December 06, 2011

Swing that Butt!!

So there are bad days riding and good days riding.  Still any day at the stable is a good day overall.  I have of late felt down on the riding, I’ve had a few bumps in the road with fears that I still have to deal with but I know in time I can get there.
Pstar and Brownie in the pasture

The last riding lesson I had was Monday Nov. 28th after work.  The day temperatures were nice and sunny, of course when I left work at 4pm the sun was already setting behind the mountains as per this time of year.  When I got out to the stable I turned on the lights as I made my way back to the tacking area.  I still had my clothes on from work so quickly changed into my jods, boots, shirt etc.  Then I opened the garage bay door to head out to the field and get Divine.

The wind was horrendous!  Divine didn’t seem to bothered that I was bringing her inside since she probably knew it would be nicer in there.  Grooming and tacking her up in the relatively warm barn was difficult as usual.  Divine has the habit of not staying put where she’s tied.  She swinging her body into the barn aisle and I had to keep backing her up, around the corner tie and into place.  She was driving me nuts!  On a lighter note though I had a slightly better bridling experience with her.  She lowered her head and didn’t fight as much.  Only issue was when she opened her mouth at the same time she also swung her muzzle away from my hand that was supporting the bit about to go in her mouth.  It took a couple tries but eventually she was bridled.
Not so clean Eksodus was chilly so I'm sure my nose
wasn't too dry either!

The riding lesson itself was off the lungeline.  I was surprised since I felt like we’d do some canter try outs again but perhaps Laurie is wanting me to not get frustrated, throw in a few lessons where I feel more comfortable so they aren’t all “tiring, facing my fear” type of lessons!  Anything that is difficult it is best to take in little steps and not thoroughly concentrate on the task 100% of every lesson so I wasn’t disappointed.  I did trot work and circles on Divine.  I worked with her on her trouble areas where she fought to go through the door out of the arena back to the barn and where she tried to stop or walk in the corners instead of keeping her bend and circling like I was trying to ask.  It was a lot of work for me too trying to keep her impulsion up and then either posting or sitting the trot correctly and balanced.  It felt good and little successes made me happy

Next we worked on a serpentine at the trot and then the walk.  The walk serpentine had an extra task of moving her hindquarters, yielding them, around the turn.  It was fun and took a lot of concentration to keep her in the path I wanted.  If I didn’t let up with one leg or keep a wall with the other, or keep the right amount of pressure on the bit at the right time Divine would walk through my aids and side step down the arena instead of getting back on track with the serpentine.  I was worn out.
I love the smell of hay!

Later after the lesson and Divine was all groomed up and untacked she got a nice meal of hay in a warm stall.  I love the sound of horses munching on hay!  Glad to have a good lesson again!  Perhaps next time I’ll have some confidence to go with the canter again, we’ll see what Laurie has planned!

December 05, 2011

Horse Slaughter Legalized in U.S.

The past five years there has been a ban on legal horse slaughter in the U.S.  I didn't realize it'd only been for that short time, I thought it had been decades.  Of course slaughter has occurred, horses have been sent to Mexico or Canada.

I never, ever want to send an animal I have loved dearly to the slaughter house, nor do I want to place an animal in a situation where I won't know it's fate.  I want to keep my horse for life, if I can but I know realistically that a lot of people can't do that...who knows something drastic could happen in my life and I wouldn't be able to continue to keep my horse.  Life changes and if someone is faced with a job loss, foreclosure, and supporting their family...pets will go by the wayside.  Hopefully that person will find a good home for their horse or find a rescue to help them.  Unfortunately others can't stand to part with their horse and many are left to starve on the sparse pastures we have here in Colorado.

So this blog is about questions.

Will legalizing horse slaughter prevent slow, cruel deaths to horses?

Will it create a better slaughter house environment compared to the slaughter houses in Mexico that horses were exported to?

If there are local slaughter houses will there be regulations on the transport and slaughter practices?

Will a rancher or horse owner, down on their luck, be more likely to sell, give away, euthanize or send a horse to slaughter?

Is horse ownership verified before some of these sales to slaughter houses?

Do we need to worry about our mustangs?  What about our herds of horses in the fields?

This is a tricky issue from many angles. 

I eat meat, I eat cows, lambs, pigs, etc.  Other countries hold the cow sacred.  Other countries eat dog and cat meat.  Where do you draw the line?  Who are we to say but animal can be killed for food and what animal cannot?  Is it the type of animal that is most distressing?  Is it the endangered status (um that ones a no brainer I think!)?  Is it how the animal is killed (quickly vs. bleeding out)?  If an animal is humanely taken care of and then humanely killed I don't find an issue with it, in general.  But, I could never eat a dog, cat or a horse.  I just couldn't.  The thought makes me sick.  But I have to remember that same thought is one Indians have about eating cows, it makes them sick.

I do strongly believe though that these auctions with under nourished horses that have obviously been neglected should be fined, the sellers tracked down and animal should be starved or mistreated like that.  Sure maybe the horse will be killed quickly just like cows in a slaughterhouse but can we really advocate the inappropriate treatment at any time, of any animal, no matter it's fate?

These questions really make me sick.  I love horses and would never want to have one of mine or ones I've known killed for meat, even if it is done quickly and humanely.  Period.  But what about all the other horses? 

What are peoples opinions?

Coiled Like a Spring

I had a lesson the day after Thanksgiving. I was tense. Really tense. Laurie had me on the lungeline and the thought was to try the canter out. I guess the thought of it had me really tense.

Sometimes I wonder if I just have issues trusting Divine and she certainly picks up on those feelings. She tends to be reactive to everything I do wrong. I lose a stirrup, it bumps her, she’ll jump. She “shies” at something I’m not even sure of what! It’s hard sometimes, I lose confidence on her when she gets upset because I am not leaning the right way or I’m tense. I have to admit it gets frustrating! On the other side of the coin though the challenge of Divine is that she will tell me what I’m doing wrong…and theoretically I should know what I’m doing wrong and fix it. It’s a lot of pressure thinking about it you know?
Eksodus mug shot!

She’s a pretty good horse for learning on but I think at this stage in my life I enjoy a horse that I can relax around a little more. Sometimes I really feel about of control with her. Grooming and tacking up she still doesn’t stay still, I have to keep moving her back to where she needs to stand. It’s exhausting! But I guess she’s good to learn on, it will give me patience and small problems that occur with my future horse might not seem as big. It can just be pretty frustrating to learn on a very sensitive horse. I have good days and then I have bad.

Towards the end of the lesson at least I started to relax more and Divine was going better. I can be a sensitive person, I think a good match for me would be a horse that is easy going and not so sensitive. I don’t want anyone to think bad of Divine, she’s just a touchy type of horse.  Some riders really dig a sensitive horse, most top horses tend to be.  If I can ride her and ride her well I think I’ll be well on my way to being able to ride a lot of different types of horses.

November 27, 2011

Slow Motion

Nothing bothers me more than slow motion in a video of a horse that is for sale.  I want to see how a horse really moves please!

I know I'm 6-9 months away from when I really will start looking for my horse but I can't help but check out horses online and mark ads that interest me.  Here are four videos of horses I have dog earred in case they are still on the market when I start horse shopping.  The first one is a bit fishy, read below.  The first two show the types of videos that pretty much annoy me when trying to judge whether I have an interest in the horse.

This one below just drives me crazy!  Can't even watch the whole thing!  Plus he has a stripe and the picture of the horse in the ad doesn't...has the same sock pattern though.....that's a little fishy!

This one at least has the horse at regular speed so I can see how fast his trot and canter are.  The slow-mo is for artistic videos not a sales video, especially when showing a horse under saddle

I think this next video is pretty good.  The  camera quality  could be improved to get a better image but you can see the horse at all gaits, both ways and he fills most of the frame.  Isn't he to die for gorgeous!  Morgans are one the breeds I would certainly consider!

Promising young mare...
What are your thoughts on sales videos?  What do you like to see?  What do you not like to see?  Does it matter the purpose of the horse as to what type of video you'd like to see? Under saddle?  At liberty?

November 14, 2011

Courage and the Fear of Canter

“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear." ~Ambrose Redmoon

I think the hardest thing about fear is facing the fact that you indeed do have fear. I don’t want to be fearful and I don’t like the sense of being out of control, especially being a 30 something adult. I’ve cantered many times on Willy but have had a pretty big spill on him when his canter evolved into a fast gallop. The one time I tried to canter on Millie she did a swift right turn that I wasn’t expecting and then decided I would stay at other gaits with her and forego cantering for a while. Of course I never did end up cantering her!

Even though I had a spill on Willy I still did canters afterwards but stayed within the property boundaries where fences would stop him from the all out gallop. Thinking about it though, did I feel more secure in the canter because we were going up a hill usually rather than being on a flat surface? I know that trotting down a hill makes me a bit nervous, so cantering would as well. Going up a hill is perhaps easier to balance since I don’t feel the pull of gravity so much? Why is that?

I’ve made the thoughts up in my mind that when I cantered on Divine in the ring that one time that I was unseated because of cantering in a circle rather than in a straight line. Now I realize, especially after all this trot work, my seat gets tense in scary situations and that’s why I lose my balance. It had nothing to do with the situation. Even though I’ve had some nice canters on Willy that I enjoyed, there is still that fear deep in my subconscious that I need to bring forward and confront. I need to truly relax while riding and be able to ride up hills, in circles, on turns, straight-aways and yes maybe even down hills (though I wonder about speed and down hills on the poor horses joints!).

So today after I tacked up Divine, with more bridling issues (totally another blog post all together), I got ready to go into the arena with Laurie who had the lungeline out. She mentioned cantering a bit today and I felt my stomach jump at the thought.

We started to warm up with sitting trot and then posting trot. My legs still wiggled a bit during posting trot and Laurie had me work on that a bit. Then it was time to get in a few strides of canter. Laurie told me to hold onto the saddle if I wanted, which of course I did. With an English saddle it’s hard to hold onto it with my short arms, they are fully extended reaching the saddle and I wonder if it makes me tense up but I’m not going without holding on right now that’s for sure! The first couple times were pretty scary; one time around I freaked out and grabbed on really tight with both hands. I also lost my stirrups several times as my legs crept up from tension. Oh if I’d had a blood pressure cuff on!!

I was so scared and frustrated that the tears flowed; I felt so silly being an adult and crying like a baby from fear of a canter. Laurie understood and let us walk a little so I could calm down as she discussed that several bad falls can cause that fear and it’s natural. She related the scary fall Uschi had where she cracked her helmet when she fell. I luckily haven’t had that bad an accident but the fear is still there and is still very real. I doubt anyone who hasn’t had a fall can truly understand this concept.

As an adult I don’t have the “nothing can hurt me” mentality I did as a child. If I think back on my riding from childhood I don’t know if I ever had someone work with me on the painstaking task of seat and legs. I rode the canter and had fun but did have a few falls when things got a little scary. Perhaps I could never truly let go and relax back away from the scariness; grab a hold of my fear and settle back into the gait. That type of reaction is not “natural” so having someone work on me doing transitions, getting to the scary part and working through to a settled and “non-falling off” end is really important at this stage in my riding. I feel ridiculous crying about this fear and the frustration that “I can’t do this, it’s not difficult, what’s wrong with me” kind of thoughts.
I just have to realize that whether I like it or not, believe it or not my past falls from childhood and recent falls have stuck with me. It’s time I face up to those fears and take it from step one. Laurie is the best person to be able to help me through this. Look how far I have come with trotting, and sitting trot! I can’t fully xplain the feeling I have at the trot now compared to before. I feel very secure, sure there is room for improvement but I don’t feel a need to grab for the saddle, even when I can on the lungeline and completely hands free. My seat moves with the horse comfortably. I’m not quite as comfortable as I am at the walk, and who knows I may never be, since as gaits get faster there is always that “chance something could happen” in the back of my mind that I doubt will ever fully leave.

After the lesson I gave Laurie a big hug, still crying a little as I recovered being back on the safe ground again. I’ll get there, I will. Starting riding again in my 30’s is hard. I have the memories of the ease and fun of riding from childhood but I now realize that my technique was not sufficient back then and I was probably just blessed with the luck (or stupidity) of youth to not realize it! Now as a grounded adult taking some time to work hard at getting a solid seat and facing head on with my fears, will help me regain some of that ease and fun of riding I remember so fondly from childhood. Hindsight is always 20/20 isn’t it?

“Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I'll try again tomorrow.” ~Mary Anne Radmacher


It was a chilly day when I arrived to ride Divine. I had not been out in a while so I wasn’t sure what type of lesson to expect. Divine was a lot more fuzzy, I think horses look so cute when they get their winter woolies. I was running late for my lesson but a young girl, I honestly don’t remember her name, had her lesson before me but was still there with Divine.

Stay pony!
Since Divine had just been groomed I did a slow light grooming, flicking out dirt and loose hairs. Hoof picking is a little challenge with her front legs, she always tries to pull out of my hand so it takes twice as long to do a hoof! She was also watching as I started to bridle Divine since she was waiting for her father to get a jump for his car. I have a hard enough time figuring out how to get Divine compliant without having an audience but I knew she wasn’t hanging around for any reason other than to be around a horse. Eventually Divine was bridled and Laurie showed up so we headed to the arena.
Getting ready to bridle....uge

I was off the lungeline, which was fine. I enjoy those lessons a lot and feel that I’ve become steadier at the trot. I used to have my hand on the saddle for sitting trot on the lungeline and now I don’t think I do that barely at all! Today we worked on a serpentine so it was a constant change of direction at the trot. The goal was to keep Divine’s impulsion, collection and make the turns smoothly. I had a few issues with Divine trying to go left when I wanted her to go right. I need to become more aware of my weight distribution. I think I was leaning left those times and needed to give a clear leg and rein cue.

It was a tough lesson that wore me out. I went home to nap the rest of the afternoon! LOL.

November 13, 2011

Dover Saddlery in Parker Colorado!!!

Steve and I headed up one day to the Denver area to run some errands, get some beer brewing supplies that he was out of and then on the way back we swung by Dover Saddlery in Parker, CO!  I'm so excited to have a Dover Saddlery local to us since some of the items they sell I have not seen locally.  There is a lot more western style riding gear in Colorado Springs so I'm psyched to see Dover here.  This Christmas, anyone who asks what I want for Christmas the only thing I'm going to say is a Dover Saddlery Gift card.  Who knows, if everyone listens I could end up having a new saddle paid for before I even get my horse!  Of course I'm not buying the actual saddle until I have the horse since I want to fit it to him or her.

So we headed into Dover, I glanced at the shirts and jackets.  I so want one of those nice quilted looking jackets.  Some have a diamond pattern while one I saw had little horseshoes on it.  I thought it was very cute.  Steve commented about how there is not much clothing for men.  That's an interesting thought, where are we going to find riding gear for Steve?  There was a whole rack of helmets.  I eventually want to get another helmet at some point, one that is casual and more low profile, something that would work for trail riding.  I like the brown leather look Troxel helmet.  I love the one I have but I like variety too! 

The first saddle I get for my future horse will be a dressage saddle since I know I'll be doing a lot of arena work and I can still use the saddle for trail rides.  Eventually though I want to buy an Australian Stockman's Saddle from Down Under Saddlery, a local shop in the Denver area.  I just want to be cautious since a lot of times the Australian saddles throw your leg forward because of how you need to sit in them and I don't want that ruining the seat I'm working hard to obtain for dressage. 

Anyhow, Steve and I looked at all the racks of tack.  We pulled down a several saddles to try out.  I was interested in seeing the Wintec saddles in person.  I like the idea of a low maintenance saddle (no leather!) and the two Wintecs I've ridden in have been pretty comfortable to me.  I grabbed the dressage saddle I was liking from online, the Wintec Dressage 500.  It's made of Equileather, so it has a nice smooth surface instead of the mock suede that I've read tends to pill after use.  The twist was narrow and made me feel very secure and comfortable.  I liked it a lot.  I'm not sure if I would get a 17.5 or 18 inch size, I think the people at the store could help me determine the proper size.  The saddle is equipped with Cair which is supposed to be an equally distributing base so that there are fewer hotspots than with a normal stuffed/flocked saddle panel.  I also tried out a couple of the other Wintec saddles, the more expensive models and found them to be wider than I felt happy with. 

Steve also tried out some of the saddles and he seemed to like the general purpose 500 of Wintec best.  If he rides my horse he'll just have to deal with my saddle until he either gets his own saddle or own saddle/horse combo! 

We checked out some of the other gear they had such as blankets, saddle pads and bridles.  I'm pretty set on the Wintec Dressage 500 now, so glad I saw it in person.  I asked one of the show room people about fitting it to a horse and they have a trial option where you can buy the saddle and "try" it out.  It has to not show wear and tear or anything like that if you return it so I guess a very clean horse and limited riding to check the fit is all you can do.  The other good thing about the Wintec is the adjustable gullet.  You can fit the horse with the perfect fit over the withers and then as they build muscle or change as they age you can always adjust the saddle.  I'm pretty happy!  Can't wait to go shopping for my future horse!

Quintessential Arabians Client Appreciation Day

Wish I'd had my SLR camera to take nice silouhette
pictures of the mares in the paddock

Laurie had a get together for her clients and students in late September. It was a movie night and a tour of her new facility with a little show by each of the gorgeous stallions. It was neat to meet the other riders and see more of the facility than I have at just my lessons. Plus being able to get up close and personal with each stallion is fun since I tend to keep my distance, more so with Legs since he's very excitable. I’m usually the only one at the stable when I go out for a lesson at Laurie’s, well besides Laurie of course. When I could ride on Friday mornings I often rode before or after Uschi. It was nice to have that camaraderie, and watch another lesson since I learned a lot just from observing.

Ponies milling around

 Meeting the rest of the riding lesson gang was neat. Laurie often talks about her other students during lessons, what worked , what didn’t, and relating the same pitfalls we’ve all experienced so we know we are not alone in our challenges and fears. I felt like I already knew everyone in a sense! We walked around the property and viewed the future paddock for Gadiel. The property is fenced but some of it is unsafe fencing or fencing that is not proper for a stallion. Laurie and Dan have been working on getting the electrobraid up for the paddocks, it's certainly a huge task!

Pstar bing her sweet and beautiful self
The mares are in a smaller 3-5 acre paddock, it may be bigger I'm just guessing, that is adjacent to a larger paddock. They spend most of their time eating hay in the smaller paddock and are released into the larger one after their dinner is done. This prevents the larger paddock from getting over grazed or over run. The smaller paddock is what Laurie calls her “sacrifice” paddock. You can tell there has been a lot of hooves in this area as a lot of the grass right near the bottom of the field is pretty beat up; it’s best not to have the whole property get over run. I think Laurie has plans to rotate the paddocks to give each field relief from constant grazing and foot traffic. I would love to have that option when I buy some land!

I think this is Sala with Divine in the background

After the outdoor tour and playing with the mares in the paddock we headed to the barn for some stallion loving…um that sounds bad but I mean to say we got to cuddle the pretty boys. Then Laurie brought out Legs to play in the arena and later Gadiel, I think that was the order of stallion play. Gadiel is trained to rear on a cue, I seriously think he would be a great horse for a movie set! He was gorgeous! I couldn't help but verbalize my awe with a loud "Ooooh!"

Legs getting some petting from everyone
Next we headed into the house to watch a video about the history of the Polish Arabian horse. It was pretty interesting to see how many times the breed strain was threatened with "extinction". We learned about a lot of famous studs and mares that contributed to the Polish strain. The concept of the best representation of the Arabian breed was throughout the movie, it's not so important the strain. Breeders should strive for the best Arabian they can breed whether it's Polish, Russian, Crabbet, Egyptian or a cross of the strains. It's still very good to know the history. Steve and I had to leave early since he was traveling to Mississippi the next day and we needed to get sleep. I hope Laurie has these more regularly since I had a blast and would love to get to know everyone a little better!
Gadiel in the spotlight

November 07, 2011

Time goes by and lessons continue seat grows steadier

My riding lessons have progressed quite nicely. Laurie is keeping me on the lungeline and I'm quite happy with that for now. It's really helping me isolate my seat in my thoughts so I've been able to really sink down, work harder at following the saddle and keeping my legs long.

The last couple of rides have been very satisfying. I do get frustrated at myself easily so it's great when I can relax and let myself revel in the simple accomplishments. Eventually I'll go off the lungeline again and incorporate the hands etc., the the point of lungelining is to get the muscle memory so when a new element is added my seat doesn't suddenly fall apart.

With all my falls and mishaps I am very happy to take a step back and work on this. I know I'll take a step back in a sense when I get my new horse since there will be holes in training that need to be worked on. How will I work that and keep up with my training? Perhaps one Divine lesson and one trailer in lesson? We'll cross that bridge!

I am so looking forward to having my own horse. I've perused the rescues lately and have seen several potential canidates. I've also looked at craigslist and some of the "down on their luck" people trying to just find a good home for their horse. I even inquired about a nice ranch horse but he wasa 14 years old and I really want to stay fairly young so I have plenty years of hard trail riding/endurance to share with my first horse.

I have several more posts in the que so to speak, time has just flown by and I haven't stopped to write on my blog.  It's like my life and all is going light speed and I cannot slow it down.  The sand in the timer is nearing it's end and I feel panicky almost!  I need a good long trail ride!  I'll post more soon

Coming up: Client Appreciation Day at Quintessential Arabians, Dover Saddlery!!!, Divine and Serpentines!!!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

August 30, 2011

I am so done with leasing....

This last experience has been horrendous and taken every last breath of sanity I have left.  There have been many instances that have occurred that have made me seriously regret my leasing of Millie and this recent one in regards to a miscommunication about turn out and a misrepresentation of turn out in the leasing contract, that I have finally thrown my hands up and said, "Enough!"

1) I have been required by my contract to muck the stall each time I go out which is fine, I always did that with Willy's stall even though it was not required in that contract.  The only time on Wednesday I've been going out is after work and all summer it has been during a thunderstorm with lightning too close for comfort (not something to mess with out here).  Needless to say I have not ridden on MANY of my designated days so in essence have paid $200 a month to muck a stall!

2) Multiple times when I have been out to the stable there has been an accusation by another boarder that I knocked over her equipment or used her materials, neither of these things have I done, in fact I have replaced knocked off items (the most recent one being a screw driver laying on the floor) and been very conscientious about cleaning any tiny amount of manure that looked like it spilled from Millie's pen to Misty's (since Millie's stall is uphill of hers) 
3) I have not been having fun with Millie (can you tell by the amount of posts I've made since the lease started?) any techniques I have learned on Divine have not worked with her and I have not been able to work on any riding objectives I've wanted to.  I don't know if it's her training but I'm so frustrated that I don't want to go out there anymore...I don't even see the point

4) I'm tired of the situation at the facility and worried because of the upkeep at the facility that any injuries incurred to Millie because of the facility issues could be viewed as my liability

a) broken fences in her paddock (I ended up duct taping the ends so it was at least semi safe for the horses and to this day the farm still has not been repaired)
b) barbed wire fencing in the pasture (many areas in back of the pasture I have noted are very dangerous for a horse with loose, loopy wire and bent posts where a horse could easily cut a tendon)
c) the waterer issue, many times I stayed later than intended after my ride to make sure Millie had water in the bucket since the water only trickled out, it took forever.  I also purchased a bucket since the owner did not have one on hand and never asked her to pay me back.
d) The arena fencing was bent inwards for so long causing a hazard to horses and riders alike.  I wonder if a boarder eventually fixed it since Terri, the owner of Millie, has had to fix knocked out walls in her stall in the past since the boarding facility has not held up their end of the bargain

6) I've disliked the nasty attitude of the people that own the facility, even Terri is afraid to ask the people to fix something for fear she'll be kicked out of the facility.  Really?  I would have left ages ago!  How can someone tolerate being made to feel like you are putting them out to take care of the horse you are paying them to take care of?

7) The manure pile is also not being either spread, composted or disposed of properly.  In El Paso County manure cannot be piled up to just sit indefinitely, it has to be composted properly, regular thrown out in the garbage or spread thinly over a field so it dries quickly and reduces chances of fly breeding.  Even Susan's facility had a regular (weekly) trash pick up of the manure pile. I know that there is no facility that can be perfect but I guess what I find deplorable some people find acceptable.  Facilities at least need to be clean and safe.

8) The turn out pastures were for a few hours a day (hardly any time for a horse) and I needed prior approval to release Millie with other horses, from the owner and from the other horses owner.  I received that a couple months ago with Misty, Millie's neighbor.  Apparently something changed and Frieda didn't want Millie out with Misty anymore but this was never conveyed to me.  The contract also did not state I needed to ask the permission each and every time I release Millie on pasture.  Terri stated it had to be every time, I mentioned it didn't state that in the contract so I cannot be held responsible since I DID have prior permission, it had never been revoked.  Uge.  In hindsight I should have required her to write up an agreement on each and every horse Millie could be released with and had her and I and the other horse owner sign it so I had documentation for the permission.  Either that or I just should have left poor Millie in her pen gazing at the other horses in the pasture.

So I'm out $400 for the last two months and I don't care, I'm just glad to be out of the situation.  I could go after Terri for the last two months lease because she did not have a clause about early termination of the lease but I'm tired of dealing with her and hearing about some sort of accusation from the neighboring horses owner on a weekly basis.  I've research contract law and her contract is not as tight as she would try and have someone believe.

I'm just set on paying off debt, saving up money and buying my horse this spring, so I can settle into horse ownership, get training with the horse when I need it and continue lessons with Laurie on my own horse (trailer willing!).  Just wish I had not done this lease at all, $1200 could have been a lot of riding lessons with Laurie or a bill paid off....uge.  We live we learn, eh?

At least I've learned more about what signs I need to look for when I buy a horse, to take my time, since rushing into this lease was a VERY stupid mistake; to really get to know a horse and assess their training level.  A facility that is safe and has an indoor arena is a PRIORITY for a boarding place.  The price is worth it and I'm willing to pay for a nice facility that is up kept and has an indoor arena so I can ride with my limited schedule...and hopefully I can find one fairly close to either work or home!   I need to over analyze any contract I sign (including boarding agreements) and perhaps even have a legal person look over it...have money set aside for a lawyer just in case! 

I'm so tempted to "bring it on" but I'm just not like that.  The situation was getting bad, I wasn't having fun and I was being accused of things that were not true and I feared that I would get held liable for something that I did not do and have to go to court anyways!  I'm just glad to be rid of the situation!  Everyone, be very careful when you lease a horse and when you lease out your horse!  I saw so many loop holes in this contract that this lady could easily have been taken to the cleaners.  After finishing my end of the bargain and paying off the rest of the lease and mucking stall fees she still even had the nerve to say that I took advantage of her (referencing that it costs her $50 extra a month for mucking not $25 but sorry, $25 was in the contract she wrote).  She has $400 and $65 more for mucking I really didn't need to owe since I terminated the lease (contract law states that if there is not a termination clause deeming fines etc. that a contract can be terminated at any time unless otherwise written), with no lessee riding her horse for the next two months and that is taking advantage of her?!!!!???!!!  Hmm... 

Thanks everyone for letting me vent on this blog, I'm so angry at this situation and mostly angry that I was naive about the facility, the horse and the contract (which wasn't well written).  I've learned that legal documents need to be very specific.  In a court of law I don't think she would have much to stand on but again, it's something to remember for the future.  Cover my butt!  I have a nice riding lesson with Laurie to look forward to this Friday and now that Wednesdays are open I can see what would work best for Laurie and I's schedule.  I want to do two lessons for a little while since Laurie is working on my seat and balance with's hard and frustrating and sometime I want to quit but darn it, I can do it!  Cherrio!

August 24, 2011

A Sinking Feeling

I rode a lesson on a Tuesday, first time I've done that and it worked out pretty well.  I know Laurie is having a hard time with dance lessons for her girls and arranging lessons.  Things will get easier when I get my own horse since I can bring them to the lessons on a Saturday and not worry about how many "slots" Laurie has on her schedule.  Divine can only do so many lessons!

Legs' stall and the hay area, Laurie still has plans
for putting wall in and a bigger aisle door

The horses were out in the big field when I arrived so I hiked out to the very far corner where they all were grazing.  Eksodus came up to me, a little too much actually, he really gets into my space and I end up pushing him back with mixed results.  He still does the occasional try at a nip.  When I went to get Divine she moved off and around so I let her settle and then walked to her again but she then took off at a gallop, taking the rest of the herd with her.  I trudged back to the gate of the field and finally captured the "wild mare". 

Legs' stall
Laurie  had me on the lunge line again to work on my seat and balance.  It was still scary at first and I still have to keep one hand lightly, although sometimes not so lightly, on the pommel of the saddle for security. I definitely felt a difference of my weight sinking more into and through my horse.  I just had trouble keeping all the parts doing what they need to!
Gadiel came over for a pat so I took some pictures of him,
only problem was he was too close to get a good shot!
I would get that sinking feeling in my seat but end up pointing my toes down or out.  It helped more with my toes thinking about just my heel.  "Heels down!  Stretch the back of the calf."  That got me in a better leg position and brought my toe into a better place.  The heel is heavier so perhaps thinking about that is what helped me get a sinking feeling in all my parts.

Pstar grazing in the field
I still tensed at moments but felt I had better control at relaxing my legs on cue instead of the usual death grip!!  Other exercises Laurie had me do was pointing one hand towards Divine's ears and then doing slow circles back towards her tail.  This changed the dynamic a bit and made it harder to relax but eventually I got my seat to an acceptable state.  Then Laurie had me do transitions to trot with my legs completely lifted off the saddle with only my seat and crotch balancing...I felt like one of those Russian nesting doll balancing on a ball, on mono cycle pedaling on a tight rope!!  So begins my circus career!!

Divine intently listening to sounds outside the arena

Happy riding!

August 22, 2011

Circles, figure eights, seat bones and balance

I've started to ride more consistently with Laurie again....the summer excitement has slowly ended and I think I have my weekly and weekend routine back.  Oh but wait, there's a Red Cross drill this Saturday, an exercise the Friday before and an Emergency Preparedness night at Sky Sox this Friday.  There goes that idea!  But I am going out to ride on Tuesday at least!
Divine...the shocked look


Laurie's indoor arena

My last couple of lessons have been hard.  I can't put it in any other way.  I did free work, meaning off the lunge line while working with Divine on circles and figure eights.  I had issues getting her into the corners the way I wanted to but eventually succeeded, albeit with an ugly "opening rein" to get the mare to listen. 
Gadiel's stall Laurie and Dan have been building for a while

The last lesson was a lesson in tolerance for my derriere.  Sitting trot no stirrups and working on having my leg way back and sitting on my crotch more to accomplish that.  That laid back Aussie saddle is looking better and better!  I know I have a lot of work to do on my balance, I tense up and accentuate my chances of falling off.  Should I look for a older horse then?  Perhaps my husbands future horse?  A horse that is rock solid?  Am I being a wus?  I think some of my falls have created more fear than I realized.  I'm going to try to work with Laurie twice a week for a bit to get this balance thing worked on but I gotta say, the legs way back and crotch sitting feel so foreign and quite uncomfortable!

Stalls that were already existent in the barn

I do have to realize I'm not in this to look great riding.  Balance is one thing, perfect position while related to the balance is another.  I don't have to be perfect.  There are tons of riders that aren't perfect and do just fine safely riding.  I try not too beat myself up with thoughts of "damn it why can't you do this!", "chill out and relax you ninny!" or "it's a saddle not a slip n' slide!".  I have to have patience and tolerance of my weaknesses.
Divine..."oh no you're gonna ride me again!"

Eksodus in the field with the mares
And lastly I have to remember why I ride, to be near my favorite animal...the horse.  Equitation and collection aside, riding up a winding path with a warm and happy horse beneath me and the grand blue sky above me.
Hello little Psylk!

Trickles of water...

So days when I go out to see Millie, besides cleaning up the manure and grooming her I also refill her big bucket of water.

Her owner has decided that the automatic waterer is no good, and rightly so.  It's not consistant in refilling and then there is the issue that there is a lot of gunk and who knows what floating in the water.  It's disgusting.  I'll have to go with a flash light some day to get a picture of what I'm talking about but I know I've posted the rust bucket on here so you can guess the condition inside the water bowl!

I dump the big bucket, especially since I don't know how often that is done and it's pretty rancid smelling...I'm glad I dumped it!  Then I begin the refilling process.  The pump in the stall is great but EXTREMELY slow.  It just takes forever to fill a big bucket!  Oh well.

Guess I'll take pictures of Odie a cute weanling/yearling almost.  He is in love with Millie. 

Since I'm lazy I'll just post some more pictures of ponies....we all love pony pictures!

Maebree Ranch and Jennifer's (off Woodman Rd.)

I checked out a couple other locations for boarding.  This first one was Jennifer's private farm, she has about 8 stalls, an indoor arena and two smaller pastures.  Most of the time though the horses would be in runs of a decent size, right next to their friends.  Each horse had access to hay and water in the run and she rotates the horses through the it's not a daily turn out situation.  The indoor barn with stalls was nice and each stall was a good size.  When I arrived it was pouring outside so all the horses were inside munching on their hay ration.  The tack room was a nice size.  I asked about restrooms and she said I could use the house, she leaves it unlocked even when she's not home.  I just feel weird about walking into other peoples homes to use the restroom, possibly bothering their family and kind of feeling like I'm intruding.  I'd much prefer a porta potty even where I can just go and not bother anyone.  Parking for a trailer is free and the full board is $275.  There aren't many trails, just the neighborhood but the location is right off woodmen before even getting to falcon, so I like the proximity to my house.  I just prefer more turnout and with friends instead of individual turn out on a rotation...meaning not a daily thing.  It's definitely a pretty decent place though and I like the price!  Wish I outside pictures but it was a downpour!!!
Indoor arena is a good size

Indoor stalls for night time or during icky weather

Next I drove further north, near Fox Run Regional Park off of Baptist road.  The access would be pretty easy from work since work is off the interstate and so is the farm.  There are 40 acres and several really large pastures.  The cost is $350 and includes the free feed hay, pasture time and corn grain (what is that?)  The runs they had were very sloped, which didn't seem comfortable for a horse.  The indoor arena was nice and there were stalls inside that were nice and flat.  I think if I boarded here I wouldn't worry too much about the runs because my horse will hopefully be at pasture most of the time and perhaps I can request the horse being in the indoor stalls at night so they have a flat surface to lay down or just stand more comfortably!  The owner, Molly stated that it would take a little time to adjust my future horse to their pasture since it is pretty rich...and I can understand that.  I don't want more horse to get laminitis from being on pasture...we'll have to see.  The cost is up there and I know there are locations that are a little closer that may be around that price too but I'm not exactly writing this off.  The indoor arena, the neighborhood to ride in and being only a couple miles from Fox Run Regional Park is awesome, though there is a stable right across the street from it I still have on my list to view.  Trailer storage is an extra $30 a month so that brings the full cost of board to $380.  Oiy!
Looking from my car to the barn/indoor arena, the runs are in the
back and to the left, you can't see them in this picture

View of the fields and you can sort of see the
runs on the left of the barn

I know that my dream is to find a place where my horse can be on pasture 24/7 but this last barn made a good don't want your horse to founder or develop laminitis and that can happen.  Perhaps a farm with pastures that aren't so rich are a good option.  I'm concerned more with getting the horse into a natural situation where they will be moving a lot rather than standing in a stall looking bored or worse developing bad habits out of boredom!  I have many more places to check out, just not enough time in the week to go!  I'll keep posting!  These two I think are options, more so on Jennifer's but it's a smaller farm so who knows where she'll be come next spring! 

August 11, 2011

A Day Without Rain

I was pretty excited that today it was not raining and there was no sign of it not the horizon!!! I could actually go and ride on a Wednesday! I haven't done that in a while!!

I went out to the stable to see Millie, my bridle had collected a little bit of dust but that's not saying much, it's uncovered and the "tack room" is the feed area. It's pretty dusty with the hay bales and other supplies so things get dusty fast. My saddle is covered with an old towel since I'm going to wait to buy my real saddle once I have my horse and since it will be a dressage saddle I would need a different styled saddle case/bag or cover. I'm thinking a case will be the most versatile since I can carry it and put it in the trailer with more protection on it. I also plan on getting a synthetic Aussie saddle from Down Under Horse Tack (I'm butchering the name but it's an Aussie tack store in Denver). Then of course bridle bags etc.

Anyways I dust off the bridle and get Millie's halter and hook her up to start grooming her. She is not trained to stand very close to the tie up so I usually have three or four feet of rope. She stands nicely at least. Her owner is freaked out about her pulling back and falling while tied...guess she saw a horse do that once. Oh well, not my horse. Laurie has taught me to tie a horse with only about a foot of rope from the knot to the halter. I didn't tie that close with Willy but I certainly didn't have him as loose as Millie.

The flies were really bothering her today. She was stomping and swishing like crazy and biting at flies on her leg. After grooming I strayed her down with fly spray and she seemed to be much happier.

I rode in the little arena today to work on trots again. Last time I rode I was having issues with her speeding up really fast to where I just felt like I was being bounced around. I couldn't sit it and had issues with posting so fast! I pretty much had the same issues and dealt with Millie being really heaving on the forehand, pulling down on the reins.

I worked with her on the walk, doing half halts to get her to give up the strong pull. I think if I work at this issue at the walk it will get better and then I can move onto the trot. I need to do some groundwork again and try to bit her up some to teach her how to give herself the release rather than feeling like it's a tug of war to get the reins back so I can keep them nice and soft for her. She'll get it eventually. But again, I only ride her until October and then I'll be taking a break from leasing to get ready for my own horse! After the ride I groomed her down, mucked the stall and poured out the old water in the bucket. It reeked!! I then filled it up about half way, it took forever since the water trickles out of the pump and hose but it's a pretty big bucket and the auto waterer still works at least. I'm sure she appreciated new fresh water!!! Towards the end of my work Millie took one last poop so I decided to grab the pitchfork, get that last pile and fling it out to the manure pile. I wanted to leave a perfectly clean stall! LOL. Well Friday I have another Divine lesson coming up so I'm looking forward to that! Till next time!

August 03, 2011

If lightning was a horse...

...maybe I could then ride during a thunderstorm...but alas I cannot.  Everyday it seems to storm right when I get off work.  The worst weather being up north and near the mountains where the stable Millie is kept at.

I called Terri today and let me know I couldn't make it out and that I would pay the $25 for the next month to have her find someone to muck the stall.  She deducted that from the lease since I was willing to muck when I went out.  I just can't risk going out when there is lightning going all through the sky and landing near the mountains just above the Flying W.  I don't like to risk it when the clouds are nearby, lightning in Colorado is nothing to mess with out here, even on a blue sky day with a nearby dark cloud I've seen bright bolts of lightning appear from nowhere.  Better to be safe.

It still means I've paid a lot of money to not get a lot of riding in.  Most Sundays have been fine since I have all day to make it out there, it's just the darned weekday when I have a window of a few hours at the most.  Uge.  I only have myself to blame.  I settled for a horse lease when the facility lacked an indoor arena, so I'm a victim of nature and her ways.  I sometimes feel like I just washed the money down the drain everytime the rain pours out of the skies.  Terri will try and work with me to let me have some make up days when the weather is better so we'll see what happens.

Close your eyes

I went out on July 22nd to Laurie's for a lesson.  It has been WAY too long!  Riding Divine again was so nice, she has such a nice gait, and well I'm kinda partial to the Arabian so it was nice to see the beauties again.

Laurie had me on the lungeline since it had been so long, I would have suggested that anyways!  We worked on the sitting trot, two point, posting trot and also did various stretching exercises with my arms and twisting my body...good balance exercises.

Driving back out the driveway and looking back at the pony dots in the distance
Then Laurie had me sit the walk but with my eyes closed and just feel the horse beneath me.  We did a few stops during the walk as well, just to shake things up.  I have to say it was a little scary at times but it made me realize that my eyes fool me into thinking I don't need my seat as much as I really do.  I think that if I see that evil thing that's going to scare my horse or cause a quick change in pace, seeing it will keep me safe...or so I think!  Nope, seeing it will often make me tense and actually prevent me from relaxing and moving with my horse.  Towards the end I was beginning to feel myself trust my seat and the horse beneath it, I let my body move with her through the speed ups and halts. 

Clouds rolling in as I drive home from Falcon
I think that with some of my recent set backs with falls, spooks etc. going back to basics is a very good thing for me, I'm sure Laurie would agree.  My seat is pretty good in the walk but I tense up in the trot.  Once I got into the canter with Willy I would relax again, only to tense up again if he picked up speed or suddenly something didn't go the way I wanted.  The transitions, the quickening of pace, the sudden movements cause me to lose my steady seat and tense up like a log.  Hmm, maybe I should take some cutting lessons on a horse!  That would really teach me to move with the horse and balance with my seat!  LOL. 

Well this Friday I have another lesson with Laurie.  I can't wait to go out again and see her and the horses.  I know my frustration with my lease will melt away!

Trotting Tempos and Fast Halts

Nothing like almost going over your horses head!!  Millie responds very quick to me asking her to halt or slow down.  I don't feel I'm asking for it any different than I have before or when I ride Divine.  I've been working on Millie with smaller circles trying to keep her trot at a steady pace.  The arena is pretty flat so I don't have that issue to work with but she still tends to speed up the trot and it's a choppy short paced quick trot.

I've been bringing her to a halt and she doesn't ease into the halt, she halts on the spot and I get thrown off balance.  I guess that is good practice for my seat but I still don't like the sensation. It's just going to take some time and work but hopefully I can do more trail riding to just enjoy that with Millie for the next three months.  My wednesdays which I was thinking would be good days for just working in the arena have been few and far between due to really heavy storms with lightning.  In Colorado you don't mess with that!

I found that smaller circles helped with her staying at a nicer trot and not trying to speed up as quickly.  Maybe I should work on posting though to that fast trot, it just seems so quick and choppy, not like Divine.  I'm not a good judge as to whether the gaits can be enhanced by collection so that's why I have such difficulty or if it's all me needing to work on better balance so I don't feel so much bounce and inconsistancy.  Maybe it's a combination of an uncollected horse and an unsteady rider?  I have two lessons soon with Laurie, I think Friday evenings will work out the best for both of us for now.  We'll see how things go.  I miss my Arabs and can't wait to go see them again!

Quick Starts Trail Ride

I took Millie out on a trail ride again after a long time of working on her with ground work and riding in the arena.  She's even less trained than Willie, meaning she's not good with leg yielding, and has an even rougher way of going.  I love sitting the trot on Divine, it's far as sitting trot goes.  Millie it's rather difficult with, but anyways I'm getting on a tangent.

I figured I needed to go on another trail with Millie to get over that little hump.  Walking up to the gate that leads to the back of the Flying W property and the trails Millie stopped several times and needed some good proding.  I need to bring my crop for incentive I think.  I went up the actual trail, no to the right like I had done before.  Every little thing Millie spooked at, a bird flew overhead, she started.  A butterfly, a stick, the bird songs.  Uge!  I ended up walking her up and down the same little bit of trail to the point of me and hopefully her getting bored.  She eventually calmed down.  I tried myself to remain pretty calm and relaxed but that is certainly an ordeal when the horse you are on stops and starts every few steps!

After the trail ride I gave her a nice grooming and mucked her stall.  I haven't been as into this lease horse.  There just isn't much of a connection.  I don't know if it's her or her breed.  Arabians do have that something special don't they?  My lease ends October 31st and at that point I feel I am done leasing.  I want to get ready for my own horse and then I can just work with my horse and my horses problems and not feel like I have to deal with some body elses issues.  It's hard to not have a consistant approach to the horse.  I doubt the way I ride or work with a horse is like Terri her owner.  That's the same problem I had with Willy.  At least I still get to go out and do things with a horse.  Millie is sweet in her own way and I do get satisfaction when I can release her from her pen into the nice pasture.  We'll see how the next trail ride goes with Millie!  We'll get there, at least to the point where we can have a nice ride without any major scares!

August 01, 2011

Armada Bay Equestrian Center

Armada Bay is right across the street from where Willy is on Meridian, pretty convenient since I felt that was a good distance from my house.  It's a nice area I already know!  The facility is about 10 acres or so.  The owner bases her boarding on the "Paddock Paradise" book, which is a philosophy based on research of wild horse habits where the paddocks are set up as tracks so the horses are in constant motion to go eat hay, find shelter or drink water.  It was an interesting concept and I want to find that book to read to better understand this.  She pretty much only has pasture board for $335 a month, trailer parking is included.  There are several track boarding areas and then one large pasture that she rotates the horses through.  It was very impressive.

She had an outdoor arena, another arena type area and a small indoor arena.  The tack room was a good size and then there was an area near the tacking stalls for people to put their trunks etc if they had them.  No extra cost.  There might be an extra cost for grain depending on the amount the horse needed.  I know the area and the neighborhoods so I know of some riding plus there is the trail that goes out to Peyton and then from there another park to ride in.  It's pretty close in Falcon so easy access to trailer out somewhere too.

Next to the outdoor arena looking at the indoor arena/tack room building
The only catch is that each horse there has to be in a training program or lesson program.  I asked her what that entailed and what regular sessions meant.  She stated a couple times a month is fine and the sessions are $25 each.  I know I will most likely have my new horse in some type of training when I first get him or her and it may be really convenient to have a trainer that I like at the facility I'm boarding at.  I'll just have to tread carefully and see what the contract details would entail.  I like the facility but I don't know if I want to be tied to a training regimen at all times.  On the same token it might be a good idea.  Who knows how soon I'll have a trailer and be able to trailer my horse over to Laurie's. 

The facility had mostly boarders in their 30's and up she stated and they have regular excursions where they go out for rides as a group.  Sounds fun!  I definitely will keep this facility on the list.  It might not be at the top because of training requirement but I feel it was a good concept and the pasture board I desire.