Friday, December 31, 2010

Revisiting Resolutions

This was the post I published December 31, 2009:

So seeing as it is New Years Eve, its about that time to create this years' resolution(s)!

Here are mine (horsey related and not)
Get my bareback seat back
Do more fun horsey things this year (ie go to the beach, attend a local show)
Find a new saddle to fit Milo (and sell the other two!)
Stop being so negative (Im doing better!)
Get a new job
thats all I can think of. All of which are attainable! Happy New Year! Heres to a new year and a new DECADE!
Did I acheive these? I did in fact - every single one! Im so proud of myself :) Lets recap, shall we?
Get my bareback seat back - I have such a better seat than I did this time last year. I can confidently walk, trot, lope, stop, circle, sidepass, trail ride, and more with a secure bareback seat now. Last year I could barely jog without falling to the outside. While I feel that with any type of riding, we are always learning how to better ourselves and our horses, I do believe that I have my seat back from which I was referring - when I was 13 years old and would gallop freely in an open pasture on my 20 year old gelding, than stride right up to a two foot vertical and take it in a halter. Now I dont plan to jump anytime soon, I do feel confident that I would land on the other side astride Milo still (however probably a bit unsteady).
This goal is a very proud thing for me. It required me making a conscious effort to take the harder route versus the easy one to be able to better myself (and in turn, its helped Milo too). While over the summer I did have a decent fitting saddle, I still made a conscious effort to ditch it for some bareback time. And although now I dont really have a choice whether to ride bare or not, I do feel that in certain situations, I know that I can benefit from bareback still.
Do more fun horsey things this year (ie go to the beach, attend a local show) - I did do many fun things this year. I did in fact take Milo to the beach, although did not get any photos from the event. A recap of that event is available here. I did also ride in the Thunderbird Rodeo which is another fun horsey thing.
Find a new saddle to fit Milo (and sell the other two!) - Alright. Well, I did indeed find a new saddle for Milo - two in fact. And I did sell one of the two I had mentioned - the show saddle is still for sale, however. And now I still have two saddles to sell. But I do have a new saddle in mind for Milo when the other one sells. So, yes this one did get accomplished...but its complex.
Stop being so negative (Im doing better!) - Ahh, a personal goal. Another one I still believe will be a constant learning road. Boyfriend and I are living on our own meaning no roommates! Which was a huge factor. And I have been consciously trying to think positive. To invision what I wanted and make it happen. 2010 has really been a good year for me mentally. A large reason for being upset all the time was my job.

Get a new job - And finally, this too did happen. I have been happily working at my new job since March 29, 2010 and that has exponencially added to the previous goal.

This year has been huge for revelations with me. I have learn so much about myself and have grown quite a bit as well. Ive changed for the better as well. I have learned to see the positive in everything and how to make my dreams attainable. I have also learned so so much in the world of horses. Almost too much to write down in a list-like format. But Ill try. Ive learned how imperative saddle fitting is. Ive learned how everyone has something to teach - and how not only to take it with a grain of salt, but to find a way to weed out what works and what doesnt. Ive learned even more about how the equine body works. Ive witnessed the heart drop when I wasnt sure what my future with Milo might be like. I learned how to adapt for my horse. I learned how grealty my body positioning effects my horse. I learned how to listen to my horse. Ive learned so much more about reining and cows than I ever did before, and how much dressage is an influence to a well broke reining horse. I have learned a lot. And the journey simply continues - imagine what I'll know by next year!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Give an Inch and He Will Take a Mile

Milo was being a stinker in the cross ties and was acting really mouthy, so I decided a longe session was in order. There were two girls in a lesson, but Shelly let me longe at C, with yeilding the rail still. She had a flipped caveletti on the ground for the girls to use. Milo started out slow, and all seemed like it might be uneventful. After letting him jog around for a bit, it was time to get the blood pumping and I asked for a bigger trot. He pinned his ears and tossed his head towards me. Strike one. Hmpf I thought. I asked him to step out more, as he would give me about four strides of a trot than try and go back to a jog. Same direspectful response. Fine, you get to work harder I insisted, and sent him over the caveletti. The more I demanded, the more resistent he got, until he was outrightedly kicking out, trying to stop and face me head on, and biting in the air. You little shit, I will not tolerate this. Making him lope, change direction, lope some more, go over the pole, change direction again, lope off, yeild his hindquarters, etc after about ten solid minutes finally made him drop his head and decide he better pay attention. As I slowed him down to a walk and allowed him to walk over the caveletti a few times, once, the drap of the longe line caught on the leg of the caveletti (upside down making the leg exposed). Before I could correct the problem, he was on the other side and was hitting the end of the lead. He spooked backwards, which subsequently, sent him into the other cavelettis, barrel, and poles tossed in the corner, which sent him into a larger spook. He sent himself right back out on the longe and trotted and snorted. Shelly was displeased because it caused one lesson horse to spook slightly, and upset the rider. A bit peaved, I thought to myself Well, she needs to learn how to stay on a spook anyways. Then Shelly directed me to move Milo off the caveletti. Excuse me? You are not my trainer, and I need to put him over it one more time to solidify some calm over it. But I didnt, knowing I was not searching for a fight, not to mention I had been "priviledged" to longe during her lesson.

Once Milo calmed down again, I led him to the mounting block and put the headstall on. As I walked him the perimeter of the arena, I mulled things over. First in my mind was the disrespect my horse had been showing me. This quote from Clinton Anderson in the latest edition of Horse & Rider kept coming into my head, "Your horse is constatly reading you in an effort to determine, "is he/she serious, or not?" He'll test you in small ways: push into your space, wait a heartbeat before responding to your request, attempt to "get and inch" here and there - then observe how you respond. If you dont correct him on these small cheats, he'll eventually pull a much larger one. At that point, you might feel he's acting out of the blue. But in reality, he's been telling you for some time, via those little cheats, that he's losing respect for you. Problem is, you havent been listening - or correcting him." Ive always known this rings true for Milo. Then it made me think of our last longe session before this one. He was reluctant to move out, and flipped his head a bit. For whatever lazy reason, I didnt fully address it. I just sorta said "Milo, stop" and that was about it. Its no wonder he would push for a little more and be a little less respective today, I didnt tell him otherwise the day before. Let me recap on one sentence from Clinton's quote; "[he will] wait a heartbeat before responding to your request" Now Ive known this for a while, but reading it again, and seeing it happen before my eyes was really making me think. Milo is reluctant to immedietly move off my leg in any direction, be it a forward transition, a leg yeild, anything. Theres always that tail swish, the attempt to throw his head up, hollowing out, resistent trot steps before the lope off. Now, occassionaly (as he did this night's ride) he might move off nicely from my leg into a forward transition, but even our leg yeilds are still not where they need to be. Or he equates a leg aid for speed.

Just this ride for instance, he seemed to throw out the counter arc we had seemed to solidify. He decided the leg meant speed. When I corrected, he than insisted that he couldnt hold his shoulder up and lift and bend, instead, he must hollow but drop the head making it seem as though he was round, and rather than drive underneath with the hind, he would rather just reach out with his shoulder. It was frustrating. But I cant necessarily blame Milo. Without addressing every level of resistence, hes learning that certain aids can be ignored (at least for a moment or two) if desired. He states his opinion with his wringing tail at any request. And its getting old.

I hope to address some of this with Sarah at our next lesson. But I already know what she will tell me - to simply address each resistence and eventually it will go away. I know this. And I know I should be enforcing it. It will help us in every aspect of our relationship. What am I waiting for?

Now, the ride really wasnt all that bad. There was a lot of resistence in the beginning, but I soon got some nice shoulder control, he did decide that the counter arc is in fact feasible, and we got some beautiful walk to trot transitions, and on the second try, some nice lope departures as well. I still have some things to address at the lope, and he is hollowing out at nearly every attempt. Im hoping Sarah can shed some light on this when she sees him again - although its probably a result of me again, it always is!

Now, an updated photo of the rub area taken on Tuesday:

The photo suggests that the area looks worse. In fact, when I saw it on Tuesday, it looked and felt better than before. The area seems less "irritated" per say, and in fact, the hair seems to be coming back. The photo looks red, or imflammed, but it isnt, it is actually just his skin. So Im pleased to see that the M-T-G seems to be helping. I did send the other photo off the vet, just in case, but havent heard back from him yet.

Oh Milo, standing in the cross ties with your cooler on is just soo boring, isnt it?

Oh wait, the rustle of the cookie bag in my tack box sparks interest, doesnt it? Speaking of cookies, Ive been using the Christmas cookies given to us by the BO for his "cookie" stretches. I always ask him to bring his head around to me off the line before letting him go in the pasture. But now I bring three cookies down with me, and have his stretch to both sides, and down between his front legs. Im hoping to keep him as supple and relaxed as possible through his head, neck, wither, and poll, as the poll and shoulder/wither area specifically is where he holds his tension (although I have seem some remarkable changes to these areas in the just the past month or two).

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

It's a Major Award! I Won, I Won, I Won!

Back in October Milo was selected on a Facebook contest in the top twenty for Nutramax Lab's Proviable EQ Happy Horse Contest, hosted by Julie Goodnight, contributor for Horse & Rider magazine, and she also has her own show on RFD-TV.

The was the winning photo:

This photo was taken by Milo's girlfriend, Missy's owner. Apparently, he stole the mask from her. 

And this was the prize, shipped to my great surprise:

And it's contents:

A insulated small cooler, a syringe of Proviable-EQ (which Im not exactly sure what it is, underneath it just says, "Contains a Source of Live Naturally Occuring Microorganisms"), an 80 day supply of Cosequin ASU,  a 60 day supply of Proviable-EQ powder Gut Balancer that is "a digestive aid to encourage normal gastrointestinal function and health" (which seems it could be useful), and Cosequin Valactin, a faty acid fish oil supplement, along with of course, the bucket, and some reading material.

And I should read that material. I think at this point the only thing I would give to Milo would be the Cosequin ASU, and decide on the other stuff later.

Funny, when all this went down about Milo needing supplements after his X-Rays and such, my vet recommended Platinum Performance Ortho-Chon, or Cosequin ASU. I chose the PP mostly because of its great reviews - the price was about the same as the Cosequin. Now, Milo has run out of his supply (as noted on the white board at the barn) and here I am, nicely broke after the holidays. I can either a) put the PP on my credit card, or b) use the Cosequin until gone, and get the PP again afterwards (or, unless I see a marked improvement in Milo, go with Cosequin).

Im sure I will get some flaming responses either here or at the barn for switching Milo to a new supplement simply because I have it and it will save some money this month. But, it was recommended for use by my vet along with the PP, and I did send him off an e-mail asking what he thought of using this this time around and see, which he thought was fine to do so.

So, I guess I will bring this out to the barn on my next visit, as well as start diving into the reading material to see what else I have!

Monday, December 27, 2010

M-T-G ... Magic?

Hope everyone had a great holiday, I know I did. Boyfriend's family came over Christmas Eve and we had tacos. My family came over that day too only earlier, and for a shorter while. But my brother flew in from Utah for the holidays and it has been great seeing him again. I let Boyfriend open one present early Christmas Eve but made him wait until the next day to open the rest.

Christmas morning we has breakfast with his family again, and opened presents from them at their house (and Boyfriend opened his Wii from me and has been playing it ever sense). Than we went to my Mother's and spent the afternoon and evening opening presents and enjoying her prime rib (which was absolutely delicious). Mother made us a beautiful quilt for our bed which looks just lovely, and Boyfriend said he is buying my truck a new engine. But since he couldnt wrap that under the tree, I was given an engine ornament. Now I cant wait for he and his brother (a diesel mechanic) to find the right engine and replace the one in my truck with over 215,000 miles.

But all throughout the holidays and festivities I was wishing I could do spend some time with Milo. Today (Monday) I finally was able to. Although I knew it was only for a short while, as I was due to spend some more time with my brother before he left again.

It was raining at the barn, and a number of people there. Milo amazed me by being at the farthest corner of the pasture with Jake, in the rain. But he met me just past the stalls and didnt make me walk the whole way down there (luckily, as you can see, the lake that was just there four days ago is gone).

Milo was feeling frisky as I led him up to the barn. And he was a bit impatient in the cross-ties; chewing on the leads and scooting side to side. After I threw his bareback pad on I knew I needed to longe him a bit before jumping aboard. Which was a good plan. He kicked and flipped his head on the line, but after only a few minutes decided it was out of his system and he would be a good boy.

The arena had a few fellow boarders riding, but Milo was still a bit unengaged. I worked him on our butterfly exercise from Sarah (basically small figure eight circles at the short end of the arena - using the corners of the arena to help round him up and bend). It took a while, but this exercise soon calmed Milo down and got him relaxed.

Then the arena cleared and some activity began down at C (the scary end - its where the poop pile is and two horses get turned out beyond that. Every horse at the barn has an issue with it at some point, if not longer. Last winter Milo really didnt like it but he has been fine working down there for months and months now). But today he just couldnt contain himself from hollowing out and flicking holding an ear there when we would pass. I made him walk in very straight lines, diagonally from one letter across the arena to the next. He finally calmed down again and lifted up walking in nice straight lines.

Once he finally felt totally content, I knew it was the place to stop. I know I probably could have moved on to some trot work, and mind you it was hard not to with the arena to myself again, but I didnt want to jeopardize the solidity I was getting from Milo and knew I would be out again to ride the next day.

Now, onto the title of this post. For about a week or two now Ive noticed that Milo has these rubbed patches on his sides - in the same spot I hold my leg at. Originally, there was just one on the right side, and it was small. I thought it could simply be a rubbed spot, or the beginings of a fungus, so I started applying M-T-G to it every time Im out there. Now, Ive noticed, that the spot is increasing in size, and right in the center appears to have totally rubbed the hair gone - not raw, just gone. And there is another one in the same spot on his left side, however only about half the size. So Ive been applying the M-T-G to both sides, but not seeing results.

Im most concerned if this is a reaction from my legs being there. If so, what could I do about it? I suppose the M-T-G wont hurt in helping the hair grow back, but in the meantime, is there something that I could do to prevent this from getting worse? It seems that if left to continue thats all I will do is get worse. But its puzzling that its just happening now when Ive been riding him bareback for months, and his clip has been done for over a month now too. Any thoughts on this?

This photo suggests that the area is swollen, it is not in fact. Im not sure why it looks that way.  

Im just confused. Could my pant leg be doing that? Or my boot top? About 50% of the time my pants are tucked into my boots, the other half, my jeans cover the top. Any enlightenment you may have, please share.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Not a White Christmas

Last Saturday we woke up to snow at our house. It stayed for about three days, making us wonder if we might have a bit of the white stuff lasting until Christmas. But, alas, the ever reliable rains of Washington have come and melted them all away. What else did the rains of Washington bring? Eager to never disappoint, a flowing river and a pond.

One in Milo's pasture, specifically. And interestingly enough about this photo is the hint of Milo down at the pond. Either his ball was already down there when the rains started, or someone brought it down there. I would be most surprised to see Milo playing down in the water. He doesnt like being wet.

Here he greeted me for a moment:

Then went back inside to dry off (or maybe eat...probably both):

Mom, in her hypersensitive and worry-wort self, thought she noticed some red on Milo's face. OMG I thought, He's bleeding. I coaxed Milo back out of the stall.

Ohh, he must've rubbed up against some wet boards. Silly Milo. Thank God it wasn't worse. Clearly unamused by being dragged back outside into the rain, I gave Milo a pat and went to work on the sopping pastures.

My buddy Clara from WSU is home briefly for the Holidays, and Friday was the only day we could plan to see each other. She met me at the barn just after I was finished with my chores. It was great to see her again. Although, I didnt get a whole lot of chatting in because once I rode, another boarder snatched her right up into conversation. Thats Ok, I thought, it gave me some opportunity to really work Milo and not be distracted by conversation.

Speaking of working Milo, we had a nice ride. Hes getting better about his shoulder bulging; it's becoming much less often and he's really starting to learn how to hold it up on his own. Hes got the counter arc down pat at the walk, and is about 90% there to the right, with about 70% to the left. He was moving well and worked very nicely at the trot.

When I prepared him to pick up the left lead lope, he lifted his shoulders right up and stepped right out into the lope. Gaining control over his hip is really helping for a nice lope departure. Now Ive been asking for more lifting of his shoulders at the lope. Before, I would simply ask him to round up his back, and he would dive his shoulder in on the turn. Last night I worked on addressing that, but he insisted that if he were to lift his shoulder at the lope, it meant his head had to come up too. Not the case, Milo. But I am going to allow him some time to master this and not get frustrated. After all, lifting, bending, and holding his shoulder up at the lope is going to require more use of his rear and use of different muscles; something he will get with some time.

However, the second time in the left lead lope he was started to lift his shoulder and stay round with a dropped head. So he knows what I want, it is just a matter of his body conditioning to be able to perform that. Our lope to the right was very nice as well, and is feeling better everyday. He even was much more willing to pick it up on the longeline than even the night before. So thats good progress. He is better about lifting his shoulder and staying round to the right, which seems to make sense because its the left shoulder he likes to bulge, so it would be difficult for him to lift that shoulder and bend around it.

I then asked for some spins. He is starting to get that its a forward motion, not one to suck back. He only tried to suck back once going to the left, but I pushed him right out of it and we had some nice revolutions both ways.

I jumped off with Milo still puffing and said to Clara "Alright, he needs a nice cool out" and handed her the reins. She wanted to ride him anyways, what better time than in the cool-out? She got right on (well - a bit of difficulty being he had his bareback pad on, and the mounting block still doesnt make her tall enough - her horse is only like 15.1hh). I let her know that Milo is working really well with indirect rein pressure, so not to ask directly as she previously has known to do when he was in the snaffle. She seemed a bit surprised by not only how wide he is (his back shape truly has changed since she last rode him in the summer), but how hes carrying himself now. His muscles are being built to carry himself lifted and round, so even on a cool-out with a loose rein, thats where he choses to hold himself (good Milo).

He tried the shoulder bulging with her too, and she of course knows how to correct that, but needed a reminder on the outside rein aid. Once she supported him with that, he stepped right on over front even with the hind and held himself up.

I told her she could try to get him into a spin if she wanted. I explained how to use her aids to ask for it, and he initially wanted to suck back. I instructed her to let off on the rein some more and cue with her leg. She did, and once she released more of her inside leg, he gave her about a 180o pivot on the inside leg. I quickly told her to walk him out and that he was a good boy.

It was funny too when she asked him to back up, because Milo is very responsive to the back cue. She cued a little too strong on the rein first, but I told her to sit deeper and once she did and let off his face a bit, he stepped right on back for her. It was neat to watch. He really thought it was bull sh*t to have to go up into the trot for her, and when she cued he flipped his head up, laid his ears back, and swung his head from side to side. But Clara is a good rider and she persisted (shes also used to Milo and his antics). He eventually dropped his head down and stepped right off into a trot from the rear. Good Milo! Even with acting up, he did move into the trot correctly. That was really cool to see. I watched her jog him around a bit (she also did some more walk-trot transitions and by the third one, he stepped right off for her) and it was really nice to see someone else competent ride my horse. I became really proud of him and marveled at how good looking he is ; ) then wondered how he looks when Im on him. Hmmm...

He was cooled out and Clara got off (with difficulty - poor short thing). I was pleased to see her loving on him a bit. A lot of people are a bit shy with loving on Milo because he can be so mouthy. Now Milo has known Clara as long as Ive owned him, so he not only knows not to mess with her, but she also knows his shenanegans. It was sweet to see them together though.

I led Milo down to his pasture, gave him a peppermint cookie, and snuck a candy cane into his grain. I gave him a hug and a kiss and wished him a Merry Christmas. He just eagerly ate his grain. Ohh, priorities.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Its a Completely Non-Offense and Politically Correct Holiday

I had a pretty nice ride on Milo last night, although it took a while to get him lifting at the lope. He eventually did it however, but he was exhausted afterwards. As far as I can tell he is still eating well, pooping nicely, and still is his normal self. Im hoping to have a lesson next week, Im hoping to address some of this with Sarah, as hes still relucatant to pick up the right lead lope.

I will be quite busy the next couple days and am not sure I can squeeze in another post (although I may try). My brother is flying in from Utah today, Boyfriend's entire family is coming to our house tomorrow evening, Christmas day we have mine and his family to visit as well. Mother wants to go to Zoo-lights on Sunday (I want to go riding - we will see what happens). And I have Monday off so I plan to take a trail ride with Heather and Milo's girlfriend Missy.

So I will leave you with one of my favorite holiday songs - its a repeat post from last year, but the song never gets old.

Wishing you and yours a completly non-offensive and politically correct Holiday!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Monday evening I enjoyed a nice ride on Milo. I was alarmed at first to hear from one of the weekend feeders, that Sunday night Milo didnt come right in to eat - which is very unlike him. She said she had dumped the grain and hay and even though it was dark, she waited to listen and/or see the horses come in to eat. Apparently, Milo and Jake stood right outside the stalls, but neither made a move to come in. She called to each by name, hoping to coax them inside. Finally, they both sauntered in, and when she heard their munching mouths, she was satisfied she could go home.

Because of this, I didnt want to to work him very hard in case something was up or he was feeling off. I had checked his vitals and everything seemed fine, he was acting like his usual personable self too. Although it was tempting to get a nice workout as I was the only one in the arena. But Milo was a bit distracted anyways - the weather changed again and a lot of the horses were feeling frisky. So it didnt feel like a day to lope for those two reasons. However, we got some nice walk and trot work in, and Milo did a very very good job on lifting and bending at the trot. Good Milo! It seems his muscles are finally figuring out how to be used in this new and difficult way.

We ended on a good note, and I packed him all up to put him back away. It was another beautifully clear night, in fact, the lunar eclipse was said to happen that night - although at 6pm it was still too early to see. I let Milo go in his pasture and he walked right into Jakes stall to lick the last fragments of old-man-grain. I dumped him his grain and he readily ate that along with his hay. So he seemed to be doing fine. However, I do appreciate the heads up from the feeder - Ive noticed that many (especially when feeding the pastured horses) just dump and go. Never taking into account if the horses gladly gobbled their grub or were hesitant.

Thats the biggest downfall to keeping Milo on the pasture. In the main barn, he was smack dab in the center of all the activity and was fed three times a day, along with a daily stall cleaner. So needless to say, if something was up, someone saw it quickly. In fact, when we first moved to the facility, in the first week Milo laid flat out and grunted as he slept. He not only grunts, but takes in an almost ragged sounding breath, holds, than blows it all out, and repeats. An alarmed barn worker told me she was really concerened, but I knew it was just the way he sleeps. Ive also noticed that feeders dont always check the water troughs, so this is something that concerns me especially when Im absent for a while. However, now that Milo is in with Jake, I do know that on the weekends Jake's owner comes out to check on them which is good.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas Photos

I got the Christmas photos from my co-worker, although as stated in a previous post, Milo wasnt really feeling that spirit that evening so Im not so sure I will be sending these photos out this year...haha.

Well first we tried the poinsetta, which I thought was very pretty on his leather halter. Milo thought it was itchy and blocked his field of vision. 

Ahh, the classic smooch shot. The embrace clearly wasnt mutual. 

Than we tried the santa hat. He really wasnt feeling that. Wow Milo, well we got a nice shot of your trace clip, huh?

We brought Milo back up to his stall and I got this great idea to wrap Christmas lights around his halter. Milo didnt think it was all that cool, but it is a neat photo regardless. 

Final result revealed tomorrow!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Friday Re-Cap

Oh hello Mom, glad you made it out to see me. 

Do you have something for me??

This is where Milo begs for cookies and carrots, or extra hay. 
Can I has? he asks

No? I'll eat some nasty wet bedding instead. Num nom num. 

Jake begs too as Milo continues to chow down on bedding. Weirdo. 

I decided I needed to start cleaning pastures and stop taking pictures. Than I look over and see Milo torturing poor Jakers!!

Milo! You stop that! Hes twenty years older than you!

Who, Me?? I didnt do anything, honest!

See Mom, we're buddies!

Wait a minute, something didnt look right in those pictures. 

Milo is known for his many antics and shenanegans. Leave a halter on the fence, he pulls it off, hes even been known to reach his grain bucket (on this green roof here) along with stealing pitchforks, taking off his neck cover (will visit this again later), finding buckets and strewing them along the pasture, and now finally, taking things out of the outdoor arena (a fenceline he shares with it) and dragging said objects (this time a pole) into his pasture. Milo, you have a giant purple ball, remember? Why not play with that? Oh, Milo. 

Notice something else not right with these photos? Aha, his neck cover is off. This time not his doing (today). Remember a few posts back I said that he took it off and stomped it into the mud? Well it took about two and a half days to fully dry before I could finally put it back on. But never fear, Milo has it on right now as we speak (hopefully), and just in time for the three inches of snow we got here Saturday morning in Seabeck  - although Milo may not have any in Poulsbo. 

Until next time...

Saturday, December 18, 2010

One Good Horse

I had a fantastic ride on Milo Friday night. It was clear and cold, but I like that over the rain. He seemed a little frisky in the cross ties so I thought I would longe before getting on. I did, but he really didnt need it, he just plodded along looking bored. I jumped up onto my pink bareback pad and started a little warm up. There were two lessons, cones set up on a long side of the arena, and a ground pole at both C and A. So I had a little maneuvering to do. I got him up into a rising trot to get him to stretch out and lift a bit, which he did very well. And I noticed for the first time in a while, when we would pass another horse, or vice versa, he didnt even care or look. Normally he swivels an ear in their direction, or pins his ears and makes a face (while usually still working for me). I havent really known what to do about it because he was still working for me and doing what I asked. But last night he didnt pay them any attention. Good Milo!

The lessons cleared out and I had the whole arena to myself *GASP*. It was pretty sweet I must say. Ive noticed that lessons dont run as late on Friday nights, which is somewhat surprising to me. Doesnt everyone want to spend their Friday night riding? Apparently not.

Anyways, I had this little revelation when riding. Being bareback I of course could feel his body much more than in the saddle. So when I was asking for his counter arcing, I could really feel that first small step of lift and bend, and reward accordingly. I had never felt that small of an effort before in the saddle. Than I felt bad of course, because I hadnt been rewarding Milo in his learning of it for those small tries he was giving me.

He also was working much straighter and with much less bulging. I dont know if this was because he could feel my leg aids better, or if he really is getting better at just maintaining a forward straight body. Either way, Ill take it!

I wasnt quite sure if I wanted to lope after getting some really nice trotting lift and bend, but the total access to the arena was a bit hard to turn up. So I sidepassed him out onto his driving outside rear leg, than had him lift and bend that same leg in a step or two (at the walk) than smooched and boom! He rocked right back, rounded, lifted his shoulders and loped right off into a left lead lope. No couple trot steps, or a few hollowed moments before the lope. It was great. For a stride or two I wanted to lean forward and tense up my legs. But I noticed it really quickly and sat up and let the tension out and my legs swung rhythmically with his strides. We would circle at one end a few times, than go large, than circle again. And he felt fantastic! Lifted and driving! And my outside rein while coming into play, wasnt needed very much because he was responding so well off my leg. Good Milo! Now Ive noticed my next step in loping will be to keep him on a bend through the turns going large. He tries to dive with his shoulder a bit, and while I tried to pick it up with my inside leg, this is something Ill have to start working on too.

I brought him to a walk for some air before asking for the other direction - the right side where he has previously been feeling a little disconnected. I set him up the same way for a walk - lope departure. The first attempt he tried some crazy trot steps than picked up the wrong lead. That right there told me something is still up body wise. But I brought him back down, set him up, and loped off. It wasnt as beautiful as the other way, but he still did it. Than I quickly noticed that while he was indeed lifted and working well, he was also diving a little bit, bit moreover, his ears were flat back! He was doing what I asked but he was not pleased about it. So after a couple circles I brought him to a walk and cooled him out. Well obviously something is bothering him still. Im going to shoot an email over to Sarah and see what she thinks is up. While he is still continuing to move better on that side, hes either still uncomfortable, or anticipating being uncomfortable.

I ground tied him in the aisle-way, and then when lead him out of the barn and back down to his pasture, noticed how beautiful it was outside. It was so clear and so bright from the moon, it was actually casting a shadow of us on the ground. I honestly could not remember the last time it was so clear and so bright outside - even in the summer! At six o'clock pm, I didnt even need my headlights on at the pasture in order to see what I was doing. It was just very very pretty out. Although this morning I woke up to about three inches so far of snow. Maybe that was an indicator?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Getting in the Spirit

One of my co-workers heard me griping long enough about how I cant seem to land anyone to come to the barn and take some holiday photos of Milo and I, and that I thought I would just give up on the idea until next year. So she decided on Monday that she would bring her camera and decorations to work with her everyday so if there was one good day after work, we would go out together and she would take some photos of Milo and I.

So Tuesday was the special day. It was sunny for most of the day, and was dry (although getting dark) once we both got off work. I headed out first and pulled Milo out of the pasture to quickly groom (and the little brat had gotten his neck cover off and soaked in the mud - although I had to attach it via bailing twine the night before because I put him in his midweight blanket while its not too cold to give the heavyweight a chance to dry). Milo was in a fiesty mood and wasnt sure why we had the heavy leather halter on.

As I tried to prepare some "decorations" I found an extension cord and hooked it up to a string of lights in the stall. Co-worker arrived, with santa hats, and we went to work. I brought Milo into the stall to check out the lights and attach his poinsetta to the halter, and he was quite intrigued with the lights. So much so he tried to eat them repeatedly. No way Milo, I am not letting you electricute yourself.

Things didnt go so well as they usually do when you plan to get some quick but cute photos with horses. Milo wanted nothing to do with the flower on his halter, he did not want to stand still, and he wanted to chew on those lights. We decided to try some poses by the apple tree instead. Leading over there the little shit wanted to rear and flip his head,  he was that upset about the flower and the whole situation. So I made him longe a bit right there on my six foot showmanship lead. Once I got some of his retardedness out his his system, we went back to standing still and he finally decided the world wasnt going to end, and it might just be easier to cooperate for the twenty minutes or so.

Than we thought we would try the lights again. Milo very nicely and quietly lead with me back to the stall, and I set him up with the lights. He sure wasnt feeling the santa hat and had the most embarrassed look on his face as he stood stock still looking away from me. Oh poor Milo. Than I had the hot idea to wrap the lights around him. He didnt mind that so much and we finished the photoshoot with those. Good Milo finally decided to just deal with the situation. We got a few laughs from the evening feeder and a boarder driving in from seeing the lights, but I hope the photos make it well worth it.

I wish I could have found a nice place to set up the lights to stay for decoration, but knowing Milo he would find a way to get to them and that could be really bad. Not to mention, I dont think the BO would appreciate the 24/7 lights.

Photos to come...

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Guess What I Did Last Night?

Ok, so I went to Diamond Hill Ranch last night to help with the speed penning, but did not bring Milo. Although I did have a good (but short) ride on him before. He was good - we just kept things low key and did some more reinforcement on what we know. He was a bit distracted at one point - the lesson's horse was a bit frisky and Milo thought it might be a good idea to be frisky too. But after a few attempts on his part to trot off and throw his head in the air, Mom quickly said no to that. He came right back to me though, and we got a bit of nice work in before giving Sarah back her saddle.

I didnt stay long enough at DHR to watch much of the actual speed penning. I helped set up the "panels" they would use, and had some chatting with Sarah and Melissa. I just snapped a few photos of everyone (although will not post here without their permission) than by seven, decided I was really hungry for dinner and Boyfriend had already thought it was unfair that after riding my horse I still wasnt home.

I kind of actually like the overexposure in this photo. The arena and my camera make it difficult to get very nice shots. But I still try!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Reinforcing What We Know

Monday night at the barn.

I just thought this was a cool image when I lead Milo up from the pastures on Monday morning. The rain had cleared for the evening, and it was quite nice outside. The skies were clear and the moon was bright. This is the main barn and the arena. Milo used to be right smack dab in the middle of the barn, but he was also unhappy and a bundle of energy when kept in there.

I had a successful and nice ride this evening as well. Milo is so acceptant of the elevator bit now, he carries it like a pro. And Im continuing to learn how to use it to its best abilities as well, especially with the outside rein to inside leg, and inside rein bump when needed. In fact, during our warm up I rode Milo all around one handed, and was able to navigate about 90% on leg alone, with a lifted back as well. He is also progressing in staying forward and not bulging the shoulder out. While it did take a few minutes of concentrated work on it, he eventually became much more responsive to my leg bumping at him and he soon stopped trying to bulge it out altogether. This too will take time to go away entirely, but it is a great first few steps.

He also has the counter arc (lift and bend) down pat at the walk. The biggest thing now is my position. I am actively trying to keep my leg independant from my seat, and its getting better in baby steps. But now I notice when I lay my leg back to push his hip in and I fall onto my forehand. Knowing its happening is helping me to correct myself quickly and stay in position. I think giving Sarah back her saddle and going back to bareback again will help me keep my legs independent.

There was a lesson again however and many cones, poles, and even a bridge set up. So I had to maneuver through all of that. And when finally the lesson was over and I thought I could work on the loping serpentine exercise, than a boarder came in to longe. So I didnt get to work on the exercise because even with full access to the arena its too small to work on it properly. But I did get to work on loping circles and utilizing the outside rein. It is continuing to come together for me and the results are amazing. I also wanted to mention that Milo almost feels back to normal at the right lead lope. He is a little disconnected from front to back still, but even just over a week's worth of corrective riding is helping him move freer again. Not to mention our lope circles were starting to get really nice. He was rounding up and driving nicely.

Wednesday night DHR is holding a "speed penning". If you dont know what that is, check it out on youtube. It looks like a lot of fun and is fast paced. Even Sarah told me she would come and get me so Milo and I could do it. But being that its fast paced and high energy, I dont think its a good idea to do that with Milo just yet. While I think it would be a ton of fun (in the future) I still need to work on dry cows with Milo and get him tuning into me. I could just see him losing his mind if we were working cattle that quickly. We would definitly have some moments of tuning-Mom-out. Not something I want from my cow horse. But eventually I can hopfully have the chance to try it. Im contemplating going to DHR anyways to help where needed and observe, I still think it would be a fun event to watch, and Im sure Cathy could use another set of hands.

Lastly, Im hoping to set up another date for a lesson with Sarah, Im thinking the week after Christmas. That gives me a little more time to solidify what we last learned from Sarah, and hopefully be able to move on. Plus, that would be right before the next reining show, maybe she can give me a few more pointers. On another note, I think I may look into investing in the Les Vogt Elevator Bit. Milo is responding so well in it and I cant borrow Sarah's forever. Ill ask her when I see her again what she thinks about that. Until next time...

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Overabundance of Rain

Remember in yesterday's post how I woed at the mud and the excessive amounts of water? I take it all back. That wasnt an overabundance, and Mother Nature wanted to prove it to me. Over the weekend, we had one of those rain storms that are supposedly only supposed to happen once every 100 years. However, we had flooded out roads and dramatic rain increase only two years ago. Over the course of about two and a half days, the rain count at our house was well over six inches. Now thats a lot of water.

These were scenes around Seabeck, when Boyfriend wanted to take a drive to check out the damage.

This was taken just around the corner from our property. Glad that isnt our driveway!

These "puddles" are no match for Boyfriend's 8" lifted F350 on 37" tires!

All this water made me wonder what state Milo's mud pasture must've been in. Monday, it was noticeably wetter, but was also treated with an again dug out trench to encourage drainage. Unfortunetly, it appears the water is at a standstill.

You can also note the attempts to soak up some water with the hay and bedding strewed in front of the stalls. Not sure it will do anything but just increase to the mess, but it was kind for the barn help to try. 

Good news though! Our property seemed to fair the flooding pretty well! We live at the base of Green Mountain, which is actually more like a small valley. Right at the base (across the street from us) our neighbors (the ones with cows) had nearly all of their pastures flooded out. On our side of the street, it goes back up into a hill, so unfortunely for our neighbors but fortunetly for us, the rain from our hillside slid right down off our property and pooled down below.