Holiday Perks

During on of our hill walking sessions.  Bright, early and COLD.

During on of our hill walking sessions. Bright, early and COLD.


I’m sure all of the full-time working riders out there feel the same. The best perk about the holidays is having all the extra time off to go spoil or ride your horse.

O has seen so much of me this week she is probably confused, but I love it.

We’ve lunged, ridden, taken walks in hand, trotted hills (in hand), and groomed like crazy. It’s been awesome. Here are some pictures from this week.

Hilly success.

Hilly success.

I’m very lucky to have a horse that will walk/trot in a near perfect circle around me most of the time. However, this week when we were free lunging O must’ve been either really bored, or feeling adventuresome because she took herself over a little vertical a few times without my guidance. It cracked me up, and I just stood there in the middle taking photos while she did it. I even tried to make the vertical more unappealing by added a funky pole. No luck, she trotted straight to it, slowed to a walk, stepped over and continued her trot circle after. I took it down completely, and she continued to trot over the poles. Someone misses her job! Or at least that’s what I’m going to call it.

Deciding she wanted to jump a bit.

Deciding she wanted to jump a bit.


Ignoring my attempt to make it less appealing.

Ignoring my attempt to make it less appealing.


After I dismantled her jump, she resorted to pole work.

After I dismantled her jump, she resorted to pole work.

The other really exciting news was that after my trainer (who hasn’t seen her in 3 weeks) saw her go this morning was THRILLED and said she looked 100% sound. I’ve been cleared to start canter work with her! Just one lap for the first few rides, and slowly adding more. I’m very excited, and a bit anxious. Hopefully she will continue to get stronger and show us how sound she can stay. Woot!

More things to be thankful for!

Thankful

As I prepare to devour mountains of delicious food with various members of family tomorrow (and friday too), I am reminded of how thankful I am to be where I am today.

I am so grateful for the people I work with, you supported my crazy hours when O needed to be soaked, walked, and vetted time after time this summer.

I am so grateful for my amazing parents, who pushed back on the veternarians, the trainers, and even me when I wanted to give it all up.

I am so grateful for my trainer for continuing to believe in my little bay mare.

Pretty O

Pretty O

I am so grateful that even though the future ahead is a complete mystery, I’ve had the chance to own this special horse for a year now.

And I am so grateful for this blog community which has offered advice, support, and a refuge to share my dreams, fears and hopes! You guys are great.

Finally…I am so lucky to have a wonderful husband, while he doesn’t quite get the whole equestrian thing yet, wants to support me in everything I do.
black and white overpass close up

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

16 Degrees

horses-nuzzle-winter
Living in the middle of the US, we get some frickin’ cold weather in the winter. Usually accompanied with slick, nasty, ice storms. Yay us. When O and I had our fabulous ride this week it was in the high 40’s with little to no wind. The next day we get this horrible northern wind and the temp plumets to highs in the teens.

Urgh.

Because of this sadly predictable weather we have a rule where I ride. If it is below 25, or the wind chill/”feels like” temperature is below 25 no one should be riding unless it is otherwise cleared by one of the trainers (rings are safe, someone is around, etc.). So O only got 3 of her planned workouts this week, but it really can’t be avoided.
alvie-snow

In the spirit of living in a place where the winters can be really hard on your riding, I thought I’d post some tips about winter riding to keep in mind!

1. Layers are the best way to handle riding in the winter, as you can take off and put on with ease. Since I ride in a helmets only environment I tend to stick to quarter zips, or zip up jackets and coats so I don’t have to take off my helmet a dozen times.

2. If you horse is used to being stalled or wearing a cozy blanket, be kind and throw on a quarter sheet or rug while you warm up. It’s just another way to ease them into the workout. And I think they look cool.

3. Be wary of many winter boots, they can be especially large around the toe and could wedge in your stirrups. Dangerous stuff.

4. If you have to retrieve your horse from outside consider taking a hoofpick with you! O and her buddies have to cross a concrete path, and lots of potentially icy spots, and if her feet are packed with snow it can be very slick for horses. I always have one just in case.
WinterHoofs
5. Warm up your bit as much as you can! You can check out the Diary of an Overanxious Horse Owner who has this great bit warmer pattern you can get off of Etsy.

6. I think it goes without saying, but make sure to adjust your stretches, warm-up, and cool down times!
winter-riding
I know many of you probably have tried and true dealing with winter tricks, but I thought I’d just throw mine out there! Feel free to share any of yours here! I’d love to hear!

Real Work

Last night was a break thru ride, mentally, for both O and me. We all hate it when our horses are hurt, and pushing them when they are off is hard. I’ve battled with the idea for the past several weeks during her rehab program, and inevitably created a bit of a monster in my horse. She had zero work ethic, and like I’ve talked about before, offered some attitude when we went into tougher workouts.

Not last night though, it wasn’t about just plodding along, over-thinking every step she took, worrying about her snarky attitude at the beginning. About 10 minutes in, I was pissed, and pretty tired of her evasive behavior. So we worked. And worked. And worked some more. It was real work, carrying herself, lengthening, collecting…I was frickin’ thrilled.

Sorry about the blurry pictures, but you can see that she’s obviously feeling better!

1026

1019

1007

After the 40ish minute trot work I had this lovely soft, quiet horse whom I hadn’t seen in forever. I gave lots of pats, and “good girls” and got the heck off. I wanted to end on that great note.

1031

1030

1013

Lessons learned:
She will work out of the attitude, patterns, circles help.
She is definitely fit enough to be working like this, no more excuses.
Don’t be so afraid of my spurs.

Cheers to progress and more rides like this! I think we are both ready mentally, and she’s ready physically!

My cutie!

My cutie!

Lists

Like every good rider/horse lover I keep a long and involved list of things that I really need, things that I am obsessed over, and things that I could actually get.

For example:
Things I need–A revamp of my equine first aid supplies. We went through quite a lot this summer, and I badly need some refills.
first aid

Things I am obsessed with–

Not that I need a new saddle....but if I did...

Not that I need a new saddle….but if I did…


It's like a superhero cape...but for your horse.

It’s like a superhero cape…but for your horse.

…and there is a lot more where that came from…

However, the items that are going to make it to the top of my christmas wish list are the following:
New paddock boots for me
Leather halter for O
Saddle pad (maybe with my new monogram?)
First aid revamp
Liniment or something similar for O
Always in need of more horse cookies

What are you all asking for this holiday season?

Go check out these great contests going on!

My Equine Odyssey has this great Equi-Spa gift cards giveaway that I would love to win, then O can get some of the cool muscle wash and balm.
I’m a new follower of Forging Fiction, and love her “thankful” contest.
Amy at Slow and Steady has a cinnamint Higher Standards saddle soap to give away! I love winter scents.

Pedicure for Pony

not impressed
I finally got out to see my horse yesterday, and thankfully she didn’t seem to hold it against me that she’d been able to eat all week rather than be ridden.

The farrier came out and was very very pleased with how her feet are looking. Backs are near perfect, and the front now just have “normal” horse shoes on them. We’ll see how she does with them.

Yay for normal shoes!

Yay for normal shoes!

Husband also came out to see how she was, since the last time he saw her she was SUPER lame. He seemed really pleased and happy with how she’s looking, which makes me very happy. Have I even mention how much O loves him? Seriously.

Taking his holding job quite seriously.

Taking his holding job quite seriously.

Cuddle sesh anyone?

Cuddle sesh anyone?

When I’m on her, I’ve noticed that she feels much more sound, than if she is just trotting around a lunge line, which is confusing to me. Going to the left, there is still the teeniest bobble. Going to the right she looks fab. Hopefully we can continue to work through this, and that more conditioning will be the solution.

Floating teeth time tonight! So she’ll get the night off, then back to work tuesday!

Bad Mom

That's me.

That’s me.

I haven’t seen my horse since Monday. Definitely don’t think I’ll manage to get out there tonight. Crossing my fingers a junior rider would be willing to work her for me so her rehab doesn’t get off track.

Good news:
1. I love my job, even when it keeps me from pony. It also pays for pony…so you see the point.
2. Hillary at Equestrian At Hart having this fab contest for scented saddle soap, and it sounds great! I’d go for the limited edition holiday scents. ๐Ÿ™‚