Weekend Update

Aside

I love work weeks when I get off on time and I can enjoy my horses. Mara got worked twice during the 5 day stretch- and not just lunged but ridden. Of course the first day she was awful, she hadn’t worked very well that weekend either so I did a bridle change and Thursday we had a much better ride. Got her to relax at the walk after working on her trot- a huge success! Dan was a good boy too we have been doing trail rides around the property and I couldn’t be happier with him.

Each day it seems to get hotter here- so far I don’t mind it because Dallas is much less humid than what I grew up with. As I tell everyone I would take 115 F with 60% humidity than 80 F with 90% humidity. But the sun rays are much stronger down here; even with long lasting super strength sun screen it’s not hard for me to get burnt out here; I’m actually getting a tan, something I have never had before. No complaints there though! πŸ™‚

Next week I am out of the country for work which I am excited about but at the same time I have to learn behind my equines all to the care of James- he does a good job feeding them but they won’t be getting work. I guess it’s no different when I am busy and tied up at work from morning to night. Expect you’ll get some pictures of palm trees, a bonus!

As for one horse tack review I am super happy with Valley Vet Supply right now; they made my week. I have been wanting to get some sport boots for Dan for when we try some speed events. I was looking at Professional’s Choice, but Weaver is currently having a deal on their Prodigy boot right now; also being a big Weaver fan I wanted to give them a try plus they come in my favorite color turquoise. So I rushed to Sstack to see if I could snag a pair and they were all out of turquoise; I called customer service and asked if they expected more with the deal being ran and they told me no; they told me to pick another color. Not wanting to take that route I jumped on google and did a search to see who else was doing this deal and had my color still in stock; no luck. I then found myself on Valley Vet’s Supply and decided to call and see if they would be ordering anymore of my special color- and they were! I won’t get the boots until middle of July but I am okay with that as Dan and I aren’t even working on speed events yet, still getting those basics down. But when we do start to work on them, he will have four lovely turquoise boots to wear.

Anyways I will post next weekend once I am back in Texas.

It rained more than cats and dogs…..

This week was a wet one. Monday morning I was awoken by the strongest Texas thunderstorm I have experienced so far. Bone rattling thunder, forked lighting, and rain coming down so hard and fast it almost looked like a blizzard. James agreed that if by the time we normally leave for work if the storm had not cleared up we would call in due to it being too dangerous to drive. The storm was so bad that it ripped the screens off of our windows and we had to go rescue them…. Thankfully the wind died down enough for us to leave in the down pour. Where were the horses during this? In their small but stable lean-to? Nope, they stood outside in the rain through the whole storm. And by the time I came home the storm had moved on but the ground was a giant mud pit once again and I had three extremely muddy equines staring at me for dinner; you couldn’t tell that two of my horses are normally considered to be sorrels.

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I guess they enjoy being pelted by heavy… All three of them together one of the blobs in the background.

So of course working them was out of the question… I got sucked into the mud on Tuesday and found it hard to even walk in some parts. All of the dirt I had removed from them on Monday had multiplied it seemed…. Wednesday the place started to dry out to only get slammed by another ranging thunder storm on Thursday. This one wasn’t as bad as the one on Monday but enough to wet the ground to stop any horse related activities from going on….

That is my training report for the week- diddly squat. I envy everyone who has any kind of indoor arena right now.

On a good note this week was Midwest Charity Horse Show, so I wasn’t suffering too much from horse withdrawal as I have been watching the classes any chance I get. It is currently on right now, waiting for the Saturday matinee to finish before I go play with my horses, who yes still have some mud on them…

 

Horse tack review: Andis Freedom Cord/Cordless Clippers

Since I am no longer riding with a barn and doing everything myself it meant that I needed to invest into some clippers. Unfortunately when I start horse supply shopping I am always reminded that I am on a budget. But I knew what I wanted and I had a price limit I would pay- under $100. Again I found myself at sstack.com, the first place I check when in need of supplies.

So when these came on sale last month I bought a set, I chose these over a similar Wahl clipper because they have a faster rpm, 6,000 vs. 5,500 rpm. Plus they had better reviews on battery life than the Wahl. Both were the same price but these two factors steered me towards the Andis.

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They are one speed with adjustable blades for a coarse or close clip. They clipped Mara’s bridle path, nose whiskers (I never clip eye whiskers), throat latch, and her fetlocks just fine. It did struggle on the fine blade with her bridle path which was about two inches long. I switched them to the coarse blade and it did fine, then went back over the area with the fine setting.

Taco I thought would be the worse to clip as he is so young and I knew he had never seen them. My donkey was a good boy expect he kept trying to eat them when I clipped his muzzle. Dan on the other hand, I learned had never seen a pair of clippers in his life, so clipping him was interesting. But he did in the end let me finish and he looked, okay. Had a few choppy areas that needed to grow in- my bad. πŸ™‚

But after a week I saw hair growing back quite quickly. And after two weeks I had to clip again. The clippers I am use to get a closer cut than these so for horses in training they need to be clipped once a month. But once again those are the nice two speed with changeable clipper blades.

To be positive about them I loved having the cordless option and they did the job, even if I had to go over an area twice. it took me over an hour to clip all three- most of that spent on Dan who was convinced they were out for his skin. I never had the battery weaken. I have read reviews saying that if you use the cord they do cut a bit better; but I haven’t tested this out myself. Another nice thing about these clippers is the replacement blades are not an arm and a leg; around $15.

Note I don’t clip ears with clippers like this, I have done it too much and had too many fights over the years I invested in a pair of Wahl pocket pro which are very quiet and allow you to keep the shape of the ear and still reach the hard to get spots. One of the best twenty dollar bill I ever spent, but don’t ever try to use those small clippers for anything else because they will break eventually due to the coarser hair.

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So my overall opinion is that these are great for touch up or quick trims; they will be a favorite on my horse show checklist because of the battery life and how easy they are to take with. Yes they get the job done, not as nice as the expensive clippers, so you may have to clip your horse more often. But keep in mind those nice clippers will run you easy $200; while these I got for $50. Easy on the pocket book while doing the job too.

Here are the links for both clippers:
Andis Freedom Cordless Clippers
Wahl Pocket Pro

That is all this time, happy horse trimming everyone!

All work no play

20140601-104055-38455143.jpgFor it being a short work week I managed to bank a lot of hours…. It’s not fun having to work 14-15 hour days (plus an hour drive to and from work), not only does it wear me out but it cuts out any thought of spending time with James, the horses, or the cats and dog.

So most of my well earned Saturday off was spent sleeping. I woke up at 9:30, way past my normal 6 am. From there I managed to have Abbey run off while I took her off side ending up in an hour and a half long chase… I was none too happy. She has listened to me well so far but obviously my sleeping in gave her enough time to overcharge herself with energy. Guess we have some more obedience training to do!

I hadn’t even seen my horses since Monday so I was excited to spend time with them as horse withdrawal had hit its max in me. They were looking eagerly at me as I gathered my tack up and grabbed all three of them. I lunged Mara first and when she showed me complete signs of relaxation I tacked her up.

Mara has been working great in a thick twisted snaffle plus a draw rein; though I do see a german martingale in our near future aka- next paycheck. to keep her relaxed I ride her on a loose rein I have learned if I tighten her up at the walk and bring her head in, walking is out of the question she will just prance around. Yet I sometimes have to gather my reins quickly for control, so throughout our whole ride I am loosing and tightening my grip on the reins dramatically. Not always the most fun. At the start of my ride I wanted to go up front in the small part of my yard where there are lots of trees to bend around plus long straightaways…. But diagonal of my house there was a construction crew in their bobcats leveling the ground for a new house; and this was all too much for Mara she took one look at those scary white bobcats and went into one of her rearing fits refusing to go a step forward.

Pissed off and not going to start my ride with one of her fits I jumped off of her immediately, walked her straight up tot eh front of the yard to where we could see the bobcats clear as day. And then we lunged again, I asked her to break her poll and give to me plus a bunch of disengagement of her hindquaters. In fifteen minutes we were standing there, construction crew still going with no problems at all. Sometimes I have learned to do this instead of forcing her under saddle which is overwhelming and just ends up with her throwing a larger rearing fit and me being more pissed off. She is so sensitive to her surroundings it has me quite worried as at some point I would like to show Mara…. I have no idea how she will act in a completely new place.

So back on top of her; we walked all over the yard and the pasture, working on bending and walking straight which is a struggle for her. Mara’s front end and hind end never go straight forward one is always trying to swerve off in another direction- if she gets crooked she prances. Walking along the fence-line is the worse as she prances waiting to go to work. I start out by going around not near the fence or anything she can guide herself off of and make her listen to my hands and legs while staying calm the whole time. Once we can do that, we can go to the rail.

She did fine today considering I haven’t touched her for four days. Go a bit tense up but with some circles disengagement of the hing quarters and stops she listened to everything I asked of her. Our trot wasn’t at all pretty at first as we couldn’t pick a speed or keep our front end and rear end going the same way; but after bending around in a figure eight we got things worked out.

I have progressed with Mara in that I can get on her and keep her relaxed but once I move into another gait we become nervous. Today wasn’t that case, sure there was some prancing but we were able to come back to a relaxed walk quite quickly after the trot. Β It use to be the minute you were in the saddle she was nervous, and you could maybe get a walk out of her at the end of a long and tiring ride. Slowly but surely I hope at some point I can get her to stay relax throughout an entire workout.

I opted to leave things on a positive note and not touch the canter which I knew would be opening a giant can of worms. So Mara got put up and Dan got to go to work. James had ridden Dan last and said that he would not listen to him once he went to the back of the fields. I decided to lunge him in the rope as I call it most people call it the advance european training system, or pessoa training system… But calling it the rope is much easier. Dan struggles keeping his hind end underneath him; his trot as improved ten fold since I purchased him but he struggles to keep his leads; counter-clockwise is more painful than clockwise so that is where we focus. Working in the rope has helped him greatly. He started out lazy not wanting to extend his gaits, until I bent my knees acting like I was going to pick up my whip and then he realized it was a good idea to listen to me. I have gotten Dan pretty well voice trained on the lunge line, Mara as well though sometimes she needs to see me pick up the whip; rarely do I crack it normally me bending my knees or bringing it off the ground is enough to let these guys know to extend when my clucking isn’t enough.

But as we worked on our gaits and cantering correctly the dark gray clouds of rain rolled in and opened up in a downpour. This wasn’t going to stop me though, Dan kept on working for a few more laps and then we ran to the trailer to get tacked up. I released Mara and Taco so they could take shelter back in the pasture, Dan nickered to go with but that wasn’t happening. Him and I were both soaking wet but I tacked him up anyways. By now the ground was becoming soft so I knew trotting was out of the question since I didn’t want him sinking down into the lovely tacky mud we get here in Texas. But out in the back field where the tall grasses are they have a stronger root system than my front yard, so we bee lined for the field.

And Dan did quite well. He listened to my neck rein cues and didn’t get barn sour until I turned home then his pace quicken. Once he stopped listening to me it was back to work for him, we did plenty of circles all the way up and back down the field until Dan decided that the pace I set and where I wanted to go was the best idea anyways. I had to get after him but the lesson was learned and the rain had stopped now too. We then walked to the front and worked on some more bending.

Bitting Dan has been a challenge for me. Currently I have him in a sweet mouth short shank curb but I noticed as we worked he became more hollow in the his neck and less responsive. Today determined for me that I’m not happy with the current bit and some changes will need to be made. What though I’m not sure…. I will try my o-ring twisted wire and see from there; debating with the idea of a hackamore….

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Sadly Sunday was clean house and prep for another busy work week so the horses didn’t worked today. Not such a bad thing as the temperature jumped up to remind us that the hot summer is coming ever closer. They drank almost half of their water trough in one go; I’ll be buying another large one before the summer hits. Tubby came out with me when I fed the horses and pestered me, then he got brushed as he is shedding horribly right now and I don’t want it all in my house.

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So much shedding!

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Had some unwanted help with feeding besides Tubby.

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One happy fat cat.

Β I’m hoping this upcoming week is a bit better than the last…. Hey I can hope right?

That’s all until next time πŸ™‚

A good end to the long weekend

So my last post I was quite sad that according to the forecast we were suppose to get rain everyday over the memorial weekend; which when you look forward to your weekends to spend all of your time outside with your horses or working in the yard is an instant buzz-kill. Thankfully the rain held off until today and I have two lovely days outside with my horses. I longed/lunged both Dan and Mara on Friday and Saturday, then I rode Mara and James rode Dan yesterday.

Mara renewed my faith in her as the last time I rode her it was a complete disaster. All we did was walk and work on bending, which might sound easy- but when walking is the hardest thing for your horse you have to be proud when she does it. Mara gets nervous very very quickly and if that happens you can kiss walking good-bye. She will either prance around or rear if she gets more upset. So we have been working on giving at the poll and disengaging our hindquarters to try to stay calm. She also struggles to bend and keep herself from getting crooked with her hind end. Normally if you try to push her over with your leg she gets even more nervous and breaks into a trot or a prance. Overall Mara is quite sensitive to any kind of stimulus. But yesterday we walked all over my property while giving to the bridle and moving away from my leg without getting upset; she only pranced twice but listened to my voice and my seat and went back to walking straightaway. Maybe she will make a show horse after all… I can only hope.

James and Dan did okay, they are still figuring each other out. Dan has come so far since we got him, yet still has a lot to learn. Overall they did well and I was happy that James rode Dan without me being around as I was working with Mara. It is currently raining, which I am okay with since after being outside for two days straight I need to work on the inside of my house.

One very exciting thing is we got a dog this weekend! Her name is Abby she is a Husky and I think Australian Shepard mix; one day when I have extra money I will have her DNA checked for what breeds she is. We spent all of the weekend together getting loved on at Petsmart, and we went for a walk at the nearby lake and explored the horse trails. Abby has been a nice addition to the family; minus she likes to chase the horses and the donkey so we are working on that. I have more pictures of her on my Instragram account, which if you haven’t looked at I would love it if you did.

Abby at the lake

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One of the park trails.

Overall this weekend turned out much better than I thought it would have been when I saw the prediction of rain on Friday evening. Now I feel refreshed again and ready for another week of work.

Nom nom nom I love cow ears!

Nom nom nom I love cow ears!

Not more rain…..

Most people in Texas want as much rain as they can get- and so do I don’t get me wrong. But when it rains out here the ground turns quickly to a tacky slick mud that you cannot do anything on for at least a day to two days. Which has been a damper on me working with my horses. I unfortunately don’t have the luxury of an inside riding arena and I so badly wish I did down here. I don’t think it would bother me very much if it rained during the week since I’m at work; and since I work such long hours its not uncommon for me to only get a glimpse of time with my horses during the evening- feeding time.

The few hours of me time during the week rapidly get taken up with cleaning and cooking. So when the weekend comes I’m normally outside spending it with the horses, doing yard work, or fishing with James. So when I get a three day weekend after a more than normal stressful, long hour week and the forecast is completely bogged down with rain every day- I can say that I’m almost to the point that I hate rain.

Yes I know its good for the grass and the crops, all of my farming friends would say I’m crazy. But it seems down here in Texas like clockwork it rains only on the weekends, only on my free days off when all I want to do is be outside, with my horses, going for a walk, or even just doing yard work. Leaving me stuck inside, just like I am at work.

So I think it’s okay for me to say rain go away and come back during the weekday when I can’t enjoy the outside anyways.

Horse tack review: Dura-Tech Neoprene & Nylon Surcingle

So here goes my first tack review! If you have suggestions on how to improve them to be more useful to other riders, please inform me.

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A week and a half ago I ordered this item from sstack.com, along with some other items (reviews coming soon). I was a bit on the edge about this surcingle at first. I grew up with the nice leather ones, and I normally will always take real leather over nylon or fake leather any day. But not wanting to fork over the large bills for a nice leather one, I chose this much cheaper item instead to give it a whirl.

I had other concerns too besides price. Though both of my horses have many similarities, they also have many differences- the biggest being how they are built. Mara is a long and lanky Saddlebred; Dan is a Quarter Horse with typical stoutness and muscular build. These two have very different girth sizes; and when it comes to tack that I have to use for both of them I always question if I can fit both.

Of course when it arrived I was beyond thrilled and couldn’t wait to put it in action. And from my first use and over the past week I have loved this item. Yes this surcingle fits both of my horses, regardless of their differences in girth size, and not only that but it fits them well. I did have to punch one more hole in it to fit Mara, but that’s a simple fix. I like that it doesn’t slip back when I am l longeing. It has a nice variation of D rings to match what you need to do. I like to change the position of my longeing tools to help stretch out my horse’s neck, and then help them learn acceptable head placement. Lastly I like the use of the neoprene instead of felt as you sometimes see on surcingles. Neoprene allows for the skin to breathe and the sweat to evaporate while you are working your horse. And since it is more flexible than a stiff leather one it forms better to the shape of the horse, instead of rubbing- huge plus for me.

Now the cons…. The one thing I wish they did is put a D ring on the girth…. Oh well not everything can be perfect. Since it was important to me to have this option, I purchase the Billy Royal girth attachment as well. Sstack.com also has a generic cotton girth for the same price as the nice Billy Royal leather one- go for the leather one it will last much longer and be more flexible down the road.

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In total I spent around 40 dollars on this gig; and to me it was worth every penny. Do I like it better than a nice leather one? I would say it’s a 50/50 tie. But the Dura-Tech nylon and neoprene surcingle plus the girth attachment if you want it will be cheaper, and probably better, than the cheapest leather surcingle. That is why it wins me over. Flexibility to fix different sizes horses and price. Win, win.

Here are the links to both tack pieces:

Dura-Tech Surcingle:Β http://www.sstack.com/Western_Training_Ground-Driving-Equipment/Dura-Tech-Neoprene-Nylon-Training-Surcingle/

Billy Royal Girth Attachment:Β http://www.sstack.com/Billy-Royal-Training-Tack/Billy-Royal-Girth-Attachment/

Thanks for reading!