Total Eclipse of the Moon

Yes, yes, I had to go there.

Were you adventurous enough to get out and have a glimpse of the blood moon lunar eclipse?  Amazingly I did get up to see it in the middle of the night.  Watched the entire eclipse occur.  Even more amazingly, I am not eyes-burning drop dead exhausted today!  LOL

 

moon1 moon2 moon3

Posted in Photography | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Chris Cox Horsemanship

This past weekend was the Midwest Horse Fair, my “almost” annual tradition – out of the last 10 years, I did skip one year.  I sure was glad to go to it this year, and there were a few clinics I really specifically wanted to see.

Amongst them was a clinic on getting started with driving, which I went to as support for the club that put it on.
Another was on liberty training, which I really found all too advanced for me, but I did pick up one beginner level pointer, that I hope to put into practice with the horses soon.

Many of the clinics were so packed, that if you wanted to get a seat to get off your feet after walking around for so many hours, you needed to get to the clinic you wanted to see while the clinic before was going on, and hope you could sardine yourself into the bleachers to catch a seat.  That tactic failed most of the time ;)

However, while watching one clinic before the clinic I actually wanted to see, I ended up catching a bit of Chris Cox colt starting.  He was working with a horse that he described as truly dangerous.  He said that he felt only about 5% of horse trainers out there could start this horse.  After seeing the way the horse reacted to things, it really wasn’t hard to believe.

The horse was definitely one with a dangerous and aggressive streak in him.  Chris would gently rub the saddle pad on the horse’s back, and put it down and you could see the horse wanting to strike out.  The horse tried a couple times to want to cow kick the saddle sitting harmlessly in the middle of the round pen.  Chris talked about how that horse would strike and bite and truly wanted to hurt someone.  Hey, I knew a horse like that!  No, I couldn’t work it her.

I’ve seen some of Chris Cox Horsemanship on RFDTV, and I do enjoy him.  Some of the things he did & said during this clinic, though, will keep him resounding with me for a long time.  He received a straight up round of applause for his choice to not force the horse into accepting the saddle cinch to be tightened.  It was clear the horse wasn’t ready for that, and after a time or two of trying, he returned to just putting the saddle on and off.

Not often do you see a clinician not push a matter with a horse.  I thought that was awesome.

And with that, he started talking about why he chose not to push the horse, and got onto the subject of how he’s figured out to work with horses, and one thing he said really rang true to me.

He mentioned that he’s learned to work with horses, and how to work with them, through years of experience … and making a lot of wrong choices and ruining a lot of horses along the way.

That really resounded with me, given my sketchy history with horses, and it really got me thinking.  I have a better relationship and understanding of my horses now, and I’ve accomplished more in the last 3 years, than I ever did in the 18 years before that.

Throughout those 18 years, I rode Western, hunter, Dressage, and I showed.  I had one horse over those years that I really advanced with because I had a trainer that I worked well with.  In my weekly lessons with Noah, I went from taking Lickety Split from falling over his own feet and crashing down into jumps, to clearing 3′ & even a 3’6″ fence.   Apart from Zoltan, a few months later, who I jumped 4’2″ with, that was the highest I’ve ever jumped with a horse – and more so, that was the highest I was ever comfortable jumping.

There’s a huge difference, there, too.  Doing it, and being comfortable doing it.  I did sporadically jump a 3′ vertical or oxer here and there over the next remaining years that I rode, but I was never as comfortable doing it as I was with Lickety Split.

Not long after I moved away and Noah was no longer my trainer, I started focusing more on Dressage.  And, despite having a fair rigorous lesson schedule that included hunter lessons and dressage,  I ultimately ended up, years later – still riding at the same level  I was at a decade prior!

By the time 2006 rolled around, I was barely able to manage a training level dressage test, only showed a few times, and never earned a ribbon, and then I had… the mare.  The one we wont’ speak of lol.  “She who shall not be named”.  Who broke whatever fragment of confidence I still had left.  It was also around that time that I was still struggling to manage a full course of 2’6″ fences, and I had started ruining horses.  It did not start with “the mare that shall not be named”, in fact, it started with the horse I owned before he, and a horse I riding as well at the same time.  The mare was just the worst of it.

After a massive blast to my confidence, that made me question everything I ever thought I knew about horses and riding, I got Chewbacca.  I purchased him because he was exactly what I thought I needed to help recoup my confidence.  In the 4 year interim before I bought him, and after the issues with “the mare”, I still continued with my weekly hunter lessons, and yet I still struggled.  Between confidence issues and weight… I was not exactly setting myself up to succeed.   I rode in my lessons and did what my instructor told me, and it seemed to go “ok” but that’s about it.  I no longer showed, and I really never progressed.

Then, after my decision, which did not come lightly after 18 years, to give up riding, suddenly opened me up to  progressing more than I ever realized I could!  Ironically, I stopped taking lessons from instructors, and started taking lessons from the HORSE.

Although I am just beginning to touch the tip of the iceberg, I still have learned so much, I understand more, and I’ve progressed farther than I ever have before.  I actually know enough at this point to know what I don’t know (follow that one did you?)… and it feels great.

Hopefully my days of ruining horses are behind me.  Although I’ll still be making plenty of mistakes along the way (hence, why Luke can levade, and not piaffe……), but I’ll prefer to take my lessons from the horse here on out, and I can’t wait to get the next one that can train me.

Have a great day (where DID spring go??)

Posted in horse | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Spring finally arrived!

I sure do hope it came to where ever you are, too! This past weekend was really the first full weekend of good weather we’ve had all year. Last weekend, of course I did get all the boys out for a drive, and the weather was quite nice at least on Sunday. This weekend, Saturday was amazing, and Sunday started out a little windy and cool, but the sun finally came out and it was just a lovely day.

I kind of kept to the same schedule as last week, and worked only Jesse on Saturday.  It’s a little easier to break them a bit, and only work 2 a day.  I just need another pony to make in an even number, so I can work 2 each day.  lol.  We’ll see about that.

JesseApril2014

And Jesse was of course simply amazing.  He did a little jaunt down the road and worked well at a great pace.

It will always amaze me how they can be off for 4 months and then go back to it like it’s nothing.

ChewieApril2014

And speaking of going back to it like it’s nothing, Chewbacca was out to truly wow me on Sunday afternoon when I got him out for his drive.  I chose to work the boys in the arena, and I had the barrels set up.  Boy I wish I got some better pics or video.  Chewbacca worked so well in a nice long & low headset, rounded up when I asked, offered up a canter, executed 2 amazing pivots that were practically on the spot in both directions ~ I’m so glad that rein yielding (I can’t call it “leg yielding” now can I??) is paying off.  I didn’t ask for much in the way of bending, but we did do some circles, figure 8′s, and serpentines, along with just working on keeping a nice inside bend on the rail.

LukeApril2014

And of course, Luke.  What can I say about Luke… he’s just super.  Although he is actually harder to bend than Chewbacca, (Luke counterbends an awful lot).  He was fantastic, though and by the end of the drive, he was bending correctly. Of course it’s only early in the driving season, so yes, I can expect a little bit of “rust”.

Luke also received a present:

PairsHarness

It’s a pairs harness!  Yes, there are 2!  One for him, and one for his “imaginary friend”, or that 4th pony……  I fit them both to him and they both fit lovely.  I really can’t complain.  Right now, they’re packed back up and stored away, and hopefully someday if I get a 2nd hackney pony and a marathon carriage, harnesses I will have!

Why buy pairs’ harness without a pair or carriage to put them to ?  Why not!  I got a great deal.

This weekend wasn’t just a weekend of horses – I got a TON of projects done around the house and even to my car that were much needed.  It felt great to have wonderful weather and get so many things accomplished!

This coming weekend is the Midwest Horse Fair, an annual tradition of mine, except for 1 year I did miss.  The weather is supposed to be nice, and I am really looking forward to going!

 

Have a great day.

 

 

 

Posted in horse | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Finally! The First Drives of 2014!!

Well, if you want to be really technical about it, I did actually drive the horses back in February when I hitched them to the toboggan.   Chewie got hitched twice.  But for the sake of my American Driving Society recreational driving hours, I only log the drives spent hitched to an actual vehicle.  I suppose if I had a sleigh I would count it…

As it is, I took a loot back at the last couple years of first days back to driving – 2013, they got their start on the first day of Spring – March 21.  In 2012, they were already driving in February a little!  By March 5, they were practically on a full schedule.  Well, this year I got to it a little later than I had hoped, but at least I did get to it!
Jesse2    Jesse`

I actually drove Jesse first out of all of them!  Sheesh!  And last week, I drove Dexter & Leo!  Talk about putting my boys last!  Saturday afternoon I got to the barn late, and I opted to give Luke & Chewie some extra play time in the outdoor while I hitched up Jesse and took him for a 1/2 hour drive.  It was getting late and it was windy and cold, so I chose to drive Jesse in the front yard.  With trees lining the road side and the house side, and trees throughout the front, it’s at least a little sheltered (better than the totally open arena), and I was able to stay sufficiently warm enough.  Jesse was great!  Jesse is one of those horses that just doesn’t need the “play time” or warm up, or working off the yaya’s before he goes to work.  Jesse’s just a grand little dude that’s always happy to please.  Although, he did have a heart attack when the new neighbor’s Chihuahua and Boxer charged the fence barking.  Poor guy. lol.

Finally on March 30 I got around to driving Chewie & Luke!  Wow 9 days “late” this year.  And the weather is no better now, so don’t think I’ll be driving again at least until the weekend, but that’s going to be questionable.

 

One the left, Chewie’s first drive begins!  We are actually still in the driveway of the farm, there!  lo.  The next photo is the road well traveled- heading back home at the end of a nice little 3 mile/45 minute jaunt.  Yes, that is 15 minutes a mile.  lol.  Hey, speed wasn’t the goal.  It was a nice day, sunny, breezy, but warm breezy.  There were lots of stimulations, like a guy chainsawing, people shooting guns, barking dogs, motorcycles & crotch rockets whizzing by… but it was a great drive and Chewie did just fine.

Chewie1     Chewie2

 

Luke heading out and returning home.  Same drive.  3 miles/45 minutes.  Luke had only one minor meltdown – come on, he *is*  a hackney, and I will give him credit – it was a new sight even for us.   That pony has been on these roads over and over and over during the last 6 years.. in fact, I guesstimate that he’s logged somewhere between 400-450 miles on the roads over the years, and we still see new sights…

This time, it was a kid pedaling a little bicycle/car looking thingie.  It made a little grinding sound, and was glittery hot pink with tassles.  Luke wanted absolutely. NO. part of that at ALL.  Good thing no traffic was coming.  I tried twice, but ultimately decided for safety’s sake it was easier to turn around and wait elsewhere until the coast was clear.    The rest of Luke’s drive included just the “usual” sights…  speedy motorists, someone raking the lawn, nothing overly dramatic.

Luke1     Luke2

I was so happy to get back out and work the horses once again… now I sit and watch the gray sky outside, the wind blowing so hard the trees are sideways, and rain in the forecast for the next 4 days.  I’m not sure when I’ll get back to driving again!

 

Enjoy the weather if you have it nice!

 

Posted in Driving, Hackney, Quarter Horse | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

First day of spring

….. and it’s barely 32 degrees out.

I have to say, it certainly *feels* like the longest and coldest winter on record. And although everyone is saying that is one of the coldest winters in the last 30 years, it isn’t technically “longer” than any other winter. It just *feels* longer because it’s been so darned cold for so long, and everyone is sick of it.

I *feel* like I’m never going to get the horses working again, but then I have to remind myself, I didn’t get my first hitched drive in last year until March 24, 2013. So, I still have a couple days. It was also only 28 that day. IF the weather holds out the way they say it will, I will hope to hitch the boys up this weekend, so I’ll actually get my first drive in a day or two before last year’s first drive.

That’s my way of reminding myself that I’m still “on track” for starting them into work, and I still will have a full 8 month driving season ahead of me. I’ll be able to hit my 7 hours that I need to make 250 hours for the American Driving Society pretty quickly, at least before March is out (assuming the weather cooperates). The ADS gives pins and a brief story & photo in their beautiful professionally published newsletter each February, for drivers who accrue 100, 250, 500, 1000, and 5000 recreational driving hours. It’s a very nice program, and it’s nice to have something fun to work towards, and reminds me to keep accurate logs of when I drive Chewbacca, Luke, and Jesse. I drove 133 hours the first year I started keeping the log for the program (2012), and in 2013, I managed to get only 110 hours — missing that 250 mark by only 7 hours! lol! I guess you can blame the weather.

At that rate, it will be a few more years before I officially hit the 500 hour mark, but considering that I spent half of 2011 driving Chewbacca and Jesse, not to mention Luke and Dixie, plus the drives I’ve put on Dixie & Luke in the years prior to that, I’m probably realistically pushing close to the 500 hour mark in actuality. As of now, though, I have 243 logged hours recorded.

I think I need to get more ponies — what do you think? Of course, if I get pairs, it still only counts for hours driven (not times how many horses you’re driving at one time)!!

Well, I have absolutely nothing fruitful to talk about today, only wanted to share my dismay at the weather on this not-so-fine first day of spring. Well, I guess at least I *can* see sun, so there’s that.

All the little stones I am laying have pretty much come to a screeching halt for the moment because there’s no activities to participate in until May!!!

My book is available on Amazon and I’ve been marketing it as best I can… you may see an ad for it online on the AQHA website, or the Midwest Horse Fair website. An ad on the RFDTV site should be running soon, too.

The Midwest Horse Fair is in less than a month, and although I can’t wait for it, I question what the weather will be like this year for it! Every year it’s an adventure and anyone’s guess. I’ve gone some years in shorts, and other times bundled up against the wind and snow. Given the way the weather’s been…. I’m guess cold again!

Once May hits, things will get rolling (hopefully) and the horses will be back into a full work schedule, which will hopefully be 3 days a week, although I have played with the idea of taking them down to only 2 days per week to help alleviate some of my work load and hopefully not be so ragged tired all the time.

Although there’s a small show in April, there’s nothing I am planning to attend, because of course my horse showing goals this year are going to be a little…. different.
Things really start up in May, and I plan to attend at least one small, local show to volunteer, or possibly try to sell horse treats at.

In June, I do believe there is one ADS combined event, and I think one other somewhat large local driving show that I can go volunteer at.
By July, I will be jumping to go volunteer at the Hickory Knoll CDE and camp out there!
August there aren’t any shows, but September comes back into gear with 2 large shows, both about 3-5 hours away. Hmm… we’ll have to see what I can do there ;)
Then as the year winds down, October is going to be the best month with plans to attend the Lexington Classic CDE at the Kentucky Horse Park and navigate for a competitor there, and then go right back down the following weekend for the National Drive. At this point, I am not sure if I will attend the ND as a spectator or a volunteer, but I have time to plan that out more.

Really looking forward to this year, looking forward to getting the boys out and working again. I am a little sad that circumstances just aren’t right to get another pony at this point, so my plans for a resale training project are pretty much out the window…. and along with it … the idea of getting a truck & trailer of my own, which means my horse showing wishes will be on hold permanently, but that’s OK because if I can fill that horse show void in my life with volunteering, that could lead to great things!

For now, the only great thing I am hoping for ….. is spring!

Enjoy the day!

Posted in Driving | Tagged , | Leave a comment

The Cutest Thing You’ll See Today

This has absolutely nothing to do with horses, but I had to share:

giraffe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And, yes, it is the cutest thing you will probably see all day today.

 

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

In horse related news…. there isn’t much.  The “I want a new Pony” bug that I thought I quelled has risen up in me again with a couple ads for 12.3/13h Welsh & Hackney ponies, both of which would make an awesome matched pair, and I even have the harnesses for them.
…….While I go off to contemplate how I could afford a pair’s marathon carriage, and exactly what pasture I would keep the ponies in at the barn; Luke, Chewbacca, and Dixie and Jesse are all still on stand by.

Weather seems like it’s going to take a turn over the next few days – blankets coming off tonight, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Sunday will see some driving time (even if just to the toboggan).   The roads are still to wet and snowy that I don’t think I’m going to head out in traffic just yet…. maybe next week.  Of course, I still can’t even get the carts out because the shed is snowed in.

 

Have you checked out my eBook on Amazon?

Posted in horse | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Brief Update

Here is a banner ad that you may see around the Internet for my book.  (go ahead, click on it – it works!)

300x100 banner revised

 

 

 

I’m working on advertising the book a little, hoping to boost it’s life!  Feel free to spread the word.

That’s about the only thing going on right now… I have mentally checked out of this winter.  Please wake me when it’s spring.  :(

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment