Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Slight delay

I was going to write on Sunday evening, honest.  But I got caught in a project and ended up not having enough time.  It was a horsey project though so it's all good.  My dad helped me make these:

Cavalettis!  Kinda tough to see but there are 4 of them.

I found instructions on line and they were actually very easy to make especially if you have power tools!  Power tools are pretty key to your success but I suppose you could use a saw if you didn't have a power saw.  Any who, lucky for my checkbook, my parents had some spare 4x4s so I only had to buy two and the hardware - grand total $60.  If you had to buy all the 4x4s, it would probably cost in the neighborhood of $120-$130.

In progress.

We tested them out yesterday and Charlie approved.  Poor thing - we haven't jumped since August.  Oops!  I need to up my game as I'm starting to plan the winter schedule.  Looking like a couple of jumper shows in Aiken and two events (one in Aiken and one in Southern Pines) but we shall see what happens as the time gets closer.

Charlie's been quite good although a bit heavy.  I've been doing a lot of canter-walk-canter transitions as well as some counter canter to get him thinking about where his body is.  Everyday he feels stronger and stronger.  We did trot sets in the rain on Sunday which kinda sucked but could have been worse.  Good thing I don't live in the UK - I hate riding in the rain.

Ok, so it wasn't really raining more like drizzle but I still hate riding in the rain!

Just chilling before our ride this past Saturday.

So I've decided to never pull Charlie's tail as most eventers do.  He has a great braiding tail and I'm going to practice until I've perfected the art.  Any H/J folks want to give me some pointers?

Aren't they cute? 1 second after this, Lilo jumped back about five feet.  She can't quite figure the horse thing out.  But Charlie loves her anyway.

Tip of the day courtesy SuperMom: 1L Smart Water bottles make excellent boot trees.  Way better than newspaper rolls. 

I'm off to get hay tomorrow.  Fingers crossed he has stuff as nice as what I got this spring - ponies hoover that stuff up like they're starving!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

So freaking cool!

On Monday I got one of the coolest emails I've ever had the pleasure of receiving.  It was titled "Cosmic Rae" (Charlie's jockey club name) and just happened to be from his race trainer, Alicia.  Through extremely impressive internet sleuthing (seriously, I need some lessons) she managed to find my email address.  Alicia said she started her search at the Retired Racehorse Training Project where I had registered Charlie and somehow or another managed to find my email address.  She basically just wanted to make sure he ended up in a good place as they (she and her husband who is also a trainer) typically re-home their own horses but Charlie's owners decided to find him a home on their own.

Apparently, Charlie was one of her favorites and Alicia has always wondered what happened to him.  He was her first lay-up (he was injured as a 3 year old) and the first horse she ever breezed.  We've exchanged a couple of emails since the first one as well as a few pictures and I am so tickled Charlie has his own little fan club.  I now know why he's so well-behaved on the ground and so sweet to be around - he's had excellent care his whole life provided by people who truly love him.

Taken I'm assuming when he was at Alicia's for rehab.  He had stress fractures in both hind legs due being 17hh as a 3 yr old and his big body just couldn't handle the race training.  The vets told the owners he probably wouldn't ever race but would most likely be sound enough for a second career.  Alicia was going to re-train for a riding career once healed.  But he came back from his lay-up so well, a second trip to the vet confirmed he could go back into race training and "see what happened."  He never took another lame step.

Pony friend!  You can see just how freaking big he really is here!


After his win.  Since he was never expected to make it to the track to begin with, his owners wanted him to retire sound and pulled him off the track after he broke his maiden.  Can we say a prayer for kind and thoughtful owners?  They often get overlooked because we're too busy talking about the despicable ones.

Alicia is going to try and dig out some more training pictures and send them my way.  Yay!  I'm going to send her updates because she likes to keep up with their former horses.  Double yay!  Maybe someday, we'll get to have a reunion.  At some point, Charlie and I will be in her neck of the woods and I would love to meet the folks who took such good care of him before he got to me.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Playing catch-up

I haven't been doing too much hard core riding, mostly just some easy flat sessions and TRAIL RIDING!

I'm pretty sure it's no secret that I love to go on trail rides and the lack of trails is about the only downside to Charlie's housing situation.  About 2 weeks ago, I went to my friend Lauren's house to go trail riding on her property.  She and her husband live on about 150 acres and she grew up riding barrel horses.  It's pretty interesting talking with her about training barrel horses - their are a lot of similarities in training methods once you get past the language barrier.  She calls trot sets long trots because you're trotting for a long time…get it?  Haha!  I thought that was brilliant.  They also do quite a bit of lateral work.

Charlie was little full of himself when I first got there but he settled right down.  The trails were a little more shall we say rustic, then I was expecting so we did some trailblazing.  Since Lauren grew up riding western, she doesn't wear a helmet and her hair got caught in some of trees.  I told her that was one more good reason to wear a helmet. :)  We were out for about an hour and a half, just walking as the trails were too hard and too rough to do anything else.  I think Charlie really enjoyed it and he was really good about leading and being in back.  Sadly, I lack photographic evidence.

This past Monday, I took Nadine (the barn owner) and Charlie's girlfriend Sadie with us to the Clemson experimental forest for a little jaunt.  Sadie was a bit of a problem child at the barn - she got loose twice, running all over the place.  Not a good start and since Nadine is basically a beginner, I began to get a little concerned if she was acting like this at home, what was she going to be like when we got there?!?!  I have no idea when she was last off the property.  Shouldn't have worried.  She was really good as was Charlie.  There are 2 water crossings and one looks more like a ditch than a stream.  Charlie always jumps it and monkey see, monkey do - Sadie jumped it!  Poor Nadine but she did great - stayed right in the middle, in perfect balance.  We had a great time and hopefully we'll go again while the weather is still so nice.

This would have been cute but Charlie decided to try running up Sadie's butt right when I took it.

Back in the lead and happy about it.

Satisfied at the end of the ride.

Charlie gets shoes on Friday - can you believe it's almost 6 weeks since he got his last set?  I need to knock on wood or one will be missing in the morning...

Thanks and other pick-me-ups

Thank you very much for all your kind words - September is indeed a month I'd like to forget.  Onto brighter things - thank you very much to Kate at On a Steel Horse and Hillary at Equestrian as Hart for nominating me for the Sunshine Award.  I really appreciate it and it was so kind given my lack of presence in the blog-o-sphere of late.  I'm going to do better I promise!

Onto the questions!

1.  Mares or geldings?  Geldings, definitely.  I have enough drama in my life.

2.  English or Western?  English but I'm definitely intrigued by the working cow horse stuff.  Especially the cutting horses.

3.  Older or younger horses?  Doesn't matter.

4.  Have you ever started a horse from zero?  No and honestly, I have no desire to.  I don't think I have enough patience.

5.  Riding or groundwork?  Riding.

6.  Board or keep the pony at home?  A little of both.  While Charlie is not in my backyard, I provide all of his food and the vast majority of his care.

7.  Do you use primarily natural products or commercial products on your horse?  A little of both.  I think there is a time and a place for both.

8.  All tacked up or bareback?  If I owned a roly, poly quarter horse or pony, I'd be really tempted to choose bareback but alas I don't.  And Charlie's withers definitely make themselves known.

9.  Equestrian role model.  Hmmm…I have lots.  Lana duPont, Princess Anne, my mom, Amy, Cherie, Sinead Halpin, John Williams, Reed Kessler, and the list could go on and on.  Lots of exciting people riding right now.

10.  Main goal for your time in the horse world.  To be an advocate for my horse, put his needs first always, and to have FUN!

Thanks again ladies!  Just the shove I needed to climb fully back on the wagon.

I'm pretty sure everyone's been nominated but if you haven't, please let me know and I will nominate accordingly.