Tales of Corky's 4yo training and showing year, and Taylor's last year of showing and first time breeding

PAGE 3 - Congress and beyond

October 11, - Dec. 31, 2008

Click here for the 2009 Diary!

Updated December 30, 2008

Saturday, October 11, 2008

I got to Congress Saturday morning, no one was around the barn. I visited with Corky, she seemed quiet and relaxed. I texted Stacey but didn't hear back from her right away, so I went ahead and saddled Corky up and took her to the Scottsdale arena to ride. Just as I was getting on her, Stacey texted me back and said Corky needed to be longed first (there were 20+ horses waiting in line to longe!!!). I decided to go ahead and try and ride her since she was saddled and at the arena. BIG mistake! We got about 20 feet into the arena and Corky started getting totally nervous in the crowd. She started jumping, bucking, and running sideways (wiping out people right and left!). I had to jump off her on the fly. We went back to the barn, needless to say!

That evening I longed her (I didn't have to wait in line, amazing!). She ran and bucked like a crazy woman. We longed for almost an hour and she ran herself into the ground. I brought her back and Stacey got on her, and Corky was completely body sore, and stiff and sore on all 4 legs from her hour long bucking spree. So, we gave her some banamine and put her back in her stall.

On a fun note, I did get to do some good shopping. I bought a new show halter (after miles of walking to compare styles and prices). The first one I picked out I really loved - it was at McClellands...for $1150.00!!!!! OK, NOT in the budget LOL! I ended up with my original choice of one from Schneider's. I tried it on Corky and it looks really nice. The pictures are a bit blurry - the flash really reacted off of the blingy silver!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Today I longed her a bit in the morning and she started off really stiff but loosened up a little bit (side note - I longed at 8:45am and was able to walk right up and get a longeing spot, NO WAITING! Imagine that!!!). She had zero energy. She did loosen up a bit but never did look 100%. We waited until later Sunday night to ride (around 8pm or so). I rode her for about a half hour. She started off really stiff, but as she loosened up she got really strong and was pulling really hard on the bit wanting to run off. It was a frustrating ride. I don't think she was 100% feeling OK either, she still felt quick-legged and a bit body-sore. I am not feeling too positive...how on earth am I going to get her ready to show in 2 days? Ugh. Stacey and Matt have their work cut out for them, since I have to be back at work on Monday and Tuesday.

I checked out the entries in the HUS Maturity. It's like a who's who in hunter under saddle...and then there's me. It's depressing to see former and current world champions in my split. I don't see us getting by them, especially not the way she is right now. Oh well, I have never hid from competition before, so I will just go in there and try to have a clean ride (and not mess anyone up LOL!) and enjoy the experience again. I will also try NOT to shop anymore...I bought two new hunt shirts yesterday (making my total number of hunt shirts over 20 now...geeze!). I got a bright yellow and a dark burgundy. I am having the collars stitched, I think I will wear the dark burgundy with my fashion-faux-pas green coat. I can't wait!

Monday, October 13, 2008

I texted the great and famous Lisa Florey, Equine Massage Therapist and was able to catch her at a down time to go and work on Corky. Yep, I am pulling out all stops for this one! I was hoping that a good therapeutic massage could help her with her body soreness. Part of me is very jealous...I sure would appreciate a good massage right now! Lisa told me that Corky was very tight all over, especially in the left hip and right neck/shoulder. This makes perfect sense - she looked especially tight with her left hind leg all day yesterday. Stacey will be riding her late tonight, I wait on pins and needles to see how she rides for her. Time is running out, we show in a day and a half!!!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

I called Matt during my lunch break. The massage didn't seem to help Corky, she is still extremely stiff and short-strided. I am very depressed. Tomorrow looks iffy.....WHY does this have to happen NOW????

Wednesday, October 15, 2008 - The Congress Rollercoaster Ride

I got to the grounds last night around 6pm (yeah, I drove FAST!). I got to see Stacey and Simon ("Moxiecillan") make the open and limited finals of the 3yo HUS Futurity...that was cool. My ride time in the Celeste was 1:30-3am. I just walked Corky in the Celeste to take a look around and then we went back.

This morning Matt got up bright and early and started working Corky. She was full of energy, so he had his hands full. She was sound...that was the good news!!! Show time came early - we were in split 1 of the on-Pro HUS Maturity at 11:00am. We went over to the Celeste to warm up. Matt warmed her up so we could watch how she looked. I tell you, she looked like a million bucks! Even Stacey was excited!!! Now all that was required was for me to get my nerves under control. I hopped on her and went into the warm-up ring. Amazingly, she was not bothered at all by the crowds of horses. She has been getting so much better lately with the crowds. I found a good opening, and trotted in the arena about 3rd or 4th.

We went about 5 steps and then I felt her go a little off. I felt sick to my stomach. I continued on, hoping it was just a slight hitch and she could trot out of it. No suck luck, I could really feel her stride off on one side. hen I got down by the out gate I stopped, just as the announcer called for a walk and the ring steward started approaching me. I nodded to her, and they opened the gate for me to be excused, and there went one more Congress dream down the toilet.

I thought it was her left front tendon again, but Stacey feels it is her left hind leg. She has an appointment with the vet tomorrow, and I will be waiting on pins and needles to hear the verdict. I hope and pray we can get things resolved in time for me to show next Saturday (the 25th). I guess we shall see...

It was really nice to see how many great friends I have that were concerned about me. I got a really nice phone call from an old friend in the morning with suggestions to help Corky feel better. I guess we've all been there before. I was laughing to some of my friends this afternoon, saying I have been through the Congress gamut. I have pretty much experienced about every possibility at Congress - got the gate, made top 10, got pulled to the middle for bucking, got excused for lameness, you name it! As Stacey said, none of my rides have ever been boring or forgettable LOL!

Stay tuned for more updates...please cross your fingers, say a prayer, or at least keep some good thoughts in your head for me :-]
Pictures of Corky's awesome "Patrick Lee" braid job that never got to be shown :-[

Thursday, October 16, 2008

I sat on pins and needles all morning waiting for the call. Stacey called me around noon after Dr. Bowman took a look at Corky. To quote Dr. Bowman: "Man, she sure has a lot going on!" (in regards to her pain issues).

The first thing he found was an abscess in her left front foot. He pulled the shoe and dug it out. He also found that her 'whorl bones' are very tight and there might be a soreness issue with them. I have no idea what a whorl bone is! I tried googling it and came up with very little information. He is also concerned with the slight swelling in her left front tendon (my big fear!). He is going to wait until tomorrow after the abscess has been treated and then ultrasound it to see if there is an issue with the tendon or if the puffiness is from the infection in the abscess. Potentially there could be an issue with her coffin joints being sore also (I could certainly see that after walking for day on all that concrete at Congress). Basically the verdict is that he will check all of these things out tomorrow after her abscess has time to drain and release the infection.

I told Stacey that just in case she can't get a hold of me tomorrow, to have done whatever she and Dr. Bowman feel is necessary to help Corky be more comfortable. After all, the horse is the first priority, right? I will be anxiously waiting the verdict tomorrow...hoping and praying this all can be fixed easily and quickly (and cheaply...yeah right LOL!).

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Corky didn't get a chance to be seen by the vet yesterday, so I hurried to Columbus this morning and was able to take her to the vet myself. The first thing he did was check her abscess. It seemed a lot better - almost no reaction to the hoof testers!He told me to soak her foot for 30 minutes and then go have her shoe put back on, longe her, then come back.

The shoe wasn't bent - it had been pulled off by a farrier. It just needed to be nailed on, no work involved! Cost at Congress: $50.00 to tack a shoe on. Ugh. What a racket.

I waited in line a hour and longed Corky. Her front end looks fine, but every now and then I could see something in the back end. It was very subtle, but since I know my horse and how she moves I could detect something slightly wrong. Back we went to the vet!

After about 20+ minutes of flexing and trotting off and other diagnostics, he determined her hocks were sore, and because of this the bursa in the whorl bone area had become inflamed. So, he injected both hocks and both bursa (whorl bones). She is to be handwalked for 2 days, then back to riding Monday or Tuesday night and we'll see how things look. I am hopeful, a little frightened of this vet bill, and praying things get worked out FAST. Time is running out, we show in one week! Keep your fingers crossed....

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The word from Stacey is that Corky is looking better! I am heading to Columbus tomorrow after work to ride. Keep your fingers crossed!!!!

I took a few pictures of fatty Taylor with my new phone (pretty darn good photos from a cell phone, I do say!).

She is starting to grow a belly!

Thursday, October 23, 2008


I left right after work at 3:30pm and headed to Columbus. The traffic was yucky, but the weather was beautiful - high 50's and sunny. This will be our last sunny day of Congress, unfortunately (the weather forecast doesn't look good!). I got Corky out and longed her for about 15 or 20 minutes. She was stiff, but loosened up and looked very good! She didn't seem to have a whole lot of energy (which is a good thing).

I started riding in the Scottsdale around 8:30pm. She started off stiff, but the longer I rode the better she got. She behaved perfectly!!! She was happy, forward-moving, and listened to everything I asked of her (who is this strange horse, I ask?). Stacey got on and trotted her a bit so I could see her. She looks fantastic. What an incredible relief. It was such a good feeling having the old Corky back (the old good Corky). By the end of our ride she was really extending and floating along. I drove home with a much lighter heart. I am sure we don't have a shot at placing this year in the Junior and Amateur HUS with all the setbacks we've encountered...but just getting a chance to show and have a good ride has always been my goal.

Friday night is going to be rough. I won't be able to leave until after the football game around 12:30am...drive to Columbus and make that long cold walk at 3am from the Crew stadium to the Swine barn, dragging my bag with me (and a knife in my pocket just in case!). Then I get to ride, take a couple hour nap, and then get up and get ready to show!!! Horse shows are such fun :-]

Saturday, October 25, 2008 - CONGRESS TIME!

Friday night, I left home around 1am after my football game, and headed to Columbus. Amazingly I didn't have any trouble staying awake! I highly recommend the combination of Cheetos and powdered sugar doughnuts...that really keeps your eyes open.

I arrived in Columbus at 3am with my trailer in tow. After circling the swine barn 3 times, I finally backed in to a parking space in the lot next to the Scottsdale, and went to get Corky to go ride. I love riding on one of the last nights/mornings of Congress...the arenas are empty! Unfortunately when I got to the stalls, the tack room had been locked, and I had no way of getting my saddle and tack out to ride. Bummer!!! I did reach through the bars and got a longe line out and was able to longe her a little bit. She was VERY low-energy, so I only did about 30 minutes of light longeing and then called it quits. I really needed to ride, but unfortunately that wasn't going to be possible. When picking her feet out after our longe session, I found that she had blown out yet i>another abscess - this time on the heel bulb of her right hind foot. She was not sore at all on it, but I am sure this contributed to her overall soreness last week. Why in the world does she get so many abscesses, and why do they always occur right at the big shows? (we missed the Southern Ohio Futurity last year due to an abscess also!).

I took a couple hour nap in Sue's trailer (thanks, Sue!), then got up to prepare to show! Matt rode her a bit before the class. Se was pretty energized and tense for some reason. My first class was junior HUS - it was cooooooold and the wind was blowing, which didn't help matters any. Corky was a big ball of agitation, she was nervous, and you could tell she just wanted to run and buck and play. Unfortunately there was not place to longe her because the longe pens were all full of water (we had a huge rainstorm yesterday). I was in the first split of the junior HUS, we rode in the Celeste and she was nervous, but OK. I got a decent spot trotting in on the rail, and our first trot wasn't too bad, but the rest of the class snowballed into problem after problem. Corky was extremely wired up. She had been cooped up all week dealing with her lameness, and now that she was feeling better she wanted to GO! The class was a huge battle for us, but we got through it without wrecking anyone (but I wasn't pretty!).

After my split I headed back the the Scottsdale and rode and worked on settling her down. She did settle down quite a bit foe me after that, and then I let her relax a bit before our split in the Amateur HUS. We were in the second split of the Amateur. This time instead of warming her up beforehand, I decided to just go over to the Celeste and stand around and not get on and ride until it was time to ride into the makeup ring. This seemed to work a lot better for her, and she was very relaxed in the warmup ring....at least until a large, noisy group of shoppers stomped down the bleachers by the makeup ring and startled her. I spent the rest of the warmup time walking and calming her down.

Our Amateur class went a LOT better! We had two bobbles in the class that really hurt us. on our reverse and walk, she anticipated the gait change and started jigging into the trot. YIKES I hate that problem more than anything else, so we will have to work hard on nipping that immediately. hat was always an issue wit Taylor, and I am determined not to let this become a problem with Corky! Our second problem happened a the second canter. It started off really really nice, but the very last pass on the straight wall in front of the judges she got really strong and I had to take a hold of her to back her off, which caused her to raise her head and fight a bit. So, of course we didn't make it out of our split (they only took 3), at this level you gotta be perfect!

So, it wasn't the Congress we had hoped for, definitely couldn't hold a candle to last year's event! My goal by this week was just to be able to show in my classes today, and I did get to accomplish that! Even though it was a rough couple weeks for us, I did have a lot of fun and I don't regret a moment of it. There's always next year, right?

I hauled Corky home with me, she is getting a nice week of turnout and relaxation, then I will go back to lightly riding her a couple times a week. I want to keep her in shape this winter, I have plans to really increase our education this year. My goal for this winter is to become a better rider...I am hoping to get some help from various sources that can push me and make me into a more educated, skilled rider. Stay tuned...it ain't over yet!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Corky is enjoying some relaxation and turnout this week. Wowee is she wild when getting turned out! She is even getting Taylor to run around a little bit. I am getting back in the saddle this weekend and see how things are going with her.

It's great having her back home, but man I didn't miss cleaning her pigsty of a stall!

Friday, October 31, 2008 - Happy Halloween!

I finally forced myself to sit down and watch the video of my Junior HUS class from Congress. I have been putting this off, but it's time to face reality and watch the darn video so I can see what I was doing, what Corky was doing, and learn from it. Oh, the painful lessons we learn!

You know, she didn't look nearly as bad as I had thought. In fact our first pass at the trot was darnright nice! You could see her get more and more tense as the class went on...the second direction canter to trot was especially forward and she was fighting me for control. You know, if you covered up me and her body and just looked at her legs, she looked world class. Too bad her topline was arched and unsteady. Yes, she was very forward and not steady, but she didn't look completely out of control (although she felt like it and I didn't look like a beginner yahoo rider. Whew!

What a beautiful day today has been - bright sunshine and 65 degrees. Corky and Taylor spent the afternoon turned out in the sunshine. Tomorrow I am riding her...back to reality for the Corkster!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Pretty, pretty day...mid-60's and sunny again. This kind of weather might actually make me like November! Today I rode Corky for the first time since bringing her home last weekend. I longed her for about 5 minutes, but there were two beginners riding in the arena and I didn't want her to cut loose and scare them so I decided to ride her on through it. She was very forward with me, which was to be expected. When I was riding her, I was thinking about how bad pf a ride this is, but now looking back I see that today's ride actually wasn't terrible. I had to school her a bit and make her behave. I left all my work tack at home, so the only thing I had to use was an old bridle with a fat French link o-ring...can't get much gentler than that. She actually rode pretty decently in it. The very last canter I did was great - she gave up the fight suddenly and rocked back and went around the arena nice and relaxed. Yea! I quit while I was ahead.

I practiced some showmanship with her. She hasn't done any showmanship since our show at the beginning of September. I was happy to see she kept all of her skills - her pivots (push and pull) were both very straight and solid, and she actually set up for me several times without taking hours. I reminded her that I did buy this gorgeous brand new show halter, so she was going to have to be deserving of wearing it this coming year.

Tomorrow, another sunny warm day and another chance to ride!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Another nice, warm, sunny day today...just going to make it harder when the ugly snow starts to fly later this month! I rode Corky again today. She is disgustingly in heat...yuck. We had a pretty good ride today. I was surprised at the first trot that she tried to balk with me. That was the only time she did it, and everything else went willingly. Just goes to show that horses always remember their original bad habits. I don't think you can ever really train a bad habit out of a horse, but just learn to mask it temporarily. I worked a little bit on cantering from a stop. She did great at this!

Kevin actually came out to the barn with me today, he cleaned my stalls while I rode...yep, a perfect scenario topped off with dinner at Milano's afterward (covered in sawdust and dirt, I bet we looked really classy LOL!). I let Kevin get on and walk Corky around. He tried about 3 steps at the trot, and that was enough for him. Corky's big trot can be kind of intimidating to a beginner.

Monday, November 3, 2008

I couldn't ask for a more perfect day...how weird is this for November? It was 74 degrees and sunny. I decided to be brave and attempt riding outside. Our outdoor 'arena' has no fence, so if you get tossed your horse can end up in Cleveland.

I longed Corky for maybe 10 minutes. She seemed relaxed, and since I really hate longeing I decided to throw caution to the wind and get on. She was wonderful! I did ride in the French ring snaffle with a second set of draw reins just in case. A few times she got a little forward (as in trying to take off a bit) and the draws helped me engage her and back her off, bot for the most part I was able to ride just on the regular reins. It was probably one of the nicest rides I have ever had out there. She was very forward-moving, but not in a bad way. I swear that horse just floated around that arena. She had lots of room to stretch out. We did circles, figure-8's, and all sorts of things to keep her mind occupied. After I was done (about 45 minutes or so) we went for a walk around the pasture. She was so easy, I love having a horse that doesn't have a high spook response. I am toying with the idea of trying to trail ride her a little bit next year if I can find some riding pals brave enough to try it with me.

Call me crazy, but I am feeling the urge to show. I am toying with the idea of finding a December show to hit. Oh yeah...easy to say now that the weather is in the 70's, but ask me again when it is a high of 30 degrees and the snow is flying!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Another nice day...sunny and 70. We are supposed to have one more day of this, and then come crashing back to reality. Today Taylor got her feet trimmed. Corky isn't due for another 3 weeks. I hate when they are off schedule from each other. By the time I got saddled and went outside to ride, the sun was already starting to set and the air was cooling off. Needless to say, Corky was VERY full of energy. We didn't have as pleasant of a ride as we did on Monday. I had to battle with her a bit because she wanted to take control. I only got to ride for about 20 minutes before the sun went down too far. I hope to ride tomorrow again on the last nice day of 2008.

I have been riding consistently in my English saddle. I think I will just keep my western saddle stored away and not even use it this winter. I am a much better rider when I consistently ride in my English saddle, although it is harder work (and much less secure if Corky has one of her bucking days). I think about age a lot...my age, not Corky's. I wonder how long into my later years will I be able to ride consistently, break horses, and take risks the way I can do right now. I hope that if I keep it up for the next 30 years, I can still be showing in my 70's. That would be cool! I keep looking for a sign of weakness in me, but so far I still feel strong and somewhat secure. the winters spent working out at the Y definitely help, I think.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Today was the last nice day of the year! I think God was sending me a message to go ride and be happy. In the afternoon, I found out that my AED/CPR training class scheduled for 3:15 had been canceled, so I was free to go ride in the sunshine. It was sunny and in the low 70's, how awesome is that?

I longed her for about 5 minutes first, then put side reins and a french snaffle and longed for another 10 minutes. She was pretty quiet, so I changed bits to the gag and hopped on. Longeing in the side reins really helped, I was able to ride her with a fingertip touch on the reins for the most part (I hate how heavy she gets in the plain snaffle). We had a fantastic ride. It was probably my best ride ever...days like today remind me of WHY I love to ride, and why I love this horse (quirks and all). We did a lot of pattern and circle/serpentine work. I also interspersed our work with a lot of walking. It seems she has forgotten how to drop and walk relaxed...her walk for the past month or so has been so 'balled up' as she anticipates the next gait. This winter we will spend a lot of time doing a relaxed walk in between other things, so that she settles into it better for next show season.

I was able to check and release her - take a hold of her and ask her to rock back a bit, and then release and she would hold herself. That's been my goal, and it worked today. She doesn't enjoy being ridden with a lot of contact, so she needs to learn how to listen and hold when I ask for things. Once she masters this, we will both be a lot happier LOL!

I ended the ride again with a leisurely walk around the pasture. The sun was starting to set which made it really hard to see (the sun was right at eye level and glaringly bright). It was a gorgeous evening. Tomorrow - rain, cold, and snow showers by Sunday. Back to reality, I guess.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

It was a cold, blustery day. I told you we'd be back to reality this weekend! I almost got lazy and wimped out of riding, but made myself do it anyways. Corky and Taylor were turned out, so I chased them around the arena a bit rather than longeing. Corky rode really well for me, even though it was cold and we were stuck indoors again. Strange - she started balking at my canter cues. She hasn't done that in forever, but balked at nearly every one. When she did finally canter off, she did so very nicely, so I can't figure out what the problem was. Maybe she was just testing me...but by now you'd think I would have already passed that darn test!!!

We worked on some sidepassing, and I put a single pole on the ground and we trotted and walked over it a bit. Nothing too exciting, but I am working my way up to eventually cantering her over poles, but we have a long way to go. She is very sloppy with her feet over poles. I am toying with the whole green trail idea next year, if I can borrow tack and clothing from someone. It might be a lot of fun! Might be a disaster also, but who knows?

g, tf

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Today I spent the day in Indiana visiting with the Dettmer's, owners of Thanks For Com En, a paint stallion that is also a JC registered thoroughbred. What nice people! I was amazed at the quiet manner of 'Thanks'. He stood there like an old gelding, and really didn't display any sort of stallion mannerisms. I am feeling pretty excited about this - Taylor will be bred to him in 2009 after she has her 'Joe' baby. This will give me a double-registered baby - appendix quarter horse and paint (either full registry or breeding stock). Yes folks, I am crossing over to the dark side of paints LOL! I have a feeling this foal will be extremely typey for HUS. You can't get much typier than Taylor, and crossing with a 17 hand thoroughbred...well...it's going to be a big, tall, leggy baby. My kinda horse :-]

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Real life has been interfering with my horse life...I hate when that happens! This week has been full of long rehearsals, parent-teacher conferences (in which not a single parent showed up!), and lots of painting for Christmas art orders. Today was ugly and rainy, but it was near 60 degrees so I won't complain! I free longed Corky for about 5-10 minutes, and then saddled up to ride. Once again, I had an incredible ride. She just did everything I asked, willingly with no balking. I felt like we just floated around that arena, and I rode with my fingertips. I did some leg-yielding at the trot, and amazingly she did it with minimal fuss. Normally when I used to ask for that maneuver, she would get very angry (she hates pressure on her sides). I love it when Corky is in a good mood. She brightened my mood up a bunch!

You know, horses are weird. I have an old milk jug hanging from the rafters in Corky's stall with a plastic Wal-Mart bag tied to it. She has this irrational fear of plastic bags. This has been hanging in her stall since she was a yearling. I have witnessed her playing with it, and she literally walks into it every single day and it bounces around her back. well, today I went into her stall to take her blankets off before free-longeing her and I bumped the bag ever so slightly, and she acted like someone shot her! I spent a good 10 minutes holding her and forcing her to tolerate the bag being rubbed all over her. Even after 10 solid minutes of this she still wouldn't relax. I don't get it, she hits that bag every single day! I wish I could call a horse psychic to figure out what exactly is going on in her head when she hears those bags.


Saturday, November 15, 2008

It was pouring rain all morning - actually since yesterday (I got to sit out at a football game last night in the pouring rain all evening...gotta love my job!). I hooked up the trailer and loaded Corky and headed north to Grand Rapids, OH for a lesson with Darla Lee. It was time for a fresh set of eyes to watch me ride and give me some pointers in not only Corky's performance, but in my sadly lacking equitation. The drive was a nice, short one!

I had a fantastic lesson. Corky actually behaved well (didn't buck, yay!) - was pretty good, yet still made some of her usual mistakes so that Darla could see what I was dealing with. I was pretty proud of Corky - for once she didn't embarrass me (I did that well enough on my own...note to self: ALWAYS grab the step stool out of my trailer whenever getting ready to ride!). We addressed these issues in our riding:

  • Balking: Corky will toss in a balk when I ask for the canter ever now and then. It's always unexpected, and highly annoying. Darla showed me how to pivot her on the forehand (using my outside leg pushing her off the canter cue leg) to get her back end moving, also bending the neck towards the inside to keep her from locking her head and neck and becoming rigid in her balk. Of course Corky didn't balk once today, but I have that tool in my arsenal to try next time...stay tuned!
  • Surging forward: Corky travels better on a slightly relaxed rein, and I like riding her without having to constantly hold her. My goal is to try and make her hold her speed and tempo at the pace I set. Darla worked with me on using my seat and body position to slow her down (posting slightly slower than her pace, using my body at the canter against her motion). It worked really well at the trot, not so well yet at the canter. She's going to need some work there.
  • Stopping and settling from a trot or canter as in an equitation pattern: In practicing patterns at home, I found that we don't have great brakes (especially at the canter). She sometimes will throw her head up and trot through my halt cue. What I now have to remember to do is to not make a big deal of it, but stop her, hold her, and back her, then continue to hold her (face) while walking her forward through the backup and then going on. This is another problem area that will take some work.
  • My own rotten equitation: OK, I dub 2009 the year of Jan's Equitation. I will become a better, stronger rider or die trying (or become the bionic woman "we can rebuild her Better, Stronger, Faster"). Here's my newest exercise from Darla - post for a while dropping only the right stirrup (but keeping my shoulders straight and above my hips), then pick up that iron and drop the other one for a while (you have NO idea how hard that really is - especially when you drop the outside stirrup). After you do that a while, you pick up both stirrups and post as normal. It gives you an incredible sense of your center of balance, plus it gives your legs a great workout. I am going to do this every time I ride...I welcome the soreness...bring it on!
  • Showmanship: Every time I work Corky in showmanship I am amazed that once the lightbulb popped on in her head (that only took TWO years to get working), everything is getting better and better with her. the same cannot be said for me...gotta work on keeping that free elbow in towards my side more (stupid bad habits keep resurfacing...ugh). I need to work on staying closer to Corky's head when pivoting her. Right now I tend to stay way out in front of her nose when pivoting. She is pretty stretched out in her pull turns, but she is getting the mechanics right so I am not to worry about that right now. Cool!
Ok, there was my lesson, you just rode it with me (minus the lunch with great company, and the HORRIBLE drive home in thick, wet snow...2" on the ground in mid November is just WRONG). Tomorrow I will ride at home and put some of these lessons into action and see if I can't get some results!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

I rode today, only about a half hour because the footing was pretty hard and I didn't want to hurt Corky's legs (my fragile china doll horse LOL!). I was really looking forward to riding and implementing all the new things I learned yesterday. I think Corky was a bit put out that I was going to ride her today, because right off the bat the first thing she did when I mounted and asked her to walk forward was balk. I immediately pushed her around in a turn on the forehand, did one both directions and then asked her to walk forward. It must have worked, I did not have even a hint of a balk the rest of the ride.

I did some work on trotting her, pushing her into a bigger trot, and then slowing her down with my seat and my posting. It worked like a charm. I cantered her and she was wonderful and relaxed, so I decided to try pushing her into a slight hand gallop, going in 2-point position, and then sitting down and asking her to rock back into her pleasure-y canter again. Wow, that didn't work to well. We need some help on that one. I think a lot of our problem is that I almost never do a hand gallop in 2-point position, so that was pretty exciting for her and she didn't want to back down. This will be another thing to work on this winter. We also did some two-tracking at the trot. She did excellent tracking left, but was very stiff to the right and we ended up having a slight battle to accomplish that direction.

I practiced stopping from a trot - went well. Stopping from a canter was better, but still needs work. I ended my ride with several rounds of posting with one stirrup, then the other. Ouch. I think I am a touch sore from yesterday, and now I am more than a touch. Gotta love it!

Taylor is fuzzy and fat. I have noticed her personality has changed since her pregnancy. She is much more standoffish. It kind of bothers me - she has always been a very affectionate horse and loved attention and grooming. Today she didn't even want to be brushed, and usually avoids my touch. I hope her normal personality returns once the baby is born.


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Once again, right when I got on Corky to ride, she balked and didn't want to go forward. I did a turn on the forehand, walked off, and she never balked again. Odd...

It was VERY cold and she was full of energy, but we had a pretty good ride. She was a little cranky (maybe coming into heat???) and did not enjoy the two-tracking at the trot, but it was better than it was last week. Her canter transitions are really nice - very round and collected when she takes off. I hope I can keep that all winter. I practiced some figure-8's at the canter, doing simple lead changes in the middle. She is pretty good at the simple changes, but really wants to rush when I circle her at the canter (I sometimes did a circle instead of a lead change just to keep her guessing). I think I need to make it a point to work more off the rail with her this winter.

I did some posting with one stirrup again, and I am definitely getting better! Poor Corky, she just hates being my equitation practice dummy...trotting around endlessly with me flopping and struggling in the saddle. Ah, it's good for her!

I noticed she was starting to drop her inside shoulder a bit at the canter, so I worked a lot with lifting that shoulder and keeping her 'up' around the corners. I need to remember to try to ride more square corners rather than a continuous curve around the ends of the arena. I forget to do that when I am in a small indoor.

Corky still doesn't have her winter haircoat yet. She is wearing a sheet and a blanket to keep warm. I hope she doesn't wait too long to grow her hair, and then end up holding it at springtime...

frs, dr

Monday, November 24, 2008

I rushed to the barn today to get in a quick ride before my farrier appointment. Corky was WILD! I free-longed her in the arena first, she trotted nicely for a while and then TOOK OFF running. I stood perfectly still in the center and watched her run like crazy for a solid 15 minutes. I hope and pray she didn't end up hurting herself...it seems the times she hurts herself always happen when she races around like a madwoman and carries on (like she did that first night at Congress).

Corky started off balking when I went to walk her forward, again I turned her on the forehand both directions to 'unlock' her and off we went. She definitely was NOT in the mood to work today. Her trot was really nice and bog today. I did have to ask her a lot at the canter to back off, and a few times she protested with a little hoppy-buck. one time she threw in a slam-dead balk when I cued her to canter, but I did a turn on the forehand and then she cantered right off.

We didn't have a chance to do much tonight - just the basics, worked on some transitions, etc. Unfortunately my farrier appointment got canceled at the last minute so I stopped riding for nothing...but it was probably for the best. Corky was not in a working mood, and I could tell we would end up battling if I pushed things today. I have another lesson coming soon...I am looking forward to it!


Saturday, November 27, 2008

I woke up early today to head out to the barn to clean stalls and ride before my school thingy in the afternoon(our football team won the state championship yesterday, so my marching band duties continue!).Today we worked on some turns on the haunches and forehand, and worked cantering circles while keeping our rhythm and pace even (she likes to rush the circles). Corky has had a habit for a while now of rushing/surging right after you canter around the end of the arena and are ready to hit the next straightaway. I have been working a lot with her on making her set back a bit after rounding that last turn (she tends to rush around that last turn on the end). Today I noticed that although she would surge a stride, she was checking back on her own without me having to do it. That is PROGRESS! This means she has actually grasped what I have been trying to have her do, and she is thinking about it and trying to do the right thing. Today I also did some more posting with one stirrup. I think this is really helping me find my center of balance and stay straight in the saddle. Weird how an exercise that makes you ride so off-balance can help you find your center.

Taylor was standing in her stall winking like she was in heat. I am horribly worried....I think I had better call someone out to check her. This would be devastating, I don't even want to think about the possibility!

frs, dr

Monday, December 1, 2008

Today Corky and Taylor had a farrier appointment. I was shocked - Corky had a BUNCH of little abscesses forming on all 4 of her feet, a couple of her feet had multiple spots starting. Where are all these abscesses coming from? I need to do some research, because this isn't normal. Other than that, her feet looked good. She hasn't been the least bit sore (yet), but then the abscesses were very small and hadn't traveled upwards in her feet yet.

Janet e-mailed me yesterday to tell me that Taylor acted very hateful to the stud when he was turned out in the indoor arena, so she doesn't think she is in heat. I had Taylor in the crossties getting her feet trimmed and the stud was going nuts in his stall barely a foot away, and she was completely uninterested. Whew! I live to see another day!!!!

If the weather holds out, I hope to have another lesson on Saturday. Tonight it is snowing a lot, roads are getting slick, and reality has come crashing in...winter is here with a vengeance. Someone remind me WHY I don't live in Florida????

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

My friend Pat did some investigating with a friend who went through the same abscess issues with her horse. Turns out her horse had a copper deficiency, which cased the multiple recurring abscesses. She fed her horse a sea kelp supplement and this took care of the problem. I am doing some research on sea kelp. The one thing I did find is that iodine supplements can be toxic if overdosed, and should NOT be fed to pregnant mares. It is very important that Taylor doesn't get this supplement. That kind of stuff worries me, because when it comes to breeding and pregnancies, I am the ultimate pessimist - what CAN go wrong WILL. I am going to do some more research and then order a supplement for Corky. I hope it works!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Two steps forward, one step back. Isn't that the way life usually goes? I had been feeling pretty good about my training progress with Corky, but today she backslid. She woudl NOT hold her frame and her pace, she kept surging in the corners again and trying to lift her head and hollow her back. I spent most of the ride doing circles, figure-8's, and serpentines to get her to bend and hold her frame and stay steady on the curves. It was a back-and-forth process. Hopefully the lesson stuck this time. I was a little bummed because I felt that we really made no progress in these past few weeks, but it looks like we still have a ways to go.

We worked on some sidepassing over a pole (she was bothered by touching the pole with her hind feet), and did some trotting (and a couple times cantering) over a single ground pole just to break things up a bit. I am toying with the idea of starting her over some low crossrails, but I am SO afraid of her getting hurt again. She is so dang fragile! Maybe after the new year I might try a few small x's and see how it goes. I am interested to see how she takes to it. Will she enjoy it, or will she be like Taylor and get frazzled by the pressure?

frs, dr

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Today was a giant leap back, with no steps forward. I knew since Corky hadn't been ridden in almost a week that we would have some energy and discipline issues. I free longed her first and let her run and play. Then I saddled her and longed her with side reins. I started off our ride with just the plain French snaffle. She went along really quiet with slack in the side reins. Under saddle it was a different story. Her first trot was incredibly beautiful and flowing. I liked how slow-legged she was going, but she was REALLY throwing those legs out there and moving. Unfortunately at the canter she decided it would be way more fun to lift her head up and run around the corners. We battled, and battled, and battled. She bucked. I kept after her. Eventually, after about 45 minutes of riding it started to come together a little bit, but it was no where near where it should be (or where it was just a week or two ago). She rounds that second corner and just surges ahead! Once again, she tried one balk. I turned her on the forehand and we didn't see another balk all evening. I ended up having to switch to the gag bit, because she was just pulling so hard on the snaffle and completely ignoring me.

All I want to accomplish this winter is to develop some consistency. is that too much to ask? I don't expect her to be perfect every time, but I just want to somewhat know the horse I am getting out of the stall each day. Some days I am pulling out a Congress top-ten horse, and some days I am pulling out a horse barely broke and wanting to argue.

Taylor is getting vicious with Corky when they are turned out. Pregnancy is making her cranky and making her REALLY want her space not invaded. I hate to separate their turnout, because one of them won't get any time. I can't believe that in just 2 months Taylor will be heading to the breeding farm to foal out. Wow!

frs; g

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Today I hauled Corky to Utica for a lesson. It was a pretty easy drive for me! Corky decided to show her true colors today, she was her very bad bad self! It was a frustrating ride, but important that she show what is going on when she is bad so that I can get some help. Darla and I agree that she needs to learn to give better to the bit so that I can move her body parts independently. When Corky is in this type of mood, she tends to work against you no matter what you ask.

We started off trotting and she was great - just floating and moving so pretty and big and relaxed. Once we started trying the canter, things fell apart as Corky tried her usual surge and run tricks, and when I would take hold of her to ask her to back down she would push on the bit and fight me. I did a LOT of circling at the walk and trot, asking her to drop her nose and bend her neck in the direction I was asking...releasing the pressure as soon as she gave in. My biggest problem is keeping myself from getting frustrated and angry and starting a big battle with Corky. This is going to be a slow, methodical process.


Monday, December 15, 2008

The weatherman LIED to me today! It was supposed to be 50 degrees! Instead, the temperature hovered around 28 degrees. I was determined to ride regardless of the temperature. The ride went similar to Saturday's ride, other than the fact that after a bit of pulling around I did get several really nice canters out of her...then she decided to backslide and pull and surge again. Frustrating! I am not sure I am doing things right, I think I still need a lot more guidance. What I need is to videotape my lesson so I can watch at home and remember everything. I must be getting old...there was so much information to process on Saturday that I am afraid I lost half of it. Would I look weird if I whipped out a notebook next time and jotted down notes? Probably...I think I take these things way too seriously!

We practiced some showmanship after our ride was done. At first she seemed to have forgotten her cues to set up, but after 2 tries the lightbulb popped back on and she started setting up really quickly! Her pivots and pull turns were nice today. I used the center shadow in the arena (there is a straight line shadow from the roof vent that goes across the length of the arena in the middle) and worked trotting and stopping sequences. She stayed pretty straight. I was impressed that she was even backing straight. I have such bad perception when I am backing, it's hard for me to find the true straight line. The shadow definitely helped.


Thursday, December 25, 2008 - Merry Christmas!!!

My Christmas celebrations were yesterday, and I was alone today, so what better way to spend it than out at the barn cleaning stalls? LOL! I worked Corky on the longe line for a solid 20 minutes, making her travel correctly and not letting her run. I did a lot of transitions, and she was really listening. Today is a lazy day - I probably should have ridden but I just felt like relaxing. Corky got to wear two of her new Christmas gifts - a new extremely bright halter from my secret santa on the Pleasure Horse Journal Forum, and a new purple blanket from Kevin.

She can be seen for miles in that getup LOL! I am sure she appreciates the new blanket from Kevin. It fits great (84" size!!!).

Friday, December 26, 2008

Today I longed Corky for a bit, then longed with side reins for about 5 minutes, then rode. A few times she tried to surge, and I did some bending and worked in a circle. We ended up having a really really good ride. I actually feel like she has learned something and we accomplished something. What a switch! I did a lot of circles and figure-8's again, and she stayed very steady during the change of direction. She had started off the ride a little cranky, but by the end she seemed very pleasant and willing. I thin she was anticipating a fight, and since I didn't give her one (my patience was at a 10+++ today) things smoothed out and we enjoyed the ride. We have a lesson tomorrow. I hope she acts decentl so I am not thoroughly embarrassed. She really is a good horse. She has a few quirks...it seems like the best horses are always the toughest to train. The hardest thing is finding someone not willing to give up on us!!!

frs, dr

Saturday, December 28, 2008

Today was a freaky warm day! The temperature rose above 65 degrees...I bet it was closer to 70. It was a cloudy, spitty-off-and-on-rain day, but I was able to travel to my lesson with a window down and with NO COAT...in December, in OHIO!!! Corky was turned out in the indoor in the morning, and that helped get her playfulness out of the way before we hauled. She was a VERY good girl today. I was thrilled to show off all of our hard work - she is actually improving, becoming more steady and listening to my hands and legs. I was pumped to get some positive feedback. I love this horse to death, and nothing makes me happier than to have someone appreciate her (warts and all!) and understand that she is worth all of the hard work and effort.

Now that she is willing to work, next on the agenda is to improve her and manipulate her body in a way to make all the parts work to the best of their ability. yeah...a fancy-schmancy way of saying make her move AWESOMER! :-] On my homework list now are rollbacks (cantering, rolling back towards the wall and cantering off) to get her off her front end and working harder off her hocks, trotting while pushing her hip to the outside (rather than pulling her face to the inside - which is a whole different exercise for a different reason), and pushing the hip out (towards the wall) at the canter, then back in again. All of these exercises will help get her driving more off her hind end and make her canter even prettier...which means it will be even harder to sit to...which means I am going to have to get more in shape and ride better.

I am such a geek. Yesterday I ran 3 miles on the treadmill at the Y (a HUGE accomplishment for me) and part of my run was done while watching the video of my Congress classes last year on my Ipod Touch...they are inspiration that we CAN do it...and CAN do it again if we put in the work (and rub a few more rabbit's feet for soundness luck...which should be easy since I have TWO rabbit's feet attached to me LOL!).

Oh - and a reminder to me about my dang running in showmanship...get those elbows IN...turn the wrists out so I don't flap like a stupid chicken!


Monday, December 29, 2008

I rode today with pretty much zero longeing - I just free-longed her a couple times around to loosen her up. Today's ride was productive, if not perfect. I went through all the exercises from Saturday - rollbacks, bending, etc. Corky reacted rather negatively when I pushed her hip to the outside when cantering, so we had to work through that a bit (I like that p.c. term "reacted negatively"...in other words she was a BRAT!). Her rollbacks rocked, though. Those are kinda fun to ride...brings out the latent reiner in me :-] I think she almost likes them - she whips right around and drives those hocks into the ground pushing off. Pretty cool!

I am dying to show. I SO wanted to go to a show this week...I have the entire week off. Sadly, all my friends seemed to have forgotten about me and took off for shows without me. Out of sight, out of mind, I guess.


Tuesday, December 30, 2008

I went for another lesson today. I can't help it...just couldn't resist getting another chance to ride and learn before the snow lies (and it will fly soon, believe me!). There were about 7 other horses riding in the arena today, which was perfect for Corky. She got very nervous quickly with the traffic...oh boy...that old problem cropping up yet again. It doesn't help that I have to ride alone at home day in and day out. She wasn't quite as bad as her totally bad days, but she wasn't nearly as good as the last time I rode my lesson on Saturday. We did some work with bending and counter-bending - basically pulling the nose around to the right and doing a circle to the right while moving off of my outside leg and inside rein, and then keeping a slight bend to the right and pushing her a bit into a circle (larger one) going to the left. It's kinda hard to explain, but I think I have grasped the concept (hopefully I can remember the feel of it the next time I ride).

Today we decided to do some exercises to start getting ready to eventually ask for a flying lead change. First I cantered several forward-moving circles to the left, then came across the center and while keeping my right leg and rein on her (and using the left rein outward for guidance) I circled to the right on a counter canter. the first time I did that, I shifted my weight and she popped into a flying change all by herself! I wish I was that easy LOL! We did the counter canter a few times (always going back to the 'correct' circle after a counter circle) and then we decided to actually try asking for a lead change - not in the center, but on the wall of the counter circle just after you crossed the center and straighten up. I shifted my weight and changed to my left leg and left rein. Corky gave me a really nice LOUD fart, a hop and buck, and changed leads! we did a couple each direction, each time she farted and pushed and hopped a bit in protest, but did it. was amazed I kept my seat and didn't fly out of the saddle in front of all those people (don't worry, it will happen one day...I am way overdue!). What fun...I have a new thing to work on when we get bored with railwork...or on the days like today when she is over-energetic and needs a different job. I am glad to have something different to do, I think this will help her tremendously. She needs more to occupy her mind.

Today was a lot of fun. I got a TON accomplished. I am thrilled with these lessons and all that I am learning. I looked at the calendar just now and realized that tomorrow is New Year's Eve! Thank goodness...GOOD RIDDANCE to 2008. What a crappy, poopy year. 2009 is going to be MY year, I will accomplish my goals and find success!!! Tomorrow I will set my official 2009 goals, and then Thursday we will start a new 2009 training/riding/breeding page!!!!


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