Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Twister's One Year Barefoot-aversery

One year ago today we pulled Twister's shoes and started the barefoot journey. It has not been easy. Actually, his feet looked better at 5 months than they do now. His feet have not handled the ground changes well this summer and fall and I've dealt with thrush and bruised feet, tender feet and he even popped a little abscess, though I didn't even know he was abscessing until I saw the hole. He got trimmed today and while I was told his feet are better than a year ago, they aren't where a horse's feet should be after a year. Part of this is my fault. We don't ride enough anymore. I used to ride up and down the road but when you are only home when it's dark out, you can't ride the road. The plan is to at least make him jog in the machine 30 minutes a day, 3 or 4 times a week and get in at least one good ride under saddle, down the road or otherwise. The machine has lime dust in it which is really gritty and should be good for his tooties. I still use Farrier Barrier occasionally, but after reading a friend's blog, I am also giving Hoof Heal a try. I need to start spraying his frog with Listerine or Iodine again because he is getting a little thrushy....again. I finally found boots that fit him, and that will help with rides off the road, all over timbucktoo when we have time for those.

Let's take a look back:

The day his shoes were pulled, Nov 25th 2013

Right before his first trim. Around Christmas-time

Right before his first trim. Around Christmas-time
April/May-ish 2014. Best his feet have looked. He was
very sound on them too, riding all over and
jumping over 2ft without a single bad step....
this is before the first bout of thrust

Today, Nov 25th 2014

Some good and some bad.... needs more work....

Not giving up!!! I have until May (first show) to help make
his feet amazing!!!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Why OTTB's make the BEST Riding Horses

Okay, so I don't currently have my own OTTB. And the last one I had I could care less for.... But the reason I don't currently have an OTTB is because all my TBs are at the track being ON The Track TBs. But when they do retire, they will become our riding horses or retrained and sold. Two in particular I cannot wait for their retirement from the track, and one of those two hasn't even been ON the track yet.

So So Worth It, commonly known around the farm and shedrow as "Fatass" is going to be my straight up, blue-ribbon winning Dressage horse. I've said it since he was 2 years old. He is balanced and up hill and like riding a rocking horse. I don't know if he'd be a sound jumper, but he probably totally would jump if I asked him. Now my 2 year old on the other hand has never even raced yet. Never even been to the track. I can't wait for him to start his career as a race horse. He has 'big horse' and 'stakes winner' written all over him. He also has Prelim eventer written all over him! The kid isn't afraid of anything and has a big uphill gallop and already at 2 knows how to best use his body efficiently. And he has attitude to boot!

So here is my list of why OTTBs make the best riding horses after racing retirement. I had someone tell me one day online that she would NEVER use and OTTB in her riding lesson program. Well that's her loss. Because OTTBs are awesome.

1. They have literally seen it all and done it all.
Behind this wall is a junk yard. Smashing, banging, loudness ALL morning

2. Trailers are no biggy. They trailer to and fro constantly
My 5 year old and 2 year old get on and ride better in a trailer than does my 10 year old QH....

3. They tend to have awesome up hill gallops, even at fast speeds

4. Having tiny little riders on their backs is not unusual!
5. They are versatile. They can do anything from trail ride, to event, to barrel racing.
Unraced OTTB turned trail horse. He's been sold since this photo and is now being used at a pony for a string of polo ponies!

6. No matter what they're doing they love doing it. TBs don't like to sit around. They are used to regular work schedules and love to get out and move. If you're TB starts to crib or chew wood or beat up their buddies, it's because he's bored! Work that horse out!
7. They DO know all the gaits, believe it or not. Go watch training in the morning. TBs are doing everything from walking in the shedrow to jogging down the track to having a nice canter to a hand gallop to a full out gallop. They do it all. Not just go fast.

8. They are (mostly) smart animals. They can learn new jobs quickly, with steady, consistent training.

Can I eatz it?

9. 90% are used to being controllable at all speeds, including having breaks, in an o ring or d snaffle, which is more than I can say for a lot of barrel horses, jumpers or endurance horses.
Horse seen here is training in a french link o ring snaffle
10. Most know how to properly use their bodies. 

Feel free to add your own reasons!!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Silke White Dressage Clinic

Went to my first ever "clinic" yesterday. Which was pretty much a private lesson with some spectators where I got my ass thoroughly whupped into shape. Just when you think you actually look good and are doing the right things, along comes a professional dressage trainer/rider to make you think again. Silke is an awesome trainer. Asks nicely once then starts yelling. Makes me sweat and wonder if I'll be able to walk in the morning. If I'm paying for a lesson or clinic DO NOT go easy on me. She didn't!

Teaching me how to teach Twister to relax at the poll

The biggest challenge was getting Twister to relax his poll and be light. I swear there were times I thought I'd end up on his neck. But it didn't take long for me to figure out that a deeper seat and steady hands help. I am very sore today, as is my trusty mount. We decided to practice this morning and I could tell he was very tired. Well so am I. Our walk become round and light, which I have almost never achieved. I learned a few helpful tips for bendy-ness, like having my hips and shoulders follow the horse, like riding a bike. And to remember to keep my elbows close to my body and be quieter in my hands. And most of all, I am not supposed to be dragged around by my horse! Which I knew. But you get so used to something you start to think it's normal! By the end of our lesson, our trot became light and round and we even got some  uphill canter!!! My biggest goal is that uphill canter. Can't jump the big fences long, low and strung out. And of course I want us to improve our dressage score because that score has the biggest effect on your placement at a horse trial. I can jump double clean and have a clean cross country and still be dead last if we suck at dressage.

I had to ditch the jacket, I was huffing and puffing so hard I could
have blown the 3 little pigs' house down!

So proud of us for finally getting somewhere! Absolutely going
to make taking a lesson now and then a habit!

I don't do a lot of dressage-specific work in the summer. But Twister knows as soon as the ground gets soggy and the winter blankets come out that the dressage tack won't be far behind. Luckily I have a horse that basically is happy almost any time he is under tack, although if he had it his way he'd be ponying bratty racehorses or jumping the big jumps.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

To Clip or Not to Clip

I have been seriously considering clipping Twister this year. I want to keep training and be ready to gallop out of the starting box first thing in May. But then I got to thinking about how much weight Twister lost last winter, and that was eating top quality grain, with all his hair and a blanket all winter. So maybe I won't clip yet. Maybe I'll wait until March or April and then clip him as the weather warms up. A few weeks ago Twister looked super fat, which is fine by me being that it's winter now. But I looked at him yesterday and I feel like he's already lost weight and it's barely been cold. I wormed him and I'll see what happens from there.

So what type of clip do I go for this spring? Blanket clip? Full body? Zebra?

Skinny Twister after a long hard winter
A much healthier looking pony!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Dark Days of Winter.....update

So I got home around 5:30 pm today. Ran outside, got my horse, and jumped out bareback. In the almost dark. We did about 20 minutes dressage work. Talk about a test of trust! Cats running everywhere in the dark, you can't see them, just hear them. The dog is always in the way. Great fun. Maybe I can get a head lamp for his brow band? Head light on my horse! I don't even think he'd mind!

Dark Days of Winter

I might as well live in Alaska where it's dark all the time at the rate I'm going. Dark at 5:30pm? Not acceptable. I don't leave work until 5 or 6! I only have a field to ride in..... I can't just ride on weekends! That is also unacceptable! Maybe I can hook a head lamp to Twister's brow band?? Maybe I can talk my fiancé into rigging up some sort of light off the side of the barn by where I ride so I can at least work on flat work and our ground work and things like that. I didn't get one show in this year. And if I can't ride all winter because it's always friggen dark when I'm home, it'll be July before I get to one!

In about 2 months or so I'll be able to make my own hours a little bit. So if I want to come in late and leave late (so I can ride first thing in the am after the sun comes up) I can, even if only a couple days a week. And vise versa, if I want to come in at 7 and leave really early I can do that too. My pony misses me! Though he should be lucky his mommy finally got a real job and can afford his special hoof gunk and expensive grain! :P

I'm going through riding withdrawal and the only cure is to ride!