Tuesday, June 26, 2012

You know that saying?

The one about no hoof, no horse?  Well, I feel like that's become the theme to my life with Charlie.  As I mentioned before, I was planning on trying a new farrier because Charlie's shoes kept falling off at the 3 - 4 week mark and the old farrier lives 2.5 hrs away in Aiken and he only comes up this way every 5 weeks.  Let's just say the potential new farrier is quite possibly the worst farrier I have ever come across - nice guy just can't shoe his way out of a paper bag.  Maybe when the trauma isn't so fresh in my mind and I can laugh about the whole thing, I'll bore everyone with the details but until then, just know that this experience ranks right up there with one of the worst horse care experiences I've been through.

To right this horrible wrong, I had to call the old farrier (who I never really talked to except when he was shoeing Charlie - he comes to Janna's barn and I just show up when she tells me to) and beg him to take me back.  Fun times as I'm sure most of you know.  He was fairly nice about it considering everything but I still felt like a jerk for a myriad of reasons.  I have to take Charlie to Aiken on Thursday so Bruce, the farrier, can fix what the other idiot did to him.  And while I'm not sure it's possible to feel like a bigger jerk than I already do, I'm pretty sure that once Bruce gets a look at Charlie's feet, I will.  Just in case you hadn't figured it out, Charlie has been off since the idiot did him last Thursday.  He's not head-bobbing lame, just NQR.

Hopefully once the guilt trip's over, we can come up with a plan.  Bruce already told me he wants to put him in glue-ons (I can hear my bank account drying up at that thought) and I think that's really the way to go.  Cherie has 2 horses in glue-ons and she's a fan and all the reading I've done makes me think this will be at least part of the answer to our ongoing issues.  Not really sure if this means I need to plan on regular trips to Aiken or what but that's one of the things we're going to talk about on Thursday.


I think I finally have a shot where he looks as chubby as he really is!  I wish I had a picture of when I first got him - he was so skinny, he looked like a cow from behind.  He's lost a lot of muscle in his topline from all the time off. :(


He's been staying inside during the day under the fans because the field he's "isolated" in doesn't have much shade.  I feel bad for him because he loves being outside in the grass.  You can see here, he has way more than he can possibly eat.

Vet is coming tomorrow for bi-annual shots.  Kind of sad but my vet just posted on Facebook that he just diagnosed 2 horses with Eastern Equine Encephalomyelitis and it has basically a 100% mortality rate.  And a horse in GA was just put down due to suspected rabies.  Moral of the story is vaccinate your horses!

Monday, June 18, 2012


So poor Charlie is in isolation; not because he's contagious but because as I was driving down the driveway after feeding Saturday morning, this is what I saw:

Except insert a picture of Charlie and Maggie. :(  Actually what I saw was Maggie double barrel kicking Charlie who in turn kicked back.  Maggie has shoes, Charlie does not.  She connected as evidenced by a lovely hoof print on his bum.  I'm not sure if he got her but I didn't see any hoof prints on her bum.  So Charlie is now turned out by himself, poor guy.  He's actually handling it a bit better than I thought he was going to.  There's been some calling and some running but for the most part, he's kind of accepted his lot in life.

To add insult to injury, he pulled a shoe on Saturday.  So now he's missing his right front and is a little sore.  I've been giving him bute to try and take the edge off but he's still ouchy.  Farrier comes on Thursday - keep your fingers crossed as I'm giving a new guy a whirl.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

A lesson...finally!

After our stellar weekend, Charlie got Sunday and Monday off (I needed Sunday to recover and Monday we were plagued by rain).  Tuesday we were back at it although I floundered a bit.  I rode on the flat since I was scheduled for a dressage lesson with Carolyn on Wednesday.  Charlie was good but I just felt a little lost.  Basically, I needed a lesson so I had some direction.  I think I tend to get overwhelmed by all the things I need to be working on.  One of the best things about riding with Carolyn is she has the amazing ability to break things down into manageable tasks.  Knowing this, I called it quits after about 25 minutes of ambling about aimlessly.

My lesson was at 6 on Wednesday and I thought I was going to be on an extremely tight timeline but lucky for me, I got out of clinical about 4 hrs early...score!  I got to the barn early because I was really worried about Charlie being a bad horse and refusing to get on the trailer.  Lucky for me, the perfect pony showed up.  While he didn't jump right on, he did his normal "2 feet on the ramp, wait 3 min, take a baby step, wait 2 min, then walks all the way on".  Because he got on in a timely manner, I was a bit early getting to Julie's farm (where we meet up with Carolyn).  Right as I pulled in the driveway, a lovely summer thunderstorm rolled in.  Awesome.  We hung out in Julie's kitchen while it blew over.

Once the storm blew over, I waited about 30 min for Shannon's lesson to be over and just let Charlie hang out grazing.  Once our lesson started, Carolyn really had me work on getting Charlie to stretch into the contact instead of me trying pull him back into the contact - hope that makes sense!  Once he stretches into the contact, I need to stay very soft in my hand to encourage him to stay soft in his jaw.  My mental image of his jaw is butter.  Once he's soft in the jaw, I need to ask him step under and push over his back and into the bridle.  As usual, I have a tough time explaining Carolyn's lessons.  I know what I need to do when I ride and I know what I'm supposed to feel but can't explain it very well. :(

So now I'm feeling pretty motivated.  I couldn't ride today but I'm getting up early to ride before the heat hits.

Look what I found the other day when I washing Charlie's tail...


What the heck?  I have no idea how he managed this.


But lucky for both of us, it's hidden!

Monday, June 11, 2012

It's showtime!

I'm just going to warn everybody up front - I get an epic fail on the photo front.  I didn't take any pictures...not even one.  Bad me!!!

After my not so great jump school on Friday morning, Sara and I hustled to meet our 11 AM departure time.  We said 11 knowing we most likely wouldn't get on the road until noon.  We were right - we left the farm at noon on the dot.  Now, I've been to Southern Pines numerous times and for the most part, it's a pretty easy drive.  Except for one stretch that entails a 2-lane road with a speed limit of 55 and numerous stoplights.  You either have to slam on the brakes giving yourself and the ponies whiplash or run red lights - neither of the above are great options in my opinion.  So when Janna told me she had a better route that was slightly longer, I was all about it.  Except Janna gave awful directions and we ended up lost.  Our 4.5 hour drive turned into 6 hrs.  Let's just say we were a little cranky by the time we finally made it to the Carolina Horse Park.

We got to the horse park around 6 and quickly got Charlie and Maggie settled into their weekend digs.  The stalls at CHP are absolutely lovely - they're permanent, matted, and best of all have doors.  Oh, and they come fully equipped with screw eyes for water and feed buckets.  How awesome is that?  We then took off to walk the cross country course.  Sara was riding novice and I was going beginner novice - both courses literally followed the same track so we were able to walk together and bounce ideas off each other.  It was a very straightforward course for both of us - no ditch on either course and the water was a run through only for both courses.  After our course walk, we took the ponies out for a quick stroll and then tucked them in for the night.  Sara and I booked it into Southern Pines to meet Clair and her boyfriend for dinner.  Clair was kind enough to let us stay with her for the night.

We got to the horse park on Saturday around 7:15ish and fed the ponies.  Sara's dressage time was at 8:38 so she got herself dressed and Maggie beautified.  Now, I should tell you that Charlie and Maggie are attached at the hip - literally.  I hate when that happens!  When Sara was ready to go, we took both horses out of the stalls; Sara went one way and I went the other.  I let Charlie graze and cry for Maggie for about 5 minutes and then brought him back to his stall.  It was kind of funny because Charlie was so confused as to where Maggie was.  He settled down and I went to watch Sara and Maggie who had a very nice test considering they hadn't been to a show in 2+ years. 

I headed back out to walk XC alone and had a little phone pep talk with Cherie about Charlie's separation anxiety.  She told me to get on him and hack him around for a bit.  As soon as I got back from walking, I did just that.  He was ok - not as bad as he was at Pine Top but definitely not my normal horse.  I rode him in the day trailering field for about 10 minutes and when he settled a bit, I took him over to the dressage warm-up and rode around there for another 10 minutes.  By the end he was fairly settled - still tense, but not jumping out of his skin.  We went back to his stall where I sponged him off and let him chill before our 11:38 dressage time.  Sara was heading out for SJ and XC at 10:50 so we did the same thing as before, she went one way and Charlie and I went the other.  

Since I had already ridden him, I decided I wanted to get on at 11:10 figuring that would give me time to get him settled as well as give him some breaks without feeling rushed.  I thought he'd come out tense and looking for Maggie (kind of how he was when I hacked him) - well, I couldn't have been more wrong.  He was a bit tense walking over to the warm-up but once he got going, he was soft, forward and totally relaxed.  I didn't know what to do with him!  Here was the horse I have at home, not the crazy one I rode at 10 or the one who showed up at Pine Top.  I rode him for 10 minutes then walked around for a bit on the buckle.  Unfortunately, the ring was running about 10 minutes behind so I was on waaaaaay too early.  We just kind of wandered around because it was hot and I knew if I did too much his fun meter would run out.  He really only needed a 5 minute warm-up and we would have had a great test.  As it is, we had a good one (especially since I learned the test that morning!  Oops!) and ended up with a 36.  I was so proud of him for being his normal awesome self instead of deranged lunatic.  I definitely could have ridden better and pushed for more but I was so excited about his demeanor, I honestly didn't care.

My SJ time was 1:27 and I got on about 1:10.  I walked, trotted, and cantered in each direction and then watched a few rounds.  When I was 3 out, we jumped 4 fences and waited our turn.  He was great - didn't look at anything and was forward and rhythmic the whole way around.  I actually felt I rode really well.  The first fence was really our only kind of awkward jump - everything else was great.  I was pretty proud of myself as I wasn't feeling super confident after our XC school the previous weekend and my crappy school on Friday morning.  

We went straight from SJ to XC.  I only jumped one log jump in the XC warm-up so he would kind of have a clue that we were switching things up.  XC was great - he was bold without being scary.  He was a little strong (still have to figure out the bit thing - I rode him in the KK loose ring instead of the full-cheek french link because I thought he would be a little tired.  He wasn't - haha!) but listened when I asked him to pick his head up and balance.  I made a point of not seeing anything long.  It was awesome! Again, very proud of both us as we didn't have one bad fence.  Only thing I can be picky about is he walked into the water instead of trotting.  Not sure what I need to do about that because when we school water, he will typically trot in with no problem but whenever we go to a show, he's a little more cautious.  

I must say, I walked away from this weekend super excited.  I felt like things finally clicked and we both performed our best.  Definitely lots to work on but overall, the weekend was a resounding success!  Yay for us!

Oh, pretty sure I'm going to buy some of the pics so when I do, I'll make sure I post them.  Charlie definitely needs some bigger jumps.  Guess I need to catch-up with him!


Pretty sure I've posted this photo before but he's so cute why not use it again?  This was at Pine Top on XC day right before XC.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

So much to tell!

I have written probably 3 posts in my head since my last one...too bad they don't automatically transfer from my brain to the computer.  Maybe Apple can make that their next big project.

I'm pretty sure I mentioned that Sara, the BO's daughter, is home from college for a few weeks and she brought her horse, Maggie with her.  It's nice to have a riding buddy even if Charlie and Maggie are now convinced that they are in love.

So I guess I have to start at the beginning - a week ago, we (Sara and I) went XC schooling at Long Shadow Farm which is on the SC/NC border.  It wasn't awful but it certainly wasn't great.  I decided to try the 3-ring bit hoping it would help with picking his head up when he gets a little low.  To say he hated it is putting it mildly.  I started out with the reins on the second ring, quickly moved them up and even that was waaaaaaay too much for him.  I couldn't take a hold of his mouth at all - as soon as I touched the reins, he felt like he was hollowing out through his back and running.  I felt like his balance was all off and as a result, my eye flat out sucked.  I couldn't see a distance to save my life.  Not a good feeling.  I had to take the cheek pieces and attach them to the bit ring (should have taken a picture because I'm pretty sure I'm explaining this poorly).  Once we got the bit situation figured out, things went a bit better.  While Long Shadow is nice, the fences are sort of a mishmash.  It's tough to put a course together because they don't really have a course.  There are approx 3-4 BN jumps, maybe 3 N, a few T, 1-2 P, etc.  The farm was originally built for Michael Pollard so there are A level jumps as well.  Needless to say, it didn't give me a ton of confidence for our show that happened yesterday but I'm getting ahead of myself.

Barn aisle of the most beautiful barn ever (Long Shadow Farm)
Stalls in the barn

Sara giving Maggie a bath in the wash stall - the stalls are on the outside walls and down the center is where the tack room, wash stall, office and bathroom, are located with an aisle connecting the 2 sides of the barn.

So after we were done schooling XC, I noticed Charlie's hind shoes were really, really loose.  As in so loose, I needed to pull them.  This is the 3rd shoeing cycle in a row that his shoes have literally fallen off (well, they were so loose that I felt it necessary to pull them because the first time this happened I didn't and they fell off and I ended up with a lame horse for a week and a half).  Only this time it happened just shy of the 3 week mark instead of the 4 week mark when it happened the last 2 times.  To say I was a bit annoyed is an understatement.  Charlie doesn't have bad feet, he actually has pretty decent feet.  Basically, the farrier isn't putting the nails in high enough.  Let's just say I'm getting a new farrier.  I can't keep playing this game.  I tried to tell him the last time that the nails weren't high enough and he basically told me Charlie "had bad feet, didn't grow enough hoof and there was nothing that could be done."  Now, all last summer when he was with Cherie (who has a very competent farrier) he had no problem going 6 weeks.  So new farrier it is.  I had to wait until Wed (I pulled his hind shoes on Sun) for the new farrier to come shape his hind feet (I'm leaving him bare behind for now) and tighten up the fronts because yes, the fronts were loose as well. :(

I flatted him on Wed (he was quite good considering), flatted and jumped on Thurs (again he was very good) and jumped on Fri (a bit of a disaster due to the gymnastic I set up).
Charlie being cute and curious after eating dinner.  His nose is grubby - I think it might be getting a bit sunburnt.  Maybe it's time to start slathering him up with sunscreen.
Charlie eating - this is his chubby shot.  The greasy looking stuff is MTG because once again he seems to be contracting rain rot.  :(

Maggie eating.  She's super cute - she's a bit bleached out right now but she's really pretty and a really awesome jumper.
 Tomorrow I promise to give you the full rundown on the show but for a sneak preview, Charlie totally rocked!  As if there was any doubt...

Friday, June 1, 2012

I'm back!!!!!!

Ok, I know I get a big, fat F for my lack of blogging the last month or so but I've been in a funk.  Don't have a super good reason other than sometimes life has to suck so you can really appreciate all that you have.  I think the most frustrating thing about funks (at least for me!) is no matter how much I remind myself how awesome my life is (awesome horse, fabulous dog, surrounded by fantastic people, not to mention all basic needs are more than met), I can't break the spell.  So annoying!  Grrrrr...

Anyway, I'm finally over it!  I've been riding and lucky for me Charlie hasn't held my riding neglect against me.  He's been very good (meaning not naughty) but I've definitely lost some ground training wise which is a little frustrating, especially on the flat.  Boo.  As I mentioned in my last post, I HATE FLATWORK!  Well, mostly hate it.  I suppose I should clarify a bit - I don't have a problem riding a dressage test at a show.  I have issues with the practice part like I ride down the centerline to practice my halts and they aren't square.  I lose sight of all the elements needed to ensure a square halt and focus solely on the not square part.  And get frustrated.  And then a vicious cycle begins...  It's kind of like the funk thing - I just can't get my mind focused on what I should be focusing on.  I feel like I'm explaining this poorly so I'll keep thinking of how to word it.  But basically to sum it up, I want someone on the ground every single time I school on the flat to tell me what to do.  Sad, I know...

I signed up for a schooling show next weekend at the Carolina Horse Park, just BN.  Should be low-key and fun.  Going XC schooling on Sunday at a local-ish farm.  The barn there is too die for - hopefully I remember to take pictures.  It's absolutely beautiful - when I win the lottery, I want a barn just like it.  :)

So I haven't been a total hermit - I went to the SC high school rodeo championships last weekend.  It was pretty interesting.  Only one kid stayed on for the bull riding and they even had a French-exchange student in the bull riding.  I wonder if his parents know what he's doing...  I went a couple of weeks ago to one of what I guess you would call the regular season rodeos and couldn't believe how many people were there - super popular friday night activity apparently.  Guess I need to get out more.  Any who, without further ado, rodeo pictures!!!!


Barrel racing - I think this looks fun although I would be super worried about footing and tendons.


Bull riding - this is the lone kid who managed to last all 8 seconds, at least I think that's how long they need to stick to get points.


This is goat tying - I felt really bad for the goat.  You could hear them crying...


Steer wrestling - this is where they jump off the horse and try to wrestle the steer to the ground.  Nobody was able to do this.  Although, the championships were better than the regular season rodeo I went to - during the regular season one, all the participants face planted in the dirt.  I don't think I would like this one so much - I mean who voluntarily leaps off a galloping horse hoping to land on a cow?

My sign that things were finally looking up even if I did get rained on while riding - took this on my drive home from the barn after getting a little soggy.

Nadine's daughter is home for the month from school so I have a riding buddy for the month - should be good for motivation.  We're going to the show together as well as schooling on Sunday so maybe she can take some pictures.  One way or another, I promise some Charlie shots next time - he looks chubby!  Yay!