dancing horses

dancing horses

Friday, June 23, 2023

Ticking Along- Quaid Update

 I realise that I've been a little quiet on the Quaid front and figured an update would be good.  

hello my peeps

The most important thing is that he continues to be sound. Before we went to the obstacle clinic  the farrier was out and shod both of them. Quaid no longer needed the medical plate. Instead he put on a leather pad and put a gel substance in between to make sure no rocks get in and cause more damage. The farrier told me that if he didn't know the history he would be tempted to cut out the opening and let it heal. As you can see it's growing towards the toe. He had to take off a lot of sole because he's been leaving it to let it fill in. 

healing nicely. You may recall that the original hole
was right in front of the point of the frog. 

I'd like to transition him back to barefoot when the hole is healed. My farrier said 'check with your vet'. Which I will but if the hole is gone I'm not sure why not. 

The other good news is that he's acting more like his old self. Not as guarded as before. Although the first time I gave him a bite of apple he spat it out. I'm pretty sure he thought I was trying to sneak some medicine. And he was a little more difficult to deworm.  By 'difficult' I mean I had to do a little manoeuvring in his stall before I could deworm him without a halter. 

I've been working him fairly regularly. Right before the show he went onto the back burner so I could work with Carmen. But now that the show is over we can resume normal programming. He likes to have things done with him even if he doesn't like everything I do right away. 

As a gelding he has a habit of picking everything up in his mouth. If it's a flappy thing he ends up scaring himself. I had made a note of that but hadn't really tackled it. Until one day he came into the barn to visit me while I was doing chores and picked up my jacket that I had absentmindedly put on the stall door. I heard the commotion and saw him with his jaw clamped on beginning to panic a bit ( just in case you don't know- horses that are scared clamp their jaws tight so he couldn't let go of the thing that was scaring him). Carmen came and looked at him and said 'nope, I'm out' and left. He ran out into the paddock and dropped the jacket in a big muddy puddle and stomped it for good measure as he ran off. *sigh*

As I picked up the dripping jacket I decided it was time to tackle it. So I've been working with an old saddle pad and allowing him to play with it. He can't hurt himself with it and I don't care if it gets ripped. I've hung it around his stall and have started taking it up to the ring. It really didn't take long for him to stop caring. 

Quaid: I am so brave

After he gets used to this I'm going to see if I can teach him to pick it up and give it to me. That could be a useful trick. 

I try to mix up the sessions with old and new but not repeat the same session over and over. Instead I might work on ground driving one day and then carrying a saddle another.  He's doing really well with the ground driving. Despite my lack of skill in this area. I've started to set up cones and poles so I can practice actually steering. 

Right now the reins are fastened to the rings on his rope halter. The problem is that the nose of the halter is so loose I think I'm losing the fine tuning. I will start with them on the bit soon but I want to work a bit more with him understanding bit pressure first. 

We've also been working on teaching him to pony. He's doing okay with it.
here Julia is practicing with ponying

 Recently he started to bite at Carmen so that has needed some correction before things get ugly. I've noticed overall that he's a bit more saucy with her in the field. He'll be like 'Imma  bite you'. Carmen remains unimpressed and simply pins an ear or cocks a leg at him 'come at me skippy. Let's see what happens'  and he backs off.  

I was doing it the other day and tried to change directions and he got very upset at being on the 'outside' and moved to be on the inside. I want him to be able to stay on one side so we stopped and thought for a bit. I then had Julia lead him beside us on the left, first on the inside and then on the outside when we changed direction. I could see the wheels turning. I then asked for the lead back and off we went. My goal would be to take him out on the trail ponying with Carmen but we need to work out the kinks in the ring first. 

This is where experienced trainers may be rolling their eyes at me and for good reason. But I don't have the budget to send him for 6 months, even if I wanted to. His good nature makes it easier to stop and think things through. 

The other day was a practice with the saddle day. I put it on up in the ring. He really doesn't mind it going on and the girth tightening. When I ask him to move out on the lunge you can see him thinking it through and trying to figure out how to move with this on. He's not moving as free but he isn't objecting either. After a bit I lowered the stirrups so that they bounced against his side. He was, again, curious but not worried. After working on the lunge I brought him over to practice lining up to the block. He does well with this. I then began to put weight in the stirrup and lean over his back. He was to all appearances, bored. He didn't even fidget. 

I am happy with how things are going. I know that the vet says to wait to start him. He's looking a lot more mature so I may rethink this in the fall. 

Me: Hey Quaid please pose for a conformation shot
Quaid: fine, but I will hold my lead line. Safety first

Friday, June 16, 2023

The Fun Stuff

 It's no secret that I like to show. But not for the reasons that you might think. I don't go to shows for all the shiny ribbons and accolades. I do like the feedback and that it really hones in on what is firmly established, developing and really tenuous. 

But mostly I go for the socialisation. 

I love having my horses home but it can make it a bit lonely by times. I do like getting together with other people who are happy to talk about horses just like me. 

And I show with a great group of people. We were all there for each other: reading tests, encouraging each other and helping with all the minutia required at a horse show. 

both horses were great, and Carmen didn't really 
need me to hold her while they were out grazing. 

As with any social endeavour food plays a big role.  Friday night we all go out to a local pub: The Spitfire Grill. It is always delicious. 

Saturday night is pizza night. We order from Magic Pizza (OMG it's so good) and eat in the barn. 

as you can see I totally suck at selfies. I blame my age.

In the warm up ring people are being very encouraging. When riders pass each other going into the ring they wish each other luck or ask how the ride went. Going with Julia made is a lot more fun. She was, of course, a big help. But she also brought snacks and a good sense of humour. 

Quaid and Julia during the ribbon ceremony
Can you bear the cuteness of his expression? 

Shows can be really stressful and make you question all of your life choices. But, if you find a group of people like I have, it can be a lot of fun. 

I mean what else would I do with my time (and money)? 
I'm looking forward to showing both of them

Monday, June 12, 2023

Carmen the Magnificent Strikes Again- show Recap

If you are following along, last weekend I took Carmen to a dressage show and Quaid came along as a learning experience.  The nice thing about being retired is that I could pack up the trailer and get things organised at a more leisurely pace then when I tried to do it all in one day. 

Carmen and I were assigned a warm up time in the show ring at 1:00 on Friday so I left around 10:00. It's about a 90 minute trailer ride and I wanted time to get everyone settled. After loading Carmen I worked a bit with Quaid to get him to self-load. After a little hesitation and some questions he walked on.  The ride was uneventful and the horses were in their stalls by 11:45. 

Quaid: what are you guys talking about?
Can I have snacks? Guys? GUYS?!

The warm up went well. Jane was also in at the same time and I had told her that I was not expecting her to coach me. Of course when she saw things she couldn't help giving advice but it was really helpful and built on our lesson from Thursday. I was quite happy with my ride and felt that we had done all we could to be ready. 

I actually felt prepared for Saturday and my nerves really began to settle. With the new jacket I actually had two show outfits to wear so decided to wear the jacket Saturday and the vest on Sunday when it was to be warmer. 

screen grab of the coat and matching saddle pad

I have to say that the jacket was incredibly comfortable and breathable. I could move without restrictions and that makes me happy. 

In our warm up on Saturday Carmen started off really good and then spied a garbage can painted like a cow and decided that it was clearly dangerous. In the past that would have led to a real discussion and probably me avoiding it. But armed with my plan I worked us through it. I did not buy into the garbage can being a thing of danger. I let her relax by it but also when I asked her to bend I insisted and did not let her run sideways. You can think me mean for that but I know that once Carmen sets the agenda of where she will go it is the path to hell. Also, given that she was willing to stand by it on a loose rein I filed it under avoidance rather than fear. Same for the far end by the traffic. 

When it was time to go in the ring I felt ready. I'll share my test videos, not that you have to watch them all (unless you have insomnia). My goals for the show were to ride a solid test in our second level debut and keep Carmen listening to me. I didn't want to freeze or become tight and tense. 

I was so happy with this test. We had an issue with the counter canters- but it wasn't really difficulty with the movement: canter to B, CC to P. Carmen decided that she didn't like that area of the ring and backed off and broke. But other than that I was happy. 

Julia took the video and shared that she noticed when Carmen backed off cantering the half-diagonal I curled up and didn't really help her. My next ride was 30 minutes later so I didn't dismount.  Instead I walked her and then went back to work. I practiced sitting up and actually, you know, riding the movement. 

And guess what? It worked. I was much more effective. I was so happy with both tests, feeling like we were working together. My marks were both in the low 60's and quite accurate given our ride. I don't know how to say how happy that made me. 

I was excited for Sunday, although I did have a little voice that said 'you know that she's usually worse on day 2 right?'.  Instead of ignoring that voice, I decided to recognise that there was truth in that. And also to recognise that I had the tools and plan to manage it. 

Carmen was fairly mellow Sunday in the stall and out for the handwalking/grazing. My warm up was pretty similar to the day before. The garbage can barely registered. Another horse having some difficulty registered but only in the sense of her not liking any other horse in her space. 

when we went in Carmen asked me a couple questions. Including trying a big spook at A. Instead of curling up and being defensive I sat up and gave her a boot with the inside rein. And that was the end of A being dangerous. 

Before we went into our last test I leaned forward and whispered 'remember you are magnificent. let's go show them'

At the end of the second ride I almost gave a cheer. When I came out I decided to try something I had never been brave enough to do before: ride Carmen back to the barn. This required us to leave the horses, walk behind the arena by a bunch of cement blocks, equipment and such. She was perfect. 

all smiles at the end of the show. 

I hosed Carmen off and went back to watch other rides. All on cloud 9. I felt that I had smashed my goals. I sat beside Julia and she asked what did your test sheet say?  
I don't know' I said, I didn't even think of it. Because to be honest, it really didn't matter. And I meant that. For the first time I wasn't worried about what the judge thought. But I went and picked them up. My scores were very similar to the day before and some nice positive comments from the judge. 

Also came home with some pretty satin

Three weeks ago I was thinking that I wasn't going to go. Now I'm so glad that I did. Carmen asked me lots of questions and I was able to answer them effectively. She responded to that very well and became more relaxed not agitated. 

It was not easy. In fact it took attention, persistence and was physical. But the result was totally worth it. 

And I don't mean the satin. 

Thursday, June 8, 2023

Mamma Mia, Here We Go Again!

 Mamma Mia, Here I go again

My, my, how can I resist you?

Mamma Mia does it show again

Just how much I missed you? 

Tomorrow Carmen, Quaid, Julia and I are headed to a dressage show. Well, Carmen and I are showing. Julia and Quaid are hanging out. Quaid will be Carmen's emotional support pony and Julia will be mine. The truck and trailer are packed and ready to go. Tomorrow I'l throw the last few things and head out. 

essential packing companions: beer and music

I had a lesson today to review the warm up. It was great. Carmen was tight and I was happy to work through this with Jane as that's what is likely to happen at the show.  Jane showed no mercy getting us to work and for me to be clear in my aids. 

No holding, or freezing or negotiating. 

Just sit up and let Carmen know I'm here for her and we're going to be awesome. 

I have no big expectations for satin at this show. I just want to lay down and consistent and reasonable tests.  I want to ride a warm up that helps her to show off just how magnificent she can be. 

In other news,  I was looking through the cupboard and found this hat I bought at the Spanish Riding School in Vienna a few years ago. I totally forgot I bought it. 

the new lucky hat 

After the lesson I gave Carmen a bath. I let them in the back pasture thinking she wouldn't find a way to get dirty. I was wrong. So I decided that desperate times call for desperate measures. 

Carmen: you are so getting bucked off

It's going to be so much fun though. There will be a great group of people showing too so we should have a good time. 

Wish us luck. 

Saturday, June 3, 2023

Good Intentions and All That

 It all started with a lunch date. 


My dear friend Karen was coming to Halifax and we arranged to meet for lunch. Right before we firmed up our plans I saw that Greenhawk had fly spray on sale. 

Karen is also a crazy dedicated horse person so we arranged to meet at the tack shop and then go for lunch. I told Ed our plans. 

Ed: 'what are you getting at the tack shop?'

Me: 'fly spray, it's on sale and I want to stock up'

I am sure that you know where this is going......

Karen and I met at the store and started chatting as we looked around. When I walked in I spied this mug and grabbed it: 

My daughter had bought me this a few years ago and it was my favourite mug. Then Ed dropped it and it broke. I missed that mug so clearly I had to have it. 

I also grabbed the fly spray. 

And a sparkly dressage whip. 

All the while showing Karen things she should definitely consider buying. 

Karen spied some lovely tops and I also loved them so I had to try it on: 

IKaren spied some show coats

Karen "look they are made of mesh now. What a great idea!"

Me:  "I wish we'd get rid of coats altogether (old rant of mine). The ONLY coat I'd ever consider buying is a Burgundy one, I love the idea of colour instead of black." I should explain that Burgundy is one of my favourite colours. 

A few minutes later Karen nudged me 'look!'

There was a sales person showing me a burgundy, lightweight, mesh show jacket by Kerrits. 

Me:"...... but"

Karen: "well you did say Burgundy. And look it's light" 

Sales person is a bright cheery voice "it's in the clearance rack and will look great on you"

I checked the size- Large. Damn, my size. 

I checked the tag- a ridiculously low number. Damn again. 

Me (ungraciously): 'Fine, I'll try it on'

The shirt fit perfectly, it was light and airy and was also medium so it made me feel good. In it went to the purchase pile. 

I eyed the jacket. Not sure if I wanted it to fit or not. 

It fit. I walked out and Karen and the sales person assured me I looked great. 

Me: I have a saddle pad that matches this colour.....

And that's how I ended up with a burgundy show jacket: 

It's more burgundy than the picture shows

That matches my saddle pad: 

I did put back the sparkly dressage whip. 

'Cause, you know, I am a responsible person. 

Lunch was excellent too. We shared a brownie and ice cream for dessert. 

When I got home Ed said 'what did you buy at the tack shop'

'Flyspray!' I said brightly. Technically accurate. 

He walked away muttering "fly spray cost $$$??! I don't think so"

Ah well. 

You only live once. The coat, along with the matching pad, will be making its debut at the show next week.