Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas Everyone!


  Only a few more hours and Christmas is here!  Since we don't really do gifts in our house, we have a nice relaxing day with the family, ponies, and dogs to look forward to.  Merry Christmas everyone, hope you have a great weekend filled with love, and Holiday Cheer.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

William 8 Weeks In < 3


  I have had William a little over 2 months now.  We had a set back in our work as William cut his foot pretty bad about a month ago and it is still healing.  It worked out since I have stopped riding him for the meantime and am focusing on ground work.  I have been absolutely swamped at work and stressed with the holidays so he has been getting more time off than I would like.  That good thing is his foot is healing, and he is getting a lot of daily handling and grooming which is helping to relax him I think.  He is also still so young and we are in no rush so I am not worried about him not doing a whole lot.  

  He had his feet done yesterday and they are looking better with each trim.  He is a pretty healthy boy now and seems to really enjoy the attention of grooming and hugs.  As you can judge from the pictures, he needs the grooming often, too.  He is very patient on the cross ties and will stand quietly as long as necessary.  He is really great while I clean and change his leg bandage also.  I think the daily routine is helping him adjust to the world of being a (future) "show horse".

Dirty Boy!
  I'm still using the western saddle and have been taking it on and off more times than I care to remember.    The good news is that he has been excellent when saddling the last few weeks and has not been doing his "scooty butt" attempt to buck thing at all.  He has been walking away quietly and looking at me for commands.

I use the towel for desensitization..
  I also noticed that when a time comes when he may have run off bucking in the past, he now halts himself and waits for me to tell him what to do next.  This is a really good step for him and a promising result.  He is learning to trust me, and look to me when he is afraid instead of running off like an idiot.  This is the one thing you want to teach a nervous or spooky horse.  It's ok to be afraid, but it's how they manage their fear that matters.

  I also started doing some ground driving with him and he seems to be really enjoying it.  At first he was a little apprehensive with the ropes touching his side, and me behind his bum, but I actually think he enjoys it now.  He walks along happily, changes direction, circles, and moves over from pressure.  I think this is another good exercise to desensitize him more before I get back on him.

  The plan is to do a little more ground driving with him.  I think I will try ponying him around a little bit with Archie and then once we have done a bit of that I am going to tackle the mounting and unmounting until he is bored to death, and shows no signs of tensing.  Since I have a few weeks off coming up that should give me plenty of time to work with him more.  I have a very short video of a bit of our ground work; 

  Until next time! xx

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Saturday Pet Bloggers Hop - Ho No No Campaign


  From our friends at Two Little Cavaliers;

This year Dogs Trust  the largest dog welfare charity in the UK is launching the “Ho, No, No” campaign, to target Harrods (the same London Department Store that sold Christian the Lion in the 1960′s) to get them to stop selling Christmas Puppies. Dogs Trust is asking supporters to send a FREE* Christmas Card to Harrods to ask them to stop selling puppies at Christmas.
The charity is concerned that the cute fluffy little puppies will fall prey to boredom once the novelty wears off and lives return to normal after the holiday season. It is then left to animal charities the world over to pick up the pieces when Christmas present pups are dumped at shelters.
For over 33 years Dogs Trust has been saying that “A Dog is For Life, Not Just for Christmas” yet so many children and their parents still consider a puppy as a suitable present.
A background video of Christian the lion in his younger years. I am not sure how someone screens a potential adopter of a lion but apparently this was considered due diligence on the part of Harrods. We obviously know the ending of the story and his owners did the right thing for him bringing him to a Sanctuary when he got too big releasing him into a pride and hoping he would be accepted and able to fend for himself. But I am sure most of the exotic animals purchased from Harrods were not as lucky as Christian. And so too those who buy puppies there and decide they no longer want to keep them.

Pet Bloggers Blog Hop brought to you by Two Little Cavaliers, Life with Dogs, and Confessions of the Plume! Welcome to all of you joining us for the first time we are so excited to have you and welcome back to our regular Hoppers.
Here’s how you can join the Pet Bloggers Blog Hop celebration:
* Link up your blog name and URL using the Linky Tool below. You only need to add you link once to be seen on all the Pet Blogger Blog Hop Linky Tools for that week.
** Grab the Pet Bloggers Blog Hop button that our friends over on Life with Dogs made for us and include it in your Saturday Pet Bloggers Hop post so that your readers will know what is going on.
*** Follow your co-hosts listed in the first 3 slots of the Linky Tool and comment on their blogs to say hello!
**** Follow as many other blogs on the linky as you’d like
***** Take a moment to comment on the blogs telling them you’re from the Saturday Pet Bloggers Blog Hop
****** Follow back when you get a new follower through the Saturday Pet Bloggers Blog Hop
Please be considerate and do not link directly to a giveaway post. Doing so does not allow others to comment on the post and forces them to look around your blog to find an appropriate place to post. One link per blog please!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

December 2011 is My New Best Friend

  We have been having way above normal seasonal temperatures so far this month.  Average temperature of about 3 degrees C.  Barely any snow, and a lot of rain.  Next week we are looking at 5, and 6 degrees all week.  I'm not complaining.  We normally have 5 months of FREEZING temperatures, snow storms, and ice.  We have come this far with this fabulous weather that if the bad weather does come soon, it will only be a few months of it, which I think I can handle.

  I am a bit worried as to why the weather is changing so much, but that's a whole other issue.  The boys have been enjoying the weather too.  They are still grazing on their pasture - unheard of for this time.  It's been very English the last few weeks, with little sunshine and lots of drizzle.

Mikey and Archie look out off their little mountain.
No snow, and grey skies.
Mikey is a 17.3h Selle Francais, he's 24 years young.

Archie loves Mikey.  They are best buddies.
  I brought in one of the little trees I dug up in the back woods and decorated it for the main window.  It's a cute little thing.  I found the Breyer Stablemate decorations I made a few years ago.  I kept some for myself and made a bunch for all my riding friends.  They made great gifts!

Spindly little thing.

I was a huge 101 Dalmatians fan growing up...

  Of course, the top of the tree needs the king of jungle, DK.

Lovin' this December xx

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Product Review - Kity Lake Yard Boots!

  As an eventer, you just can't escape the fad of the Dubarry boots.  As a young woman working my way through my life to support my love eventing, you just can't escape the price tag of those Dubarrys either.  I know they are probably worth it, but I just could never convince myself to shell out my hard earned coin on a pair of muck boots. So, when the good people at Equestrian Clearance offered me a trial pair of Kity lake Yard Boots, I jumped at the chance.

  I patiently waited for them to arrive from the UK.  Once here I took them out of the box and examined them  Just like the web site said "The Lake boots are made from nubuck leather and feature a lace up detail at the top of the boots. The leather has been treated to be water resistant and there is also a waterproof yet breathable inner membrane.  They have a durable yet lightweight rubber sole with a comfy padded insole. The boots also feature a small elasticated gusset at the top for extra flexibility."

  I was a bit worried whether the boots would fit, as I have really big calves and usually need a wide or extra wide.  They pulled on nicely, and were snug, but fit with jeans and riding pants underneath.  You can tell they are high quality as they were a bit stiff to being with and took a few weeks to break in, like any good leather boot.  They have the most comfortable sole, and I was in immediate boot heaven with these boots.

  I have worn them to muck stalls, bring horses in, hiking in the woods, to the store, and even riding.  They have held up perfectly from everyday use.  I find them very warm, even with the temperature dipping to -5 C the last few nights.  I have not had cold toes yet, and I haven't had the need to whip out the wool socks either!

  I have tested out the waterproofness of these boots many times.  Including walking into the lake at beach when I was leading Archie in to get his feet wet.  They have kept my feet exceptionally dry.  No water has gotten in and the boots have not been effected at all from being submerged.  Major plus!  I also have been riding in my Kity Lake Yard Boots almost every day and they are actually a joy to ride in.  I don't notice much difference from them and my field boots.

  Overall I give these boots an A++ and I would recommend them to any equestrian, but not only riders - any one who spends time in the outdoors!  I can not tell you how many compliments I have received on how good these boots look.  They are the ultimate in function and fashion, without losing an arm in the cost.

  Thanks, Equestrian Clearance!  You can "Like" them on Facebook too :) 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Archies' Lesson Journal: Episode 1 Dec 2011

 I'm going to start a journal of my lessons with Archie.  Something I can use to easily look back at what we have worked on and learned over the years. We are doing back to back lessons once a month for dressage as my coach only comes down my way that often.  Jumping lessons should commence in the New Year.


  It feels good to be back in lessons.  I hadn't been lessoning all summer because my jumper coach was always coaching elsewhere when I could schedule a lesson, and I couldn't afford the lessons with the dressage coach I wanted to work with.  There were no other options in my area I trusted to work with with Archie.  Now that show season has winded to a halt, I have some extra funds to focus towards lessons.  I enjoy lessons as much as I enjoy competing.  Even more so when I have a competent instructor who I actually learn from.

  Having watched my moms lessons all last year I knew I really liked Daphnes teaching style and the steady improvment my mom was making was reassuring.  I also knew Daphne had trained a Thoroughbred to Grand Prix and competed succesfully with it.  I knew I needed a coach who could understand my horse.  Riding and training a Thoroughbred is just so different from riding and training a warmblood.

 We worked in the first lesson strictly on Archies rhythm.  Keeping the same one-two beat for the entire ride.  I was told to sit heavy and deep if I wanted to slow Archie down.  Make him trot to my beat using my posting only.  It worked.  We then worked on having Archie learn to accept the leg, and not run off from it.  I did walk and trot circles, pressing him over with the inside leg to spiral out, then using the outside leg to spiral him in.  I did this and only this for a month.  I am not to worry about Archies head carriage at all.  Archie does not have good balance at this point and needs to learn to balance on his own and not with my hands.

  There was a noticeable improvement in his balance and rhythm in this lesson.  I was able to ask him for more trot and he is bringing his head into a nice frame on his own.  It will still be a few months until he is able to have self carriage and hold a steady frame with out balancing on my hands for support.   Doing things this way and correcting him will mean he can go a lot further in his training down the road.

  I have basically learned how to ride Archie and get what I need to from him, but what we need to do is retrain him so he can be ridden like a normal horse.  This way we will be able to get much more out of him, and he will eventually learn to relax and accept the leg and hand.  This lesson we worked at the trot.  I asked Archie to move away from my inside leg to carry himself straight.  When I did this he would bulge with his outside shoulder so I was to hold the outside rein and move his shoulder back so he was straight.  When he does this correctly I give a scratch and praise.  Daphne explained he needs to learn the diagonal aids - outside rein - inside leg.  He needs to find comfort in the outside rein.  This exercise works very well when he becomes tense.  As soon as I feel tension, I ask him to move away from my right leg.  When he does I release the leg immediately and ask his outside shoulder to move back onto the straight (of the circle).  As soon as he does this he relaxes and breathes out.  Eventually, this will be the aid we give when we need to relax Archie.

  Archie is learning to find comfort in the circle.  This is sort of like a security blanket for him.  I ask him to move down the long side but I take the first step of the circle.  I continue to ride that line down the wall (otherwise known as shoulder-in).  They key is to not hold the inside rein.  This is outside rein, with inside leg.  This is the hardest thing for me, not using my inside rein.  Archie and I have learnt to compromise with this inside rein.  Wehn Archie tenses I simply put him back on a circle.  Move him over with my inside leg and he relaxes into my outside rein.  Once he is relaxed I continue onto the long side in shoulder-in.  We repeated this exercise several times.  This exercise will build, straightness, strength, and eventually teach Archie to fins comfort in these more difficult movements.

  We did a little bit of canter work focusing on the same principles.  Archie was not responsive to the half halt so I was instructed to halt immediately if he did not come back for me.  Once I pick up canter again try the half halt. Did it work?  If it did then release and let him canter.  If not then we halt again.  Release at the halt also.  He must learn that giving the reins is not an aid to move forward.  The leg is the aid to move forward.  This is my homework for the next month until my next back-to-back lesson weekend.

  I also have some of it video'd:

  Pretty excited to learn how to ride my horse properly <3

Saturday, December 3, 2011

December Kick - Off ! (Getting in the Spirit :) )

Sooo good lookin'.

  November was absolutely amazing weather wise, and so far we have been very lucky in December too.  My mom and I had a dressage lesson today, and another one tomorrow.  This is a new coach for me (this is my second lesson with her) and she has really changed things for me and Archie already.  Finally, someone who can teach me how to TRAIN my horse to go properly, relax, and be normal, instead of just how to ride him and deal with it!

Archie waiting - impatiently. 

Faking good behaviour.
  Archie was absolutely super and since we are going back tomorrow, we get to make sure what we learnt sticks.  Then I have a months worth of homework to do before she comes down again next month!  My moms horse is going really well also, but she always does!

Learning that half halt is called halft halt - and not half walk, for a reason.

Gorgeous arena.

  After we got home Jesse and took the dogs for a hike in the back trails to pick out my Christmas Tree for the barn.  There are so many cute trees I always see when I'm out hacking and last time I went out I spotted a few that would be really sweet for the barn.  

A man with a purpose. 
Brewster is unimpressed!
Showing his hatred of posing by sticking his tongue out!

  We found some antlers that have dropped off a buck.  He must have lost these to make room for new ones.  We have a lot of deer on our property.  I think they come here to hide from all the hunters :)  I took them home, I want to make something out of them, or put them somewhere...not sure what yet.

a 6 point right there!
He wanted to eat them - not wear them.
 We continued on and found the perfect tree!  Jesse dug it up and also a smaller one for in the house.  These trees were so precious and perfect for Christmas.  I am going to put them in planters and if they survive until spring we are going to plant them in the yard by the house.

The chosen one.
The bling!
  I cut the roots down and put it in a planter with some very good soil.  We'll see what happens over the next little while.

  Once the tree was planted, I took the solar Christmas lights we have hanging by the pool and decorated the tree.  To-da!!

  So - this tree sits outside our barn entrance.  Nothing too elaborate but the solar lights keep it from getting  too scary at night and is helping put me in the Christmas spirit.  I don't want to put anything else on it as it has been really windy and I figure it will all just blow away, meaning I have to spend an hour picking up everything off the yard. It's supposed to be 10 degrees (50 f ) tomorrow and normally we would be about -5 with snow, we need all the help we can get to get in the "mood" for Christmas this year! 

Broo: "WANT!"
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