2012 - here it is! Another year flies by. Another year of ramblings, musings, analytical riding, and trying to figure out these darn horses.

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January, 2012

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year's!

Welcome to the 2012 training diary! If this is your first visit (imagine that!) you will probably want to start at the beginning...waaaaay back in 2005 (back before blogs and diaries were as commonplace as grass!). Go HERE and start from the bottom and read your way here. Ye gads, I can't believe I have been writing in this ongoing diary for 7+ years! So much has happened, so little has happened, you know how it goes.

Anyways, as has been my tradition since New year's 1988, I did my traditional first-day-of-the-new-year ride. Once again it was Corky's job, being my only horse going under saddle right now. The wind was blowing HARD and rattling the barn siding, so she was slightly edgy, but not bad. I sincerely intended on having a nice, quiet, easy ride like the ones we've been having all month, but Corky decided to test me out a bit. She decided she was NOT going to two-track to the left today. Nope, no how, no way. Two-tracking to the right was OK and tolerable, but going to the left she decided it was much easier to break into a very slow-motion canter instead. Well, here was a battle I didn't intend to have today, but once it started I had to finish with a win, so round and round we went. Eventually I convinced her that my way was a good idea and she did her two-tracking both directions, but not until we battled it out a bit. Geeze, I haven't had a battle like that with her in a long long long time - probably since early summer. I ended with some simple stuff - trotting circles and ground exercises. Her canter today was awesome as usual. She is really able to hold herself up and canter slooooow-legged, which is fun to ride.

When Corky was done, I saddled Tango for a little longeing. As usual he was extremely annoyed by the stirrups bouncing on his side, and he was kicking out a lot today. I am getting this little feeling that he isn't going to be as easy to break as I had thought. I will say he looked like a million bucks today. His legs were flat, he was throwing that shoulder out, and occasionally when he dropped his neck and rounded his back I actually got a little excited at what I saw! It's so funny - at times I look at him and I think ugh, and other times I see glimmers and glimpses of something potentially very very nice. Time will tell on that one. One month from today is the date I plan to sit in the saddle for the first time.

As per my usual New Year's Day tradition, I took photos of my horses to keep track of how they are growing and maturing. Today both horses worked hard to be as unphotogenic as possible. I think Tango won. I swear, I cannot take a good photo of that horse to save my life. Even Corky insisted on standing awkwardly. The wind was blowing, the cold was getting in my bones, so I just took the photos and called it a day.



Sunday, January 1, 2012 - Later on...

Goal Time!

I kind of put this off all day long, the dreaded setting of the goals for 2012. I haven't done so hot with a lot of my goals lately, but I did accomplish a few of them for 2011. OK, so not a complete failure, right? Anyways, I will try and think positive for 2012 and set some goals...some might be 2011 goals repeated.

2012 GOALS

Short Term Goals for 2012
  • Break Tango to saddle and have him w-t-c by year's end
  • Win a showmanship class with Corky and earn at least a half a point this year
  • Show Corky in Equitation at least once
  • Get Corky to a show this year and have a smooth trip and a great experience in a HUS class
  • Get Tango to a show before the year's end and show in a walk-trot class

Long term Goals for 2012
  • Earn a Congress Top 5
  • Purchase or lease a broodmare and breed another great prospect for myself
  • Win a Circuit Championship on either Corky or Tango

I think those are fairly modest goals, don't you?I think all of my short term goals are very attainable (though the showmanship goal will be the toughest, I fear). Oh well, we shall see! 2012 - bring it on, baby!

Monday, January 2, 2012

First Bitting

I woke up on my last day of vacation to blowing snow. Yuck!. Even though the temperature was in the mid-20's, I actually worked up a sweat cleaning stalls. I free-longed Tango and Corky and they seemed rather subdued. It seemed like a good day to try Tango out in a bit for the first time. I dug out my Happy Mouth French Link snaffle (picture to the right). The plastic was warmer than metal, softer, and it was supposedly apple-flavored (I tasted it, it tasted like plastic to me!).

I figured that a horse as mouthy as Tango would have no problem taking a bit for the first time, but it took a little convincing to get him to open his mouth. It was kind of funny (and pretty much as I predicted) - when I longed him with the bridle and saddle, he was so focused on the bit in his mouth that he paid no attention to the stirrups bouncing on his side. I kept his halter on underneath the bridle to attach the longe line (I think it would be a very bad idea to attach the longe line to anything that was connected to the bit in his mouth!).

Tango longed so well, I decided today would be a good day to go ahead and try ground driving him with the bit. This is a key moment when a lot of questions are answered. How would he handle pressure on the bit for the first time? How will he react the first time I touch one rein and ask him to give and turn in one direction? From my experience, horses generally give you one of two responses the first time you put pressure on the bit - either they bow and give to the pressure or they raise and pull against it. The former are much easier to train! Tango, surprisingly, came though as the former type. As soon as I put a fingertip's pressure on the bit, he gave and turned. Seriously - I used the lightest of pressure and he listened. I even did some stopping and backing, and after figuring out what I wanted he backed with the slightest of pressure. This was a very good sign! So...the countdown to breaking has begun. We will continue this month with longeing and driving, and aiming for sitting in the saddle on February 1st (weather permitting!)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Measuring Time

Normally I would do this on January 1st, but I got distracted with other things. It was time for Tango's measurement. I know I have been obsessing about his height and how he hasn't grown in months and months and months...today I can finally report that he has actually grown a little bit!!! He is a notch over 16 hands at the hip, and 15'2" at the withers. Yep, still a little over 2 inches off from back to front. He hasn't been even since the day he was born. I really hope he eventually does even out! I've never had one grow so uneven. He ranges from 2 to 3 inches off hip to withers. I guess I was spoiled with Corky. She grew really fast and stayed very even the whole time. OK, no more obsessing - I will NOT measure him for another month, I swear!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Bye Bye Ball!

It was really cold today. The wind was blowing, the air had that wet-cold feeling. Yep, I still rode. Somewhere out there is someone who is taking today off because it is too cold to ride, but not me. I cleaned my stalls, saddled up, and had a good ride and work on Corky. I didn't do anything too taxing since our last ride was so intense. We just touched on a lot of things, and I was really happy with how she rode.

The barn radio has been broken for a few weeks, so I brought my own today. I hate riding in complete silence! The barn radio is always tuned to some repetitive country music station so the silence was actually a blessing. I have nothing against country music, but do they have to play the same songs every hour so I hear them repeated in one cleaning/riding session? Are there really only 8 country songs in existence? Anyways, I tuned my radio to a cool classic rock station that plays all 60's and 70's music. No reaction from the horses...UNTIL the Jackson 5 came on. Corky got wide-eyed and snorty at the radio for some reason. That struck me as funny...I need to wean her off of country and get her into some better music!

I bought a new yellow ball for Tango at Wal-Mart yesterday (for a whopping $2.50). Here is the result:

It seems I need to find a stronger type of ball! I love watching him play, so I don't want him to lose that fun. I was thinking of trying to find one of those really big human exercise balls. Preferably something he cannot pop and then try to eat (I did manage to get all of the plastic ball remains out of his mouth!). I swear, this horse is such a character! He provides me with such amusement at times.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

More of the same

Today was Tango's day. I did basically the same training regimen that I did on Monday. I saddled him, longed him with the saddle and bridle, then ground drove him with the bridle and bit. He was still light, although extremely lazy. I could hardly keep him trotting, and it was exhausting me to keep getting after him with the whip while driving. I sense he is definitely going to be a spur-needed horse. I will probably have to start riding him with a crop to get some sort of forward motion out of him!

Corky and I are heading to Darla's on Saturday to ride. I am so swamped with work, house renovation, and whatnot, it's probably nuts for me to take an entire day out to ride. BUT, Kevin has a great computer wallpaper that says "Someone busier than you is out there running right now". Every time I see that, I think...someone busier than ME is out there making the time to train and ride...therefore I will hit it hard and keep pushing ahead. This will all pay off in the end, right?

Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Best Day Ever!

What a glorious day! I loaded up Corky and headed out to Darla's to ride. We started riding indoors, after all it is January in Ohio! However, it was nearly 50 degrees out and SUNNY, so we headed outside to the huge sand outdoor arena in the back. Corky was really on edge - horses were running in the pasture next to her and she was wide-eyed at the new place (plus we haven't ridden outside since way early summer). For once I am thrilled with how I rode. She was really forward and pushy at the trot, like sitting on a rocket. Normally I would take a hold of her and make her slow down, and we would battle, she would get herself even more wound up, and the ride would be shot for the day. Today. I sat back, trusted her, and rode through it. Amazingly, she settled down REALLY fast and gave me an awesome ride! Occasionally something would happen that would catch her attention or scare her, but as long as I rode with trust she came right back to me. Finally all the things I have learned from Darla and my own experiences the past 5+ years have come into fruition and I feel I actually used them and had success!!!

Let me gush some more about my ride (indulge me, these moments are rare!). I felt like her canter was the most smooth and controlled it has ever been in this type of situation. I sat back on my outside hip and trusted her and she rocked back and went around like a champion. THIS is the horse I knew I had, the one that come out every now and then (but rarely). I hate to say it, but now I am getting excited. I really feel that with the work I have been doing, that maybe this coming show season we might figure things out, get the kinks worked out, and start having consistency! This could be our year. The Consistent year!

Darla and I had a long talk about Tango and my training processes. We discussed the huge value of establishing forward motion in a 2yo. That, I fear, is going to be my biggest problem with Tango. He is more of a balky horse than one who reacts and runs. This is a good thing, and a bad thing. Darla reminded me how important it is to establish the "gas pedal", and this is something I need to be doing now as I longe and ground drive him. When I ask him to trot, he is to TROT, and continue trotting until I ask him to stop. I am over-using my 'click' - having to really work hard to make him trot and then constantly encouraging him with the clicking and whip to keep trotting. This is something I have been very bad about doing, and it probably comes from worrying so much about having clean longe line goes...I need to fix this before I get in the saddle next month. If the weather holds next weekend, I hope to bring Corky and Tango to Darla's to ride and work and get her evaluation on how we are doing. After next weekend, then I am booked nearly every weekend until March with work...*sigh*...real life intrudes once again.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Great Quote

I stole this from someone's Facebook Page. Facebook is a great resource for inspirational quotes...someone is always posting something profound :-]

Doing something and getting it wrong, is way better than doing nothing. Every success has a trail of failed attempts behind it, every failure can be used to fine tune your approach to reaching your goal. You will end up regretting the things you did NOT do far more than the things you did.

You know, this is very true - I think it's probably better to regret your failure than to regret not attempting in fear of failure. Just a thought for this Sunday evening....

Monday, January 9, 2012

A rare good Monday...

I managed to squeeze in some riding time today between work and an evening meeting. I think people are getting used to the faint aroma of horse that I bring to these meetings :-] I rode Corky today. She was very energetic! We had a lot of forward motion, but it was not excessive so it wasn't a problem. I got a few decent passes two-tracking in our shoulder exercise, and she immediately started anticipating the canter so I changed things up a bit to throw her off her game. When I was done with out ride, I had a crazy idea to try riding bridleless. I remember years and years ago I tried riding Taylor bridleless. I even had a friend come out with a video camera because I was convinced as well-trained and in tune with me as she was, this would be something neat to capture on video. It was a failed experiment, because as soon as Taylor got confused, she got worried (that was always her tendency), and then it just snowballed to the point where she just tensed up and zipped around the arena. Amazingly, this wasn't the case tonight with Corky. We walked and trotted around the arena, did circles and changed direction, and I was able to steer completely off of my legs. Of course, having my "whoa button" with my spurs was helpful also! It was a lot of fun, Corky did everything with her head level and in frame. This alone should prove to me how much better trained she is than Taylor ever was. It's hard to remember Taylor's faults. I look back at our rides together and I remember how light and easy she was, and when everything was clicking how she just floated. I tend to forget anything bad about her. There really wasn't anything bad about her, I think I just know a lot more now than I did back then, and my greater depth of knowledge has made my horses better! This is a good feeling. It's nice to see physical proof of improvement.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

New Ball!

I received a nice surprise yesterday - a new giant-sized non-burst inflatable jolly ball for Tango! It was sent anonymously...I found out later it was from one of my Facebook friends who saw my last video of Tango when he destroyed his new Wal-Mart ball. It was really funny - it came with a foot pump, and I was at the barn pumping it up and Tango and Corky were racing around the arena because of the whistling sound that the pump made. I think Tango was more curious than scared, but since Corky was overreacting to the sound, Tango decided to run with her. Corky was in one of her "moods" today, as I discovered later. She was snorting and doing that heavy-breathing thing that horses do when they are deciding if something is scary or not.

I finished pumping up the ball (it's a 30" ball!) and tossed it out in the arena towards Tango. Here was the result:

He loved his new ball! Corky...not so much! When he was done playing and I finished cleaning stalls, I saddled Corky up to ride. I put the ball on the other side of the arena fence. Corky would NOT walk past that ball. She was completely over-reacting! Then she decided to spook in the other corner where there was a water bucket turned upside down. When she did this, I knew that she wasn't truly frightened, but just being an over-reactive snit, so battle commenced. I was determined that she was going to walk, trot, and canter past those objects (which were safely on the other side of the fence!). We went 'round and 'round...at one point I could tell she really just wanted to let loose and buck, but I had her head turned enough at an angle that she couldn't get it done. Finally I had her so revved up that we just went into a hand gallop...round and round and round until my legs were screaming from my 2-point position. When she finally wanted to settle I made her gallop a little more, then we went back to a walk. She was pretty darn tired (as was I!)

After the hand gallop, I managed to get a decent ride out of her past the ball and bucket. I wouldn't say she was completely straight or flat, but she did go past them at the gait I asked for with only a slight arching of her neck (and VERY alert ears and eyes). So, the ball served double duty today. not only did it provide Tango (and me) with plenty of enjoyment, it was a great training tool for me and Corky in dealing with how to get past scary objects and get on with the ride. Corky so rarely spooks, that when she does things tend to head south in a hurry. I actually need to make her spook more so that I can train her how to cope with her fright. I just need to survive the experiences LOL!

My enjoyable 40 degree January is coming to an end...a snow storm is predicted for tomorrow night into Friday. I am hoping things clear up by Monday since I have that day off and was hoping to ride at Darla's one last time before my schedule gets crazy.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

"A goal is just a dream with work clothes on"

Truer words have never been spoken. A dream is something you think about. A goal is something you WORK for. A goal is just a dream that has a plan of action. So, I am NOT dreaming any more, I am working! Just thought I'd toss that out there on a snowy, bitter cold Ohio night. I am dreaming of spring...has to be just a dream because no matter how hard I work or plans I make, spring will arrive on it's own schedule, unfortunately.

Corky actually approached the big blue ball in the arena, put her nose on it, and rolled it about a foot (and didn't take off running in a panic!). I think I might try riding with it sitting in the middle of the arena next time.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Even though it didn't reach 30 today, I braved the cold and got both horses worked. Go me! First it was Tango's turn. He and Corky had a pretty good free-longeing session (in other words they ran around like mad!). I saddled him up and longed him. This whole week while free-longeing, I have been keeping in mind Darla's advice about establishing the "go" button and making Tango go, so when I asked him to trot I got after him if he didn't trot right away. I also tried to keep control of my "clicker" so I wasn't constantly clicking to him. I think it has paid off, because our longeing session was really smooth without any breaks in gaits, and he took the gait asked for very promptly.

I tried something new today. not sure if it is right or wrong, but I am always guessing. I want to get Tango to drop down and round his back more when being longed. he looks pretty good when ground driving, but when longeing he tends to brace his neck upward. Today I tried longeing him with side reins and the bit. Surprisingly, he only hit the bit twice and tried to invert. He did drop down and relax his head and neck carriage (I didn't have the side reins tight, just enough to encourage him to drop a couple inches). once he figured it out, he kept a slight slack in the reins as he went. Interestingly, his canter to the left (which I never really liked because it always seemed so "pacey") looked a LOT better with his neck lowered a few inches. Hmmm.... This was an experiment, I am not sure if this is a good idea or a bad. I keep reminding myself that I can't compare him to the other horses I've trained and try to fit him into their program because he is different, and I need to constantly seek out the right way for him. I will talk to Darla tomorrow when I see her and ask her opinion about the side reins and whether I should be doing this or not.

When we were done, I untacked Tango and tied him to the wall while I rode Corky. It is funny, as I rode by I glanced over at Tango just standing there and suddenly he actually looked like he was maturing in the body a little. I made Corky stop and I snapped a picture. Tango is so strange. At times he seems so immature in the body (like an overgrown yearling) and other times I see him and suddenly he looks like a 2yo. I am still debating whether he is mature enough to start sitting in the saddle next month. I think I over-worry about these things.

My ride on Corky was very nice. After our big battle the last time over her spooking, I tried to keep the ride pressure-free and easy. She was great! Sometimes she can hold a grudge when we have a battle-ride, but today she seemed good with the world. I even did some two-tracking and she went willingly both directions.

Tomorrow I get one more ride at Darla's before my schedule blows up and my weekends are booked. Hopefully the weather stays decent...nothing scares me more than pulling the trailer in snow or ice.

Here is a picture of Corky's right front foot. The arrows point to a peeling spot on her hoof. My farrier said it's a dead spot, and he is worried about possible white line disease. I took this picture so I can monitor any change between now and her next farrier appointment. So far she is not bothered by it, but it does have a hollow sound to it when you bang on the hoof wall. I have never had to deal with white line disease, so I googled it. the information scared the pants off of me. this is NOT something I want to deal with. I hope and pray it is nothing, but I will be keeping a very watchful eye on that spot in the next few weeks.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Today is a rare day off. Yay for MLK Day! I headed out to the barn early in the morning, loaded Corky, and headed to Darla's. I am sure she is sick of seeing me by now LOL! I may just move in and live in my horse trailer on her driveway! I did a bunch of riding - rode Corky in the morning when I got there, went out to lunch, rode another horse of Darla's, and then rode Corky again for a good 40 minute thorough ride. It was heaven. I just love love love riding! I could ride all day, makes me jealous of the trainers that get to do this all day every day. Though I am sure that if it suddenly became my job and career, I would get sick of it. It's never as much fun when you have to do it! I had some great rides on Corky, rode her through a couple spooks (especially when we were riding all alone). I feel even more confident - I can ride her through a spook, bring her back, and continue on with success. Sounds like no big deal, doesn't it? It's a lot bigger deal than you think. I think mentally I always have trouble when issues happen in the show pen because I stop trusting my horse and maybe I over-react a little bit? Quite possibly! Maybe taking that year off from showing helped me mentally, even more so than Corky. I am ready!.

I talked with Darla a bit about my training session with Tango the other day and using side reins. She thinks this is a good idea, in moderation. The side reins are almost better than a person's hands because they are exact in their release - when a horse resists, the pressure is constant. As soon as a horse gives, the release is instant...this doesn't always happen with a rider's hands. This will be a good way to teach Tango to give to pressure, and also develop a little muscle memory in his neck and topline so that he will be easier to frame up under saddle (eventually). I won't do this every day, but maybe a few times a week. I love that I can ask Darla anything and get some solid advice. Stacey is the same way. There are so few people that I trust to really tell me the hard truth, but to also be willing to share their knowledge so that I can become better. Those are people I treasure!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A Monday in Disguise

Yes, I know it is Tuesday but since yesterday was an extension of the weekend, today is a fake Monday! But...a better Monday since tomorrow is suddenly Wednesday and hump day! Yes...I am looking on the optimistic side of things today./p>

I had a very quick session with Tango today as I was having 2,000 pounds of grain delivered. I saddled him and did about 10 minutes on the longe line with the side reins. He wasn't as smooth or as willing as he was yesterday, but I never got a chance to really work him through it since I had to go unload my grain. Oh well, tomorrow is another day!

I am switching both horses to Nutrena Safechoice. Corky had been getting Nutrena Triumph, and Tango was getting Life Design Mare and Foal for growth, but I think it will be easier to get the same feed for both, monitor their weight, and supplement as needed. I just bought a 7-month supply, so I hope it's the right choice!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Just when things are going great, then they are not! Corky and Tango had a nice turnout, then I free-longed them, and tied Tango up to saddle. he was fine...UNTIL it was time to take the bit. He flat out refused. I mean REFUSED. It was a huge battle, one that was very unexpected. He figured out he is big enough to start bullying me and pushing me around, so I had to really lose my temper (I hate that!). It took a good 20 minutes, maybe longer, before I got that bit in his mouth. I longed him for a while, he started off good, then hit the bit a couple times and over-reacted. I forced him forward, and he got over it and actually looked really really good on the line. I did a little ground driving, and he drove really well. He was really inverting with the rein pressure, which is weird since he doesn't do that at all on the longe line. I can't quite figure him out. He is so upright and brace-y on the longe line, but walking and trotting while ground driving he is bowing under with any pressure form the reins. After I was done, I decided to take the bridle off and put it back on a couple times to make sure he was over his little snit. Nope. It think it was another 20 or 30 minutes of fighting with him to take the bit. Round and round we went. Finally I was able to get it on and off a few times, but not easily.

This whole incident frustrates and puzzles me. I hate losing my temper, but when Tango decides NOT to do something, he becomes such a bully. I keep reminding myself that he is NOT Corky or Taylor, and that occasionally he does need some strong discipline. I hate doing it like that. It was 20 degrees, and I was in a full body sweat under my coveralls after all of this. It really spoiled my entire mood, and I drove home in a dark mood. Now I sit here typing this out and I am chastising myself. Things aren't always going to be easy-peasy when training, and I know that! It's been fairly easy up to this point. Step back, take a deep breath, and regroup!

Tango will get a few days off because unfortunately my work life once again interferes with my horse life. Hopefully Saturday we will try, try again with better results.

Saturday, January 21, 2012


I trudged through the snow to get to the barn this afternoon. Tango gave me the stinkeye in his stall and did not want me to put his halter on. I had to chase him around in his stall to get his halter on. I decided to deal with this right now. I tied him up in his stall and got the bridle out. of course he pulled back as hard as he could (thank goodness for a chain and a very strong old halter). I unclipped the bit from one side of the bridle, slipped the bridle over his ears, and managed to slide the bit in from the side of his mouth, and hook the bit back up on the bridle. Then I praised him like he just cured a disease. I slipped the bridle off, and this time managed to put the bridle on him and the bit in his mouth like normal -from the front. He raised his head and resisted, but not overly much and I was able to get it positioned in his mouth. Again - tons of praise. Once more, and then I turned him out to play with Corky.

When I was done cleaning stalls, I got Tango, brought him in his stall, and put the bridle back on. then I took him out and longed him (no saddle - just halter and bridle). You know, he looked darn good! His topline was definitely more relaxed. I did a 10 minute session, then walked him over to the end of the arena, removed the bridle, put it back on with NO issue! Hurrah! Progress! On that good note, I turned him loose and called it a day. I feel very relieved. This could have snowballed into a very bad bad problem. Hopefully I am fixing this problem. I guess we shall see!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Today was a pretty good day! Tango was happy to see me (he has gelding memory LOL!), I turned him and Corky out while I cleaned stalls, then brought him over to the tie ring. Amazingly he took the bit right away - no fuss! I will tell you I breathed a huge sigh of relief. I know that the issue isn't completely solved, but it is getting handled and things are looking up!

I longed him first without the side reins, then put the side reins on. I am still using them fairly loose, and he is not really putting any pressure on them as he goes around, which is good. The side reins aren't really holding his head in a correct frame quite yet (you can see it in the video posted below), but they do encourage him to lower his neck and round his back slightly, which in turn makes his legs look better (I think!).

After our longe session, I ground drove Tango for a while. His trotting was HUGE, I had a lot of trouble running to keep up with him! I had a friend video our session today. Just as I was afraid - he tends to bow under when we are ground driving, even when there is no pressure on the bit from the reins.

This is a video from today. I think he's looking pretty good! We are sure taking things slowly...it seems everyone else is already walk-trot-cantering their 2yos under saddle already, and here we are still longeing and ground driving. Oh well...I like to take things at my own pace!

Monday, January 23, 2012

I rode Corky today, can't believe it's been a whole week since I rode her last. Where did the week go? Makes me wonder where all those lost days have gone. You know those days - the ones that fly by and nothing major happens and you can't remember 30 seconds of the day after it passes. What a waste of life. I don't want to have any more lost days - they are precious! So... will attempt to do something spectacular or thought-provoking every day. OK...

Anyways, Corky was kind of like her old self today - a little angry at my leg. Of course, that means I had to push the issue and flop my legs all over her, do a lot of sidepassing and two-tracking. As usual, she got over it, but it was kind of surprising because she's been really good about accepting pressure. No biggie, because now I know what to do about it to fix it so it all ended good. The arena was getting hard and she wasn't very comfortable, so we kept our ride short. After our ride, I got the shank out and did some serious showmanship practice. Man is she in TUNE for showmanship! I really want to show, she is so so so good at this right now.

Being the glutton for punishment, I took Tango out with the shank and tried a little bit of showmanship. Setting up wasn't happening at all, but he actually was doing some sloppy but somewhat correct pivots - slow 180's. I haven't worked on that with him in a LOT of months, I can't believe he remembered how to yield and pivot away from me. I also loved that he really was watching my body cues and trotting off with me perfectly every time. That's something new. I know he will never make a good showmanship horse and I doubt I would ever show him in the class because he is just too mouthy, but showmanship has a lot of value just as a training tool. I would be giddy if it did nothing other than teach him to respect my space!

I read an awesome quote by Courtney Ryan in a showmanship article on GoHorseShow.com. Here is the quote:

"Your horse is your partner and should never be your victim. Showing horses is a privilege, not a right."
She also said something to the effect of "I found that the harder I worked, the luckier I got.". Truer words have never been spoken! Sure, luck has a little something to do with everything, but most luck stems from a whole lotta hard work that happened beforehand. At least that's what I keep telling myself as I head out in the bitter cold to work with my horses! :-]

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Even though Tango has started taking the bit well again, I decided to bribe/treat him with some applesauce smeared on the bit mouthpiece. Oh boy did he love that! He dove into the bridle once he smelled that. It's interesting how horses know what they like - I have never fed a horse applesauce before, never even had any out at the barn, yet he knew in an instant that it was yummy even before tasting.

He was way more relaxed longeing in the side reins today - head was lowered and everything was just looser and easier. His canter was a little better - he popped hind leads and crossfired a couple times, but it wasn't nearly as often as the other day when I could hardly get him to do a full circle at the canter. Lowering his frame just a couple inches has thrown off his balance. He got way too used to bracing himself against his neck while cantering.

I think I need a vacation. People on the internet seem to be driving me crazy lately. Step away from the keyboard, Jan! I have enough people who I see live every day that drive me nuts, why do I feel the need to deal with the same thing online? I am insulted when people attack my trainer over an article she wrote about the need for common courtesy (which ain't so common!), I am insulted when someone who is supposedly a friend comments about the weak competition in the Congress LL this past year (gee thanks, with friends like you...well...let's just not use the word "friend"!), I find others that are so rude about differing opinions that they start name-calling as a last resort. OK...time to head to bed, chill out, and face another day tomorrow.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

It's brat week for all males of the species! At least it sure seems that way. I worked Tango today - he longed incredible at the trot - very level and relaxed and FLAT. Cantering to the left (his "bad" direction) was really good. Cantering to the right was terrible. He could not hold his canter (kept switching his back lead), hitting the bit and slamming on the brakes over and over again. I got him to do a complete circle and was in the midst of working forward from there when I had to quit (the arena had to get worked). I will try again tomorrow and see if I can work through these issues.

Tango ended up earning two high point year-end awards with OWHA in 2011. They had their banquet last night and my friend picked him our trophies. Tango was high point yearling halter (*giggle*) and yearling longe line. It is really cool - he is starting out his show career exactly like his mother (Taylor) did. Taylor won those same two high point awards back in 1999. I am hoping he keeps matching her awesome show record...that would be great! Tango has some big horseshoes to fill.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Today I longed Tango first without the side reins, he longed perfectly. I then added the side reins, and he longed even more perfectly! He never hit the bit, never crossfired either direction, he dropped his neck and rounded his back at all three gaits and looked like a million bucks. Just goes to show...one never knows what this horse will pull out of his hat!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

It was in the mid 50's and sunny today. Perfect way to say goodbye to January! Tango was kind of sluggish today. He played a little but when I turned him out, but not very hard. I did see a spot of diarrhea in his stall amongst plenty of solid poop. Corky had a ton of little hives all over her. that's when I remembered that they got new hay in to the barn yesterday, and suddenly my two went from a grass/alfalfa mix to a new all grass hay. Looks like each horse reacted a bit differently.

I did the same schedule as yesterday - I longed Tango first without side reins, and then added them for a few rounds. He longed great, although he didn't have much suspension in his stride. He has days like that - where he feels lethargic and his legs look sloppy. After longeing, I ground drove him for a little while. he drove great. Looks like we might be ready for our moment in the saddle this weekend! Stay tuned. If you hear nothing, then send me flowers at the hospital.

Tango's official measurement today: About 15'2 1/2" at the withers, and 16' 1/2" at the hip. A slight bit of growth at the hip!

February, 2012

Saturday, February 4, 2012

I was going to work Tango today, but he looked a little gimpy on his right front foot. There is a piece cracked off of his hoof - it's not much, but maybe he is a little ouchy on it. Oh well, hopefully tomorrow he will be OK enough for our FIRST RIDE...fingers crossed!

Sunday, February 5, 2012


I longed Tango first, and he looked 100%. He longed great - seemed to have the perfect attitude for our first ride today. He wasn't overly energetic, just went around willingly without putting any pressure on himself or trying any of his usual tricks.

I strapped my helmet on, and we were ready to try our first ride! He stood like a rock, didn't seem to really notice when I actually settled all of my weight on his back. I even reached down and tightened the girth a notch. My friend had a hold of the longe line up near his halter, and she began to lead him forward. His first few steps were a little unsteady, but he gained his confidence and walked forward strongly. As we walked, I shifted my weight around in the saddle so he could feel me move around. I also waved my feet around a little bit. What a good boy!

As Tango figured things out, my friend let out the longe line so we were walking and steering kind of on our own. This is where all my months of ground driving paid off...he steered easily, he stopped on a dime, and he even backed on cue. Plus he did everything with a lowered, relaxed head and slow legs - no tension here! We reversed direction a couple times and continued walking. The entire ride lasted about 5 minutes. I wanted to end our session with him just as relaxed as when we started, so we quit for today. I was so thrilled with our ride, I hugged him afterwards...we have come a long way from that tragic day when I lost Taylor and sat on the floor at OSU with my orphan foal in my lap! Taylor would be proud...her son is turning out to have some good brains.

Tomorrow I have another friend coming out and I will do some actual riding (with her being my safety net) and we might attempt a trot if I feel everything is going well. I will probably keep him on the longe line all week, and decide this weekend if he seems ready for a truly solo ride.

Video of our first ride....unedited

Monday, February 6, 2012

Day TWO under saddle! I started off like yesterday on the longe line. I tried to get him to walk off on his own when I asked, but he stood solid. My friend had to use the longe line and lead him forward to get him moving. She led me for a few rounds, then I started walking a circle around her. Today we decided to try the trot. It took a LOT of encouraging to get him to trot. I couldn't get him to do with with my legs and clicking alone, my friend had to shake the longe whip at him. He first broke into a trot for about 5 steps and then stopped. I think it really startled him to have me posting up and down with his trot. Eventually (with a LOT of encouragement) we got him trotting several more times. He did keep trying to stop on me, and I remember distinctly how he used to do this all the time on the longe line. I used my same training idea I used back then - I kept forcing him forward and did NOT let him rest when he put the brakes on...and he soon figured out that when I ask him to trot he needs to keep trotting.

I felt brave - he was behaving SO well and seemed pretty steady at the trot, so I had my friend unclip the longe line and turn us loose. I first walked a few circles and changed direction, then I asked for a trot. We got some GREAT trotting done off the line! I was able to use nearly the entire arena instead of a small circle and he felt a lot more comfortable doing the larger area. He was still hard to get moving (my friend still had to use the longe whip to encourage him to MOVE) so I think I will need to dig out my old crop and use it on our next ride. I have no idea where that old thing is!

As much as I am DYING to keep on riding him, I think I will give him tomorrow off and then continue on Wednesday. It's so hard not to want to push things and keep rushing forward because we've had such good success the past few days. Patience, grasshopper!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Repeat after me: "Patience is a Virtue!" I was SO tempted to saddle Tango up again today even though I was by myself, but I resisted. He needs a day off. No need to over train him at this stage. Oh, but it was soooooo tempting!

Instead of working Tango, I turned him out with Corky. While I cleaned stalls I watched him pick and play with Corky, but she was NOT interested in playing (she is so above all that LOL!). I threw his big blue ball out in the arena and he played with it for quite a while. I couldn't resist - I went out there and kicked it around and made him chase it. He has really gotten the hang of pushing it with his nose so it rolls away from him (and gives him a reason to chase it down). Corky is still not impressed, and she really doesn't care for that big blue ball and gets very agitated when Tango rolls it into her space. Oh well, she'll just have to get used to it. It's good for her!

Tomorrow is DAY THREE in our breaking. Everyone has been warning me that day 3 is the day when bad things usually happen. Usually Day 1 and 2 they are still a bit surprised at all the newness of having someone on their back. By day 3 they are more used to it and are going to try some things. I wish I had a dime for every person who felt the need to warn (or gloat) about day three. Well, there is no way to get to day 4 (and day 5, 6, 7, etc.) until you go through day 3. So, bring it on! Here's hoping I will be back at my cozy desk at this time tomorrow to update everyone (if not, I do have a smart phone and can probably do my updates from the hospital bed!) :-]

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Oh what a disappointment. I turned Tango and Corky out to play while I cleaned stalls and I knew something was wrong - Tango seemed rather low energy. I put him on the longe line and sure enough, he was sore. It looks like his left front leg? I have a hard time telling sometimes. I am thinking it is more in the foot - maybe an abscess. He has no heat or swelling, and doesn't react to pressure on the foot or heel. Not sure what is going on since he was a bit off on Saturday but fine the next 3 days. So I cancelled my ride plans today, which was very disappointing. I was SO looking forward to my ride #3!

Since I was out there and ready to ride, I decided it was a good chance to work Corky (lucky her!). She rode really well for me. We didn't do much other than some circles and serpentines, and I worked on using my body to regulate the tempo/speed of her canter (which seems to be working well for us).

Tango gets the next couple days off since I have to work both days and evenings, and hopefully he will be better Saturday so we can attempt a ride again. Fingers crossed!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

I turned out Tango and Corky while I cleaned stalls tonight. Tango was much worse than yesterday. It is definitely his left front foot - he short-steps a lot when I walk him in a circle to the left. It's looking more and more like an abscess. I guess at this point all I can do is wait it out and see if it heals or blows. I am hoping it heals without blowing, because soaking his foot in temperatures below freezing will NOT be fun. I imagine it will be impossible to get his foot soaked - I can't see him standing still and being patient with his foot in a pan of warm water and epsom salts. Just in case, I picked up some epsom salts at the store today.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Tango has been looking progressively better, yesterday he really looked good and today he was definitely 100%. Since the opportunity was available, I longed him and then had a friend lead me on him for a bit. Eventually I had her let the line out, and then unclip the line. Tango was really reactive to the bit pressure. When i would use the reins to ask him to turn, he was resisting against the bit and flinging his head. This is very unlike him! I tried lowering my hands, it helped a little. We kept the ride very short, I just wanted to remind him of what he was supposed to do. His trot was VERY hard to get into...he tends to slow down or stop when you ask for forward motion. This is a weird thing for me because all of my other horses had been more than willing to go forward. Corky never attempted to balk until we started doing the canter. Oh well, always something new!

After Tango was done, I hopped on Corky for a little bit. Gosh Corky feels so weird under saddle compared to Tango! She feels so wide and solid. I forgot how weird you feel after riding 2yos. It brings back a lot of memories. I remember what it was like breaking Corky - when I would get on Taylor afterwards even skinny, leggy Taylor felt so solid and substantial compared to Corky.

Monday, February 13, 2012

My good friend came out to help me with Tango today. It's nice to have friends willing to go out of their way to help you when needed. I wouldn't be able to get my horse broke if I had to do this all by myself (plus it wouldn't be very safe!).

Today I decided I needed to be a bit more thorough in my prep work before my ride. I longed Tango for a bit, then spent a lot of time ground-driving him. I noticed that he is VERY sensitive to the bit - as long as I use my fingertips and don't use constant pressure when asking, he drops his head and turns for me. Time to call the equine dentist, I do believe! I did a lot of circles and steering maneuvers while ground driving, and some trotting also.

Today was our first 100% solo ride. My friend was there to help out in case I needed it. I did need it right from the get-go, Tango did NOT want to walk forward. I ended up having my friend lead him forward a few steps to get moving. I will tell you this - he sure isn't bothered by my crop! I stayed very light with my hands, and he kept his head and neck relaxed.

The fir4st attempt at trotting took the ENTIRE arena to get him into it. I was kicking, slapping that crop, clicking...it took a TON to finally get him moving. Each time I asked him to trot, it got a little easier. the best part is he didn't break down to a walk on his own - he waited for me to ask for it. It was nice that he finally is keeping a nice steady pace. Using the whole arena helped a lot!

My friend videoed my ride, and it was very informative to me. Although he doesn't look overly big, I don't look like a giant on him. I love how his ears flop when he trots! And he is definitely going to take some time to get strong and get more comfortable carrying my weight. He looked a little overwhelmed at times, and his trot looked forced rather than his normal big, springy self. This will all come with time, I am sure! He is a late bloomer.

A short video of our first solo ride (be kind!)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day!

When I turned Tango out today, he looked ever so slightly gimpy in the front end, so I have him the day off. Still waiting for that abscess to rear it's ugly head. At least, I hope it's just an abscess! It's definitely in the foot...

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Ugh! Tango is really really sore today. I swear he looks off in both front feet. What the heck? I got a call in to my farrier and we set an appointment for Saturday morning. Hopefully when he trims his feet he will find the problem. Now I am really getting worried. Tango will run, canter, and play, but limps at the trot.

I rode Corky today. She is in heat. She rode very willing with ears up the whole ride. I need to keep track - does her heat cycle actually make her more willing? I need to go back and re-read my diary this past year to see if her other happy days coincided with her heat cycle.

It's so weird - she was having a willing, ears-up day, but then I could tell she was also kind of lookey. After about 30+ minutes, she suddenly spooked at...nothing. Absolutely nothing - the blank wall! I forced her past it a zillion times, but it sure was frustrating when she suddenly looked at the wall and started running backwards! Eventually I rode her through it (I had a lot more patience this time!) and we ended well.

I feel the urge to start making plans. Plans, goals, something. I need to have a big something to work towards. I feel just so directionless right now, like I am just treading water and not getting anywhere. Weird mid-winter feeling!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Tango was extremely sore yesterday and today. It looks to be maybe in his right heel? He is pointing that foot forward and kind of walking on the toe. My farrier is coming out bright and early tomorrow morning. I hope we find an abscess. Sounds weird, doesn't it? well an abscess is easily explained and healed...it's all a part of being a horse at times. The negative, pessimistic part of me worries that maybe it's something more serious and career-threatening. You know how it is. Even when you keep a positive outlook, there is a small corner of your brain that is constantly crying "Disaster!" Hopefully we will know more tomorrow, stay tuned.

While cleaning stalls today, I reached down to lift one of those massive shavings bales and felt something pop in my lower back, then my right leg felt kind of numb. It hurt so bad I didn't even attempt to ride Corky today. I have such a good back, but injuring my back is something I worry about a lot because I've seen my friends go through it and it looks miserable. Going to take some aspirin and try to relax tonight...

Saturday, February 18, 2012

It was an all-around downer of a morning with my farrier appointment. Tango could barely walk today, but I swear today it looked as if he was lame on his right front foot! My farrier is so patient - he dug around in both feet, found only a potential spot near the heel of his left foot, but nothing that would warrant such lameness. Tango didn't react at all to the hoof testers. We are both baffled. Looks like this calls for a vet appointment on Monday to see what is going on. I had so hoped it was just an abscess. It still could be one that is way up deep in his hoof, closer to the coronet than the sole. Hopefully I will be able to get an appointment right away on Monday and get some definite answers. I hate seeing him in such pain! Plus we have the added bonus that since he doesn't feel like running around much, he is going MAD with all this pent up energy and is becoming a bear to handle.

Now for the second set of bad news. After trimming Corky's feet, my farrier did determine that Corky does have some white line disease going on in her right front hoof. He had to remove part of the hoof wall and try to dig some of the infection out. Amazingly, Corky is not the least bit sore on that foot (at least not today...tomorrow might be another story!). This could potentially become very serious. I ordered some medication online that will help kill the bacteria. the biggest worry we have is whether or not he was able to remove all of the diseased hoof tissue. You want to remove all of the disease, but you run the risk of removing too much of the hoof wall and causing problems. It's a fine line to walk. I have faith in my farrier, just not a lot of faith in my own personal luck. I would really hate to go out tomorrow and find both of my horses lame.

Tomorrow I am setting my art booth up at the Findlay Tack Swap Meet. I hope to earn some money (to pay these farrier and vet bills!) and to enjoy the day socializing.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Putting it in perspective

Today I had a day off (yay for president's Day!). I called my vet in the morning and got a 3:30 appointment to have Tango looked at. It was a really nice day (sunny and 40 degrees!) so I headed out early to ride Corky before my appointment. *sigh*. She was a tiny bit sore on her right front foot from where the farrier cut out her hoof wall to expose the white line disease. I was afraid of that. I gave her 1 gram of bute and turned her out in the arena. She is still in heat, she has been in heat for 3-4 days and it's pretty gross!

I got Tango to the vet he loaded perfectly (and I was worried since he hasn't been in the trailer since Congress), but of course acted like a brainless loon when we walked in to the examining room. My vet had me take him outside and the assistant attempted to trot him up and down the gravel driveway so he could see his gait, but Tango was leaping and prancing and acting like a fool. It was funny - I offered to put him on the longe line, and I could see the skepticism on everyone's face, but Tango certainly knows the business end of a longe line! I put him on the line and it was down to work - walk, trot, reverse on command quietly. Gotta love those longe liners!

Today he was more off in the right front leg. My vet took him back inside and did a thorough flex of his front leg joints, and hoof-tested every inch of his sole and heels. He actually showed no soreness at anything except the knees! Hmmm...I hadn't considered the knees, it just seemed to all be in the feet. He felt some heat in the right knee, not as much in the left. So, to rule every other possibility out, we took thorough x-rays of his feet and his knees.

His navicular bones checked out fine, there was no sign of founder in his front feet, everything looked great. His knees didn't show any signs of having a bone cyst or anything abnormal. My vet did remark that his knees were "wide open". He believes the intermittent lameness is being caused by a touch of ephyphesitis and some "growing pains" Tango is having. I am to back down on his grain, put him on 1g of bute 2x a day for a week, limit his turnout to 30 minutes a day for 5 days, then increase to about 45 minutes a day for 5 days.

It is funny, the term "wide open knees". I guess I always imagined the knees to really be OPEN when the horse is young and still growing. I always envisioned a huge opening. The x-ray to the left shows the actual growth plate (click on it to enlarge). The crooked line within the circle is the actual growth plate, and the arrow points to the "open" part of the knee that shows he is growing. I found this fascinating (so I posted here to fascinate all of you LOL!). I am relieved it isn't anything serious (I was really thinking founder in my negative brain), but also disappointed that it isn't just an abscess that will blow and be done with. This means Tango's training is put on hold indefinitely. Damn, just when he was doing so well! What are the odds that both of my horses are lame at the same time. Two horses, a semi-warm February week, and nothing to ride :-[

I drove home tonight a little relieved, and a little depressed, feeling sorry for myself (hey, somebody's gotta do it!). I received a message that a Facebook friend of mine that owns Tango's "twin" just lost her gelding to colic today. This is a colt that Jim Dettmer bred, he was born around the same time as Tango and also lost his dam at birth, so not only were he and tango both orphans, but they look astonishingly similar. I came inside, read about what happened, and I actually sat here and cried. Here I am feeling bummed about missing a month or two of training, and she will miss out on a lifetime with her horse. It's just not fair!

So here is a tribute to "Coyote". Look at these pictures, isn't he the spitting image of Tango? Makes me so sad to think he won't grow up and we won't be able to compare brother stories...

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Not much to report this week. It's been a big downer of a week. Corky has been getting progressively more lame with each treatment of her white line disease. It's very very disheartening when the cure is worse than the disease. Before her farrier appointment she was 100% sound, and now each day she is getting more sore. Yesterday and today she would stand out in the arena and hold her foot a little bit up in the air as if she didn't want to set it down. *sigh*. Now I am not sure what to do. Do I haul her to a vet and see if they want to dig more of it out? Is this normal for horses to get more sore as you treat the white line disease? I wish I knew.

ON the plus side, Tango looks great. No sign of soreness for him. I limited his turnout all week to about 30 minutes - just long enough for me to clean his stall. Of course he has been getting bratty with all this time on his own. Today I put the chain on him and made him walk nicely with me around the arena while I picked up rocks. I had to spank him a few times as he thought he could bully over me. This is a horse that needs his turnout and play time!

I am looking to switching his feed. This nutrition stuff is so confusing, it's like calculus to me! So many factors and variables, I feel like I am swimming blindly. On the plus side this week - I have been puppy/breeder shopping. It's time for me to start seriously searching for a breeder of my future puppy I want to get this spring. I think I have narrowed my breed choice down to a Weimaraner, and I am pretty sure I picked out a quality breeder. Now I just have to make that big decision and send in my deposit. I SO miss having a dog companion. It just hasn't been the same without Pasta, my former dog!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Corky looks marginally better today, although I didn't actually make her move. I think tomorrow I will put her on the longe line and see how she really looks. I also plan to do some serious showmanship schooling. Tonight while running on the treadmill at the Y, I pulled up an old video on my Ipod of Corky and I doing showmanship back in 2009. I am inspired, I want to make that class a personal goal of mine this year - a goal to improve.

Tango looked 100% today. He is increasing his brattiness and mouthiness. Tomorrow might also be a schooling night for him on the lead shank. I need to keep him in a respectful work frame of mind even though he isn't being worked.