Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Maybe I do love the holidays!

I wrote this as a reply over on Equestrian Ink and realized that I enjoyed Christmas this year - go figure!

As my kids have aged I have felt the stress of Christmas and the need to try to ignore it completely. We have a large family, I have 15 nieces and nephews on my husbands side alone! When my children were little we rushed around trying to make it to all the family get togethers so they could spend time with their cousins, grandparents, aunts and uncles. We had tons of meaningless gifts to buy and wrap and it became overwhelming. My kids have now aged past 18 and things have slowed down.

Last year I didn't put up a tree, boycotted the family Christmas Eve party, and just wanted to stay at home in front of the fire and veg out. This year alot of the family was coming home, at Christmas Eve the "family talent show" was brought back by the great nieces and nephews - there are 13 greats now! It was so much fun watching them sing, do somersaults, etc. It was like things had come full circle. I was watching the parents and they were beaming watching their little ones follow in the family tradition. I could also see a little weariness and stress on their faces. I have to imagine that is what my husband and I looked like years before. We decided no gifts, just family, friends and good food. It felt right. There were 33 people at Christmas Eve in a fairly small old style farm house. It was loud, warm, familiar, strange, easy, unusual, relaxed, exciting, all rolled up into one!

I cooked prime rib for dinner for my husband and kids Christmas day. Everyone chipped in and helped cook, set the table etc. We had a quiet dinner, talked about the night before, family, the gifts Santa had brought us and the things we were planning for the new year. It was the perfect end to Christmas.

If you had asked me about Christmas for the last 5 or 6 years I would have said BUH HUMBUG! As we age things change and go in cycles. This year was an up cycle and kind of renewed my desire to participate in Christmas. Hang in there and look for your up cycle. It is worth it.

Monday, December 21, 2009

I love the holidays! NOT.

It has been a crazy couple of weeks. We went to Las Vegas so I could go to the Cowboy Christmas shopping extravaganza. We flew in on a Friday and stayed to Monday. I have never been to Vegas so it was a great trip. I am not much of a gambler so I spent time people watching. Cowboy Christmas was kind of a let down. They had tons of blingy belts, purses and the new style of tattoo like shirts. Not really my thing. I wanted to look for a cowhorse legal bit with the cactus flower design and a medium priced set of romel reins. Didn't find either.

We had two company Christmas parties to attend. Both were very nice, great food, good company - except for the woman who kept referring to my "grandchildren" of which I have NONE. I told her once politely that I didn't have grand kids, but she just kept bringing it up. I just ignored her but what I really wanted to do was smack her up the back side of her head! I am so not ready to have grandchildren in my life. First off... none of my kids are married. That definitely has to come first. Got one daughter that is getting pretty serious with her boyfriend. So maybe some day.

I made a milestone with my weight loss. I have officially lost 91 lbs. 11 lbs to go to goal.

I haven't been riding much. I think that Semper is enjoying his time off. I got to get back to it in January. Cold weather or not. I have been giving him some turn out time and he runs around like a fool. The weather has warmed up somewhat but now we have rain. Rain equals mud. I hate mud. It is gross. The horses I have at home have made a muddy mess at their feeding area. Every year I say that I am going to gravel that entire area and every summer I forget or get side tracked. Maybe keeping this blog will help me remember all the things that I think I need to do before the winter when summer gets here.

I paid my membership dues for several groups so I can start showing. I am getting kind of nervous. I did buy a nice show shirt at Cowboy Christmas so all was not lost.

We have a new trainer coming to the boarding facility that I board at. His name is Deon Locke and he is a pro reining trainer from Australia. He has been in OK for the last few years.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Cold Weather

It has been out of the ordinary cold here in northern CA. I went out to ride on Monday and Wednesday nights and it was 31 degrees at 6pm. I know some of you are thinking that is nothing, but for me, that is cold! I am a California native and anything below about 50 is too cold. I decided to ride bareback so my butt wouldn't freeze. I got in about 30 minutes before I couldn't feel my fingers. It was just ridiculous. I kept thinking that it might not be good for horses to have to deep breath that cold air. Anyone have any opinions on that? I know Semper was glad to get out and move around and he was an extremely good boy, meaning he didn't dump me in the dark, on the way to the indoor arena!

I am going to Las Vegas on Friday to do some shopping at Cowboy Christmas. I have been looking forward to this trip for some time. This is my first trip to Vegas so I guess you could say I am a "Vegas Virgin". I hope I can remember to do all the things that friends and family have suggested that we do while we are there.

We have not been doing our Wednesday night lessons because everyone has been busy over the holidays and it has been "colder than a witches tit" as my brother would say. I am going to go ride my filly that is up at the trainers the week between Christmas and New Years. She will have had 3 months of training and the trainer is happy with her progress. I also have to make an appointment to have my two stud colts "brain surgery" (gelded) done.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Lessons learned

I moved to a new boarding facility several months ago. It is an amazing facility with probably the best footing I have ever ridden in. It has a large indoor arena, larger outdoor, 150+ acres of land to ride on, very nice stalls with comfort flooring, and the best hay that money can buy. I was so excited to be there and wanted to get so much done. I was riding 4-5 days a week working on stops, spins and perfecting my circles and was just motoring right along. I was a happy, happy girl. Then I started noticing that Semper wasn't happy. He was getting right down cranky. The straw that broke the camels back was an evening ride that he was just obnoxious. He ran through the bridle, kicked at my spur, wouldn't listen to cues, he was just being an ass. This is extremely out of character for him. He is a pleaser. I tell my friends and family that he is the only male in my life that asks me everyday "what can I do to make you happy today?". And he had quit asking. I knew it wasn't a pain issue. He had just had a massage therapy session, I hadn't changed bridles, or saddles, or saddle pads. His feet are in great shape, he is fit and fat. But still something was wrong. After that fateful ride - it was the worst ride that I have ever had on this horse, ever - I went home upset and confused. What was the deal? What was causing this change in personality in my best friend? I didn't even go to the barn the next night. I started telling my husband of my woe's and he said (he is not a horse person, so this is pretty insightful for him) "maybe it is too much for him". That got me to thinking... Maybe it was too much for him to be schooled 4 or 5 days a week, maybe he is just sick to death of loping circles, stopping and spinning in that wonderful footing. I was so focused on being ready for next years show season and so excited about the new facility and all that I could get done, that I lost sight of my horses "feelings". I am pretty sure he doesn't give a hoot about the footing, about next years show season or the fact that I am excited about it. The thing is that you hear about this all the time. Horses burning out and getting show sour, etc. I, for the the life of me, don't know what I was thinking? I should have known better or at least been able to figure it out on my own - wouldn't you think? I got so wrapped up in my own little world, I forgot about the most important part - my partner.

I am still riding 4 to 5 days a week but only schooling 2 or 3. I have a lesson one night and try to work him a couple times in between. The other days I have been trail riding or fooling around on him bareback. No pressure, just goofing around. I took him to work cows this weekend which he and I both enjoy and we did really well. He is getting back to his old self and starting to enjoy my company again. Lesson learned.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Weight part 2

I decided to go to the consultation. It required a 2 hour class prior to going to meet the doctor. I went and a team of nurses went over all the steps involved in the surgeries that they did at the clinic and the services they offered. It was well done, professional and informative. I had made a list of questions and they answered every one. Then I went to meet the Dr. - I was still wondering what he was going to say. Maybe I was being naive, but I still thought that there might be a chance that I was not over weight enough to quality for surgery. I weighed 252 lbs. He was kind and soft spoken. He went over the surgery options a second time and said that I should review the information that they gave me and if I had any questions to call him. But the decision of whether or not to go through with this was completely up to me and so was the type of procedure. No pressure. I was to go home and think about it, they would follow up with me in a few days to see what I had decided. I talked to my friends and family, tossed and turned, suffered a couple sleepless nights, and finally made my decision.

I decided to have the gastric bypass surgery - but here are the guidelines I set for my self

1. I was going to follow their instructions to the letter.
2 I was going to commit to a complete lifestyle change - 100%
3. I was NOT going to be sick. I was going to follow the prescribed diet. Not going to complain, not going to be a baby!
4. I was going to go into this with a positive attitude that everything was going to go smoothly, I was going to be successful and I was going to be healthy!

I went through all the required classes, evaluations, Dr. appointments, support groups, etc. Never missed one.

My insurance company approved my surgery and I had a date. I went on a liquid diet for 10 days prior to my surgery date. I followed the diet religiously.

June 8, I had surgery. That morning I weighed in at 242. I was out of bed walking around after my surgery, I went home in 2 days. I was riding again in 2 weeks. I have not been sick, thrown up or had any health issues at all. I had my 5 month appointment and don't have to go back for 7 months. My weight loss is above average, my blood work is excellent. To date I have lost almost 80 lbs. I have another 20 - 30 to go. I eat a healthy diet, I don't drink alcohol, don't eat any refined sugar, etc.

The question I get most often is "why couldn't I have done this without surgery?". Because their are no consequences. If I choose to over eat or choose to eat the wrong thing, I will be miserable. Who wants to be miserable?

Of course this is all pretty new. I work at it everyday and have kept that positive attitude and my commitment to being healthy and happy. This is my time, for me and my horses!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Weight, Weight, Weight.

I have been giving a lot of thought to this post. Some of you will think my actions are reasonable and some will think that I was looking for the easy way out. I have heard it all. I know why I chose the path I did and it is working out well for ME. I am not advocating anything I have done to be right for anyone else. You have to find what works for you.

I was 65 lbs when I started kindergarten. I have old photos and I wasn't really obese. I was chunky. I was the tallest in my class and don't really look out of place or stand out as the fat kid. My family are large, heavy boned people. I have never had a broken bone (should have probably had a few!) and neither has any of my brothers. My freshman year in high school I was 160 lbs. and my mom was after me to lose weight. I was extremely active but I also ate like a man that put in a 60 hour week finishing concrete! My mom decided it was time that she intervene. She called the family doctor who happened to live across the street and asked him to prescribe some diet pills for me. My mom could be pretty persuasive when she wanted to be and he, without hesitation, called in a script. This is where is all started. I did diet pills for about 4 months the spring and summer of my freshman year. I went back to school as a sophomore at 125 lbs and looking good - if I do say so myself. I had all the curves in all the right places and wasn't really afraid to show them off. I had stopped growing in height in about 5th grade and so now at 5'6" I was of average height among my peers. Where I was above average was in the D-cups I was sporting. Boobs are powerful things when you are 15. I used diet pills on and off all through high school and when I graduated I was at 135 lbs. The 2 years after high school I got up to about 160 which was really a pretty good weight for me.

Then came marriage and kids. And pounds. I took most of the weight off after my first child, then again after my second (with the help of Rx diet pills). I was at 233 when I got pregnant with my son. I was at 230 when he was delivered full term. I vowed that I would not gain another pound during pregnancy with him and I did really well. No diet pills, just eating right and not huge quantities. I got down to 170 that year. That was 18 years ago.

The next 12 years I just didn't give a damn. I didn't have horses in my life then, I was working full time in a job that I hated in a town 25 miles from home, I basically lived and breathed through my kids and husband. I got up to over 300. Can't tell you how much over because the scale only went to 300. I would guess about 320 at my heaviest. I was wearing a size 22 - 24 jeans and a XXX top. Those D-cups were now G cups. Do you know how hard it is to find a G cup and how expensive they are? But I guess since you can use them as a hat - yes they were as big as my head - you have to pay for the dual purpose! Our family doctor had passed away and so I didn't have that direct line to the RX diet pills anymore and my doctor wouldn't give them to me. He said "Just quit eating and get some exercise", so helpful. I finally changed jobs, still working full time, but in a better place. I had 3 kids in 4-H, gymnastics, dance, karate, baseball, and every other sport you can dream of. I didn't really a have a lot of time to exercise. I was looking online and found that you could get Rx diet pills on line by simply filling out a questionnaire. Here we go again! I got the diet pills and in 7 months I was back down to 220. Around this time horses came back into my life and I was feeling really good about where things were heading. Then my mom died. Then my brother died. I gained back 30 lbs. but I maintained that weight for about 4 years. I was heavy but I was coping. I was wearing a size 18 pants, still in the G-cup, 18-20 top. I was riding alot, my kids were growing and getting out on there own more, I was finding a balance in my life.

I had heard our local hospital had an excellent weight loss program that included weight loss surgery. My insurance covered weight loss surgery so I called to make an appointment for a consultation. I was told that since they weren't a "center of excellence" that my insurance wouldn't cover the visit. They offered to put me on a waiting list until they became certified. I agreed to that and then just kind of forgot all about it.

I decided that I was going to lose weight the right way. Exercise and eating right. I joined the gym and started eating right in Oct. I was at 265 lbs. I exercised for at least an hour a day 4 to 5 days a week, rode at least 5 days a week and really ate a very healthy conservative diet. I didn't give up alcohol but I gave up all sweets, breads, fats, and was eating 3 balanced meals a day with no snacking in between. I was feeling better but didn't feel like I had lost any weight or inches. I didn't weigh until March 1st. I wanted to give this new life style a chance. I gained 7 lbs. It was a huge blow and sent me into an absolute tissy fit. I decided to give it a few more months and to give up everything - if it had blank calories, sugar or fat, I wasn't going to eat it (no alcohol) and I started skipping meals again, my diet wasn't healthy. From March to September I lost about 15 pounds. I was miserable. Then my best friend calls me and says "want to be my diet buddy?". Why not? Nothing else seemed to be working. She wanted me to go on the "cookie diet" with her. Smart for Life cookies are meal replacements. I tried that for about 4 months and lost a few pounds. I was now around 250 pounds.

It had been a year since I was put on the waiting list for the weight loss center when I got a call from them asking me if I was still interested. I was a little taken aback. Did I really want weight loss surgery? It was such a huge step and what if they said no. If they said that I wasn't a candidate for weight loss surgery, what options were left for me to get this fat off. It really set a lot of emotions into overdrive. One thing I knew for sure was that if I wanted to become a better rider, show my horses, live the life that I had been dreaming of, I had to get the weight off.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Meet Miss Patricia Tee

Miss Patricia Tee aka The Old Girl

I have a dear friend that works for our local animal control. I have always wanted to rehab a horse and told her that if she every found a quarter horse that was in need, to call me. AC had seized many quarter horses but there was always some reason that I could not do the rehab, either a legal issue or someone else had paid to take the horse etc. Out of the blue one day she calls and said that she had the perfect horse for me. I told her that I would come out and look at her. My heart broke into pieces when I saw her. The owner/x-caregiver showed my friend pictures of her when they were showing her and showed her registration papers. She was 22 years old, severely underweight and had a yearling foal still nursing on her. AC also thought she might be pregnant. I committed to take her and showed up at AC the next day to pay, yes pay, my $30 adoption fee. I went to get her and she could barely carry the weight of her own head. But she JUMPED into the trailer! This is a picture of the old girl the day I picked her up.

I got her to the boarding facility that I was boarding at and the manager was so helpful. We started her on Senior Stable pellets. They were a mix of alfalfa, grain hay, beet pulp and supplements. We soaked them and added some senior grain in for good measure. She was eating good and seemed to be doing o.k. After a week or two I wormed her really good and had her feet done. Then she started loosing her hair. By the clumps, down to bare skin. I thought she had some kind of disease. And she was looking more pregnant than ever. At three weeks I had her teeth floated and gave her all her vaccinations. She continued to gain weight and you could see the light coming back to her eyes. I had her about a month when my friend told me that her pasture mate - a horse that I thought was in better shape than she was - had died the week after I took the old girl. It's liver had shut down from starvation. I believe that the old girl was probably days away from dying when I took her home. Below is her sires and dams on her 4 generation pedigree.

SIRE side of pedigree

Mach I 1960
Junior Reed 1954
Mac's Nix 1973
Spanish Joy 1954
Ricky Coquette 1967
Ricky Taylor 1954
Mac Paddy 1984
Miss Scatter Bar 1962
Rudy Buck 1958
Pretty Buck 1942
Aggie Buck 1965
Rosy Poco 1953
Poco Diosa 1959
Poco Bueno 1944
Cuerva Rey 1950

DAM side of pedigree
Two Eyed Jack 1961
Two D Two 1957
Joe Joe Jack 1967
Triangle Tookie 1951
Bay Queen Jo 1956
Monsieur Joe 1948
Tweedle Miss 1976
Roan Queen 1944
Mr Sen Sen 1957
Barred 1946
Miss Tweedle Bar 1968
Miss Sen Sen 1947
Tweedle Dee 1956
Driftwood 1932
Tuckaluck 1953

She is bred pretty well and trained even better. After we got probably 300 lbs on her and were sure that she was not pregnant, I asked a friend to ride her. I was over 250 lbs at the time and I just felt that I was too heavy to ride her. My friend rode her for what we figure was the first time in ten years and this mare rode like she had been ridden every day for the last 10 years! I was so excited and almost in tears. I turned her out with a couple of my mares for a few weeks and then decided that maybe I should finish my rehab project. My goal was to rehab a horse and give it a useful life. I called a friend that I know gives lesson to small children and asked if she might need a lesson horse. She had seen the mare when I brought her home, she had seen her under saddle and knew that she was trained for western please, halter, trail, etc. She said "to heck with the kids, I want her for myself". She wanted a horse she could do Trail Trials on. I told her to try her out, but she is not for sale, but you can use her till you are done and then I will retire her at my home. She came out the next day and had her 15 year old daughter ride her and then she rode her and they were both hooked. They took the old girl home that weekend. She has been kicking butt at Trail Trials all summer on her!

Here is a picture of her at the last one they went to. PS they don't call her "The Old Girl" they call her Trish.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


I got a tip from a friend that they were holding a clinic for Ranch Versatility. I called and made arrangements to go. I wanted to see if Semper would work cows or if he had any cow sense at all. I have had him around cows, done local sortings, etc and he gets a little snarky. He wants to run over them and bite at them. I got up at 5am and drove to the clinic. It was a beautiful day, the sky was so blue and there was a slight breeze. Grass is starting to grow in the rolling foothills that we traveled through. We got to the clinic and I met the gentleman that was hosting. He and his wife were probably in their late 60's, very nice and welcoming. On the phone I had told him that I was coming specifically to get some time and direction working cattle. I also told him that I had little or no "real" experience working cattle. When I told him that I had done some sorting, he gave me an odd snort that let me know that he wasn't impressed. First thing he had everyone do was cut a cow from the herd and work it. I watched as the more seasoned horses and riders took there turn. When it was my turn, I had huge butterflies in my stomach. I went out and we actually did well. He told me which cow to cut to make it easier for a beginner and then gave me direction as we worked. I cut the first one and worked it for 4 or 5 passes and then he had me pull off and try to cut another cow out of the herd. We did as well the second time as we did the first with cutting out of the herd, but the passes back and forth weren't as good and we lost the cow back to the herd. He said the best thing for Semper and I would be to work a single cow in the round pen and that he would take some time with me one on one before the clinic was over to do that. After the other riders worked cows again, he took me to the round pen with 4 head of cows. He put a cow in the round pen and then had me just follow alongside of it and he gave direction as we went. It was great and Semper took to it really quickly. I made quite a few mistakes, but there is a ton of stuff to remember. We worked 3 of the 4 cows and we got better with every one. I will definitely be going back.

Wednesday's lesson

We had a good lesson on Wednesday. We worked on lead changes and on stopping again. The drill for lead changes was different from the last one we worked. We started to lope circle and just do a few steps of counter bending while loping. Lope circle, pick up the shoulder and counter bend, then let them back out to go back to the circle. After you can push them around without any issues, come through the middle at more of a diagonal, take your inside leg off, put your outside leg on, exaggerate and lean to the inside, and hope they change. It sounds confusing and at first it is. This is a drill TL uses to see if a young horse will "just change" or to see if they are more of a natural changer. If they do change she just lets the fence stop them slowly and lets them stand and think. If not she just brings them back around and tries again. Semper has pretty solid lead changes so we didn't drill to hard, the other horses that were there did well with the drill.

I wanted to go back to the beginning and start over with the stopping. TL says that isn't going to work because stopping at a lope is different than stopping on a run down. On the run down you start slow, build speed, get in stopping position and ask. I think that I was getting into stopping position to early and telling on myself. So I started out slow, got into position, and then asked for some speed - just a little - and then asked for a stop. I sat still as he stopped. It was better. I may get it yet!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Spin video

So I finally got the video thing kind of figured out. See it at youtube


Let me know what you think.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Ride and Dine

Saturday I went to a local fund raising event for a new facility that is in the process of construction. The landowner purchased approx 1200 acres to build a first class facility for all equestrians. So far he has dressage courts, turn outs with loafing sheds, an amazing cross county course, etc. OutBack Steak House catered the event and the food was great. They had booths, exhibits, and demonstrations. All and all it was a fun day.

I rode Semper today and had an amazing ride. The lead changes were flawless, he floated around his circles, his turnarounds had energy and were very fluid, he was just on, on, on. So I got off and gave him a treat, kissed his nose and went home one happy girl.

Talked to my friend that moved to WA and she is doing great. They put an offer in on a house, a big house 4 bedroom 3000+ sq ft. Who wants to clean a house that big? I don't want to clean the house I have and it isn't nearly that big. I want to play with my horses, not clean. To each their own I guess.

Still can't figure out how to edit my video. I guess I am going to have to buy some new software that is made to edit video.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Wednesday lesson cancelled

Wednesday's lesson was cancelled. Which for me was a good thing. I have a very dear friend that I have known since I was 5 years old. We grew up together and rode horses together and got into alot trouble together. After college she moved to LA and I stayed in our home town but we have remained best friends. We talk all the time and see each other several times a year. For all intense purposes and because I don't have any sisters, she is my sister. She wanted to buy horse trailer and had been looking in the LA area for about 6 months. Things are expensive in the southern part of our great state. So we started looking up here and found several. I went and looked at the first one and it was crap. The second one I went to look at the lady sold 15 minutes before I was scheduled to be there - that sucked because I had driven over an hour to get there. We found one on Craigslist on Tuesday and it looked perfect and the man said he would hold it till I got there last night. Everything fell into place, the trailer is really nice, almost like new, and the price was right. I drove to a neighboring town and checked it out, bought it, brought it home and now she is the proud owner of a very nice 2-horse slant. WOOHOOO...

I have been doing quite a few things for my friends lately. On the way to look at the trailer another friend called and was hinting she needed a ride to a event on Saturday, without hesitation I said that I would come get her. As soon as the words rolled out of my mouth I was regretting it. I love my friends and they would do anything for me and I would do anything for them. With that said, I have to start putting up some boundaries. The things that I am getting into are not crisis issues, they are convinence issues. I am not saying that I don't want to help my friends. I am saying that I need to set some guidelines for myself and learn to keep my big trap shut and let them figure it out on there own. What do you think?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Pasco Washington

Drove to Pasco Washington this weekend. It took 12 hours and 4 stops to haul Simon to his new home town. Pasco is high desert and not my cup of tea. It was about 35 degrees there at 5pm. I was freezing. The original stable that Simon was supposed to go to was not acceptable. We had looked at it on line and the pictures were very nice and everything looked clean and safe. The BO was very helpful and never mentioned that he pictures were probably 10 years old. There were no shavings in the stalls, they were matted but no bedding, the panels were tied together with baling twine, the stall doors were hanging off the hinges. Not a good place. No up keep and the horses looked miserable. And the BO wasn't going to be there for "awhile" so the horses weren't getting fed for "awhile". We had a plan B but when we got to the pasture and loafing shed that was supposed to be plan B - there was a wild ass steer in the pasture. We had been told it had gone to slaughter but obviously they were mistaken, it was very much alive. It probably wouldn't have been a problem for any other horse but Simon is an OTTB, 17 hands, jumps like a gazelle and is scared to death of cows. He will run like the wind to get away from them. So that wasn't going to work out. He would have bound over or through the 5 ft white vinyl fence in minutes. We had to find a new place for him at 5pm on a Saturday. My other friend that went along for the ride went around knocking on doors of homes that had horse property and stables until she found a lady that said we could overnight Simon there. She was a vet and could give Simon a week there until he can find a new home. Drama... The ride home took a little longer. We were doing great on time. My GPS said that we would be home by about 6pm and then we came into Redmond Oregon and found a huge Big R (ranch and home store). We needed to stop and stretch our legs anyway and what better way to do that than by some retail therapy. When we got back into the truck the GPS said that we would be home by 8:20 - we were in therapy for over 2 hours! We made it home safe and sound. Jenny found Simon a nice new home on Sunday that is right up his alley. It is a dressage and jumper barn. Hopefully she will make some new friends and enjoy her new life in Washington.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Wednesday night

For our lesson on Wednesday we worked on turnarounds first. Our turnarounds are pretty good but I was worried that Semp was sucking back to far and hitting his front legs together. I tried a couple of things and they seemed to help. First I just tried to lean a little forward to get him to stay more forward, then I tried pushing him out of the turn around after a rotation or two. TL said that he looked good and the she didn't think that he was sucking back she felt he was being lazy. So she said to "raise your expectations" of him and make him go. Give him one rotation to get started and comfortable, then cluck to him to get him moving, if he doesn't speed up to use some spur to tell him I mean go now. As soon as I cluck if he picks up the speed, shut him down and let him rest and think. I had my daughter video the lesson and as soon as I can figure out how to edit the video I will post it.

Then we worked stops. OMG I suck at stops. And I have proof I suck at stops - daughter videoed it. I don't know if I am over thinking them or what. I am not even going to go into it. I am still pondering what I can do to change and how to make it better. TL has us do the same drill over and over and it just isn't working. I think I am getting worse instead of better and so is Semper. I am going to work on my stop position this week. I want to throw my shoulders back and I thought that I had worked through that but I seem to be back sliding into that old habit. So that is what I am going to try to fix this week. I won't be posting any video of the sucky stopping, it is way to embarrassing.

This weekend I am making the trip to Pasco and I am really dreading it. Not only is it a horrible 13 hour drive, but I am leaving my friend there and coming home without her.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Snaffle Bit Furturity

Spent the weekend in Reno at the Snaffle Bit. Went to some of the sale on Saturday, shopped and watched the finals on Sunday. Wow there some nice horses there. I don't know Zane Davis, haven't heard much about him, but he did an excellent job all around. Congrats to him on his win. Felt bad for Tod Bergen when his horse went down, he was in the lead and when he came off you could just see the disappointment in his face. He must have nerves of steel to ride 4 horses in the open finals for 4 different owners. The two ladies in the finals did an amazing job. Just getting there is amazing, but they definitely held there own in the male dominated field. One thing that I noticed is how some very good riders aren't "pretty" riders. Tod Bergen is a pretty rider, Boyd Rice, Sandy Collier, Zane Davis are pretty riders. Todd Crawford, Ken Wold, John Ward - not so much. They are all excellent horsemen, but some just have more finesse than others.

The shopping wasn't that great. Not near as many booths as last year, lots of belts and purses, but since I am not really a girly-girl that didn't interest me. Why is it that when I find something I like it is always the most expensive? I found a nice Tom Balding bit that I really liked until I saw the price - $515. It wasn't that nice. I also found a pair of romel reins that I liked and they were $2199. Way to rich for my blood. But they were very nice. Almost like art work instead of tack.

We didn't watch the sale very long but I felt like the prices were either really good or really bad. None that just seemed in the middle. If your horse was average it wasn't going to bring an average price it was going to go for less than what it should. If your horse was exceptional or above average then you were going to get a really good chunk of change. Crazy.

And it was cold. I don't think it got above 45 degrees inside the building all day on Sunday. It snowed on the way home. I am a CA girl, granted a Northern CA girl, but snow just isn't my thing, it is wet, cold and basically makes me miserable.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Wednesday night lessons

Every Wednesday from 6 - 9pm I go to a group riding lesson. Usually there are 2 or 3 of us and the trainer. I was hoping to be able to post things about the lesson on Thursday morning but I get home to late and then have to work on Thursday morning so Wednesdays lesson is going to have to wait until Friday morning.

So here is last nights recap.

There were only two of us last night and so we got lots of one on one attention - which I really like. I went first and worked on counter cantering figure eights and changing to the other lead in the middle. Wow that is kind of confusing. I started out counter cantering a circle and went around a couple of time and then ask for a lead change in the middle and went into a counter canter going the other way. The purpose for this drill is to keep the horse from dropping and pushing his shoulder in a lead change. We did a couple of lead changes and Semper got mad and kicked out at my spur. I pulled him into the ground, backed him and then loped him off on the counter canter again and asked him again and he changed beautifully. Mary the other rider wanted to work on loping and rating her speed, but her horse didn't want to pick up the left lead so before she could work on rate she worked on lead departures. She was pushing his hip over and asking him to lope off and he wouldn't pick it up. Then he started rushing off as soon as she put her leg on him to move his hip. So every time he starts to rush Trainer Lady tells her to stop back him up and then try again. When she gets him to stop rushing Trainer Lady tells of her to tip his nose to the inside and that was the ticket. He picks up his left lead and she can now work on rate. He is a little horse and very talented and athletic. When he would start to go to fast she would make a smaller circle or turn a sharp corner. Then let him our on a loose rein and let him make the mistake again and then do a sharp turn. It didn't take him long to learn that if I just lope slow, I can go around in a circle and not work that hard.

I wanted to work on our lead departures too. Semper is good at picking up the right leads, but he tends to want to pop his head up as he departs.
Trainer Lady says push him up into the bridle and then asked him to lope off and if he pops his head - depending on how bad he popped up - either bump him with my reins if it wasn't to bad and then to push him into the bridle to make him work for the rest of a circle. If it was really bad, stop him get him framed up and start over.

After that we worked on stops and this has been really a hard one for me to get down. The drill Trainer Lady likes is to use the center of the arena and start out loping and then loop the end around. After a couple of times at a slow lope ask them to speed up about half way down the arena and then slow down as we loop the end. After they are working quietly you ask for the stop. My problem is that my brain is saying stop, but nothing is coming out of my mouth. I lose the moment. We worked on that and then Semper decides that he hears me but he really doesn't have to stop right then. He does stop but he takes a few to many strides after I have asked. We did some fencing because he was starting to scotch then went back to looping the arena. Trainer Lady says if he doesn't stop when you ask, pull him into the ground. I never pull on Semper in a stop. Never usually have to. I went down the arena asked him to stop and he just keeps going and I pull him into the ground. Boy was he surprised. Shocked. We did a couple more and he was back to his normal self of stopping immediately when he heard "whoa". That was good. He is still not stopping really smoothly. He comes out of the ground and then gets his butt under him. That is something we need to work on.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Horse friends

Not to long ago, over on Equestrian Ink they did a post on the friends you make that our your horsey friends. Today I spent the better part of the day with one of my horsey friends. She is quite a bit younger than me (18 years). She rides english and has a 17 hand thoroughbred named Simon. He is a very stereotypical OTTB. But I love him anyway. Jen and I met 3 years ago at a boarding facility and we became instant friends. In the outside world we would not have been compatible, but in the horse world we became best friends. We love having a beer, a good meal, BS'ing about anything. Today we took Simon to the vet to get a dental done, a coggins test and health certificate. They are moving 13 hours away. Her husband got a promotion and they have to move quickly. It is a bummer. I am going to haul Simon to his new home next weekend. I am going to miss her and her big ole' goofy horse.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Semper Fi

I thought it would be fun to write a little background on each one of my horses.

This is Sigs Semper Fi.

This is probably the best horse I will ever own. I bought Semper from a retired veterinarian that raises and races quarter horses. I was not in the market for a horse for myself. I was looking for a husband safe horse and Doc said he had a 4 year old that was broke to ride and just as quiet and willing as could be. I had been to Doc's place several times and remembered seeing the horse he was referring to. He was a tall, lanky tovero paint, mostly white with some speckling on his chest and a medince hat. He had a huge ugly scar on his left hind leg. He was always the horse that was pushed around and was pretty timid. He had never made it to the track, Doc didn't like him because he had a "Dur, dur da dur" attitude. I decided that we should at least go and look. I had to drag my husband out there to look at him. Doc's hired hand had been running Semper up and down hills, he was soaked with sweat, dirty from head to toe, and his mouth is red, raw and sore. He had spur tracks up and down both sides and a look of sheer terror in his eyes. We stood and talked for a couple of minutes and let him air up and then I got on. I rode him up and down the side of the barn a couple times, ask him to back etc. I just wanted to make it look like I was trying him out without really pushing him. He complied with what ever I asked but was a bundle of nerves. I felt so bad, I just wanted out of there. My husband and I get in the truck to come home and I asked him what he thought. This is my husbands exact response. "That is the f'ing ugliest horse I have ever seen and I would not be caught dead riding him." I thought that was pretty harsh. We rode the rest of the way home quiet. I thought about Semper almost non stop for about a week. I kept seeing his face and his eyes filled with confusion. I would be sitting at my desk thinking about him on the verge of tears. I felt like I had left an innocent child in an abusive situation. Without saying a word to hubby, I called Doc and asked if we could make a deal for the horse. He was pretty shocked. He is an old hand and saw right through my "pretending to try him out". He listened to my offer and accepted it without hesitation. Now I had to come up with a logical explanation to hubby why I bought this horse. The bottom line was I felt sorry for him and my heart ruled over my brains.

From the day I brought him home I have always felt confident that I did the right thing. I bought him for myself. I don't like to sharing my horse and after hubbys comment about never riding him, I figured this was the horse for me. Semper stands 16 hands and at his best weight is probably around 1200 lbs. He is conformationally correct and all the pieces flow together just right. In his foal picture he is all white with brown ears. As he ages he gets more and more color. His breeding isn't anything spectacular, you can check it out on at http://www.allbreedpedigree.com/sigs+semper+fi Semper has turned into a steady companion with a huge heart, a willing attitude and more than enough athletic ability to take me anywhere I want to go. He is one of the kindest and most social animals I have ever owned. He is respectful of your boundaries and doesn't have a mean bone in his body. I have taken him trail riding, sorted cattle on him and whatever I put in front of him, he takes it all in stride. I had been dabbling with the idea of showing again but never really got serious about it till about a year ago. I sent Semper off to a reining trainer. I knew she had her doubts on whether or not he would make it. His age, size and laid back personality didn't impress her. After a few months she told me that he was coming along beautifully and that she really liked him. He was easy to train, had tons of try and wanted to please. Great combination. He is coming 11 this year. We will be starting our reining career in the "green as grass" or as I like to call it the "dumb as dirt" class. I take reining lessons every Wednesday and will be posting about what we learn on Thursday mornings.

Come along with us on our journey.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

In the beginning

In three months or so I hope to be back in the show ring for the first time in over 30 years.

This all started 5 years ago when a friend asked me to take her horse for awhile to see if I could rehab her. Long story and I will share it later on. After I brought her horse to my home, I decided that she needed a buddy. I started watching the local papers and within a week or two I found an ad for a horse that I wanted to go look at. Hindsight says it was really stupid. I looked at her and just had to have her. She was a 13 year old AQHA mare that was in foal to a paint stallion. I had no business buying a bred mare. Ended up that she wasn't bred, again, another story for another day. Fast forward 5 years and I now have 8 horses of my own and am taking care of two others.

5 years ago I was 44 years old and grossly overweight, I was stuck in the 70's as far as my riding and training skills. I have lost 65 lbs to date and have 35 more to go. I am working on my riding and training skills. I found a great horse, great trainer and feel very fortunate to be where I am at today.

Hopefully this blog is going to chronicle my weight loss journey, my show ring adventures and my 4 legged obsessions with some humor, a lot of heart and maybe even a little intelligence.