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?"
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.
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 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!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Happy Happy Joy Joy!!

This is still me
 Alex and I's last three rides (Friday, Saturday and Monday) have been near perfect.  Friday I lunged him and then rode on the flat, he stretched and then did well spending some time in a frame at all three gaits.  No bucks at the canter and overall very quiet.  Saturday, I put the BOT Back Pad on him (that thing really does heat up!) while I groomed and got him ready then climbed into the saddle without lunging.  Again stretched and then spent some time in a frame at all three gaits.  No bucks at the canter and overall very quiet.  Tonight same routine as Saturday (although it was much hotter and more humid, yuck), he stretched and spent some time in a frame at all three gaits although he did attempt one little buck at the canter to the left, but I think it was because I startled him into a depart and he was attempting to pick up the incorrect lead.  Still, overall very quiet and obedient.

Seriously, I'm over the moon.  He's been just short of perfection and without getting too carried away, I'm thinking to myself, that if this is the way he is when all circuits are go, the sky is the limit. Of course I'm realistic enough to know we have a long way to go and there will be many more green moments, but I'm also just happy with where we are right now :-)  It feels like it's been a long road of ups and downs to get here.  I hope our third "start" is a charm.

On the saddle front, I've found a used County Stabilizer XTR with everything the fitter suggested and only a few cosmetic issues, it should be shipped here for trial later this week, so we'll see!


Thursday, July 11, 2013

Alex & Kat: The Beginning

Alex had tonight off, but K over at Kiss Me I'm Irish got me feeling nostalgic about our beginnings, so I dug out some photos not previously shown here :-)  Enjoy!

Alex's Daddy:
Afleet Alex
Winner of the 2005 Preakness & Belmont

Alex's Mommy:
Colonial Glitter
Winner of the Bourbonette Breeders Cup (by 10+ lengths!)
Below are photos I randomly found and ordered of Alex during his racing days.  He never broke his maiden, so there aren't any win photos :-(  But if he had, he might not be mine :-)

Alex @ Belmont 2009

Alex @ Belmont 2011

Alex during his time in Florida:
"Stall rest is boooooring"

"Look at my pretty profile"
Bath Time!

"Hey you over there...whatcha doin?"

Round Pen Time

Having a roll...

"Oh my gosh, did you know I'm off stall rest?!"

Sleepy Pony


"Come on, I want you to run so I can chase you!"

"Whatcha doin?"

"I am NOT annoying the donkey... promise"

Alex's Trip to Kentucky:

All wrapped up and ready to go

Getting on the van, rolling in style :-)
Spending the first hour with Alex in his new home :-)

Alex surveying his new paddock
"Kentucky grass... nom nom nom!"

It's amazing how he has changed since his arrival and yet stayed the same in some ways :-) 



Splish Splash

Tonight was a quiet night at the farm, so I decided to "test" Alex a little bit.  I haven't given him a day off and not lunged him before the next ride since he's been back in work, so I thought we'd see how things went.  He was a little stiff in the beginning and bounced around a little both directions at the canter, but once I got his butt moving, overall was fantastic considering the change in temperature (it had thankfully cooled off a bit), that he'd had a day off AND that they were turning horses out for the night.

The best and funniest part of the ride was the fact that there were multiple large puddles all over the outdoor (big downpour here today) and while Alex was trotting around long, low and bouncy being a little bit of a show off (if I do say so myself) he was also simultaneously trying to "slap" the puddles with one of his front feet!  I was laughing so hard, I almost couldn't concentrate.  No one can ever say my horse isn't expressive, he has a personality a mile long and honestly, I wouldn't want it any other way :-)

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Contest Winner - Holla!

Alex had the night off tonight since I was wiped from work and it was super humid outside (which makes me feel like a drowned rat) so no postings about my main man, but I did want to reveal the contest winner....


Karley at All In !!

Vetrolin Products

So if you could email me Karley and let me know which product you'd prefer and your address, I'll be sending you your winnings :-)


Monday, July 8, 2013

Saddle Search Obsessed

Basically I spent the entire weekend (and some of today) looking for saddles.  While there haven't been an abundance of saddles posted with my required specifications, I have inquired about a few.  I found one for a great price that's structurally sound, but has seen some wear and has a few cosmetic defects.  It does have everything I am looking for in the Stabilizer, but I expect to have this saddle for a long time, so I'm wishy washy-ing around about how I feel about the condition.   The seller is thinking over my suggestion of a few days trial (apparently she just wants it sold).  I'm just not going to make that kind of purchase without seeing the saddle in person first.  So we'll see.  Hopefully I will get a few more responses to my other inquires soon.

Alex has been doing very well.  I'm so excited he's cleaning his feed tub regularly both morning and night including the bulk of his supplements.  This has been a struggle since he arrived.  I continue to slowly increase his feed so I can get him nice and fat before winter comes :-) He's also doing well under saddle.  Tonight there was only one little bounce/buck at the canter and it was not during the depart.  I could be wrong, but I'm starting to feel like my thoughts about his bucks being "anticipation/anxiety" about remembered pain were correct.  This of course doesn't mean I don't still need a new saddle, but at least we're heading the right direction!

Friday, July 5, 2013

The Sadde Fitter Cometh

And the winner is?????

The County Stabilizer XTR:

Stabilizer XTR | County Saddlery

Followed closely by the County Innovation:

 Innovation | County Saddlery
Thursday, Alex and I met with the County Rep/Fitter.  I knew it would be an "interesting" fitting purely because it would be the first time Alex was changed into and out of tack multiple times over the course of an hour or more and because the rain had driven us into the indoor.  The rep noticed that Alex showed some soreness in the loin area of his back (where the seat of the saddle would hit). 
She looked at both my PJ and Stubben.  The PJ was immediately identified as too narrow, causing several pressure points and possibly the cause of at least part of his current issues.  The Stubben was better as far as width, but didn't provide a lot of wither clearance, became too narrow towards the back of the tree (bridging) and had flocking like a rock (it's 46 years old after all).  I did initially ride him in the Stubben so we'd have something to compare the with the other saddles.
I first rode in the County Sensation, which was quite cushy and definitely put me in specific position.  Alex spent a little time messing around and being an idiot, before finally settling down and showing me that he did appreciate the change in saddle.  The second saddle we tried was the County XTR, which I admit, felt very familiar since I have never had a saddle with a lot of bells and whistles.  Alex was even better with this saddle, tracking up well at the trot and giving me more push from behind.  Next we moved on to the County Conquest, which is a more eventer/XC type saddle.  I have to say I didn't like that saddle at all, the knee blocks/rolls made it hard to post and I felt like I was sitting in a chair :-)  Our fourth saddle trial was the County Innovation, which ended up being my second favorite saddle and one I would definitely consider if I could find it in my price range.  It has a few more features than the Stabilizer XTR, but not so much that I felt constricted.  Alex seemed to like the Innovation too, although he didn't seem quite as forward, but I think he was getting tired of the whole process :-)  I did attempt a canter depart in the Innovation, both directions, and was greeted with bucks.  He eventually settled, which makes me think it was more about anticipation/anxiety than extreme pain.   
So here is what Alex needs:
County Stabilizer XTR - 17.5 Medium Tree w/Skid Row Panels
County Innovation - 17.5 Medium Narrow Tree
Overall, I learned a lot and I am really happy I had the appointment, but now I have to weigh my options.  County saddles hold their value well and people tend to hold on to them, so that makes the used market slim.  In addition, there's a lot of unknowns attached to getting a used saddle, you never know what's been done to the tree, it's a leap of faith.  Of course I'd love to have a new/custom saddle, but I just not sure it's in my budget :-/
Today Alex had his feet done, so no work for him.  Back to work tomorrow :-)

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Appointment Scheduled & Contest

"It will be mine... oh yes... it will be mine."
Our appointment with the County Rep/Saddle Fitter is scheduled for Thursday and although I know this won't effect an immediate change (because I'm not holding my breath to find a demo in my price range and will likely have to search for a used saddle) I'm excited to see what Alex needs.  This will be the first saddle I've ever gotten for myself, having been incredibly fortunate to ride in all my mom's "hand-me-downs." 
Alex had the night off tonight, since he'll need to be worked tomorrow so he's a pleasant boy on Thursday.  I don't mind if he's a little grouchy during the fitting, but I'd prefer he wasn't an idiot during the multiple rides (that could be interesting, he's never been ridden, untacked and retacked multiple times on one day.  
I'm also thinking about doing a contest when I reach 25 followers (I can't believe I have 24!), so everyone comment about what their go-to grooming product is and I will do a random drawing!
Tomorrow is my Friday at work and I am super pumped, it has been a busy couple of weeks and I need a break.
Happy riding everyone :-) 

Monday, July 1, 2013

Return of the Mack

Alex is still doing really well. I lunged and rode him again on Saturday. His trot seemed even better, he was practically tossing me out of the tack with every step, I barely needed to post! The last time he was like this, it was right after the abscess disaster. I can't help but think he felt so good then, because he had been without my saddle (the PJ) for 2+ months. This of course makes me feel like a bad horse mommy, for not seeing it sooner :-(  I'm trying not to beat myself up too much, he had so much going on with him, we just had to get through the process of elimination. 
At any rate, we also cantered just a little bit, accidentally on purpose :-) I had every intention of waiting, but all the stars aligned and it was just time. I had to prove to myself everything was going to be ok, and it was. No explosion, just a few canter strides both directions. Insert huge smile here.
Tonight it rained so we had to use the scary indoor, but Alex was PERFECT! I didn't canter because the arena needed a watering, but his trot was A-Mazing. Score!
Later this week a County Saddlery rep is coming to fit Alex and let me try some saddles. Hopefully this will help and we can get something that works best for Alex very soon... Hubby is thrilled :-)