Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas From Our Herd to Yours

Klein telling Santa what she wants for Christmas, after we convinced Santa she doesn't attack.  He was totally terrified of her at first and just stood in front of her and stared.  I had to move her around him for a picture.  He pretty much froze at the sight of her.  Pffft, wussy Santa.  Look at that sweet face!  Don't worry Santa, we removed her venom sacks.

I hope all of you and your horses are having a very merry Christmas! 

We sure did here.  After three days of complete down pours amounting to 12" of rain and a tornado touch down on Tuesday, the sun came out today and it was beautiful.  Just in time for a Christmas hack. 

Most importantly, this Christmas, the Other Half is home.  Last Christmas he was deployed.  So more than anything, I am happy he is just here this year and we can spend time together.  The Other Half + the ponyfaces = true happiness.

On Christmas Eve the ponies got molasses dipped carrots.  The rain had just stopped so everything was a mess, but we couldn't complain too much because it was 70 degrees.

 Spending some quality time cuddling with our sweet Wes.  Dec 26th marks one year of retirement for him.

 Wes hugging me yesterday.  I had to get a pic of this!  He does it all the time to me!!!  I know it's his way of saying thank you for waiting all those nine years and keeping my promise to come back and get him.  It melts my heart every single time he hugs me.

 The Moch!

#1 OG horse for life.

 Being silly with mah girl.

 Wes coming in this morning.

 It was molasses dipped granola bars for our ponies this morning.

 After the three of them had their molasses dipped granola bars I got on Klein for a bareback hack and the Other Half took Mochi with us for a walk.

 There really is no difference between Mochi and a labrador.




 The Other Half and his Mochi!

Our storm...I saw the tornado coming.  After CrossFit Tuesday morning I saw the sky turn a bright yellow/pink.  Last time that happened we had a tornado watch.  Tornadoes are not common to this area, but their possible every now and then.  They have had a very few touch downs here in the past few decades, thankfully.  The worst hit that afternoon after I saw they weird sky.

All of the sirens went off on base and it went into lock down.  I hate the sound of the sirens on base, they're creepy.  The first touch down was not too far from the barn.  Needless to say, my heart skipped a few beats until the barn owner answered and said she was at home and had no idea that it was that serious.  It was just raining hard there, and the ponies were fine.  The next funnel cloud was heading toward the base, that's what made it go into lock down.

 The stream that formed in the mare pasture to drain the aftermath of our three day down pour.

Thankfully that is all over, the sun is back and we are about to enjoy the beautiful mild winter of South Georgia some more.  67 and sunny tomorrow :D

Friday, December 19, 2014

Slow Motion Jumping Videos

I promised I had some slow motion jumping videos.  So, here you go!  They were taken two weeks ago today.

These were all from a 3'3" line.  We were jumping up hill and down hill through the line, and on an angle over the oxer.

First, at speed:

And again in slow motion:

Through the line at speed:

And again in slow motion:

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Combined Training Show, 13 Dec 14

This past Saturday we went to another show in Tallahassee.  We did the Training level (USEA dressage and showjumping at 3'3") Combined Training class again.  Next show we will ride atleast one or two more dressage tests and maybe an extra jumper round.  I wanted to make it to this one because there was a large "R" dressage judge.

We were the only ones in our class, so our placing doesn't mean much.  Ocala was having some shows that day and I know some people were heading down there.  Even though we were first by default, we still had to get up at 5am that morning and show up.

 On our way.  You can't really tell but it was a pretty, foggy morning.

Huge thanks to the Other Half as well because he was right there with me.  All I cared about was riding for the large R judge.  I didn't get an accurate gauge last show, due to my own error, and the judge disliked my AF service coat altogether.

Animal whisperer.  This happens everywhere we go!

As soon as the Other Half got out of the truck almost every animal on the property flocked to him.  He reminds me of that scene in Ace Ventura, "Come to me, my jungle friends!"

Dressage warm up.

 Well, glad we made it because Klein scored a 30.0 on her USEA Training Level A test!  That is the lowest score she has ever gotten at that level.  Her record at Novice is 26.1.  Our strong points were our entry down the center line, our 15m circles in each direction at the trot and the canter, our working trot to canter transition in both directions, our change rein through the diagonal (canter across the diagonal, KXM, and transitioning down to a trot at x), and our halt (which got a 9).  Our weakness was our lengthenings and our stretchy 20m circle.  Our free walk and medium weren't the greatest either.  She was looking for a more active walk and free walk.  There were three lengthenings, two at the trot and one at the canter.  Our canter lengthening scored the highest of the three but still needs improvement.  She commented that I need to give her more room with my hands and let her go a little more, I held her in.  So, I will take my report card to my instructor.  These are weaknesses we having been working on too.  Showing a difference in the lengthening is the thorn in our side.  I have some ideas for cavaletti work too that will hopefully get her stretching down and forward a little more too.  We have a plan, so I am excited to see if we can seriously improve them this year.

Ha, Klein is like, meh, booooring.

Stadium, what can I say?  She jumped double clear and we had one of the smoothest rounds we've had in a while.  Last Friday I took some things I learned from our lesson with the Grand Prix trainer and used them during our jump school.  We had an awesome jump school.  Very organized and smooth.  It definitely helped improve our stadium.

There was a show photographer there, so hopefully she got some nice pics.

Another fun day out with my Heart Horse!

On the way home we continued the remedial loading training.  She loaded nicely to go to FL that morning.  We decided to vary it again and let her load just once since she went on perfectly.  On the way home I picked a random, empty parking lot to pull over in and unload her for a few minutes.  


Not at all amused by this surprise.  She thought the next stop was home.  Ha.

Oh well.  The next stop really was home.

When we got home??  I unloaded her and walked her to the pasture then turned her around and walked her right back on the trailer.  We repeated that a couple times.  Once she nickered at me from the trailer like "Can I come out yet?"  She loaded a total of 27 times this week. 

The next day we went on a nice hack.  The weather is perfect here in the winter.  It was 67 Sunday.  Today was 74 and breezy.  Perfect.  

Out on our hack with a friend.

It is IMPOSSIBLE to fit her whole head in a pic like this.  You just have to aim for an eye.  My HPG kit bag is still so comfortable I forget I have it on while riding and galloping around.  Love it!

One last thing.  I put Back on Track therapeutic polo wraps on my xmas list, and look what magically showed up this week! 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

This is How a Klein Loads

Back at it.

We let our trailer lesson sink in yesterday and this evening we were back at it again.  Klein loaded nicely 11 times.  The first time she time she tried to test the water very slightly.  As soon as the Other Half took a step toward the hip that she considered using to evade the ramp she straightened up and went right on.  Every single time after that, ten more times to be exact, she went on perfectly.

Tonight we varied the whole session.  She would load and stay on the trailer for five minutes, unload and spend some time in the barn in cross ties, load for two minutes, unload to the bottom of the ramp then I would load her right back up.  She is almost too smart for her own good sometimes so we have to vary the routine.  She figures out patterns extremely fast.  I wanted to keep her guessing so she had to listen because she had no clue where we were going next or how long she would be on the trailer.  Same ideas as a lot of transitions to get them listening.  

She could stand on the trailer forever.  She just quietly munches her hay and hangs out.  That has never been a problem.  She has never kicked, stomped, been vocal, etc...  Sometimes I walked her back into the barn to say hi to Mochi and then we would turn around and get right back on the trailer.  Other times we'd unload then take two steps, turn around and immediately reload.  She did all of this perfectly.  By the eighth time I could see she was starting to get annoyed, just through her facial expression.  She didn't let any of it show in her behavior because she knows that would earn her ten more times getting on our trailer.  She has learned since she was a baby in the round pen that bad behavior earns you more work.  So she shelves it most of the time.  I am pretty sure she is putting two and two together already hence her annoyed facial expressions after the repeating the same easy thing eight times.

We had already planned to load her ten times as a minimum, with good behavior.  I added one so we didn't stick with the same number as last time, for the sake of keeping the routine varied.  I also loaded her the last two times with the Other Half nowhere in sight.  He was in the barn checking on some horses.  She was perfect.  Here is one of the times walking from the barn, THIS is how she has always loaded, THIS is my Klein mare:

I would only tell her "good girl" once when she got on the trailer, then I left her alone until I went to unload her.  There were no treats either.  We just treated it like any other everyday thing we do that is expected.  Again, she is not doing me a favor by loading.  Getting on the trailer should be right there with something as simple as me putting a halter on her.  Getting on a trailer is what a domesticated horse does, it's part of her job.  We will have another loading session this week.

Another huge thanks to the Other Half for making this a team effort.  He was ready to head out to the barn right after work.  He is just as involved in this as I am.  He cares about everything involved with our horses, and I am so lucky to have that.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Defeated to Victorious

 Getting tacked up for our lesson today.

I have some pretty cool slow motion videos of us jumping from Friday, as requested, but I have to hold off on posting them until the next post.

First we have to take a time out and talk about today.  For almost two months now, every time we go to load up to go somewhere Klein has thrown a fit.  Some of them minor, some of them complete meltdowns.  This isn't like her.  She has traveled to Hawaii and back and traveled extensively around several states to compete in horse trials.  In other words, there is no reason for these fits.  A few times during these years I have had her, she has had melt downs over random things.  Every horse is allowed to have days like that.  But lately this has become habit, not a bad day.  A bad habit.

I honestly am not sure why she started this behavior because she has NEVER won. She always gives in and just gets on the trailer quietly once she gets over herself.  Nothing else has changed in the trailer.  I've had this trailer for two years, she has never had a problem with it.  I know it's not the trailer.  I know there's nothing wrong with her either.  She acts perfectly fine when we are doing things at our barn and even after a fit about loading, when we get to where we are going to ride for the day she acts perfectly fine.

Today was the last straw.  We were scheduled to ride with grand prix showjumper Carlo Graziani this morning.  I got to the barn early in case there was a fit.  The last time we went some where a couple weeks ago it took five mins.  But better to give myself extra time in case we needed it, and...we needed it.  To my complete disappointment she threw a fit about loading this morning.

When I say threw a fit I mean it.  Hopping around, squealing, little rears, swinging her hip to the left of the ramp to evade loading, planting her feet like a damn donkey, and just generally having a melt down.  For no reason.  Our routine is the same every single time we go somewhere:  she has breakfast, I hook up my trailer and throw any last minute things in the tack room then she gets in.  This bs went on for 45 mins until at one point, like usual she decided she had her fun and was ready to just get on the trailer and she walked on nicely.  Complete mystery.

Good thing I gave myself extra time.  She loaded pretty much right on the last minute that we absolutely had to be on the road or we would be late.  So, we made it to Tallahassee, we had our lesson with Carlo.  I'll post about that later.  When we went to leave the barn where we had the lesson, for the first time, she gave me a hard time about loading to LEAVE.  Oh, ok...I see.  This is a game.  With some help she caved and loaded in five mins.  I drove home in silence trying to figure what is going on with her.  WHAT started this???  Whatever it is it was snowballing.  My mind flashed back to the stubborn three year old Klein throwing baby fits over learning new things she didn't understand.  She is too big to be throwing fits.  You think your light horse is big when they don't want to do something?

She doesn't scare me.  I have respect for her size and I am always aware of it, but she doesn't scare me.  I've had her since she was two, we've been through a lot.  I know that isn't it.  I don't allow her to push me around, and because of that, she rarely tries.  So I can rule that out.  She isn't barn sour, I don't allow that either, and never have.  I thought about EVERYTHING.  I just don't know where I gave her any inkling that she could take advantage of me and test me like she has about loading.

When I got home after unloading Klein today I was tired and defeated because I was completely mystified.  The Other Half said we will just have to practice loading nicely, A LOT.  He suggested we just start tonight, especially after how rude she was today.  He told me I put Klein on a pedestal and it just keeps getting higher and higher.  He's right.  I do, I know I do.  After she throws a fit about loading and then loads I usually still give her a treat and love on her and tell her I'm sorry we had a disagreement.  I reminded him of that today and he just looked at me and said "That's where it starts."  He's right.  She isn't doing me a favor by loading.  That is her job, she does what I direct her to do.  I don't hope she does things, I expect her to do them.

So, I took a shower and we got back in the truck and headed to Tractor Supply.  I remember always seeing some kind of thing there with a paddle on the end and always thinking that would probably be a good thing to keep around the barn.  I knew we would need some kind of tool to just cut the bs to a minimum.  I found it.  I guess the real name for it is a sorting paddle and as a bonus it has little rattles in it too to make extra noise.  Awesome.

The sorting paddle.

I hooked up the truck and trailer and got the trailer all opened up then we developed our plan of action.  The Other Half would tap her with the paddle when she tried to swing her hip out and evade the trailer ramp.  Once she was on she would stay on for five minutes, then I unload her and we repeat.

The first time, I walked her up to the ramp and she started to plant her feet.  I turned her around and walked toward the trailer to load her again and she swung her hip to the left to avoid stepping straight on the ramp.  The Other Half was ready and waved the paddle at her.  She kept on swinging her hip so he tapped her with it.  The rattles got her attention too.  She tried to swing her hip to the other side but he stood behind her with it and she went right on.  We started the timer.  While she is on the trailer she's fine.  Miss manners.  Quiet and calm.  Stands like a statue.  Another sign she's playing games.  We walked away for the five minutes she was on the trailer.  I told her "good girl" when she loaded but that was it.  No treats or any of that, because, like I said earlier, she isn't doing me a favor by doing what I tell her to do.  She is supposed to do what I tell her to do.

Pony time out.

The plan was to just repeat this process until she walked on with no drama then do it two more times just to reinforce the point.  Funny thing.  The first time she loaded it took her about three minutes.  Every time after that it took her less than one minute.  It was like we were peeling away the layers of an onion.  With each time she loaded easier and easier.  There was no hesitation, no looking around, she just walked on like she did before the fits started.  This just proved even more that she is absolutely messing with me.

Every time we loaded her I would walk her closer and closer to the barn and turn around and take her back to the trailer.  Then we put her in the cross ties for five minute, then loaded her.  Not one OUNCE of hesitation.  By the fifth time the Other Half didn't even pick up the paddle.  By the third time he was just standing there with it in his hand.  One of the times we walked her to the gate of her pasture and Mochi came down to say hi.  Then I turned her around, and back to the trailer we went.  For the final time we actually put her out in her pasture for 15 minutes then went and got her and walked her straight on the trailer.  We loaded her a total of ten times.  By the third time we lost daylight and she was loading in the dark with just the trailer load lights and interior trailer lights on.  Just one more reason that showed she all of the drama was a game.

Walking from the barn to the trailer.  She was walking right on with no convincing needed by this point.  She can load in 30 seconds in this condition but not in daylight?  Ha, funny Klein, nice try.

We will play that game a couple nights this week.  I am pretty positive she put two and two together.  Her behavior did a complete 180.  She was back to normal.  She loaded like the Klein I know, not the drama queen that has come around lately.  I suspect she might have slightly figured out she weighs ten times more than me.  That is unacceptable.  ESPECIALLY when your horse weighs 1,500 pounds.  Well, tonight she fell back in line, and it was so easy.  Her fits are clearly all smoke and mirrors.

After doing this a couple nights this week, we will continue it for the next couple weeks at least once a week.

Huge thanks to the Other Half.  I was so tired when I got home today.  I had been up since 4:45am.  If he didn't say "Hey let's just start this NOW."  I would not have went back out this evening, I would have waited until tomorrow.  He is such an awesome horse husband.  This was a team effort.  This was all his idea tonight, and it could not have went any better.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Massage and Chiro Adjustment

 Klein says hi!

Klein and Wes each had a massage and chiro adjustment last Wednesday.  Mochs is good for now, and she isn't doing much.  Wes we are still trying to straighten out and plus, he's an old man that's worked his entire life.  Time to relax.  Klein of course because she is working right now and it showed in her massage.

Wes was first.  At first he wasn't sure what was going on but after about five minutes he realized exactly what was going on and stood like a statue.  He LOVES massages and adjustments.  I didn't think it was possible for him to get any softer of an eye but he managed to while he was being worked on.  

 Massage time, and yes she is standing on a step stool in this picture!

Klein always loves her massages and adjustments as well but she had some tension going on this time so she was a little uncomfortable a couple times.  The increased dressage work showed.  She had some tension over her top line, which is not usually the case.  It will eventually go away more and more as she gets stronger and builds a little more muscle to carry herself better.

I just always imagine she must feel at least slightly like I do after I get owned by a WOD at CrossFit.  I have been crossfitting for over two years but damn, there are some days where I feel like I got run over by a dump truck and then it backed over me I am so sore.  Or like today is another example, my quads are so sore from pistols this morning, I feel like I front squatted my car.  Some weeks I'm fine and others I'll add volume or focus on a movement I'm weak at and until I build up the additional strength, it kind of sucks some days.  If Klein felt like that though, I'm sure she'd let me know, or I would pick up on it in some form or fashion.  I can tell just by an expression on her face right before her summer itchiness comes on.  I know this girl like that.

 See, working on chest to ring pull-ups here.  Last week I focused skill work on pull-up variations and ring dips and by the end of the week it felt like my arms were about to fall off.
Klein has never acted like she was sore or stiff.  She never is resistant or hesitant to do anything I ask (or while being tacked up, groomed, etc), never hints toward any discomfort, but I still just assume it has to be there on some level after some concentrated work.  She stretches and warms up in the same manner I warm myself up, I also use liniment on her on a regular basis.  She is my equal, she is not some piece of recreational equipment.

Not amused.  I forgot to take a pic near the end of her appointment, her entire demeanor had changed and she was putty.  

We did get some dressage work in despite having so much rain last week.  It rained for about four days straight.  We rode in the rain a couple times, but it was in the 70's and breezy so it wasn't a cold rain.  

Finally the sun came out and we went on a bareback hack in a halter since everything was so wet and slippery from all the rain.

We were just out messing around the first day we saw the sun and took a couple of videos to show Klein's complete disregard for tarps.  Not a whole lot catches her attention.

And another tarp laying around:

We also had to clip some "vents" in Wes' hindquarters because he was still getting a little sweaty during the day.  It's still in the 70's here during the day and 50's at night.  Next week it will get into the 40's at night and I'm sure Wes cannot wait.  I'm hesitant to clip more off of him in case the temps drop off.  We have a mild winter here.  The lows get into the high 30's at night.  So I don't want to take off much more hair and then have the nights drop into the high 30's.  I still doubt he'd be cold.  He hasn't worn a blanket in the 10 years I have known him to live in Utah and we are not starting here in the mild South Georgia "winter."

The Other Half hooked him up with some zig zags on his hindquarters.

 Sweetest sad puppy face I have ever seen on a horse...ever.  This is his default expression.  He is the sweetest guy.

 Never can have too many pictures of The Handsome!

Mochi is still just being a fat pet.  Seriously, she is a Fatty McButterPony right now.

 Mochi love.  Adorable little mare.

For those of you that drink wine, the Other Half surprised me with this the other night.  I have never tried this kind and it was great, so if you see it, grab a bottle!  It's 13% and has a horse head on the label, there is no way it can be bad!