Thursday, May 28, 2009

Whoa!

This was our lesson today. Louie has been playing too hard out in the pasture and is still sore on one of his hind legs. Ugh, baby horses. . . I hope he starts feeling better soon, it's been a week and no clear signs of what is hurt- you just get that terrible feeling in your stomach when they are hurt, hoping that they recover fully. Anyhow, so we're making due, and working on brain exercise rather than body exercise. We worked on a very important lesson today- whoa. This is, in my opinion, one of the most important things for a horse to know, both to be responsive during work or emergency, and to stand and be patient, trusting that your horse will not walk away when you've asked him to stand.

So we started out in the arena. After just a minute of light trotting to plant the seed- "remember we're working now," we started our lesson on the lunge line. I asked Louie to whoa and took a step back from him. He didn't move, so I praised him and moved on to a bigger challenge- a few steps back. This time when he took a step towards me, I shook the line at him until he went back to where he was standing, and repeated my command to whoa. We repeated this once or twice more until he caught on to the concept, and continued, working farther and farther away from him until I was at the end of the lunge line, praising all the while.

Then I moved on to a little more difficult challenge, especially for a joined-up horse such as Louie- moving to his sides. This blog doesn't go back quite this far, but joining up is my first lesson with any horse, teaching the horse to respect me as the herd leader. In this exercise, the horse learns to face me and not take his eyes off of me as they would face and watch a dominant horse in the pasture. So, naturally a horse who has done this exercise wants to turn to face you when you move around to his side, thus this whoa lesson was a little more of a challenge here. But Louie is smart and he figured it out quickly. After a few corrections, Louie figured it out and I was able to move farther and farther from him, leave him standing for longer periods of time, and make more distractions, kicking dirt and moving my whip around. I was even able to approach him from behind, using my whip and my opposite hand along his sides introducing him to the feeling of the shafts of a cart as if he is being hitched.

After he mastered standing on the lunge line it was time to let go of the line and test what we have learned. I just had to give him a quiet verbal reminder once, but Louie stood perfectly, ground tied in the middle of the arena while I walked all around. Yay! Good boy! Louie may not know it, but this is one of the preliminary steps to getting him broke to drive. Standing quietly while hitching is a must!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

My Friend Minime

Well our good friend and teacher Sandy bought herself a mini horse about a month ago at the horse expo. She is a 1 yr old filly, and Sandy's already got her ground driving with the best of them (in a halter), doing obstacle courses, and practicing a jump or two now and then. This mini definately acts like she's full grown, well she almost is- she's really cool and super cute!

Since Sandy refuses to let me pay her for all her help with anything green, I make her things and give her edibles. This time I got a real good idea! See, it is fairly difficult to find equipment and clothes for mini's, so I thought I'd try out my skills and make her a sleazy (like a swimsuit type covering for the head and neck to keep a horse clean before a show). While I was at the fabric store, I decided this was pretty fun picking out fabric for her, so I thought I'd try out my skills on a fun little weekend project. Next thing you know, Minime's got a sparkly sleazy, a show sheet, and 2 sets of polo wraps! Hehehe You should have seen the look on Sandy's face when she opened up the bag to find more than what she expected! It was great, and the clothes fit Minime *almost* perfectly (I have to alter the sleazy just a tad). So without further ado, I give you Minime!
And her clothes:And finally Minime modeling her new outfit:Isn't she cute? And so well dressed! Now that I've discovered my new talents, I hope to make more if I can find the right supplies. . . hehehehehe (this is what happens when you have too much time on your hands)

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Western Bridle

Here is the finished product. It only took me 30 photos to get a handful of decent ones- it is really hard to try to photograph a young horse, get his ears, have him stand still, and get a half-way decent photo with only one person. lol so without further ado:

Here a lawn mower went driving by and finally peaked his interest so I didn't have to work so hard:And this one, obviously Louie is doing his classic bit chewing here, but I really like this photo, more from an artistic standpoint, so I thought I'd include it:

Friday, May 22, 2009

Rub Some Dirt On It

Sandy came out this morning to take a look at Louie since he's been acting silly. First we groomed him, and she noted his weight is a little bit on the low side (I think so too- but of course, I'd love my horses to be chunky monkeys) and suggested that perhaps this is causing his back to be a little bit sore since he doesn't have much for padding there.

Then we lunged him and though he was feeling his oats (hadn't been out to pasture yet today), he looked a little sore on his hind left. The day we left the field trial 2 weeks ago, Louie got himself tangled up in his line, so he did get a fresh rope burn on that pastern. We suspected this might have something to do with it, as he has got a pretty good scab going on that pastern, so we have begun treating it more aggressively with Nitrofurazone ointment. I'm kindof a minimalist in this department, so I've been adopting the "rub some dirt on it" method since he isn't super fond of having it touched. So we'll try this to see if that loosens and moisturizes the scab and eases the discomfort.

That was about all for Louie today, and I think I'm going to try to stay off of Louie's back for a while and see if we can't get him a little fatter and feeling better.
On a side note, I did find a new bit for his western bridle (which I won't be needing now real soon). The mouth piece has the copper inlays and is made of sweet iron just like the black bit, but this one looks a little nicer on the outside. I also applied some clear nail polish to the ear pieces and tied them together on top with fishing line to help keep them in place. Hopefully I'll get a photo of it on him soon, but here it is on the wall.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Crabby Horse

Something wasn't right in the world of Louie and Leah today. First, Louie wouldn't stand for the farrier. As Pat was trimming his front feet, Louie kept trying to pull his leg away, and went as far as semi-rearing to get out of having his feet done. And Pat was just filing a tiny bit off and leaving most of the length, not shoeing or anything painful. So I don't know why Louie was being a bugger. I suspect it was probably the weather- two hot days in the 90's then today in the 60's.

Then I rode him, and he was fussy, grinding his teeth, not wanting to stay even remotely steady in his frame (head up one minute, down the next, etc), and he put his ears back when I asked him to canter. Okay. Enough for today. We just trotted some nice SLOW figure 8's and quit before we got into more trouble. I don't know what is going on with this teeth grinding thing, but it's been going on for a while. I ignored it for a while, hoping that if I quit paying attention to it, it would go away. But no. He does it riding, long lining, bitting- anytime he has a bit in his mouth. The vet floated his teeth in April, and while he just had a couple of teeth come in a month ago, I have a hard time believing it's his teeth. So maybe it's his back or neck- he is really tight at the poll- REALLY tight. So I might make an appointment with Dr. Westman, the chiropractor, to have Louie looked at. Then I think, maybe he's anxious and my training is not going right. Well it's not like I'm asking him to piaffe here people. Even after backing way off, he's still doing it.

Sandy is supposed to come out tomorrow morning to watch us and maybe she can help figure it out. There is a hunter jumper show just a few miles down the road on Sunday and they have a walk-trot equitation on the flat class that I may try if Louie isn't still being a bugger.

About the show. . .

Well hubby put the cabosh on the show this weekend because it is too far away. I definately see his point, for not really planning on doing anything at the show, it is a long way to drive and split gas money on when there will be closer ones later this season. . .

But it did give me the chance yesterday to try the new show bridle on Louie and make adjustments. Here he is- gosh doesn't he look pathetic. I think this is the, "Mom, it's 90+ degrees outside and I'm hot and tired, and look at me I'm a ragdoll" look. lol
I took the bridle to my parents' house and had my dad make a few adjustments of the ear pieces. They are solid metal (silver plate- I'm too cheap to buy the real thing) and were straight, so I had him bend the parts where they connect to the headstall so that it lays nicely (it sat up about half an inch from the top of Louie's poll when I tried it on yesterday). So now that I've got that fixed, I have a new question or two- how do I keep the silver plate from chipping off now that I've twisted the metal and cracked the plating (I thought about clear nail polish or varnish or something)? And- should I use a silver bit instead of this black one?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Show this Weekend. . .

So the show this weekend does have walk-trot western pleasure and horsemanship 18+, and 4 and under snaffle, and bridlepath, in addition to all the other western pleasure classes. So many to choose from! haha. We could certainly walk and jog by Saturday. . . Going to assemble the bridle and try that out. . .

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A Little Rusty

Other than long-lining Louie on Sunday, I haven't worked him in any sort of "regular" or "collected" work for a couple of weeks while we were on our hiatus for the field trial and while I was preparing to take my board exam. So, naturally we should be a bit rusty. . . well "a bit" is definately not the right word to use. I rode Louie today (a "normal" ride) and it was as if it was only our 3rd or 4th ride ever. No concept of headset or bend, steering was really lagging, lazy would be better than how I would describe his trotting. Granted, it was 85 degrees and HOT today, but I can't get over how difficult and stiff that ride was! Yuck! I guess we have some work to do. . . back to the suppling exercises.

Of course all of this was after I got a phone call from Sandy saying that my friend is going to a show this weekend and she thinks I should bring Louie and ride a class. Ha! Yeah right! I would love to bring Louie and hang out, maybe do a halter class or something, but I would just want to go and relax and have fun getting Louie used to the new surroundings (though I'm pretty sure he'll have NO problem with it after what he did for me at the field trial). Unless there's a walk-trot open all age class (which I doubt), I find it hard to believe that we'd be even close to ready to make an appearance in the show ring under saddle yet. Maybe if we had progressed from where we left of with our training 2-3 weeks ago. . . but probably not now. We still don't have our right lead down very well yet. . . But that's okay. I am in no hurry. Again. I. Am. In. No. Hurry.

So we will slowly work our way back to the condition and training level we were at before this break we've been enjoying.

On a more refreshing note, Louie got a bath today. Soap and all. I wanted to get out some of those little straggler winter hairs that seem to keep coming off on the girth and in other parts. Ooh was he one shiny beautiful little pony! He wasn't too fond of me spraying the water anywhere close to his face, but that's okay for now. He stood pretty nicely, and I shampooed his tail really well (he's a little bit of a tail rubber), rinsed it extra well, and conditioned it. I haven't done the sheath thing quite yet, but I squirted some cold water up there- Louie was thinking, gee, thanks Mom. . . We dried off while eating some grass- it was a perfect ending for Louie. :)

ETA: I stand corrected- the weather man said it was 97F here today. I knew it was a good day for a bath. I'm glad we had a light ride too!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Monster Truck Rally!

I can't think of a more fun way to end an exciting day of field trialing, riding, and partying with friends than going to your own private Monster Truck Rally- complete with music and light show! Not directly related to Louie or his making, but he got the chance to watch some monster trucks while we were at the field trial last week too. Here is the video of the Thursday night performance. AWESOME! :D

Monday, May 11, 2009

Louie's First Field Trial!

We survived!
Last week/weekend we took Louie to his first ever pointing dog field trial. It was a 5 day event in Eagle, Wisconsin that is put on by the Northstar and Wisconsin Weimaraner clubs. For those of you who are not familiar with field trials, they are like hunting on horseback. While my husband competes in these events (and hosts this one every year), Louie and I went to watch and ride along in the gallery.
Here is part of our camp- the course is in the distance, the clubhouse in the background, and some of the dogs staked out (our two weims in the foreground):
These events run from sun up to sun down, most horses riding all day long. The evenings are fun for the people involved, as there is usually great food, a lot of beer, and tall tale telling. For the horses, it is camping on stake outs- a new concept for Louie that we practiced as much as possible beforehand. The stake outs are metal car axels pounded into the ground with a rope attached that the horse is tied to. We wrap the ropes in a garden hose to make them a little safer- they don’t bend as easily so the horse can’t get caught up quite as easily, and they slide against the skin a little easier than rope or chain. It may sound pretty simple, but this is a lot for a horse to learn how to maneuver while tied to this line- they get their legs caught up pretty easily if they’re not careful. Louie did pretty well with the stake outs. He had a couple of incidents where he got his legs caught and panicked, but mostly when he was anxious—when he was calm and his surroundings were peaceful, he maneuvered the line like a pro. He stayed out there through a thunderstorm, and even learned how to roll and make quite a mess of himself on the stake out.
Here's Louie on his stake out:

Making a mess of his stake out- walking in small circles and getting his line tangled on the stake so Mom has to come and bale him out.

He enjoyed playing with all of the sticks he found- I think maybe he spent too much time watching the dogs.

We had a thunderstorm on Friday night, and Louie was still managing to make himself into "pig pen," rolling in the mud.

Riding in field trials is a lot different than most trail riding- you encounter dogs running loose around you, gun shots while on course (blanks, but still loud!), and of course riding in a group (in the back if you are in the gallery) in which your horse must be well behaved and quiet so as not to interfere with the event. Louie did great with the riding- much better than I expected. He was a little excited the first day, the first time he went out on course, but didn’t do anything stupid. He flat walked with his buddy Cash about 100 feet back from the rest of the gallery- ears up, no problem. He didn’t spook at the gunshots or dogs running around him, and handled the footing like a pro. While standing during finds wasn’t exactly his thing, he figured out by the end that if he stood quietly, Mom would let him snack on a little grass. Louie even remained perfectly calm with other horses rearing, cantering sideways, galloping, and spinning around him. On Friday and Saturday, we rode a whole stake each day, 2-3 hours per day. We rode the amateur walking derby, a stake in which the handlers are on foot. This was the best stake for us to ride, as we could keep up at a flat walk, whereas the other stakes we had to trot to catch up to the Paso’s and TWH’s that everybody else has. Plus I could watch the dogs in these stakes, which is a bonus, lol. Louie did absolutely phenomenally- he flat walked with the best of ‘em and acted like he had been doing this his whole life. And at only 3 years old, he really impressed a lot of people (especially me).

Here are a few pictures of me and Louie riding in the gallery on Saturday, I am in the light brown coat and blue jeans, usually towards the back of the group (did I mention it was really cold on Saturday?):

And some close-ups, my favorite photos, even though my saddle slid back about 5 inches from where it started (Friday top and Saturday on bottom):

After our ride on Friday- "the wet blanket sign" as some of the cowboys call it(it was 70's and sunny- absolutely beautiful weather):

And so fresh and so clean after a hose bath on Friday:

The only thing that wasn’t very fun was babysitting. We had a fair amount of down time since I couldn’t ride every stake (didn’t want to ride that much, and didn’t want to negatively impact his training by doing anything other than flat walking). We went for a few light trail rides down the road by ourselves, past cars, scary rocks, through trees, puddles, etc. But I still had a lot of time to “babysit” as I called it, where I either had to hold him and hand-graze him, or tie him. He didn’t much like the idea of being on the stake out when no other horses were around during the day (got himself tangled up), and hasn’t really learned to tied at the trailer, especially by himself. Well, by the end of the weekend Louie learned to tie and stand at the trailer quietly- all alone. I was quite pleased with this, as I got a chance to study and even take a nap!

The camping was alright. We had beautiful weather on Thursday and Friday. It stormed on Friday night, and was quite cold (highs in the 50’s) on Saturday. We stayed in the gooseneck of the trailer, in which I didn’t put enough blankets or padding. The trailer we had was un-insulated, so the rain was SUPER loud, the trailer was never warmer inside than outside, but it was much more humid inside. Every morning we woke up damp- yuck. We should have just slept with the windows open, and it wouldn’t have gotten so humid in there. It wasn’t too bad, better than sleeping in the cab of the truck, but insulation and a mattress would be stellar.

Overall, I was VERY proud of my horsie- especially for being only 3 and having only 6 months under saddle, all on the farm or in arenas. I think he had a good experience, though he was tired by the end, and his brain soaked up that atmosphere like a sponge. He adapted well, and with this experience behind him, he will be prepared for just about anything. He even made it out un-injured and alive in one piece (my biggest concern, lol). He did a phenomenal job on the trails, was pretty well behaved otherwise, and definitely won the beauty contest at camp with all of the girls and even with the old cowboys! I think Louie did his breed proud, and someday if he ever learns to slow gait, he will impress even more people!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

We're Off!

Well we will be departing shortly for Louie's first ever field trial. Wish us luck! And let's hope we get home in one piece! Here's a kiss goodbye from Louie! We'll see you all when we return!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Ready to Go! (Almost)

The trailer is *mostly* loaded, the horses have been clipped, Louie has thoroughly rehearsed his stake out tying, and I'm starting to pack my bags- including the Benadryl for when I'm sitting awake at 1 am worrying about Louie on the stake out.

We did our final stake out session at the barn today, for almost an hour, and Louie did great. I sat in the pasture by Louie, in the dirt/grass, going through questions in my board review book. No work for Louie today, he will need to save up any extra calories/energy for the next few days, as just going to a trial (not even riding) is exhausting! Tomorrow we depart the barn at about 11:30 am, and I am responsible for hooking up the trailer, loading the horses, and picking my husband up at home (curbside- what service!).

Here is the weather forecast for the week:

Wed- high near 70, 60% chance of rain, T-storms likely both day and night
Thurs- high near 70, 30% chance of T-storms
Fri- sunny, high near 64, 40% chance of showers at night
Sat- high near 57, 40% chance of showers
Sun- sunny, high near 62

So there we have it- this forecast has changed fairly significantly in the past few days, so hopefully it will continue to evolve to 70 and sunny every day with no rain. ;) Ha! Doubtful, I'm bringing my slicker.

Here are the photos I promised of Louie all clipped up today:Here he is saying "hey- what are you doing standing there taking pictures of me- can't we go eat some grass already?!"
He is such a sweetie. :) You can't deny this sad pouty face.Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Preparation

I've been so busy (graduating from PA school and preparing for boards and) preparing and packing for the field trial that I haven't had much time to post an update. So here we go.

On Saturday, after graduation, we headed out to the barn to work the horses and get Louie back on the stake out. This is when he ran into his first dispute with the line. He got both his right hind and his right front caught in the line, tried to shake free, then got a little nervous as he was out on the end of the line. He pulled back a little, then had a mini-freak-out and reared/sat down, all the while legs a'flailin'. All the while, I'm standing right there and hubby says, "go help him!" I'm thinking- NO WAY am I getting in the middle of that! He managed to get himself free after just a short struggle with it, and walked away unscathed. He had just a tiny rope burn on his right hind pastern which is healing up just fine. A little shaken up, he came up to me for a hug. I held his head and petted him and reassured him that he was okay, and he immediately went back to eating grass. Nice horsey. I had the end wrapped in vet wrap, but now I have added to that with some electrical tape at the joint to make it less flexible and cover the end of the hose a little better. Hopefully it will stick, but it will probably be a process in the making.

Then Sunday we worked with the blank gun. I started out riding Louie in the arena at a trot and had hubby fire the gun while I was working at the trot (I tend to believe that a horse in motion doesn't spook quite as hard as one standing still to something like this). He fired the first blank and Louie got a little excited- picked his head up and trotted a little faster, but didn't spook. Then we progressed to walking, standing, and watching hubby simulate a find outside the arena. Louie did no more than flinch. With lots of pets we headed down into the big open field and tried a few shots out in the open. Louie handled it with no concerns, he just stood there and flicked an ear at the noise. So that went as well as it could have, and I am very happy with my boy. I let my husband ride Louie back up to the barn- this was the first time anyone other than me has ridden him. He did very well for Bjorn, and I think he even liked Louie's smooth walk (a lot more comfy than Cash's big TWH stride). Unfortunately, we couldn't do a ton of grazing Sunday and Monday because the barn owner fertilized the pasture. But hopefully today the pellets will be dissolved enough so we will be able to graze on the stake out one last time at home.

Monday, I had a million shopping errands with this trip- shavings, bute, fly spray, salt lick, electrolytes, pro-biotics, etc. Whew! I gathered together lots of supplies and headed out to pack up the trailer (we are taking the barn owner's 4H gooseneck- YAY!). Well I got a lot of stuff packed up and I have a lot more to pack today. I lunged and clipped both of our horses for their final preparations. I was UBER impressed with Louie as he let me clip his ears! I tried one time in the past and he let me clip part of the outside, but today he was really patient and let me clip the whole thing (well I didn't do the very inside since we're not going to a show and he doesn't need to be bitten by mosquitos and flies any more). I think the new clipper blade helps, it doesn't rattle quite so much as the old one, haha. I will try to get a pic of Louie's cuteness and post it, I was quite pleased with my little man, and he looks so handsome all clipped up! Even Cash looks great- like a horse instead of a wooly beast now that he's all clipped up.

Well today's adventures are sure to include a trip to Target/Wally World to find some egg crate matresses for the trailer, continue packing, and study for boards. Cheers!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Farewell Friends

Two of Louie's pasture-mates will be leaving for new homes tomorrow, so I thought I'd write a little bit to say good bye to each, though I'm sure it will not be forever.
The first is Levi, a 6 year old quarter horse gelding. Levi was bred to be a working cow horse, but he is one of the coolest and most versatile horses I know. His owner Celina often rides him around bareback in a halter, but she also shows him at local open shows. She takes him out of the pasture and he ground ties in the middle of the driveway with no halter or leadrope (pretty impressive if you ask me!). Levi is so calm, easy going, and friendly- just a really cool horse. He is moving to a nearby stable to work on his jumping skills this summer. We will miss little Levi.
The other is Tobi, who I have known for many years. Jill, (Tobi's owner) and I go way back to the days when we first learned how to ride together as teenagers (hmmm, maybe even pre-teens). Tobi, as you might guess, is a tobiano American Paint horse, who will be 17 years old this summer. Jill has owned Tobi for several years, and they are blue ribbon show ring veterans. In his day, Tobi was unbeatable in showmanship, hunt seat, and western (and Jill probably still is unbeatable in equitation and horsemanship!). Jill, Tobi, and I have gone to shows together for many years and have shared many great times- whole day downpour shows, the dust that sticks to your eyeballs, and of course sweeping the classes we rode in. I even used to ride and show Tobi myself way back when, before Jill owned him. Way back when, Tobi was the classic lesson horse who fooled kids into believing that he really was scared of the boogie monster that hid in the trees at the far end of the arena. He is the herd leader at the barn, and runs a pretty tight ship here, making sure everyone knows to steer clear of his stall at feeding time. Tobi is moving to a stable that is much closer to home for Jill, so she will be able to see her retired show horse more often and give him the loving that he deserves. Tobi, I will definately be coming to visit! But we'll miss you as the herd leader nonetheless.
Here you see Tobi keeping the herd in line this past February. He thinks his job is easy- it's like herding sheep.
Farewell friends! We will miss you!