Tuesday, September 6, 2011


Since my last post, our rides have felt much better. I sent in my entry for the schooling show in a couple of weeks. At first I thought doing Second Test 1 was crazy... but after reading it over and having some great rides, it feels right.

Jay has been so ON lately. It's like I blinked and he's fit again! Sure need to catch myself up with him. He has such a personality and seems happy in his work. We haven't had a lesson in a couple of weeks due to car trouble and then C was out of town, but our rides have been great.

He's also learned that our new routine at this barn means he gets cookies as I'm on my way out if he's in his stall. If I take too long gathering my stuff up after I've put him away he is VERTY vocal about needing his cookies and peppermints NOW!

I'm going to try to be better about keeping track of our rides on here. Easier said than done, but I think I can steal some time away during lunch at work to write about the night before's ride.

We the outskirts of Lee come through last night so I'm hoping the barn has power so I can get a ride in tonight!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Less than stellar week...

So this past week hasn't been filled with awesome rides like the past few weeks have. After talking with C, we decided to try giving Jay off 2 days in a row instead of being off Tues/Thurs like I had been. I like this schedule, so we will see how it works for Jay. I also had been riding in my dress boots every day, but since they are all I have and there will be no second pair in the forseeable future, it's back to half chaps except for lessons. Also, my saddle had been out getting the billets replaced and I just got it back. Luckily, C had lent me a saddle while mine was being fixed, but it was much deeper and had larger knee rolls than my beloved Passier. Lot's of "different" things this week, so we shall take the bad with the good and hopefully this week is better.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Much needed catch up with PICS!

Wow, I have been terrible lately with updates. Fortunately, it's mostly due to being so busy riding. The clinic was great and I have started taking lessons with C, who did the clinic. Due to some financial restraints, we've only had 2 lessons since the clinic. From now on we will be lessoning weekly.

There is a schooling show in the middle of September that we are looking at possibly doing Second-1 at. A bit nervous about that, but C thinks we can be ready. Just from my first lesson to the second, I can feel a huge improvement in both mine and Jay's strength. We are working on him really working his booty and being straight... need to clean up our leg yields and shoulder in this week. And I have found my horse has quite the promising medium canter! What an amazing feeling.

My bestie Ryan () was here last weekend and got some pictures and videos of us. Have to figure out how to post videos another time. She also rode Jay and it was great to see him ridden... they looked great together!!

Pics! Need to shed some lbs to get into shape with my boy.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

To Ride or Not to Ride..

Ride of course! Storms were rolling through last night as I was leaving work. Usually I am home for about 2 hours before leaving to go to the barn, and the stormy weather had me wanting to stay in my nice dry apartment. I am sure glad I didn't. The indoor footing was recently redone, so even though it's small and still kind of dusty, we had a very nice ride. Clinic is this Saturday! I also got an email from a trainer who will be coming a couple times a month to teach myself and 2 other ladies. We will be discussing the details and when we will start this weekend!

Hopefully I have some good stuff to write about this weekend!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Busy, Busy, Busy!

A month after the big move, and the new barn continues to be great. We've had a lot of thunderstorms overnight the past few weeks, so the horses haven't been turned out for quite a few night. There are no run-ins in the fields, so if there is thunder/lightning they stay in. I couldn't figure out why Jay was staying to chill with missing turnout 2-3 days in a row... then I found out that if they don't go out at night, they will try to get the horses turned out for a few hours in the morning before it gets too hot, or they will be turned out later in the night once the storms pass. Seems like good sense to me, but so many boarding barns I've been at would never go out of their way like that.

I've been riding 5 days a week, with the exception of being out of town for a few days and then having a friend in town for this past weekend. We have our good days, and not so great days, but overall things seem to be progressing back towards that First-pushing-Second Level horse and rider. Jay got new shoes this past Friday, and our new farrier is great so far. There is a group of ladies who ride dressage who I really enjoy and usually see on weekend mornings.

Apparently there are also some really cool trails... didn't think I cared about that when I was looking for a barn, but now I'm so glad we have them! Went put with one lady a few weeks ago for the first time and Jay was GREAT. He even had to lead the way at one point when our new friend's horse decided he didn't wanna go. We even trotted and cantered out in a field. Haven't been out since then, but a few times I have cooled him off walking him through the entrances to the trails. So far no problems walking into the new areas, away from the barn and his friends. Maybe this weekend we will venture out a little farther, there are a couple of big fields to ride in that I'd love to ride to.

The Birmingham Dressage and Combined Training Association is hosting a clinic at our barn in a couple weeks to benefit 2 local Young Riders. Sending my entry in tomorrow! This will be my first clinic ever, and I haven't had a dressage lesson on Jay in 3 years, so I am a bit nervous, but also excited to get feedback and make sure we are on track. Lot's of exciting happenings here in the Bham!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The First Week

So the pictures I had promised are still on my phone waiting for me to transfer to my computer... this week that will happen.

Our first full week at the new barn was great. After our ride on Monday, I was looking forward to riding again on Wednesday and Friday (giving us 2 weekdays off). Got there on Wednesday and Jay had a big ole boo-boo right on the side of his withers. Nothing bad, not sensitive to touch, not hot and only some hair missing in one small spot. No big deal and just comes with the territory of turning out in a group However, below the missing hair was swollen, so no saddle on there until it went down. By Friday, it was 95% gone but it was thunderstorming and I didn't want our first ride in the indoor to be extra scary. It would have been fine, I'm just a chicken.

Wasn't sure what I'd have on my hands Saturday morning. They didn't get turned out the night before due to storms and that used to make for a crazy pony. Not this weekend though. He stood like a gentleman for grooming and tacking, even when the tractor drove through the barn, right in front of him. Didn't even budge. Good Pony!! We had a nice ride in the jumping ring again. I don't feel like we're ready to ride in the dressage ring yet, we need the bigger, open feel of the jump ring (and no square corners yet).

They didn't go out again last night due to storms, but I had the same horse this morning. So chill! Down to the jump ring again. He was nice and forward into my contact. We did some baby leg yields and shoulder ins to get him through and keep him from getting too bored. Right now the biggest thing that I need to concentrate on is out left side. I tend to collapse my entire left side, which keeps me always slighty turned right. In turn, he doesn't bend correctly to the left and falls in on the inside shoulder. When I actively think about pulling my inside shoulder back and opening my inside rein, its much better. Just a matter of really thinking about it everytime at this point until its a habit again.

During the week nights, its pretty quiet at the barn, but on the weekend mornings it's a little busier. I like that mix of being able to get in, get my ride in, and get out during the week, and meeting everyone, chatting a bit on the weekends. Haven't had to share the arena during any rides yet, but sure I will soon.

I think we will be back in shape and moving right along in now time at all! Looking forward to another good week!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Catching Up

Well for a long time I didn't have much to write about. All I basically was doing was feeding and grooming Jay every night. But those days are over, because I've been in Birmingham for a week now, and Jay has been here since early Friday morning.

Shipping Jay down was a bit of a fiasco that included my dad and I driving back up to Lville and the truck not getting to us until midnight (after getting lost once). Once the truck did get there and got the ramp dropped at the edge of the property, it was all good. Jay got right on the truck and the drivers were very professional and obviously horse savvy. Once he was on the truck I had no worries. The new BM was in contact with the truck drivers and would get Jay off the truck in the morning.

He got to Bham around 6 am, but by the time I got there and ran a few necessary errands, I didn't get down to the barn until early evening. The new BM had said he was settling in nicely and he was exactly right. Jay was just chilling in his stall despite all but a few horses being turned out for the night (new horses have to stay in for a day before going out with the others). Groomed him up a bit and moved the rest of my stuff into the tack room.

Went down Saturday morning to throw him on the lunge and take him for a hand walk. He had thrown a shoe and loosened another the day before he was scheduled to leave. My farrier was able to get down that night to fix it thankfully, but he was a bit sore from whatever shenanigans he had pulled while throwing the shoe. By the time I lunged him in the indoor, he was sound. He behaved perfectly, w/t on the lunge and for a little handwalk around the indoor and barn.

That night he went out with the group of geldings. No drama and once he had explored the field and sniffed every single pile of poop, he settled right in. Sunday morning I decided that since he'd been so god, I'd get on and just ride around the property to the arenas. We went down to the jump ring, back up to the barn, then down to the dressage arena. I was so proud of him, he was interested in everything, but super brave. Stood perfectly in the cross-ties and in the wash stall after our ride.

This evening, I went down to get a another short ride in. He was already turned out for the night, but was still perfectly behaved. We rode in the jump arena and he was great. We are both terribly out of shape, but as long as we keep our work consistent and correct, we will get there. More on the boarders I've met and pictures tomorrow!

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Barn in Bham

The big move is 5 weeks away. Up until very recently I've been nothing but excited. Now I am NERVOUS! It should be an easier move than from Long Island to Louisville since it's less than half as far. Even so, moving myself, my pets and my horse to another state is stressful. I've had Jay at less than ideal barns the entire time we've lived in Lville. Currently, even though our riding facilities are less than ideal and it's a bit far from my aptartment to be doing partial self care, at least I know he's healthy and happy. That's what's important.

Before the Blue Barn, we were at the barn from hell. Didn't realize it was bad when I first saw it and then decided to bring Jay there. That's what scares me... but the barn in Bham has so many things that that one didn't... it's going to be fine. B had a good point tonight at the barn, I picture it being a certain way, it won't likely be exactly as I picture it, but that doesn't mean it will be bad, in fact it can be better!

So.. the barn. My mom and I had narrowed down the apartment search to 2 or 3 options. We had seen one barn the day before... they apologized for the tiny bit of shavings outside a stall in the aisle... I'm surprised my mother held it together until we got into the car. Not my style. I like to groom my own horse thank you very much.

We had an appointment first thing on Saturday morning. The barn is actually located in a gated community/country club. It is not affiliated with them... just located on the property. Got there as they were finishing morning turnout. The nice young man cleaning stalls got the BM as he finished turning a horse out. BM had a folder of paperwork ready for me. In it is a boarding contract, contacts sheet, list of required vaccines, and the list of rules. He showed us around, answering our questions. Seems very down to earth and knowledgable. The horses all looked good and the few that were still inside were friendly.

The barn is a good size. 35 stalls and there were about 5 open when we were there. There is an indoor that has a little covered walkway from the barn, a dressage ring and a jumping ring. The indoor has sand/rubber footing and the jumping ring has sand. The indoor has mirrors. The stalls are matted (although the contract states boarder buys them, not a problem since I know ahead of time) and bedded with shavings. Crept in some and they were quite satisfactory. Horses are out all day or all night depending on the season. They are mostly small groups.. the largest is the big gelding field which had, I believe, 7 or so horses... in a nice big field. The fencing is all that white PVC looking stuff. Fields are nice sizes and grass. Very well maintained. I don't remember if there were run-ins in all the fields, or just the pasture board field. The horses are also turned out with no halters, which I like. Boots and blankets on/off is included.

It was fairly early on a Saturday when we were there and no boarders were there yet. I believe there are boarders from a variety of disciplines. There are definitely other dressage riders there, with a few trainers that already come in to teach/train. I can also bring whoever I want as long as they are insured. There are also a number of farriers who come in. Jay gets shoes a week before he leaves, so there should be plenty of time for researching that. There are also some trails we can ride on throughout the comminity. Just can't ride on the golf course! I feel like I remember the property having a lot of nice shady trees.

The tack room is not huge and there are rules about space. Every boarder gets 2 saddle racks, 2 bridle racks and space for one trunk. Just about what I have going right now, so that's perfect. When I looked in the tack room, it was neat but definitely "lived in" and seemed like everyone was abiding by the rule. There is no cross tie-ing in the aisle way. There are 2 or 3 grooming stalls and 2 wash stalls. The wash stalls have hot and cold water, as well as heat lamps.

The barn was obviously well maintained, but not in that "sorry there are shavings in a horse barn" way. Seems just right. The stalls all have sliding doors, with blanket bars on the front. Also had info sheets on the horse/notes regarding blankets on the stalls. The few horses who were still in had their sliders open with stall guards up. I like that option.

They feed timothy hay, amount depending on the time of year (how much grass). I talked about the feed options already, but one thing that stood out, was when the BM mentioned he carried one feed (forget what) "because a few people were asking for it". I like that. They also feed electrolytes to everyone in the warmer months, which is nice, I can take that out of his SmartPak. Did I mention the feed room was nice and organized? And they even have a barn buddies shipping code for SmartPak!

In the information folder that I got, there are specific requirements in terms of worming, vaccines, protocols when new horses come in. It is also specifically outlined about care of any injuries which may (will?) occur. Initial wound care is free, after that it's a reasonable charge if help is needed. Any medication prescribed by a vet (that would have to be specially given ie not in feed), is given for free. I got a really good feeling from all the information I was given. The seem on top of things and reasonable. I like that it's not a dressage only barn, and I like that there are trails that we can play on without the stress we have now about NEEDING to do it to get to an arena.

And last but definitely not least, I can bring my pup! She has to stay on a leash, so we have been working on behaving while tied and I'll get her a harness to tie her, which I think will be comfier for her. She's so good and just lies there and watches when I ride in the paddock.

Now I remember why I picked it... and I'm excited again!!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

After the Storm

We had some severe storms pass through late last night. Was pretty scary, especially during the tornado warning, but everyone is ok. The area of town where my apartment is didn't get hit as bad as where the barn is. B fed all the horses on the fenceline this morning, instead of bringing some in. She said they were still a bit weird, and there was a lot of work going on in terms of cleaning up all the trees and branches that were down. It was better to leave them out, and they are luckily all able to be fed on the fence with no drama. Even with all the clean-up going on today, this is what it looked like when I got to the barn this evening.

It's cold out tonight, and Jay has shed quite a bit so far, so he got his sheet on at dinner. He seemed unconcerned about the storms last night. Too scary for me!

Monday, April 18, 2011

I love my farrier

I consider myself to have have been very lucky thus far in terms of having a good team of horse professionals. Back on Long Island, I had a great trainer, great vets and great farriers. When I moved to Kentucky, I found a great vet and after one so-so farrier I found K. My favorite farrier so far! Not only is he good at what he does, I'm not intimidated to call him, he either answers or calls back immediately (!!), and is generally on time. Previous farriers had been great at what they did, but not so great on the people skills, calling back, being on time (or the right day). I think K does it by scheduling the next visit at the current visit (what a concept!) among other things. He's easy to talk to and I like his horss philosophy. I find while talking to him that we think alike in a lot of horsey ways... which can make for some good laughs. He treats my horse the same way I try to; patient, kind but firm.

So today I got to the barn and went to bring Jay in for a ride. His left front shoe was clanging the whole way to the gate. Great. Called K on the way into the barn and left a message... Jay's shoe was loose, only held on by 2 nails and those 2 nails were too tight for me to get it off myself without messing his foot up. Got a call back within 20 minutes. Luckily, he was at a barn that could put him past us on his way home. Less than 2 hours after I had called him, Jay's shoe was back on nice and tight, no charge. K told Jay to keep his shoes on this time. Certainly wouldn't have gotten it fixed this quickly if he hadn't been close, but REALLY appreciated the effort to stop by on his way home to fix my pony. Now I don't have to worry about the bootie I was going to rig up staying on tonight!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Late Night Googling and a Pampered Pony

On Wednesday night I had the grand idea that I should google Strategy before going to bed. Of course I found out all sorts of "terrible" things by the all knowing masses on public message boards. Like it's low quality, makes horses hot, is no good because Purina uses unfixed formulas, people would never in a million years feed it to their horses. etc. I couldn't fall asleep because I was all worried that I put my poor boy on some crappy no good feed. It also translated to "the new barn in Birmingham must be no good if they are feeding it, omg what am I going to do!". Late at night it didn't matter that these posts were from 2 or 3 years ago, by people who had who-knows-what kind of horse experience. For all I know they were feeding tons of it to their pasture puff/weekend trail horses and wondering why they had extra energy. It also didn't matter that I know my horse and will be sure to switch him the minute he shows signs of not doing well on it. So I will no longer be looking it up. As of tomorrow morning he is completely switched over. I will be paying close attention to Jay and making sure he continues to look and act and perform as usual.

I also have recently realized that my horse is terrible at being a pasture horse in inclement weather. He loves his turnout, but has been a pampered racehorse then showhorse his whole life. He never had to figure out what to do in bad weather I guess. A few weeks ago, I got to the barn on a windy, rainy, stormy day. My doofus horse was not in his nice, big, dry shed, he was standing at the gate waiting to be brought in. When I got him in he was so cold that his entire body was shaking and he was so soaked to the skin that he was trying his best to itch the water off his body by throwing himself into the walls in his stall. Threw his anti-sweat sheet and his turnout sheet on and he eventually warmed up and calmed down. I'd like to say I realized that he was just wet and cold and was calm and efficient in getting him taken care of. In reality, I had a call in to the vet and was texting and calling B like nobodies business. Felt pretty dumb when the vet called and I told him I had just over reacted.

Tonight, it's chilly and rainy and windy again, and, on my way to Starbucks to get some of the last schoolwork of my career (yay!!) done, G calls. I had already fed Jay earlier in the evening. She tells me that as she was putting one of the other horses back out in the field, Jay was at the gate wanting in and had his tail and haunches all hunkered down. Now Jay will rarely do that once he's been fed, especially since the grass is coming in. Luckily, G remembered my story from a few weeks ago and is very good at noticing when the horses act differently than usual. She called and was nice enough to offer to put his sheet on him for me. So of course I'm sitting in Starbucks hoping he is ok and blogging instead of working on this presentation!

In less stressful news, we had really nice rides on Thursday and Friday which I will write about tomorrow after the morning feeding and hopefully another ride.

Monday, April 11, 2011


What keeps happening to my paragraphs??? Got to the barn to feed Sunday morning after being out of town for about 5 days. It was about 80 and sunny, a great change from the chilly, overcast Chicago weather I'd been in the past few days. Took my time with the feeding and just enjoyed being with the horses. Once everyone was fed, B and I headed to Metzger's. They carry Purina feeds which is what they feed at the new barn in Birmingham. I am switching him over now since his current feed is a bit of a hassle and it's easier for me to switch him myself. My choices are Ultium, Strategy or Omelene. Omelene was out since I don't want him on a sweet feed. I was thinking Ultium would be the winner, since I have heard great things about it. When I told the lady who worked there that Jay is an easy keeper though, she adivsed that he likely wouldn't need the Ultium and would do fine on Strategy. She was super helpful and we also talked about his workload. There were 2 different types of Strategy: the "regular" one and another that I forget the name of, but it had amplify and rice bran in it. I chose the "regular" one since that is what's available at the new barn. If I feel he needs something extra I can always add a supplement to his SmartPak since the electrolytes will be provided by the barn. I don't think that will happen since he has always been an easy keeper. Started the switch at his PM feeding yesterday and he'll be completely on Strategy before next week. I am just a bit worried, but I think that's just because I've never been in a situation where I had complete control over his feed. He looked a bit too skinny when I brought him in this evening. I just have to remind myself that I can esaily up the amount he's getting, or switch over to the Ultium if need be. Grass is also coming up and the pasture he's on puts weight on him fast. Would have liked to ride today, but it was pouring rain. 7 weeks until I have an indoor with a covered walkway from the barn. But for now I'll just keep riding every time it's possible!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

A forward walk and longs legs...

... neither of which come naturally for us. Had a great ride on Jay yesterday. The wind was crazy but it didn't bother him one bit. It was also sunny and in the 60s!! He was very lazy to start off... I think he would have rather been lazing in the sun, but as usual he worked right through it and in about 10 minutes of posting trot and some cantering in 2-point he was ready to go. Once we were warmed up, we worked on being through in the trot and canter. As long as I keep him forward and am quiet and steady with my hands, he moves into the contact so nicely. He knows his job still, proof that time off takes away fitness, not training. The hard part is not pushing it. When we are really on, I feel like I could ride all day. But the key at this point is to be correct in our work while increasing fitness (for both of us!). Good quality work is what's important... rides can increase in intensity to what we are used to as we go along. We worked on some baby leg yields at the posting trot, some sitting trot, and some sitting trot/canter transitions on a circle. Then came the walk... Now, I hate the walk. Because it's hard. Once Jay gets going, his trot and canter are lovely and forward. Walk, not so much. And it is certainly my fault, because I hate it and it's hard, so I don't work on it as much. Well if I think we are showing in Birmingham, that has to change. So our main problem is that the walk is not forward and therefore not through. I understand and know that the way to fix this is to work on forward, but for some reason my body doesn't listen to my brain and my hands end up doing all sorts of weird things, I hunch and my leg creeps up. It's lovely. So towards the end of our ride I concentrated on a nice forward, round walk. I thought about keeping my legs long and my hands steady. Sit up straight, shoulders back! hhmmm.. success! We had some nice moments as long as I was correct. My trainer (who I haven't ridden with since LI, but is in my head still everytime I ride), always told me that to know if your horse is on the aids, ask for some sort of transition, if you get it good, if not something was missing. Well after some shoulder in work at the walk, I asked for a trot. Apparently I asked to strong and he was ready to go, because we got a nice walk/canter transition. I realized immediately that I was uneven and giving him a strong outside leg, but I called it an overall success. It was my mistake, not his and by getting such a nice transition and forward energy, that tells me we were at least on the right track with our walk. After that we did a bit of walk/sitting trot transitions before calling it a day. Probably won't be able to ride today, we have a wind advisory with gusts up to 50 mph. Not my favorite riding weather. In other news, I found a barn in Birmingham a few weeks ago! It seems perfect and I will blog about it soon!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Lunging Woes

So Tuesday's ride ended up being a bareback ride in the paddock area. After Jay having so many days off due to the weather, I didn't want to trek over to SP without a buddy for the first ride back. We just kind of putzed around working on being forward off my leg. Nothing too exciting. Wednesday he had off.

Thursday is our lunging day, so I brought him straight into the paddock for a quick lunging session before feeding and putting him up for the night. I lunged to the left first which is generally his weaker direction, but since I had grabbed him straight from the pasture with the lunge line, that's how he was set up to go. I was also using a whip even though I usually don't. He started out fine, a little rushy, but not pulling out on the line or anything. At one point as I was asking him to walk from the trot I dropped the whip (quietly so I thought!). This for some reason led to him scooting forward, turning toward me and backing up fairly quickly. I told him to "whoa" and started to calmly walk towards him so I could start him out on the circle again. Well, the goober was snorting at me and acting like he was scared of me. He also kicked out with his left hind 2 or 3 times, not at me (I was in front of him), but towards nothing. Once the snorting ceased with did a couple of walk, whoa transitions in hand then started out on the circle again. I kept it a little smaller and just did some walk/trot transition to get him listening since I wasn't sure what his deal was, but he kept trying to stop and turn towards me. Now I have NEVER allowed this... when he halts on the lunge he is supposed to stay on the circle, not turning to face me.

When we switched to the right, he was lovely... listening to voice commands, stretching down, no turning towards me. Since he was so good, I made the mistake of going back to the left to see if he was listening better. Nope, he was pulling the same stuff. Got him listening well enough then took him in to groom. He was his usual sweet, goofy self.

Now to try and figure out why the antics. When I got Jay, he did not lunge. He had been off the track for about a year, with mostly turn out and a tiny bit of under saddle work. I taught him myself and he learned off voice commands, I rarely have to use a whip of any sorts with him (surprising but true). If he's lazy, a little fling of the end of the lunge usually will suffice. He has always lunged GREAT. So anyway, what's going on here?

-Lunging left first? I'm not sure about this, I think I usually lunge him left first, but I don't lunge him often these days.

-At one point I thought maybe using the whip right off the bat had him out of sorts, but for him to be so good to the right, then bad again to the left wouldn't make sense.

- It must be some sort of pain/discomfort thing. Wondering if it's his stifle, which gets sticky once in a while, but has never really caused much of an issue. He was moving totally fine though, so I don't know. I would have liked to free lunge him in there, to see how he did on a bigger cirlce, but it was a little wet and I didn't want him to slip if he got too carried away. I'm going to plan on riding him tonight to see what I have and take it from there.

Monday, February 28, 2011


We survived our first tornado warning early this morning. I had never experienced tornado watches or warnings until Kentucky. During our time here, there have been some severe thunderstorms and tornado watches. But not an actual warning in my county. The wind woke me up and I saw on my phone that I had an email from school that there was a tornado warning and to seek shelter immediately! Yikes!! So I rounded up my pets into the hall bathroom, with my phone and netbook to check out the weather, to wait it out. Not a fun thing a 4:30 am! Especially since I couldn't get one of my cats in the bathroom with us. I think I freaked him out by acting like a maniac, but he stayed right by the door, just wouldn't come in. Dork. Once the warning expired in my county and then in the county where Jay lives, of course I had to put on the news to make sure it didn't touch down anywhere by him. Then I was finally able to sleep and of course over sleep. Oh well, it was scary but not too traumatic.

Not much to report on the riding front, as it has been rainy and cold. But late this afternoon, the sun came out and Jay had some shedding going on when I groomed him. The forecast this week looks good, let's hope it stays that way! Planning to ride before class tomorrow, let's hope the pony remembers his stuff!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Moving right along

Well, things have been progressing as quickly as the weather will allow. Jay has been going across the street both alone and with Salty with no real issues. I am still hand walking him but that's ok. The important part is that we are doing it and he's staying calm. It seems that everytime we go across alone something (or things) scary happen and Jay has taken it all in stride. Our goal is to ride over at SP Tuesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday with a hack day on Monday, day off on Wednesday and a lunging day on Thursday. The hack day should help us to eventually ride over and back and the lunge day is just to have him not have 2 days in a row off until it starts to stay light out later. Once we have more daylight on Thursdays it will be a second hack day. This plan is what my schedule allows and I think it should work well for us. Now we just need the weather to cooperate!!

I recently found out that I will be moving to Birmingham in June for my externship, which will be my last year of grad school. I never would have thought that I would go from Long Island to Louisville to Birmingham, but am extremely excited for this new adventure. Fortunately, this postion is paid, which means I will be able to keep Jay-R at a nice facility and start lessons again!! I truly love my little barn that I'm at now but am looking forward to not doing partial self care for a while. It's not the work I mind, it's the time it takes away from riding and "regular" life. There are also many little things that bug the heck out of me there.. if not for B it would be very hard some days. But oh well! Jay is safe and happy and healthy.. and we only have a few more months until we are back in a more training centered atmosphere.

In the meantime, I'll be working to get the pony back in shape and ready to start up the serious stuff again! I'd love to look at doing some small shows this summer/fall at First Level. Totally doable I think. Jay is going to be looking the part as well! He will get a body clip soon, has his mane pulled and got his back shoes put back on. Although tonight he's a muddy mess. Look out Bham! ; )

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


A lot has changed for us in the past month. It got extremely cold the second week of January and Jay made it pretty clear that staying outside all night in the single digit temps was not for him. Since then he has been staying in every night. At first I was going to just keep him in on terribly cold nights, but he has been perfectly content with the routine, so we are sticking to consistency.

Our friend B has an OTTB (Salty) who she has had for about a year. She has done a ton of groundwork with him and has recently started riding him herself consistently (up until now he has been ridden by her trainer, Ry and P but not super consistent recently). B and Salty have no problem with actually getting across to SP, but she was more worried with the actual riding once we got there part. So we decided to do horsey stuff together when we can to help each other out.

Thanks to B, I have had a big mental breakthrough with the whole getting Jay across the street alone thing. We decided to take our boys across the street to graze in the field. Jay was grazing quietly even with loud scary trucks going by. B says lets go past "checkpoint 1". As I ask Jay to walk on, he throws a mini fit. For no reason other than not wanting to move. This is what made me realize how much of our "problem" is Jay's behavior, not him being "scared" or nervous or whatever. He is just being an ass. This is nothing new, Jay needs to be kept in line or he can get pushy and be kind of a jerk. He keeps me on my toes whenever I get too comfortable. As long as I stand my ground and make him behave with little things, he is a pleasure. Even though it's nothing new, we have never had to deal with something like a mile walk in an open field, so I think it just got out of hand.

From then on "checkpoints" didn't exist anymore. Jay has to be tuned in and listening and I have to chill out and stop worrying about spooking and "checkpoints". The next day we hand walked them, and made them MARCH, to the SP driveway and back (about halfway to the arenas). Good behavior for both boys. B wasn't able to be there with us the next day, so I hand walked Jay to the SP driveway again, alone this time, and he was very good again. No spooks. Then B and I decide to just bring them over and ride. They were both perfectly behaved. That was on Saturday. The most surprising part for me was that we went first thing in the morning. Jay hadn't been turned out yet and with him having been on pasture board for so long I thought he'd be a little up. Not the case, I lunged him quickly to check before we went and he was calm as can be.

So on Sunday we are on our own again. I tacked him up and threw on his halter over his bridle. I like having a longer than my reins lead so that if he acts up I have more room without worrying about him getting away from me. Off we went. It was warmish out but a bit windy. Jay was very well behaved on the way over and he was made to march the whole way.. no ambling (amazing how this translated once I got on! duh!). While I was riding him he tried to pull 2 "bolt and bucks" that were so half-assed that I don't know why he bothered (first time he got about 4 strides in slo mo, second time didn't even really count). Otherwise he was nicely forward and relaxed into my contact. On the way back, he had some tense moments. Whenever he felt tense I realized that I was also tense, and relaxing my own arm immediately relaxed him. He did not have one spook and didn't try to run home.

The one time I thought for sure we were going to have a spook was as we were heading home and approaching the "scary trees". There were 2 big ole geese about 15 feet in front of us on the path. Not really anyway to go around them. At first they weren't moving but suddenly they spread their big ugly wings and flew off. How on earth this did not scare my horse, I have no idea... but it made for a very proud mom!!

So our plan for now is to get over to SP whenever the weather and daylight allows. Mondays are our hack days and yesterday we just walked up and down our driveway keeping him responsive to my leg (and not his herd). Today was pouring so all we did was a blanket change.

Jay really seems to be happy to finally be doing something again. Even though every time I bring him in from the pasture, he gets worked and then put in his stall, he usually comes right up to me when he sees me walking to the gate. If I happen to get there later than usual, he trots to me and does that deep voice nicker. If that doesn't make me feel good, I don't know what can!! Must be doing something right!

So my goal for February is just to get into a consistent work schedule. Once we get that down, more specific goals will come. Maybe if I blog more often, they won't end up so long. Hopefully that will be easier now that we are finally working again.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Back to blogging

Well it has been about a year since I last updated, but it's time to start up again. After quite a few bobbles in the road, Jay and I are on track again and need something to keep us there even if it is just our blog. A lot has changed since last year and this is going to be long.

We were completely aware that the horses were not in the best shape when we first moved to the new barn last January. As spring came, this became even more obvious. Jay had some mysterious skin conditions going on under his winter coat, we had a few strange narcoleptic episodes and he just wouldn't shed out. I body clippped him, and with the grass starting to come in he finally started to fatten up.

Getting him back into work has also been interesting. Our biggest problem is that mentally we are a First pushing Second Level team. Physically we are a couple of fatties. I have to remember that even though we were at a great place before moving to KY, we have to gain back our fitness before working there again. Now the great thing is that Jay really does remember what he is supposed to be doing, I just have to not push him before he is physically ready. That was one of our biggest problems. We moved too fast and he started to get work sour... backing up on the mile hack across the street, stopping and backing up on the way into the ring. He has NEVER done that before.

Then Ryan and Aidyn moved to NC. This left us to going across the street alone. No problem right? I mean we have done this 100 times it's fine. WRONG! Enter work sour, body sore, herd bound Jay-R. I could somewhat drag him across the street handwalking him, but the walk back was just him plowing me over to get home. Which brings us to where we are now.

Sure I can handwalk him over and back... dragging him on the way there and hanging on for dear life on the way back, but let's be honest, that SUCKS. So my plan is to attack all 3 of these issues as once. He got about a month off between finals and winter break. He also is staying outside 24/7 at this point (except in terrible weather). He comes into his stall for his meals then goes back out. This should help him menatally and physically. I am also changing my focus from needing to get to SP to work, to having him relax and enjoy the mile walk there and back... horses are supposed to like trail rides right??? Once he is ok with that and we are getting all the way to SP, it will be slow going to get us back in shape properly.

When I got back from break, I was slightly worried about getting on him after his break. That worry was completely gone after he stood like an angel for the farrier (longer than usual due to snowball pads and ice studs) after being a "wild mustang" for a month.

From now on, no excuses!

So back to work we go:

Friday: I tacked up and handwalked him to "checkpoint 1" (we have 4, the 4th being SP). A little looky towards the end but fine. He walked back calmly. Once at the gate, I got on him and walked some circles and serpentines for about 20 minutes between the gate and "checkpoint 1". Complete success! He behaved lovely.

Saturday: Got to the barn and got my tack out. Turns out we were getting a hay delivery and the truck takes up the whole barn. Wouldn't be a problem except I wouldn't be able to get my pup Rosie into her kennel before I went across the street so I ended up helping with the hay.

Sunday: Left early to get to the barn to do the morning feeding and then ride. Of course my car starts having problems on the way to the barn. Since I needed to get it to the shop asap, I compromised and took a 20 min ride just walking up and down our driveway. Figured it was better than nothing.

Monday: It was freezing and windy with a snowstorm on the way. Tacked up and got on right across the street with plans to ride to "Checkpoint 2". Well things don't always go as planned and Jay saw demons at "Checkpoint 1". He has jumping around and spooking so we just worked on calming down and walked back and forth doing circles and serpentines. Even though we didn't get as far as I had planned, I felt good about it. A few months ago, if Jay had been spooked I would have been freaked and he wouldn't have calmed down. This time I managed to stay calm and keep working him. After every spook he calmed back down and he never tried to run home. So I'll call it a success.

Tuesday: Usually I will be riding on Tuesday mornings, but they were not able to work on my car on Sunday and I needed it all day Monday, so I had to bring it in Tuesday morning. By the time I got to the barn after class on Tuesday, it was starting to get dark and was FREEZING and windy. So brought Jay in and groomed him, gave him a warm mash and decided to leave him in over night since he did NOT seem happy being out when I got there.

We will see what we end up doing today, I am hoping to get on and see how he acts before deciding how far we will go. The main thing right now is to stay positive. Sure it stinks that we have to hack a mile just to get to a ring and then a mile back. But at least I have a great place to board him where he is happy and healthy, and I am SO lucky to be able to even have my boy during grad school. The things we will be working on will only help us in the long run.