Sunday, August 31, 2008

Sweat, Sweat

I Couldn't Believe It

I lunged Tucker this morning around 8 AM or so. After about 15-20 minutes in the arena, we moved out to the pasture and I sent him round about 10 more times going up and down the hill around me.

I figured I'd ride later as it felt pretty dry (not humid) and not overly hot. I spent the morning in the house with a window open, keeping tabs on the outside temperature--not too bad as there is a nice shady tree right by the window.

A friend called me on the phone just before I was going to head out to ride. We spent some good time talking and then out I went. When I hit the first patch of sunlight in the backyard, I knew I'd maybe get just a short ride in so I decided to work on the broken fence in the arena and start trying to get the extra fence post out by the new run in.

After about a half hour of moderate labor, I was soaked in sweat. H-m-m-m-m-m. Was it really that hot? My farmer friend came over to borrow my tractor for some work at his house, keeping me occupied for another bit of time so I gave up on trying to ride then and decided to go for my swim.

There is that now famous thermometer up on my garage in the full sun. I looked up. Mistake. It was reading--117F!!!! Of course this was with the sun beating on it full against a white background. But, when I got in the car, I read my dashboard thermometer and it read 93 F, and that was in partial shade.

This does not bode well for the upcoming first week of school. I am going to roast in my classroom. Bad enough for vacation to end, but to have to suffer in the heat again??? I am not a happy camper.

At least the swimming felt good. If it cools down I may work a horse, but I have given up my promises. Tuck was worked today, so that's good.

I do have a lesson, I hope, on Saturday, so I need to get us both in shape. Just wish it would cool down!!

Keep meaning to add: I have a family of wild turkeys who have taken up residence on my property. The wild turkey is a fair sized game bird. I think I have Dad (tom), Mom (hen), and Child (turklit *G*?????) I will try to get pics but they are pretty shy about me. However as days have gone on they seem to be here more and more. I am not sure about the male, but I think he is one because he is a bit bigger than the other adult.

Last year I had some on my property and one morning the male puffed all up and displayed his tail like a peacock. The Boys were in the paddock nearby, all standing in a row. Their heads all went up in perfect wild stallion harmony and they looked gorgeous. Another one of those moments when I wished I'd had camera in hand.

Did I tell you my neighbor dropped by the other day to bring me some things and he said a coyote had killed all is chickens!! I have seen the fox, of course, but not a coyote which is much larger. A number of years ago, Toby and PJ jumped out of the fences after being confronted by some kind of dog thing--from the footprints in the arena sand. I'd bet it was a coyote then.

About two years ago, I saw to police cars stopped by the Turnpike bridge with a large dog critter lying in the road. When I called later, they confirmed it was a coyote, so I know we have had them around here.

My neighbor insists he saw one. If so, I am not happy to know they are approaching the houses in the area. I do go out to tend the horses after dark. I figure the Boys would be able to handle a coyote if need be. I sure know Toby tried to make short work of a big Siberian Husky that was trying to chase them.

Still, it's a worry. Just one more to add to my plate, eh?

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Growl, Grumble....

Stupid DSL

I lost my Internet connection entirely...again....after some technician switched me over to a new router on their end. I was on the phone trouble shooting for hours yesterday and again this morning. Now their solution is to downgrade my service.

My solution is to switch service providers. On Saturday next week, the cable company is coming to connect me to cable Internet and also switch my phone service. I have been with Verizon since day 1, but I am fed up with talking to service technicians half way across the globe. Even the guy who fixed it today was in Canada! When I called Comcast cable, I asked and the guy said all their technicians were in the US and, as a matter of fact, the local technical department was only about 4 miles away from me. So there.

I've gone through three weeks of erratic DSL service and I have had it.

Now that you know how I spent yesterday afternoon, I'll report on the morning with the saddle demos. My client and her husband are adult beginners. Lovely people with a nifty horse--mixed breeding--and a not quite up to my dressage standards trainer. But they do ride more hunter/jumper style, so that's probably OK.

However, the woman has found bareback so much better for her that she decided she'd like to try a treeless saddle. We swapped all three models of the Ansur with her saddle several times as she tried to decide what to do. If she intends on riding in a more dressage saddle as opposed to the forward seat, she really does need to work on her own riding position, and she realizes that. So, in essence, she is going to borrow the trainer's dressage saddle for a while and then reconsider either the Carlton or the Classic.

I got on her horse for just a few minutes, and he really is a good natured fellow. Not as forward as he could be, but he trotted nicely for me and, with some gentle persuasion, did start to put his head down to look for some contact. He gave me the feel he'd be easy to school into a nice little dressage mount with the right kind of work.

The barn is where I used to trailer for lessons some years back and I met my friend Celia there, saw her horse, and had a nice chat before we both had to head back home.

By the time I finished up with the Internet techs, it had started to rain, and I never did get out to do anything with the Boys.

It's now after 1 PM, and a bit warm out there. I wasted the morning with going to the bank--as I couldn't do it online--and the hours on the phone with tech support.

Again, perhaps more later after it cools down. So far the day has not been one of my best.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

No Horse News Today

Nice But Warm

And I had physical therapy and a chiropractic adjustment. For some reason, I got sleepy after that, so I took a nap, then went for a swim.

I ulitmately decided not to work the Boys. No sense in throwing out a good adjustment, especially since I have a saddle demo to do tomorrow morning.

Ironically, it is at a barn I used to trailer to for lessons with Chris. I won't get lost, which is a good thing.

Had to clean the saddles and get my stuff together.

Called Ansur just to check on a few things. My client is not sure which saddle model she would be interested in, so I got some advice from central office. Ansur now has: the Classic which is dressage/all purpose close contact; the Carlton all purpose/dressage with lots of support; the Konklusion eventing/cross country saddle; the Elite, for hunter/equitation/jumpers; and the Excel, totally dressage. Add to that the Westernaire, a treeless western saddle which is, from all reports, absolutely beautiful, and the selection is huge.

I was at the point where I needed some clarification as to the differences and limitations of all the models. Since I really don't do much jumping anymore, I wasn't sure just what kinds of fences you could take in the Carlton or Classic before you really needed to go to the jumping models. Apparently, 2'6" to just below 3' might be OK, but for higher fences you really do need one of the jumping models.

When I evented, I actually used to switch from an all purpose to a flatter jumping saddle for the stadium (which used to be the last phase of the one day events) mostly because that's what I used in the show ring for hunter/jumper classes. I had a good all-purpose then too, but the jumping saddle just let me ride better over the arena fences.

I'll just have to figure out exactly what my client wants to do with her horse to give the right advice. It will be interesting.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


Really Nice Day

Warm, sunny, low humidity, and a breeze. Still summer, but summer as I wish it would be.

Rode Tucker first in the arena. One benefit of the dust is, I suppose, that it does discourage the flies. Still, I had him dressed in the Bug Armor, which helped as well. He did take me towards the gate to the woods after I mounted, so I promised him we'd try a hack after we worked.

I spent the bulk of the workout on a longish rein, just trotting. Interestingly enough when I rode to the left, posting on the correct diagonal, Tuck had a very, very slight limp. When I changed my posting diagonal, he was even. That does tend to support the idea that his right hind leg is sore--probably the stifle. And, as we continued, that went away as if he warmed up out of it.

We only had one nappy moment when I put him on the bit, asking for a fairly collected frame. I had to keep telling him he could do it, and indeed, he did. It wasn't as off the hind end as he can be, but it was fine at this point. I rode walk, trot, and canter on both reins, then went back to the long frame and just trotted for another 15 minutes. Then we did go out for the hack.

I had used a good dose of fly spray, but halfway through the ride, some of the deer flies started bothering him and he kicked up a few times. To be perfectly honest, that scares me because the kick will easily escalate to a buck and I know I cannot sit more than one on him. Fortunately, he listened to my corrections and we made it home just fine.

I'd bought some "Mosquito Halt" spray at the tent sale. I used this on Toby as a test case and took him out for a hack. Hardly a twitch!! Apparently, not only the mosquitoes are repeled by the stuff, but the deer flies don't like it either. We had a lovely, quiet ride through the shady, delightful forest.

Then I saddled up Chance. I rode him in the arena for a bit. He was very forward and although he still does carry his head up and "about" in the canter, there is improvement. The trot is getting better and better into a nice little frame and I'm sure the canter will not be far behind.

Chance and I followed up with a hack as well. I'd used the mosquito spray on him too and had the same results. I am hoping that if I use it on Tucker next time, we too can have a really nice ride instead of just a good one.

To think, one bottle of spray can make all the difference in the world. Good stuff for "skeeters."

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

No Front

But A Break Anyhow

I long lined Tucker and Chance last night around 9:30 PM. It had cooled off considerably even though no storms came through.

This morning, it was glorious with a beautiful breeze, but I had a physical therapy appointment!! By the time I was done, it had heated up somewhat, and I decided to do some shopping. I failed to find the new location of the vacuum cleaner place, so I couldn't get the bags I need. Then after wandering up and down the highway in all the traffic, I went to get my hair cut. Then I "hit the mall" for some window shopping and bought some things on sale.

I will go for a swim and later, once the sun starts to set, I am sure it's going to be lovely again, so I will work the Boys. I want to swim before it cools off, because the sun actually feels good out there today.

I lunged Tucker at around the same time as last night. Having been adjusted myself, I thought better of riding. As well, I want to leg Tuck up. While he was trotting he took a really bad step with his right hind as it want out from under him. It is a bit worrying, but I have dealt with stifle issues before--Russell R.--so I know what to do. Right now legging him up is the first line of defense. We can also do prolotherapy to help tighten his ligaments if need be, but that will not be unless he has more chronic problems.

It should be cool tomorrow morning, so I may just ride.

Sorry to say to those of you in soggy Britain, but we need rain. My arena is sporting clouds of dust as I work my horses. It goes up in big billows all over my property and the neighbors as well. We need some rain.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Quick Update

Where's the Front?

When I left to go for a swim yesterday, the thermometer on the garage in the sun read over 100 F.

'Nough said.

While it did cool down after dark, I never did work the Boys. Sunday off.

Storms are predicted for today, so perhaps it will cool off. The forecast suggests it.

We will wait and see.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Lunging in the Morning Shade

Tuck and Chance Going in Circles

I was up around 8 AM after hving somehow managed to stay up until nearly 4 AM--though I did nap somewhere in there while the Olympics were on. Forgot what the heck the competitions were.

It was cool out, so before I fed the Boys I lunged Tucker. I did not close the gate to the arena. That meant I had a audience in the arena with me. First is was just Chance and then Toby came to observe. They did stay on the edge of the lunging circle, but not by much.

What the heck is so fascinating about watching another horse trot around in circles. Obviously, entertainment is hard to come by in the paddocks.

After I finished with Tuck, I collected Chance and lunged him. He still pulls out when he is going to the right, but it is SO much better than when I first worked him on the lunge. I "asked" Toby if he was interested in doing a bit of work, but he made it clear he wanted no part of participating. Apparently, lunging is a spectator sport as far as he is concerned.

So far, that's it for the day in the horse department. My neck, after the physical therapy, etc. was kind of stiff today. Fifteen laps of the pool helped, but I really don't feel like doing too much more.

I did clean all the stalls and the run in shed on Chance's side of the barn, a worthy piece of labor.

When I came back into the house, I took a long nap. When the Olympics are over tomorrow, I certainly hope I get myself to bed at a reasonable hour.

A news report on National Public Radio indicated I am not much different than a whole lot of a Americans whose sleep patterns have been totally disrupted because of the Olympics. Good things they only come along every 4 years....wait, it's a 2 year cycle now with the Winter Games on a different 4 year pattern. Oh my......

Friday, August 22, 2008

Semi Successful Ride

Something Is Bothering Him

Tucker was just fine for many months accepting some very strong driving, collecting, correcting, and half-halting without protests. This stopping he's started definitely has a reason other than just willful disobedience, I am sure of it.

In the past, when he was stopping, he always did well on the lines, and my previous trainer could ride him through most of it. (although in one show he did have to withdraw...and Chris was not at all intimidated.) The behavior Tuck is showing now is very close to what it was then when he had not been treated for the ulcers, OR when he had a sore stifle.

This morning I rode him. On the long rein he was forward and willing to trot with no protest. As I worked on, I gradually began to bring him into a frame, challenging him more and more. We had one minor stop after I had to halt to untwist my stirrup strap. We had one protest on a canter depart to the right, with a kick out, a nap, a correction and then an, "OK, OK, I'll do it." But as we worked on, the canter improved, as if either his muscles had loosened or he decided it really didn't bother him that much.

A note of interest is that during the canter "nap," when he stopped, he snaked his head around to bite at my right leg/heel against his side. When Patrice suspected the ulcer, sensitivity on the right side was one of the main clues. But, the right stifle is the one that gets sore. On the other hand, usually taking the left lead challenges a right stifle issue because the right hind has to "twist" a little to the inside to take the opposite lead. Tucker gave me more a problem taking the right lead.

I think I can feel a very, very slight irregularity in his gait. It is not a lameness, nor would I even call it an unevenness. It is just a feeling that he is not quite carrying his weight the same on all four legs. And I do think it is the hind end.

At the end of the bulk of the work, I walked, alternating between walk on a long rein and walk in a frame. Once he got steady at that, I added halt, reinback--he was not too willing to back either, so that hints of soreness somewhere--trot, walk, long reing...etc. Whereas that kind of exercise often encourages him to stop/nap, I was quite pleased to end the ride that way.

Tucker can bully me and he knows it. But, when I knew he was feeling fine, any protests on his part were different--more frisky than defiant. I am no longer a rider who can battle it out with a horse, so I need to handle this with tact instead. So far, so good. The long lining will definitely help but if I am still concerned that something else might be going on, I will have my vet look at him.

I rode Chance next. He is now pretty easy to get down and round at the trot, although he is still heavier on the right rein. Again, I may feel, now and then, a little irregularity in his gaits but I hope steadier work will muscle him up and fix that. Mind you, he has been galloping all over the place, encouraging Tucker, and today, Toby, to rolick along with him. Somehow, he and his buddies have split several fence posts and knocked down more fence rails-- I have slip board fences--and he and Tuck do spend a fair amount of time on two legs "boxing" with each other. So it would be no wonder if either or both of them are sore in the hind end.

Regardless, Chance has a good concept of walk, trot and canter and when he learns to drop his head to the bit in canter, he will be well on his way to being a darn good ride.

With a carrot bribe, I caught Toby and lunged him a little. I hadn't taken the whip out so he was just dragging his feet. I plucked a long weedy thing from the edge of the arena to use a whip. His eyes bugged out and off he went to finish up the session with some good trot and canter.

I was out there this morning between 7:30 and about 9 AM or so after having watched a portion of the women's riding in the pentathlon. While I did not see all the rides, the oned I did see were head and shoulders above even the best of the men. Not only did the women have superior seats, but their riding skills in general were quite good. They were bolder to the fences and far kinder to the horses. One women did have the horse fall, but I didn't see her do anything to cause it. It was a nasty spill too and I thought when the horse got up that he was off. But she remounted and carried on with him jumping just fine. I do question the ground jury, though for not stopping the round to give the horse a once over.

There was, apparently, some negative feedback after yesterday's disasterous rounds by the men. The bad riding was blamed on the wet footing from the rains, but as a horsemand who has ridden hundreds of jumper rounds myself, it was not the footing. It was the riding. Only the most sainted horses would work for those heavy handed, incompetent riders. I think today's work by the women--on the same mounts--proved that. I did, in the scores, see some bad rounds, and I'd wager if I paired the horses that produced them with some of the poor beasts tortured yesterday, the ones most abused by the men would probably be the bad rides today.

If they post the videos on the Internet, I will look at a few of those high penalty rides from this morning just to see what went on.

By the by I also noticed that the women were far more inclined to pat the horses after the rides and one rider was even fussing with the horse's mane as she entered trying to make it fall to the same side as she stroked her mount. It was honestly refreshing to see those poor horses actually appreciated by their riders for their contribution to the Olympics.

The US rider was in first place in the riding too, but she was so far behind in the shooting and fencing that she had no chance at a medal. I'd give her the gold for the ride. She did a nice job.

Addendum: Watched some more of the rides. Apparently they had decided to lower the jumps after yesterday. The men were jumping 4'. Personally, I think that is too high for people who are not real jumper riders. The fences for the women looked to be 3'6" or so. I don't think much lower. That is still pretty challenging for novices. The men had a pool of 18 horses to draw from. 6 horses were withdrawn overnight. Wonder how many of them had been lamed. All the women I saw were better than the men. The concept of a release over the fence was there for everyone unless someone got left behind. There were a good number of knockdowns, some due to a rider coming badly to the fence and some due to horses just not making enough jump...tired? Not that talented? Sore?

Apparently, the host nation is responsible to supply the horses and train them. Although some people on the Internet have been suggesting the horses looked "just off the track," it looked to me as if they all had some good solid jump training. 'Nough said about this. Still respected every woman who rode and patted her horse afterward, no matter what the score.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Taking the Path of Least Resistance

And Watching the Jumpers Fly

Got up early to see the show jumping part of the Men's Pentathlon. Well, that was enlightening.

All I can say is the horses loaned to the athletes--as they must ride horses they do not know after a 30 minute warmup--were largely saints, though a few were saints with strong senses of self-preservation. And, it certainly did point out that riding a horse with some success over fences takes a lot more skill than people realize.

Certainly more skill than the majority of those men realized. I saw perhaps three decent rounds. The rest were scary for horse and rider. Guys were hauling horses's mouths, landing on their backs over the fence, crashing into fences, falling off, and in at least two cases, throwing the horses off their feet. Mercifully, only one human got hurt with a bloody nose and maybe a black eye. As for the horses, hard to tell, but I'd suspect there may be some injuries there and certainly a lot of training ruined. One horse, at least, had the good sense to just quit jumping altogether.

What a relief to see the real show jumpers right afterwards. Suddenly, every rider on course looked absolutely fantastic. Of course this was the second round of the individuals so they were the 30 best riders in the world, but my eyes saw them with a new found appreciation and admiration. The best moment was when both Mclain Ward and Beezie Madden took a shortcut in the jumpoff by jumping a section of decorative bushes to make time. Ward's effort did not pay off as his lovely mare, Sapphire, came too flat and fast to the last fence and had a knockdown. But Beezie pulled it off, went clear and won the bronze. Then Bengtsson of Sweden and Lamaze of Canada jumped off for gold and Lamaze won on a clean, fast round. It really was show jumping at its best.

In between the two competitions, I went out and lunged Tucker for about 20 minutes at the trot, beginning the effort to build up his stifle. Later, after the show jumping was over, I went back out and long lined him for about 25 minutes getting him to work on the bit at the trot and canter. He does look fine physically and didn't appear to have any trouble doing the work.

I did not ride as it was pretty hot out there and just the lining had me soaked with sweat. But it was a good effort, so we are on the way.

I went for my swim, came home, fed the Boys and then headed out to school for a reading of my play. It was very interesting having the teenage actors reading the roles, but we all agreed, I need to do some more work on the format and adjust some of the dialogue. I figured as much. but all the pieces seem to be there. Now I just need to uncover the way to put the puzzle into another configuration.

I have just under a month to do it. Guess I will be busy. Once I wrap my brain around exactly what I need to do, I'll be fine.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Back On Line

And It Was All Their Fault

My DSL is finally back up. Turns out, as I had said from the first, it was an issue with the DSL line my Internet feed was coming from. Three days of calls to tech support, and several hours on the phone, and then the planned wait for a repair technician to show up today and it was all in the line--exactly as I said.

But the good news. Bless me for the amazing friends I have. In desperation about missing the Dressage Freestyle, at 11 PM, I called my friends--my choir director and his wife. They are in a very "computer intensive" household about 5-6 miles away from me. I asked if there was any chance I could go over there in the morning at 7:15 to watch the horses go.

Without hesitation: "Sure come on over." Dawn would already be on her way to work, and Don would be up. At 7:15 I pulled into their driveway and by 7:20 I was happily settled in front of a nice big monitor with an attached stereo sound system. Don watched a few rides, and was quite impressed, but not being a horseperson, didn't quite manage the whole over 2 hours of competition. He did watch the US riders and the top placings go and was very impressed with Courtney--"very smooth and elegant"--and just saw the end of Steffan's ride as he had to leave for a bit to run an errand.

My take on all of it? Well, a judging controversy is in the works apparently. It has to do with Isabel's scores for another badly blown piaffe with a major disobedience. She earned 5's and 6's on piaffe. Now, in the freestyle if a rider performs an exercise more than once, she earns an average score of all the times the exercise is performed so even if she earned a "0" on the first piaffe and "8" on the other, she would have earned a "4." OK, fair enough, but her other piaffes in the test were not exceptional. Then, in the test there is a box for "harmony between rider and horse." This was where the penalty for the disobedience would show up. Her scores? 7.0, 8.0, 8.0, 6.5, 7.0. Huh? One judge saw fit to penalize?

Steffan's ride had one significant error. In the start of the two tempis, Ravel kicked out the "propped" that first change with both hinds hitting the ground together. The rest of the two's were just perfect. His scores? 4.0, 5.0, 5.0. 4.0, 4.0. H-m-m-m-m-m. His harmony scores were 8.0, 8.0. 7.5, 7.5, 7.5, close enough.

The question arose as to why Steffen was penalized more for his error. Apparenly a partial answer was that since Isabel's test had a higher level of difficulty, she lost fewer points. Uhm, since when did dressage take on the miserable scoring system of gymnastics? A "10" piaffe is a "10" piaffe whether an Intermediare horse is doing it, or a Lippizan from the Spanish Riding School is doing it. There is no "level of difficulty" score!

This was not, from what I have read, the only issue of questionable scoring, and rumor has it, the German, Dutch, Danish, and US teams have filed protests with the FEI. While it's not likely anything will be done about the Olympic scores, we can only hope that this kind of "adjust the score according to whose riding on their reputation" will be investigated and changed to level the playing field.

Anky's ride did deserve first place, but, according to FEI rules, it is mandatory for the rider to stop and salute at the end of the test or be elimitated. Salinero did not halt, and Anky never saluted. (Unless you call widening your hands to drop the reins and then waving at the crowd a salute.)

The ulitmate insult was when the US TV station offered its "Coverage" of dressage last night. They showed Courtney's ride, Isabel's ride and then Steffen entered the arena. Five movements into the test, the cut away to a commercial, promising to be back with his score! Sure enough, that's exactly what happened. Then, they showed Anky's ride--including the no salute--and that was that. So much for the dressage coverage. Thank goodness for my friends!!!!!

I had physical therapy and an adjustment in the afternoon. Then I went for a swim and that was the day. Hot again and even though it did cool off in the evening, after the adjustment I didn't want to ride.

I did ride late this morning/early afternoon. In fact, I've just come in.

Tucker was terrible. He is stalling out completely, refusing to move forward on contact, and absolutely stuck. When he does this he will not even move in a circle. This is back to how he was before I treated him for the ulcers OR how he was when he hurt his stifle.

Since he is far from fit, it well could be the stifle but I had no particular sympathy for him as this is a total overreaction. It could also be an ulcer issue again as he has had two pretty traumatic issues with lameness with first the abscess and then the stepped on shoe.

So, what to do? After an almost complete failure in the riding department, although I did end up with a one time around the arena in a decent trot, I took him in, put on the surcingle and long lined him on the bit at the trot and canter, insisting he go forward. If it is his stifle, then such exercise is the treatment. If it's an ulcer, he still needs to understand about "go," while I give him medication for it.

After worked him, I gave him a very small mash with the ulcer pills. In a day or so they should take effect. The rest of my plan is to long line him at least once a day reenforcing the "forward" gear at all times. If I do ride, I will have to do the 20 minute trots, but today, I am not sure I could have accomplished that. He did go on the long rein at first, but as the session progressed, he would not go forward at all.

So, back to square one until it is sorted out. When I am on him, I simply cannot bring myself to really use the whip or spurs as I know, for a fact, that he will buck and he is very good at it. I cannot afford to be thrown off if there is another way to deal with the problem. I fixed it before so hopes are high I will fix it again. He is a very opinionated fellow which backs me off getting into a fight with him over it all.

I rode Chance next, completely uneventfully. We did basic walk, trot, canter. As I rode, I was thinking how quickly he learned to respond to the canter aid. I've seen so many people with green horses have trouble with that. I've never had an issue with any of the horses I've owned or trained. Not sure why, but getting the right lead might be a bit of a puzzle--PJ had issues which it turned out were a result of physical problems--but I have always been able to work it out. Chance is a nifty kid, regardless. And, he doesn't stop when he hurts. When he had a foot issue, or that hind end thing, I found out simply because I could feel it when I he was going FORWARD! (Hey, Tuck, can you hear me???)

Toby did not want to get caught, but I gathered him in pretty quickly and just gave him a very short lunging session, a juicy carrot, and a nice fly spray. Maybe next time he will be more willing to accept the halter. *G*

I'll likely go for a swim later.

Might trot Tuck just on the lunge as well. The more trotting that stifle gets the better....

If that's what's wrong with him. *sigh*

Monday, August 18, 2008

Just In Case

Internet Connection Problems

If I disappear from the Internet again, it is because something is seriously wrong with my DSL connection. That also means I may miss the Grand Prix Freestyle tomorrow morning in which case I will be furious as I have been on the phone to my ISP several times already.

Right now, it is loading pages slower than my old regular phone connection ever did.

If I cannot see the freestyles, I will drive to school and access the results and perhaps catch a few rides on the Internet there. ARGH!!!!! I am so upset, I cannot even express my annoyance.

Anyhow, team gold for USA in the Nations Cup show jumping. Amazing rides and an equally amazing jump-off between the US and Canada for the gold. Wow!

I lunged Tucker and Chance today in the morning. The heat was already building, but I gave them each a light workout. Tucker looks perfectly sound, so if I have time tomorrow I will ride him at some point. The Olympics may keep me occupied in the morning, but if I am blacked out by this stupid connection, maybe I will go out and ride my own fantasy freestyle. Guess we'll just have to wait and see.

Didn't do much else except start to clean the back porch which has become another one of those "catch all" rooms in the house. I still have more to do but I made a good start.

After messing with the computer again, I went for a swim and got home in time to see about an hour of the jumping replay on television. The dressage will be shown tomorrow night as well, but it's not the same as watching in real time. Still, it's something.

Don't know how long it's going to take for this to post, but hopefully, it will be on the Internet before tomorrow.

Meantime, as I said, if I go missing, you will know why.

Don't panic! ;)

Looking Good!

The Heat Was Back

Spent the morning watching the team show jumping. So disappointed to see Authentic refuse a fence. He was shaking his head as Beezie Madden headed him towards the first fence of the triple, paid no attention to her or the jump and leap aside at the last minute. Then he kept shaking his head when he did jump and knocked a rail down. Very uncharacteristic for this horse as I have seen him jump many times. He is one of the most reliable and consistent jumpers on the international scene.

That left Beezie's score of 11 faults as the drop score for the team. But the US still ended up tied for first with Switzerland. As a result, 9 teams will go into the Nations Cup finals tomorrow. I get kind of confused as to how the individual medals are awarded as tomorrow's round also includes all the qualifying individual riders. A think the scores from the previous days are dropped for individuals who start tomorrow anew, but the team scores carry over. I THINK!!

Anyhow, that effectively used up the morning. And by then it was pretty hot and uncomfortable.

I headed out to the saddle shop's tent sale. The drive to their Cream Ridge store takes over 45 minutes from here. To top it off I got stuck behind a very slow moving horse trailer on the way.

At the sale, I bought some Ariat sandals on sale for my cousins at Christmas, a new lunge whip, a pair of waterproof pants for over my breeches and boots (I have "outgrown" the ones I have for winter riding), some fly spray, some Betadine, and a big bucket of feed through fly control. I was going to get the Solitude IGR, but the Farnum rep was there and after a discussion about ingredients, I settled on Farnum's Simplifly which is half the price.

Of course I ended up having a long chat with him. Ironically, his wife trained at Morven Park where my first real professional trainer had studied. (His wife had been short listed for the US Olympic Eventing team as had my trainer--whose horse broke a bone in his foot--but it must have been at least 10 years apart.) Then, as we talked, I discovered his wife had also trained with Lockie Richards!!

Lockie was my clinic mentor for over 20 years. I rode with him every time he came to the US, starting off with Russell, then going to PJ, and finally ending with Toby. He is the one who taught me to teach Toby the flying changes. He was one of the most marvelous teachers/trainers I have ever known. I miss his wisdom and insight. He would have been such a help with Tucker. The Farnum guy had nothing but praise for him as well, and we had a nice chat about that as well.

Then, one the way out, I heard someone call, "Jean! Jean! It's Jay!" Lo and behold, it was a guy who used to hack down the road in front of my house. My road is heavily traveled by trucks and he used to ride a super little Quarter horse that never batted an eye when traffic passed. (Narrow road with almost no shoulders. Used to scare me silly seeing him ride by. Eventually, I convinced him to take the dirt road through the farm up from my house to get back to the woods so he pretty much didn't have to ride on the road at all.)

Anyhow, the last time I saw him, he was going to retire from his job as a New York fireman and was trying to buy the horse. Then I heard the deal fell through, and I caught a quick converstation with him at a photo shoot for the farm we are trying to save. He was pretty down about it all and was talking about maybe having to give up riding.

Well, that never happened!! Instead he answered an ad for a horse for sale out in the Assunpink--a HUGE wildflife refuge about 20 mintues from here with miles and miles of wonderful hacking trails and.....the headquarters of the Monmouth County Hunt. He bought the horse, a 4 year old paint, and has been riding ever since. He has even gone fox hunting paying the capping fee. I have rarely seen anyone so happy. I was positively delighted!! He had a friend with him with a gorgeous Arabian gelding in her horse trailer. I am not a big fan of Arabs, but this was was a classic beauty. In short order, she and Jay invited me to come hacking with them.

I boarded Toby and PJ at a barn adjacent to the Assunpink for close to ten years, so I know it well. I'd not risk taking the frolicking Tucker, but Toby would be fine as he knows most of the trails, and Chance would have a grand time if he were fit. (Hope the no shoes would not be an issue for him.) I can trailer back to my old stable to park there, but it would be fun to ride with some people from the other farm too. Maybe I will venture over as fall comes in.

Where is this leading? I managed to spend the rest of the day at the saddle shop and got home in time to feed.

Then, while the horses ate, and I ate, I loaded up my Internet only to have it kick out several times more rebelliously than Satchmo had for Isabel. In other words, my connection kept cutting in and out.

I called my DSL provider again for some tech support. I guess the first call took well over an hour. The tech ran all kinds of tests and by then it was 9:30 or so. He asked me how often it happened and I said several times during the day. (And it had cut out during the dressage!! Eeech....) He said he'd call back in about an hour to see if it had done it again as it was fine as we talked.

He hung up and about ten minutes later, I lost the connection again. I rebooted and it worked for a good long while. Then at about 11:15 it started slowing down, cutting off the live feed from NBC of the women's triathlon (my test video). I ran a speed test and it was almost down to half the speed we'd had before. The phone rang and it was the tech calling back. I told him what was going on. He ran some more tests and then told me someone would run more tests and call me back tomorrow night.

Why then? Where he was and the tech support group was 9 AM. More outsourcing from US companies to India???

The ultimate result of all this long narrative is that I never did ride, or swim today. However, when I went out to feed the Boys their midnight snack, I did lunge Tucker. I had to look hard to imagine a limp!! If I did not know he had been lame, I would not have noticed a thing. As it is, he MAY have looked a little teeny tiny shorter on his left front.

If it is not miserably hot tomorrow, I will ride him lightly to see how he feels.

But, note to self. Make sure I dress him in the bug armor. The B52 flies are definitely out there ready to do bombing runs on horse rumps. I do not want to be in the saddle if an attack starts.

Hey, at least I had fun today. It was a nice social outing. *G*

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Riding, Riding, Over the Bounding Manes

Well, At Least Over the Sand

Watched the Grand Prix Special this morning live. Saw most of the rides except for the few times my Internet acted up.

Loved the "pink" Russian horse and he did a really nice test. Steffen Peters of the USA put a brilliant ride in on Ravel and I think his score should have been higher. Courtney King rode Mythilus beautifully. She is such an elegant rider. She too scored well. Anky had several "blips" in her test and should, I think, have scored lower. Heike Kemmer put in a nice ride on Bonaparte putting her in third place behind Anky and Isabel Werth in first. Satchmo was a naughty boy in his first piaffe of the test. In the team test, he kicked out in a piaffe in about the same spot. I hope he is not having an "issue" either mental or physical. All in all the tests were a delight to watch.

However! I rode Toby in the arena today after a hack through the very buggy woods, and he scored an 89%, so those Olympic horses have nothing on him. Then Chance put in an 89.5% on a mythical musical freestyle, so I think I own the real gold medal winners. Tuck put in a 90% ride the other day, but he was doing the eventing dressage test, so I can't compare. He was not sound enough today to compete, so we will just have to wait until the WEG rolls around.

OK, OK, so I rode fantasy tests.

Reality was slightly different. Toby was on a long rein just doing a little work after his hack and he was very forward. I tested my seat a little and leaned back a bit the way Anky had in her team test (she rode almost the whole test very horribly leaning back behind the vertical for some reason) and Toby took off. When I sat back up to vertical, he slowed back down. This was all without any kind of rein aid.

I saddled Chance up, not sure he was going to be OK, but once I was on, he felt fine. He was very forward in his trot, but the stiffness on the right rein was back again. This may be related to whatever issue he had with his right hind leg. I didn't fuss with it too much since it does not keep me from putting him where I want him to be. I can certainly muscle it out if I need to but it is not a pleasant feel to the hand.

Chance is still not at the stage where he does not revert to bad habits after a layoff. This is because his training schedule has been too erratic. I'm not really worried about it, because when I do manage to ride him for several days in a row he "fixes" pretty fast. I am glad that I didn't feel any lameness, though because last summer I had to lay him off for well over a month because of whatever was wrong in that hind leg. It may now just be a chronic weakness. He does take both canter leads easily so that is a plus and a good sign it's nothing serious.

Tucker seemed very concerned that he was not being worked. He was about a "2" lame when I trotted him on a circle around me, improved quite a bit over yesterday. But he was very insistent about watching me work both Toby and Chance and kept coming into the barn every time I left a door open behind me. To top it off, he had on his "cute" face and just looked adorable.

I did swim again too, so I am keeping fit.

There is a big tent sale at the saddlery going on and I will be going tomorrow. I don't need anything except some Betadine and maybe flyspray at 20% off, but I am sure I will find some kind of bargain in the tent. In the past I have gotten some really nice jackets for Christmas presents, as well as some Ariats for my cousin. I do need a crownpiece for Tucker's bridle, so I'll look for that.

And they have a drawing for a garden tractor, so that should be fun--it always is.

Olympic Show Jumping for the Team medals starts tomorrow too. I don't mind if I miss some of that. Tuesday, though, is the Grand Prix Freestyle. That will be exciting. Just hope my DSL behaves!!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Feeding Frenzy

The "Shark Boys"

Had to go to the chiropractor as I was the victim of a “feeding frenzy” last night in the barn. I had opened the doors to both Chance’s and Tucker’s stalls when I went out to feed so Tucker could cross the aisle to his stall from Chance’s where he’d come in.

I fed Toby, the gentlemen, and while I did, Tuck impatiently went back into the barn aisle trying to get me to hurry up. When I ordered him back into his stall, Chance marched into the aisle behind me demanding attention too. When I told him to go back to his stall, he spun around and knocked me off my feet into Tuck’s stall. It wasn’t intentional, just clumsy on his part and my fall wasn’t bad, but it did jolt me out of the adjustment I’d just gotten at the chiropractor about two hours before.

I woke up with a bit of a headache this morning. After I fed the Boys I went back to the chiropractor. *sigh*

I did, however, watch a good bit of the team/individual show jumping qualifying rounds this morning on the Internet. While the show jumping does not rivet me quite as much as the dressage, I am endlessly impressed by how well those riders can judge those fences. And I love the horses. They all really look as if they are enjoying the challenge. Having ridden my Russell over so many jumps, I know a horse can love to go up and over. Clearly, every one of the Olympic horses has the heart and will to win. Again, it was fun to see the Hong Kong riders go clean in front of the home crowd. And, of course, I am very pleased with the US team so far.

Tomorrow, my plan is to watch the Grand Prix Special on TV, or the Internet, or both. US TV does not think enough of the equestrian sports to showcase them. So the TV schedule list the dressage for 5AM-5PM on one of its NBC stations but the competition is actually running from 7:15 to 11:45. I don’t know if it will be live on the TV, but it will be on the ‘Net.

Hope there are no thunderstorms tomorrow, as my DSL tends to go out when there is lightning. They closed the pool yesterday due to the storms and I got my laps in this evening just as the sky was starting to cloud over.

I did trot Tucker out to see how sound he was. He is much better tonight, though still definitely lame. But in three days he’s gone from an 8 or 9, down to a 3 or 4 on the “10 is dead lame” scale.

Since it was hot and humid again today, I didn’t bother with Chance so he’s had enough rest to get over whatever was making him a little “off.” Hopefully this last round of storms will ease the weather again and I will be able to get some saddle time in on the weekend. I’m pretty sure Tuck will not be rideable, but clearly I am not without a horse to ride.

Perhaps the gentleman and I can manage a hack.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Oh, Phooey!!

No Team Medal

The US Dressage team missed out on a medal by just a few percentage points. But what is saddest of all, Debbie MacDonald's lovely mare Brentina did not perform well and only scored a 63%, far below the kinds of scores she has received in the past.

I saw the test and did not think it would score that low, and some of the camera angles did disguise a few of the problems. I thought the last extended trot looked more like a passage, but from the angle, it was hard to tell. Her piaffe was really lovely, though so I thought maybe the other things were going better than they actually were. Very disappointed for Debbie as this was Brentina's last competition and it was an important ride for the team.

The other two rides scored in at over 71% and 70%...although I thought Stefan Peters should have scored higher. Had Debbie scored in that vicinity--which she has always been able to do before--the team could have medaled and perhaps even worked into silver medal contention. Frankly, this was totally unexpected to me as Brentina has always been a solid performer. Speculation mounts as to whether or not something physical was bothering her.

Something physical is definitely bothering Tucker. The hoof injury is on his left front, on the outside, just to the inside of the white line. I took him out to the arena on the lunge line and trotted him just a wee bit. He was very noticeably lame going to the left where that foot is on the inside of the circle and, I surmise, much of his weight is borne on the outside of his left foot as he bends to the inside. However, when I trotted him on the right rein, he was practically sound with no head bob and a very slight stride irregularity you'd have to be really looking for to notice.

At the moment, I think this is good as it pretty much points to the cut/puncture from the shoe clip as being the only spot where he is sore. I don't feel any heat in his foot, and no increased pulse. I am not at all sure about soaking it so I called my regular farrier to see if he has any suggestions as to what else I can do.

Hot again today. I have to go to physical therapy this afternoon and will likely drop in for a swim on the way home.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Option 2

Just Leave Well Enough Alone

Tucker was sound at the walk this morning and again at evening feed. We may have dodged the bullet, but when I trotted him late tonight, he was definitely lame. Considering how big that cut was, I am not surprised, but I am also disappointed. On the other hand, I did not feel any heat in his hoof, nor did I feel a pulse.

I guess it's just going to be "wait and see." I did not soak his foot today, but probably will tomorrow, or at least put on an epsom salt poultice to help ease the soreness.

It was hot today, so I did not do any "horse activities" other than watching the Olympic dressage which took up the entire morning.

Then because I have been staying up late watching other Olympic events, I needed a nap. (Gee, isn't vacation hard work!) After about an hour of semi-slumber, I headed out to the feed store to get my 11 bags of feed. (Still in the truck waiting for cool of night to unload.) I also picked up some Chinese food for dinner.

After a bite to eat, I went to the pool and swam my laps.

Now that I am back, I watched the TV coverage of the dressage. The big screen was a bit better and the commentary was interesting. Melanie Smith, ex-show jumper, is the "expert." She's not bad, but why, oh why, don't they use a Grand Prix dressage rider instead. Someone who has trained and ridden the upper levels would be so cool. Anyhooo...that took up another hour or so.

Rough day so far, eh???

Tomorrow is more dressage in the AM and physical therapy in the PM (rescheduled my appointment so I could watch the dressage) so if I do ride, it will be late. The weather will be hot again tomorrow, though, but the weekend is supposed to moderate. I honestly don't want to push Chance if he is sore, and I doubt Tucker will be that much improved overnight. I have nothing special planned for either one of them and my riding at the moment is not geared towards any particular goals, so I have no reason to take chances with them.

If it's nice out, I could take Toby out for a hack. That is if he doesn't show utter contempt for me when I go to fetch him.

Well, not the best news, but at the same time, not the worst either.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


Another Shoe Drops

Went out to feed and Tucker was limping badly. The right front shoe was twisted half off under his foot with the toe clip into his sole. I have no idea how long it was that way. It was fine this morning when I left for physical therapy.

I was close to panic. Normally, I don't overreact but this kind of thing is so upsetting because I knew I had to get the shoe off ASAP and it is one skill I have never mastered. I have some tools, but getting the remaining nails out holding the shoe to the other side of his hoof was beyond me. When I did manage to pry the thing off, another chunk of hoof came with it.

I was worried about this shoe all along. The shoeing job, as you may recall, was done by a substitute farrier. The shoe, well made, and well fitted was not, however, really rolled in the toe and set back a bit to encourage breakover. Since that is Tucker's club foot, unless the shoe is well rolled, he may not roll his foot over fast enough to get out of the way of a hind foot, thus pulling the shoe. While I am not sure that's what happened. it is rather strange that he managed to lose the right shoe a day after being shod and now this one a week later. We did have some rain, but the ground was not very wet and mud was at a minimum, so I doubt that was a factor.

At any rate, now there is a good chance he has bruised himself. I am worrying about another abscess and my farrier is still not recovered from his shoulder surgery. His assistant reset the other shoe, so I suspect he could reset this one, but what about any damage Tucker may have done to himself? I am worrying about this one.

Obviously, I did not ride. At least not yet. This morning would have been perfect, but I had the physio appointment. It got a bit hot--not horrible this afternoon so I decided I'd ride in the evening. Not sure I'm in the mood now. Tucker is lame--shoeless. Chance is iffy as I hadn't checked him out since the other day when he felt off. Of course, there is Toby, so he may get some work.

Meantime, I saw part of the Olympic event jumping. Germany won the gold, Australia was silver and, Great Britain took the bronze. The best surprise was Gina Miles of the USA winning the individual silver!! I can't help being nationalistic here, sorry. But with all the disasters the US team had--including the loss of the top eventing pony in the world--a silver medal is a triumph. There was less than one rail separating the top four rides! Congrats to Kristina Cook of Britain too for her bronze. Germany seems to dominate the equestrian world right now, and will probably take home more gold, but how nice to see "our" riders do so well on the world stage.

Dressage next!! I am looking forward to it.

Addendum: Just came in from the barn. I am now watching the individual show jumping on TV. I saw most of the team stadium this morning on the Internet.

I went out, soaked Tucker's foot in epsom salts and betadine. Then I put Icthamol on it, after finding a nearly two inch long cut in his sole from the twisted shoe. I wrapped it in cotton, Vetwrap, and duct tape. I headed out to dump the wheelbarrow from cleaning his stall when, lo and behold, the farrier truck pulled into the yard. My regular farrier had called his sub who was in the area today and he'd come over. (About five minutes after I'd bandaged Tuck.)

He cleaned out the cut, paring sole away until he struck a little blood in the cut--a good thing, he said as it would help clean out the wound. Then he packed it with this stuff they use to clean up oil spills in the ocean. It will not absorb water and should keep the debris out of the injury. Then he tacked the shoe back on. Tuck will need to stay in tonight and then we'll see how it goes. He will probably sore for a day or so and we'll just have to keep an eye on him.

Lucky the farrier was in the area as he is from well up north of me--by at least an hour.

Olympic Fever Spikes
Just saw Gina Miles's show jumping round. That horse is lovely. He is huge--17.2h, Irish Sport Horse, Mckinlaigh--and she is a little slip of a thing, but what a wonderful round--fluid, fast, accurate, beautifully ridden on a very responsive horse. (Missed Tina's ride as the farrier was here.) What a surprise her medal is. Beautiful riding, just beautiful. I won't knock Hinrich Roemike's ride on Marius either, as it was clean and fast. But, I just think Gina's ride was much prettier. Happy, happy!!

Now, if the US dressage team could presumes the gold is a done deal. *sigh*

Monday, August 11, 2008

Strange Day

Weather Fronts Coming Through

One after another, it seems. More thunder this morning and rain. I locked the Boys in after breakfast. It finally settled down after 11 AM, so I turned them back out and it was gorgeous weather. Cool with a breeze...yummy.

I went back into the house to change into my riding clothes. Back outside, the sun had come out from behind the clouds and it was warming up. I decided to do some neglected chores around the barn.

First, I poo picked the arena. It's part of the Boys's turnout area, and they had been busy in there last night. I think they may be hanging out in the new runin, but I'm not sure. Then, I hooked up the drag and groomed the arena and part of the paddock area near the barn.

Then, I headed for the run in shelter by Toby's and Tucker's stalls. The old hay tends to collect under the roof area and the Boys wet it. It didn't look too bad but as I began to dig it out with the front end loader it seemed to multiply. The trouble is that the hay tends to roll out of the loader so I have to fork it in in order to get rid of it. The tractor digs it up and loosens it and then I am back to hand work. Since I was also cleaning Toby's and Tucker's stalls after their having been stuck inside off and on for the last two days, I had plenty of debris to cart off. I probably dumped about eight bucketloads. And that meant climbing on or off the tractor at least 16 times.

Then I drove around to the other side of the barn to clean the other run-in and muck out Chance's stall. That ended up being another three trips. Six more mounts and dismounts which, added to the other climbing and the times I had to get up and down to open the paddock gates and hitch or unhitch the drag built up to a pretty good number of repeated "knee" efforts.

The work also took over three hours. By the time I was done I was tired and my knees were really sore. Still, I could not ignore the great weather so I saddled up Tucker and schooled him.
I hadn't put on the bug armor, so he was twitching at flies--I think. But what the heck else he was doing, I'll never know. He was fine on the long contact but when I picked up the reins to put him in a frame he was crooked. He wasn't off, but when he was on the left rein, he kept poking his hind end out to the right. Maybe his right stifle was a bit sore and he was trying to avoid putting that hind leg under his body.

Once we worked for a while he got better so I guess it worked itself out. When I cantered, I just decided to pretend he could do the flying change so I gave the aids when I changed directions. We had mostly "skips" into the new lead, but on the last left to right, he bucked up into the air and did a real flying change. I surely don't like the feeling of a buck, but I guess for now that's how he'll learn. Ugh!! Not fun for wimpy me.

That ride did me in. I was going to take Chance out to see how he felt, but my knees were aching pretty badly by then. I opted out.

It was perhaps 75F at that point and when the sun came out, it felt hotter. I figured I head over to the swimming pool to at least ride around the lazy river. When I got there, the parking lot was nearly empty, and so was the lap pool. I am not foolish enough to give up an opportunity like that so in I went.

The water was chilly. The last two nights have been rainy and in the 60's so that drops the water temperature. But once I got moving, it felt great!! I did my ten laps, took a hot shower and here I am.

Last night I watched nearly all of the Olympic 3 Day Cross Country on the Internet. I was disappointed with the US riders, but that's the way it goes. One little mistake, one missed stride or a bad line to a fence and up go the penalties. The course looked great, very fair, pretty safe as it turned out, and technically demanding. Some of the top riders had jumping faults and the Germans...rode to near perfection. I don't think anyone made the ideal time, however, and that includes a good number of fit horses really galloping on.

I am most pleased that despite some falls, no riders and no horses were injured. I felt bad for Amy Tryon of the US and Andrew Nicholson of New Zealand, both favorites and experienced riders who were eliminated with falls. I was sad too to see Alex Hua Tian of China fall so he could not complete. Still, I have to support the new rule about not allowing riders to continue after a fall, even if they and their horses are unhurt. Harsh, perhaps in this case, but a good safety precaution.

At any rate, I am delighted to have coverage of the equestrian events here in the US. In the past, all we ever caught were glances of our sport. One year, I did subscribe to a special cable TV network for a hefty fee to see full coverage, but this is so much better. The feed was great on my computer--DSL connection--and the camera shots were wonderful. All I can say is, more! More!

Can't wait for the dressage. I saw it live in Montreal in 1976 and in Atlanta in 1996, so I will be able to feel the electricity of the event in my memory as I sit here in my comfy house. Then I'll go out and ride, pretending I'm as good as one of the medal winners.

Hey, it can't hurt to dream!

PS: Muriel. When I was cleaning the riding arena, Chance came out to "help." So I tried the commands from some of the Parelli games to see what he would do. I had to touch his side to have him move over, but he both backed and came to me with a hand signal. It seems I have been training the games for years with my horses and never knew it. *lol*

Just a possibility that the games are really just commercial packages of good training techniques horsemen have been using all along??? I know that was true about the "mystical method" of the Tellington tTouch.

Oh, and for a treat, Chance spelled his name....except for the "E." He is definitely having trouble with that one. Didn't even ask the "Bad Boy" today.

Sunday, August 10, 2008


Bad Kids in Class

Tucker wants to eat the chart now. He will half-heartedly nose a letter, but he'd rather grab the cardboard in his mouth and chomp on it.

Ok, so if he were a kid in class, maybe he's bored? Or else he just doesn't understand the work and is clowing around to cover up?

This time, Toby cooperated and may have spelled "Tuck." He did touch the chart in the right places in the right order, so I will, for now, qualify that as total success.

Chance nosed the "C" to start his name and then just stood there. Finally, after a bit of consideration, he nosed the "H." Then, he wouldn't even try until I got some treats and told him he could have one for each letter he picked. In very little time, he touched close to the "A," the "N," then the "C." The "E" seemed to puzzle him for a while, but then he hit the chart in the general area, so I gave him the treat.

Oh, yes, I rode today. It clouded over, threatening to rain, but a nice breeze picked up so it was quite pleasant. I warmed Tucker up with some basic walk, trot, canter, and then decided to ride a facsimile of the Olympic eventing test. Actually, aside from the flying changes, we weren't too far off. Tuck's trot lengthenings leave something to be desired, but the shoulder-in, half passes at both the trot and the canter were not bad. The counter canter half circle was just fine and he did some single trot stride lead changes. I told him we'd scored a phenomenal 90% on the test so he was quite pleased.

Then, since he was dressed in the bug armor, I took him out for a five minute walk in the woods. We just did the back of the barn trail loop. I'm glad I didn't risk more as towards the end, some of the flies found his legs and he was getting a bit bouncy. Still, it was cooling so it was a good little ride.

I saddled up Chance first. He had scraped his nose on the arena gate when I was riding Tucker--he was trying to open it and had the chain in his mouth. Somehow he cut himself. So I took the noseband off his bridle to ride him without.

He was just fine. We had a nice session of trot work with him reaching nicely for the bit. Then, I cantered on the right lead. He wasn't wonderful to the bit, but much improved. But when I brought him back to the trot, he felt very uneven. I don't know if he stepped on something, or banged himself, or--I hope not--hurt that back leg muscle thing that laid him up before. I dismounted, took him into the barn, checked all four feet and found nothing. Then I took him back out on the lunge and watched him go. He may have shown a very slight unevenness but nothing too significant.

After I finished up with Chance I went out to the pasture with a carrot to simply catch Toby and then let him go. He saw me coming and began the "catch me if you can" game right off. It took me about five minutes to convince him the carrot would be quite tasty--all this while fending off a very persistent Tucker. I slid the halter on him, walked him about ten feet and then let him go. He is in constant need of remedial catch training. *sigh*

I went to the pool for a quick swim as the clouds gathered. The lifeguards were keeping a close eye on the sky as thuderstorms were in the forecast. But I did manage 10 full laps (20 lengths) and a nice hot shower to get the chlorine off.

Back home, I heard thunder starting to roll in. I called the Boys in from the pasture to put them in the barn with some feed, water, and hay. Sure enough, not long after, the storms started up and they've been coming in and out ever since.

From the looks of the forecast, my little herd will be in for the night. Rain is OK, but thunder and lightning? No way.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Moderate Success

The Literate Horse Continues

I made a chart with six letters on it. "TUCKOA." Tucker's nickname TUCK was scrambled around on the four corners. I had him on the cross ties and asked him if he could spell his name. He hit the letters with his nose in the right order. But then, when I asked again, he would/could not repeat it. He did not show any interest in spelling Chance's name from the letters on the other side of the chart.

So what does this all mean? Absolutely nothing. Did he actually do it the first time? Well he seemed to. But why not again? Or is it just horse mentality--I did it once why should I do it again? He does tend to ride that way. He does not like to repeat an exercise he has done right.
Or, perhaps his nosing the letters really meant nothing, but he was very deliberate about it when he did it. Curious.

Chance was not interested in the chart at all. And once food was introduced into the picture, he completely ignored everything except his feed tub.

Toby spooked at the chart, so I have no idea if he could read a thing.

I will continue with various methods to see if anything creates more consistent interest.

My big lawnmower was brought back today, so I was simply going to drive it to the garage and instead used it to mow the bulk of the lawn until the darn mower deck stopped working again. I have no idea why. Apparently the repair shop found nothing wrong with the deck but did fix the battery issue. I finished up the lawn with the other mower, so things are a bit trimmed up again.

Then, I went for a swim, did my 15 laps, and got home a bit before the Olympic three day eventing dressage final session was being broadcast on the Internet. I ended up watching nearly all the horses go.

Eventing dressage is about at the US third level, so that's where I hope Tucker will be by next season. If he can go half as well as the horses I saw, I'd be pleased. Even the naughty ones were fun to watch. I really think I enjoy the eventing dressage more, in some ways, than the regular dressage. For one thing, the horses are so fit and "on the muscle" they are much more likely to do silly things. But, even better, they have a certain energy and "joie de vivre" the Grand Prix horses lack. They are so alert, so eager to go. And I love their expressions after the test is over and the crowd begins to applaud. What a group of wonderful horses! I just hope they all do the cross country happily and safely.

The horses are all going to be trailered to the cross country venue which is at a large golf course outside of the city of Hong Kong. I now have the TV network that's going to show the horse eventson my cable system and, obviously, much of the competition is going to be shown live on the Internet at the NBC TV website. This should be available worldwide so here is the web address for any international fans who want to stay up late or whenever to watch.

The streaming video of the dressage was great. There were no extraneous sounds, just what you could hear in the Olympic stadium. If you wanted commentary, there was a box to click offering live typed in remarks. I just enjoyed hearing the horses' rhythmic snorting and the sound of hooves.

By the time the dressage was finished, it was after 9 PM. I finally headed out to the barn, put on the arena lights and lunged all three horses. Tucker was very involved and watched, with definite intensity, as I lunged Chance. Toby did not want to be caught but finally gave in for a treat.

All three were good boys on the line.

I really plan to ride tomorrow. Hopefully nothing too grand will distract me.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Step One

The Alphabet

So here is my assumption. I am going to believe that since I know the alphabet, and I have communicated with my horses that they will know the alphabet. Since my communications with them are with words rather then images, in since I think in words rather than pictures, they could have some knowledge of letters. (This is all very imaginary right now, but if I believe in animal communicators, and, if I believe in all I learned in my animal communication workshops, this could work.)

This morning when I went out to feed, I took two pieces of paper. One had the letter "A" on it and one had the letter "O." I didn't want t make it too confusing by having two letters with similar shapes. I, with the full feed bucket in hand, aske Tucker to tell me which one was the "A." He immediately put his nose on the "A" paper, but then, checked out the "O" paper as well. I repeated the request, and again, he nosed the "A." I told him he was a good boy and fed him.
(Nothing at all proven here as the experiment has a multitude of flaws, but hey, it's a start.)

Then I went to Chance, held up the two letters and asked him to show me the "A." He too put his nose on the "A." I fed him.

Of course all is just coincidence here, but like clicker training, I gave them feed when they made contact with the target. So, for now, they "nosed" a paper and got fed.

Tonight, I repeated the exercise, but first asked Tucker to identify the "O." He did on the first try. Then again, he nosed the "A" and went back to the "O." Chance, on the other hand, chose the "O" and made no other move until I asked him which one was the "A" and he nosed it immediately.

I haven't tried Toby yet, but I will and I am going to add some letters to see what happens. I am not really using rewards, because I have explained to the horses that this is an experiment and I would like to learn how to speak to them, so if they help me by "talking" in my language--since I am so inadequate in understanding theirs--it would be really cool.

All of this is definitely strange, off the wall, and perhaps even stupid, but I do find it a unique approach and a very interesting experiment. At any rate, until we all get bored with the whole thing and we accomplish nothing at all, it's fun!

Had physical therapy today and tonight I went to the county fair. A little storm came through and really cooled things off, so it should be good riding weather tomorrow. It was today, but I am no kind of worn out and my knees hurt.

When I go back out for late night feed, I will try a few more letters.

Addendum: 11:15 PM. Took a "T" and a "C" out to the barn. Showed the letters to Toby and asked him which letter started his name. He would not touch the letters, nor did he come near them. But he did look at the "T." No results there. Then I asked Tucker the same question. He reached his nose towards the "T" immediately but did not touch it. Then I said, "Would you please touch it with your nose?" He did. I gave him his snack. Chance came in all sleepy eyed. I showed him the letters by his door and he paid no attention. Then, I help them up over the partition near his feed tub where he was standing. I asked, "Do you know which letter starts your name?" He put his nose on the letter "C" and headed for his feed tub.

OK, so what's going on here? Could be the horses really are responding? Could be I am giving signals with my body language as to which paper to touch? Regardless, without any incentive except my asking, both Chance and Tucker are putting their noses to the paper. Even that is an interesting behavior since I did nothing to prepare for or teach them how to do what I was asking. As I said, interesting.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Reading a Book

About Miraculous Horses

Horse Miracles by Brad Steiger. It's my "eat alone in a restaurant" book. I went out to dinner for two nights now, after my swim, so I didn't work the horses in the evening. The restaurant was offering a percentage of dinner income (with proper flier) to the Watershed Partnership I belong to, so it was for a good cause. Wednesday was preplanned with a group, but tonight, I went by myself. Still, after I'd finished eating, I connected up with two friends and we ended up chatting the night away.

But, back to the book. Two chapters were about "educated horses" that did math and "wrote" in English with various simple aids. In all cases, scientists were unable to find and evidence that the horses were not really doing the thinking. (Too long a story to go on about, but there is a possiblity the horses were actually able to communicate original ideas.)

So, I have decided to experiment with my intelligent herd to see if I can teach somebody to "write" English. Spelling will be interesting, but I figure my horses are at least as smart as the kids I teach at school, so we can at least get some text messaging going here. I figure if I don't ride, I can do some bookwork instead.

Don't laugh. I am really serious about experimenting with this. Don't know the process yet, but as a teacher I should be able to find some kind of method to use.

I did get a kick out of one section of the book with comments by Penelope Smith, one of the animal communicators I have used. She said each horse has his own voice and horse's voices are far more forceful than dogs or cats. She said horses tend to see people as their servants. If dinner is late, the horse says, "What's wrong with them? They forgot to feed me." The dog says, "What did I do wrong to make them not feed me?" The cat says, "Heck, dinner's late, I think I go out and kill something. (or open the cat food bag myself.)"

Somehow, knowing my horses--Tucker in particular--the scenario fits. Toby is a little less food motivated and does seem a little grateful when I feed him. Chance is more happy-go-lucky about it, and not too worried about his food. Of the three, I think Tuck would be easiest to motivate to learn using food rewards, but Chance is the more curious and social. Toby is more introverted, yet dominant. Kind of an interesting mix of personalities to work with.

Should be fun. At least it gives me a new approach to horse training. *G*

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Bug Armor Repost

Toby in the Bug Armor
The Bug Armor

As you can see, it's kind of a scrim sheet for riding. It's made of a very fine mesh designed in two pieces. The face mask is an additional piece by the same manufacturer. There is a belly protector piece too which I have but I haven't quite figured out how to put it on.

Sometimes the flies do get under the mesh but the biG B52's never did last year. And when they buzzed around Tucker, he was completely unfazed by them.

So it really does work.
Tucker, below in the Bug Armor

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Ups and Downs

Exactly as Scheduled But.....

My vet appointment was set for 9:45 AM. At 9:50 AM, my vet pulled into the driveway. How he manages to be on time, I'll never know, but he almost always is.

However, as it turned out, Tucker an Toby were NOT due for their strangles vaccines. They had been given it with the spring shots. Seems there was some kind of computer glitch back at the office flagging the Boys as due. At least that explains why Chance was not on the list as due. I thought it was strange that he should have been vaccinated while the other two had not.

So, my wonderful vet made a trip out for nothing except to deliver my bag of Strongid 2X daily wormer. Of course I could have just as easily driven to his place to pick that up. Oh, well. We chatted for a bit and I met his summer intern and that was that.

Now that the cool of the morning was gone, I retired to the house to do nothing worthwhile for the bulk of the day. But at around 3 PM or so, the sun dipped behind some clouds and a breeze came up. I changed into my breeches and headed out.

Collected, as planned, the big horse first, put him on the crossties, looked down and...the new shoe he'd had put on yesterday was gone! This was on the foot that had had the abscess, so it was nothing to fool around with. I put him in the stall and came back into the house to call my farrier. (Now, mind you, Scott is laid up recovering from shoulder surgery, so the shoeing had been done by his replacement farrier who comes from way up north, so he's not readily available .)

I went back out, saddled up Toby and proceeded to comb the paddocks, ring, and pasture looking for the lost shoe. After nearly a futile hour, I decided that since I'd dressed Toby in the bug armor we could take a hack in the woods. That was one of the "ups" of the day as we had a lovely ride in the shady woods with only minor annoyances from the bugs.

Next, I saddled up Chance, with the bug armor and headed out. After just a little trot work in the arena, we hacked out into the woods. Chance was absolutely bouncing with enthusiasm. He was having a grand time. Another definite "up."

Back home, I fed the Boys and again headed into the house to find a message from my farrier. He would send his assistant to replace the shoe, if I could find it. I have a whole pile of "found" shoes in the barn, so I called him to tell him I'd had no luck. He told me to go back out on foot to look again, and he'd send Kyle over either tonight or tomorrow morning to try to put a shoe on. Kyle is not quite up to fitting a new shoe to Scott's specs but he is very capable of resets and trims.

I headed back out for an extensive foot search instead of going for the swim I'd planned and spent another hour dragging myself through paddocks and pasture. Then I heard some "clanking" in the barn and, sure enough, Kyle had arrived and was rummaging through the shoes to see which ones were for Tucker's right front foot. Scott marks them with a notch on the outside rim. In short order, Kyle found a shoe and set to work putting it on.

I THINK, perhaps, Scott's substitute did not roll the toes as much as Scott does and maybe, that's why Tucker pulled the shoe off. Of course it could be something else, but now, the replacement shoe is set the way Scott does it so it MAY stay on.

After Kyle left, I saddled Tucker up and took him into the arena for a short school. The breeze was still blowing, so I didn't worry too much about flies.

MISTAKE. We had a good ride, regardless. But once, at a halt, I bailed out because I thought I saw a B52 (gigunda horsefly) on the prowl. That turned out to be a false alarm. But, when I had finally really finished the ride and dismounted, I started to lead Tucker back to the barn and he started freaking out. This time it was a B52 and the darn thing had landed right behind the saddle, where even his bucking could not dislodge it. I couldn't risk trying to swat the darn thing because of his flailing hoofs, and eventually I had to dive for cover, dropping the reins.

Well, you already know where this is going. Tuck bucked in place a few more times and then took off, bucking completely unable to get rid of the fly. And, of course, he stepped on the reins and broke the crownpiece of his bridle. He finally settled down and came over to me with the fly still there. But I guess the worst of the bite was done. I swatted the thing and finally managed to kill it. I kept reassuring poor Tucker who really looked upset. I think he was worried that he'd been a bad boy. I took the broken bridle off, unsaddled him right there in the arena and then walked towards the barn. He followed me like a little meek puppy dog. Poor kid.

Fortunately, this time, I was already on the ground when the fly struck. But, I have learned my lesson. From now until the fly season is over, I will school in the bug armor. I know that keeps the B52's at bay, as it worked really well last year. I just didn't realize the big bugs were out yet this summer. They seem to come later in the season, so it's just about time for them. Nasty things and, as I've said before, they really hurt when they bite, so I can't blame the horses.

The sad thing is that the broken bridle is a Kieffer, so it's not a cheap one. I can't seem to find just crownpieces anywhere on the Internet. But there is a good tack store--near the US Equestrian Team--here in NJ that used to stock bridle parts. I will call them tomorrow to see if they have any in stock. Otherwise I probably can take a piece off some other bridle I have lying about somewhere. It's just a shame to have lost such a nice one.

On the other hand, better a bridle part being broken than me.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Oh, Phooey!

Not Exactly As Scheduled

Sort of threw myself off plans today.

I got up later than I should have, so by the time I went out to the Boys the sun was already beating down on the arena. And it was HOT! Not really humid, but hot.

My farrier had called last night to tell me his temporary substitute would be in the area and since the Boys were going on five weeks, perhaps he could shoe them. I had planned on calling for shoeing anyhow, and I was keeping a close eye on Tucker's shoes, so we scheduled shoeing "sometime during the day."

Since my vet is coming tomorrow morning to do strangles vaccines, I wanted to tidy up the barn and the call from my farrier just pushed me ahead on that as I needed to do a good sweeping job to get the aisle in shape for shoeing. In the process, I started folding horse blankets and moving some things around, spending over an hour on that task.

Then, the horse mother with the two daughters called to return the Ansur saddle I'd loaned them to try on the bucking horse. While it had apparently worked, the seat is flatter than the young daughter is comfortable with so she only rode in it twice. Then, they switched to the western saddle and the horse seemed to go well in that, so the little girl will ride him in it as she feels much more secure. (The Ansur I prefer to ride in has minimal rider support, so I keep forgetting that some people really do like and even need a saddle to kind of help them ride, which is fine.)

When they arrived, I introduced them to the Boys who were more than charming. All three of them seemed to enjoy the girls' attention and kept presenting themselves to be petted and adored. They following us back to the barn from the pasture and proceeded to enjoy more hugs. What a bunch of ladies men I own!!

I went back in the house after they left, had some lunch and kept expecting my farrier to call to tell me when the shoeing was scheduled. I got absorbed in playing with the computer, thinking I'd be sure to see the farrier if he arrived.

Boy, was I wrong! I have a tall kitchen cabinet and a wall just in line with the lawn area in front of the barn where my farrier parks when he shoes. So when I am sitting at the computer, while I can look out to the back porch windows, there is a blind spot. Sure enough, the farrier had arrived and by the time I realized it, he was finished up with all three horses! I talked to him for a few minutes before he left to be sure all was well, which it was.

The blessing is that I have three horses that can be shod without my having to be there to hold them. They stand politely on the cross ties and behave. So many people I know have to be there for the farrier, which is a real pain. I remember years ago, when I was boarding at a new stable and the horseshoer I used then came to shoe Russell R. For some reason, he couldn't use the barn aisle, so he tied Russ to his truck with baling twine and proceeded to shoe him. When the barn owner arrived, he was shocked, and my shoer just shrugged. "This is the way a horse is supposed to behave," he said. I am pleased to say all my horses are nearly as good. (Excuse Tucker who can be fidgety, but the last few times has been a star.)

The shoeing led right into dinner time. I fed the Boys and, since it was still hot, decided to head out for a swim.

Lovely, lovely. The water felt SO good. I only did 10 full laps, but that was enough.

Came home. Had supper, did a few chores. The next thing I knew, I heard booming and realized the fireworks were starting at the County Fair which was opening about 2-3 miles away. Ran out to the pasture--stupidly not thinking of my camera--and had a pretty good view of the display. The only downer was that I was being constantly nibbled on by some pretty determined mosquitoes.

At least that explains why the Boys were hiding in the barn.

Well, I had one good day of riding. Somehow today just got away from me. But the barn's clean and the shoes look just fine!

Sunday, August 03, 2008

I'll Probably Be "Sorey"

Three for Three

The weather took a mighty turn for the good. Temps dropped to the 60's F at t night and the humidity flew away on a nice breeze. While I should have ridden really early, I waited until 11 AM and still managed to ride all three.

I was back in the house by 1:30, but I'm sure my muscles will pay for the effort.

And I made another mistake. I rode them in "ascending" order. Not age wise, but height wise.

That meant Chance first. His head was down right from the start at the trot and stayed there pretty reliably. He needs to soften a little more to the bit down there, but considering it's been two weeks since I've been on him, he was quite remarkable about it all. With the trot fairly stabilized, I decided to work a little at the canter.

The first depart on the left was "fling" up the head but go. Since the "go" was there, that was good. The head was not. Once in the canter, though, he did drop his head so I figured he could start to work on departing with it down. We did a bunch of transitions and sure enough, by the last two he had the concept. It wasn't great, but it was well on the way. And, I am pleased to say, the results were about the same on the right lead. Yea!!

In the walk out, I thought I'd try some turns on the forehand so I could start doing some lateral work with him. What a failure. He had no clue at all. I finally dismounted and worked him in hand for about five minutes just teaching him to move his hind end sideways off an aid. I'll do that a few more times before trying it under saddle. He is funny about expressing his confusion, because as soon as I ask him to do something he doesn't understand he starts to toss his head. At least he lets me know.

Nearly three inches up in height, I rode Toby next. He had practically put his head in the halter on his own, so I guess he wanted to do something today. He tried to head for the woods gate, but I just couldn't take the chance of going out since I hadn't put on his fly gear. We stayed in the arena.

I just did some basic walk, trot, canter, on a fairly long rein, throwing in some half passes and flying changes for fun. Then, I rode a mock first level dressage test. Toby is so much fun at some of the movements, but the best one is the extended canter down the long side with collection at the end markers. Because he knows he will have to collect, he does it on his own AND because of that, I can really ride for a huge extension. It's just a blast to fire up the long side and then just sit up and do a minimal half halt with my seat and have the collected canter back. (Muriel, that's what happens with the reining horses when they gallop and then lope. When the horse responds to the half halt from a slight lifting of the seat, it's a super feeling!!)

Nearly three more inches up and I rode Tucker. I spent a good part of the ride in canter. Sometimes I rode a collected gait in a frame and sometimes just on a loose rein. The goal was two fold. First, I wanted to get him lighter to the canter cue so I can go back to working the flying changes. Right now he is slow off the leg. He needs to sharpen up. Lots of transitions will help and will likely be putting the spurs back on again. I'll get some protests, I'm sure, but he needs to be quicker to the aids. Secondly, I needed to work on keeping him light in the forehand on the downward transitions. Strangely enough, it is easy to get canter/trot/canter transitions and canter/walk/canter transitions, but if I do canter/halt, then he gets stuck because in the halt he drops onto the forehand instead of standing "poised" to move off again. For now, I worked him in canter/halt/reinback/canter to sharpen that up. I will do that exercise a few more times just to solidify it, but will very quickly mix it up with canter/halt/canter/halt/trot...etc. If you work the reinback out of the halt too much the horse--especially a Thoroughbred--will start to back up every time you halt, a very bad habit to develop. Still, the reinback has its value in shifting the horse's weight to his hind end to improve the foreward transitions to make them more "uphill."

Why the height comments? By the time I was done riding Tucker I was tuckered out. Lifting the saddle up off his back and then throwing the flysheet up onto his back just seemed like a huge effort. If I'd finished up with Chance, I wouldn't have needed all that extra "flinging" energy at the end of the workout. And, Tucker has much more surface area to sponge off. As I said on Caroline's blog, it's not the riding, but the work involved before and after that make riding three challenging.

Mental note: Work the big horse first. *G*

Maybe I'll go for a swim later after I rest up. It is, at last, a gorgeous day!!

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Saddle Up!!

Well Saddle Up One Horse, Anyhow..

I spent the bulk of the day indoors in the air conditioning, watching thunderstorms pound down rain outside.

Then around 4 PM, the storms seemed to have passed. I fed the Boys, came back inside and called the aquatic center to see if the pool was open. It was. I headed out to do some laps.

Because it had stormed, there weren't many people there. I had a lap lane to myself. So I swam and swam. I think I did over 15 laps with some leg exercises in between. Then I looped the lazy river a few times before heading home.

The temperature had dropped below 80F. It felt, at first feel, cool enough to ride. First, though, I had to poo pick the arena as it is part of the horses's turnout area. After that, I took down the fence rails near the new run in so I had an opening for the gate I need to move. I partially hung the gate, saving the more serious effort for a better day, then called it quits. At that point, I could feel the humidity I hadn't really noticed before.

I saddled up Tucker. planning on riding him first and then working Chance.

Tucker felt really good after the long time off. I worked him for perhaps a half hour. At first, I just rode him long and stretchy. His trot was forward and his canter was really nice. After a good session in long contact, I collected him up to finish off. While he was not as "together" as I've had him in the past, he came on the bit easily in the shorter frame.

We did some trot/super collection/trot transitions, some half pass, and finished up with two canter walk transitions. Everything came easily, so it's pretty clear Tucker understands the exercises and is having no trouble with them. The only downside was a few times when the deerflies from the woods along the arena made him fussy enough to lose his concentration as he tried to kick them off.

By then, both of us were sweated. The air was so damp it was uncomfortable. So wimpy me surrendered again. It's probably just as well because I'm sure Chance would have been twice as fussy about the flies. They were out in force because of the humid air so if it dries out as it's supposed to overnight, perhaps tomorrow will be more appealing riding weather.

As I rode Tucker, it struck me that the iGallop's trot rhythm is not to far off his tempo. The machine does have a more lateral feel to it. Some trainers have suggested sitting the trot shifting from seat bone to seat bone with a lateral feel. However, I don't feel that when I ride sitting trot unless I do need to drive a horse forward or, perhaps if I need to relax horse's back under my seat. Some horses do, though, make the rider go from side to side in sitting trot, so perhaps iGallop is more "horsey" than I think.

I've used the machine at several five minute clips so far. The "gallop" gait is faster than the trot. Had I built the machine, I would have made the canter/gallop into a big sweeping motion the way a real canter feels. It would make the exerciser have to use different muscles in a different way to keep the balance and go with the "gait." Just a faster trot doesn't do it. Still, I think it's going to help me get fitter and hopefully lose some fat around my waist and tummy area. I may never get "abs of steel" from it, but I may slim down a little.

Claire, since the house is air conditioned, I have absolutely no excuse not to ride the iGallop. I haven't looked at the DVD that came with it. Apparently that has all kinds of exercises you can do to add to the fitness routine. Not sure I'm into that, but we shall see. I did get it at the "sale" price, but it's been at that price for a while, so I'm not sure how much of a real sale it is. *G*

Friday Frustration

Update on Yesterday

No horse activitiy due to, AGAIN, the miserable heat. I have just decided to surrender to the weather.

The frstration came when I went to take care of the dog. He had pooed on two throw rugs, and vomited in the hall. He'd also torn up his bed in his crate.

Now, one must asky why? Brother's car was in the driveway, but brother never came down when I came into the house. Was he still in bed? Was he there? Had he been there? Why was car there? Had dog been taken care of at all since the afternoon before?

To all of the above, no answer. I had to clean up the mess. I tool the throw rugs home to wash them. Put both in the washer only to realize too late that the reddish one "bled" into the other one, leaving a pink tinge to it. My friend assures me they are "throwawy" rugs so it will be fine. At least they are clean and don't stink of poo.

When I went back later to return the clean rugs, another sister had dropped by to take dog out for a run. She'd pulled the ripped up bed out of the crate and left me a note telling me she would get some kind of replacement.

Dog had been behaving like a champ. I know he misses his family, but this behavior was "over the top." Why would he have such a meltdown? The only conclusion I can come to is that Brother did not take care of him that evening/night. He is not supposed to be the substitute caregiver as it was Grandma's job. I don't think owner is too happy about the alternate arrangement, and if the consequences are any indication, I can certainly understand why.

Now, I am worried about both the dog and the goats. Father is supposed to be home tomorrow, but that leaves today and at least part of tomorrow when animals will be in the care of someone else, not me. Will goats get fed? Will dog be cared for? My official "tour of duty" was over yesterday. All I will do is worry today.

I have Grandma's phone number, so I will likely call her later in the day to see if dog has been tended. I also want to make sure he is OK and not ill.

PS: Muriel. Lost your email addy. What's going on? Can't view your blog without invitation. Also what happened on the forum? I don't want to stay there myself without finding out what happened.