Thursday, April 30, 2015

April Recap & Goals for May

April was a pretty good month, overall, although quite busy and hectic.  I worked a lot more shifts at work than I was doing before Europe.  I battled to ride in between the rain and the crazy Texas weather. All three horses finished shedding (thankfully!).  I finally got a full blown story plot/idea down and saved to work on this year. And I spent quite a bit of time on the things I enjoy doing and with the people I love the most.  So, it was a great month :)

April's Goals...

  1. Work on story notes twice a week.    Done! This was easy once I found my plot.
  2. Prepare Lady for an endurance ride in the beginning of May.  Done - mostly! Have a farrier appointment for next week before the ride, but that's it!  
  3. Stick firmly to my blogging editorial calender. Oops. This one was a fail.  
  4. Memorize all college audition piano pieces.  This one was almost done! But we decided to add some extra stuff to my list, so not yet.
  5. Work hard on all the productivity habits and routines that I want to put into place.  Yes! I've gotten much better with all of this.

Goals for May...!

  1. Fiction Writing:  Finish setting up the plot and outline as many scenes as possible. Write 3 times a week for 30 minutes each time.
  2. Blog Work:  Post 4 times a week here and 3 times total on my other blog. Put up at least one facebook post for each page at least every weekday.
  3. Ride Lady 10 times (saddled).
  4. Start saddling Comanche.
  5. Read 2 fiction books and 1 nonfiction book.
  6. Do some form of exercise every day, even if its just stretching.
  7. Drink more water.

What are your goals for one of my favorite months of the year!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015


So the last time I posted was 11 days ago.
Ouch... considering one of April's goals was to stay on top of my editorial calender.

To explain... first I started getting distracted by my new fiction project last weekend, and then I worked on that late every night, and then I had a busy weekend...

And then I realized that I didn't have a desire to write yesterday when I opened my computer.

I installed a new writing program on my laptop, which got me set off on an awesome few days of fiction writing. And then between work, things to go to and people to see, I forgot about writing... blog posts or stories or anything.

So, I guess I've been a little burned out over the last week. I did have a dressage lesson last Wednesday, I rode last night, and Comanche has been getting some practice in on being calm. I went out with friends several times, watched possibly a few too many movies (all were good though), saw a play and practiced/performed with the violin... all this weekend. Slightly crazy.

Most of April has been a month of getting back into routines after six weeks of vacation. Making changes to the horses' feeding and exercise routines and spring is now fully here. Shedding hair everywhere. Lots and lots of rain and mud. So on and so forth.

Slowly, I'll get back into the writing groove, so this is all I have for you right now. Tomorrow I'll attempt to do a writeup of my lesson with Lady last week :)

Friday, April 17, 2015

Spring Fitness: Fuel Up

Still working on fitness stuff with my poneh over here! :)  I've been doing my best to get on Lady as often as possible this week and I think we're getting better together...

But, when you're actually exercising your horse and both horse and rider are getting a workout, what do you feed for energy, protein, and all those other fancy things that keep your pony at the right weight while still getting fit and in proper condition?  Feeding is one of the most important steps.

I've always obsessed over what I feed my horses, and somehow I always end up with most of the similar ingredients in my mix. I've never really fed what is called a "complete feed" because I can never wrap my brain around how much is supposed to be given in order to balance the vitamins and minerals. Do you get it?  Cause I don't....
So here is how I figured out what to feed Lady and how much... and how I plan to go about adjusting it as necessary.

Step One - Decide which "class" your horse fits into. Most of our horses fall into the working horse class, somewhere between light and moderate work.  I set Lady at the bottom edge of the light working horse class because she doesn't usually have trouble with weight and stays relatively healthy.

Step Two - Weigh your horse and decide on bodyweight percentages. I used the basic equation for weight:  heart girth squared multiplied by body length divided by 330.  With Lady that equaled 870 pounds. Ouch - I didn't realize she had lost that much weight.  Anyways, according to several charts I found online, a mature horse in light work should be getting approximately 1-2% of her bodyweight in forage and .5-1% in concentrates (grains, etc).

Step Three - Do some research, look at everyone's random opinions, and then dig out the facts from the fiction (hard to do sometimes).  Decide on 1-3 concentrates to mix up for your horse's feed.  I chose beet pulp, oats, barley, and decided to toss in a small amount of hay pellets for some extra forage.

Step Four - Critique your horse's health (and check with your vet) and then decide where she needs extra support (this can include weight control). From there, choose whether and how to supplement accordingly.  My major concerns for Lady are her joints and her hormones.

After taking all those steps, I've come up with the following feeding plan for Lady. I'll measure/body condition score her in about 2 weeks and see what needs to be changed.

Total amount of feed, either in one feeding on a rest day, or split into two feedings on a working day.
  • 1 pound of hay pellets (usually alfalfa/timothy mix, but I'm switching to plain alfalfa)
  • 1 pound of beet pulp pellets (soaked for at least 6 hours)
  • 1 pound of oats (soaked with the beet pulp, to soften and open up the oat)
  • 1/2 pound of rolled barley 
Supplemental feed, added into the above.
  • 1/2 cup rice bran meal
  • 1/8 - 1/4 cup flax seed (soaked with the beet pulp and oats)
  • 1 heaping scoop of Mare Magic (unless the vet changes this to something stronger)
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1000 mgs vitamin C (I crush normal tablets)
  • 1 tablespoon celery seed
  • whatever I have in her SmartPak this time around... we're going to MSM for joint support
  • extra water to make a mashy type bucket of feed

How do you fuel your horse for exercise?  Does he/she get a lot of different feed/supplements than they would if they were not in work?  :)

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Futuristic Thinking

So last Tuesday I posted a kind of downer paragraph in my blog hop post.  I've been worrying about her age and what I do with her, whether she doesn't like dressage, and so on and so forth.

Several of you were very encouraging in the comments, and I've also had a lot of time to think and spend time with all the horses. I did some groundwork with The Mare last week and she was an angel (of course).  On Monday I had another discouraging ride though.

The issues were mostly boiling down to the fact that it was obviously and definitely not fun to work in the same place that she lived. Right now her and Tempest are living in the "arena" that I was using during the winter for riding. Then it was okay to work there, but now it is the worst thing ever. Obviously.  o.O
The other fact is that its springtime... she is a mare... we have a new colt on the place... and she's always been a very strong and dominant mare during the spring.
And the third fact, which I've had to force myself to acknowledge, is that I've been asking for a lot from her. I love this dressage thing and I want to work on it every time I get on, but she isn't as enthusiastic about going in circles in the arena all the time, lol!  So I have to remember to do things for her brain too so that she doesn't get sour.

This is what Lady thinks of dressage!
With all those things in mind... I went out and spent some quality time with my girl today.  I brought her down to the paddock for her dinner and then did a little bit of liberty work with her after she had relaxed (three horses in three different enclosures always causes a bit of protest).
When she was calm and quiet and giving me attention, I decided to test her focus a little bit. I opened the gate of the paddock and gave her the choice of what to do.  She could run off and bite Comanche over the fence, come and see me, or whatever.  What she did do was look at the open gate for about 10 minutes and yawn (see above picture). She finally.... finaaaaallllyyy meandered over, stuck her nose out and promptly fell to eating the nice fresh grass on the lawn.
Crazy horse.

Her normal face... eying the mud between her and the gate.

She was being lazy enough, so I just groomed her while she grazed. I groomed for an hour. And she actually looked clean and somewhat shiny when I finished, so yay!  I tacked her up slowly and played around with her for a while on the ground, mounted/dismounted a few times, walked her over some things and onto some things (trailer prep), etc, etc.
When I finally got on to ride she was quite relaxed and didn't have too much forward (the usual problem when riding out in the open). She actually behaved really well. I really focused on riding on the buckle and just getting proper basic responses to leg and rein aids.


I only rode for about 15 minutes. The last thing I did was ask for some circles at a walk and trot and she started lowering her head and blowing out - great signs!  After a few good circles, I called it quits for the day because she was trying for me and that is what made me happy.  :)

Here are my basic notes about today's work... if you're interested ;)
  • She isn't confident in the bridle. We need to go back to the hackamore and use the bridle in groundwork to build confidence there.
  • We need lots more work over poles. We had a bad stumble today because she was distracted and not looking where she was going. The work I did over poles last week was awesome - need more of that!
  • She is great at leg aids! Seriously, there were a few times where she responded before I had to think about the reins. Super happy about that!
  • Need to balance the bend. Either she is stiff, or she turns her head too far and lets her shoulder fall out. :)

I'm feeling more motivated again and looking ahead. Love this horse so much :)

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Essential Manners - What to Know

After working with Comanche lately, and planning out his training in the future, I've been thinking a lot about what ground manners he ought to have. That leads to me analyzing how good Lady's ground manners are, and then thinking what is ideal for any horse.

So, I scrounged around online a little and found out what some other people consider to be essential manners so that I could list what I like to see in a horse.

  • Lead quietly, beside and not behind me.
  • Allow me to touch him all over without any problems.
  • Stand quietly for the farrier.
  • Load on a trailer.  This is the one that Lady does not do, since I don't have a trailer to practice.
  • Stand tied, either to a post, or in cross ties.
  • Be caught easily in the pasture. 
  • Respect personal space. Very very well, and...
  • Never, ever present me with his hindquarters. Even though Lady doesn't kick, turning away like that is a major sign of disrespect.

So, what do you think? Are all these things essential to you too, or do you have less/more?  :)

Monday, April 13, 2015

Comanche Update

Baby horse has been getting short spurts of training whenever I get the chance to go out there, or whenever the horses are not yelling and running up and down the fence lines.

I don't know if I was very clear or not, but Comanche was a two year old stud colt when he first arrived here... and as spring moved in, so did my wonderful mare's hormones.  Lady's always a cranky, irritated female during the spring, and having a stallion around the place shot her ability to focus straight through the roof this year.

It was supposed to be done sometime anyways, so I had the vet out on Friday and little Comanche is now a gelding. :)

He snored straight through the entire process and didn't make a fuss for anything at all.  I was really proud of him, and the vet liked him too.  :)

He recovered from the drugs really well and he seems to be healing up very well, and staying happy. Of course, he can't go out with the girls for a while yet, and I have to stay on top of his exercise, but all's well.

As far as his training goes, he is such a fast learner. He's figuring out personal space pretty well, learning to back up, and how to yield his hindquarters. He still hasn't quite learned that he can't just leave and turn away any time he thinks he's done with work, but even that has gotten better.

Hopefully in the next week we can start getting him comfortable with a saddle blanket, getting the idea of lungeing, and start picking up his feet better.

And hopefully Lady will calm down soon too.  We've got a lot of work to do together!  :)

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Spring Fitness: The Goal

Every spring its the same. I get all excited about becoming more fit, riding ALL THE TIME, doing events with my horse, and everything that goes with that. I mean, of course I get excited around New Years, but this is when I really get motivated.

Am I the only one?  No? Yes? Anyone?

Well, this year, I made some pretty specific goals on the horse front, which involve fitness on both my part and Lady's. I also have a goal to have some off-property time with Lady.  So, the motivation is really, really strong right now. And the pressure. Lots of pressure.

So, I need some short term goals as steps towards the larger goals. April's goal is to prepare Lady for an intro endurance ride that is scheduled to happen at the beginning of May.

The intro ride will be approximately 11 miles long... and Lady is in decent shape, which means half of  getting ready for this excursion will be getting me able to ride for that long. Sooo... with that in mind...

My short-term, reachable goal is to get up on top of Lady 4 times a week up until the endurance ride, and spend 30 minutes up there each time.

Doable?  I think so... :)

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Thursday's Inspiration

I always need inspiration to keep me going, especially at this time of the week. So I scrounged up these two horse things that helped me recently.  Enjoy!

Inspirational Minute with Silke Vallentin - this video is one of my favorite show of natural horsemanship, and liberty work. 

True Confessions of Horse People - this Chronicle of the Horse article cracked me up and made me feel a bit better about some of the things I do!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Europe - Part Three

Part three of my Europe pictures!  Ya'll might enjoy these best because this is the point where I show off pictures of the Spanish Riding School's stable and some of the horses!  We watched the morning exercises to music the day after I took those pictures.  :)

SRS Stable, from the street.

Leading the horses out for training.

Handsome stallions!

Crossing the street to go to training.

One of the handsome boys.

Coming back from training.

This handler was awesome, saw me taking pictures, and set this boy up for me!

I seriously got to snap this one from up close. :D

Vienna carriage horses.

The Wiener Eistraum (Vienna Ice Dream).

After we finished skating!! So much fun!

Parliament in Vienna.

The Palace Schonbrunn in Vienna. Famous palace!

Hot chocolate on our last night in Vienna.

Spending the morning in Venice.

Venice was beautiful!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

TOABH: 18 on the 18th (and other recent events)

I haven't really participated in any of the other 17 blog hops from The Owls Approve, although I have enjoyed every one of them. What an adorable way to celebrate your horse's birthday!  But I really liked this last one, so here you go...

Eighteen on the Eighteenth.
In honor of Archie's 18th birthday, tell me 18 things you love about your horse.

1.  I love Lady's adorable blaze.
2.  I love her height. 15.2 is just a nice size.
3.  I love her super solid feet, even if it means I can't trim them myself.

4.  I love the sprinkling of white hairs she has at the top of her tail. Cute!
5.  I love her athletic ability.
6.  I love that she's an Arabian. <3

7.  I love the fact that she is nigh on impossible to tire out. Her brain is amazing.
8.  I love that she knows whose her human is. She's funny that way.
9.  I love her conformation, even her not-very-strong hind legs.

10.  I love that she can manage to look good in EVERY picture!  
11.  I love that she is super opinionated. Yes, it can be frustrating, but I wouldn't trade it for a shut down, silent horse.
12.  I love her summer coat.  *swoon*

13.  I love that she is such an easy keeper and has such good health.
14.  I love her amazing ground manners.
15.  I love that she's not afraid to tell me when something is wrong, even if it is subtle sometimes. She doesn't hide.

16.  I love that she never kicks or bucks (never say never, I know!).
17.  I love that she almost never spooks. Basically, really good brain.
18.  I love that she is mine. Forever :)

Now that I've said a bunch of reasons why I love my horse, I'm going to ramble a bit about the problems we've had since I got back from vacation...  I do this several times a year, so maybe I'm just overreacting, but I'm not really sure.

Fact: this was the hardest winter that Lady has ever been through since I bought her. She lost a strange amount of weight, and you can actually see her ribs.
She looks quite a bit older this year and it makes me worried. I wonder whether I ought to ease up on her or continue training...
Her homones this year are crazy. Maybe that has something to do with having a colt in the other pasture, but she has a very hard time focusing. This one I can understand and try to deal with.
She doesn't want to try right now. This might be a combination of homones and other sass, but she flat out will not "dressage", accept contact, or bend nicely through her body.
I worry that maybe this isn't right for her... maybe I shouldn't try to get too much better. Maybe I should just take her out for fun rides and not do work anymore.

Do you think 16 years old is too old to change from being a Western trail horse to being an English dressage horse?  Should I postpone my dreams if what Lady needs is different from those dreams?

I just don't know.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Europe - Part Two

More pictures, I know! :)  My computer does not enjoy uploading more than a few pictures at a time, so I am forced to split everything up into multiple posts.

View from a mountain cloister in France.

Snow on the mountain in France!

Hardworking horses climbing a mountain in a snowstorm in Germany.

The "Disney castle", or Schloss Neuschwanstein. In Germany.

The Lake Constance in South Germany.

The Alps!

So many horses in Vienna!!

More horses in Vienna :)

Inside the St Stephens Cathedral in Vienna.

Vienna, Austria.

Vienna, Austria.