2009: This is going to be MY year, right? Corky is 5 years old and it is her last junior year. Taylor is carrying my very first "grandfoal". It is going to be an exciting year!

Thanks for taking the time to read my day-to-day ramblings about my horse life. My goal is to keep things as realistic as possible. We all deal with issues and problems, and I am struggling to learn and become a better horseperson and a better rider. It's a lifelong task!

May 2009

Friday, May 1, 2009

Today was another cold, ugly, rainy day. Corky came out of her stall very cranky (she totally mirrored MY mood!). I had a rough day at work, so I anticipated that she and I would clash big time. Boy was I wrong! She rode great for me, responded to my cues to back off at the canter, and went around very relaxed. We did a lot of circles and changing of directions (she still wants to speed up on her circles), and worked on turns on the forehand and haunches along with sidepassing (she is sidepassing really fast today for some reason). After my ride, I did a little showmanship, she set up fairly well even without a chain. It was a very pleasant ride. This weekend is cold and ugly, so no show for me this weekend!

Saturday, May 2, 2009...Derby Day!

Of course, when I get out to the barn today and start grooming Corky, I find that her one front foot is hot to the touch (just the foot/hoof, not the leg). I put her on the longe line and while she did not limp at all or favor any one foot, she just had a seeming lack of desire to really go forward. You know me, I always err on the side of caution (to the point of paranoia!) so I decided there really is no reason I needed to ride her today, so I put her back up in her stall, and got Taylor out!

Taylor enjoyed a good grooming session, but looked shocked when I tossed the English saddle on her back. Yes, I am gonna ride her today! She hasn't been ridden in a year and a half! I spent the first 10 minutes or so walking, bending, loosening her up and reminding her my leg and rein aids. Once she loosened up, we started trotting. I forgot how incredibly well-trained this horse is - she goes right where you put her, and generally doesn't change until you ask. She is so incredibly responsive to my legs, it was like driving a Cadillac. Her canter to the left wasn't half bad, for being really flabby and out of shape. I forgot she has the number one tool I have been desperately trying to get in Corky's toolbox - she will slow down her speed with just the touch of a rein, and hold it there. Her canter to the right wasn't nearly as good, mainly because that has always been her tougher way and being so out of shape she had trouble holding her shoulder up and staying collected...but it wasn't too terrible, considering. What fun!!!

I am tossing around ideas in my head...we will see how tomorrow goes. Hopefully Corky the problem child will be OK tomorrow.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Corky was wormed (exciting news LOL!)

Corky's left front foot was still warm today, but was definitely looser and moved OK so I decided to go ahead and ride her. We had a very productive ride. I rode in the big fat French ring snaffle and she locked in after only a few reminders and kept her frame and her pace consistent. I put a single pole down in the center of the arena, and did a few passes over it. I did canter over it twice and she was much better at it. I tried something different, and started from a standstill at the far end of the arena, walked a couple steps, cued the canter, and we got in maybe 2-3 strides before the pole. She didn't have time to get excited, and stayed fairly calm after going over the pole. It looks like I can ride tomorrow night and then probably won't be able to ride her again for another week due to my crazy schedule. Hopefully she will be ready for our next show - aiming for the 16-17th in Winfield (I love showing at that place!).

I spoke to Jim Dettmer, who owns Thanks For Com En (the TB/Paint HUS stallion Taylor is being bred to this year). He hadn't heard about Lazlo, so I had to tell the story again, which I did with minimal tears, thank goodness. He offered to let me bring Taylor directly to him for breeding, saving on shipping and other costs. I feel very comfortable bringing Taylor to him, because he genuinely cares about his horses. It looks like I will be bringing Taylor to him on Wednesday, and then leaving her there a week or so for breeding. This is my last try...financially, I am tapped out. Everyone cross your fingers, say a prayer, do a fertility dance, whatever it takes!

Monday, May 4, 2009

I had another pleasant ride on Corky. She is just 'on' lately! I put two poles in an "L" shape in the center of the arena, and trotted and cantered figure-8's over them. She actually did a lot better cantering over them, didn't get too hopped up. I think it helped that she was constantly turning and having to think about direction so she didn't get a chance to get nervous. She still STINKS at walking and trotting over ground poles. She knocks them constantly and doesn't seem to worry about it. Oh well, her talents lie in other areas!

I did some showmanship after my ride, and worked on a\moving a front foot on the setup and then asking her to keep it put when moving a back foot. that has been our biggest downfall - she will get two feet square and when I go to move a different foot she still thinks I want her to move the same foot she had been moving. She isn't quite listening to here I am asking her to lean her weight. that will come with time, and hours and hours of practice.

Taylor was infused again early this morning. My vet showed up late, which is a huge inconvenience when I have a job that is expecting me on time. She has one more infusion on Wednesday morning, and I am searching to find someone that can hold her for the mere 10-minute appointment since I cannot be late that day.

Today was an emotional day for my mail. First I opened up an envelope from AQHA and was thrilled that they actually refunded ALL of my registration and incentive fund nomination fees on Lazlo, even though they had already reserved his name and started the paperwork. I didn't expect to see a dime. Yay for AQHA. The second envelope was from that dratted vet in Kentucky, and this one was a $600 vet bill for his insufficient treatment of Lazlo, and his twice bad timing on breeding Taylor...*sigh*. The third envelope was from the OSU Vet Hospital, and I was scared to death thinking it was an additional bill. Instead it was a sympathy card signed by all of the vet students and veterinarians that worked on Lazlo. That was really nice...each one took the time to write a sentence or two. So thoughtful. Overall, my mail today put me a bit farther into debt...and it ain't over yet. *sigh*...it is so hard to be a horseperson on a tiny salary and a squeaky budget. I bet the vast majority of the people I show against have NO idea what it is like. Sometimes I feel kind of bitter about the circumstances, but then I remember that I LOVE what I am doing, and if I can make it, anyone can, that's for sure!!!
This is Corky today after our ride...she has been in such a happy mood this year! Some days I wanna lay right down and roll with her and get all dirty and dusty.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Today after work took Taylor to Dettmer's for breeding. She, of course, settled right in like she lived there. Taylor has always been pretty comfortable traveling to new places. On our way home, Paula and I found a tiny Italian restaurant connected to a gas station outside of Ft. Wayne. Of course we had to eat there. It was totally delish...but then have I ever met a plate of spaghetti that I didn't love?

This weekend I will spend with my parents in Cleveland, and then next week we prepare to head to Winfield for a show. I haven't decided yet whether Taylor should come home right after breeding, or stay for her pregnancy check. I'll make that decision later, I guess.

Monday, May 11, 2009

It's been a full week since I last rode Corky. Yikes...what a difference. This horse does not do well with a vacation! She was very grumpy, and actually started balking a little bit when I first got on her. At one point she actually stopped in mid-stride at the canter to rub her nose on her leg. I flew forward out of the saddle and about landed on her ears...and no amount of kicking or spurring would make her go until she was completely done rubbing her nose. Argh! I hate that!

I am really hoping she isn't coming into heat. I forgot to put her on ReguMate before I left for my weekend visiting the parents, so I hurried up and put her on tonight with a prayer that I am not stopping her cycle in a bad spot.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Corky came out cranky again today, so I longed her with the wheelbarrow tires on her stirrups. She was angry for the first 5 minutes, but then settled down a little bit. I would not let her run like crazy...I have learned that when she gets a hair up her butt and goes nuts on the longe line, she ALWAYS hurts herself.

Our ride was decent, we had some good moments and some icky moments. She is slowly starting to get back into work mode. Canter transitions were good, she was rating her speed better today. Corky has a bump high on the inside of her right front cannon, possibly a somewhat new splint? The bump is medium-hard...not bone-hard (yet). So far she seems OK on it. Dang horse, always something to worry about

We had time to spare today, so I took her out in the front pasture and hand-grazed her for a while. The sun was shining...gorgeous day! This weekend we are heading to Winfield, WV for an AQHA show.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Just a little note of annoyance. I cut one of my knuckles when I helped a friend out by pulling her horse's mane. Now it's infected, red and oozy. No good deed ever goes unpunished! The darn finger won't even bend. It makes it hard to hold reins in that hand.
Things horse show-related that really annoy me:

I'd better stop now...though the list goes on....

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Corky was very cooperative today. I got a very good ride in. I didn't ride long - maybe 20 minutes? We had good transitions and she rated well for me in just the plain ring snaffle, so I am hopeful. I did a few set-ups for showmanship, clipped her all up, loaded the trailer, and called it a day! Tomorrow morning at the crack of dawn we are leaving for west Virginia for the show. I am hoping everything continues going well. I am a little nervous for some reason.

I got word from Jim that Taylor will probably be bred on Saturday. I am not letting myself even think about it. I am NOT hoping, am NOT getting all stupidly optimistic only to have my hopes dashed again. Talk to me when the colt is 3 and showing...

Friday, May 15, 2009 - on to Winfield, West Virginia

My friend and I woke up at the crack of dawn, loaded our horses and headed to WV. It was HOT down there - mid-80's! I loved our stall location - right smack in the middle of the center barn near the covered pen...so I could stand in my stall and watch the show.

I longed and rode Corky when we arrived. She was WILD!!!! I couldn't get her to settle at all, she just had way too much energy. I rode for about 90 minutes, then gave her a break and went back out late at night to ride again. She just would NOT cooperate! I could get her to back down a little at the trot, but every time I asked her to back down at the canter she would fight me, shake her head, and surge faster...at times kicking up a bit into a small buck. I rode for another full 90 minutes without much progress. Oh well...off to bed (it was now almost 1am) and we'll see how things go in the morning.

Saturday, May 16, 2009 - Day 1 - Winfield, WV AQHA show

I woke up and longed a little in the morning. First class of the morning was Open Performance Halter Mares. Yep...we once again were the ONLY ones in it. Corky keeps her undefeated performance halter record without ever beating another horse LOL! Amateur Showmanship went pretty well. She stepped once out of her turn and in that tough competition it was enough to knock us to the middle.

the riding classes didn't go so well. In Junior HUS she was so fresh and angry with me asking her to back off, she kept popping up in little bucks and switching her back leads. It went from bad to worse, as the amateur class was so wild we ended up getting called in the middle for bucking. Hey, at least I stayed on! It was a VERY frustrating day...actually frustrating couple of days! I am thinking I put her on ReguMate at the wrong moment in her cycle. I started her back on ReguMate this past Monday...being gone so much with Mother's Day and my band concerts, I failed to keep track of her cycles so I guessed...NEVER a very good idea. Gosh I am SO stupid sometimes.

Saturday evening I rode yet again. It was UGLY. She was bucking and carrying on at the canter every time I tried to make her behave...it just kept escalating. This ride lasted for over 2 hours. I finally had to quit because my legs were trembling so bad from exhaustion, I knew if she had bucked one more time I was coming off. I had purple bruise lines down the inside of my calves, and a big bruise on the inside of one thigh from where I landed on my saddle pommel after she bucked me up high. I don't even want to think about tomorrow!

Sunday, May 17, 2009 - Day 2 Winfield WV AQHA show

I woke up extra early because it was freezing in my trailer. Overnight, the temperatures dropped from the high 70's to the 40's. I got Corky out to longe her, hoping and praying all this work (and carrying on) she did wouldn't make her sore. Sore? Hah! She bucked and carried on while longing as if she hadn't been worked in days. Where does she get the energy???

I decided to skip our performance halter mares class, but they asked me to make a 3rd horse in the Aged Mares class so I did. Corky kept up the noble tradition of all hunt seat horses getting last in halter classes LOL! Showmanship went well, but this time it was MY error...I misjudged my line and ended up off-center from the judge after trotting a curve around a cone. Oops! Oh well, the elements were good and she set up instantly, so I was happy about that.

They announced that the Junior Hunter Under Saddle class would go at 10:45, so I put her back in the stall, saddled her, and was hanging around waiting. We glanced out at 10:40 and they were already in the arena trotting! ARGH! I RAN Corky out of the barn and to the show arena with my friend frantically running behind pulling the tape out of her tail. They did let me in the class, but it was literally jump-on-and-go. Wouldn't you know it...I went in there and Corky cruised along that class and hardly made a wrong move! I think only once during the second canter did I have to ask her to back off, and she shook her head just a little but then backed off for me! A miracle!!! We ended up placing second, and I was overjoyed to know she came out of her weird crazy mood!

Not so fast! She started getting antsy waiting for amateur (Junior was first, and amateur was last after the equitations) so I put her back in her stall to wait. When I went to get her, I could tell she was still a little antsy and agitated. Our Amateur HUS class went much like the Junior HUS went yesterday - she kept popping up in mini bucks every time I asked her to back down, and she would flip leads in the back. It was very bad again (but she didn't go crazy bucking so at least we didn't get called in the middle this time!). I am really thinking it must be hormones...I am HOPING because that would be a valid, fixable reason. I must get it fixed before the show this coming weekend, or we are totally screwed.

Horses are just so full or drama...up and down and up and down...never a dull moment. I wonder if it would ever get dull if I just won all the time? I want to find out! :-]

On a side note - Taylor was bred this weekend. I am trying not to think about it because I can't afford to get my hopes up and crushed yet again. I am afraid if I do, I will quit forever. I've never been a quitter in my life, but then I've never been quite so down before.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Go figure...Corky rode awesome tonight. I am not trusting things, because I know now that the small indoor is giving me a false sense of security. She isn't attempting to take off in this small area. I longed her first with side reins, she put ZERO pressure on them. I wanted her to surge and feel them and see if she would fight it but she didn't. Tomorrow she is getting ultrasounded to see if I do have her stuck on a follicle. She didn't act at all like she did this past weekend. I am so confused!!! Hopefully this weekend will be OK - I am planning on going to Wauseon to the AQHA intro show.

Taylor is being bred yet again tomorrow...she hasn't ovulated yet. It looks like she won't be coming home until next week. I hate having her away from home, I'd like to go visit her but I just can't spare the time right now...work is crazy!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

My vet came out this afternoon and ultrasounded Corky. Surprisingly, he said it looks as if she had just ovulated in the past day. YAY!. She must have just been coming into heat last Monday when I put her on ReguMate, and she blew through the ReguMate and had a nasty, ugly, witchy heat cycle during the show. That explains why our rides last week were less-than-perfect, our show was horrible, and suddenly yesterday she was awesome again. I really screwed things up! Hopefully now she is back to normal and we can go on in a calm, smooth manner. I am SO glad there was a hormonal reason for her insanity at the show. Sh has been so incredibly good for me all winter and spring, it was disheartening to think she backslid that far...but all is good!

Taylor is STILL in heat, still hanging on to that follicle. She got bred this morning again. Come on, girl, get with the program!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Quick post: Taylor ovulated, and Corky rode so-so...trailer is packed to leave for the show tomorrow after work!

Friday, May 22, 2009

I loaded up and headed for Wauseon right after work. It was a warm day! When I got there, I was a bit worried about the stalls because they were TINY. Corky could not even fit width-wise in the stall. They were open with bars at the top, so immediately the horse next to her bared his teeth and started kicking, which freaked her out. Oh well...just something more for her to get used to. I was concerned that the tiny stall size would cause her to get cast, or get extra body sore from being in such a cramped space, but decided to try it a night and see how it goes (with multiple middle-night checkups!).

I rode that evening in the big covered pen. Corky was pretty wound up, she acted kind of like she did last weekend, only not quite as bad. I spent a lot of time trying to get her to back off at the canter when I asked. She was doing better, but it still worried me.

Saturday, May 23, 2009 - Day 1 Wauseon AQHA Intro Show

First on the agenda was showmanship. I felt very ready until I saw how the cones were set up. Ouch...they were set up for a little horse, not a big moose like Corky! The amateur showmanship went first, Cork did all the elements right but we blew our line to the judge because even though I bent her like a pretzel, she couldn't get her body around that cone in a tight enough space to be in line. Oh well...we got 3rd out of 5. They had an added money jackpot showmanship with the same pattern, we went in that and did OK, not quite as clean, and finished near the bottom of the class. We have a long way to go to perfect our showmanship skills!

I longed her lightly during break and got ready for the hunter under saddle. The first class was the open added money Hunter Under Saddle. She was in a pretty good frame of mind for the class. I had to ask her HARD to back off at the canter a few times, but she did back off (with some STRONG urging LOL!) so that was definitely progress! We ended up winning the class...yay! The judge was Heidi Cecil, and she came up after the class to tell me she loved my horse. Ya gotta love comments like that...glad that I am not barn blind and someone else actually loves her too LOL! Amateur HUS was next. First direction went well, but stupid me BLEW it second direction. When the canter was called for, I didn't really pay attention and cued her. She was stepping on the wrong leg (with Corky you have to cue her on the right leg to get a good take-off). She cantered half a stride and then tried to switch since she was on the wrong leg, and ended up kicking out (the Corky version of a lead change LOL!). Unfortunately the judge saw that, and she told me after the class she had me winning it until then. Oops...TOTALLY my fault. Figures...I get Corky's act together and then mine falls apart!

That evening, I rode Corky again and worked on her canter. *dig ding* the light went on and we made HUGE progress at the canter...I asked and she gave, it was a really nice ride! I went to bed feeling pretty good about what was going on with us (what a far cry from last weekend!).

Oh, and a side note: Never order the spaghetti at the Wauseon Pizza Hut. I was sick as a dog all evening...don't worry, I won't give you details (Spare Me The Details...hahaha!).

January whatever, 2009

More stuff here

Sunday, May 24, 2009 - Day 2 Wauseon Show

Showmanship this morning was a thinking man's pattern! The trick was where to stop your trot at C in order to do 1 and 5/8 pivot and end up facing the judge in line from the cone to judge. I watched several patterns and figured that we would have to stop a good 2 feet from the cone, and I was pretty spot-on. Unfortunately, the horse exiting the arena spooked at something and startled Corky as she was doing her pivot, and she jumped and landed about a foot off (but continued pivoting!), so our line was spoiled. We ended up 3rd again. We did better in the open jackpot showmanship, ended up 5\4th this time with a cleaner pattern (but it wasn't as smooth as our amateur pattern). Oh well...getting better!

My riding classes went GREAT! Our rides were smooth, and I barely had to ask her to back off and she did so. Unfortunately, the hard work we did all weekend plus the tiny stalls made her kind of cranky, so she didn't look the happiest at times in the class, but she was very willing and easy, so I am thrilled with that! I did have to do a LOT of warming up in the morning on the longe line to loosen her up. She came out of her stall as stiff as a board and could hardly move her legs. I feel so bad for having put her in that tiny stall for 2 nights. We ended up 2nd in the open and 2nd in the amateur HUS...woo-hoo!!!!!

She will get next weekend off, then we hope to hit a show somewhere on June 6-7...then we are done until July since I am going on vacation! (10 days hiking Yosemite!).

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Yesterday I brought in a load of 25 bales of hay...some of the nicest, greenest alfalfa you'd ever want. Corky had a great time eating the scraps left on the arena floor from my truck.

Today I rode Corky with no longeing. I had a great ride! The lessons she learned this past weekend were sticking. I had to keep reminding myself to ask 'less' rather than more when asking her to back down in speed, because she really was responding to a lighter touch than she has in the past. that's a good thing! I only rode for about 20 minutes...did some basics and then worked a little on turns on the forehand and haunches (which went very well tonight!).

Part of me is really wanting to baby Corky at home. Things have been going so well for us, I am so afraid something will happen and she will get hurt or sore. Last year was such a nightmare of lamenesses...I am super-paranoid.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Today's ride wasn't as good as yesterday. It was storming like crazy outside, it would be easy for me to blame that but in all honesty Corky didn't seem to notice the storm. She was very crabby at my leg pressure, so I got off and longed her with the wheelbarrow tires for about 10 minutes. She didn't really do anything on the line, but was a LOT better to my leg under saddle after I got back on her. Today I put a series of 3 poles down on one side of the arena, and a single pole on the other. First I worked trotting over them at random, then I took the 3 poles at the canter. She actually did better cantering over them than trotting (probably because they were spaced for her canter stride). She did get a little revved up after taking the three poles, so I had to work to bring her back down again. She wasn't as responsive to my slow-down cues today. I am not sure if it was the storm, the poles, or a combination of the two that had her a little more bullheaded today.

Friday I am going to haul her to a friends and ride in her huge arena with a few other people to see if the lessons we learned last weekend will stick in a more pressurized, larger situation.

frs, y

Friday, May 29, 2009

This evening I hauled Corky over to my friend's arena - she has a super huge indoor that is perfect for a HUS horse! My goal was to ride with a few other people in a nice big area and see if Corky would continue to listen to me when I asked her to back down. Guess what? She did!!! She was a little sticky/crank at her transitions, but she cantered wonderfully for me, and there were moments where I could just sit and relax and let her flow underneath me...awesome!

ON the way home I drove through a heinous thunderstorm...it rained so hard visibility was down to about nothing. I was driving about 20mph on I-75, cars were pulling over because visibility was so poor. I was way too afraid to pull the truck and trailer over in the storm, I was more afraid of being hit by someone, though I second-guessed my decision a thousand times. Scary!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

I went this afternoon to pick up Taylor from the breeding farm! I was horrified to see that she was dead lame in both front feet. She hobbled, could hardly move! A shot of banamine helped her feel a little better by the time we got home, but she still wasn't right. I cleaned her feet out and all 4 feet were full of thrush...the entire bottoms of her front feet were black, oozy, stinky messes. Poor girl! I am hoping her soreness was caused by the thrush and not something more serious. I started treating it today...fingers crossed she feels better tomorrow. I'll have a pregnancy check in about a week and a half...crossing the fingers on my other hand!

June 2009

Monday, June 1, 200

Taylor is still terribly crippled today. She can hardly walk. I made an appointment to take her to the vet on Wednesday morning for x-rays...I am terrified it might be founder...

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

I had a 10am vet appointment for Taylor. I got there about quarter til ten, hoping that since I had a morning appointment I wouldn't have to wait. Nope...still waited almost 2 hours to be seen! The vet took x-rays of her front feet and compared them to the x-rays taken last August. There was NO change in the bones or angles (yay!). Once again, he felt it was a slight inflammation of the lamina...a precursor to laminitis. My farrier is coming out this afternoon, and he is to take off some toe and square it up to help her break over easier and relieve the angle pressure.

While I was there, I asked him how early he could detect a pregnancy with his ultrasound. He said usually 16-18 days. I said "Darn, she is day 15 right now". He offered to go ahead and u/s her to take a look, because sometimes he can see things earlier. It didn't take him long at all to find a perfect 13-15 day embryo! Hallelujah! I almost cried right there in front of everyone. I am out of money, so it was now or never, and I was really afraid that she would be empty and it would be the end of my dream.

When I got home, I decided to ride Corky while waiting on my farrier. Corky was a real brat today! Right off the bat she started balking at the walk, and I had to really get after her to make her move forward. The first 5 minutes of the ride was nothing but battling for forward, willing motion. After that, things got better. I did get some really nice canters out of her, but she was just plain grumpy. I noticed she has had a weird habit lately (in the past couple weeks) of taking the wrong lead when going to the left. I wonder why? She did ti a bunch today, it was very frustrating. I wonder if something is out of whack with her and needs to be checked. Maybe she feels neglected since Taylor is getting all the lameness attention?

the farrier appointment went well, we only found signs of TWO abscesses with Corky...another improvement! Tomorrow will be a riding and clipping day, and Friday morning we will head to the Indy Circuit at New Castle, Indiana...my last show until July :-[

Picture of Corky while I sat on a bucket below her watching my farrier work!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

What a difference today (and a new set of shoes) make! Corky rode phenomenal today, so good I quit after barely 20 minutes in the saddle. I couldn't have asked for a better ride. I actually had to push her a bit rather than hold back...I love that! Tomorrow we leave for New Castle, Indiana...fingers crossed she continues her good ways!

I got the photos from the Wauseon show, they are so cool! Check them all out here!
Here is a sampling:

Friday, June 5, 2009

I left in the morning for New Castle, Indiana, arrived around noon. Wow, this show ground is gorgeous! Unfortunately, I got stuck in a barn across the road and FAR from the show ring. The barn didn't even have speakers so there was no way of telling what the heck was going on in the arena, and the walk to the arena was a long uphill hike. Oh well, these are the penalties you pay for being a nobody! I stalled next to an old friend of mine (no, she's not old, but a friend from the 'old' days) and her new trainer (a very cool young guy named Wade Parks). The stalls were nice and large, and overlooked a hill of trees and a beautiful pond. The area where I parked my trailer was nicer than most campgrounds!

Corky's first ride was attempting to negotiate the crowds in the big arena...NOT good. We eventually left and found a couple smaller arenas out back to work in, and she got better. That evening I went back and rode in the big arena and she was fantastic! On with the show!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Today's show DRAGGED on...made worse by the fact that I couldn't hear what was going on in the arena so went way too early for my classes and spent a whole lot of time standing around in the hot sun. First class was performance halter mares. For the first time, we actually showed against other horses - two other western-bred horses. Guess what...we got last! Go figure :-]

Amateur Showmanship was a large class - I believe it had 17 or 18. It was a long and complicated pattern. I went through the pattern many times, figured out the tricks and traps, and was SO ready. OK, I thought I was ready...until I did a 360 instead of a 180 and had to pull turn back the extra 180 to complete my pattern correctly. Sometimes I am such an idiot.

I felt really ready for the hunter under saddle since Corky had ridden so well yesterday. It was not to be. The Junior HUS was first, and Corky was in a fightin' mood, full of energy and wanting to run. When I took hold of her, she crow-hopped and flipped her back lead, it got ugly (but at least we weren't called into the middle!). I had a long break in which I went to a back arena and worked on her canter. Amateur HUS was marginally better - we didn't crow-hop in this class but I had to constantly take a hold of her and force her to back down. Ugh...frustrating!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Today was our 'off' day at the show (only western classes) so we spent the day in school! I rode three different times, in different arenas, and even spent some time riding her casually around the grounds. That evening I ode in the main show arena and she was phenomenal. I let my friend Kelli ride her and she rode great for her also! What more could I do? She was ready...but will she be ready tomorrow?

I got to ride Kelli's western pleasure horse. That lope was to DIE for! Gosh it was fun! I haven't ridden a western pleasure horse for any amount of time since I sold my last pleasure horse...in 1995!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Originally I planned on skipping showmanship to ride, but I can never resist a fun showmanship pattern. This one had a nice big trotting circle and a judgment call on your circle line, and I wanted to try it. We nailed the pattern, nailed our lines and our turns! She didn't set up the greatest, and at this level of competition that is all it takes to keep you out of the placings. Oh well, at least I didn't do something stupid again!

I decided not to ride her before the HUS. Junior HUS was first. We went in the arena and she was still a little stiff from her stall, which made her a bit cranky and balky. She got better as the class went on, but that first balky trot killed us...placed last in a very very tough class. I noticed in the class that I had her on such a loose rein that my reins were swinging! Kelli watched my class and said she was a bit strung out with her nose way out. I had a long break before the Amateur HUS, but right before the class I took her out and did a bunch of leg yielding and counter-bending to get her warmed up and used to my legs. This class went MUCH better, I kept a slight bit more contact (though still not enough!). One judge watched the one corner where I had to take a hold of her several times, and he placed us 6th out of 9. The other judge saw several great passes and rewarded us with a 3rd (right behind HUS legends Duplicated Hero and Just Gotta - what great company!!!). I was VERY happy with that!

After the show when I went to close out my check, the judge that placed me 3rd (Lisa Moden) stopped me to tell me how much she liked my HUS horse, but that I needed to ride with more contact...she felt our second class was better but she would still like to see more contact. I thanked her for her input. It is so nice to get some good feedback from a judge, especially when you are trudging along on your own trying to improve at each show.

So...no points, but some more valuable lessons, and some very good times with some new (and old) friends. Now Corky will get a break as I leave this coming weekend for a long vacation hiking Yosemite!

My show team - Corky, me, and Pasta!

Right where we are standing is where I parked my trailer and camped out. Gorgeous!

Friday, June 12, 2009

I am really worried about Taylor. She still isn't any better - very sore on the front feet and doesn't want to walk. This morning she was laying down a lot and didn't want to get up. I wish I knew what was going on! I leave tomorrow for California for 11 days, and she is going to be a huge worry on my mind while I am gone.

This morning Corky got her teeth floated. Everything was fairly normal. That is such a nasty job to watch...gives me the shivers!

Oh yes, and both Taylor and Corky were wormed this week (more exciting news) - Pyrantel. :-]

Wednesday, June 23, 2009

I am home! I have been gone the last week and a half hiking in Yosemite. I suffered from major horse-withdrawal for sure!

Taylor doesn't seem to be a whole lot better. Time for plan B - putting the wedge shoes on her to relive the stress on her feet and hopefully make her miraculously sound like last summer. I am convinced it is a slight flair up of laminitis...no rotation, just inflammation.

I jumped right back into the swing of things (after getting home from the airport at 8am after the redeye and sleeping a few hours) and I rode Corky. I assumed she would be really bad with 2+ weeks off, especially when we started off with Corky locking up and refusing to move forward. I hate when she gets balky, I just know that the ride will contain multiple arguments. After I finally got her moving forward, we actually had a really great ride! It was super hot - mid 90's (a far cry from the cold mountains I hiked...just 3 days ago I was playing in the snow at 10,000 feet!). I rode about a half hour, then called it quits and hosed her off (and of course she promptly rolled in the arena to coat herself in mud!). Tomorrow - another ride...hopefully outside this time!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Today my friend and I decided to haul our horses to a small open show to ride and school and see how the training processes are going. It had a lot of classes, I was able to do 2 showmanship and 3 riding classes. The showmanships went well (got a 1st and a 2nd), her patterns were spot on (though they were very simple). The judge was an old-school judge who made us do a line-up, and Corky has never had to stand that long before. She did pretty well, though I kept having to get after her to stand on all 4 feet when she started getting lazy and bored.

The riding classes started OK and went downhill from there. No matter, we still ended up with two 1sts and a 2nd, but the last class she was horrible - fighting and wanting to run. e are totally back to square one with the training. I thin my biggest mistake was that I didn't ride her at all today before her class. I did some longeing , but I think I needed to get on her and bend her and school her to giving to the bit a little bit rather than jumping on and going into the class. I felt she started off full of energy and rather stiff to my hands and legs.

Back to the drawing board! Next weekend we will be showing at Springfield. Should be interesting....

Monday, June 29, 2009

Corky and I had a bad ride today. She just wasn't very willing, and I had very little patience today. The combination meant lots of fights. She was really balking bad when we started our ride. I have been riding her without any longeing, I am wondering if the longeing is important just to 'unlock' her? It seems she is the most balkiest when we hop on and ride with no longe work first.

I was very frustrated with her in showmanship also...lots of little things like picking up a foot during the pivot, and moving sideways when I asked her to set up. She is rushing terribly on her pivots, and when she rushes she ends up having to mover her pivot foot. I need to work on slowing her down again.

Today my farrier mad a quick trip out to put wedge shoes on Taylor. Taylor is still very sore in the front end. I am convinced it is a flare-up of laminitis (she seems to get slightly better once we took her off the alfalfa hay and pellets and put her on a grass mix with plain oats). He backed her toes way off and put the wedges on, and the first thing she did when I turned her loose was take off cantering in the arena! I haven't seen her canter since she came back from the breeding farm. I am so relieved!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Corky took another step down today, I knew it was coming. I am paying the price for taking a vacation and letting her get 2 1/2 weeks off...she is resenting going back to work! I longed her first with side reins, and then rode. She surged a lot, and I tried to over-exaggerate everything when I asked her to slow down, I asked her to really slow down. I want to have a pretty good handle on her speed by the end of the week.

I paid the price for my lack of patience yesterday with her showmanship. She was VERY over-reactive with the chain (weird, since I practiced yesterday without a chain!). She was anticipating getting corrected, so her pivots were very erratic. I worked a lot on slowing her speed down and making everything calm and easy again. Darn me and my impatient days! Hopefully she will be over this in a day or two.

Taylor looked a little better again today. I free-longed her at the trot a few rounds. She is still stiff in the front, but not really limping.

July 2009

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

I gave Corky the day off today. I think she needs a break mentally. Taylor looked about the same or slightly better than yesterday. I can't wait until I finally see the day when she is back to being 100%. She is getting pregnancy-checked next week to make sure she has held onto that embryo, and to also check her hormone levels.

Sunday, July 5, 2009 - Springfield, OH AQHA Show

What a long weekend, all for naught.

I went to Springfield early Friday after noon, and spent Friday afternoon and evening, and Saturday afternoon and evening riding, training, and schooling Corky. I did most of the work outside in the outdoor arena, but Saturday evening I ventured indoors and had a fantastic schooling session inside (the sounds and the small bit of traffic did not bother her!). I did a lot of riding. It was my downfall, I guess.

Sunday rolled around, and first was amateur showmanship. We had a good pattern and made our lines, but she took a big step out of her 270 pivot which threw our line to the judge way off. Her setup was quick, but it wasn't a very pretty one (kind of spraddle-legged). That big step in the pivot knocked us all the way to 6th and 6th out of 7. Oh well...so showmanship really isn't her "thang" yet. There is hope, I think!

After showmanship I rode outside, and had a great great great ride. I really felt like we were ready. After a quick longe session to loosen her up before my class, we went in to Junior HUS first. There were only 3 of us. Unfortunately, I think I got her too tired. She rode great for me (speed/training-wise) but I had to push her and force her to round up at the canter every stride, which made her very angry-looking at the canter (if ya get my drift LOL!). Ugh...and earlier that day she was as happy and pleasant as can be outside, I should have saved that ride for the show pen!. We ended up 2nd and 3rd out of 3...but the ride was clean so I consider that acceptable.

There were 2 classes and then we went back in for Amateur HUS. It started off OK, but it quickly went downhill from there. I think she was too tired to really hold herself together at the canter, and when I was not allowing her to get strung out she got mad and decided to start fighting. The class crumbled...it got worse as we went on (fighting, flipping her head and trying to run off...lovely!).

Needless to say I am extremely frustrated. I just am not sure what to do next. How do I know when she has been worked enough to show well, but not overworked? Why can't I figure this out? I mean, heck...she stays at home with me and I am doing 100% of the riding so you'd think I could get this worked out. What burns me is that we had some absolutely phenomenal rides this weekend outside while I was schooling. On the plus side, we did get something accomplished - Corky managed to be able to be ridden in the indoor without earplugs and we survived!

I mulled things over with Darla, who always seems to have some good ideas and thoughts to ponder.

Good points to ponder. This week I am thinking I will work her butt hard at home, do all sorts of things that make life tough - ground poles, patterns, maybe even some lead change attempts. Then Hopefully we will go to a show this weekend and have a relaxing time... Maybe I am foolish for not giving up. I will tell you that driving home today I actually considered it - just giving up. Quitting on Corky, calling it a day. Dang it, I just can't do that yet. She's already been quit on by other people involved in her life, but from day one I have never quit on her. Remember her bone infection as a yearling? I got up and went out to the barn 3-4x a day to wrap her leg even though the vet gave me a low chance of her ever being sound. I am not giving up quite yet...not going to do it. I am very disheartened, worried, and sad...but I will try, try again.

Pet Peeve/Rant Time

I am taking a break from our regularly scheduled programming to expound upon a major pet peeve of mine - loose dogs at shows. Dang it people, tie your %^$#@! dogs up or keep them in your trailer! Today when I was longeing Corky out on the grass just doing some easy trotting to loosen her up from her stall before showing, someone's idiotic dog came charging at us and started chasing her on the longe line. Corky freaked out, was jumping and sliding on the grass and the dog was biting at her heels. I could NOT get this dog off of her and no one was around! I tried smacking it with my longe whip but this dog was bent on grabbing at her hind feet and would NOT quit. Finally someone showed up to claim the stupid dog after I started yelling. I got a lukewarm "oh, sorry" about the whole incident...NOT something I wanted to happen 10 minutes before I showed! People are so stupid sometimes.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Today I decided to make an "all-work-and-no-fun" day. It is time to really make Corky work. Looking back over the past 2-3 months, I have really spoiled her - let her have nice easy rides for maybe 15-20 minutes a day and not really making her work much. No wonder she probably thinks the show pen is evil...that's where she works the hardest! Well...not anymore!

I rode for a solid 45 minutes today and did very little walking. I did a ton of trotting, leg-yielding, counter-bending at the trot and the canter (she HATES it at the canter), rollbacks, counter-cantering, simple lead changes, sidepassing, you name it. I started right off with counterbending circles at the walk, and then two-tracking at the trot, which made her very mad! The madder she got, the harder I pushed her. When I did let her relax and just cruise on the rail at the trot or canter, she was very relaxed with her ears up, as if she was relieved to do something 'easy'. This will be my plan for the next months. We will see if I get an improved behavior in the show ring. I am not ready to give up quite yet!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Today I decided to try something totally different, and start Corky trotting over crossrails. I set up crossrails on one side of the arena, and a flat pole on the other and did a little longe work over them. The very first time she approached the crossrail at a trot, she slowed down and then stopped, not sure what was expected of her. I put her into a bigger trot, and she trotted right over without any fuss. We did it several times, and then I got in the saddle. I wore her pretty good today, trotting over the crossrails and the flat pole, and mixing it up with some canter work (on the rail only). She did not get excited about the crossrails at all (which is great!). Occasionally she would pop over, but mostly she just lifted up and trotted over. This is something I think I will do a lot of this summer, and start working up to the canter.

Tomorrow evening Taylor gets checked for pregnancy (again)...keep your fingers crossed!!!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

TAYLOR IS STILL PREGNANT!!!! Watch me run around the room screaming with joy!!! Blood was drawn to check her progesterone levels, we'll know the results in a few days. Yay!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

I did more of the same with Corky (working a little over crossrails again..FUN!), but I ended our ride with a ponying session, using Taylor as the horse being ponied. I learned something very important - it's REALLY hard to pony one 17 hand horse off of another 17 hand horse that does not neck rein! At first Corky was a little worried about her space, but it ended up going rather smoothly at the walk, turning circles and walking patterns. Trotting was another matter, since Taylor wanted to trot out ahead of Corky, and things got a bit hairy. I am going to try and do this every now and then. It's good for both of them!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Corky had a week off while I was at band camp, so today was a typical 'back to work after vacation' session. I did a lot of leg yielding and counter-cantering today. Counter-cantering makes her so angry, but when we go back to cantering correctly on the rail she is so much more relaxed and willing. Darla was so right - I need to make my riding sessions SO much harder on Corky than the show pen. It seems whenever I ask her to do something that is really difficult she gets a little upset, but gives in and does it (grudgingly), and then when we go back on the rail things improve by leaps and bounds. I swear, horse training is such a mind game, so psychological! It's really a mental job with a horse like Corky...always trying to stay one step ahead of her brain.

Monday, July 20, 2009

I had a farrier appointment at 7am (ugh!). Since I was already out there and the morning was beautiful, I went ahead and rode. I got to ride outside today...last night they dug up the perimeter of the outdoor arena (which is really a large dirt arena in a mostly-unfenced pasture). It was awesome, footing was perfect and the morning was warm, sunny, and nearly bug-free. I longed Corky for quite a while at first - she was wound up! he studs in the barn kept screaming for her and she kept whinnying back, which was highly annoying. She was pretty good when I got in the saddle, a little too forward which is to be expected. I did a lot of leg-yielding, two-tracking, and counter-bending at the canter. It was a great workout.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

I rode outside again today, only I waited until around 1:30 to ride. It was a nice day, but the flies were out in full force. I should have made myself get up early again to ride! Today was a lot better than yesterday. Although the studs were screaming again, she only whinnied 4 or 5 times. I only longed her for about 5 minutes and got right on. We had a great ride. She wanted to surge a lot on the straight sides, so when she did I made her work extra hard with leg-yielding and counter-bending. We had a lot of problems cantering to the right - she wanted to constantly surge as soon as I gave her an inch. I spent a lot of time really bending her at the canter and making her do things that were uncomfortable, and when she relaxed and slowed down I released her and let her go straight. It seemed like she was getting it, but then the flies got so bad that we had to quit.

I had to cancel my stall at West Virginia this week since I need to stick around for a funeral. I will probably hit an open show or two this weekend, and hopefully decide someplace to go next weekend. I have a choice between Crown Point, Indiana or Philippi, WV. I have never been to either places, so I am trying to figure out which would be the nicer show. One is 5 hours to the east, the other 5 hours to the west. Hmmm....

Last night I bought a new stepstool to take to the shows. Mine keeps wandering off. I got a little marker-crazy in decorating it...but no one will mistake mine for theirs ever again! On the bottom side I wrote a bunch of my favorite quotes so I can read and get pumped up. OK, I just know you want to hear my favorite quotes, right? Here you go...

Thursday, July 23, 2009

After a day and a half of rain, the outdoor arena became muddy. Bummer, I had to ride inside again. I rode in the plain French snaffle at first and worked her. She started getting a bit heavy in the bridle, but was somewhat responding when I was asking her to back down. I changed halfway through my ride and used the bit my friend lent me - it is a double jointed bit with a curved middle piece. I had big improvement with that. I am thinking maybe try warming up in the snaffle with a ton of leg yielding and bending, and then change to this bit to show??? I hope to try this out on Saturday if it doesn't thunderstorm as predicted.

I practiced showmanship backing through cones (like my 2006 Congress showmanship pattern with Taylor). Corky turns very tight when backing, so it took several tries to get the hang of lining her up to make the turn between the cones. he is very 'handy' when she backs, which is surprising! we had a pretty good showmanship practice. I am ready to show...I feel the urge LOL!

January whatever, 2009

More stuff here

Friday, July 24, 2009

I rode outside this afternoon. It started off fairly good but went downhill and I ended up spending the last half hour of my ride in a major fight with Corky. She cantered the first few times nice and easy for me, then started surging. I kept having to check her back, which then only made her surge even harder...and it snowballed. She just was in that kind of mood where she wanted to do the opposite of everything I asked, and just did NOT want to work hard (and rocking back and cantering slow is a lot harder than just running!). I finally had to quit - she was drenched in sweat and exhausted as was I. It was NOT a good day. I feel frustrated, depressed, and really unsure as to what to do.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

I had washed and braided Corky last night in anticipation of hitting a show today, but it stormed in the morning so I slept in and just rode at home. I had to ride inside since it was raining. Corky pulled a lot of the same crap on me today that she did yesterday, only her room to surge and run was very limited by the arena walls. It was marginally better than yesterday.

My vet lost Taylor's blood sample he drew a week ago to test her progesterone levels (*rolling eyes here*), so I hauled her over there this afternoon so he could draw blood yet again. Hopefully her levels are good so I can pull her off of ReguMate.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

It was a beautiful day, but too muddy to show so I hauled over to Willie's place to ride in her awesomely huge indoor. Corky was wound up, how DOES she find the energy after two days of HARD riding? She eventually calmed down. I had a few issues with the canter for a while, but the last few that I did were MUCH improved. I had Willie video me so I can see what she looks like...I am going to sit down and watch it now (and maybe share some of the video with you, so stay tuned). I feel a little better, we had some good moments where I asked her to back off at the canter and she responded and held herself there for at least half a round (which is better than ONE stride LOL!).

I think this weekend I might try the AQHA show at Crown Point, Indiana. I have never been there before. It looks pretty close to Chicago on the map, going to be a long drive, but it's either a 5 hour drive west to Crown Point, a 5 hour drive south to Owingsville KY, or a 5 hour drive east to Philippi, WV. None of these places have an indoor, so I am hoping and praying for a sunny, dry weekend. I REALLY need to show!

Friday, July 31, 2009

I hauled west to Crown point, Indiana. It was an interesting place. Let's say it was not at all what I expected. The people there were very friendly, though! :-]

I rode Corky twice that day in the arena. She was wild and horrible the first ride, and semi-horrible the second ride. The arena was bordered by a bunch of houses (this place was nestled in suburbia!) and all the neighbors were out weed-whacking and mowing lawns, so it was a bit distracting. Corky used that as an excuse a few times, but I wasn't buying it!

August 2009

Saturday, August 1, 2009 - Crown Point, Indiana AQHA show

Gotta love it...this section of Indiana is on Central time, plus the show started at 9am (which meant 10am my time) so I got to sleep in a bit! Of course the first thing that happened was I was sought after to full a mare halter class (as usual...they always search out the people with the HUS horses to be easy fodder for the halter horses!). We actually beat a horse...first time ever...got 2nd out of 3...amazing! Corky did set up really well, though.

Amateur showmanship went VERY well. I can honestly say it was our best pattern ever! It was dead accurate, and she set up with just ONE motion! Today was a ground-breaking day...it was Corky's FIRST amateur showmanship win and full point! She was excellent!

The HUS classes were very small. Amateur HUS was first, and Corky was ON...it was one of our best rides all year. She was quiet, easy, and pleasant! I was thrilled...it was like someone flipped a switch and she decided to turn it on and do everything right. We got a win and another half point. I do believe this finishes our amateur ROM! They combined junior and senior HUS, and even though it started to drizzle rain, Corky behaved very well and kept it all together for another win! What worked to our benefit was that the judge (seeing the impending rainstorm) ran the class quickly and didn't have us canter forever. The rain bugged her and she was a little unhappy in the class, but she behaved. I left the show ring feeling VERY good about our rides, which is the biggest success in my eyes!

The show grounds had no bathrooms and no showers. Several of the other HUS exhibitors were not planning on returning tomorrow, and it just wasn't worth it for me to stay another day without a shower! I headed home after I was done showing. the drive is rather hellish...hours and hours on Rt 30 (with a zillion stoplights) all the way across Indiana. Oh well, it was a fun experience and I was pleased with my rides and had fun...in the end that's what counts, right?

Monday, August 3, 2009

I rode outside today....or attempted to. It was late in the evening, so I had limited daylight to work with. The neighbor kids were whooping and hollering, the broodmare and foal in the pasture were running, and Corky was WILD one the longe line! I did ride a few rounds at the trot, but there was just no keeping her focus. I went inside to ride, but the footing was freshly dug up and the one side was really deep. Rather than risk a tendon injury, I called it quits for the night and made plans to ride outside tomorrow when it was quieter.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009 (part 1)

I went out around noon to ride today. Corky was a little wound up, but not nearly as bad as yesterday. We did get about 30 minutes of good riding in. I am still having issues with her cantering to the right just in ONE spot in the outdoor arena. She always wants to surge there, and now that I have had to take hold of her so often in the same spot she is getting hoppy and anticipating it every time we round that corner...it's very annoying. We practiced some showmanship (she was excellent). I am looking forward to showing somewhere this weekend.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009 - part 2

Oh what a night. I was just out of the shower and ate my soup for dinner when Janet called and said Corky had gotten hurt at the barn, so I rushed back over there. Randy had come home and put Taylor and Corky back in their stalls (I had turned them out in the indoor like I do every day) and then he ran to get some diesel for the tractor. He was only gone 15 minutes, but when he returned half of the stall wall between Corky and Taylor's stall was broken through to Taylor's side, and Corky was bloody and all cut up. She is swelling everywhere, has huge gouges all over her back, sides, neck, and face. The worst is right above both eyes, and then a deep gash on her back. Amazingly, there is not one cut on her legs other than a gash on one hock! It looks like maybe something stung her and caused her to throw herself against the wall, and she broke through and then got stuck under the wall and thrashed around a bunch. Even Taylor didn't escape injury - she has a few scrapes on one leg and a cut on one tendon that caused her leg to swell up. It was horrible..poor Corky had blood on the walls of her stall. She can hardly walk. She doesn't have any noticeable injuries to her legs, but she has major swelling everywhere - neck, shoulders, back, on her hips, and especially in her face. We gave her a shot to keep the swelling down, and a dose of banamine to help with the pain, and I doctored all of her cuts.

Corky's injury to one eye- yucky and bloody. What fun it was to try and hose it off.

After hosing - one eye....

...and the other eye

The deepest cut on her back

A few of the cuts on one side

Looking like a weird appaloosa with yellow furacin spray on her gashes.

I am worried about what possibly injuries she might have that we can't see. I am worried that she can barely move. I stayed out there for hours watching her (and helping Randy rebuild the stall wall).

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Corky's eyes were pretty swollen today, but they didn't seem to bother her too much. She willingly let me put ointment on them. The cuts and scrapes all over her body (I counted them - there are 44!!!) have all dried up and most have a decent scab on them. My biggest worry is her right hind ankle. It is swollen and hot, and she doesn't like to put a lot of weight on it. She is walking fine (slowly), but VERY sore at the trot. There doesn't seem to be any new cuts or scrapes on that leg. I think she must have twisted it during the struggle. Taylor's left hind leg is very swollen through the tendon area. She has a fairly deep cut across her tendon towards the top near her hock. The right hind leg also has some swelling as a reaction to the scrape she got on the front of the pastern. Both my horses walked slowly around the arena today, with very little desire to play...can't blame them. I am afraid I am seeing the rest of my show season this summer go down the tubes. I sure have some crappy luck.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Corky healed fast! After the first day she had no swelling and was completely sound. The cuts seem to be healing well, other than the ones above her eyes which she keeps rubbing. Today I decided to work her. I came out 2 days ago to ride, and started free-longeing her when she had a "Corky moment" and took off running for no apparent reason and ran and ran and ran, while I stood there in the center and watched. It was 90+ degrees, so of course she overheated herself. I had to hose her down several times and hand walk her, so I skipped riding.

When I got her out of her stall today, her right hind leg was HUGE - swollen all the way from hock to ankle (with the majority of the swelling around the ankle). I freaked out! I got her out in the arena and turned her loose to watch. She looked fine. I cold-hosed her and then longed her and she longed sound...full of energy. I went ahead and rode her, she was a brat under saddle (way too much time off for her!). The swelling went down a little bit, but still stayed puffy at the ankle. There is a small cut on her ankle, and I am wondering if possibly this swelling is just a reaction to that. She tends to balloon up every time she has the tiniest scrape. Coupling that with the intense heat could explain it. Her tendon was tight, she flexed OK, and nothing seemed to hurt her. Dang horses!

Tomorrow I am off to Rochester, Indiana for the AQHA show. I have never been there before, so it will be another adventure!

Friday-Sunday, August 14-16, 2009 - Rochester, Indiana AQHA show

Rochester is a nice place. The grounds are nice, arena footing is good, the only bummer is that the stalls are TINY. Corky did not fit in width-wise. I like Indiana, people are really friendly!

I arrived late Friday afternoon. I rode Corky in the arena that evening. She was pretty wound up (which is normal), but she felt a little weird. I was worried about the puffiness in her hind legs, but there was no heat and the swelling did go down with hosing and exercise.

Saturday was my off day, so I got up and longed her in the grass in the morning. She was pretty quiet, didn't seem to want to run or play on the line. Later that afternoon I rode her in the covered pen. The longer I rode her, the more "off" she felt. I got off her and put her on the longe line. She was definitely favoring her left hind leg, but as soon as I saw her on the line I knew exactly what it was - hock soreness. I think I put off her needed hock injections way too long.

I gave her some bute, and let her rest in her stall until evening. When I got her back out, she was definitely still off. This explains a lot about why I have been progressively having trouble with her at the canter, and why her attitude was getting worse. She was getting sore, and the more I made her canter slow and deep the harder it got for her, and her only response was to get angry and run. I feel like such a fool sometimes. This is the price you pay when you ride alone every day without anyone watching or giving opinions.

Sunday, I just did showmanship (it was a really cool pattern). I did fill a halter class for some halter people (got last again, as usual!). The showmanship pattern required you to be dead on in your lines, and we had practiced this a lot the night before. We did nail our lines, but her turns were really slow and her trot-offs were sluggish. It was very hot, and the showmanship was out in the hot sun, and Corky got very lazy. No crispness means no placing!

Oh well, you live and learn, right? I did have a really good time hanging out with some old friends and some new friends, and that's what counts.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Today Taylor and Corky got their feet done, and then I hauled Corky to the vet's office to have her hocks checked. Both of her hocks were bone dry. I had him inject the upper and lower with Hylartin-V. This should do it, I hope! The vet gave her a dose of Demorsedan so she would stand perfectly still during the injections. I don't know if Corky ever had a shot of this before, but she had a reaction to it and broke out in hives all over, and her breathing got labored. The vet had to give her a shot of steroids to combat the reaction. Poor thing, she was a regular pincushion today!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Today was the first day I rode Corky after her injections. the vet told me to give her 72 hours off, but I extended it a bit to be safe. She definitely felt good today! Immediately when I longed her I saw the difference in her movement. She was MUCH more free-flowing and easy with her stride. I am more angry with myself for not having noticed the gradual change in her movement over the last month or two as she favored her hocks. I need to be more diligent about watching. Riding her after having several weeks off was rough (as I expected). She definitely wanted to keep surging at the canter. In frustration, I stopped her and backed her several times when she did this. This actually worked for her and she started paying attention when I was asking her to back off on her speed.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Today is my last official day of summer...school starts tomorrow! Of course, I have been back to work for weeks. I don't really get a summer off! Today was an unseasonably cool day for August - I don't know if it even reached 70 degrees. Corky looked like a million bucks when I longed her. She rode really well. We had a few "tiffs" when I made her hold her speed at the canter, but stopping and backing continued to help. I rode in the gag bit today for something different (trying not to let her get too dull in the snaffle). Of course she tried to overreact about halfway through the ride when I applied pressure to the bit. She tends to do that when she gets frustrated with not getting her own way. I used the same technique of stopping and backing every time she overreacted and flung her head, and it stopped that after a few tries. Progress!

I had to make the hard decision last week about Congress. After spending thousands and thousands of dollars on Lazlo's vet bills this past spring, it would be very irresponsible for me to go to Congress. Financially it would put me in a tight spot since I am way over my budget this year with the horses. It sucks being an adult! I decided to do the right thing and fore go this year's Congress, save my money, and try next year if possible. So, the rest of this fall will be spend doing a few little shows here and there (Friday night football games prohibit me from traveling to any shows far away).

September 2009

>Saturday, September 5, 2009

I rode Cork several times outside this week. It was nonstop battle after battle. She just keeps wanting to surge ahead at the canter. It has gotten bad, because now she anticipates the fight and overreacts before anything actually happens...and we keep going around this vicious circle. Today I rode her first inside, (and battled!). I decided to head outside and see if I could get a decent ride or not. If I got a good ride, I will head to a show tomorrow. Randy rode outside with me, and wouldn't you know it, Corky was great! Ok, so I washed her and braided her, and made plans to head for an open show up north tomorrow.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

I went to an open show up north today. I had a blast. Corky and I won the showmanship out of 12. She did a really nice pattern. Why does she always nail her patterns at open shows and then refuse to set up or something equally dumb at the quarter horse shows?

The HUS started right after showmanship, which stunk, so I didn't get ANY time to warm up. Corky was pretty good the first direction, but got really strong at the canter 2nd direction, so I stopped her and made her stand still 4 different times during the canter until she finally got it. The judge watched me do it, so when they called for the lineup I stayed out on the rail and worked her canter. LOL...I became that person everyone hates. The judge actually gave me 2nd out of 11. People were mad!!! I was embarrassed. When I was exiting the arena, the judge stopped me and told me how much she liked Corky, and that she "had me winning it until she saw me stopping at the canter 2nd way". What??? She shouldn't have even placed me for that! Oh well, you get a gift sometimes, and sometimes you get screwed, right?

I did the most fun thing ever today. On a whim, I decided to enter Corky in trail! It was a pretty easy pattern. She has never done trail before, and it's been at least 10 years since I've shown it. She actually did pretty good! We hit a few logs on the trot overs, but nothing hard enough to move them. She would NOT walk over the bridge though, I had to skip it. I don't know why, I work her over my bridge at home all the time and she doesn't care. The gate was interesting. I sidepassed her to the gate, grabbed it, and then realized that since she doesn't neckrein, maneuvering her through the gate and back over would be about impossible. I tried, but ended up having to cheat with my other hand to direct her. She did the sidepass poles great, loped the chute, nailed the back through. of course we ended up near the bottom of the class since we had to skip and element. It was a blast! She didn't know what to think. Green trail here we come! (NOT!!!). All in all it was a fun, relaxing day, made a little cash, plus I got home in time for supper...can't beat that!

Monday, September 14, 2009

The few rides I've had this past week outside have reverted back to the same problems. Corky is rushing at the canter...ironically she is rushing every time we are heading towards the barn. coincidence? I think not! I noticed that I am getting a pretty nice canter away from the barn, until we round the corner and head back the other way. Once the battles start, then both sides of the canter end up rushing. Frustrating!

I am thinking a lot of our problem is that we've had so many battles out in that outdoor, Corky sees it as a place of misery. Today I decided to take a relaxing day. I trapped the broodmare and foal in their stall and opened up the arena gates into the pasture. I rode in the indoor arena for a while, doing a little canter work (she was awesome). then I wandered outside into the pasture and just walked around. I did some bending and counter-bending, sidepassing, turns on the forehand and haunches, all sorts of relaxing exercises that she does well. I did a little trotting (the ground was pretty uneven). We wandered back into the indoor and did some relaxed cantering, then back out in the pasture for another walk. It was so nice and relaxing. The sun was shining, the neighbor was weed-whacking (Corky didn't seem to be bothered by it), all was good! Maybe this is what I need to do - de-program her and start fresh.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Gorgeous day! I am recovering from a severe bronchial infection, but I had to go and get the stalls cleaned. Might as well ride while I am there, right? It was sunny and warm and just beautiful outside. Once again I opened up the arena doors and rode back and forth in the pasture and in the indoor. I did some cantering in the far portion of the pasture. It was pure heaven - Corky was so relaxed and easy...it was fun with no walls or boundaries to follow. When we were done we went for a walk and I took Corky to Fruit's grave site. Fruit is Corky's dam, she died of colic in May of 2006. I can't believe she has been gone that long.

Corky stayed relaxed and pleasant throughout the ride. I have been doing those stretching exercises recommended to me (stretching for Corky, that is). Corky likes it only because she gets to stretch for a handful of hay. She has been moving and looking great. I, of course, am dying to get to a show, but with my crazy schedule during football season it is very hard. I am still so very sad I am missing Congress this year. I am cheering myself up by telling myself that next year will be our year, for sure!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Another gorgeous day! Again I opened the arena up and rode outside and inside. Corky was a bit more fired up today - she hadn't been out in a day or two and had plenty of energy. Just as we started working outside, it sprinkled rain a bit, which made her a little jumpy. I did get some good riding accomplished - when I asked her to back off and stay at my pace, she did (albeit only for about 5-6 strides before I had to remind her again, but that's something!!!). It was such a nice, pleasant ride. I am realizing now that the battles we did last month have made her really nervous under saddle every time we have a minor disagreement - her teeth start chomping and he tenses up. That is totally my fault. I cannot lose my temper with her any more nor get into these huge battles that go on and on. I need to learn to not drill the same thing, but to move constantly to different things so that we aren't pounding the same lesson over and over again. I was so good about that all year until the last month or two. Looking back I have a lot of regrets. Well...tomorrow is another day, right? It's time for me to seriously start thinking about breeding Taylor next year. I need a VERY good deal as my breeding finances have been wiped out this year. Who do you suggest as a match for her? I'd like to go with something with a bit more quarter horse blood...too much thoroughbred makes me nervous LOL!

October 2009

Sunday, October 4, 2009

I pulled Corky off of ReguMate on Wednesday, and today she was raging in heat. Lovely! I had toyed with the idea of heading to a show today, but ended up getting Notre Dame football tickets from the parents of a former student (he is in the marching band at ND) so I headed to the game yesterday instead of preparing for a show. It was a good idea, since today was unseasonably cold. The cold weather came with a vengeance last week and it looks like it is here to stay. Boo on an early winter!

I went ahead and rode Corky, and she started off OK. When I started asking for her to do a bit more than just plop around the rail, she was very resistant. I know she doesn't feel well at all when she is in heat, so I wasn't too worried about her behavior.

Friday, October 9, 2009

I have nothing much new to report, horse-wise. Taylor and Corky have already started sprouting a winter coat. This is the first year in eons that I don't have a horse under lights preparing for Congress. It feels weird. I want to sit here and whine about having to stay home this year, and rail against the forces that crippled me financially. I need to just sit here and remind myself that I have been VERY lucky (oh how I hate that phrase!). I managed to accomplish on a shoestring budget what many people spend hundreds of thousands trying to reach.

Tomorrow I am heading to Congress at 4am to braid some yearlings for the longe line class (and try not to think about my longe line dreams lying with Lazlo...). It will be weird to be at Congress just as a spectator, but I will have fun shopping and visiting without any of the pressures or time constraints. It probably is for the best this year, as my job has been taking a huge amount of my time right now. Just for fun, here is a peek at what I do every weekend throughout football season:

Percussion feature...

Stay tuned. I haven't left completely! I will post a few blurbs about what I see at Congress this year, plus some observations about the stallions I am considering for Taylor next year. I am still looking for a good breeding deal!

Saturday-Sunday, October 10-11, 2009

I spent the weekend hanging out at Congress. I got up bright and early (OK, it was 3am, so not very bright) and got down their early to braid for the yearling longe line. I watched the hunter longe line, the HUS Maturity, and the WP Maturity this weekend. Out of all the classes I watched, nothing really jumped out at me, no horse really grabbed my attention and made me look twice. I did fall completely in love with - brace yourself - a Maturity pleasure horse! Normally I don't watch a lot of pleasure...at most shows I am recovering or changing from showing the HUS, or working my horse, or just plain relaxing at the stalls. This horse was named Radical Renegade, not sure of you pleasure peeps know of him or not. He had the flattest front leg I have ever seen, and all three gaits were pure and slow-legged. I can't say that for most of the others in the class. The lopes were much better and more forward in the past, but YIKES what happened to the jog? I saw so many horses not doing a true 2-beat jog - they were slowed down so much they were shuffling in a weird 3-4 beat gait. It's always something, isn't it?

I watched the HUS Maturity also. A Certified Edition looked great, but placed middle of the pack in the limited finals, go figure. I love that horse. I want to pluck some tail hairs secretly and create my own clone of him. The maturity class was a valuable one to watch as I am contemplating stallions for Taylor's 2010 breeding. Very interesting....

What surprised me the most was the lack of numbers at Congress. The shopping areas were empty all weekend, just a handful of people shopping. Normally that place is mobbed and you can't even make it through the stores. The class sizes were pretty small, at least in comparison to the past. The competition was as deep as ever in most classes. I felt sad to not be showing there, but it actually was more fun to hang out and support my friends, shop, and have no other major responsibilities or stresses. However we will be hitting it hard next year! I am ready and I am already making plans.

Here is Jim and "Twiggy", who is a yearling filly by Thanks For Com En. She showed in the yearling longe line class, and was one of my braiding jobs I did early in the morning. She is a very pretty, leggy girl. She makes me more excited to see what Taylor and Thanks will produce!

Sunday, October 18, 2009 - worming day!

I spent yesterday at Congress again, with even more socializing! I watched a bit of the Super Sale (dozed off at one point!), didn't see anything that grabbed my attention. Halter horses were getting nothing in the way of prices, nor were broke horses. Prospects did a little better. I guess that is proof that hope springs eternal...even in tough economies people are always willing to dream a bit.

I arrived home Sunday and went out to clean stalls. I decided to longe Corky a bit. Ugh. She is incredibly FAT. With all that added weight comes a lumbering, ungraceful movement. I realize that even with my crazy work schedule I am going to HAVE to make time to come out and get her back in shape. I am hoping to have Darla work her for a few weeks and see what she thinks I need to be doing this winter, and hopefully form a plan of action for 2010.

Funny - I was bent over picking out Corky's feet when I heard a voice saying "Hello? Hello?". I looked around....Corky had gotten a hold of my cell phone and leaned on the buttons and somehow made two phone calls - to Kevin and to the radio station WDOH! Weird! I know Kevin was easy to call since he was the last person called, she probably pressed the redial button. Calling the radio station puzzles me, as it is not at the beginning nor the end of my contact list, and I have never even called them from my cell phone before. I guess she wanted to make a request!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Today was a decently warm day (compared to the 40's and low 50's we've been experiencing for the past 3 weeks). I longed Corky for a bit to loosen her up (lumbering and plodding) and then saddled up and rode. Ok, we have our work cut out for us. I did a LOT of trotting, circles, leg yields at the trot, etc. She was not happy about leaving her nice easy vacation and actually having to work. I rode for about 30 minutes fairly steady and then quit for the day. She is so out of shape, she is really falling on the forehand at the canter. I hate that, and it's hard for me to be patient and keep asking her to pick her shoulders up every other stride. Patience, patience, patience! On a good note, her showmanship is still pretty good! She already has sprouted a fuzzy coat. Winter has arrived early in Ohio this year.

I had just gotten home when I got a call from Janet. It seems the mystery creature (see August 4, 2009 diary entry) got back into Corky's stall and freaked her into a panic again. Janet was cleaning 2 stalls down when she heard the commotion. She didn't see the creature, but the sawdust under the door that opened out into the pasture was dug out again and Corky was standing there shaking all over. She had panicked and ran straight into the bars of her stall and bent them, and cut her face again. She also had a large swelling on her hp, and several other cuts and scrapes. She had panicked so hard she urinated all over the wall! It was definitely some kind of animal, because I had just left and the bottom of the stall door was completely covered and had been for months, and the hole was freshly dug with the bedding pushed to the outside. Janet said she had encountered a HUGE possum a few weeks ago that has made a very large den in the fence line. This possum was very aggressive and actually tried to attack her when she tried to chase it with a broom. I am going to set a live trap out there and hopefully catch him (and I will seek my revenge LOL!). Poor Corky. She is now sore and gimpy on her hind leg that has the hip laceration, and is very unsettled. The only thing Ii can think of is that this possum (or whatever creature it is) actually attacked her when it came into her stall back in August (thus causing her to crash through the wall), and when it dug under the stall door again she remembered it and panicked.

It's always something, isn't it? Darn animals!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

t was sunny and 70 degrees today! An amazingly perfect day - so of course I made time to ride in the evening after work. Corky is still a lumbering giant. I rode her in the gag to lighten her up, and it did help me lift her shoulders and front end a bit (she is suddenly very heavy on the forehand with all this added weight and less muscle). We had an up-and-down ride. She was not overly cooperative after her long vacation, but we did get some things accomplished. Her canter is terrible - fast, and trying to rush every time I give an inch.

I went searching outside for signs of the mutant possum, but couldn't find him other than some dug-up spots in the dirt along the fence line.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Dangit! I was ready to ride again today, ran out to the barn straight from work and realized I forgot my jeans to ride in! ARGH! I cleaned stalls and then did a long free-longeing session with Cork (Taylor did some trotting and cantering with her, but then wised up and stood in the corner out of the way). I worked her fairly hard at the trot and canter, not allowing her to get artificially slow and climby at the canter. I think this is a good plan for Corky. When I am unable to ride I will at least do some strong longeing sessions to get her back in shape

Saturday, October 25, 2009

Today I spent one last day at Congress. What a great day of showing! I sat for 5 1/2 hours watching the 3yo HUS Finals, Junior HUS, and the 3yo Snaffle Bit finals. It was a showcase of the best o the best! I saw some really great horses, some horses that are unknowns but won't be for long, and some that were mighty disappointing. I'll tell you this - watching these horses and checking pedigrees made me even MORE confused as to who to breed Taylor to next year. The get of the various stallions I like can be SO different! Breeding is such a crapshoot. Heck, I'll settle for a baby that actually lives for once!

t was a great day that really renewed my interest in setting my goals extra high for next year and going for it! The only thing standing in my way is my own attitude. I am ready to work! Bring it on!!!

Sunday, October 26, 2009

It was a pleasant day today. It also was another "back to work" day for Corky. I did some longeing, and then a nice long warm up with a lot of bending and counter-bending. She was a bit angry at my leg today, so I did a lot of leg yielding and pushing her hip over with my leg. She is still very out of shape, so things tended to go downhill rather quickly as she got tired and I kept pushing her.

She has a weird swelling on her belly, right behind where the girth goes. It's very hard to the touch, but it doesn't seem to hurt her. It looks like some residual swelling/inflammation from her stall accident last week - she was first swollen in the hip, then it started traveling downward. Weird...

Monday, October 27, 2009

Wow, I actually got to ride two days in a row! That is always a good thing. Corky was really good today. Finally she was willing to hold her pace somewhat at the canter when I asked. I think she is slowly getting stronger. It was a good ride overall. Her transitions were very good, and she was bending off of my leg with no protest. I did a few circles and she really tensed up and got faster for some reason. I spent most of our ride doing a lot of circles and serpentines and working on making them very easy and relaxed without any pressure. She settled down and started giving me nice relaxed curves. I wish our arena was bigger so I could do more off the rail. Anything I do off the rail ends up having to be fairly small and it shortens her stride. Oh well, even a small indoor arena is way better than NO indoor arena. Ohio winters are brutal!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

It was farrier appointment day! Corky was really wound up, and I wondered why. When I put her in the crossties next two the three stallions' stalls, I found out quickly! She was RAGING in heat...icky nasty goopy heat. Yuck. Looking back, it was 3 weeks and a couple days since her last heat cycle, so she is right on schedule. Today was a work-only day. I stripped both stalls down now that we finally got sawdust. I am tentatively planning to take Corky to Darla next weekend and let her have at it for a few weeks and tell me what she thinks. I need to have someone fresh riding her and try some new things. It's hard for me to remain objective at this point, and I know Darla will be brutally honest with me. Hopefully she won't end up hating her! Corky is such a tough ride, you really have to appreciate her talent in order to be willing to work your butt off to pull it out of her.

I am still debating over a stallion for Taylor. I just cannot find one that I am positive would be a great match. I keep mulling over things, changing my mind, debating.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Corky was completely out of heat today...yay! We had an awesome ride! She was so light and willing and really listened to me. I did leg yields, pivots, bending, and circles and she was great. Her canter was the best I've felt all fall. It was such a great ride, I got off and hugged her. THIS is why I love this horse...when she is on, she's ON!

I am narrowing down the potential stallion list for Taylor...

November 2009

Sunday, November 1, 2009

It was a sunny and 55-degree day, and another AWESOME ride, even better than yesterday. I did a lot of circles with her. Corky seems to want to rush when we do a circle to the right for some reason, so I worked on doing lots and lots of circles at different points in the arena, keeping her relaxed an rounded. Her canter was even better than yesterday, I was giddy with excitement! After our ride I practiced some showmanship with just a lead rope. Corky did excellent. Today was definitely a good day for her, she was eager to do right.

Of course, the joy inevitably comes crashing to a halt. Taylor was turned out with Corky and another gelding, and she showed MAJOR signs of being in heat. Not just a little, but we are talking squealing, peeing, winking, and all sorts of very aggressive heat behaviors. I am sick with worry...absolutely sick to my stomach. I can't imagine she lost her baby, I would have seen it! She was checked in mid-July and all was well. I am frantic. I am calling my vet tomorrow. I think I am going to throw up. I swear, after all I've been through with breeding the past 5 years...I swear I will quit if this ends up being another disaster. I am DONE.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

My vet is coming out today at 5pm to palpate Taylor. I am scared. Sick, worried, and feeling very down. If she turns up empty, I don't know what I will do. I can't believe I could have THAT much bad luck. I do everything I can to make things right - I take every precaution, spare nothing for care for my horses, bust my butt to make sure no stone is left unturned, take NO chances. My last foal that lived was Corky - born in 2005. Other people are breeding and raising healthy foals right and left...I shake my head and wonder why why why?

OK, no sense borrowing trouble before it actually visits me! Stay tuned...

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Well, the vet's visit was inconclusive. How's that for my luck? He palpated Taylor but couldn't seem to reach deep enough to find anything definitive. He thinks he *might* have felt something, but then after trying for a considerable amount of time he couldn't find it again. Taylor would be a little over 5 months along right now, so an ultrasound would not work. He drew blood and is going to send it in to be tested. Hopefully by the beginning of next week I will know something for sure. I have been sick with worry for the past few days. Just sick. I tell myself not to borrow trouble...easier said than done!

Friday, November 6, 2009

I got some GREAT news right before I left work today. My vet called, Taylor's bloodwork was in. Her progesterone is 7.8 (normal) and her estrogen is in the 'pregnancy' range, which means she is still pregnant! Yay! What a great relief.

I went out to ride Corky after work. It is my first Friday night free since the beginning of August. I am not overly excited. I am still in the midst of football season, only the next 5 games will all be on Saturdays. Today I was lazy. For the past 2 weeks I have averaged 3-4 hours of sleep a night and it is all finally catching up with me. I rode Corky for about 15 minutes. She was really good, did everything I asked, so I stopped and turned her and Taylor out to play while I cleaned stalls. I am excited for Sunday. Corky will go to Darla's for a few weeks. I am looking forward to having Darla ride her and see what she thinks and what she feels would be the best training program to put her in. I am hoping I can get some great info and advice to help me with my riding/training all winter. I feel like I have REALLY stagnated for the past few years. I want to improve an I want Corky to improve. Most of all I want to do right by Corky and make sure I take her all the way to her fullest potential (and mine also!).

Monday, November 9, 2009

Corky went to Darla's yesterday for a trial run. She is in a stall next to PS Signed In Silver so she is in very high-class company! Darla is going to try her out for a little bit and see what she thinks of her. I think it's hard for her to give me advice when she doesn't really know my horse...so this can be a good thing (unless Corky is a total brat and makes her decide she isn't worth the effort!). Here is the message from Darla from ride #1:

I rode her today, she was the first one I got out. She was pretty good! She was a lot better than when I got on her that day when you were taking a lesson. I lunged her in tires first, just in case she needed to get out some aggression. she knew right away that I was not you ha ha, she was like looking up at me, I could just hear her thinking.....oh s*it! but she really wasn't bad. I just cruised her around for a little bit, waited for her to get a little relaxed. did ALOT of just taking a hold of her over and over again and just tried to make nothing a big deal. Tried to work on dulling her belly, she seems a lot better on your left leg than right. Did some turns on the forehand off my right leg....made her go really slow while doing them, tried not to let her overreact! =) she loped good to the right and was just a little tight to the left, but overall I was happy with her. so.....onward!!! will let you know if I have any problems.

So...so far so good! Corky had been riding pretty good for me over the past week or so. I completely agree with several of the points - she does sometimes react more to my right leg, and she is usually tighter on her canter to the left until she totally warms up (which sometimes can take a long time).

Taylor is looking pretty good. I think she was lonely today getting turned out without her buddy/kicking-buddy Corky. She had no one to pick on! It always amazes me that Taylor picks on Corky so much. Taylor has never picked on ANY horse before, in fact she is the one horse that could be safely turned out with any horse in the barn. She gets along with everyone! For some reason, she loves to boss Corky around and wield her power over her.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Well, I had a nice long phone conversation last night, and it looks like I made a breeding decision for next year. I am going to try again (third time's a charm, right?) and breed Taylor to Hot Diggity Joe. I am a bit caught up in emotion right now...

Look at this video: (watch it to the end!)

...and see these pictures?

That is Taylor and my stepdaughter when she was 11 years old! If I can breed two incredible movers with great minds, my foal should be everything I could ever want. Isn't that what we are all trying for?

FRIDAY THE 13th of November, 2009

I drove to Utica to ride Corky at Darla's and take a lesson. I have been dying to see how they have been getting along. When I arrived, she was standing in her stall, still alive...LOL! I feel so bad, she looks like the poor, shabby cousin in a barn full of slick, fit horses. I didn't put lights on her nor did I blanket her, so she is shaggy-haired, long-maned, and generally unkempt-looking. I wonder if she notices how messy she looks compared to all the other horses in the barn? Oh well, I think she needs a little humbling anyways.

Believe it or not, the temperature was in the lower 60's and sunny, so we rode outside. Whodathunkit...riding outside (and sweating) in mid-November in Ohio? Corky was very wound up looking at the horses turned out in round pens (it was nice to see show horses getting turnout time in the sun) and on the hot walker., I longed her for a bit, then hopped on.

Darla did a lot of work on her this week. Corky has some holes we need to 'plug' with some training in order to make her more consistent and able to be corrected without having a meltdown or a pout-fest. Here is a synopsis of what we did today (I hope I got this right!):

PART 1: First we worked on her steering. Corky works right now off of a direct rein only. Darla had me work on 'plow-reining' her and getting her to neckrein a bit so that I have more control and flexibility in the show pen with my steering. Corky also has a tendency to want to drop her shoulder (especially going to the right) so having her work a bit off of rein pressure and following her nose will help keep her straight up. We did a lot of circles at the trot asking her to really bend her neck around to follow her nose and also keep her hind end moving in the same direction rather than swinging outward and falling out of the circle. Apparently I am not disciplining her hard enough when she loses focus and concentrates on outside influences. I guess I am always afraid to start a fight with her because I want her to be happy and enjoy the ride. The trouble with that thinking is that I created a very spoiled horse this year that will not take correction well...and what horse doesn't need correction?

OK, so Corky has been trhough the gamut in the past few years - being constantly fought with and corrected and being babied and not corrected enough! I created a very spoiled horse this year, and it is obvious because as the year went on things got worse and worse. By trying not to start fights, I haven't required her to follow every one of my directions, and she started thinking for herself and trying to make her own decisions. Bad idea!
PART 2: Along those thoughts, the next exercise was the tough one. Darla had me do a sitting trot and take up the reins and really trot Corky into the bridle. Corky hates bit pressure, and this exercise had me really taking up on her and almost overbridling her. At the same time, I just let my legs lightly flop and bounce on her sides (leg only, not spur) in rhythm with her trot to encourage impulsion and forward movement. We did this for a long time, working on giving her a slight release every time she relaxed on the bit and stopped pulling. It was tiring for my seat, because I was relying on seat muscles to kkeep me centered since my legs were loose and bouncing a bit. After working this exercise for quite a while, Darla had me slightly release and then ask for a canter. I got the nicest controlled canter! Darla figured out something very important. All of our fights under saddle have always been at the canter, which is a lot harder for her to do correctly. Because of this, I have always been able to get a wonderful trot out of her, but when it came time to canter, problems would snowball and I would have disaster after disaster trying to keep her at a controlled pace. From this point on we are going to try and reverse her thinking and make the training 'arguments' happen at the trot only. When I do ask her to canter (only after my objectives have been accomplished at the trot), I release the reins and just let her cruise and relax. I ask very lightly to back off when she starts to surge, and if I sense her thinking about really surging strong, I stop her and go back to the trotting exercises. Likewise if she misbehaves, tosses her head, surges hard, etc. at the canter then back we go to the sitting trot pushing her into the bridle. We did this trot to canter exercise several times, and her canter was the best it has been in months! It was completely controlled and easy. YES!

Please forgive the novel. these are concepts that are so very important that I remember. I am such a geek...I was barely out of the driveway of the barn and I was writing down this stuff on the back of a gas receipt so I wouldn't forget any of the important concepts.
PART 3: At the end of our 2 hour riding sesson, we worked on the walk. Darla is using a version of the 'spur walk'. She uses the spur-training concept at the walk only. She is working on teaching Corky to slow her step down almost to a halt when both spurs are applied. This gives you more control over the walk without having to resort to using the reins a lot. Two things I need to remember - use this spur method when reversing direction ("reverse at the walk") when at the top of the circle (using the reins to reinforce the concept if I am able), and remember to always release the spurs and walk a few strides with your legs off before asking for a canter, so that Corky never associates the spur walk with the canter. Man I sure could have used this tool with Taylor. I tried doing this with her years ago, but I think I had the mechanics wrong. It really helped to have someone explain exactly how this should be done, when it should be done, and more importantly when it should NOT be done.

This was a great lesson for me. I really appreciate the fact that whenever I ride there, Darla really focuses on me and is constantly guiding me on every move. I need constant guidance LOL! I like knowing the methods, and the whys, hows, and whens of the methods.

Just for fun...a couple photos (since I haven't posted any random pictures lately):

This is the scary road I have to drive to get to my lessons. LOL, I scare easily, especially when pulling the horse trailer. See the details? Gravel/mud road, trees and embankments on either side, and ony room for one and a half vehicles. I dread the day when I meet an oncoming car. So far it hasn't happened LOL! Now picture this road in the wintertime, with about 12" of snow. How I wish I had a travelling companion!

OK, so this makes it all worthwhile. What a gorgeous barn, arena, and property! I may just park my trailer in the driveway and move in permanently. >br>

OK, one more picture. Just in case you were thinking that my diary entry today was especially wordy, I can tell you it's because I got the coolest new laptop computer last week and it is sheer joy to type on. His name is Guido, and yes I did have to pay extra for the cool purple striped lid. He is SO worth it!

P.S....thanks for all the comments you all have been sending me from this page. It's totally cool to see that other people are reading my ramblings.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

OK, my seatbones ACHE from all that sitting trot we did yesterday! I might be one of the few crazy people in the world who LOVES to be sore the day after a ride. That tells me I actually did work hard...and hard work means potential success down the road (we can only hope!).

I forgot to mention yesterday I rode in a western saddle - a Harris work saddle. Oh boy. That saddle was darn comfortable. Normally I hate riding in a western saddle...just too much leather for someone used to always riding in an English saddle! This Harris saddle was nice! I bet if I owned one of those I would probably school in a western saddle more often. Once I saw what one of those WORK saddles run, I accept the fact that I am still going to be riding in my English saddle for the most part LOL!

I am toying with the idea of hitting a show during my Christmas break. I have the whole week after Christmas of, and I would LOVE to do something fun and non-work related. The only problem is Corky is very hairy and will look kind of rough next to all those slick horses that have been under lights all fall. Oh well, She and I can both look rough together LOL! I am feeling pretty good about things today. The future is lookin' bright!

Monday, November 16, 2009

The weather took a drastic change today. It was cold, gloomy, rainy, and the perfect picture of a "grey day". I didn't have much to do horse-wise other than clean Taylor's stall. I did free longe her for a while. Geeze she looks awful. She gained weight very quickly with this pregnancy. She came out of the stall very stiff. I worked her for a while trying to get her to stretch out and warm her muscles up, but she stayed very tight. That always was her problem. Like Corky, she comes out of her stall as tight as a drum, and it takes a lot of long-trotting to loosen her up.

For a lack of anyone else to entertain me, I made Taylor stand through a series of self-portraits with my phone camera. She was stoic about the whole thing, but I could tell she was wondering what the fuss was. I didn't even brush her first!

Taylor in all her pregnant, out-of-shape, fat glory!

I wonder, do other people take so many sappy photos of their horses like I do? Maybe it's the maternal instinct in me coming to the surface since I don't have children. It's hard to say! I never realized how many hundreds, no make that thousands of photos had until I had to transfer them all over to Guido the new purple laptop.

I was looking at my goals for 2009. Yeah, it's kind of cheating since I am not supposed to evaluate the year until December 31st. I started thinking for some reason, and printed out my show record to check. Sure enough, I counted WRONG and I am still a half point shy of Corky's amateur ROM. We got our open ROM in 2008, and one of my goals this year was to finish our amateur ROM. I thought I had done that! Oh man, what a bummer...just a half point short. I didn't accomplish hardly any of my goals I set this year. well, if I do end up going to that show at Cloverdale in December, I might have a chance to make it. I highly doubt it though - tough show, hairy horse, and we both hate the cold. Well, I am not going to dwell on it yet. I still have a month and a half before I can sit down and evaluate my 2009 and set my 2010 goals. I can't wait!

November 22, 2009

I went to Darla's for another lesson today. I am amazed at the weather! Yet again it was sunny and nice, and we rode outside (which is a miracle when it's mid-November in Ohio!). Corky was less wound up than the last time. I think she has gotten used to the hustle and bustle of the training barn again. She was definitely improved, even though she tested me a LOT today. I welcomed the testing. She did a lot of the things she used to do at home all summer with me, and now that Darla has spent time with her she knows what the issues are and is able to teach me how to deal with the issues and train her out of them. THIS is what I needed! Corky is such a great mover that there isn't much I need to do training-wise in order to make her legs look good. It's all mental. Training a horse's brain is SO difficult!

The biggest problem she has is one I trained into her inadvertently all year. Corky needs to get used to doing what I want when I ask for it, not when she decides. She likes to make her own decisions, and I am afraid I started letting her do this in order to keep from fighting . The problem snowballed to the point where she became resentful if you did something simple like ask her to circle when she felt like going straight. A big part of our training program this winter is to retrain her mind (and mine!) to accept me as the chief decision-maker.

Corky's spur walk is getting a lot better, and I am getting the hang of asking her to slow down with my leg instead of my rein. This is a great training technique as long as it isn't overused, and done only at the walk. It seems to be working for Corky!

So far, Darla still likes riding her (yay, she doesn't hate her yet LOL!). She calls Corky "A Challenge" (a nice politically-correct term for BRAT) and said she enjoys training a challenging horse. I am sure things would be nicer if she wasn't quite so challenging, but she is what she is, and what she is is MINE so we will learn to train her out of what we can. I feel very good about Corky being in this situation right now. It looks like the place is kept immaculate, and every time I am there the stalls are very clean and have fresh bedding. That's important to me since I am a freak about stall cleaning (that comes from the days of cleaning stalls at a boarding stable during college!).

Here are a few points we worked on that I need to remember:

November 26, 2009

I zipped down to Utica for another lesson today. It will be my last lesson for a while due to an overload of work being piled on me for the next 3 weeks. Corky was...shall I say PHENOMENAL??? She was incredible. It was one of the best rides I've had on her all year. She came out of the stall fresh and needed no longeing, we got right to work and she was very willing! I am not saying our ride was perfect or anything...not by a long shot. But every time she made a mistake and I had to correct her, she willingly listened and tried to do as I asked. This overwhelms me because this is HUGE...this is exactly what I've wanted to accomplish with her. Why the heck couldn't I figure all this out on my own all summer? It's frustrating and humbling to realize for the millionth time that I have a LOT to learn yet. I am learning too slow...I wanna know it all right NOW!

It was dark when I left, so I didn't linger in the driveway to jot down notes from my ride on a gas receipt like I normally do, so I will try to pull from memory. Here are a few points to remember:

Dang, I should have written more down. My mind is a blank. I really need to video my lessons so I can watch them and keep learning at home. I swear I have no short-term memory left at all! Oh yeah - when I got there Darla had put magnetic hock boots on her just to see if it made a difference. I think she felt extra good today, those might be worth looking into.

December 2009

December 4, 2009

Not much to say, I am sorry! This has been a heinous month and I have been working long long long hours (for no overtime money, I might add!). I am having serious horse withdrawls. I barely get a chance to glance at Taylor as I rush though the barn, cleaning her stall and taking off to yet another meeting/rehearsal/football game/etc. The word from Darla is that Corky is "doing great". That's good...though I want to see for myself because I miss her!!! I am hoping to steal an evening next week...

December 11, 2009

Haha...still not much to say! After this weekend, my job-related stresses and time-consuming tasks will ease up, thank goodness. Now we can only hope the weather does also. I had planned to go for a lesson tonight, but the temperatures are in the teens and it just isn't safe nor pleasant to try and do any significant riding when it is this cold. I once again rescheduled it for Monday, and hopefully the temperatures will be better. This season is the pits for getting any real work done. I am slightly burned out from real life and desperately need my saddle time. I got a glimpse of what I would be like if I gave up the horses...scary!

However, since the weather is disgusting and my free time comes in small snippets, I did manage to start learning some new codes for website design. I practiced on my art site, so come visit the newly remodeled Art By Rabbit.

December 14, 2009

Finally I was able to get to another lesson. I am suffering from major horse and Corky withdrawl. The temperatures were in the upper 40's...practically balmy! This lesson was awesome - I was the only one there and got undivided attention the entire time. I loved it, I felt like I was a priority and that was very nice :-]

Our whole deal with Corky is NOT picking fights...not even letting her go there. I will say this - right off the bat I could see that Corky weas very happy here, she was very pleasant and seemed OK with the work (which is big for her!). This makes me feel really good...I always have that tiny worry in the back of my mind whenever my horse is away from home. I want a happy horse, but I also want a trained, successful one. The trick is merging all 3!

OK, here are some of the things that I need to keep in mind from today's lesson (some are probably repetitive from the last lesson or two, but then I am a slow learner and often need things repeated until I can remember them!).

Today I noticed a lot of things that Corky has definitely improved on in the past month. Just thinking about the list makes me smile. Here it is...

I am going to get another lesson next week, then immediately after Christmas we will head to Cloverdale, Indiana. I can't wait to see whether a lot of these lessons will stick once we are at a show with lots of traffic and confusion. This will be a true test.

December 15, 2009

My Reading Assignment: OK, so I have a reading assignment from Darla.

I promised I would read it. I guess it will fix my head that is full of negative thinking? OK, so if I gotta read it, then you do too! I will quote from it every few days and you can message me and tell me what you think...words of wisdom or complete bovine doo-doo?. OK, here's your first quote to think about:

You've probably been sitting there wondering, "What is The Secret?" I'll tell you how I've come to understand it.

We all work with one infinite power. We all guide ourselves by exactly the same laws. The natural laws of the universe are so precise that we don't even have any difficulty building spaceships, we can send people to the moon, and we can time the landing with the precision of a fraction of a second.

Wherever you are - India, Australia, New Zealand, Stockholm, London, Toronto, Montreal, or New York - we're all working with one power. One Law. It's attraction!

The Secret is the law of attraction!

Everything that's coming into your life you are attracting into your life. And it's attracted to you by virtue of the images you're holding in your mind. It's what you're thinking. Whatever is going on in your mind you are attracting to you.

Sooo....in other words, we bring it all onto ourselves? I wonder if Corky knows this? I have a feeling she probably does LOL!

December 17, 2009

Here's a good quote for you!

Left, right, whoa, and go. That's all you teach 'em. -
Brian Lee

Hah! Sounds so easy, doesn't it? I watched a snippet of my lesson on video (Darla took some video for me). It's really all so basic, it boils down to some very simple concepts. I have to remind myself it ain't rocket science!.

The world is conspiring to keep me from Cloverdale next weekend, but I am sticking to my plan, and weather permitting I will be at that show and ready to work and see some success happen to us (yes, still reading The Secret - more thoughts will be on my regular personal blog instead of here!).

December 18, 2009

It's PICTURE time!. Here is fatty Taylor - she is almost 7 months pregnant. She got big much more quickly this year than she did last year. Oh, and if you hadn't noticed, you can click on the photos in this diary and they will enlarge for you. Yes, just another geeky code I added to the page. This computer geek has done come outta the closet!

You can see a bit of belly sticking out on either side when Taylor walks towards you!

I had a hard time getting pictures. Taylor would not stay away from me, she kept walking to me and getting closer and closer...the of course she would swing her butt towards me and insist I spent the next hour scratching it! Yes, she is spoiled, and no, I don't care! I lub her!

December 22, 2009

Tomorrow I am heading to a lesson, my last one before the show! Then it's Christmas Eve, family stuff, then Christmas Day on my own...then I head out to Cloverdale on the 26th. I am feeling pretty good...been getting after my reading assignment little pieces at a time (check out my regular personal Blog for details on that). In 2009 I concentrated on fixing Corky. In 2010 I am going to work on fixing me.

December 23, 2009

Today I headed to Darla's for a lesson. I spent some time giving Corky a good grooming, and clipping her ears, face, and legs for the show. It's tough trying to make her look presentable when she has a FULL winter haircoat all grown in. Oh well, it is what it is, right?

Cork started off good, but then things spiraled downward as she tried to take control like she is so used to doing. It was frustrating because I don't really possess the skills yet to ride her the way she needs to be ridden and correct her in the proper way. Dangit I suck at riding, I swear! I am mad at myself and my lack of skills, my lack of trust, and my overall ineptness. Ok, rant over!

One thing that worked was using the outside rein around the corners and doing a slight bit of neckreining with it rather than using the inside rein as a direct rein. hen I turn her head towards the inside, she gets quicker-legged and that in turn makes her speed up and then I end up fighting with her out of the corners. I think I posted earlier this year about how I was having trouble keeping her consistent coming out of the 2nd corner and into the straightaway - she always rushed. Part of this was the fact that I was using too much inside rein and causing the problem.

I need to release faster. Dang, it's like a freaking broken record. Release immediately, release immediately, RELEASE, you idiot! Also something to remember what I MUST do when she is home with me - if she doesn't respond at the canter to what I am asking and it looks like a fight is looming in the horizon, go back to the trot and school the concept I was asking for...do my battles at the trot and don't let her get the chance to make a full-blown battle at the canter. Geeze, do you think I will ever remember this at home? I need someone standing there reminding me every step. I hate that I need those constant reminders, but am really grateful I am getting them at my lessons. They will stick eventually...maybe?

My perception of her headset is really off again. I hope I can find someone to video my rides (even my work rides) when I am at Cloverdale, because I really need to see what the heck is going on. So, you see that the biggest thing I learned today is that the number one problem right now in the Corky-and-Jan partnership is ME. Crap, I am a lot harder to fix. I am older, more set in my ways, and far less talented than my horse. Oh well...it will come eventually.

I love this - this was Darla's Christmas present to me. Pretty cool! I am such a sucker for personalized stuff with my horse's name or picture on it. These kinds of things are so thoughtful. My great friend and barn owner also got me some really awesome presents - a set of coasters made from my favorite pics of Corky and Taylor, and a clock with me and Corky on the face. I love it! It's great to have such good friends.

Merry Christmas!

Oh, by the way - Taylor did have a bit of a reaction to her Intervet Prodigy rhino shot. I can't remember if I posted about trying to switch from the Ft. Dodge brand vaccine because she has such horrible reactions. This one wasn't nearly as bad as last year. She is so sensitive!

December 26, 2009 - Cloverdale, Indiana AQHA Show

I left this morning around 11am for Cloverdale. It's about a 4 hour drive. Thankfully I awoke to clear roads and sunshine...great driving weather!Of course, about 30 minutes from Cloverdale it started snowing. I HATE driving my trailer in the snow!

This show ground is really nice - it has a nice sized show arena, makeup arena, and practice arena with the stalls all under one roof and it was heated! It was probably in the 60's indoors which was a nice change from the high 20's outside. When Corky arrived, I longed her and she was a wild woman! She leapt in the air, bucked, squealed a few times, acted like she had never been out of her stall. I let her play for about 30 minutes, then put her back in her stall to cool out. She has a full winter coat and went into a full body sweat in the heated arena!

Darla rode her first. Corky tried reverting back to her usual bad-at-the-show self and pulled all her old tricks - trying to run off, flipping her head, etc. Darla was so calm and quiet about it! She told me that she just took Corky out there and rode, did not let her get away with anything, but also dod not get upset or worked up by her behavior...just rode right through it. Darla rode her for quite a long time, and she got better and better.

I got on her, and the difference in her was evident. I could feel her getting balled up and tense with the traffic in the arena, and she tried several times to be her truly bad self with me, but following Darla's instruction I made my corrections as needed without getting angry, and things started getting good for us also! I never got a perfectly clean ride out of her, but every time she made a mistake I was able to correct her and we went on about our business. This is HUGE, because in the past whenever I would have to correct Corky, she would overreact and use that as a reason to act even worse, and it would all rush downhill. I love being able to correct my horse and go on.

Tomorrow is show day - showmanship and hunter under saddle. We are ready!

December 27, 2009 - Cloverdale, Indiana AQHA Show

I woke up bright and early to prepare for showmanship. I ran the pattern a few times with Darla. My biggest fault is being too sluggish and not being snappy with my trot-offs or backing. I started getting sloppy with my setups - not standing up straight and keeping my head up when I set her up.

The pattern was pretty straightforward - you start at the cone facing backwards, back 4 steps and the turn a 180. Walk to the second cone, then trot around the cone and straight to the judge, set up, then a 90 turn and trot out. Our pattern was excellent! She was a bit sluggish at the trot off, but our setup was instant. I moved one hind foot about an inch and that was all I needed to do! I was very excited. Too bad the judges weren't...we got 4th and 5th out of 5 :-[. Oh well...showmanship is such a tough class and this is a class where the details count for everything, and that's often my downfall.

After showmanship I longed her for maybe 10 or 15 minutes and she was pretty quiet. I got very excited - Darla was willing to show her in the Junior HUS. This gave me a HUGE burst of confidence. Just the fact that she was willing and even eager to show my horse made me feel so much better about things...if she really felt that positive about Corky, then maybe there is a chance for us! I went into the afternoon classes with a great dose of confidence.

the Junior HUS was first and Darla warmed her up a bit beforehand (she had ridden her during the break for about 15-20 minutes). She went in the junior HUS class and had a GREAT ride! I wanted to cry. Corky looked like a million bucks! When she reversed to second direction, Corky started trying some of her old tricks, surging at the canter and not wanting to be told what to do. At one point Darla had to really get after her a bit, and she broke to a trot for about 4-5 strides. Both judges saw her. The great thing was that after she corrected her, Corky went on like it was no big deal. She didn't hold a grudge or use it as an excuse to overreact. Yay! The best part is she ended up 2nd under one judge...a half point!

Then it was my turn. I warmed her up at the trot briefly, then did some bending before my class. I trotted in my class with confidence, and our first direction was great! Second direction she tried surging with me again...the age-old bad habit of hers. I had to correct her several times, and one time was kind of ugly (head giraffed up in the air), but the best best best best best part is that I could correct her and she listened, and allowed me to tell her what to do. HUGE! MASSIVE! INSANELY BIG DEAL to me! Yes, and the best part is we got a 2nd under one judge...this means we FINISHED one of our goals for 2009 which was to earn an amateur ROM (we got our open one several years ago). Yay for reaching a goal!

Stay tuned, computerland! I have videos of everything - my showmanship pattern, Darla's HUS class, and mine! I will upload and post them tonight so don't go far (I know you are just dying to see these, right? LOL!).

December 27, 2009 - Cloverdale, Indiana AQHA Show - VIDEOS

Corky and I in Amateur Hunter Under Saddle! Look how relaxed and happy she is! And me - I am relaxed too...yay! Direct link

Corky and I in Amateur Showmanship. I need to work on my trotoffs. Her setups were prime, though! Direct link

Here is a video of Darla showing Corky for the first time in Junior hunter Under Saddle! Direct link

December 28, 2009 - Cloverdale, Indiana AQHA Show

Today was my "off" day at the show. I slept in till 8am (a pure luxury when at a horse show!), then went to watch some of the western pleasure and do some riding. My first ride was early in the afternoon. I was a brave soul, I rode without longeing at all! I did a lot of trotting...a LOT of trotting! Corky pulled out every bad trick she had in her toolchest. I dealt with each one (thanks to Darla coaching me while she was also riding) but it sure got frustrating to have all these stupid issues coming up again. I have to remember...you can't build Rome in a day and you can't fix Corky in a month! She got jiggy, tried surging and getting too fast, then flipping and fighting the pressure, over-reacting to my leg pressure, you name it! After I rode for a long while, Darla got on for about 10 minutes and did a little schooling. She suggested I tie her in her stall to chill out, and bring her out again in an hour or so and try once more.

After about an hour, I brought her back out. This time I put her on the longe line in case she wanted to play. She didn't - she was very sluggish. I quit longeing and hopped on. From that point on I had the BEST 30 minute ride of my life...I swear! OK, maybe my Congress 2007 rides were better, but STILL! I did all sorts of things - trotting, cantering, circles and figure 8's, in and out of traffic. She stayed calm, relaxed, and happy. Likewise did I! She gave one hard spook when someone dragged a box across the ground by the arena rail, I rode her through it without reaction, and she settled down immediately and we went on without issue.

What is weird is that it was like someone suddenly threw a switch on Corky, and she went from 100% awesome to 100% bad - started fighting the pressure, hopping around (a couple times I thought she might actually give a couple hard bucks!) and getting all hopped up and jiggy. I reverted back to the exercises I did earlier, and did work through it a bit but it never settled her down completely. weird...darn horses.

I have to learn to slow Corky's mind down. The thing is when she gets herself worked up, her mind starts cranking faster and faster, and my job is to work the exercises that will slow her brain down and make her relax - pulling her into circle after mindless circle (releasing as soon as she either gives and 'melts' or stops and stands still), sitting trot while trotting her into the bridle, even just standing still in the center for a while and making her chill out.

Tomorrow is show day again! Then I hit the snowy roads and attempt to being Corky home. I am frightened of the weather and the snowy icy roads. Say a prayer for safety!

December 29, 2009 - Cloverdale, Indiana AQHA Show

Today we followed the same routine as we did on Sunday. I even ate exactly the same breakfast at the hotel. Oops - scratch that. Today I had strawberry jelly on my toast instead of grape. Hmmm, maybe that made the difference?

I stretched Corky out on the longe line in the morning for about 10 minutes. She actually came out of her stall a lot less stiff this morning for some reason. Usually she comes out like a cement block. The showmanship pattern was very simple and straightforward: walk cone 1 to cone 2, trot cone 2 to cone 3, do a 270 and trot to judge. that's it? Leave it to me to screw it up. Corky was dead on with her lines and pivots, but I overshot the 3rd cone by a full step so when I did my 270 I was way off from the judge. Oops! Dangit, I've been doing showmanship way longer than Corky so I should be a lot better than this!

We did the same warm-up routine for the hunter under saddle. Darla showed Corky in the junior HUS. It was kind of a nostalgic moment - this would be Corky's LAST junior hunter under saddle class of her lifetime, because in just 3 days she will become a senior horse. Man, isn't it amazing...thinking back to the fall of her yearling year when the vet gave her a 10% chance of being riding sound after her bone infection...the 4 times a day wrapping of that leg, fighting against the naysayers who thought I shouldn't bother....it's like a Hallmark moment!

Unfortunately no matter how prepared you are, there is always the X factor of the other horses. A novice youth exhibitor in the class did not have full control of her horse during the first direction canter and came barreling up behind Corky. Now Corky has been AWESOME with traffic this whole time, not even laying her ears back when horses pass on either side (even in the crazy warm-up ring), but this was a bit too much for her nerves and she got seriously rattled. Darla put her back down to a sitting trot into the bridle just like she does every day at home, and Corky did chill out a bit, but the damage was done. Unfortunately, she never did relax when it was my turn to show the amateur. She started building in the class, and stupid me lost my brain completely when it came time to ride her and I reverted back to my old way of staying out of her way and trying not to p*ss her of. STUPID! That hasn't worked in the past few years and it didn't work today. Darla woke me up from the rail and second direction I actually rode her like I was supposed to, making the decisions and basically taking control back from her, and she settled a bit but again the damage was done!

Immediately after the class I rode in the practice arena and went through the gaits and schooled her like I was supposed to have done in the class, and she settled immediately down and I ended with a couple totally awesome canters in both directions. So....the lesson here is that even though Corky is starting to "get fixed", Jan has a lot more work that needs to be done! I am still so very excited...because at this show:

I hauled Corky home (the highways were clear, thank goodness). I can't wait to start riding her and see if I can maintain and even improve how she is behaving. I have hope again, and that is by far the greatest gift ever (even better than my FatMax box, which is pretty darn cool!).

The Future's Lookin' Bright!

Pretty cool - when I got home I had received this postcard in the mail from Kerry Bradac, owner of Hot Diggity Joe.

See - Taylor's name is there! 4th from the bottom! Exciting!

At the show this past week I also got to wacth a very very very cool young horse by Thanks For Com En. He was a tall, very leggy liver chestnut gelding with 4 very tall white socks and a lot of white on his face. He had a HUGE trot. The more I watched him, the more excited I am to see this baby by Thanks out of Taylor. This cross could be fantastic. Haha, watch out APHA...I may be infecting some of your shows in the future!

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Today I took my last ride of 2009 (good riddance to 2009!!!). Corky was awesome. Soft, willing, happy, and did every single thing I asked with no fuss. It was almost creepy! It's funny, I realize now that I really was letting Corky take control during our rides here at home by myself. As soon as I started trotting, she automatically did what she always did and pulled me to the wall. Normally I let her do it because there isn't a lot of room in the indoor not to ride close to the rail, and never wanted to pick a fight over something so menial. Today I used my outside rein in a slight neckrein, and kept her exactly where I wanted her the entire ride. The more I did it, the better and more willing she got. Amazing, weird, and shocking that a simple mental concept like that can make such a difference in her attitude. Take control of every moment of the ride, and she is willing to do as I ask! Dang. Wish I could have come up with that idea myself. The training money the past month was well-spent!

Recap of my 2009 Goals

2009 Short Term Goals
Long Term Goals

CLICK HERE for the 2010 diary!