would be neat. I figure if I use a different saddle every day I won't get as sore. I rode a few minutes in that saddle, then Michelle spotted for me and I worked Spotless.

I groomed Spotless, then put my spare Dressage saddle on him. It was his first time in a Dressage saddle. It didn't fit too bad. He couldn't have cared less when I tossed it on and cinched it up. I lunged him with it on and stirrups banging. Then I put on side-reins and lunged him some more. He was great. I can't wait till he's three!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Adventure's In The Woods on the 4th of July

For the 4th we trailered up to Trudy's place. We loaded up and her and Andy's horse and continued on up to the Litt Creek trail. We headed to the trail head which had the scariest foot-wide patch of mud at the bottom. It was either go through the mud or jump a ditch with pokey sticks. We all at to get down and lead across. Toby (formerly Turbo) went across without too much trouble. Trudy got Sparkles across, Ashley convinced Gypsy across...and then there was Dazzle and me. She would NOT cross. I got back on and tried to get her across mounted. She reared, I spun her in circles, asked again, etc. Finally, Andy came back to help me. I got back down and broke a branch off a limb on the ground. Andy held her lead-rope (which is why you bring them with you when you trail ride) and I whacked her across the butt with the branch until she got annoyed enough she jumped the mud. Such a drama queen.

We headed up the trail. I was told it was not a drop-off trail, nothing too challenging. Yeah right! There was a lot of it where I prayed we would die. Straight down that you'd never survive falling. Every time there was mud we had to leap it, of course, and she would then spaz and try to fall off the cliff. We me it all the way to top alive. We let the horses rest for a long time, then headed over to where there was water. Dazzle wouldn't drink a drop. Gypsy and Toby tanked up, Sparkles took one sip and dazzle ripped pieces of bark off the trough.

It took 3 hours up the mountain and only 1 down. "Down" was less scary for the most part since we'd already survived "up" and since it was steep it was a little easier to keep them walking versus trotting/cantering. This is one of the situations where they really reveal that they're animals and have no sense about things. They don't consider tumbling off the mountain. They would tear up the trail if allowed, even though they would probably end up rolling 2000 ft down the mountainside. Scared the crap out of me.

So, we all made it alive. No one coliced; we did a good job cooling them down. Even Gypsy at 24 with 1 eye and not a lot of trail experience made it the whole way. She was a little stiff right after, but was herself after a night.

Why do I do this when it terrifies me and I spend the whole time asking myself what I was thinking? I guess because riding it what I do to challenge myself mentally, physically, etc. And, if I don't want to get stuck in a nice little circle-the-arena routine, I have to force myself to do what scares me and live through it. Someday, when Dazzle is all trail-savvy and no longer tries to kill us, when we can actually get a certain cow in the right place in the right order, when little kids do lead-line on her and she wins them a bit ribbon, I will be happy I spent so much of our training terrified, frustrated, dripping with sweat, confused, exhausted, and determined to do it again tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Dazzle Mentioned In CRHA Journal



Dazzle and I are the only members of the Colorado Ranger Horse Assn. in Oregon. We are also the only ones doing Dressage through their Open Show Point Program. In the journal, Rangerbred News, the manager of the Open Show Point Program gave a shout-out to a few of the people in the program. This is a photo of the little mention. It is in the July/August, 2009 issue.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Calf-Sorting 2.0

Saturday I took Ashley to the Wagon Wheelers arena for calf-sorting practice. They were supposed to have practice for a couple hours, then jack-pot sorting, but there were a bunch of events this weekend and so the turnout for the sorting was small so they just did the practice. It was my first time driving the truck we bought and using the trailer that is now MINE. It is the truck that was my brother-in-law's and the trailer that was my mother-in-law's. We made it there fine, safe and in one piece. We tacked up the horses and loaded them up. When we arrived we just pulled them out and tied them up. We chatted with Don Johnson and signed up for the sorting. Then we put on our bridles and rode around in the arena, walk/trot/canter. Ashley was scared to canter at first but I told her she had too and she did great.

Then, the man running the sorting let us go in with the cows and walk around in them since we are new to calf-sorting. Ashley got the hang of steering back and forth in the cows. Gypsy is a cow horse so she knew what she was doing, but Ashley had never done any cow work before. Dazzle was much calmer than last time.

Trudy and Andy arrived and Don sent them to get one of his horses for Trudy to ride. She returned with Handy, an Appy that looks like a bulldog on dachshund legs. He is a trail horse first and apparently also a cow horse. I don't think he's ever competed, but he knows what he's supposed to do. We talked and walked around in the waiting arena.

Then the sorting started and since there weren't many people there we got to go in for four runs. I ran with a lady that I had taken a college class from a few years ago twice and then twice with a girl named Kelsie that shows barrel racing with her paint mare, Patches. She is another advocate of doing everything you can in a snaffle. Her horse rides in lime green and it looks good on them. We had a great time and even had a run with only 2 cows out of order.

Michelle rode her mom's horse over from their house as it's only a block away and we talked and rode in the arena together a bit between my runs. Then she headed home, she wasn't able to do the calf-sorting this time. I'm hoping she'll get to next time.

Our last run was good and I felt like I didn't fight with Dazzle much; she was starting to figure out the game and was letting me direct her instead of arguing with me. I did had to borrow spurs from Kelsie because I ended up without mine. They were much bigger than mine, but she didn't act any different for them. I think I'm going to have to get actual western spurs to do the western stuff with, lol. My English spurs may just not be cutting it for cows.

It's really challenging and I felt tempted to decide not to do cows anymore, but after thinking about it, I decided that maybe that means I need to keep doing it because it's a challenge. Then we had our last run where it felt more like we were working as a team and that was encouraging. My secret dream is to have her doing well in totally different categories and Dressage-Calf-Sorting would definitely count!

Ashley did great, didn't complain the whole day, even though it took her two hours of figure 8's and circles to get Gypsy to stand still. Gypsy had a ball and was quiet excited. We will definitely be going again.

The New Girl Gets a Name!



Tuesday was a happy and sad day. Wednesday was all happy! We put Ashley horse in western tack and I tacked up Dazzle and we rode through the field to Grandma's where we stopped to say hi, then rode around the block. Ashley horse cantered down the lane next to Dazzle fast! Ashley was surprised; Thunder was never that fast. I deemed her the "Mare with a mission"; she walks so fast! She left Dazzle in the dust. By the end of the ride Ashley had declared her horse better than mine in that she is taller (15.3H to Daz's 15.2H), has longer mane and tail, AND walks faster. lol.


Thursday, we put a snaffle bit on the new horse and my extra dressage saddle. I showed Ashley how I get a horse used to giving to the pressure put on the bit. The horse picked it up quickly. Then I got on and rode her a bit. She is way heavier in your hands than Dazzle, but was quickly picking up the idea of giving to the bit and going on the bit when asked. I walked and trotted her in a circle. Next, Ashley got on and I took pictures and yelled pointers. They did well, and Ashley was encouraged that her new mare would be able to do Dressage. I was impressed; I lunged her both ways and on her blind side I used voice commands and she was great!


Friday, Ashley decided on a name for her new horse; Gypsy! I think it fits and we've both been able to remember it, so it looks like it's the right name. We had decided my extra Dressage saddle was too narrow for Gypsy so we put my Wintec on her and it looked like a better fit. I got on and walked and trotted and tried her with a crop to reinforce my leg. She was fine with it, even on her blind side. I went around the arena twice as she seemed nervous at the far end. Then I cantered her both directions. She felt like she wasn't sure what to do once in the canter, but she was better than I expected. I could steer, she knew the aid for the transition. She will progress quickly I think. She is still too much at the canter for Ashley to handle practicing Dressage, but they did great walk/trot working on the circle. They are at the bobbing stage of going on the bit. She is a very bright horse and I think she will be ready for intro level in no time.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The End and The Beginning


Yesterday was a sad and happy day. First, my old gelding Thunder (show name, Stealin' Your Thunder) went down hill last week and I made the hard decision to put him down. Thunder was between 28 and 33 (Ashley and I always called him 33 as it was cooler) and had been with me since 2005 except for two breaks where he lived with other families teaching kids to ride. Thunder taught me to jump, drive a cart, and take care of old horses. He taught Ashley to canter, ride bareback, and won her a Reserve Hi-Point 11-17 with the CEA for the Umatilla Sage Raders show series in 2007. He neck-reined for western and adored pole-bending and barrel racing. He also did quadrille practice, I took Dressage lessons on him and showed him Hunt Seat. He was also one of the best trail horses I ever met. He taught multiple children to ride. Ashley's sister, Maddy, took several lessons on him and did her first solo ride on him only weeks ago. I always knew he would never be a pasture pet, he would be galloping one day and just gone the next. I just didn't know how right I would be. Thunder did a difficult trail ride just a couple weeks ago. He was star, did better than our younger horses. Then, last week, he stopped eating all his food and was dehydrated. I moved him to a different paddock and he ate a little more, but not with his usual appetite. He spent all his time standing in the shade under his tree and no longer nickered to me when he heard me at the house. He was always the one to yell the loudest that he wanted food. He didn't run around anymore, didn't glare at the other horses not to eat his mush. He barely moved around and looked very stiff. He looked "tucked" up by his hips and started dragging his back toes. This all happened within days. Dr. Adams said he probably had kidney failure and definitely had something neurological going on since he was dragging his back feet. She said he wasn't even pasture safe because of that. She said it was definitely time to let him go. Ashley and her mother and I were there when he went. He made it very easy on us. He laid down spine-up. Like he was sleeping, his head resting on the ground. I was shocked, usually horses lay on their side and look dead. We hugged him and cried and said goodbye.

Then, I sent Ashley home for a couple hours and went into high-gear. Ashley knew we were doing a small celebration of her birthday as it was this last weekend while she was out of town. I had made cupcakes. What she didn't know was that I had gotten her her OWN horse. I went and picked up the horse and then positioned the trailer so I could tie the horse behind it and you couldn't see it unless you were in the field. I tied a purple ribbon on her halter. Grandma brought me icing and ice cream. I iced the cupcakes and got everything ready. Everyone arrived and we ate cupcakes and ice cream. I asked her what her birthday wish was after we sang. "My own horse, of course!" she said, everyone laughed. I have her a riding helmet and a pair of breeches. Her mom had told her I had a gift for her, so she thought this was it. Then, I told her she should take everyone down to see Dazzle since that is who she would be riding now. She had family there that didn't know Dazzle, so she thought that was a good idea and everyone trooped down to the paddocks. As we went by the paddocks they asked who owned each horse and Ashley was telling them, "That's Trudy's horse", and "That's Bethany's horse." As they crowded around Dazzle's paddock, I pulled the new horse from behind the trailer and walked up behind the group. I yelled, "Ashley!". She turned around. As she did I said, "And this is YOUR horse." She started screaming, Oh MyGod, Oh My god! and crying. She ran up and threw her arms around the mare's neck crying and still saying "I can't believe it", etc. It was awesome. Her parent's were crying and my grandma was crying. I teared up too, it was perfect. The mare stood there, totally stoic about the crying teenager on her neck. The most amazing part is that his mare is blind in one eye. Wasn't spooked in the least.

Ashley walked the mare around a bit and I told her about it. She is a 24 yr old reg. Appy mare. She is even chestnut. Ashley has always wanted a chestnut mare and had recently decided she wanted an Appy. She is thrilled. She gave her a bath and detangled her mane and tail. Then I took some pictures of them walking in the arena. A couple hours later the mare's former owner dropped by and signed the sales agreement and gave us her papers. She gave us her email so we can send pictures and updates. Ashley was happy she got to meet her horse's previous owner.


Next, Ashley put her horse in the paddock that had been Thunder's and showed her around. Then she had to go through the paper work with me. She is going to work off board to have her at my house and have me supply hay for her. She was still not sure it wasn't a dream when she went home last night. She is supposed to ride her today for the first time, so hopefully that all goes well.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Dressage Show Results!



My nerves about did me in yesterday, I was starting to get dizzy waiting for my last class. The first class was crazy. It was Trail class and I've done it at schooling shows before, it's always drawn out and pinned to the fence to memorize before you go in. So I get there, find the paper...and it's a LONG dressage test with like, 13 movement directions. I had 10 minutes to try to memorize the thing. It wasn't drawn out, so I looked at an arena picture to get bearings for the test. All of us were freaking out about how we were going to remember this thing. Finally someone thought to ask if we could have a reader since in lower levels of Dressage you can. Thankfully, we could have it read. Melissa read for me. We made it through! I forgot where I was supposed to halt at the end and whether I was supposed to get there walking or trotting. Otherwise, we made it okay. Dazzle would stand next to the mounting block for me to get on so I got on without it. I got marked down for that. If I do it again next year, I'll know more what I'm supposed to do and we'll do better.


My first class was Intro B, a walk/trot. I was shaking, but we headed in. I made a mistake heading into my first 20 meter circle; I tried to start it at S! I realized I was in the wrong place and straightened out so it looked like I just faded off the wall a few steps and no one knew what had happened until I told them, haha. I was focusing on having a steady trot rhythm instead of going forward which wouldn't have stayed steady. I felt pretty good about that test, though I felt pretty silly about trying to start my circle at S.

I stayed on my horse and watched the other riders until my last test. I did a few transitions to warm up and headed in. That was when I felt I might faint, I felt light-headed. I had made sure I ate breakfast or it would have been worse.

We started out fine. I had a moment where I thought I forgot a trot diagonal, then remembered there are none in Training 1. We made it through our canter left. We had good geometry. We headed into canter right, and that end of the arena was deep and wet. I asked and she took canter. I look down and she looked on the wrong lead and felt like it with how frantic her gait felt. I dropped to trot for two strides and asked again. We got the correct lead and finished the test. We got out of the arena and Melissa told me I had been on the right lead the whole time! So again, my biggest error in the test was ME not Dazzle. I didn't really care though, I was just happy to be done.


Melissa came up with the scores for my first two tests, she was freaking out. I got a 75.8% on Trail and a 4th place ribbon, and 69.5% on Intro B with a 2nd place ribbon...I had lost to HER; she and Bayberry got a 79%!!!!! That score won her the Hi-Point for the day and she won a beautiful Dressage saddle pad with BMDCTA embroidered on it on one side and a rider on a dressage horse on the other. She was thrilled. She said when she saw the score she crumpled onto the ground and cried. She worked SOOO hard for that score. When she told me my scores I started to cry too. I was just hoping optimistically for a 65%. When my Training 1 test score came in, I was a little disappointed it was a 57.4%, but that was 2nd place out of 4, so it was just a harder test. They score harder every step up, so a ride worth a 69 at intro is only a 57 at training. I beat older ladies, so I feel good about it. I lost the first place to Annie, a friend who was riding her huge Appy/TB gelding. She about fainted when I told her she'd won because she had accidentally done a late canter/trot transition.

So, I ended up with 2 2nds and a 4th for the day, and and least two scores that will count for ACAAP and CRBA points. I don't know if they'll accept the Trail score. I got all the paperwork ready to send in and so tomorrow I will be able to drop it in the mail.

Norman video-taped our Intro B's and my Training class and Ted took over 1200 pictures with the digital camera. I will have pictures up and video as soon as I can.

We were both thrilled with how many people showed up to support us, at least 75% of the crowd was my family and friends. Thank you guys! It was awesome to have someone cheering us on, I've never gotten to have people at shows like that. I appreciate it and I can't wait to see what we can do next year!

This is the only show planned for this year, so now we start work for next year. I'm hoping money and the help of someone to groom will allow me to show more next year. The plan is to do a Training test and a First level test, but if we aren't quite to showing 1st level we'll do more than 1 of the training tests. Melissa is hoping to show 2nd level next year as her big goal. Everyone at the show banned her from showing Intro ever again, lol. Both Rae and Trish were there cheering us on and they were thrilled with our results. Patrica especially knows how far Dazzle and I have come and was beaming after our tests. We couldn't have made it this far without her.

I told Melissa that next year I'll put her down as my coach since I didn't make a fool of us this year, lol. Hopefully we can make great progress again this year to surprise ourselves at next years show.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Big Day!

Yesterday I rode in the morning in my arena. She was perfect! I only rode like 15 minutes since she was good. Then, Ashley and I bathed Dazzle, cleaned tack, braided Dazzle, got all my stuff ready, then helped Melissa get ready.

It's not 7:12 AM. I fed everyone at 6:20, then got dressed in my comfy clothes and washed dishes to keep my mind distracted. I'm eating even though I'm not hungry because otherwise I get shaky and that's never helpful at a show. Lots of family and friends are supposed to be coming to watch which is awesome, I hope they all show up, but also adds to the nerve-wracking-ness of the day.

I just hope we get through the tests without spooking, bucking, forgetting the pattern, taking the wrong gait or lead, or generally making a fool of us. We'll see.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

FINALLY, A Good Ride!

Yesterday I rode in the morning. She was AWFUL. She kept trying to jog no matter what I did, took the wrong lead at canter, etc. I had to spin her around, make her move off my leg, it was a disaster. I couldn't get the feeling I had before trying to get my legs to relax. I was starting to feel like I shouldn't even bother with Dressage and should just do western, but that feels like giving up or cheating.


Today we trailered Dazzle to the Ranch and I rode in the indoor arena with Melissa coaching. It was amazing. We got an awesome canter, worked on trotting center-lines, walking on two diagonals. She was super. I think she likes the super footing in there. It's SO nice. It was a perfect ride. I only ended up riding like 20 minutes because she was so good. If we can do that at the show we'll have nothing to worry about. It was just what I needed. I was starting to get discouraged after our messy ride yesterday.

Mister, Mister



Mister is a 3 yr old gelding that my mother in law bought last year as a two year old. I convinced her not to try to start him as a two yr old. Melissa and I have been working on him this spring. We sent Sparkles back to Trudy's house and brought Mister here. Melissa did some ground work with him and he magical stopped jumping around, walking over the top of you and rearing. She did round-penning with him at the ranch with help from Ali. THey spent 2 and half hours on him and he FINALLY turned his head in and quit bucking and kicking at them.

Melissa and I took him back Friday and took turns round-penning him. I rode him about ten minutes after doing all my "scary stuff" to him.

So, I rode him again a few days ago here in the arena. I lunged him, then Melissa lunged him, both with side reins on the bit but the lunge line on the halter. Then I got on and rode a little. He wasn't doing ANYTHING, so I had her take the lead line off. We rode walk circle-eights trying to get him to walk when I squeezed. I had to wallop and wallop to get any movements, haha. He was halting from my seat with no rein by the time I finished riding. It was about 20 minutes probably.


Melissa rode him yesterday. She didn't lunge and just got on. They walked circle eights and then he didn't want to go. He bucked! She said she was expecting it, but she still ended up on his neck. He was unphased. She didn't let him get away with it; she got back in the saddle and made him walk. He didn't try it again. So, he HAS got some spunk in him still, but he'll figure out it's easier to do what we ask soon enough, lol.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Practicing, Practicing

Yesterday I rode with Melissa watching. I worked a lot on trotting trying to stay straight so Daz would be straight and not wobbly. We worked on the walk and a little canter. We worked a lot on trying to figure out what to do with my leg to make it lay comfortably, but correctly on Dazzle's side. It's a project as it seems I'm fighting my leg conformation every step of the way. We tried lengthening the stirrups which seemed to help. I tried to really relax my leg and not grab at her side. It is difficult. I'm so used to trying to keep her walking by squeezing all the time and I have to quit that and get her to where she'll stay at the speed requested until I ask for a change WITHOUT me bumping all the time.

Today, I rode early. She was a mess. She kept trying to job or trot at the walk. Ignoring me when I asked her to walk when we were going at a faster gait. She wouldn't stay in the canter or take the transition well. I got a couple decent circles and gave up. We did a bunch of walk/trot and walk/halt transitions trying to keep her from jogging all the time. It was frustrating. We did a bunch of work on the two diagonals on the long rein. If we screw up canter we could at least rock at walk. lol.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Sunday's Coaching session

Today I spent an hour practicing test movements and actually ran through both of them with Melissa coaching from the side lines. Intro B wasn't horrible. She said to make sure I don't speed up on the diagonals and to look at my circles more, not ride so straight. I'm always riding too straight, forget to look around the circles. Then we worked on the canter. My training 1 was way better than last year, but she took the wrong lead to the right first try and I had to do a circle and try again. It wasn't too bad other wise, so we practiced canter some more. I worked without spurs and with a whip the first run-throughs, then without anything during the practice of the individual movements. If I remember to keep my legs relaxed and not grab her sides then I can use my leg to keep her forward. It's a trick to do everything at once, I feel lucky to have Melissa here to watch so I know what I need to work on. Otherwise we'll never get very far. If she behaves and I can remember the tests and keep coordinated then we'll do okay. The hardest part will be not letting her break gait, up OR down, during the tests. The two things I'm mainly worried about are getting the correct lead canters for the Training test and then the two diagonal-long-rein walk in the intro. That thing is HARD. You have to go on long rein from the corner to x bent one way, then get to x, switch corners you're aiming for and switch bend. All on the long rein with a nice walk. It's not easy. If Dazzle took her leads better and kept cantering better then training would be easier than the intro.

Trubo's Big Day



Friday I got up worried as I found Turbo's paddock empty. I called Andy and learned that they had taken Turbo home because he and Sparkles were going to be in the Weston parade. I was a little concerned because I wasn't sure Turbo was quite Andy-proofed, but I had confidence that Turbo would be a good boy if Andy made him behave. I reminded Andy that if Turbo was stubborn or scared to pull him nose around and make him do little circles. Turbo HATES this and will always behave if circles are the other choice.

Saturday, Andy came over and informed us that Turbo was "a jewel". He was the steady-eddy for the other horses. The only thing he was concerned about was when the motorcycles in front of them started revving their engines and doing wheelies and stuff. And it must not have been much since Andy could handle it fine. AND to top it off, they did the parade in a...wait for it...SNAFFLE. Take that all you old cowboys who told Trudy he had to be ridden in a gag-barrel-racing-shanked-piece of equipment. Andy said he even neck-reined fine. In the snaffle. And Andy doesn't do leg-aides, so that means he was only neck-reining. AWESOME. We are SOOO proud of him. Andy could even see the difference in how confident and comfortable Turbo is now, quite the difference from the scared, confused gelding they first brought home.

They didn't go to the judging unfortunately, but they got a participation ribbon for showing up. They were there as part of the re-enactment group, "Guns and Roses". Trudy wore a corset top and skirt and a gun on her hip. They had a ball. It's so nice to hear that a horse you have been training is working out for their owners. That is another horse whose life is better from having been here with me. Thank you Michelle for all the hours you put on him! He owes you!

Friday Training


(Spotless playing with his Jolly ball recently)

I worked Spotless in the round-pen at the ranch where Melissa boards. I did everything I could think of. We did bag-on-stick, grain bag in the air, surcingle, side-reins on the surcingle, saddle, side-rein hooked to the cinch. He round-penned a lot better than he lunges. His cues were sharp. Walk/trot/canter no problem. He even turns in when asked to switch, not out to the wall. We wore the bit and let me bit him up no issues. Before I put the saddle on I had him stand next to the mounting block and I danced and wiggled and acted scary. Then I pushed on his back. I laid on his back. Nothing. He would have let me throw my leg over and just head off. He is going to be so easy to ride when he's old enough. He just turned two on the 26th so he's not going to get to be ridden till probably next Spring, but he's going to be ready when the time comes. After that, he went into the barn and got put in the cross ties and got hosed down. He did good for his first time. I tied him out with Dazzle after that to dry in the sun.

Mister went into the round-pen next. He had been watching from the larger riding round-pen. When he saw me take his halter off the fence he CANTERED over to be caught. SUCH a different boy from when he got here. It's hard to believe there was a time he was hard to catch. I round penned him a bit, then Melissa did a bit, she had worked with him before and wanted to make sure he was being submissive and behaved before I took over with the "scary stuff". He tossed his head, looked out, and kicked at her a couple times, but she kept making him run when he was naughty and eventually he started looking at her more respectfully and listening better. FINALLY, he stopped and followed her around the pen which she said she'd never been able to get him to do before, so it was definitely a victory. She had worked him twice before and he has gone from a naughty, on the verge of dangerous, obnoxious, colt to a friendly, handleable gelding.

After the round-penning I did all my scary stuff and after his work-out none of it phased him. NONE of it. He'd never done any of it before and he still was not scared of it. The round-penning for respect had apparently done the trick. I put on the side-reins and surcingle and he handled that great, then the saddle and side-reins, did that great. Finally, I was out of anything to do but get on. Melissa came in and held the lead-rope and I laid on him and wiggled and talked and then swung a leg over. I rocked and wiggled and whooped. He dropped his head and seemed relieved I was JUST sitting there; no scary bags or running around or anything. We walked around the pen with Melissa leading. I rocked and rubbed my legs on him. Nothing scared him. He wouldn't walk off my leg. But, he didn't spook from my trying to get him to. I had done yielding to the bit exercises on the ground and he gave to the big both sides. He kind of steers. So, not bad for the first ride.

Next time, I will try to get him walking when I squeeze my legs and steering a little. I was thinking about it afterwards and Mister is the 6th horse that I have been the first person on. Kind of cool.

Trail Ride

Last week we did a trail ride to Bennington Lake. We took Melissa and Bayberry, me and Dazzle, and Michelle and Turbo. We met Michelle and tacked up and headed out. We went around the lake, which included walking in the few inches of water in the reservoir, then down onto a path that goes past a field and into the trees. Then Melissa took Bayberry back to the trailer to work on her mane and Michelle and I went around again doing most of it cantering. We had a blast. Before heading off, Melissa canter Bayberry a little and she was a angel. Didn't try to race at all! Michelle and I cantered single file down the bunny trails and took turns leading. Michelle said she was able to neck-rein with just a touch of direct now and then in the snaffle. That is SUCH a success. We are so proud of him!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Tuesday and Wednesday Sessions

Yesterday Melissa coached me for an hour. It went by fast! She did really well for no Dressage practice in over a month. We did a lot of trot trying to get more forward. We did canter. Her up and down transitions from Canter need work so we did a lot of that. She didn't want to take the canter to the right and actually threw a big buck, but she got over it. I tried without my little spurs and she liked that better, but it was a lot harder to get forward. So, I am going to have to figure out how to get her to go forward without them so I don't NEED them. I don't want to HAVE to have them to get forward. I could try the crop again, but it usually makes me lose focus to try to add that to the mix. Our circles are much rounder and the trot is getting there. If I look where I'm going and not at her head it helps a bunch, lol.

This morning I got up at 7 AM and rode for 20 minutes. We did trot and she kept tipping her butt to the inside. We worked on our forward. Then we did a little canter. She was good overall so I called it a day. We are going trail riding later so I didn't want to wear her out. If we can do our best in the show we'll be fine. I'm just worried she'll fall apart or I'll fall apart and it'll be a mess.