Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A Tribute to Summer Breeze W

No one likes receiving a phone call first thing in the morning that starts with "There was a barn fire."

Boyd Martin lost six amazing, talented, and beautiful horses this morning in a tragic fire. Our neighbor, Anne, lost her stunning bay mare Summer in this fire. Summer was an up-and-comer in Boyd's barn and was highly touted...she had moved up to Training late last year and was coming home with blue ribbons left and right. She had a natural athletic ability that far surpassed what most horses are gifted with. She was a big girl, well over 17.2hh, but as kind and gentle as she could be. I had the priviledge of caring for Summer over the holidays last year. Everyone here at the barn is shocked and stunned at this news and we have a cloud hanging over our heads today as we remember each of the six horses who lost their lives today. Especially Summer.

Please, please remember Boyd and Silva and their employees and clients in your prayers today. Please stay updated on http://eventingnation.com/ about the fund that is being established to help the Martins recover from this tragedy. Please give what you can, even if it's only good thoughts.

Summer, we will miss you so much. It won't be the same this winter when you don't come home for a well deserved vacation. We will take comfort in the fact that your life here on Earth was wonderful and that you were spoiled rotten by your mom and by Boyd's staff. We won't forget you, sweet girl. God Bless.

Go hug your horses. And please review the fire hazards in your barn. Apparently this was an electrical fire, and I'm going to be unplugging everything in the barn at night from now on.

God bless you all, and your horses too-


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

I'm Alive!

I haven’t been feeling the whole blogging thing for a few days, so I apologize! It’s been very busy here in SoPines; I had the most amazing four days with my best friend Katie (also known as www.jrsrenaissance.blogspot.com) and then shipped straight down to Chatt Hills for Monkee’s first two star event since we bought him. Ardy and Benny also came along to do Training level. It was quite a new experience for me…we not only had to deal with Monkee’s passport, but had two horse inspections to prepare for as well as adhering to strict FEI rules for this type of event. We made it through the weekend by God’s grace and a lot of hard work, and the Monkee was a total rockstar. He was sitting in 10th after dressage, moved up to 9th with a clean and fast cross-country (3.2 time penalties incurred because he entered the start box late) and ended up 10th after 3 rails in stadium. The hills are always tiring for our horses and we feel he also hadn’t really schooled at that height at home so it took him by surprise, but for the most part he jumped very well and best of all, ate at least 4 meals a day the whole time we were there. This is the same horse who literally used to fast when we went on the road. He looks fantastic and his attitude is so much more confident. You can check out the amazing photos of him at www.hoofclix.com (click on Events, Chatt Hills, May 22, Revere Road).

Ardy and Benny were also superstars and were clean on cross-county and stadium. They arrived home yesterday afternoon and were quite happy to go outside and play. So proud of them and looking forward to our next outing!

Champ is doing fantastic…I round penned him yesterday after he had the previous week off. He was very good to tack up, stood quietly for the fly spray and led to the round pen nicely. After he warmed up a bit I started to ask him to really move forward and not let up until I asked. He enjoys tilting his head to me and questioning me so driving him forward before he can even think about slowing up is very important. I’m learning to read his body signals and anticipate him a bit. He was SO good…it took a few tries of really making him move forward (off my “leg”, the whip) before he was willing to stay at whatever speed I asked him to stay in for as long as I wanted. I felt like it was a very productive session and I ended it with leaning over his back a few times just to feel my weight. He acted nonchalant and I look forward to getting on him again tomorrow with H’s help!

And for fun...a couple of pictures of Flaggy from his new and improved sales ad. What a handsome man!

That’s all for now. May be trying a potential lease horse this week, but details will come later…I’m determined to not get excited about anything until it actually happens! Stay safe and God Bless!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

My heart is so light right now!

Whew! Another incredible day from my Lord and I don’t even know where to start! I learned SO much today and got to do something I NEVER in my wildest dreams thought would happen. I know that this is going to be a bit long and winded and might not be very well written (as it is late for me ) but I will do my best!

Started off the morning with a jumping lesson w C on Denali. The big horse already feels stronger and more forward after just a week with C. We warmed up with the usual w/t/c and worked on getting him in front of my leg and staying straight in his body. Warmed him up over a little crossrail and he trotted right up and over like he did the first time I rode him. In a way, this was a bad thing, because it convinced me that he knows more than me and that I should just pose up there and stay out of his way. To the contrary, he soon informed me! When we began cantering fences my ineffective riding became more obvious. He would get quick about three strides out and then chip badly. Also, I managed to completely blow several turns which resulted in him knocking the fence down with his front legs. Finally I managed to sit up, put my leg on and keep contact with his mouth and voila! His canter became bouncy, his shoulders came up and he stayed quiet to the base of the fence. THEN I could pose over the fence and show off his pretty jump! I told C it’s funny how much like Alli he is in that he can rush the fences, but he’s so different from her because she is so nimble and he spends SO much time in the air and really stretches out on landing. Pretty funny :-D

Okay, big time drum roll now…yes, today I got the absolute PRIVILEDGE of jumping Monkee. Not just jumping Monkee, but jumping him through a 3’6” grid. Now let’s remember that I haven’t jumped 3’6” since….I was like, 14? Gee whiz. I was so nervous and excited that I was literally shaking but I tried to pull it together. Just in time for everyone to show up to watch me. Naturally. We warmed up in a similar fashion to Denali, just asking him to come up in front of me and go forward, forward, forward. Then we started through the grid. Just a ground pole to a cross rail first, that I can do. He has a tendency to back off in the trot right before a fence so it was important to keep my leg on and hands in front of me. Then they started. going.up. Before long we had a ground rail bounce to crossrail bounce to vertical, one stride to oxer, two strides to vertical (gradually increasing in height to 3’6”). My job was to get him in on a forward trot stride and then keep my eyes UP and my shoulders BACK and let him figure it out. The first couple of times through, he wanted to really drift left so C put a few guide rails to keep him straight. After landing on top of the last guide rail and flustering himself a bit (equaling a huge buck that made me burst into giggles), we started getting through straighter and straighter. He is a very typey jumper who really cracks his back and practically kicks himself in the chin with his knees, but if he doesn’t give it a good effort ,he just jumps across the fence (as opposed to AROUND it) and twists his front end, so the grid was good for him to figure out that when he jumps properly, it’s actually better for him.

And WOW what a great feeling! To jump a horse of this caliber, with his accomplishments…for the first time, I could almost feel what C feels when he gallops up to a solid Intermediate fence, when this horse sets himself up and prepares himself to make a huge effort. It’s incredible. It’s a true blessing and I can’t get over how amazing of an experience it was. I won’t get over that high for a while!

But the day wasn’t over yet. I also got the immense privilege of having a flat lesson on Alli with S! I have never heard S teach before but was very, very impressed with her lesson. First of all, she had ME figured out in no time…she told me that I was worried about riding this mare and making her do things because I didn’t want to mess her up. Well, that hit the nail on the head. I have been tiptoeing around this horse all week. As a result, I didn’t push her nearly enough and was convinced she was a big time greenie right off the track. After five minutes with S, it was clear that this mare has more of a foundation that I ever would have guessed. Once we got her going forward and into the contact, we could address her habit of putting her hind end left constantly. This meant moving her around every stride. Now, I had never thought of this analogy before, but S kept saying “Remember, a circle is a thousand straight lines. You want to be able to put her right, left, wherever you want each stride.” By keeping her body moving and listening I was able to keep her where I wanted, so her hind end didn’t ever have a chance to wander to the left. Tracking right this meant also keeping her left shoulder from popping out. When her trot would get quick, I had to “think slow” and take a deep breath and slow my posting and she would come right back to me. S also had me think of activating the hind legs by feeling them under each seat bone, and the leg should feel like a bouncing ball is under each seat bone. That imagery really helped me feel it. Her canter was a TON better, she has a super canter when I actually sit up and ride her through it instead of just convincing myself she’s too unbalanced to ask for anything. S had me lengthening and shortening all the way around the ring in the canter and it was wonderful! This little red mare has so much potential that C saw from the beginning and I just needed to feel it to believe it! What a super girl!

Then got to take Guppy on a trot and he was fantastic. And then worked with Champerdoodles and he was fantastic. And I’m tired of typing so those guys get the short stick tonight, haha. It was just awesome, awesome, awesome and an amazing blessing! I am going to be quite sore tomorrow, though!

Happy Cinco de Mayo and God Bless!


Monday, May 2, 2011

Busy, busy, busy.

Goodness. Exhausted. Isn’t it funny how you start to complain about not having enough to do and then all of a sudden God drops several new projects into your lap, and then you’re complaining about having too much to do! Thank goodness it’s almost summer and the days stay light until after 8 so I have enough time to get everything done outside, but then I come inside (to my half-renovated apartment and three animals) and crash into my very unmade bed and sleep restlessly until the next (super early) morning. It’s kinda a vicious cycle and partly could be helped by me eliminating my daily naps…that’s been a work in progress, but lately I’ve been opting for a nap on my lunch break. That usually leaves me with plenty of time to finish what I have to do at work but with a new horse (Denali) and Allegra to ride, I managed to get very behind today and am just getting inside for a shower and some Property Virgins! Nevertheless it was a beautiful day and full of God’s glory.

The day started with a lovely gallop on Monkee. We opted for the three-ring today as he’s been getting quite strong in the full-cheek the fitter he gets. The 3-ring works really well if you keep your hands low and light…any tugging results in his neck bowed between his knees which is never fun to ride. He was much more relaxed today than he has been and he recovered quickly from each set. He is such a good boy. And I still managed to pull my back badly, despite the fact that he was reasonably easy today. I don’t know how I do it, but it is really bad…if I breathe a certain way or tense any muscles in my back involuntarily it spasms and I cry out like someone punched me. Going to try to put IcyHot on and just relax it tonight!

Next was Deon, who needed to trot today. We rode the first part of the hack with Dad and Booboo, so when Booboo left us Deon (the BN packer who has been everywhere and seen everything) erupted into a whiny neighing machine for the rest of the ride. Gotta love him. He trotted nicely though…it takes me forever to get him loosened up and moving forward but once I do and he lets go in his back, his whole trot changes and he feels great. I didn’t do much because of my back and time constraints but he was a good boy.

Got a few chores done, made feed and gave a few baths before heading down to get Alli. She was much quieter in the cross-ties today and stood like a perfect princess. We rode up to the ring on a loose rein and she literally didn’t peek at ANYTHING on the way. She went right to work in the ring and was better from yesterday (that tends to happen with C’s help!). She didn’t root her mouth very much at all and when she did I just bent her and pushed her forward. We worked on just keeping her nose up and out and pushing from behind to get her stronger. She wanted to curl but with leg and a soft hand she started to get the trick. I tried to just ride the canter today and not worry so much about the balance…she was much better and felt stronger already. I’m learning how much hand/leg to use when she gets quick, because it’s always been a struggle for me to ride sensitive horses. I feel more confident today though that I gave her a good ride and as always, she walked home on the buckle…even past a tree that was being cut down and thrown into a giant truck. She is a star. Gave her a nice Vetrolin bath and let her graze in the sunshine. And at that point, S came home with the big horse from Rolex!! He looked amazing, shiny and didn’t seem to have lost much weight. He went right into his stall, peed, rolled, and settled down to the serious business of cribbing. Atta boy!

Worked Champ briefly after putting Alli away. Little nugget. Put the tack on him and fly sprayed him and started asking him to go forward. He putzed around for about five minutes and then decided to have a hissy fit…which basically involved him cantering around me. He didn’t even bother to buck. Love his attitude! I made him canter until he was ready to behave himself and then we worked on transitions by voice command. The walk is the hardest for him, as he wants to either trot or stop and look at me. We got it though…he catches on super quickly. I did a little desensitizing work with him…flapped the stirrups around and flung the lead rope all over his body. He sighed and looked at me like “Really?” Then we had a nice long grooming session while he munched grass. He is so precious!

So at the very least, S said Alli is mine to ride for the week…so that’s all the news I have on that right now. We will see where it goes, but I’m happy to have her in my life right now. And as far as finding energy for tomorrow…let me get back to you on that!
God Bless,

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Allegra, Take Two

Today was the second day of trying Allegra out. We brought her up to our ring and played around a little bit, even popping over a few very small fences just to see what she'd do. She was a very good girl and tried very hard to do what I asked.

I put two videos together, one of flat and one of jumping.

Try to ignore the banter between C and H. Haha.

Over fences. Yes, I realize the last clip is terrible. I included the good, bad and ugly.

That's that! We should have news in the next few days!
God Bless,