Tuesday, August 7, 2018

The Unbelievable Miss Benburb

My all time favorite photo of her so far, obviously taken by a professional (thank you Sherry).  I think this should be painted.  This photo says so much, but most of all it shows how happy, relaxed, and confident she is in her new life.

Something has really clicked with Ms. B in the past two weeks.  We have hit a streak where every single ride she one ups herself.  She has found a whole new level of balance and it's pretty amazing.  She continues to impress me with every ride.  I just love her.  Not only does she have the looks, but she has the ability, and an incredible mind. 

Hey Horseware, drop me a comment if you'd like to contract her as one of your models!  Seriously though, she is super model status.

She has really started to settle in her canter.  She has discovered smooth canter departs this week from the correct canter cue.  She was really adorable because the ride after that she wanted to break into a canter seamlessly before I asked.  I think she was proud of herself and wanted to show me she totally gets it.  Her trot is always improving and I am really starting to feel some quality balance consistently.  She is also stretching forward and slightly down into the contact at the trot.

Every ride on her lately has moments where I am in disbelief of how nicely she is going.  She is incredibly smart and I think as her strength builds it is even easier for her to pick stuff up.  She totally understands things easily and learns quickly, but I think some of our issues may been a lack of strength.

I continue to take her out places and she continues to impress me with her willingness to go anywhere I ask.  She isn't spooky, she is generally interested in things.  There isn't much that concerns her.  She is also walking in to me as soon as I call for her.  I meet her half way.  Some days she greets me with a nicker.  She is starting to be more cuddly too.  She'll put her head in my hands or chest.  Sometimes she'll put her head under one of my arms.  She was a sad, skittish, robot when I first met her.  As her personality comes out more and more it is just one more thing I love about her.

There it is, the look.  She always has her ears pricked when walking in to me.  This day I didn't see her right away, called her name and she poked her head around the run in and came walking in. 

Pretty mama.

A deer running across the track in front of us while we're at a gallop.  Think Ms. B cared?  Not a care in the world.  She kept on rolling like it wasn't even there.

Her new buddy Ed, a fellow unicorn.  There was a time when she wouldn't want anything to do with another horse coming this close, now she happily says hi.

Hanging out with friends.

Helping others learn too.

Most of you know how this story ends because you have seen it on IG or the blog's Facebook page, but there is a post coming about it too.

Monday, August 6, 2018


Monty is a nice young horse that came to the barn not long ago.  He is an un-raced four year old with a the mind of a 10 year old.  If you didn't know he was four, you would never guess he was four.  He is about the easiest four year old you could hope for.  He is genuinely curious and not spooky at all.  I rode him for a bit to get him going in preparation to be listed for sale.  He had a good set of basics.  He was going wtc nicely and I had jumped him a couple times no problem.

Once he gains some more strength and balance and improves his bend he'll be on his way.  I think he'd make a great hunter.  He has the movement for it and the temperament.  Monty ended up not going far.  His new mom was already riding at the barn and she fell in love with him.  They are great together and will have a ton of fun.  I am so glad he found someone that will treat him like the wonderful horse he is.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Ms. B's Second Dressage Show

As Ms. B comes along with her flat work she will go to dressage schooling shows.  I took her to her second dressage show (her first one was in June) about two weeks ago.  She was 100% better and I couldn't have been more happy with her that day.

It was pouring when we got there, which doesn't bother her, it's just annoying.  Luckily they have an indoor to warm up in and by the time we were warmed up for our first test, the rain had stopped.  She warmed up great.  She had never been to this farm but nothing really seemed to catch her eye.  She was much more steady with her connection by this show too.  It still needs work, but you have to remember we are working against her entire life as a racehorse.  She still has her moments but those moments are becoming more and more spread out.

The ring was a sloppy mess because not only was it pouring when we got there, it had been raining all night.  Luckily, Ms. B loves water and went marching right through the giant puddles.  Some horse were spooking and having a hard time dealing with staying on the rail to get through them. The funniest part of the day is that the judge had a bell that day.  Every single time B heard the bell it got her FULL attention.  She didn't do anything, she would just perk her ears and look toward where it came from.  It was pretty adorable.  I'm sure it had to be reminding her of the bell on the gate.

Her first test was much better than the last show.  She went right in the ring like she knew what we were doing this time.  The only real issues was just a few moments of broken connection and being fussy.  There was no issue of going forward after our halts like last time.  I attribute that to a bit change and just continuing consistent work.

We had a little break between our tests so we went and walked around the property for a few minutes then went back in to the warm up to work on a couple transitions.  She was checking herself out in the mirrors too, I mean can you blame her?  Overall she was just on her very best behavior.

Our second test went well too.  Same issues, broken connection which led to one too big 20m circle.  Her free walk needs a bit of work but it was definitely better that day than the last show too.  I left the ring super happy with her again.  We went back to the warm up again to work on our canter while we were there.  After a few nice canter departs we headed back to the trailer.

I was so happy with her I really didn't care what our scores were.  They could have given us a 5% and it wouldn't have taken any of my happiness away.  I knew our scores had to be better than last time though, and they were.  For where she is in her training and experience, she really could not have been any better.  No video from this show either.  We went alone.

She scored a 60% and a 62%, respectable for a green horse.  She earned her first blue ribbon and was second on her other test.  I saw the scores at the office and didn't even read my tests.  I was too happy with her.  I threw them in my truck and forgot about them until last week.  I had to get something out of my truck and I saw them and thought, wait I never did read these!  So, I read them.

The comments at the end made my day.  Keep in mind, she was in the Starter Horse division so the judge knew she was a green horse, but saw her potential.  Here are those comments:

As if I couldn't have been more proud that day, those comments managed to make me slightly more proud after I read them.  Those scores also qualified her for two local championships, so she will go with Klein to them this fall.

She has another show in a couple weeks and I can't wait to see how she does with the next one because she continues to improve every single week.  She's going to be a serious threat after she gets some more strength, balance, and experience.

Friday, August 3, 2018

One Week, Four Dressage Shows

When Klein and I decide we are going to do something, we put 100% effort into it.  We hit our USDF goals hard these past two months.  We did a series of recognized dressage shows in a few weeks.  She is completely proficient at First Level and I was confident we could go out and earn the scores we needed, no problem.  That is what we did.

The full collection from two shows over three days.

Stone Tavern was two days with Dressage at the Park the day after.  That Friday I rode 1-2, 1-3, and DSE.  It was miserable that day.  It had been raining a ton, a storm even rolled in about 15 mins after we got there and just let loose on us.  They actually delayed the show an hour because it was raining so hard you could barely see the rings at one point.  After that storm, when we thought it couldn't possibly be more humid, it was, and coats were not waived.  My coat is warmer than your average coat, but there is no other option for me if I want to wear my service jacket.

I felt like Klein was slightly behind my leg for the first test so when we went back to the warm-up I got her moving a bit more with transitions through and within gaits.  1-3 was first and 1-2 was second, then DSE.  At the point in the warm up between tests I really just wanted a solid effort.  It didn't have to be perfect because it was just miserable that day in the thick humidity and I felt like I asked Klein for enough by putting up with working in it in the first place.

I was super proud of Klein because despite the crushing humidity, and the slight lack of energy from it, we still got the qualifying scores we needed.

The next day was the first DSHB Show aka breed show.  The weather was 100% better that day and it was beautiful.  This is also a recognized USDF show and most of the horses are presented in hand.  There are a few under saddle classes for young horses (nothing over 4 years old).  Prior to that show I had never entered a USDF breed show.  I knew what they were about and how the horses were presented but had not participated in one yet.  The horses are presented in hand and then asked to walk and trot on a triangle.  They are being judged for their potential for dressage sport horse breeding.

The first day the judge loved Klein.  He said that I really should consider breeding her because a lighter version of her would be amazing (nothing is changing my opinion to not breed her fyi).  He also said "You know I can't give you like, a 78% right?"  I said oh yes, I absolutely knew that we were the oddity in a world with VERY expensive warmbloods.  He laughed and said for what Klein is she is exceptional and that he really liked her.  She actually won that class, but the competition was not stiff.  She was also the Mature Mare Champion that day.

We also did the Amateur Handler class where more emphasis is placed on the handler and how they present the horse.  You set the horse up in front of the judge where instead of looking for breeding potential, they are looking more at the turn out and presentation of the horse.  The handler is also being judged on their appearance (neatness, cleanliness, etc...).  We were third in that class mostly because I needed to learn to set Klein up better.  This was foreign to me but that class was a great learning experience and I really had fun.

The next day was Dressage at the Park and the weather was pretty much perfect.  We did the same classes for the breed show.  Since this show was a different show the score counted toward year end awards.  The judge that day was not a fan of Klein.  She didn't have much of anything to say to us.  Though she did tell me in the Amateur Handler class that I should try to do something with her tail.  Her docked tail.  There's not much you can do about that, and it will be left alone.  We were fourth in the Mature Mare class that day and 1st in Amateur Handler.  Our saving grace was that the judge did say I presented her the best she can possibly be presented.  Thankfully she is very good in hand and when I told her to pick it up down the long side of the triangle she lengthened her stride and looked great.

Suddenly Farm was the following Wednesday.  We rode in the late afternoon and it was a nice day thankfully.  We did 1-2, 1-3, and DSE again.  Klein warmed up great.  I had some specific things I was going to incorporate and they worked.  She brought a new level of energy to her tests that day.  Sometimes we fall back into old habits unknowingly until a trained eye from the ground reminds us we have reverted.

She always goes in quietly and obediently but we were able to bring the overall energy up that day.  1-2 went well and I knew it.  She just felt great.  We had a little break then went back to the warm-up to do some transitions and back into the ring we went.  She went in the ring like she OWNED it for 1-3.  Her transitions were super prompt and we just flowed through the test.  I knew it was a good test (1-3), I even texted The Other Half and told him it was probably one of our best tests we had done.  She won all of her classes/tests that day.  There was a really nice looking little warmblood mare in front of us for 1-3 and I thought she did a pretty damn good test, I was surprised to see that we scored slightly higher than her.  Klein can hold her own against the light horses.  She has always been able to.

Unfortunately, I have no video of any of these shows.  We went alone to all of them. I feel like I also deserve my own award for braiding my own horse four times in six days.  I have never liked braiding and usually pay other people to do it.  I decided to just get over myself and learn to like it.  Four times in six days will do that.  Klein got a little break after that.  She deserved a min-vacay.  She went back to work this week and feels absolutely amazing.  So now we will get ready for the two championship shows this fall that we qualified for at 1st level and start getting ready for our 2nd level debut.

Monday, July 30, 2018

He's a Tough Old Boot

A few weeks ago we had a heatwave that was packed with extremely high humidity.  The heat index was 105 one of those days.  The temperature also significantly jumped up from where it was when the heatwave started.

Wes isn't a fan of the heat.  1.  He's Canadian and 2.  he has always lived where there was a real winter.  The south Georgia heat wasn't the most comfortable climate for him.  He would be sweating before the sun came up and at one point he began to lose some weight and it was a little tough to get weight back on him.  We thought that what we were seeing then may have been the beginning of the end.  I thought we had maybe began to see the point where an older horse begins to fade by becoming a hard keeper and going downhill from there.

There was never any other issue with him though.  Mentally he is fine, he hasn't gone senile at all.  He's a bit stiff but Pentosan Gold keeps him loosened up and after years working his whole life, it was par for the course.  He has all his teeth, in fact, when he got them done earlier this year the dentist was surprised that he still has 75% surface left at his age (27).  He eats fine, he gets up and down fine.

When we came up to New Jersey we saw an immediate change in him.  All of sudden the weight came back and he was his shiny, dappled self by spring.  It was clear that taking him out of the heat turned the clock back on him probably because the constant load on his system decreased so much.

The point of all of this is that it is a known fact that heat and humidity combined are not his friend.  That type of environment is hard on any big horse.  The heat can be handled, it is the combination of high humidity and heat that is the problem.  The day the heat wave started Wes seemed to be having a little trouble breathing.  His breathing was just slightly labored.  He was sweating, eating, drinking, pooping, and bossing Mochs so we just tried to keep him as cool as we could.  He was hosed off several times a day, had a big barrel fan in front of him, got alcohol baths, hydration hay, cold beer in his dinner at night, alcohol baths, and extra electrolytes.  He seemed a bit lethargic but that also could very easily have been a result of the heat too.

They insist on hanging out in a stall together some days.

He recently blew a nasty abscess out of the top of his left foot too.  No idea what could have caused it but it was in the same foot as last time only on the other side of the foot.  He also had a really gross tick bite that had gotten swollen.  Both of those were healed by this time though. The Other Half suggested that maybe his system was just a bit taxed lately from getting over the abscess and was trying to catch up.

He seemed to feel a bit better, and never got worse with his breathing.  By the end of the week all four legs stocked up and he seemed a little out of it, but still being his normal self beyond that with his daily routine.  He did start to go off his dinner a little bit at the end of the week but was still eating his hay.  The heatwave broke, with the humidity dropping significantly and the temperature dropping enough to feel a difference.

Wes perked up, his legs all went down, he was back on his dinner grain but then after a couple days the slightly labored breathing came back, even with standing under the fan in his stall all day.  At this point I knew something else was going on, he also began to lose weight.  I took his temperature and it was just slightly elevated.  The vet came out the next day and couldn't find anything obvious.  She did some breathing tests and listened to everything and there were no significant findings but she agreed something was off with him.  She pulled blood and by late afternoon we had the results.

He had Anaplasmosis and was getting over it on his own.  I was relieved on one hand because we had an answer and the treatment is easy and effective.  On the other hand I felt horrible because on its own Anaplasmosis sucks, but in a heatwave too?  His changes just perfectly coincided with the heatwave and since we knew his history with that type of climate we had every reason to believe it was some type of heat stress.  If this would have happened in cooler weather the vet would have been called the first day.

Both of the mares have had it here.  Mochs acted like she was on her death bed and wouldn't move or eat.  Klein had our first November here.  The only reason I knew something was up with her was because it was November, and I noticed some odd breathing while we were standing in the pasture.  She wasn't doing anything and it was cool out, there was no reason for this breathing.  She was still eating, drinking and acting completely normal.  I took her temperature and it was 105.9.  The vet was there within an hour.

We did the typical Doxycycline treatment even it was on its way out, we wanted to make sure he kicked it.  All is well now and he is out running around with his womens and trying to boss Mochs like usual.  I cannot believe he just "got over it on his own."  He is a tough old man.  Anaplasmosis tried to kick his ass and he fought it off.

The Other Half said he told me so about the "that tick thing."  He said that was his guess, and it was right.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Wrong Again

Photo Credit:  Sherry Jankowsky

Ms. B just keeps getting better and better.  There was a short period of time where she started to back off from contact and not want to go forward at times when I would ask her to trot.  She doesn't do things like that for no reason.  She was trying to tell me something.  She was in a Boucher for dressage work and a french link three ring for anything else.  She doesn't need them.  They were a bit much for her.  At first she seemed to really like them but over time she started to kind of bounce off of them.

She isn't the kind of horse that wants to rip your arms out.  She doesn't need much.  I put her back in the french link full cheek and she immediately came into the contact and was seeking it.  She even has a little foam going on with it.  She went better than she ever has as soon as I made the switch.  One evening she had the best canter work yet.  The Other Half was there that evening and at one point I had to stop and sit there for a minute and gather my thoughts because I just had one of those "I'm so happy with this horse I might just fall off right now" moments.

She is coming back and lengthening in the trot now and completely understands the concept of a half halt and immediately responds.  Her canter cues are sinking in.  I used to have to stay off her back more and really get her organized before asking her, and if she broke at the canter I would have to kind of get her re-organized and then continue.  Now I am sitting and asking for the canter and she goes.  If she breaks, I just immediately ask her to pick it up again and she does.  You will see that in the video below.  The music was from an outdoor party going on by the ring.  We enjoyed having music and can totally see her one day doing a musical freestyle.

A post shared by Stacey C (@jumpingpercheron) on

Photo Credit:  Sherry Jankowsky

Photo Credit:  Sherry Jankowsky

Photo Credit:  Sherry Jankowsky

I also recently took her out for her first real adventure on some trails.  We went alone because I had no reason to think she was going to be silly.  She was great.  She really enjoyed herself.  We galloped a bit and she played in the river.  She took a minute to realize that the river was just water.  It is really dark and I think she wasn't sure it was just water.  But once she figured that out, she was splashing around in it and getting in chest deep.

One happy mare out adventuring.

A post shared by Stacey C (@jumpingpercheron) on

At first she was a little excited, but by the end she was cruising along on a loose rein.  We were passed by multiple vehicles, people on foot, and people on bicycles.  Nothing bothered her.  We even found Santa Claus...in the middle of the Pine Barrens.  We came around a corner to a plastic Santa in the middle of the trail.  It is probably one of the weirdest things I have ever come across while out riding.  Ms. B just kind of looked at it like "huh, that's dumb" and ignored it.


Ready to go again.

She had also been hanging on to some dead winter coat and was still needing to put a little weight on.  I started to think, oh here it is, here is the ulcery have to feed it like a furnace TB.  Though she has already been treated for ulcers and wasn't displaying anything indicative of it aside from a coat that was still lacking.  She had also been given a PowerPac not too long ago, so I was going to do a fecal to see if maybe we missed something.  Enter soybean oil.  Klein, Mochs, and Wes all get soybean oil on their dinner and have been for years.  So it was worth a try, it's an easy high fat source.
Two weeks later and she had filled out, ditched the last crappy pieces of coat and now looks absolutely amazing.  I honestly have never seen a horse respond so quickly or so noticeably.  So, there we go, foot in mouth.  She proved me wrong AGAIN on one of my TB stereotypes.

And hey, look!  Megan even came to try another horse at the barn so we got to ride together!  It has been way too long since the last time!

She's even good at selfies.  This was a secret selfie The Other Half took one day that I found on my phone.

Her personality just keeps coming out more and more as she learns that she is an individual and not an expendable instrument of income.

A post shared by Stacey C (@jumpingpercheron) on

This just cracked me up.  Yes, very classy with the sound effects.

A post shared by Stacey C (@jumpingpercheron) on

Photo Credit:  Sherry Jankowsky

This face in the pic above gets me every time.  Every time I come into her sight this is the face I see.  Ears pricked, wondering what we are doing that day.  She is always interested.  When I go out to get her and call her name, she will turn and walk to me with this face.  If she is in when I get there this is the face I see peering out at me.  She is a horse that is present.  She isn't out in lala land wondering what her friends are doing or pouting about maybe getting fed later than normal.  She cares very much about what we are doing and is there to listen, learn and give her all, as long as you are willing to listen to her too.

Here is another great pic by Sherry that captured that face perfectly:

Just FYI, Sherry is a professional photographer (I know, it's obvious through her photos) in the South Jersey area and she does a variety of shoots from Sweet 16's, to weddings and other social gatherings, and everything in between.  If you are in the area and would like her contact info for your event, let me know in the comments.

I think we just got to a really good spot, and I think our progress will take off from here.  She is clearly insanely athletic, and some people are wondering why she's not out jumping 4' courses yet.  We did school some xc, and she was great.  And we have jumped some small stadium jumps.  However, her flat work needs to get better.  How in the world am I going to be able to communicate with her around a course if she doesn't have the basics down?  So, I'm 100% ok with still being on the flat right now.  I have other horses I can jump, and I do.  It doesn't have to be her right now.  I want to give her the respect she deserves and that is to let her tell me when she is ready.

The plan for now is to continue putting in the dressage work and hit some schooling shows soon.  I will also continue taking her to new places to mentally give her a break and let her see some different scenery.  When her dressage work gets more solid she'll start going through grids.