Sunday, May 31, 2015

Washing Reins?

Yesterday, I washed all four sets of reins in hot soapy water and hung them up to dry.

Washing reins??

Yes, I use these reins and highly recommend them.  They come from endurance land.  The drape and feel are excellent, I like how they comfortable they are in my hands - not too fat or too thin and nicely flexible, they are extremely well made, and when they get dirty, they're washable.  And they come in all sorts of cool colors.

When I ride at the Mark Rashid clinic next Friday, Saturday and Sunday, I'll be riding a mystery horse, and the only horse gear I'll be taking with me are my helmet, my dressage whip - I'm used to the feel of this as well - and a set of these reins.  I know the saddles they use at the clinic host's barn, so I don't need to take along a set of these stirrups, that I also high recommend - and that also come in many colors, although this link only has a few colors - I have two sets of them in silver and copper.

More on the clinic later . . .

Friday, May 29, 2015

Body Clipping - Clipper Brand and Blade Sharpening Recommendations

Melissa at Paradigm Farms - where Lily, Norman and Maisie are retired - is a pro at body clipping.  For those of you who do clipping, here are her recommendations for the best clippers and blade sharpening/clipper maintenance.  Three of those clips were my retirees, all of whom have Cushings/PPID, and I'm sure they appreciated it (once it was over!).

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Fundamental, Wonderful, Walk

I've had occasion over the past week to do some work at the walk with all my horses.  The footing in our indoor arena was replaced last week, and it's still too deep for my taste - it's like walking on a beach above the high tide line.  No work above the walk for us in that footing.  We have been able to manage some rides in the outdoor arena - it has a sand track around the outside which I rarely use - but a nice grassy area in the middle that's firm footing.  Since all four of my horses are barefoot, firm footing is just fine - they've got good, shock-absorbing feet - their frogs and heels absorb the concussion instead of their hoof walls (shod horses) transmitting concussion up the leg.  Too soft footing, however, is an invitation for soft tissue injuries.  The footing in the indoor will settle down in a bit, and we're mostly riding outside except when there's rain or mud between the barn and the outdoor.

The walk is so fundamental, and is so neglected.  Everybody is in a hurry to trot and canter, but trust me, if it's not working just right at the walk, it won't be any better at the trot and canter and is likely to be worse.  If you haven't got a good walk, you've got nothing.  There is also so much to be done at the walk - so much that is beneficial to the horse and builds a foundation for later work.

Have you got automatic forward, no nagging, from the first step?

Have you got straightness?

Is your horse soft and engaged with almost a zero pressure in your hand?

Have you got bend in both directions, with the inside hind stepping under?

Can you do walk/halt/walk transitions without bracing or abruptness?

If you ask for back from halt, is the response a brace or soft, relaxed backing?

Can you get lengthening/shortening at the walk, with appropriate changes in posture and stride length?

And you can add other things, for fun - spiral in/out and lateral work.

I've been having a lot of fun at the walk, and all the horses have really been excelling.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Red is 14!

Today is Red's birthday.  We've come a long way together in the four years he's been mine, and I've been his.  He came to me as a confused, reactive, worried, very dominant horse who needed me to be a strong leader while not coercing or forcing him - he's a horse who won't accept that sort of thing - he has to trust and accept to work with you.  If he trusts and accepts you, he'll do anything for you.

I got him in the spring of 2011 knowing that he would be a major project, but also being sure that he was a very sweet and willing horse who really liked people and who had the build and movement to be truly athletic - he has a beautiful head and expression, but his real beauty lies in his exceptionally fine conformation and his deep, fiery willingness to perform.

He had EPM in the fall of 2011, but made a full recovery.

He spent 90 days in the spring of 2012 with my trainer Heather Burke in Wisconsin - it took that long for her to work with him and me to peel back his automatic reaction to do a huge brace, and even bolt, when confronted with something new or that overloaded his system. He's had a name change - from Drifter to Red - in acknowledgement of his personality "change".

He strained his Achilles tendon and tore a muscle in his butt in 2012 - it took a long time for him to recover from that.

And then in 2014 he had a splint bone fracture - from a kick injury - and had to have surgery and the long recovery after that.  And then he injured the other hind ankle . . . with more time to recover.

We've been working together, day in and day out, to build our relationship and our ability to work together from feel, even during the periods when his ridden activities were limited due to injuries.

He's still a horse who's instantly distracted by everything, but who now comes back to me just as quickly without losing his awareness of his surroundings.

Today was a great example.  We rode in the outdoor arena - several hundred yards from the barn, all alone.  He's only been out there once this year quite a while ago.  A lot was going on, a horse being led by on the way to another field to lunge, other horses riding around in the pasture adjacent, and he did look and was momentarily distracted by what he say, but he never stopped listening to me and did everything I asked just about perfectly, with great enthusiasm, softness and grace.  Just plain spectacular - he's a real blast to ride, since he's so sensitive and instantly responsive, but requires everything I've got in terms of both attention and soft feel.

So, here are some photos that show how beautiful and alert he is:

Happy birthday to a very special horse!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Lily, Norman and Maisie Get Body-Clipped

(Thanks to Melissa at Paradigm Farms for the photos.)

Our three senior retirees - Lily and Maisie and Norman the pony - in Tennessee all have Cushings/PPID.  So, this time of year, Melissa at Paradigm gives them body clips to help them deal with the hotter weather.

Here are some fun photos of the clipping action.

Lily had a lot of fur, as always:

Maisie sticks out her tongue - with Lily looking on:

Norman the pony was pretty furry, too:

And he had to stick out his tongue, too:

Lily and Maisie make their getaway:

It's always a pleasure to see how good they're looking in their senior years.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Missy Gets a Birthday

I've had a number of horses, some very fine ones, with no papers, and therefore no precise birthday.  Dawn, Pie and Red all have "official" birthdays, since they're registered - Dawn is a TB (June 10 - a very late birthday for a TB), Pie is a QH (April 29) and Red is a QH too (May 23).

So Missy deserves a birthday - most horses are born in April or May, so today's the day!  We don't know her true age, but we'll just say that she turned 13 today.  Happy birthday to a lovely mare!

One clean photo, and one dirty . . .

Monday, May 4, 2015

Dirty Missy and Dawn in Motion

I was out in the mare pasture at bring in time today, and got some good photos.

Missy was very dirty, but is looking good:

And I got some rare action shots of Dawn (dirty too, but it doesn't show as much), who's looking great for a mare who's about to turn 18 - you can almost see the racehorse she used to be:

After a stop for a drink at the water tank, she came on in with me.

Nothing better than two lovely mares on a beautiful spring day . . .