Friday, December 6, 2013

All Kinda News!

Better late than never... I know a promised an update a while ago, but it's been uber busy here, so Alex and I apologize.

First, I contacted County and told them about the problems we were having and they agreed to send me a demo with the correct tree size to use until my new saddle arrives.  This has helped Alex's back tremendously.  He's back to bouncing along, even if at times there's a little too much bounce :-)
Luckily for me, my new County saddle shipped from England this past Thursday and is due to arrive on my doorstep next week sometime.  Squeeeal!!! 

Second, the hubs and I are now the proud owners of a Chevy Tahoe and therefore one step closer to a trailer and actually taking Alex somewhere.  Squeeeal!!!

Finally, Alex and I have started work in draw reins (suggested by the madrĂ©), which I am fairly sure he thinks is just short of the seventh circle of hell.  The draw reins have given me some leverage to deal with the winter tantrums and are also helping Alex find more balance, both of which are wins in my book.

We've had a bit of a winter storm here tonight, so Alex had the night off.  Hopefully I'll get some snow pictures tomorrow!
 
"Just having a sun bath!"
"Hiya Mom!"

Monday, November 25, 2013

We're Still Here

Have no fear fellow bloggers, Alex and I have not disappeared into an abyss. Things have been crazy lately (more on that to come) and it's been all I can do to eat, sleep, work and ride :-)

So I'll leave you with a photo of some of my other four-legged creatures. The cutest best buds you'll ever see, my German Shepherd, Zenyatta, and my Bengal cat, Dexter. They are literally in love and snuggle all the time! Animals are so funny.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Upswing


First, I just want to thank everyone for your kind comments on my last post.  I can be pretty hard on myself at times and it helps to have your commiseration/encouragement, so THANK YOU!

On Monday Alex and I had a guest.  My mom came out to the farm with me to help/give pointers/and be another set of eyes.  After a mostly benign lunging session, I climbed into the saddle and we worked stretching and a little lateral work.  Other than one or two little moments, Alex was very good.  Mom set about helping us to improve our lateral work (it's nice to have someone confirm what you think you're feeling coming from the horse.  After that, I let him quit and we talked about what I felt and what she saw.  We agreed that he is starting to step short again (which I could feel, but was nice to have it confirmed).  That's a function of saddle fit and he's also been backing off his feed, another symptom that his back is starting to bother him.  So we're trying to get the new saddle or a borrowed demo here pronto, because I certainly don't want to go down that road again.

Overall, things are improving, which deep down I knew they would, but just needed to breathe and regroup.  Love my horse and the talent is in there... sometimes I just need to be more confident in myself and what I believe.  Alex had the night off today, but we'll be back doing something (maybe just lunging to go easy on the back) and keep moving forward.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Chaos



No, that's not Alex dressed up for Halloween, but wouldn't that be awesome?? 

It's been a long time since I posted...guilty :-/ Things have been totally crazy around here.

The saddle fitter was able to come early (10/10/13) and... Even after a near gutting of the excessive flocking, Alex has grown out of my saddle.  Yes, apparently I've fed and worked my horse so well that he's gained quite the topline.  The newly repaired County Stabilizer XTR Medium no longer fits my beast of a horse... insert swear word here [......]

This was proven further by sitting in a saddle with a 1/2 larger tree size and feeling Alex bounce along almost to the point of bouncing me out of the saddle.  We did try a demo Innovation for a few days, but unfortunately it had standard flaps and my knees poked over the front of the flap! 

SO, after much searching without finding... yesterday I ordered a brand new County Stabilizer XTR.  Basically, the same saddle I currently have, 17.5 with a Low Forward Flap just a 1/2 size larger tree...

Have I mentioned that I have the best husband ever??  Honestly, I wish I could have found something used, I really do, but I am so excited to be getting a new saddle, I've never had a new saddle... like ever in my whole life (29 years) of riding.  Then, I feel guilty, because it's a lot of money :-/  Then I'm excited again :-)

Other than that, not much else has been going on, Alex spent about two weeks being absolutely brilliant (like we hacked around a different part of the farm and he was totally chill by himself).  Then with the weather change in the last week, he's turned into an idiot.  For example, the second ride of the fall in the scary indoor, Alex did a lot of bolting at every little noise.  One such bolting went straight sideways into the concrete wall, smashing my leg and dragging it along the wall for two strides.  Thankfully he missed smashing my knee and scared himself enough that he'll probably never do it again, but damn does my leg hurt.  I rode last night, after lunging out as much of the crazies as possible, my leg was mostly fine until we started cantering when it hurt so bad I had to stop.

Today was pedicure day and I was exhausted.  We'll be back at it tomorrow. 

P.S.  I'm totally slacking at the 2-Point Challenge...

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Baseline

Just a quick post tonight...I managed to get my baseline, which was what I consider pitiful... 2:05. There's obviously room for lots of improvement!

Alex was very good tonight and I mostly stopped worrying about the saddle, with the help of everyone's kind comments, but then he took a couple tight steps at the trot to start off. I was puzzled, then he quickly worked out of it.

I'm still keeping an eye on him, checking his back and trying not over do it on a daily basis. That's all I can do. If he seriously goes into pain mode, I'll manage it with lunging and BoT. It's only a few weeks.

See, I feel better already :-)

Thursday, October 3, 2013

I might be crazy...

I must be insane, but I just joined the Two-Point Challenge hosted by L. Williams at Viva Carlosand Hillary at Equestrian at Hart so we will see how much punishment my legs, back and butt can handle! Baseline coming tomorrow night, it's bound to be pitiful...anyone else into self inflicted punishment, feel free to join the rest of us in our suffering.

My saddle came back this past weekend.  It looks great, but the panels are super "fluffy" meaning very well stuffed with flocking making the saddle look, dare I say it, narrow??  No... no... not narrow!  The saddle fitter is not scheduled to come till 10/22 and I'm practically wringing my hands about the saddle not being right and messing up Alex's back again.  It's not a terrible fit, but I do think that the flocking needs to be adjusted in the front panels and probably have some of it removed to make it fit correctly.  Seriously though, I live in fear of the fitter somehow telling me this saddle won't work...like now all the sudden he grew out of this saddle, we've had so much bad luck in this area... I know, I know, I'm negative Nancy, but right now, I am missing the demo saddle.

In other news, Alex has been going really well lately we've progressed to a leg-yield at the trot that doesn't look half bad.  Today we had company in the arena, despite some gawking and one turbo boost forward complete with giraffe stance and groaning sound effects brought on by cantering at the same time as the other horse, it went quite well.  Of course I spent the whole time worrying about the saddle...

10/22 cannot come soon enough! Deep breaths.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Sound!



It's a MIRACLE! Alex is sound! 

Ok , so it's not really a miracle, but it is good news :-)  It looks like he just tweaked or stepped on something out in the field.  After an anxious weekend of waiting, I put him on the lunge today to see where we stood and Alex proceeded to trot, canter, leap and buck perfectly sound.  

So we'll go back to work tomorrow.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Lame

There's been a several developments the since my last post.  Tuesday when I got out to the farm, things were hopping.  Despite the previous day off, I decided to just get on Alex without lunging.  After a quick warm-up we went right into our lateral work.  Alex is just getting better and better at his leg-yields and shoulder-ins, I'm so proud of him.  After we were mostly finished working, my friend E brought her horse into the arena to lunge.  Since Alex has never been ridden anywhere near a horse being lunged, I knew things could get interesting.  Boy was I right!  As soon as E's horse started jumping around, so did Alex...jumping leaping and groaning.


Fortunately, with a little trotting and stretching he got over himself :)

Unfortunately, as we completed our ride, Alex also felt a bit... off. 


Yesterday I got notice from County that my saddle was coming back and would arrive on Friday!!


So tonight I went out ready to ride, fingers crossed that I was just being paranoid.  As soon as he started trotting on the lunge... I knew...he's lame.  I did get into the saddle just to be certain but it was still there and do a little lateral work at the walk, which was so awesome btw.

After un-tacking I went and got the hoof testers.  Sure enough he flinched, right front, inside down toward the toe.  No temperature and he's still walking sound.


So now we wait.  I'm prepared, I have all the supplies, he's already had some UlcerGard, but I need to wait and see if it continues to progress.  He did this to me back in April, I freaked out thinking abscess and then he was fine in three days.  Monday, we'll know and it will either be time to pull the shoe and start abscess protocol or the storm will have passed. 

If it's not one thing...it's another.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Blogger Foul

 
 
I've committed a blogger foul...and my only excuse is that I've been so busy with my horse, I haven't had time to write my blogs.  To be perfectly honest, keeping up with all your fabulous blogs and riding Alex has been plenty for me, so I took a little hiatus :)
 
Alex is back in full work and learning all sorts of new things like leg-yields at walk and trot and shoulder-in at the walk.  We've been hacking around the main part of the farm which has been nice and just recently started jumping again...Alex didn't seem to miss a beat!
 
Thursday before last was pedicure day and Alex's feet had grown so much foot in 5 weeks that my farrier asked me if we'd missed an appt.  Although his feet look fabulous, I'm still living in fear of another fall/winter abscess :-/
 
Last Tuesday Alex had his teeth done (he gets his done every six months because he grows hooks) which he wasn't pumped about, but thankfully there was a large cocktail involved, so it went quickly and smoothly. 
 
Zzz... Sleepy Alex
 
Saturday Alex gave me a scare with a belly ache that I was worried would turn into colic.  Fortunately after lots of walking, grazing and a little Banamine, all was well.  Nothing to get your undivided attention like a horse with colic symptoms!
 
Sunday we had a great ride, despite cooler weather, wind and company in the arena.  Alex was very forward and "through" which was wonderful!
 
More riding tomorrow!
 

Barn kitties on guard in the feed room

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Life on Fast Forward

Not really relevant, but hilarious...My JRT would kill me in my sleep for this torture

 
I've been a bad blogger...as in I haven't been much of a blogger lately :-/
 
After the excitement of our field-trip, things have really kicked into high gear which is part of the reason for my absence.  Have no fear, Alex and I have been working super hard which has left me too tired to spill all the details.
 
For example, tonight was Alex's first night off in four days.  We've had a bit of a heat wave here, so our rides have left us both a sweaty mess.  I'm proud to report that we've made some big strides in recent rides (could we have grown up a bit after travelling?? Possibly)  Alex and I have begun to venture out on short hacks after most rides and he's been alert/curious but very good.  He's also learning turn the forehand and leg-yielding at the walk in rapid fashion.  I have been very impressed with my big man.
 
There's also been some changes on the farm.  One of the barns has been leased to a local event trainer and twelve new horses are now in residence.  That group has also brought some more jumps (I am sharing mine, as they are actually painted different colors and the new batch is all white,) so we can actually build a nice course).  Alex is slowly learning about dealing with more "traffic" on the farm which is something he's had limited exposure to until now.  It's definitely an adjustment having so many more people who actually ride in the arenas, but I think it's going to work out without too much fuss.  We'll see how it goes when winter drives us from the two outdoor arenas to the narrowish indoor.  I'm trying to think positive :-)
 
So there's my "catch-up" today Alex had his feet done and tomorrow I have a wedding to attend, so no more riding till Saturday. 
 
I'm trying to catch up with all your blogs too, I promise, I'm still reading!
 
 

Monday, September 2, 2013

Field Trip!!!

As advertised, Alex went on his very first field-trip this weekend to my aunt and uncle's farm in Indiana.  My uncle is a team-roper and runs an indoor/outdoor on the farm geared mostly toward roping, barrel racing, ranch horse shows and team penning.  So that means there's lots of cows/steers on the property.  My aunt rides English, so there's also a separate outdoor arena for her :-)

I decided to lunge Alex at home, to expend a little bit of that TB energy, before my uncle came to us up on Saturday afternoon.  He was very good on the lunge quickly relaxing and stretching down nicely.  A little bit of that probably had to do with the heat (hottest day of the year here on Saturday), but we got a good twenty minutes in before a nice refreshing bath.

I have to admit that I was very anxious about whether Alex would get on the trailer without any problems, he was well traveled in his previous life, but it had been more than a year since he arrived in Kentucky, so I didn't know what to expect.  Imagine my happiness when he just walked right onto the trailer without so much as a second look. Of course I was thrilled after I picked my jaw up off the floor.  He did start pawing pretty ferociously, but once we started moving he rode well all the way to Indiana.

My next worry was that he'd get off the trailer and lose his freaking mind.  There's a lot to look at on this farm including other horses and cows, which I am not sure he'd ever seen.  When Alex gets wound up while being led around, he tends to stand up on his hind legs and/or bite me and dance around.  He backed off the trailer like a pro, then took a big look around before dipping his head down to eat some grass.  The only hitch was when a huge horse fly landed on his butt and he started circling me and bucking! Poor guy, he just seems to attract them :-(

In order to escape the blood thirsty pterodactyls, I took Alex into the barn and put him in a stall with a fan.  He wasn't very happy about this, considering his stall at home has a stall guard and room to see out the back and this stall had neither.  I managed to distract him with some hay while I unloaded our gear from the trailer.

The plan was to lunge Alex first and let him have a look around and then ride in the evening when the heat and the flies.


Alex behaved very well in the cross-ties, though he was definitely looking around anxiously.

Seriously dude... what is that smell?
 
Honestly though, he had reason to be looking around...look what was in the barn with him...
 
Moooooo...

 
This was the run in for the steers and across the isle was a giant fan, so they spent a lot of time here out of the hot sun.  Alex's stall was right on the other side of that wall (where the buckets were hanging) so he got a good dose of cattle!
 
After tacking up, I walked Alex down the hill to the outdoor, he was quite the fire-breathing dragon as he was looking around while we walked... I was waiting for him to go up on me at any moment, especially as we passed where my uncle was on the tractor with another guy in the cherry picker trimming trees.  It didn't happen until we got into the arena.  As I was attempting to shut the gate, he suddenly ripped his head side-ways and went up right in front of me... all I remember is front feet, very close to my head and thinking "oh wow... could have just lost my head."  When he came down I punished him and then walked him to the middle of the arena.  He hopped up one more time before I could get the side-reins clipped on properly, but then finally started moving around me on the lunge. (I made a mental note that next time I'd clip the side-reins on in the barn and walk him down with a chain over his nose).  Actually, he was very good on the lunge, nothing more than some of his usual nonsense, a few bucks, hops, leaps and head shakes.  Given his enthusiasm, I decided he was going to be lunged until he literally gave up and that is exactly what I did.  Puffing and dripping, he finally stopped and looked at me as if to say "no more."  Satisfied, I walked him back up to the barn for a bath before back to his stall for a break before our evening ride.
 
Unfortunately, our evening ride got rained out... Alex stayed in his stall pawing and giving the occasional call out to whomever might answer him, until the storms passed and then I put him out in a small paddock next to a group of ponies on one side and cows on the other.  At home Alex has his own paddock and cannot touch noses with his neighbors, but here he had all kinds of access.  He spent about 30 minutes arching his neck over the fence and smelling and squealing and pawing before I could tear myself away to go back to the house.
 
The next morning when I went out to bring Alex in and try to get him to eat some feed, it looked like he'd had a rough night of walking, pawing and carrying on with the ponies.  Of course, he wouldn't really eat any feed, but was eating hay and drinking in between calling for his new loves, the ponies :-)
 
Finally, I tacked up again and took him down for lunging before our ride.  The chain over his nose came in handy when I had to correct him one time, but otherwise, smooth sailing.  After lunging Alex until he looked quite settled, I climbed into the saddle for our very first ride off the farm.  Video is below! 
 


 
 
With the exception of that one spook when there was a truck driving up the driveway, I thought he did really well!
 
After we finished, it was time to get back on the trailer (again not even a second look) and head home.
 
Scary trailer (well apparently not)
"Let's get a move on!"
 
Overall, I am SO PROUD of him.  Things could have gone much worse, but other than a few little temper tantrums, he did very well.  About the time he finally settled, it was time to leave, but I think the more we do this, the better he will get :-)
 


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

My Horse is a Dork

Since Alex had the day off today (I know, I said lunging, but I was tired, I have no excuse).  I thought I'd post some video of my horse being a goof ball :-)

 
He is freaking hilarious with the hose! I literally cannot spray his face unless I give him a drink and "brush" his teeth.  He's all like "Mom...look at my tattoo!" LOL.  This is part of the reason I love this horse.  So much personality!
 
 
And...I have some big news...Alex is going on his very first field trip this weekend! We'll be traveling up to my aunt's farm in Indiana to spend Saturday night and Sunday morning.  This is a BIG deal, since Alex has not been off the farm since he arrived from Florida last June. 
 
Typical me, I'm already in super planning mode (I can't help it, I haven't been to a show/event since Gryff and I's last outing (tear...) last May), making lists and obsessing! 
 
I expect a little mayhem out of Alex...but I'm not sure what kind.  I just hope he gets on the trailer and then we'll see.  Definitely more details (possibly photos and video) to come.
 
Tomorrow Alex will be back to work, off Friday as I have plans with the girls and probably worked multiple times Saturday.

Also, there's more contests going, head on over to She Moved to Texas and enter her contest for the chance to win a leather Horze Halter! And/or to Equestrian at Hart to win some great Sore No More products!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

A Good Day

Tonight we had a good ride.  It was calm, it was focused and it was pleasant.  Despite the fact that Alex was being chased by the horsefly from hell on the lunge (he was bucking straight up and down every time it landed/bit him), we had some pretty decent flat work once I was in the saddle!

Perhaps Boot Camp is paying off? Alex has been worked almost every day for the last two weeks (I think he's had about 3 days off?) in a myriad of circumstances.  We've fought and we've made up.  I can honestly say I'm happy about the work we've put in and I think we're seeing some of the benefit :-)

Tomorrow is probably going to be a lunging only day, we'll see how things go.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Making up


Turns out tomorrow was another day.  Alex and I went back to work on Thursday.  It was another stormy afternoon, but at least this time there wasn't as much wind and the temperature hadn't dropped.  After working on the lunge, I climbed into the saddle ready to rock.  Fortunately, although Alex was more tense than usual, there was no bucking and only a few head tosses.  I wasn't elated with the ride but I was satisfied.

Friday night was a quiet one at the farm, for which I was grateful after two stormy nights.  I decided it was time to put on my "big girl breeches" and ride in spurs.  Alex did remarkably well with the spurs, although I think he was a little put out :-)  Our actual ride was actually very good, he was much more forward with the spurs and I didn't have to work so hard to keep him forward which was great! 

Our Saturday lunging session was a little wild, thanks to a horse running around in the paddock next to the arena, but fortunately that didn't transfer to our ride.  Alex worked pretty well and even managed to do a few turns on the forehand (not the best ever, but good) and a satisfying way to end four days of riding. 

Sunday Alex had the day off and had his fall vaccinations, so I just cleaned his stall, fed him treats and gave him kisses.

Tonight, I have to admit, that I was tired and not exactly enthused about riding, I tacked up and headed out to lunge Alex and found another person riding in the arena.  After asking if it was ok to lunge in the arena while she rode (which it was)  I started working Alex.  He was surprisingly calm working on the lunge even with the other horse cantering around at the opposite end of the arena (this usually sets him off). 

Right after I climbed in the saddle, the other horse came trotting by which of course meant that Alex felt the need to make a little leap and groan (he always groans, it's so funny!) setting the other horse off a bit (oops!).  Tried this a few more times whenever we got close to the other horse, but eventually after being made to continue forward, he settled, and I was never at any time worried he'd do anything really bad which is fantastic!  I hope I didn't bother the other girl too much.  I'm really happy though because I so rarely get to ride with other people in the arena and it wasn't terrible!  Even though we had a little change of game plan, I'm happy in my decision to start exposing him to more.  It never hurts to ask if it's ok to ride with someone else, all they can do is say no, but if I don't start asking, Alex will never get over his tendency to get wound about other horses.

Despite our struggles, I really do love my horse.  He's never going to be easy, but I do really think he's going to be spectacular.  Just have to be confident, persistent and patient :-)



Wednesday, August 21, 2013

No Treats For You!

Alex's vision of himself today

It's been one of those nights... the ones where you get done working your horse and you think to yourself "what a friggin psycho!"

I went straight from work to the barn and was ready to get back to work.  Alex stood to be groomed and tacked giving no signals that he was in a wild mood.  Took him out to lunge, a few bounces and kicks but nothing out of the ordinary.  Right about the time I removed the lunging equipment to climb in the saddle, the temperature dropped about 5+ degrees, it got windy and a few of the horses in paddocks across the farm started calling back and forth.  Since it was still dry and Alex seemed unimpressed, I climbed into the saddle to do a little flat work.  I was wearing spurs for the first time, so on my guard to be gentle.  Not one minute into our ride and Alex commenced shaking his head, bucking and leaping around like he hadn't been worked in a week.  Usually the bucking and jumping around doesn't bother me too much, and I'm willing to cowgirl it out a bit, but I was very worried I'd catch him with my spurs if he got me too off balance.  Considering he's never been ridden in spurs, I didn't want that to be his first experience.

I decided I'd get off and put him back on the lunge until he and the wind settled down.  As soon as we started working again, he decided it was time to tear around at the gallop like he was being chased by the boogie man for like 20 minutes complete with bucking and snorting (made even better by someone driving by on a lawn tractor) even half-way falling down at one point.  When I thought he looked "done," I changed directions where he tore around a little more before finally settling down. Keep in mind that he's been lunged for nearly an hour at this point... Determined that he would be ridden, I removed all the lunging equipment and climbed back in the saddle.  About a ten strides away from the mounting block and Alex throws another series of bucks, leaps and snorts..... WTF?!  Again, I'm worried about the spurs, but have made up my mind that he WILL trot around this arena before we go in to the barn (it's actually raining a bit now).  Another series of fireworks later, I make him trot another couple strides and finally dismount to get the loaner saddle out of the rain.  I was so mad that I couldn't properly deal with the situation, but the weather wasn't cooperating.

Turns out it was good that I went in, because it started to thunder pretty loudly (Alex would have dumped me for sure if that had started while I was in the saddle), but I still wish I could have dealt with him.

So Alex has a new nickname... Captain Psycho!

You know I'm disappointed in my horse's behavior when he gets no treats at all... I don't think that's ever happened...yeah, it was one of those nights.

Tomorrow he could be a total saint... we'll see :-)

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Rain and Contests!



Today we had some scattered rain showers right around the time I got done at work.  Given that my indoor is currently a dust bowl with little circulation and that Alex has been ridden for three days in a row, I decided that I'd give him today off instead of tomorrow when it's more likely to be dry enough to ride in the outdoor. 

Also it seems two of my fellow bloggers are having contests, yipppeeee!



Nicku over at The Polka Dot Periodical is celebrating 150 followers with a contest.  So zip over there and enter!  Just email her your fav horse items under $50 :-)

Amy over at Slow and Steady Wins the Race is celebrating 100 followers with a contest of her own. If you're not already following her blog, I highly recommend it, I love reading about her OTTB pony Steady and their adventures! And don't forget to enter her contest too :-)

Tomorrow Alex and I will be back to work and we'll see how his flat-work continues to progress!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Forward March!

Happens to me on a daily basis...
 
Boot Camp for Alex is in full swing.  Little did I know that it would be Boot Camp for me too!  It's amazing how much fitness I can lose when we have a little down time.  

Sunday's pointers from my mom turned into.  quasi lesson, which in all reality, we probably needed for a good kick in the butt. I lunged Alex and then clombed aboard to see what 
the day would bring. After a quick warm-up, mom started in with the directions :-) 

I was to ask Alex to stretch and then ask for forward, turning his head and giving with the inside rein to encourage the stretch down and push forward. While I know this exercise from previous horses, it was nice to have someone on the ground reminding me to PUSH!

Alex did pretty well, but he only gets a few "lengthened" steps out before his head comes up and we have to circle or halt to refocus. 
His canter was ok, no bucks, but our departs are so ugly! Lots to work on there. 

Overall, mom pronounced him much improved 
in movement and just in need of consistent work on FORWARD to continue building his strength.

Tonight it was more of the same. Alex and I worked our butts off and were just about to quit when a whinnying horse in the distance inspired one of Alex's baby fits. Of course we had to keep working until I won that battle :-)

Otherwise it was a good productive night, still a LONG way to go. 

Alex still seems comfortable with the saddle, so that's good, I'm probably going to be annoyingly parinoid about that for several months, but so far so good!

Day 4 of 4 in a row tomorrow before a well deserved Wednesday off.


Sunday, August 18, 2013

Sometimes You Just Gotta Change the Game Plan


On Thursday, the loaner/demo saddle arrived from County.  I now know why it's been on the demo list for a while, it's Oak bark which means it's a little orange, but beggars can't be choosers and I'm sure grateful to have a saddle while mine is fixed.  Now that Alex and I can get back on track, he's back to boot-camp, which means he gets lunged and ridden every day, regardless of whether he's been worked the day before, until I can tell he's back in a routine.  I've also decided that there will be no more babying for Alex.  He's going to have to work in whatever circumstances arise.

So with that in mind, I walked into the arena to lunge him on Thursday with other horses (gaited horses at that) in the arena.  He was quiet enough until the other horses started doing more than walking.  This brought on the exaggerated trot complete with tail in the air and then grunting and bucking.  I just kept lunging him and waiting for the excitement to abate and eventually it did.  When I finally climbed into the saddle, he was still a little up, but not wild, so we just did some trot work and called it a day.  It was much more lunging and less riding than I would have liked on such a nice day, but sometimes, you just gotta change the game plan.  He's got to be exposed to things if he's ever going to get over them and if that means I don't get to do what I had planned, that's just going to have to be ok.

Saturday I rode late, since the hubs was at a  Diaper Party (read man baby shower) and then that way I could do my barn chores after Alex went out to his paddock for the night.  We were alone in the arena which I have to admit was nice (I said I wouldn't run from distractions, I didn't say I loved them!).  Alex went well on the lunge, so I climbed into the saddle ready to work.  Basically the only bad thing I can say is that he still wanted to buck during the right canter transition.  I'm about 90% sure this is just left over anxiety from his previous back/saddle problems but since we haven't been able to work consistently, it will take some time for me to be absolutely sure. 

The loaner saddle feels just fine, I have to admit that my saddle felt a lot wider, which was probably a symptom of the broken tree.  I feel pretty darn stupid for not knowing about the tree, but live and learn I suppose.

Usually I give Alex Sunday off, but since we've been out of work for a while, I'm going to ride him today.  Taking the MadrĂ© with me today so she can give a few pointers.  We'll see how that goes :-)

Happy riding everyone!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Tomorrow is Another Day!


So when I got the news about the saddle... I had to have a little time to pout, which is why I've been silent a while.  After the appropriate mourning period, I got some news that reminded me of one very important thing...
 
 
On Monday, I spoke with County and learned that it would be $900 to replace the broken tree (it's out of full warranty) in my saddle and take 9-10 weeks.  I was, as can be imagined, not too pumped about that piece of information.  Next, I immediately sent an email to the seller explaining what had happened.  She quickly emailed back, horrified about the saddle and pissed at the person who had sold it to her.  She also offered to reimburse some of the money I had paid, so that I could put it towards the new tree.  Color me very surprised and happy :-)  We agreed upon an amount which I won't disclose here, but will say it was very generous considering the situation.
 
Then I sent an email to the rep at County to ask if there was any way they could "loan" me a demo saddle while I waited for mine to be fixed.  I really thought there was no chance in hell... but thought it was worth a try.  She emailed back and said they had a demo 17.5 Stabilizer XTR with a Medium Tree, that I could use provided I covered shipping, but I might have to ship it back if someone wanted to take it on trial (apparently it's been on the list a while, so she doesn't think it will be a hot item).
 
Holy Shit! Did that just happen?? A few days ago I was devastated... not sure where to turn and now it looks like everything is going to work out just fine!  Honestly, I cannot say enough about County, they have been just wonderful, I liked their saddles before, but this customer service has really sold me. 
 
Loaner/Demo saddle arrives tomorrow, so Alex and I are back to work :-)

BTW, thanks for everyone's kind words, I didn't respond to your comments because I was still pouting, but I appreciated them all the same!
 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Somebody Kill Me Please...

FML...
 
Just got a call from the saddle repair person earlier today... the tree on my newly purchased saddle is BROKEN! This would explain the issues at the pommel.  She said it looked like someone knew about it, because the panels had been glued back on and the panels under the flap had been "overstuffed."  Seriously?? WTF?!?!
 
I don't think the girl I bought it from knew about it, because she bought it as a transition saddle and hardly used it...but I would bet the person she bought it from knew. 
 
Soooooo... the saddle is going to be dropped off at County in Maryland (since the saddle repair person is right down the road and does lots of work for County) and I'm going to talk to them about getting the tree replaced.  As I understand it, County saddles have a lifetime warranty, but because this saddle is seven years old, I like likely have to pay for any shipping and labor.  Hubby and my mom have already said this isn't the end of the world, if it gets a new tree, and everything is properly flocked, it will be like a new saddle, which in theory is true (my mom has actually had a tree replaced in a County saddle that had a horse fall on it many years ago).  That is, of course, the logical way to look at it, but I don't feel like being logical right now... I want to cry and throw a fit like a toddler (there have already been tears of frustration, but no fit). Worst of all...this means more wasted time for Alex while this situation gets resolved, unless I can find something to borrow for a while. 
 
I just don't even know what else to say right now.  I feel pretty hopeless and helpless.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Feelin' Yucky :-(

 
 
 
The last two days I haven't been feeling so great.  I probably haven't mentioned this on here, but I suffer from IBS and have intermittent "attacks" when I don't pay enough attention to what I eat.  Apparently I've been slacking lately, which culminated in an attack last night and kept me from getting out to ride Alex.  Most of the time I can ride when I don't feel well.  Having had a succession of respiratory sicknesses over my lifetime, I'm the master of riding when I'm coughing up a lung or can't breathe; but when it comes to anything that makes me feel like I'm going to pass out (like my stomach issues sometimes do), I have to draw the line, even though I'm usually tempted to stubbornly tough it out :-)
 
The saddle is on it's way to MD to be fixed and should return next week unless any unforeseen issues arise.  Since I'm still not feeling perfect and I'd only be lunging him anyway, I decided to give Alex another night off.  I feel totally lazy since I was just talking a big game about "Boot Camp," but there's only so much I can get done with the saddle one anyways and the pusher in me is just going to have to deal with the fact that my body is demanding a little break.
 
Thursday Alex will get lunged, then Friday it's time for him to get new kicks and Saturday more lunging.  Hope everyone is having a great week!


Monday, August 5, 2013

Minimal Nonsense

 
 
 
Alex is starting "Boot Camp."  Although I'm ecstatic that he's feeling and moving about 100% better since the introduction of the new saddle, he's been a little too "frisky/ADD" for my liking.  So I've decided that he's going to be lunged before every ride for the next few weeks.  By that time we'll be back in a consistent groove and hopefully he will start to get with the routine again :-) 
 
Since the saddle is getting shipped off for repairs on Thursday, he'll get a lot more lunging time during the first week, but I think it will be a great opportunity to continue his muscle stretching/building.  He's still showing me that the canter is a bit of a struggle both mentally (due his memories of previous back issues) and physically (due to his greenness and need for more muscle) and this will be time for us to work those muscles without the burden of me in the saddle.  
 
I've also been reading (at the suggestion of my mom) Training the Young Horse: The First Two Years
 
 
This was apparently one of her "go-to" books for training young horses, and something she used to pull out and re-read every time she started a young horse.  It has some good practical insights which I am enjoying and I'm looking forward to additional pointers/explanations of how to build a really solid flat work foundation for Alex.
 
Tonight the lunging and then riding went pretty well.  Alex was still overly concerned about the geese in the paddock next to us (even though he sees them ALL the time) and getting him completely "through" at the canter is still interesting, but he put in a pretty workman like performance and I can't pick on him too much :-)
 
More lunging and another ride tomorrow.
 


Sunday, August 4, 2013

Frisky, Are We?

 
 
Sorry for the gap in posts, but it has been a crazy busy week!
 
Alex is REALLY enjoying his new saddle and his trot finally has suspension which even though I know it's not like schooled Dressage horse, it feels amazing!  I'm kinda even nervous to talk about it, like maybe if I do, the other shoe will drop :-/  The flip side of Alex's new found comfort, is that he feels really GOOD, which means he needs a reminder course in appropriate behavior.
 
Wednesday night he was dancing around and trying to bite me so much at the mounting block, I didn't even dare set my foot in the stirrup because it seemed like a launch pad.  Out came the lunging equipment.  After about 25 minutes, he became much more reasonable and I got in the saddle.  Oh lovely bouncy beautiful suspension!  No stabbing steps, much reduced stiffness from the rear... could it be true?  Have we found the answer?  Ok Alex... I'll forgive you for feeling a little frisky.
 
Thursday, I decided we'd try a ride without lunging after all, he's usually fine when he's been worked the previous day.  I managed to get into the saddle without any dancing around or biting from Alex.  After some stretch at the walk, I asked for the trot... Alex took about three stiff steps at the trot and then after I asked him to stretch... bounce bounce bounce... there it was again suspension!  We worked all over the arena and then started to canter.  About the time Alex stretched his nose to the ground and really started to carry himself all the way down the long side, someone drove around the corner and drove over a stick making a noise... explosion!  Buck, buck, buck, groan, hop, turn, buck, buck, buck... halt... snort...back to trot work.
 
 
Saturday, I headed out to lunge Alex before riding, since I had already made the decision that Alex was going to be lunged before every ride, until he remembers to behave.  Everything was going along fine... Alex was stretchy and relaxed, with the exception of looking around at a horse that had been brought out to graze.  I was just about to wrap up lunging when... explosion!  A horse in one of the paddocks close to the outdoor started running around with his tail in the air, so of course Alex had to show off adding a few bucks for good measure.  After another 15 minutes, he regained his senses and I got into the saddle.  There it was again... that lovely trot...and it didn't matter that he'd been a little enthusiastic lately or that we were both dripping with sweat, it was wonderful :-)
 
 
In other news, I've found someone to fix the cosmetic issues with the saddle, so it will be shipped to Maryland on Thursday, and hopefully back to us by the following Wednesday.  So excited about this, because she's someone who does lots of work for County and said it would be no big deal to fix.  Yippeee!
 
While the saddle is gone, rather than risk ruining any of our progress, I'll be working Alex on the lunge, so he can continue building his muscles back up and I won't have to deal with a wild pony when the saddle returns. 
 
 
Phew, sorry for the long post, but I had to catch up :-)  Hope everyone has a fabulous week!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Saddle Stays :-)

Just a short post tonight...
Alex and I had our third ride in the saddle tonight. Overall, he was OK. A little fussy in the bridle for my taste, but I have to remind myself we've been lacking consistency over the last couple weeks. He also spent some time "looking" for things to turn into excuses for mischief, but in a fairly low key manner. Our canter was interesting, he's still not a big fan of me sitting down and asking for the depart. I think some of this is memory/anticipation and some of it is real discomfort. Since we've only had the saddle three days, I can't expect him to be miraculously cured. It will take lots of long low stretches and muscle building to get fully past all this.
Ultimately, I've decided we're keeping the saddle, it's everything Alex needs right now and hopefully for a while during the filling out/growing new muscles phase.
So... yahoo, we've got a new saddle, finally!  
And look who earned himself pull-on bell boots since I walked into the barn and caught him trying to destroy another pair!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Saddle Trial... Finally!

As you probably guessed, the saddle didn't come on Friday and I was not pleased.  I decided to go out and lunge Alex anyway, just so we would be ready when the saddle finally arrived.  When I got to the farm, look what I found in front of his stall...


Another casualty... chewed off.  Alex has one more pair of boots with Velcro before he gets pull on boots.

Now, since I know everyone has been waiting on pins and needles about the saddle trial :-)  It finally arrived on Saturday morning!


Of course I couldn't wait more than a few hours to try it out...
 
I lunged Alex first since he'd had a few days off and hadn't been ridden for almost a week.  After an uneventful few minutes I climbed into the saddle.  First thing I noticed was that it was wider at my thigh, which I attribute to the fact the stirrup bars are not recessed.  It didn't bother me, but was just different.  The second thing I noticed was the difference in the tree.  I'm so used to riding in my Stubben that is eons old, that it's weird to ride in a "cushy" saddle with a spring tree.  The third thing I noticed was that Alex's bounce was back! Part of that was probably the time off, but I also think the saddle played a roll.  There was none of the stiffness from behind and lack of forwardness that I felt last Sunday.  One day down.

After our ride, I took Alex out to graze for a few minutes...

"What's out there, mom?"
 
Noms
 
Today was our second day in the new saddle, I decided to just get on and ride to see how Alex felt.
 
Basically all I can say is that the ride went really well, Alex seemed happy as a clam and I felt super secure and balanced.  I also noticed just how much more I can feel in his back with this saddle, it almost feels weird ;-)
 
Here's a few after ride photos courtesy of the hubs.
 
  
Cheese
 
We finished up with a bath, where Alex decided to play clown and try to bother me while I took his bell boots off.
 
"I can almost reach you...."
 
 
Soooo, basically, I'm about 90% sure I'm keeping the saddle, it does have a few minor cosmetic issues that I think could be easily fixed.  I have been looking for a month and haven't found any other saddle that has everything recommended by the County Rep/Fitter like this one does and honestly I can't wait any longer, Alex's back needs this now.
 
Tomorrow I'm going to ride in it again and make a final decision as well as make a call to someone who does repairs for County so I can get an idea what it will cost to fix/how long it will take.  These repairs are not an emergency, but I'd like to get them done so it can be perfect!.
 
So far, Alex seems very very happy. 
 
 

 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Grumpy Kat

Well.... the expected delivery date has come and is almost gone here in Kentucky... SmartPak managed to get me "extra" supplement, to make up for the Fastrack that came open in the box earlier this week, in three days.  The USPS couldn't manage to get the saddle here in seven days or even track its progress properly.  So I called USPS, knowing full well there wouldn't be any resolution, but determined to have my say so that I would feel better.  Apparently "scanners have been down in several locations " so it hasn't been scanned since it left CA and "it could take longer" because it's a larger package.  Why give any expected date of arrival if there is no possible hope of it arriving on said date?  L.A.M.E.  Technically, it has till tomorrow (this method has expected shipping time of 2-8 days) before it is officially outside their delivery window.  See this is why people don't ship their packages USPS! 

I will say that in this instance, the person doing the shipping didn't have much of a choice, she lives out far away from UPS/FedEx shipping locations and had shipped using this method before with good results.  I am not blaming her, because I know the darn thing was shipped, I'm just not sure where it is!

So I as promised... this is me today.

 
 
In case you can't tell, I enjoy the Grumpy Cat, because I love cats and I am sometimes a Grumpy Kat :-)
 
In other news of people/things who DO show up when they are supposed to, met the farrier bright and early this morning and Alex got his shoe replaced, but since I'm letting him chill till the saddle gets here, he's going to have another night off.
 
Finally, because my husband cracks me up, I thought I'd share what I received in one of his text messages
 
 
Hope it makes you laugh too!
 
 



Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Lost Shoes While Waiting

Apparently Alex tore up both his bell boots day before yesterday (he sometimes chews at the stitching of the Velcro) then went out last night, partied in the mud (he was caked today) and lost his right front shoe.  I swear, I'm going to start calling him princess!  Luckily for me, my farrier is awesome and he will be there tomorrow at 7:30AM to replace Alex's shoe which makes me look like this...

 
 
And after Alex gets his new shoe tomorrow morning he better be showing his new shoe off like this...

 
 
AND... the saddle better come tomorrow... or I'm going to look like this...
 
 
 
So we'll see what tomorrow brings :-)

Monday, July 22, 2013

Patiently Waiting?

 
 
So the weekend was up and down.  Alex was very very good, but I think maybe we overdid it with the canter work the last week or so. Sunday's ride was a quiet obedient one, but Alex just didn't feel right.  He wasn't lame, but he also wasn't super forward and there wasn't much suspension. I looked around at his rear and it seemed like he was travelling with his tail tucked... rut roh... I decided to cut the ride short in favor of a mini hack around the property.  As soon as we left the arena, his tail came back up ... this is better ... then we called it day.  After un-tacking, I jogged him, checked his legs, checked his back and everything seemed ok. 
 
Sooooo, basically I think we did a little too much in the Stubben (I had been warned it would not be a good solution on a permanent basis due to it's age) and he's starting down the soreness road again...[insert flatline noise here]...
 
This means I am going to totally back off until the new saddle gets here for the trial.  Today he had his meds, had some BOT time and got lunged with lots of long and low.  Tomorrow he gets a day off and if the saddle still isn't here on Wednesday we'll have another night of meds, BOT and lunging.  I just really don't want him all screwed up again when this saddle arrives.
 
Seriously... this saddle better work, otherwise, it's back to the drawing board :-/
 


Saturday, July 20, 2013

20 Things You Wanted to Know

 
 
So I saw this on Karley's blog and decided to steal it since I have been on a mini riding hiatus the last two days.
 
20 Things You Wanted to Know:
 
1.  What's your horse's name and how did they come by it?
Alex Le Great - This is his registered Jockey Club name and at least part of it comes from his daddy who's name was Afleet Alex.
 
2.  What are your favorite breeches?
Right now I would have to say Tuff Rider Aerocool full seats, because that's about all I've had for the past 5 years :-)
 
3.  Tall boots or paddock boots and half-chaps?
I actually prefer my paddock boots and half-chaps, but only because I can strip them off as soon as I'm finished riding.  In the winter I prefer my full chaps and paddock boots.
 
4.  What brand of tall boots do you have (if you wear them)? If you had an unlimited budget, what would you get?  I have Ariat Crowne Field Boots and I really like those.  I guess if I could get another pair, it would be Dehner custom boots.
 
5.  Favorite helmet?  I prefer the IRH helmets... they don't look quite as gigantic on my head since I have a narrow face.
 
6.  Shows or no shows?  Shows, although I suspect I'll start turning into a ball of nerves again when Alex starts showing, just because there will be so much unknown.
 
7.  Jumping or flat work?  Right now flat work, because I've gained a new appreciation for it and it's connection to all things.  I suspect that may change once Alex starts back learning to jump though, because I really think he's going to rock!
 
8.  Hunters, Jumpers, Cross-Country or Derby?  Either Jumpers or Cross-Country
 
9.  What other disciplines have you ridden?  A little bit of western (team roping horses), played around on some polo ponies, fox-hunting, dressage, hunters and jumpers.
 
10. Dressed to the nine or whatever you can find when riding?  I like to look immaculate when I'm showing, but I tend to ride in whatever is cool/warm when schooling at home.
 
11. Where do you shop most for you?  Your horse?  Dover Saddlery, SmartPak and Valley Vet, as well as the local tack shops.
 
12. When is the last time you rode and what did you do?  Wednesday and I had a little test of my stickability in the saddle since Alex was feeling good leaping round a bit :-)
 
13. What tack do you use to ride every day? Saddle, bridle, square pad, ThinLine half-pad, girth.  Sometimes galloping boots or polos when I feel like they are needed.
 
14. What are your horse's colors?  Hunter Green and White, although some blue occasionally creeps in there.
 
15. How often do you clean your tack?  Not nearly as often as I should, I need to get better about that.
 
16. What kind of bit do you use? Rubber.  Rubber Gag and Rubber Eggbutt Snaffle.  The rubber gag gives me a very mild bit with the security of the gag rein should I need it on my sometimes unpredictable greenie.  Rubber Eggbutt is good when the Gag isn't allowed.
 
17. Mares or Geldings?  Started my riding with mares, but have had a few geldings now and have to say my heart belongs there.
 
18. What is something you want to improve on in your riding?  Always confidence.  I sometimes don't push as much as I should.
 
19. Favorite horse themed quote:  "It is the difficult horses that have the most to give you." –Lendon Gray
 
20. What is your most recent equestrian purchase? Hopefully a County Stabilizer XTR saddle, as long as everything goes ok with the trial ;-)
 
 
Well there's some stuff about me and my pony, hope you enjoyed.  Look for another post about today's ride later!
 
 


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Wednesday is Leap Day

Alex's idea of fun
 
 
Just a quick post tonight.  Although it's not nearly as hot as it was last time this year, the humidity is absolutely disgusting.  Alex had yesterday off, and after three stellar rides I thought tonight we'd have more of the same.  Apparently, my pony had other ideas... there was a lot of head shaking and leaping around...like I mean striking out with front legs leap so that I can see them while sitting on him.  It didn't really bother me, but it was annoying considering the nasty weather.  He did eventually settle nicely, but we both paid for it in the sweat dripping post ride.  What a booger... he loves to keep me on my toes, but it still makes me happy, because at least this means he feels good!
 
Tomorrow and Friday Alex has a little mini vacay due to dinner plans with work peeps tomorrow night and birthday dinner plans with my mom Friday night (it's my mom's birthday Sunday).  I will definitely be lunging Alex Saturday before I ride after tonight's exuberance :-)
 
Saddle coming on trial will ship tomorrow!
 
Happy riding everyone, and to those suffering in the heat wave, stay cool!
 
 
Also, if you have time, head over to Hillary's blog Equestrian at Hart and check out her contest!