Fly boots and rainmaker

The flies are super annoying this summer. I’m not sure what causes it but I know they are annoying the crap out of me. Scarlet seems to be okay and isn’t rubbing his face too much. I still feel bad because I want to try to help him a bit with keeping the flies off of him.

I’ve been tossing around the idea of getting him fly boots for a while and finally decided to go for it. I bought the Shofly leggins that a few other bloggers have tried. I’d been able to get a good look at L’s and thought they were pretty dang sturdy. When they came in, I took them out to adorn Scarlet.

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He was NOT pleased.

I thought it was hilarious and figured he’d get over it. He still seems annoyed with me whenever I go out there and put them back on but it’s been only about a week and he hasn’t worn them the full week yet. I’ll give it some more time and if he still seems to hate them, I may stop. My biggest concern is he is CONVINCED he cannot walk with them on. He reluctantly steps forward to grab treats and I’m pretty sure he isn’t walking as much in his stall. Again, hoping this goes away as he gets used to them but its a wait and see game.

Scarlet’s hooves have been bothering me for a while. They’ve got a lot of cracks in the heel and they flake off quicker in the sole area. I couldn’t determine if it was just from the dry weather or from bad diet. I’ve added a hoof supplement but that’s going to take a long time to grow out proper hoof. I don’t seem to be seeing any difference in the hoof growth up by the band either. That stuff is flakey as well.

I tried to research moisturizing hooves but there’s a lot of contradictory stories out there, not much research. Most of what I could find was anecdotal evidence of doing it one way or another. The heel seemed to be flaking more lately and I finally decided to look up some hoof conditioner. I figured I’d use it sparingly and watch to see if there is any result, good or bad, and then decide to continue from there.

I purchased some Rainmaker hoof conditioner and have used it on him twice so far. All it seems to be doing is allowing the dirt to stick to his hoof better. I’ll need to give him a bath and let his hooves dry to see if there is any noticeable difference. I took some pictures in order to have a reference of how all the hooves looked before I started this.

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A Day at the Races

I grew up reading the Thoroughbred series as a kid (as I’m sure many of us have) and loved reading about the races. I had never been as there wasn’t one near where I grew up. As an adult, it hadn’t come up. I don’t gamble so there wasn’t much of a reason for me to go.

Now that I’m in San Diego, I definitely wanted to go to Del Mar at least at some point. I’ve been to the fairgrounds for horse shows and have seen the track but its not the same as attending. My day came when my husband told me that his company’s summer bbq was going to be held at the race track. We were even going to be in the infield in some sort of plaza they have there.

To say I was excited is an understatement. He did warn me that some of his coworkers were probably going to ask me for betting advice since I was the only person they knew who rides. I laughed cause I don’t know anything about race betting. Surprisingly, no one ended up asking me for advice past explaining what the stats in the little booklet they hand out mean.

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The best my hair was gonna get in the wind…

I’m a perpetually early person so we were some of the first there. I sat and nibbled at some food for a bit but when it was five minutes from the start of the first race I had to get to the track. It was a 6-furlong race so they started on the backside. Hardly anyone else was there so I had a delightful view. It was awesome.

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I ended up watching about five races and managing to get right next to the finish line for the rest. There was a mile race on the turf as well and the thunder of hooves as they passed on the start was… emotional? Weirdly emotional. Its such a fascinating sound and hits all the love of horse buttons inside me. There was a maiden 2-year-old race that was the last one I saw for the night. The start from the gate was hilarious. All the babies were so confused and jumped out and then spooked sideways before realizing that they were running and settling down to business.

I definitely want to go back. I wouldn’t call myself a diehard fan but I enjoyed my day. I’d love to go back with people who love horses and know something about racing. The infield was an interesting view but I actually want to be up in the stands so I can see the action better.

Catch-up Post 10: Hands Forward!

So, after my recent jumping efforts being videotaped, I realized my hands are crap. I hold them so close to my groin and that is not good. For one, I don’t release well over the jump which holds Scarlet back. For another, it is a backward way of thinking. I’ve got my hands back and am artificially creating somewhat of a connection instead of Scarlet really moving forward into the bridle and lifting his back. Now that I know this, it’s one of the primary things I am focusing on fixing.

The first ride that I started thinking about my hands, I tried to carry them as if I was holding them over where his neck connects with his shoulder. They ended up being somewhere between there and the front of my saddle but I have to imagine overdoing it in order to get a more forward hand. It felt so weird and I had to focus on it a lot.

Scarlet also thought it was odd. He held his head back where I normally have it and didn’t easily stretch into the connection. It was like he was saying, “Um, Mom? Head goes here right?”.

I shortened the reins until I got some feeling on his mouth and then slowly worked him out to a bit longer of a rein but I never felt like I really had a connection to his mouth and back.

After another couple of rides, I wouldn’t say its much easier or better connected but Scarlet’s at least not defaulting to an uber short neck. It’s something I’m going to have to work on for a while before both of us get used to it.

One of the ladies at the barn was attempting to go on the trail a bit with her anxious thoroughbred and asked if we would accompany them. Scarlet was really confused at being the lead (the other horse literally could not walk forward without a lead) but he was really good about it. He was even fine with the stop and go we had to do in order to wait for the other horse. The poor guy was literally shaking. I offered to do this more with her so that it can become a habit and he can learn that nothing is going to eat him on the trail.

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I is done rolling and eating, take me back now mom.

 

It’s crazy to me that this silly guy went from an absolute no on the trail to being the lead horse for someone else. I’m so proud of him. ❤

Catch-up Post 9: Dante’s jumpie show

I know. I know. This one is so far behind that it’s hardly relevant. But I want to chronicle the things that happen to me in the horse world and this one definitely deserves a post.

L. told me that she had classes for flat and jumping on Saturday and Sunday at the showgrounds. I definitely wanted to go watch and take pictures. I love being at horse shows. Its super exciting. I don’t know if I would still be able to maintain the same attitude if it was me showing (likely no) but I love attending. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to attend on Saturday as I had plans for the early afternoon but I ended up making it.

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The classes were running an hourish behind schedule, which means I arrived in time to hang out at the barn with L, Carey and another lady whose name I’ve forgotten for a while before L needed to tack up and warm up. I volunteered myself to carry the hoof oil, whip, brushes etc she needed to polish up before entering the ring. L warmed up and then headed in for her rounds.

Dante is a goofy baby still and got surprised by the first fence but looked so lovely over most of the rest of them. I videoed so if you’d like to see those, take a look at her post here. Not the most perfect hunter rounds ever but it was the first show he had gone over fences and it was very contained for a four-year-old. I hung out with L while she put him away and then watched a few jumper rounds before leaving.  Nothing says a good weekend like spending a chunk of time at a horse show!

Catch-up Post 8: More Grids!

We did more grids! Some jumps were set up in what looked like a one stride to a one stride. I was out there Saturday morning (14th) with no one else riding. Perfect time to do some more jumps. I got off Scarlet to drop all but one jump to poles to start. It’s always nice that he will just chill right where he is when I’m moving jumps. Not perfectly ground tied but he does it when we are in the arena.

 

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Step 1

The spacing was not right. It ended up being something like 1.5 strides to 1.5~2ish strides. I’m super glad that I had decided to put everything down to poles instead of just diving head first. I moved the middle jump back to try to make it an even 1 and 2 strides. We did the poles again. Not quite right. I moved the middle jump 2 more times and then the third jump once to get the proper striding happening. Oh well. It worked out eventually.

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Step 2

As you can probably tell from this picture, this is actually when I moved the third jump. The angle was weird and we were getting an odd line through that was messing us up. We had to do this a few times because Scarlet’s momentum was not very forward. (more on that later)

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Final step

By this point, Scarlet was getting a little annoyed with me and me with him. We chunked our way through the grid twice with him trotting after the second jump once and after the first the second time. I tried to not get too frustrated with him and got a much more forward canter and we made it through at the canter with some strong leg.

A lady who was turning her horse out in the arena came over to the rail and I made a comment on how he was just done with me. She asked if I would want some advice as she used to be a trainer. I said sure. I’m always open to advice. Whether I take it or not is a different story. She told me that I was holding him back and pushing him forward while we were going through the grid, which is why he was so annoyed with me. I needed to release better. Okay, I thought, let’s do this again. She was nice enough to video for me.

I thought about over releasing as we went over the jumps and we made it through very smooth. I called it a day and thanked her for videoing.

Later, I reviewed the video and showed L the video and I realized that my hands suck. They are so far back just normally that over releasing legitimately did not show. Trainer D has had to remind me to carry my hands forward and up during the lessons and I thought I had been doing better. Seeing this video, I still have a long way to improve and I really get what she was telling me now. The wonderful thing about videos is being able to see yourself as other people see you. My main goal for riding for a while is going to be HANDS FORWARD!!! XD

Catch-up Post 7: Riding Dante!

L. and I had been talking about needing to get together to ride again. Initially, it was supposed to be at my barn with Scarlet but as the designated day crept closer, it was looking to be a scorcher. My barn is inland and there is generally a 20-degree difference between the coast and inland area. That weekend, it hit 100 and did not cool down at all during the night. The forecast said it would be about 90 degrees by 10am. Given that that sucks, we decided to switch to riding Dante instead. L’s barn is near the coast and is much cooler than mine.

I arrived at the barn and chatted with L while she was grooming Dante. There was no one around at her barn so it was really peaceful. Dante has grown into such a lovely boy. He’s so wide now. I can almost not believe he is the same horse I met almost a year ago. He is such a lover boy too. He looooooves the attention and just wants it all the time. He has his baby moments but is so well behaved for a 4 year old.

L took him out and gave him a warm up. I’ve never watched her do a ride that wasn’t a warm up before a show. It was very enlightening as to how she manages to get 100 transitions during a ride. She transitions all the time. Half a lap of trot here, across the diagonal, walk some, trot again, canter a bit. She’s super varied and I could definitely see how it’s so good for the horse. I’ve got to give it some serious thought on to how to implement something similar with Scarlet. Transitions make him anxious because he is always attempting to anticipate what I want next so that many will hurt his poor little brain. I need to work a bit on figuring out the right application for him.

After she rode around and made sure that he didn’t have any wiggles in him, I got to get on. I was so nervous. I’ve never ridden a horse as young as Dante. And I was pretty terrified that I’d do something stupid and ruin him for forever. Obviously, that wouldn’t happen. I’d have to be a horrible person and abuse him or something to ruin him, rather than not being a great rider. Still, irrational thoughts am I right?

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Dante has so much suspension in his gaits. The difference between him and Scarlet is… ridiculous. Obviously, there’s a lot of genetics etc going on there. There is also almost a 2 hand difference in height which helps. But Dante really floats across the ground, even when I’m not riding amazing. L urged me to canter and after some serious trouble (I really should have just picked up my reins and tried to ride! Ugh. If she lets me ride again, I’ll do better!) we cantered. He’s so flowy and effortless. I didn’t canter much because L’s saddle did not fit me. At all. I found myself sitting super forward and almost on the pommel itself. Not comfortable for extended riding. lol

It was super fun. It definitely gave me a better idea for what I’d look for in Future Horse. I don’t know that I will ever have the budget for a horse of Dante’s caliber but maybe I can find a really raw somewhere in between Scarlet and Dante version? XD

I love hanging out with horse friends and always feel grateful when they trust me enough to let me on their horses. 🙂

Catch-up Post 6: Riding Lesson

I was only a little bit delayed on this past riding lesson. Just about 5 weeks instead of 5 months. I try to take one a month as that is what is within budget at the moment. Sometimes the weeks don’t work out for that to be perfect but it keeps me on track to have someone look at my riding every once in a while.

I brought my saddle this time and rode in it. I’m not very educated in the ways of saddle fit so I was worried that it wasn’t going to fit Brad well. Trainer D checked it before we got on. It fit him well enough but was going to cause me to lean forward a bit due to the balance of the saddle on him. I could definitely feel that. I’m thinking that the shimmed pad I use for width on Scarlet might be a good idea with Brad as well. I’ll try it next lesson I have.

Trainer D was finishing up a previous lesson so I started warming myself up after I figured out the curb rein I was riding with. I’ve never ridden with two reins before so it felt a bit awkward to pick up and loosen my reins. I fumbled with my fingers every time.

Brad was quite sluggish at the beginning, per usual. He isn’t interested much in flat work. He likes jumping and never is sluggish there. I actually had to stop him and adjust my spurs so that they were above the spur rest so I could get after him to get moving. It took a bit but we got to a decent pace with Trainer D’s input at the end. My canter departs were pretty good. I’ve been working on asking and not giving until Scarlet canters so Brad also got that treatment and we actually got up into the canter nicely.

Trainer D had me canter in a half seat and I flubbed that by not putting my leg on before leaning forward. Brad obligingly listened to what my body was telling him and dropped to a trot. Perfect lesson horse. Always willing to listen to EXACTLY what I tell him and no more. We did it again with me remembering to ride actively and it was fine.

We took a walk break and I updated her on some of what I’d been working on on my own and the things that I thought I needed to improve on. One thing that I specifically need to focus on is staying up after the jump and not immediately landing on Scarlet’s back. She agreed that that will come with doing more two-point practice and being conscious of it.

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The approximation of the jumps in the arena w/terrible paint skills.

 

Trainer D pointed us to a small verticle fence (grey) set at the end of the arena and told us to canter over it both ways. We did. It was smooth and nice. She said she could see that I’d been practicing waiting for the jump. She raised it and then had us jump it on the right lead and turn the corner to another verticle set somewhat perpendicular to the first (dark red next to blue). I did not balance myself correctly and we motorcycled around the corner, which led to us getting a terrible distance to the fence. I told Trainer D what I felt and she said that I needed to spread my weight more into my left leg. I did better the second time around and the corner was smoother.

Trainer D then had us take the blue diagonal line. She wanted me to get it in 5 strides. I went over and got 6. For all that Brad is a big horse, he will happily take a slow methodical stride to a fence rather than a big stride. We tried a couple more times and I couldn’t quite get the 5. I’d get a chip 6 but I just couldn’t figure out the 5. Trainer D explained it to me that I will get him to the fence and then sit there doing nothing. I have to really ask for the 5 if I want to get it and mean it. I did it again and we got it.

This is the part where I can’t remember the actual course and I’m pretty sure that I missed a fence because of the last little bit. We headed over the first grey vertical to something else that put us on the other end of the arena. Then we circled around to the right past the green jumps and went over the blue diagonal in a 6. I can remember the blue diagonal because the turn to it was a sharp one and I kept messing it up so we broke that part down.

I wasn’t turning well enough to get both the fences properly in line. I gave Brad a terrible line to the first fence and we flew over the second one as a response. It wasn’t great. We had to break that turn and the blue line down. I was stuck in fast mode from the previous blue line attempt and needed to leave the canter alone and just focus on the turn to the jumps. It took a few tries but we eventually got it. It was quite warm so we called it there.

I have a video of the blue line but it was sent over text so it looks like it was taken with a potato due to compression. I’ve asked Trainer D to email it to me but I haven’t gotten it yet.

Catch-up Post 5: Kid pony rides

My friend and her kids came to visit and ride again. I’m really enjoying teaching them how to manage themselves around Scarlet and how to ride. Scarlet appreciates all the treats he gets when they visit as well.

We started the day off by going to the tack store. J wanted to get some breeches as riding in jeans isn’t very fun. She also thought about getting some boots vs tennis shoes. I didn’t think much of it. She used to ride when she was younger so I agreed that she’d probably feel more comfortable in those when riding. I figured she’d get the low-end breeches and low-end boots since they don’t visit to ride very often.

She got ROMFH breeches.

And some nice short boots.

And a helmet.

I should have guessed we would get more than we came for. Horse people are horse people even if they don’t ride much anymore.

Her kids both got small curry combs that fit their hands better than mine. I’m pretty pleased with that because they both were much more excited to groom with “their” brushes. XD

We also tried to see if there happened to be a saddle there that the kids would fit a bit better than my saddle. An 18 seat and two tiny children don’t really fit well. My stirrups didn’t even get short enough for their legs. There were a couple of smaller English saddles that we had them sit in but they were… expensive. Way too expensive. We’d need to find something secondhand for them as they aren’t riding often. There were no small western saddles. When we asked the kids, they both said they’d rather ride in an English saddle anyway.

J was awesome and got Scarlet a new fly mask and a new saddle pad. It’s a lovely teal color with a yellow/tan edging. It looks quite nice on him.

When we got out, the kids helped me groom like last time and I hopped on. It’s an interesting balance to work Scarlet enough that I’m not worried about him getting too excited while being ridden and not riding so long that the kids go nuts with boredom. We also had to switch saddles as K from the barn lent us the one she used for her son when he rode. It fit the kids much better and we had shorter stirrups.

J got on to ride a bit but ended up not doing too much as she’d increased her leg work out during the week and had no leg muscle left for riding. Then the kids got on. I had C walk Scarlet in circles about me as I tried to instruct her on steering. It was… quite a funny experience. Scarlet would turn with her but he would just do a 360 and head back to me instead of out to walk a circle properly. We eventually got some okay circles both directions and did about half a lap of trotting with me running beside the horse. C managed to keep her balance quite well and I was pretty proud of both of them.

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L got on after C but he was getting cranky and didn’t want to walk around on his own. That’s unusual as he is the one way more into animals but we rolled with it. I put a lead rope on Scarlet and we walked 4 or 5 laps together before he said he was done.

I’m hoping I can either borrow K’s saddle again or find a smaller saddle for the two of them for cheap. I definitely think that they will benefit from having the shorter stirrups as we continue riding. I did overhear C saying she wanted to do this more and her mom offered to get her lessons near where they live so fingers crossed that the bug has bitten another person!

Catch-up Post 4: Completing a Goal

Saturday, June 30th I didn’t have a concrete plan for riding. It was pretty empty and I just hopped into an arena and started warming up. We did some bending and transitions and I decided that I was done with arena work. I wanted to push Scarlet down the trail a bit, just to see if we can get a bit farther than last time. Trail walking is quite a good cool down.

Guys.

WE WENT THE WHOLE CIRCUIT! BY OURSELVES!!!

It was amazing. I tried my best to stay super relaxed and just keep lightly insisting on going forward. And it worked. Scarlet wasn’t in love with walking on his own but he never really got super tense. He would swing his head toward the barn every once in a while to stare (you can see the barn for the whole circuit) but I didn’t feel like he got more than mildly anxious about leaving the barn behind.

I don’t have any pictures because I wasn’t going to jinx anything by pulling out my phone and then having him flip out and dump me. But it was great y’all. We started jigging a tiny bit on the backside of the loop as we were heading toward home. But there is a difference between jigging from “I want to go home” and jigging from “OMG EVERYTHING IS GONNA KILL ME”. It was definitely the former so I just kept insisting that we walk. And we finished the loop. And I didn’t fear for my life while doing it.

I’m so proud of him. It’s really hard for him to go alone away from other horses. We’ve never really had the opportunity to do trails at any other place we’ve lived so we aren’t really experienced.

I gave him extra grain as a reward, though I’m not sure he knew what it was for. I’ll definitely be doing this again and again before the summer light goes away. It will be great to use it as a cooldown. I’ll wait till we do it a handful more times before I try to head out there without some work in the arena to drain off energy.

Catch-up Post 3: Sister time

My little sister was in town for a work conference and we had previously told her we’d take her to the Safari park for a past birthday if she ever got her butt down to visit us. So she took this opportunity to get down the weekend before her conference and visit us.

Sunday, we took her to the animal park where she was extremely happy to pet the goats. We both did 4-H growing up and she had two pygmy goats that were her babies. One of them was extremely dog-like and loved her to pieces. Unfortunately, animals don’t live as long as humans so she was missing goats a lot. The petting zoo is meant for kids but we are kids at heart right? 😉

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After seeing the wild animals for a few hours, we went and rode Scarlet during the evening. It was quite fun to see someone else ride him. She hasn’t ridden in quite a long time but did pretty well. Her helmet almost flew off at one point due to her head being super small compared to mine. She got a bit of good trotting out of Scarlet after really working at getting him moving forward.

It was good to have someone to take pictures of and to watch ride Scarlet. I don’t get to see him move very often as I’m always the one on him. It looked like he was swinging his hips out a lot on the left lead canter but I’m not sure if that was the angle I was sitting at, her riding or him actually doing that. But it was cool nonetheless. And again, media!!!