dancing horses

dancing horses

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

She's Back

The last post ended on a dramatic cliff hanger- our heroine was in serious danger.

Well not really.

But if you recall Carmen had become a spooky, reactive mess and I was less than impressed.

I had added alfalfa to the night feed and wondered if that was part of the problem. That night I stopped feeding it to her. I didn't ride Tuesday- the weather was awful and I was tired from work.

Today (Weds) was sunny and warm. I love daylight savings time- I much prefer it to be light later than earlier (if I was supreme ruler we would leave it at DST) because it allows me to ride in the evening without rushing after work.

There was no one home when I got her ready and, to be honest, I was a little concerned. I figured I would take it one step at a time. However, I could tell as soon as we got in the ring that she was a different horse. She was a bit 'looky' in the spots that were terrifying on Monday but not the mess she was.  I was careful in my ground work to make sure that I had her attention and that she was listening. In fact she was a bit sluggish.
Me: You know Carmen there is a happy medium between bolting and moseying. 
Carmen: You are far too fussy. 

I mounted and I made sure that from the beginning I had her attention. I didn't take the approach of 'force' to get her into spots but rather let the work carry us there. When she hesitated to look I brought her back to work. I didn't get harsh but I didn't accept that any wandering of attention. Irish dozed in the sun while we worked. When I asked her to trot she was a bit sluggish so I gave her a light tap with the crop. She kicked out but I kept asking until she moved out.

She was a bit fussy in the contact but that was my fault- I was being cautious and ready for her to spin and bolt. If I was a professional who rode tons of horses I could probably relax right away. But I'm an AA and depend on my job to pay the bills. So I was being defensive. I was able to finally relax my elbows and her acceptance of contact improved.

 We were able to walk, trot and canter in all areas of the ring. When I dismounted she stood quietly, totally relaxed. I allowed us to mosey down to the barn and she hung out with me while I did my chores. The hard look was gone from her eye.

I know that it wasn't a clean experiment- but I've decided that Carmen does not respond well to Alfalfa and doesn't need it in her diet.

Monday, March 28, 2016

As the World Turns

Training a young horse is a bit of a soap opera at times- long periods of time where nothing happens and then a ridiculous level of dramatics.

Let me back up a bit. I was reading Annette's blog: http://aspenmeadows.blogspot.ca/2016/03/tex-visits-vet.html. In it she said that her horse responded to the pressure points for ulcers. That got me curious and I did a google search. I found a bunch of information including this video:
As I watched it, I realized that Carmen had a few of those symptom and it might explain the balking in the saddle. I decided to try her on a herbal supplement for her stomach and I added more alfalfa to her diet.

She showed immediate improvement and within 3 days all of her symptoms disappeared- including the balking under saddle. Which brings me to today.

Carmen was good in the barn and in our initial ground work. When I mounted she walked off. Oh-oh. I dismounted and got back on. She stood this time but as soon as I moved walked off. Within 3 minutes she was freaking out about something down the road and I had to get off. I lunged her some more this time making sure that she was truly focussed. When I got on, again, she stood still and we went to work. She was being spooky at the far side of the ring. I was determined that the trolls were not moving back. I worked my butt off trying to get her to focus on me rather then outside the ring.

What happens when she does this is that her attention is completely focussed on outside and she blows off all my aids. I have to get very very firm and then she gets annoyed with me. It is not fun. I am good at staying calm (mostly) with this and just working away.

Then Irish came bolting up the field and she went into full flight mode. I had to quickly dismount before we wrecked. I walked her in hand would not let her bend away or raise up and focus on the the people walking down the road. She was not happy about this but I stayed firm and finally she softened. I got back on again and we went to work. Again.

I refused to stay on the middle circle. We would work there and then I would peel off. I was NOT going to baby her past the areas that she had no issue with the last few weeks. I am NOT buying into that mind set. Instead, we worked on bending in and staying focussed on the aids. I could feel it working. I started a circle where half was in the 'scary' spot. I trotted firmly in the 'safe zone' and her walk in the 'scary zone'. The idea being that the scary area becomes the rest area. Finally she began to blow and relax in that area. I then asked her to canter and we moved forward.

We finished by walking the entire ring. I was okay if she was tense but we were going there. By the time were done we were a hot mess. Instead of the short session I planned on we had been working for 90 minutes. I gave her a massage and she relaxed fully. I was not happy with the change in her. A few things come to mind:

  • spring fever
  • heat (showing no real signs of it yet)
  • the increase alfalfa
  • she feels better in her tummy
I've cut out the the alfalfa and we'll see if that makes a difference. 

Princess Diva

Saturday, March 26, 2016

The Accidental Trainer

I hope everyone is enjoying a lovely Easter Weekend. Or Ishtar Weekend. Whichever one you celebrate.

My plans for the weekend are simple- I want to ride every day. I began yesterday. I wasn't sure that I would be able to as it was forecast to rain all day. However, I managed to squeeze in a ride between the showers. It wasn't a great schooling session- she was a bit tense but we worked through it and ended on a good note (and before the rain started again).

Today was sunny but the wind had an icy edge. Cynthia and waited until the afternoon to ride. In the meantime I emptied the manure cart and dragged the ring. The wind bit into us as we walked up to the ring but Carmen didn't seem too upset by the wind but she was a bit on edge. As we settled in to  work   heard Cynthia say 'Be careful with your whip'
I was puzzling over what she meant when all of a sudden BONSAI!  Chester Cat came leaping across the ring chasing the tip of my lunge whip.

All of sudden I was lunging two creatures- Carmen on the outer circle, Chester in the middle gleefully pouncing on the trailing whip and me in the centre. Since I didn't know what to do I simply carried on.

I was very impressed with Miss Carmen- she kept working but her attention was on Chester. I realized that by shifting her attention to what was happening in the circle rather than outside she was much more tuned in to me. We went up and down the ring - she had a zip in her step but was not upset at all- more bemused then anything.
Chester: wheee. I got it! I got it! Darn it got away. 
Carmen: What kind of circus are you running here? 
Me:  Honestly, I have no idea. 
Irish: Don't mind me- I'll just keep working while you children play. 

After a bit Chester went off to frolic in the grass beside the ring and I got on Carmen. It was a great to have a chance to work with her while a small kitty kept appearing in new places. She did very well- not one spook.

As we went on she became  a bit balky as we got working. We were walking and I asked for a trot. She politely refused. I asked again. She impolitely refused. I went over and picked up the crop and then asked again. I got an emphatic 'no!' and I gave her light tap behind my leg. She kicked out and then trotted off. After that we had no more discussion. Our trot-canter transitions have greatly improved as well.

So I have to thank Chester for my successful training session.

Of course I can train horses. Cats can do anything they set their paw to

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Gotcha Day

Today marks the one year anniversary that Carmen came home. Last year I was bundle of nerves- excitement, worry, sadness and pure raw emotion made me a bit of wreck. Fortunately I had Cynthia, Ashley and Ed to keep me calm. The day Carmen came home.

The weather was horrible and we were, literally, buried in snow:

It has been quite the year for the two of us. Full of ups and downs as we got to know one another. Having a mare was a whole new kettle of fish. There were so many people who reached out to help Carmen and I as we stumbled on the first steps of our journey: Karen, Johanna, Roz, to name a few. 

It's interesting to contrast to where we are now. I can honestly say that Carmen is coming into her own- she's calmer, more relaxed and more self-confident. In the morning after she's finished her grain she wants to greet me (first things first after all). Where last year she was watchful and wary, she's now quiet and curious. Not that she can't run around or spook or be silly. She can but it's different then before. She greets me when I get home. As my car comes up the driveway she comes down by the fence. I get out of the car and say hello to her and she nods her head and watches me as I go into the house to change. 

The other evening I brought her out of her stall to give her a groom. She's shedding and was really enjoying the brushing. When I finished one side she gave a shake like after a roll. It was adorable. I then brushed out her mane and practiced braiding it. She has the idea with the ground tie to not move her feet but she figures that she can move her head around to check stuff out. But when I brought her back to centre so I could carry on with my braiding she just gave a sigh and humoured me. 

If I had to sum it up I would say that she's content. 

Me too. 

Monday, March 21, 2016

Meeting Expectations

I ended my last post by saying that I knew I was going to have a good ride.

About an hour after the 'parade' passed by Cynthia came we went to get the horses. Both watched us with ears pricked but waited for us to come to them rather than meet us part way. In the barn Carmen was a bit grouchy about me grooming her belly. It's quite sensitive but I do need to clean it with all the mud we have. She's getting used to it but did bring her head around once to say 'watch it'.

In the ring she started by looking for my guidance. This is  change from before where I had to insist on her attention, now it's on me if I lose it. I realized that I wouldn't need to do much ground work and I was right. I mounted after a few minutes of lunging.

Irish was feeling pretty good but was a bit stiff. It's harder for him to loosen up and he will start stiff and short strided. Carmen was flowing at the walk and I worked on changes of direction and then walk-halt-walk transitions. She was a bit sticky going up but nailed the halts. It made me think that I was being following enough with my seat. I asked for a trot and she moved out right away. No balking. We trotted down the long side. I didn't have to stay on the center circle and move out- we moved out right away. We did a little leg yielding and she was moving over nicely. Still leading too much with her shoulder but she has the idea and we will finesse it.

There were a couple places where she sucked back- the corners and the gate. I would ask with my legs and mostly she moved forward. A couple times she sucked back more and I gave her a little tap with my heels. Carmen broke into canter but since that was a good answer (forward) even if not the gait I wanted I let her canter for a few strides and then brought her back. Once she gave a start at some brush down by R but it really was just a quick half-step and then we carried on.

As I trotted down to the end of the ring that faces the road Carmen's head shot up. I saw that the parade they saw earlier was now making it's way back the way they had come. I gave a warning to Cynthia and then carried on but moved down the other side of the ring. I was very happy that Carmen turned her mind back to work right away and ignored the toy car, dogs and people making their way down the road. Irish was a bit more of a handful but Cynthia got him working through it.

The nice thing about it was it put a bit of a zing in her step. I started doing serpentines with her. Our switch of bend from right to left is to abrupt and I need to be better at the half-halts and cues. I asked her to do a free walk on a long rein across the diagonal and she did. It's good practice for our showing this year. As we approached the corner and she became tense I slowly gathered her back up. It's early for movement when we show but I wanted to build her confidence with it and you lose fewer points gathering your horse up early then you do if your horse spooks and takes off. While our free walk was not perfect by any means she didn't tug the reins loose from my hand and she stretched out nicely.

I began to ask for some light canter work. It felt a bit sluggish and she kept breaking. I thought that it was a balance and strength issue so didn't worry. We took a break and then returned to work. I started asking for walk-trot transitions but I wasn't getting them. It didn't feel like a lack of understanding, instead it felt like 'I'm tired and think we should just walk now'. I was using far too much leg so I asked Cynthia if I could borrow her whip. I don't usually carry one- partly because Carmen is seriously offended by a tap with a whip. As soon as I had it we had some very crisp walk-trot transitions and I didn't have to use it. Either she knew I had it (but she's not that experienced) or I was being more confident because I knew I had back up. Either way it worked. We did a few transitions and I let her walk out. She tried to snatch the reins out of my hand and I put my leg on and gave her a tap. She moved out nicely. I then went back to canter work. We picked it up at the centre circle and it was a bit laboured. As we rounded the circle Irish was coming up the long side and I felt her suck back. I put my leg on and she sucked back more so I gave her a tap with the whip. BAM. She kicked out, lost the lead behind, switched in front but was now on the wrong lead and became all discombobulated. I brought her back to trot and asked her to canter. And then we had a great flowing, FORWARD canter. I realized that my problems earlier weren't due to balance issues (not totally) but by a lack of forward impulsion. Now that we had that I could work with it. We cantered up the long side and it felt lovely. Now I had something to ask her to use her hind with. We cantered a bit more and then I sat up and stilled my seat. She immediately came back to trot, then walk. I patted her and let her walk out.

I was very happy with our work. Mostly because I was working on stuff. Cynthia and Irish walked beside us on the inside and we chatted as we let them walk out. As we walked by R Carmen gave a big spook and spun inside, scaring the crap out of Irish. I pulled her up with a one rein stop (it was only a few strides). She turned around to look back at what scared her. I couldn't see anything. I decided to stand there until she relaxed. Meanwhile Irish is losing it. Poor Cynthia, but she handled it well and got him working until her relaxed again. I did overhear her telling him that he was 'going senile'.  Carmen was a bit tense because of Irish but since she caused it to begin with I figured it was fair. I sat on her with two hands on the reins, keeping them short but relaxed. Finally she gave a breath and lowered her head. I then walked her forward a few steps and stopped when she tensed again. I suspect there was a 'critter' in the grass that startled her. When she relaxed again I hopped off and loosened her girth.

In the barn she stood quietly while I fussed with her and then I put her in her stall. Cynthia let them both out and Carmen stopped to greet her
Carmen: Hey, sorry about the excitement, I didn't mean to upset Irish. 

Not bad for a horse that was last ridden one week ago.

if you look closely you can just make out the halo

Sunday, March 20, 2016


As I've been saying, Carmen is showing lots of signs of becoming a sensible mature horse. For example, our ground tying is progressing very nicely. She generally stays when I ask her to but there are usually 1-2 corrections initially. The other day I was grooming her and she was standing there with her head lowered enjoying the attention and Irish was eating hay in the stall. I was brushing out her tail when all of a sudden there was a loud BANG of Irish kicking thew wall and then bolting out into the field. Both Carmen and I leapt a few feet into the air. I just had time to think Oh No, she's going to bolt but she didn't. She did a bit of prance with her feet and then stopped and looked at me wide eyed.
Carmen What the heck was that? 
Me: I think the cat in the rafters startled him. 
Carmen: sigh
Me: exactly. 
And I resumed my grooming while she went back to dozing. Inwardly I was gleeful. Her not running away when she could was huge.

I like to track when I ride on the calendar. That helps me to stay honest with myself about how much schooling I'm actually doing. All I do is mark 'R' on the calendar in red marker. If there's something exceptional I will make a note but mostly I don't. Usually the 'exceptional' stuff finds its way into my blog. The week of March 7-13 was great- I actually got to ride 5 times. This week between work and the weather I only managed to ride today.

Before that I was out puttering around the barn when I saw Irish go into alert mode. I looked to see what he was looking at and then I heard it. I couldn't figure out what it was until it came around the bend of the road. It was a child driving a small toy car, with her parents (I think a girl, it was hard to tell from so far away), followed by 2-3 teenagers and about 3-4 dogs. I may have the numbers wrong but it looked like a parade. I waved to them and turned back to Irish. He was prancing and trotting and getting agitated. Carmen watched them alertly but didn't move. I didn't get video of Irish running around but I did get this:

What I love is that she's quiet and quite clearly looking to me for direction. Not Irish. Irish is looking at me too but is pretty sure that he's telling me that it's the zombie apocalypse and we should flee.  I told them it was a parade. 

I knew right then that I was going to have a good ride. 

Thursday, March 17, 2016


Since I wrote the post about selling my little red wagon I've been doing some research and thinking about horse trailers. There's been a lot to think about.

I realized that buying a trailer is a lot like buying a horse:
1.  First you think about what you want it for. I wanted to go to a few shows, some clinics and maybe some fun weekends away. Most of the shows I will attend are overnight but there are options for places to stay.

2. How often will you be using it? It would be somewhere around a dozen times. Possibly more than 10 but not likely. Once I retire it may go up quite a bit but I'll cross the bridge when I get there.

3. Separating the 'nice to haves' from the 'must haves'

4. Budget. The most limiting thing of all.

There are many choices even given the results of the above. My choices were based on my preferences. I know that there are lots of opinions and I like to think that any really bad option in horse trailers has been eliminated. That leaves it up to personal choice.

I was leaning towards a Bumper pull rather than a Goose Neck. Mostly because Ed was not keen on putting in the hitch ('what, you want to put a hole in the truck?').  I know it gains me more space in the trailer but it takes away space in the truck bed. And I've never pulled a GN before. So I decided that I would stick to a bumper pull.

Slant load vs Straight. I looked at research and did some pondering, knowing my horses. Most of the slant loads I saw here I was worried that the only way to get to the front horse is to remove the back horse. I also worried that if I had to stop suddenly they have nothing to brace on. So I was leaning towards the straight loads.

Step up vs ramp load. I know it's easy for a horse to step up but I've seen some issues with backing out of a step up. But horses can get used to them easily.

Given that I live in a small, rural province (we only have one 'city') there's not a lot of choices in horse trailer shopping.

I never appreciated that before.

There wasn't anything used that fit my bill and I didn't want to drive for 800 km to look at a potential used trailer.

There is a dealer in a couple hours that carries three brands of trailers: Merhow, Frontier and Exiss. I liked all of them on the internet but I needed to go see and touch them. So last week Ed, Cynthia and I went on a road trip to check out the trailers.

Turns out there was only one straight load on the property and it was sold. But I had a chance to look at the slant loads to see what I thought and I could still see the quality of the work. Looking at the slant loads and I could see that Irish would probably not do well in them. I think he would feel confined. And I wasn't sure if, when Carmen filled out, she would fit comfortably. They did have one extra long slant but I still liked the straight load that I saw.

In the end I ordered a straight load, bumper pull Exiss with a small dressing room. It's being built right now and I should have it soon in a few weeks. Here's some of  what I liked:
1. the body is insulated
2. the aluminium 'skin' on it is a thicker grade then the others
3. the quality of the hardware really impressed me.
4. I like the quality of the rubber.
5. it comes with locks for all doors on the trailer.
6. It has a screen door in the dressing room
7. nice size windows for the horses with their own vents
8. I liked that it was white and how nice and airy it was inside.

This is photo of what I ordered:

I can't wait for it to come. I have serious plans for this baby.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Irish Spring

With the promise of spring all of the residents of Oakfield Farm are feeling more energized.

Except for Martin.
He maintains that same level of cool no matter the season.
photo from last year. alas, my grass is not quite as green yet
The rest of us though are finding the ambition that was sadly lacking in the dead of winter. For me, this means riding.  It is time for Carmen and I to shed the hay bellies and get back into shape.

Saturday, Cynthia's daughter came out and rode Irish while I rode Carmen. It was good for Carmen- we would work and then I would stop and stand in the middle giving some advice to her and then we would go back to work. I must say that she adjusted to that quite well. It's all part of getting her used to how things may go in a show- warm up, wait, show, repeat. I was pleased with how she was able to stand and relax and go to work and tune into me. And she did. In the end we had some truly nice canter-trot-canter transitions.  t was good for me too- I'm learning how to make my intentions clear and I'm getting more relaxed and less wary with our rides.

Irish was having a lot of fun too. At first he was a bit sluggish- which is to be expected of an 16 year old arthritic horse who's had the winter off. But as Ashley worked with him he began to become positively perky. She did a great job getting him supple and bending. I watched him canter along and realized that his heart was writing a check that his body couldn't cash so we finished on a good note to help him feel good about himself.

He spent the rest of the day napping.

The next day Cynthia came out to ride. Sunday was warm (well warm for March in Canada) but it was quite blustery. As you may recall, Carmen does not care for wind- we have our most spooks when it's windy. I watched her and Irish out in the field periodically scooting around. Irish's tail was flagged quite a bit. I would go outside and Carmen would look at me pointedly My blanket is flapping and it's bugging me. DO SOMETHING. 

When Cynthia came we got them tacked up. Irish was restless in his stall. Carmen and I went up to ring first and when I looked down he was positively prancing beside her. Carmen however, went between being focussed and a bit distracted at things blowing around. However, when we seemed to be in a good spot I took off her lunging equipment and headed to the mounting block. Irish was being a bit tight but pretty okay.

Carmen alerted and when I looked and saw people walking down the road. I warned Cynthia so she was aware. Carmen was unable to focus at the mounting block so rather then get on I walked away and had her do some in hand work to get her brain back on me. It didn't take too long. Irish meanwhile was being a bit wound up. I got on and Carmen and I went to work.

After a few minutes I realized that Irish was spiralling mentally. I am quite familiar with that with him and I put Cynthia to work on some exercises to get his brain back on her. Essentially it consists of lots of random circles and changes in direction so he has to pay attention to his rider. He was being quite foolish about the whole thing and I considered dismounting and getting on him but Cynthia was handling him quite well.

I was concerned that Carmen might join in with him and then the fun would really begin. But she didn't. Not that she wasn't thinking about it. we could have gone there very easily. But I stayed relaxed (mostly) and kept her working with me. Not that we didn't have some discussions. We did. I was trying to spiral in on a circle and leg yield out. She was  getting a bit confused and when she's confused she gets pissed off. Now that I know that I can work her through it by tackling the confusion.

While our physical work was not as good as the day before I was thrilled with our mental work. She stayed with me despite the wind and despite Irish reliving his salad days.  I overheard Cynthia saying to Irish 'it's pretty bad when the 6 year old is better behaved than the 16year old!'

In the end she stood up at one end with one leg cocked and her head lowered while Irish was still working away enthusiastically. It was obvious that she wanted no part of the shenanigans.

never underestimate the redheads

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Happy Birthday Carmen

Carmen is 6 years old today. 

Carmen as a baby. How adorable is this? 
She's definitely growing up.
look at her compared to her dam in size! 
 PRE horses mature a little more slowly. She starting to fill out. She should be done by the time she's 7.

From April 2015

I can definitely see a change in her- she's filling out and graying out quite a bit. I love her dapples and wish that they would stay!  It's hard to tell but she's more muscle and bone then before. 
February 2016. (There's no snow now)

I find her to be much more mature- less like a hormonal teenager and more like a young adult. Of course that may all change once she starts her heat cycles. Diet probably plays a role too- I have her on a high fat and fibre diet and no grain. 

She's definitely braver than last year. For example, yesterday I took down the snow fence. I took out the shorter one first and they were in their field. When I went to get the longer Irish and Carmen were in the small paddock by the barn. I had to walk through there with the fence. It was long and awkward so I had it as a big bundle of orange plastic and yellow sticks. It made a lot of noise as I walked. I figured she would take off but instead she watched me and then followed me as a I left. Rather than freaking out she was curious. Our rides continue to go really well and I'm happy to have her in my life. I think she's happy with me too.

Happy Birthday Carmen! Today we will celebrate with cookies (oh and riding). 

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Ride For the Horse You Want

First of all thank you for all the feedback about trailers. My head is spinning with all the things to consider. I hope to go looking tomorrow (weather permitting).

In the meantime spring appears to be springing. When I compare it to this time last year I am very happy.
February 2015

We had a bit a storm last weekend but it didn't stick around. Tuesday was a lovely and balmy day so I decided to ride. Carmen was obviously a bit energetic but very well behaved. As I lunged her she was quite looky. As we went down to the far side of the ring I asked her to pick up a canter which she did. Something spooked her and she bolted. The speed and way that she moved jerked the lunge line out of my hands. This spooked her further and she started to run. Calmness is essential in this situation - the worst I could do is run at her trying to grab her. Instead  I simply moved to block her in the corner keeping my body language relaxed and low key. She stopped but I could see she was tightly wound. I waited, not moving until I saw her relax a bit and then I walked slowly to her and gathered up the lunge line.
Carmen: you dropped me!
Me: yes I know. I'm very sorry and I'll be more careful. 

We did some more lunging and she was a bit excited. I figured that I would lunge and maybe not ride. But within a few minutes she seemed really calm, so I decided to ride.

She now stands perfectly still at the mounting block and waits for me to signal that it's time to move. As I rode her I could feel tension in her body. I kept working her but she was stiff and tight. I realized that she felt like a powder keg.

I then realized that I was riding her like she was a powder keg.

I gave myself a mental shake. Ride for the horse you want.  I told myself. And by that I don't mean to ignore how she feels but rather to not make how she feels the focus. Instead I began to focus on the exercise: what I had been riding for was a circle that didn't end in a spook. Instead I began to ride for a round circle. And as we progressed she began to relax. And relax.

We didn't do anything big, just circles and changing of direction and transitions. I didn't ride long because we're just getting back into it. But I was pretty happy with her and she never spooked.

 I rode again on Thursday. Again she was a bit excited- especially over the bits of snow that along the edge of the ring. She was not trusting those at all.

When I mounted we went to work and I started off focussing on her hind end and where I wanted it to be rather than worrying about her head. As we went along she began to blow and relax and I felt her become interested in the work. That was a first. She has argued with me, tolerated me and listened to me but never has she seemed really interested. I don't know how else to explain it. We did transitions with minimal fuss and we did a lot of work up by Troll corner with no dramatics.  I realized that I had been going for a while (totally lost track of time) and that she was a bit sweaty and puffy. We are both in winter shape. I let her walk on a long rein and she stretched down and marched out.

It will be interesting to see if we can keep this as she starts to cycle through her heats but I feel that I have a much better handle on things this year.
February 2016

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Trailer Shopping

It's weird how things work out. I don't ascribe to the 'everything happens for a reason' but sometimes things happen in very weird ways.

When I was making my plans to start showing Steele I decided that I wanted to sell my trailer and get something larger. I had a nice little tag along European trailer. It was great to have and easy to haul:

However, I was getting tired of having to find places to change at horse shows. It was either in a stall and I had to keep an eye out so I didn't traumatize any innocent horse show dads/boyfriends/male riders; or it was in a bathroom stall and I had to be careful to not drop my stock tie pin in the toilet (don't ask what happens if you do drop it, some things are better left unknown). I decided that I wanted a trailer that would allow me to get dressed in privacy and reduce the visual carnage on others.

I listed the trailer and had ZERO interest. A couple tire kickers contacted me but they were not serious. Then Steele died. I did have someone contact me after he died and I think that they were serious but I wasn't in a position financially to upgrade (with replacing him and all the expenses that came with his death) so I took it off the market.

I used it last year and started saving. It was fine because Carmen and I weren't ready to show. I started thinking that I should list it this spring when I was contacted by a person I knew who had heard I might be considering selling. I gave her information and next thing I knew I had a deal. In the same time I had a few other inquiries. And it wasn't even listed. It seems weird that it sold as easy as that.

So my little red wagon left yesterday. It's gone to a good home but I did feel a pang when it left. I remember getting it and how thrilled I was to have my own wheels. Irish and Carmen watched it go from the top of the field.
Carmen: What's she doing with the trailer? 
Irish: don't even look. If you make eye contact they think that you want to go on it. Next thing you know you're on the road. 
Carmen: Good point. We should stay up here. 
Irish: Exactly. Just close your eyes and pretend to sleep. 
Carmen & Irish: zzzzzzzzzzz
Irish: stop peeking! 
Carmen: sorry. 

Now I have to find something to replace it. Here's the dream:
It would be incredible to have a trailer with living quarters. But it's not in the budget (at this point) and it's probably not really necessary for my plans. Although I could make the field of dreams argument: if I had it I would travel more. But it's still not in budget.

So dressing room for sure. And I think I want bumper pull because I've never driven a 5th wheel. Slant load? Straight load? How to decide? My first steps will be to go take a look and see what's out there.

What do you have and why do you love it?

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

In Which Carmen is Naughty

I was still pretty happy after my ride on Saturday. And even more excited to repeat it all the next day. Carmen was lovely- floaty, responsive, NOT WORRIED. There were a few small hesitations when she checked things out but nothing even remotely concerning. She caught on to the leg yielding quicker this time and we were able to work on transitions of trot to canter and trot again with no dramtics.

After our ride she hung out with me in the barn while Irish napped in the field.

The next day the farrier was coming to do both horses. I told him to let me know when he was coming to my place (you can't really plan a scheduled time) and to start with Irish so that I could be there to hold Carmen.

I arrived home and threw on my boots and a coat and headed to the barn. Irish was in the cross ties. Carmen was in her stall looking rebellious and both Ed and Paul (farrier) were looking unimpressed.

Irish: Hi! You missed all the excitement. 

It seems that what happened was when Paul arrived Irish came down to greet him. This got Carmen's knickers in a knot and she spent the next 10 minutes getting in between Ed, Paul and Irish and herding Irish away. My imagination has it something like this:

Irish: Oh, look. There's my poidatrist. Time to get my feet done.
Carmen (squinting suspicously): That's a STRANGER! Stay away. 
Irish: no. It's fine. See, it's the male servent too.
Carmen: SHE's not here. I don't think you should go.

After a few minutes of running, bucking and cursing and the use of bribery Irish was finally captured and things calmed down. Ed reported that Carmen had her head so high he couldn't get her halter on. I think he used carrots to finally get it on.

I felt like a parent who's child has just thrown a tantrum in the store. I looked at Carmen.
Carmen: Don't look at me like that. They started it and you WEREN'T HERE! 

Carmen's 'not impressed' face

When it was her turn I brought her out. She threw her head up and looked at me.
Me: there's no need for that. 
And she came out and stood calmly while her feet were done. However, he is not a fan of hers at the moment. When he looked at her, her ears went back (not pinned just back) and when he turned away they went forward. I know that she is wary of people she doesn't know and is a bit slow to warm up so he doesn't see the sweet horse that I often do (the one who nuzzles me and watches me whereever I am).

At first I thought that I need to do more work bringing Irish in without her. But the truth is that I do that all the time and never experience such behaviour. I can use a lead rope around his neck and he walks along like a lamb and she doesn't get in my way.

So what I need is someone to come and take Irish out that isn't me.

Any volunteers???