KWPN-NA Annual Meeting

img_3297I have made it no secret that eventually I would like to get into breeding. Buying Luna was not only a way for me to get a horse that is way nicer than I would be able to purchase as an adult but also a way to get a well bred filly that will hopefully end up being a lovely broodmare down the road.

Just like everything else with horses there are a lot of niche groups and there is a plethora of information. There are legitimately thousands of things to learn and read about. I think that most breeders or people end up falling into their breed/registry affiliation by chance or convenience. That is pretty much what has happened with me too.1454590_10201818111153522_1656274926_nWhen I bought Houston I had no clue about breeding. I heard a couple big names and didn’t really think much of it. Then I bought Annie and started to casually think about eventually breeding her when friends would talk about breeding plans. Even if I got an exact replica I would be happy. As one of my closest friends in Nashville breeds jumpers and is connected with the KWPN that was a naturally easy option for me. When I started to look for a jumper bred filly of my own I was not particularly picky about where the filly was registered but rather the bloodlines and/or performance of the sire and damline (although admittedly there are some that are known for being particularly lax that I avoided).

KWPN-NAAs I have started to meet more people in the breeding world and (even some awesome mentors) thinking about my future breeding plans I thought it might be cool to go to the KWPN-NA annual meeting. That weekend has finally arrived and I am about to spend 4 days geeking out at the annual KWPN-NA meeting. Basically a weekend full of horses, horses, and more horses! Do any of you guys have plans to attend any learning opportunities or fun spectating events coming up?

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Staying Busy

I think it is really easy to lose track of time when it comes to blog land. I am constantly finding myself losing time with other peoples horses. One day someone gets a new young horse and then the next somehow they are killing it in the show ring and I’m over here like oh yeah so and so has a green… errrr made horse. I think this even applies to my own horses. Somehow 5 years has gone by in the blink of an eye with Huey.

Lately the Hue-magoo has been staying busy as the jack of all trades. He is a dressage star by day with me (when I have time to ride him), trail rides climbs the natchez trace with my friend in the saddle, and most recently moonlights as a short stirrup pony moose… 

Five years ago when this dinosaur of a baby horse came into my life I had no idea things would be the way they are today. He might not have been right for my original goals but he certainly is worth his weight in gold. A has been on him once before and when her pony decided to be a stinker I knew that Houston would give her an easy confidence boosting ride. I swear he knows that she is smaller and takes his job of baby sitter very serious. That said little A is one heck of a pony jock and I knew she would take to riding Hue like a fish to water.IMG_3277I take a lot of pride in the fact that I have owned this horse for the better part of 5 years (with a couple gaps) and he has come from green as grass and is now a steady eddy. We went through plenty of growing pains for sure but now he is my go to guy. Huey can put smiles on everyone from a 9yo to a 60yos face. He can come out after a month of doing literally nothing and you can hop on and get the same dude you would get in regular work (minus the fitness).

I feel really lucky to have not just one but two of these types. Annie is obviously much greener but she still handles all of the different things that I throw at her like a more seasoned horse (except dressage because stooooopid). Do any of you guys have a “can do” horse too?

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Go Big Or Go Home

Friday brought the vet out for spring shots/ teeth floating. Luckily things for the big horses were pretty routine. Remember last week how I asked how these creatures manage to maim themselves the way they do… Well it was apparently Luna’s turn to give me a panic attack. While the vet was out he looked at her because she has been a bit weirder than normal for the past couple days about being caught and wouldn’t even come to you for her breakfast and dinner willingly. She was acting very sore and didn’t want to bend/ flex her neck to the left. When the vet palpated her she was very tender. Dr. M was concerned that she might have injured her neck and also wanted to rule out infection. He started by pulling some blood and then we moved to xrays.I think that we ended up taking about 7 shots of her neck. Fortunately there were no signs of any fractures or immediate signs of compression to her spinal cord. Given the soreness we opted to treat with Equioxx for 7 days. If she is still acting as sore and unable to bend/flex her neck then she will have to go to the clinic for further tests. I have everything crossed that we don’t have to do that as I would really like to avoid a myelogram/ any needles being inserted into my baby horses spinal canal. Here’s hoping she just banged herself on something and the anti inflammatories will fix her right  up.

Her blood work came back ruling out infection but showing some other unrelated issues we needed to address due to a chronic parasite/worm issue that she had when I brought her home. It took three cycles to finally get her strongyle count lower and I hope that when we take another fecal and worm her next month we will be able to eradicate them. Unfortunately they wrecked some havoc on her system that was not apparent from the outside. She is now on a liquid vitamin and an amino acid supplement to help her get balanced at my vets suggestion. Hug your horses. For such big animals they are surpassingly fragile. My mind went to worst case scenarios and my only advice is don’t google when your horse is injured or unwell. I will know for sure at the end of this week if we need to go into the clinic for more tests. As of yesterday she was already seeming more like herself and showing more mobility and flexibility in her neck so let’s hope this upward trend continues. Have any of you had neck issues with your horses before?

 

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Following Rules

I haven’t had consistent lessons recently and when I was given the opportunity to ride with Lauren’s trainer (from here on known as LT) I was hesitant but also excited. Turns out she is a wealth of knowledge and gave me a lot of good pointers. Instruction helps… who knew???

First and foremost if I want to make progress I need to stop side stepping when I meet resistance. Green horses need boundaries. This is even more true when dealing with young SMART green horses. My new plan of action is to introduce a concept gradually with more of a suggestion, once the suggestion has been picked up move to enforcing the concept. This is not with brute force but rather taking the right actions to encourage her to choose the right answer. The biggest step for this is to make the wrong answer hard.img_2118

A specific example would be if when I go to ask for a halt she throws her head and hollows her back I need to immediately continue forward (example above from Elisa Wallace Clinic 8/16). Stopping is much easier than continuing and she has already started to figure out this concept. Our downward transitions have been much more pleasant since this method change and my body is thankful – not having my shoulders ripped out of the socket in a fight is always a plus.img_2108

Some of the ideas that are consistent for all exercises are being more consistent with my hands and engaging her hind end. What I mean by this is that I need to not be tricked into taking my leg off and constantly dropping contact or on the opposite end fighting her constantly. If I choose a level of contact and ride her into it from the back forward I will have an easier time with all transitions and other questions.

All of this means that I have started to up the ante. Our rides are no longer 50/50 left and right at each gait with random haphazard plans. When I get on I have a set of exercises to work on and try to work through them methodically with each exercise building on the other. This involves endless serpentines, loops, and spirals as well as more lateral work.

The above exercises are my main play book. Do you guys have similar plans for schooling greenies? Do all of your rides have a plan or is it more of a lets see where this takes us approach and plan as you go?

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How Do They Manage

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First let me say that if you don’t like blood or are squeamish you probably don’t want to scroll all the way down on this post. Today I want to talk about the horses we love and the various ways they manage to maim themselves. Up until Houston I never dealt with that many injuries – my horses to that point had possessed the skill of self preservation. Houston did not posses even an ounce of such a skill and in the 5 years that I have owned him has cost me more money in vet visits than I care to tally up. Note to self: do NOT use a calculator when reading this post.

Houston Injuries: (to name a few larger incidents)

  • Assorted cuts and scrapes that would inevitably lead to elephant legs
  • Cut Fetlock (farrier accident) – many stitches and 2+ months of stall rest
  • Cut Pastern (pasture)- few stitches and more stall rest
  • Cut Face (pasture) – couple stitches
  • Puncture/Cut Shoulder (pasture)- stitches, LOTS of antibiotics and flushing

Annie has seemed relatively aware of her surroundings and aside from being a mastermind at pulling shoes and the odd scrape here and there really hasn’t caused that much damage to herself. Until the past few weeks anyways. In the course of 5 days she has managed to scrape or cut all but one of her legs (I realize that by saying this I will now be tempting fate for her right front…). It started with cutting the inside of her LF – a small and relatively superficial wound. Then she must have kicked at the fence because her right hind has a gash. Last but not least I was met with the gem below upon arriving to the barn last night:

Yes. That is her hind leg. How she managed to give herself a deep gash on the FRONT of her hind foot I have literally no idea. Thankfully it is not severe enough to need veterinary intervention and at worst I may have to put her on some Uniprim to ward off any infection.

What are some of the weird unbelievable things that your horses have done to themselves? Does anyone else want to invest in bubble wrap?

 

 

 

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Reinless Riding

Last week the interwebs/blogland blew up over an article about a rider in Great Britain making a call for Bitless dressage. I didn’t spend a lot of time investigating but my general feelings are that just because something is different does not mean that it is wrong.

I do not personally think that a Dr. Cooks bridle or a hackamore with leverage would be appropriate for dressage – and honestly wouldn’t put a Dr. Cooks on one of my horses regardless of discipline. That said I do not understand what the violent opposition to a side pull or even a Micklem bridle is (though admittedly I find the Micklem to be hideous on 99% of horses).

This conversation was perfectly timed with the arrival of my Reins For Rescues neck rope. There is nothing quite like trying to ride without touching the reins to really call you out on bad habits. If you think you are totally independent of your hand and ride “primarily off your seat and leg” I urge you to prove it by attempting to ride without touching the reins. Annie and I were cruising around at the walk and trot (making figure 8’s, small circles, turn on forehand, controlled halts…) but holy hell did the wheels start to fall off the bus when I tried to come off the rail at the canter. I do have to say though that the few jumps we tackled riding with just the neck rope were so relaxed. This shouldn’t be surprising to me given how opposed Annie is to contact of pretty much any sort right now. Baby steps! IMG_0442

I am going to continue to ride with the neck rope as often as I can. Even if I am pretty sure it is just a safety blanket to make be feel slightly less insane for dropping my reins on the little dragon. Riding with a neck rope is a totally different ball game but something I would encourage others to try because it will point out your weaknesses under saddle in a jiffy.

Where do you all fall on the bitless dressage front? If you are opposed personally why do you take such offense to the rights of others to make that decision for their horses? Do you not care one way or another? I am curious about the logic behind these thoughts because I really had no idea so many people felt so strongly about the topic until last week.

 

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Schedule Making

After showing all over Area 3, parts of Area 8 and even a show in Area 5 last year I knew that I wanted to stay more “local” this year. By local I mean that I really don’t want to drive more than 6 hours to show. I know some of you might think that is just a quick jaunt up the road depending on where you are based but given where I am located I have a decent number of venues that fit the bill. Once I set that goal I went perusing the USEA omnibus and wrote down literally every show that I would consider attending in Area 3 or Area 8. Some are more than 6 hours away and others are much closer. There are tons of options though. I also wanted to know from the options which ones had the most affordable entry fees (ranges from 295 to 400) and I also calculated what my anticipated gas would be and camping fees if any that would apply. Camping for the win because holy batman would the numbers in the columns that you can’t see (that included the total anticipated cost) have WAY bigger numbers if factoring in hotels.After that I narrowed it down to what shows I would want to attend if I was to show each month (not super realistic but you know a girl can dream). Those shows in an ideal world would be:

  • March
    • Pine Top
  • April
    • River Glen
  • May
    • MayDaze
  • June
    • River Glen or
    • Mid South
  • July
    • Chatt Hills

It is important to note that showing in TN and GA in June/July is not for the faint of heart and if I am aiming to actually have fun I should probably avoid these shows like the plague… But still they made the list because I am not driving to Michigan or some other far away land.

2016aeclogoWhat shows I attend will vary largely on finances and then if we are aiming for AEC’s. I was really disappointed by how AEC’s went last year so I am not 100% committed to signing myself up for that little disaster. BUT it would be really sweet to qualify…

Another option that I have been throwing around is giving the ride to a local pro and campaigning Annie for the Young Jumper Championships…. But money yo. Lots of grand ideas – we will see what comes to fruition. Have you all started to plan your seasons out? If so what’s up next on the schedule?

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Luna Turns One

My sometimes sweet not so small baby horse is officially 1 year old! I wanted to wait to post about Luna’s 1st birthday until I could get some new pictures of her. Like all baby horses she has cuter day that others. Here are some of my favorite pictures of her. Hard to believe it has been 5 months since I brought her home!

February – September

img_3297October

img_3386img_0223.jpgimg_1638.jpgNovember img_0292.jpg img_0297.jpg img_0279.jpgDecemberimg_1350.jpgJanuaryimg_1900.jpg

FebruaryThere is a lot of derp and plenty of tude in there. I see glimmers of the horse she will grow up to be though and can’t help but day dream of the future we have ahead of us! I wish I had been better about taking pictures! I want to try to get one each month from here on out for progression shots.

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Current Wanties

Yesterday Karen posted about a style/wardrobe wish list. I have pretty much all of the things that I “need” when it comes to the horses. All 3 have brushes, blankets, boots, etc. I have a plethora of tack, breeches, and riding boots. That doesn’t mean that a girl can’t have grabby hands though!

missshield First up is a Miss Shield. It might not be practical and probably is a bit diva ish for eventing land but that does not change anything for me. Given the price tag I don’t see myself splurging on one of these bad boys anytime soon. I will continue to lust after it though.

aquaxI got to see the Ovation Aqua X Lightweight breeches that Amanda reviewed in person (Lauren speaks highly of them too!) this past weekend. I am even more intrigued by them than I already was. I definitely don’t need another pair of breeches but at their reasonable price I might have to take the plunge. Another not so pricey wardrobe addition that I would like to make is some YoungKWPN-NA garb. I recently joined the group and even before that having bought Luna I thought it would be fun to get my hands on some KWPN garb. I still haven’t made the order but one of these days I will get a hat and shirt.

thinlinePractical me would like to try the ThinLine Gatorbootz and see if they work for the red dragon. She pulls boots like she a fiend. I HATE pulling off boots before dressage and it is even worse when the special ginger has to wear two on each foot. These seem really durable and easy to take off. They are super expensive for bell boots though. Anyone have first hand experience with these bell boots?invictusNot so practical me knows that I don’t need another half pad but I really want to try the Invictus half pad. I have to admit that what I have read is intriguing and a fellow blogger swears by hers. There is nothing wrong with my current set up but I am curious to see how the feel differs. Last up is something that I actually get to buy thanks to a Christmas present of a GC to BoyOBoy Bridleworks from the ever awesome $900 Facebook Pony. I am working with the owner now to design a navy and grey belt and cannot wait to see how it turns out.

What are some things that you all have been getting grabby hands over? Tack? Apparel? Any cool items you can share to make my list even longer?

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10 Pts In Pictures

Poplar-RiverBirchTeam-30

For the first time in the 9 months that I have been eventing Annie I actually left the ring this weekend on her thinking that while it had it’s hiccups this would be the test that got us out of the vicious last place cycle and scores over 40. When I signed up for MayDaze I totally underestimated how green Annie was. While she was generally rideable we lacked any finesse – which you are probably thinking “duh” because she was so green. Slowly but surely we have been making progress but as with most things it has been a 1 step forward 2 steps back. Below you can see the progression of our dressage tests the past 9 or so months…IMG_2945

Always room for improvement but I am still very pleased with where we are starting 2017.

May Daze May 2016 – 47.8IMG_0386IMG_0399

River Glen June 2016 – 47.50RiverGlen_0571RiverGlen_0573

Between every show it would seem that I had improved on one aspect or another only to lose something in another and then we would go into the ring and the wheels would fall off. We would have small moments of greatness and then large moments of just BLAH. This resulted in consistent scores in the 40’s. I would shed a couple points and then next HT gain them back in different areas. Like for example when Annie refused to pick up the right lead and I rode her like a motorcycle through every canter circle…

Chatt Hills July 2016 – 42.30LCP_4432LCP_4430

River Glen August 2016 – 45.00rght3816_3946rght3816_3950

Feather Creek October 2016- 47.3 – I unfortunately do not have any pictures but it was pretty much more of the above with some extra points due to me having an error in my test. This year I really want to reduce the stupid points due to geometry and errors!

Poplar Place February 2017 (schooling) – 38.25Poplar-RiverBirchTeam-26Poplar-RiverBirchTeam-30 While this weekend was after all just a schooling show the scores that I received for various elements of my test reflected how I felt the test rode. We had far less bracing and hollowness and even when I got nervous it didn’t totally destroy or dictate our test. By riding Annie more effectively with my seat and leg I was able to I know that if I really buckle down we will be able to get more competitive.

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