Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Riva as a yearling

Though we don't have any snow here just yet - I know some bloggers are having a white Christmas.  Regardless of the weather, Merry Christmas to all!  Enjoy the holidays with loved ones.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Looking Back One Year

                                                                   September 2010

First of all, I am very bad at keeping up at taking pictures of Riva.  I tried to find a pic from December of 2010, and September was the closest I came.

December of 2010 - I had Riva at my previous trainer's barn from mid-Oct. to mid-Nov. of 2010.  So in December, we were trying to maintain the progress gained while away at training.  I was finally able to lunge Riva on my own, and she was responding to body language and softer voice cues.  Riding,,,,still issues.

October 2011

December of 2011 - When I look back one year, I can see all the advances we (mostly I) have made.

*   Riva is a pro at lunging now.  I can lunge her in our indoor alone, or with another horse lunging and another being ridden.  I have control of her and she respects and responds very well on the lunge. 

*  Ground manners are much improved.  Her pushyness is almost 100% gone - but she will try it with a handler that isn't used to her.

*  Riding gets better every ride and I could not be happier with this.  I am once again having fun on my horse.  I know my husband is happier, since I don't break done in tears every other ride!  My confidence in my ability has increased 200% or more over the past year.  I can now encourage Riva with a dressage whip - I no longer ride in spurs - and she is responding.  The very few times she balks, I can handle it and get Riva moving out with energy. 

I have several people to thank for the progress this past year:

* First of all, my lovely, talented ,soon to be 18 year old daughter!  When Riva got dangerous early this summer - ie, rearing, bucking, twisting - all at the same time bit - Alexis got on and worked Riva thru the issue.  Every time Alexis gets on Riva now, which is rare, with her being a working student, I see how a good rider can get Riva looking like a dressage prospects.

*  My new trainer - for putting me on a schoolmaster dressage mare, a gaited horse, and a very opinionated draft cross, and teaching me how to ride all over again.  I was doing so many things wrong, and she patiently helped me thru each and every one.  I have learned so much from her in the short time I have switched to taking lessons with her.

*  My husband - who has talked me thru being on the verge of giving up on ever being able to ride Riva, many times.  Who has reminded me countless times that I am green, Riva is green, and we will get better.  He is the the one who tells me to look back at our progress and remember how far we have come. 

I can't wait to see what 2012 brings...and there will be pictures!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Progress, Continued

...and I hope the progress never ends!  One of the best things my trainer/bo did last week was put me on one of their gaited horses.  When I arrived at the barn last Friday evening, she said she had a great relaxation exercise for me to try.  She told me to put a barebad pad on BJ - aka very cute black and white Rocky Mountain Spotted Horse - and his bridle, and hop on.  The only warning she gave me was if I didn't relax right away, I would fall off.  OKAY...

Let me just say, the first lap was way different than any ride I have ever experienced!  I have never been on a gaited horse and had not a clue what to do.  My husband stepped in the arena and stopped BJ after one lap - my plan was just to run him into a wall :)  Once BJ was standing still, my trainer gave me a few instructions - how much rein to take up, how to sit, how to ask for walk, then faster walk, how to stop, etc. 

So we started off again in a much slower gait.  It was amazing!  I loved feeling his back move and the smoothness of his gait.  I spent quite a long time at the slower walk then moved up to a faster walk - I never let him totally go- maybe next ride.  But what I learned from that ride I don't think I could learn on any other horse - how to totally relax and move with a horse.  How to continually breathe deeply with emphasize on the exhale.  Priceless!

Saturday is normally Riva's 'day off work'.  My daughter, Lex, was home for the weekend from her working student position, and asked if she could go out and ride Riva.  She has been riding several young horses at her new position and was anxious to try out her new skills on the Diva.  Well of course I agreed she could go out and ride.  Since Saturday nights are date nights for my husband and I, I didn't go out to watch.  I received a call right after her ride with a full report, though!

Lex focused on forwad - if Riva did not go forward she got a quick tap with the crop.  Lex was thankful I had already started laying the ground work with this.  As early as this past summer, the touch of the crop would send Riva into bucking fits.  No more - she is growing up and realizing the crop is a much stronger leg on.

Lex worked Riva in a very forward trot for most of the ride - threw in lots of direction changes and circles.  Riva offered canter several times and Lex rode her thru it.  She rode her with two other horses working in the areana, with zero issues.  Lex said it was the most fun she has ever had on Riva and had to tell herself it was time to quit and cool her down.

Sunday night I went out to ride and immediately heard from my trainer/bo how fabolous Riva looked on Sat night with Lex riding.  No pressure for me to ride her well, hmmm.  I got on and really focused on relaxing and breathing deeply.  I warmed her up with a nice rhythmic swinging walk - concentrating on keeping my hips open, legs relaxed and back, toes over my knees and pointing forward, and staying light in the stirrup.  I exhaled and with a light leg aid asked Riva for trot - and she went!  Not only went, she trotted out very forward - ears pricked and focused.  I was able to hold the reins with very little pressure - Lex's trainer says you should be able to hold the reins like they are ribbons about to break and I never understood what that meant until that ride. 

We spent the remainder of the ride much the same as Lex discribed her Sat ride - forward mare with a happy attitude.  Riva even offered a left lead canter and I rode her thru it.  I was thrilled! 

Monday was farrier day - he was most impressed with the growth in Riva's front feet.  This past shoeing was an experiment in stretching to six weeks between visits - we had been on a four week cycle.  All four shoes stayed on the entire 6 weeks!  Will stick with this timing as long as it works for her.

After Riva's feet were finished, I tacked up to ride.  Monday's ride was just as successful as Sundays, maybe even more.  I actually felt my heels bouncing down as she trotted - something my trainer has been working on me being able to accomplish and feel.  And Riva just seems...happier.

I never would have believed that my tension and or relaxation would cause such changes in Riva.  When I relax, she goes forward - when I tense up, she balks.  It seems so incredibly simple.  The softer I ask, the better she responds. 

Now - how to keep that feeling... 

Monday, December 5, 2011

Progress & Corneal Ulcers

First off, the Corneal Ulcer.  I HATE eye issues - only thing medically that makes me squeemish.  Thankfully, I have a wonderful husband who makes it his job to doctor the horses when it needs done. Which for the past week has included driving out early mornings to put two different eye ointments in Riva's eye and give her Banamine paste. 

Last Sunday, we arrived at the barn to find Riva's right eye swollen almost shut, draining, and completely cloudy.  After panicing just a bit...we started calling vets to have an emergency visit.  When Riva was a yearling, she cut her eyelid and we waited a few days to have a vet out to see her.  The vet told us to never wait to call about eye injuries.  Of course, this time was much worse.

After trying our first choice vet...out of town for Thanksgiving weekend.  Second choice vet...Dr. on call was heading in to the clinic for an emergency c-section on a dog.  Third choice vet...he called us back and was out in about an hour.  He examined Riva's eye and determined it was a Corneal Ulcer caused by an injury.  He gave her a Banamine injection and treated her eye with two different ointments.  He was confident it would heal completely with treatment, but insured we did the right thing by not waiting to have it seen.

So, a week later, the swelling and drainage are gone and the cloudiness is clearing.  We are done treating with Banamine and one of the eye ointments.  The rest of this week, she needs just the one ointment twice a day.  Very relieved!  No pictures - sorry.

Next, progress.  I am starting to feel everything come together with getting Riva forward.  I can not say enough how working on a Dressage Schoolmaster is improving my position and understanding of riding in general.  My trainer/BO is patient and wonderful and works very hard to help me understand the mechanics of riding - how my position, relaxation, posture effects the horse.

Because of the lessons, I have also been doing a lot of reading and research in my quest to learn and understand.  While there is a lot of crap on-line, a couple of articles I found were exactly in line with what my trainer has been teaching.  I had a light bulb moment after reading it in print and seeing it stated a different way.

To be continued... 

Friday, December 2, 2011

Website Info for Horse Hair Jewelry

Several people commented on and asked for the website link for the lovely horse hair necklace that was given to my daughter. is the link!

I just went to the site and oh my...I want!  Really beautiful pieces.  I can vouch for the quality of the craftsmanship that goes in to this jewelry.  Lex's necklace is stunning - the photo does not do it justice.  I am glad I visited the site, as it gave instrutions on care.  The only thing I think the company should do differently is to include a note about how to care for the jewelry.

Check it out when you get a chance!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Belated Thanksgiving Post

Fall, which it my absolute favorite time of the year, was a hard season for our family this year.  Dealing with the lose of Hennessy has been tougher than I could have imagined.  Thru it all, though, we learned how caring the horse community is.  Total strangers offered comfort thru kind words to Alexis and myself and it was amazing. 

When Hennessy was laid to rest, my husband cut his tail and gave it to our barn owner's daughter, at her request.  Everyone at our barn pitched in and had this made to give Alexis. 

Hennessy's name is engraved on the silver portion of the necklace.  Alexis was home on Friday and had came to the barn to watch my lesson.  Our barn owner gave it to Lex  - she was pretty emotional.  Lovely gift and she will always have a part of Henny.

I am thankful for compassionate friends, family, and 'strangers' that I may never get the chance to meet.  I am blessed!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

And now I wait patiently...

for this to arrive!!! 

Connection | County Saddlery

I sold my SUV over the weekend and placed my order yesterday for a County Connection, girth, and leathers.  Will take about 12 weeks, according to my rep. 

 In the meantime, our barn owner's daughter is lending me the use of her County jump and or dressage saddle.  Her gelding is re-habbing from an injury and she is graciously letting me use them.  While they are not a perfect fit for Riva, they fit much better than my Kieffer.

Soon the Princess will have her very own custom fitted saddle...I am sure she will be pleased!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Third Lesson on the School Master

Friday was my lesson night on the School Master - I will call her 'V'.  I arrived a few minutes early and hurried down to Riva's stall to check her leg.  On Thursday evening - I had all my tack out and ready to go, hurrying a bit to try and get outside for a quick ride in the fading daylight - only to discover Riva had a small wound on her right front fetlock.  Quite a lot of dried blood was around it - dang...but thankfully no swelling or heat.  I cleaned it up and coated it with antibiodic ointment and put her back up for the night.  She was not lame on it, but I didn't want to take any chances.

So I popped in to her stall to check on the wound - looked fine.  No swelling, heat, she wasn't sensitive about having it touched.  I threw her some extra hay - she made quite a lot of noise last time I had my lesson...I assume voicing her displeasure at me giving attention to another mare!

My trainer asked me to put a bareback pad on V and bridle and bring her out when I was ready.  Should have been my first clue that I was in for a workout.  After scrambling up on V - who is tall and broad - I found her very comfortable to sit on bareback.  We started with some holding one leg at a time out to the side at the walk - with my bent knee raised on the opposite leg.  This helped me feel my seat bones move with V's motion.  We worked on getting my position correct and then moved up to trot.  My trainer said my balance was really good and a did not have trouble staying with V.

Next my trainer had me remove the bareback pad and saddle V.  She had me contentrate on keeping the position in the saddle that I had bareback.  We again started with walk and raising my legs and getting the feel thru the saddle.  We moved up to trot and she had me work on posting smaller but more forward motion in my pelvis.  She then had me work in 2-point - this I have never done nor attempted to do.  This took some work before I could hold my balance (meaning keeping my butt out of the saddle).  My trainer wanted me to concentrate on relaxing my ankles and sinking my heels - kind of bouncing down in my heels. 

After working on 2-point for some time, we moved up to canter work on a 15-20 meter circle.  My canter cues are getting more effective - I worked first in walk to canter then trot to canter.  Working on canter in a circle was a first for me also - keep in mind I am a beginner!  My trainer said my position in canter is much improved from my first lesson and I am getting more relaxed all over.  On the last canter circle, everything started to click and V went into a nice working canter - it felt so amazing.

By the end of the over an hour lesson - I was tired and a bit sore already.  But the progression of bareback pad, to 2-point, to canter circles made sense to me in review.  I felt my position improve and my connection to V was stronger.  I love that my trainer walks around at the end of the lesson, while I cool out V, and goes over everything we worked on and answers any questions that come up.

My trainer is to ride Riva for the second time this evening.  I am looking forward to hearing how it went!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Holding My Breath

I feel as it I am waiting for a Diva Riva meltdown - or someone to bring back my naughty mare. 

Each day this week has been a good ride, in my opinion.  I feel we are moving forward, however slowly, once again. 

End of daylight savings time means it is pitch black dark by 6 pm.  Pretty much ends our outside rides, except for Sundays.  I snuck in a quick hack on Tuesday evening - hurried thru groom and tack - and went for a nice forward trot around the pond several times.  Riva was happy, alert, forward - and seemed very surprised when I hopped off and untacked her - almost like 'you mean that is all I have to do today?'  I am trying very hard to end before she even thinks about slowing down.

Last night, had to arena ride...I feel awful saying that since many riders would kill for a decent indoor arena.  But indoor is clearly NOT Riva's fav place to be.  Lucky for me, 3 geldings were working also - 2 being lunged and 1 being worked under saddle.  Now bear in mind that last year given this circumstance - I would have elected not to ride Riva.  (since last year at this time - we had no brakes, steering, listening capabilities, etc)  I decided to hop right on - no lunge prior - and put the girl to work.  And she was great!  Very forward - moved off the seat to a nice walk - little leg pressure to trot - accelerated the trot with a light whip (which is new to us - not so long ago, this alone would have caused a buck or swift kick out), halted when asked - did not try once to bite the boys. 

Much, much praise was happening through out the ride.  Sweet girl received hugs and treats before getting put to bed.  I am still afraid to exhale.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Riva gets schooled, 2nd lesson on the schoolmaster, clinic & show!

Lots of catch up to do!

My new trainer / BO schooled Riva last Monday evening and had lots of good info for me.  She started with a bit of ground work, moved to lounging without tack, then a bit of body work on her shoulders, neck, and poll, then a short lounge with tack, then a ride.  First off, she complimented me on how well I have done with Riva to this point.  She did a lot of turns on the haunches and forehand to loosen her up - worked on getting her very forward at the trot and let her canter if she offered.  She worked on the beginning of getting Riva to move off of seat only from halt to walk and walk to trot.  She felt good about how Riva responded and that Riva was sweet, willing, and tried for her.  She will ride Riva again for me this Sunday.

I had my second lesson on the schoolmaster last Friday evening.  We briefly worked on a nice swinging walk, just off my seat.  I did much better at this than the first lesson and we quickly moved up to trot.  We started with a bit more contact and then went to a very forward trot on the buckle.  It is so fun to ride her - she can fly :)  My trainer then showed me some stetching, flexing exercies to do that I can do with Riva - getting her to turn on the haunches and forehand.  We moved up to canter and I still was having trouble timing the cue.  She ended up having me cue her from walk and I did fine with this.  My main issue is sitting the trot - which I need lots of practice! - and then giving the canter cue with my seat and legs. 

My trainer said I showed much improvement from my first lesson - my foot/leg position was better and my posture was better, ie not leaning so far back.  I will have another lesson this Friday on the school master - I love her!

Friday I took the day off work and went to a clinic put on my Toine Hoefs - his clinic was being hosted by the barn where Alexis is a working student.  It was very interesting - I was able to see lessons at a variety of different levels - from training level thru Grand Prix.  Alexis was fortunate to be included and took a lesson on a horse that is in training at the facility.  She was able to be instructed on counter canter - which she has not done much.  She was to have another lesson last night - I have not talked with her yet to see how it went.

Saturday, we headed to Come Again Farms in Sheridan for the last combined show of the season.  Alexis rode for the owners of a young Arabian that is being trained at her working student position.  Lex has been riding this horse and took it to two jump lessons prior to the show.  They competed Green as Grass and ended up 4th - she was able to get her horse over every jump with no faults - so the owners were thrilled :)  The owners bought this mare for their daughter two years ago - who is a tiny 10 year old now - and the daughter has not been able to show her yet.  The mare is very nervous, spooky, and needs a calm confident rider.  Lex did so well with her - it was fun to see Lex in this little girl is growing up.

I rode Riva yesterday afternoon/ the wind storm...and she was a pro!  She definitely prefers being ridden outside as opposed to the indoor and I don't blame her.  If we were able to ride year round outside, I would be thrilled.  But since we live in Indiana, it just is not pratical.  My husband thought I was crazy for taking her outside due to the wind.  Riva was very up for the lounge - wanted to canter and canter and canter.  But once I got on, she settled and listened and was great.  We did a lot of trotting - bit of canter both directions - and worked on moving off the seat.  I even finished up with a walk around the pond, just as it was getting dark.

Hard to believe it is the middle of November - with temps in the 60's today.  Driving home from the barn last night, we saw a few houses lit up for Christmas...way to soon for that!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

My Baby is a Senior

My youngest daughter is a Senior in high school this year!  She had her Senior pics taken the first weekend of October and finally, the proofs were on line today.  Those of you who have followed her blog know she is away as a working student.  She started the position in mid-October because she completed all her school credits and was done with high school early.  She plans to come back end of May to walk in commencement.  Just had to share a few of the pictures - really there are some without horses in the shot - but what fun is that!

Lex and Hennessy

Lex and Hennessy

Lex and Hennessy

Last ride ever on Hennessy

Final Salute

Glam shot with Hennessy and Cheers

Lex and Cheers

My baby 'girls'

Lex and Riva

Lex and Riva

Lex and some of her ribbons

Monday, November 7, 2011

All Things Fitting of Post #100!

Where to begin my catching up...

With a picture of the awesome ribbon rack my husband made for me!

The shoes are old ones that were once on Riva's feet.  Hoping to add more pretty colors to it next year.

I had my first dressage lesson last Thursday evening with the BO - my new trainer.  I rode a boarder's semi-retired school master for my lesson.  Lovely sweet mare :)

I learned more in that lesson then all others I have ever had combined.  It made a huge difference to spend the lesson focusing on me.  Exactly what I needed.

I learned that I sit back too much, as in lean back.  Most dressage riders have to battle the hunter position and learn to sit back.  But not me - I have the opposite problem.  When she finally got me sitting correctly, I felt like I was leaning forward!  But a look in the mirror does not lie.

Also, I have been riding with my toes pointed out to the side.  Putting my feet in the correct position, opened up my hips and helped me relax my legs.  I spent a good part of my lesson closing my eyes in order to relax my body and let it go with the horse.  Riding a school master put me at ease to let go...never would have worked on Riva.

The BO had me get comfortable at a nice paced swinging walk and them move up to trot.  We worked on cuing with just my seat and kept the mare on the buckle.  It was amazing to change her pace with just my post.  I also had to work on giving with my arms/hands. 

We then moved up to canter, which it what I need the most help with in regards to Riva.  I have trouble keeping Riva in canter because I end up blocking her forward, because I don't have the miles to be comfortable riding the canter.  I need lessons on a horse that will be a bit more forgiving and let me get my rhythm.  It was exactly what I needed.

After the lesson, I felt exhilarated :) 

The BO is riding my Riva tonight to start working on getting her back to being light off the aids.  I can't wait to hear how it went!

I have another lesson this Friday on the school master.  This is one of the advantages of taking lessons from my BO, plus she can ride and help train Riva.  I know I made the right decision to make a change - I am excited and know we are heading in the right direction.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

My horse the Therapist

I have said it before, but it bears repeating...I am so thankful for my fuzzy, opinionated, 1200 lb girl.  Just getting her out of the stall and grooming her is therapeutic.  Tacking up and going for a trot around the pond can temporarily erase the stress.  Giving her a big squeeze around the neck before I leave the barn can tide me over until the next time. I don't know what horseless people do to unwind!

Since my post after this will be #100, I didn't want a whiny complaining post - so I will do that now on
# 99!  I had a tough day yesterday - work and personal life all rolled in to one.  My job, which I have loved for the past five years, is getting stressful.  I haven't gotten to the eye twitching symptom stage yet (that was a past job), but I have always figured that I spend a good deal of my life at work and by gosh, I want to like it!  Right now, and for the past 3 months...not 'in like' with my job.

My mistake yesterday was to check on personal email at lunch time.  My former trainer (who also trained Lex) emailed me and asked how Riva was doing and if I was ready to resume lessons.  Daughter and husband had suggested to me that I should consider switching trainers to the BO where we board.  All the other boarders there (which are a whopping 4 women) take dressage lessons from her.  We originally started using former trainer for Lex - since she needed jump lessons and dressage.  It seemed logical, at that time, for me to take lessons from the same person - since we were already paying a trip fee and was cheaper to take back to back lessons. 

Now that Lex is at her working student position, it is just me needing lessons.  I had just spoken with the BO on Monday about starting lessons with her.  Not only do I need lessons on Riva, but I need lessons on a school master to work on myself, and Riva needs ridden by a trainer to further her education.  BO was happy to add us to her schedule and came up with a plan to start.  I like her thinking - she wants to work on getting Riva lighter off the aids - be able to lose my spurs.  She plans for my first lessons to be on a semi-retired schoolmaster who last competed at Intermediate level.  I am excited!

The problem - I emailed former trainer back and explained that I am starting lessons with the BO and a few reasons why I made this decision.  I was kind and diplomatic - I loved taking lessons with my former trainer, that was not an issue.  One reason I did not contact former trainer to resume lessons was whenever we just had one horse to take a lesson between Lex and I (a horse lame or other issues), she would always reschedule because she felt it was not worth her time and money to make the trip for just one of us.  She also had to drive about an hour to get to our barn and last winter, was not able to come a few times because of weather.  It made logical sense to me to start lessons with the BO who lives on the property, is a dressage judge, very capable of training my green horse and my green self.

The email I received back from former trainer surprised me.  She was not happy at all with me that I did not ask her to resume lessons with Riva and I.  I was upset with the tone of the email and will feel uncomfortable the next time I see her, which we will run into each other at shows and she takes lessons with the trainer where Lex is a working student.  I had my husband read the email and he does not take it the same way as me.

I did not reply back to the email because I don't know what I would say.  Anyone else had something like this happen?  How did you handle it?

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Time with daughter

Lex is loving her working student position and hopefully soon will be back to blogging about it.  Right now, she shares the barn apartment with the groom and does not have internet access.  In about 3 weeks, she will move to the pool house at the owner's house.  And by pool house,,,don't think she will be roughing it!  Cute, cute place with 2 full bathrooms, loft bedroom, full kitchen, flat screen tv mounted in the main room - pool and hot tub right outside the door.  Feel so sorry for her :)  And, she will then have internet access.

Lex was home yesterday afternoon - off work until Sunday morning - so, of course, she went to the barn with Mom & Dad and out to dinner.  It was good to have her home to ride Riva for me and show me a few cantering 'tricks' that helped Riva pick up and sustain the canter for me.  Afterwards, she hopped on Cheers, our OTTB, and walked around the pond with Riva and I.  It is times like last night that I try and remember how blessed I am and soak up the moment.  Just to ride with my daughter and talk - lovely fall evening, crisp, cool air, relaxed horses (hard to believe, but Riva must have been too tired to be annoyed by having to walk around with a gelding!). 

I have been inspired by a few bloggers Halloween contest photos, and have to share and old one of Lex and a pony that we leased for a couple of years for her.  Tag (Truely A Gem) was an ornery POA, that would do anything for Lex.  She worked at the barn where he is boarded, for a few years, teaching beginner Western Pleasure.  Tag would sometimes get used for a lesson horse and Lex could always be coaxed into hopping on him and doing a little reining type spinning. 

Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Loving Fall

Fall is my absolute favorite time of year - the changing falling leaves, crisp cool days and chilly nights.  And now I can add another reason to the list - riding my Diva outside as much as possible.  I know how fortunate we are to have access to a wonderful indoor arena and be able to ride in all weather.  But I am taking advantage of riding outdoors as long as I can this year!

Yesterday afternoon was perfect - after riding in the outdoor dressage arena, I walked Riva out around the pond on the property.  And the best husband joined me on Cheers our OTTB :)  Cheers has been living the semi-retired life the past couple of years, but that is coming to an end. I look forward to many more rides with my two 'guys' before the snow flies.

I decided at our saddle fitting appointment last Friday to quit riding Riva in the Kieffer and ride bareback, borrow a better fitting saddle, do lots of groundwork, until I can order her County...and then it will take 12 weeks to arrive.  I am blessed with kind barn owners - they offered for me to use a couple of different saddles until Riva has her own.  So - looks like I can get back to regular dressage lessons :)

Cheers and Lex - maybe 5 years ago?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Kieffer Saddle for Sale!

Since I need funds to purchase Riva's new saddle, I am selling my Kieffer.  If you know of anyone interested - let me know!

Kieffer Ulla Salzgber     -     Medium Tree     -     18" seat      -      Black     -     Very good condition, well maintained, comfortable saddle    -    Asking $850

Friday, October 21, 2011

Saddle love

I had my County saddle fitting / evaluation today with our area rep, SI.  I rode in all four County dressage saddles - and mediums, wides, and x-tra wides.  I was HOPING that a fellow boarders County Fushion would fit Miss this boarder was buying a new County and selling hers....hers is a medium and the Diva - is a wide.  Well of course she is!!!  What totally amazed me was once we determined Riva is a wide was how every model fit her differently.  They all put me in a different position and they all caused a reaction in Riva - some for the good and some for the bad.  It was so interesting to watch her ears - she most definitely tells you what she is feeling!  When I found the one that worked for both of us -  it was instantly a light bulb moment - like an 'oh...this is how she is supposed to feel and how I am supposed to ride'.  The difference in Riva's movement was wonderful - she was using her hind end, so up in the front, and forward.  My leg stayed where it should - it was amazing!

So, I will soon be ordering a County Connection - wide.  Love!  And can not wait until it arrives....which takes about 12 weeks.  Until then, I will be riding bareback and hopefully borrowing a saddle.

Connection | County Saddlery

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Video of Kelly & Riva's Intro Test B

My video finally loaded!  So here is our Intro Test B from last Saturday at Octoberfest in Edinburgh.  We obviously have a long way to go to reach my goal - I am aiming for a 65% or better next Spring on this test.  We are Green on keep that in mind if you watch this!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Octoberfest Success!

We met my only goals over the weekend at the Octoberfest show in Edinburgh:

1)  Stay on board Riva
2)  Once in the dressage test arena, remain there thru the end of the test
3)  Try and relax, enjoy, and have fun

And there were bonuses - I met fellow blogger Amy from Slow and Steady and Karen from Contact.  So fun to get to meet these ladies and see their fab horses compete.

Back up to Thursday night, pre-show weekend.  Husband and I were witnesses (ie Man of Honor and Matron of Honor) for friends of ours wedding - yes...on a Thursday night!  Very sweet ceremony in a minister's church office - they are planning a large reception party this winter.  So - I was not able to go out and ride Riva.  Daughter, Lex, decided to go out and ride her.  Lex calls to report Riva is about to lose a rear shoe - hanging on by one lone nail. we know this shoe will be somewhere in her field on Friday and the other shoe must be pulled before we can head to Edinburgh on Friday.  Not a huge problem - husband is very skilled in shoe removal by now! 

Friday evening.  Arrive at barn - load all our stuff while husband works his magic on Riva's remaining back shoe.  Riva walks right on to the trailer for me on the first try - what a good girl!  We make it to Edinburgh as the sun is going down.  Gotta love October shows when us working people can't get to the show grounds while there is still daylight.  Locate our stall and get the Diva settled.  Daughter is determined to get on and ride her a bit, since she had not rode Riva all week. is dark by now!  My baby can not possibily be ridden in the dark...apparently, she can.  She spooked a number of times - mainly jumped and stood very still and tall.  But daughter perserved and got in a decent ride. 

Saturday morning.  Arrive at a very dark, windy, cold 6:30 am to get the day started.  Lex's show time was 8:54 and mine 11:18.  After Miss Riva had breakfast, I took her to the warm up arena to lunge.  She was pretty excited - several other horses were lunging....mostly leaping, bucking, calling, running at top husband got to take over lunging, as Riva quickly made me dizzy.  Lex got on to warm up about 30 minutes before her test time.  Riva took awhile to settle - she tried a few bolts on Lex and a few little bucks.  After she figured Lex meant business, she got with the routine.

Intro Test C - Lex and Riva.  I read for Lex-I have read tests for Lex many times, but never while my Riva was in the ring.  For whatever reason, this made me very nervous.  I was so scared I was going to lose my place and screw up Lex's test.  I held it together and made it thru.  I really couldn't watch except to see what move they were on to keep my place.  So glad we have video!  Lex was smiling at the end, so I knew she was happy with Riva.  They scored a 55.5% which earned a 3rd place!  One of the judge's comments was that Riva has a lot of potential.

Intro Test B - myself and Riva.  I warmed up for 30 minutes prior to test time, which I could have shortened to 15-20 minutes.  Riva was great for about half the warm up then started getting a bit fussy.  I ended up letting her stand for a bit before going in the ring so as not to irritate her.  We showed in the lower ring , which was a different location than Lex and Riva.  We had not been in that arena since we were there in the Spring.  Riva did not seem bothered by this - you have to go down a slight hill to enter.  She marched right in and got to work.  I felt like I should have had Riva more forward and watching the video confirms this.  We scored a 55.625% and also earned a 3rd place.  Hey - we are consistant!  The judge commented that she is a cutie and to start working on getting Riva in a frame.

(Video to Come!  Technical difficulties in loading) 

After our tests and getting some lunch, we headed over to watch some combined test jumping.  We made it just to time to watch Amy of Slow and Steady compete her beginner novice course - they did awesome!  We decided to load up and head home - Sunday was move Lex to her new working student position home day.

Busy but fun weekend - last show of the season for us.  I know we have lots of work to keep us busy this winter.  First on the agenda is a saddle fitting with the County saddle rep this Friday, yeah!  I listed my Kieffer on Tack Trader if anyone is interested in a medium tree, 18" seat, comfortable dressage saddle.  I actually am hoping the County rep will approve the fit of a fellow boarder's Fushion County that she has for sale.  I rode Riva in it and think it fits her well,  That would save some $$$'s.  After I get a saddle that fits her, resuming dressage lessons is next on the list.

Riva has had many stops and starts this past year.  I finally feel like we are on the right track with diagnosing and correcting her club foot and knee issues.  With a saddle that fits, lessons, and fingers crossed - keeping her sound - I feel the goals I have in mind for next year are achievable.  But I will save the goals for another post!

Lex and Riva right before competing

Kelly and Riva after competing

Friday, October 14, 2011

Show Time!

We are heading to Edinburgh tonight!  My lovely trainer / daughter will ride Riva in Intro C at 8:54 am and I am showing her in Intro B at 11:18.  Good spacing, I think.  I have looked up times for two fellows bloggers and hope to watch at least their stadium jumping and meet them in person!

I am not stressed about showing - even though this will only be our third show.  I showed Riva in April at Edinburgh for the first time and she was great.  We tried to show in May at Come Again Farms, but that was in the midst of dealing with her club foot rehabbing and we ended up just schooling.  Of course - she lost a back shoe last night and no time for us to get that put back on before we leave this evening.  My wonderful husband is going to pull the other rear before we put her on the trailer to leave...and we will hope for the best!

It was been a horribly stressful week at work for me...I am ready to ride my fav girl, spend some time with my family, eat some Mexican tonight (ok, I really only care about the Marguarita) and enjoy. 

Thursday, October 6, 2011

For Lex with much love

My Grandest Foal
 (author unknown)

I'll lend you for a little while
My grandest foal, He said,
For you to love while he's alive
And morn for when he's dead.
It may be one or twenty years,
Or days or months, you see.
But, will you, till I take him back,
Take care of him for me?

He'll bring his charms to gladden you,
And should his stay be brief,
You'll have treasured memories
As solace for your grief.

I cannot promise he will stay,
Since all from earth return.
But, there are lessons taught on earth
I want this foal to learn.

I've looked the wide world over
In my search for teachers true.
And from the throngs that crowd life's lanes,
With trust, I have selected you.

Now will you give him your total love?
Nor think the labor vain,
Nor hate Me when I come
To take him back again?

I know you'll give him tenderness
And love will bloom each day.
And for the happiness you've known
Forever grateful stay.

But should I come and call for him
Much sooner than you'd planned
You'll brave the bitter grief that comes
And someday you'll understand.

For though I'll call him home to Me
This promise to you I do make.
For all the love and care you gave
He'll wait for you, inside Heaven's Gate.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Lex and her Boy

It seems like Hennessy has been a part of our family so much longer than 2 years.  July of 2009, Lex chose Henny from a whole 3 horses that we went to see.  Once she rode him, she didn't want to look any further.

Day we brought him home.

One of the first rides at Serenity Farms.

OctoberFest in Edinburgh - 2009
It was sooo cold - but Lex was all smiles at the end of her ride.

Spring 2010 at Serenity

Spring of 2010 at Edinburgh

Flying high at home

First time cross country at Centerline Stables in Greencastle

Spring 2011 at Serenity

Summer 2011 at Centerline in Greencastle

Edinburgh 2011

Penny Oaks - Edinburgh

Summer 2011

Come Again Farms - Summer 2011

I believe Hennessy loves his girl as much as she loves him.

Tomorrow evening, we will say our good-byes. 

I know many, many more horses will come and go in Lex's life.  She has so much ahead of her.
But this guy...will forever be in her heart.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Wide Girl Needs a New Saddle!

I could use anyone and everyones input - Riva has sadly outgrown her Kieffer dressage saddle.  It is so comfy for me - even though the seat size is too large - but not so comfy for Miss Diva any longer.  It is a medium tree and she needs a wide.  I looked in to having it adjusted by Kieffer USA - but the cost I can't justify since it still would not fit me.

I have started looking on-line and really want a saddle that can be adjusted or re-flocked down the road.  Riva is 4 now, but I imagine she still has some body changes coming.  She is wide backed, not high withered - she is Warmblood X TB.  I have been looking at used County saddles and Schleese (which are really $$$ - probably won't be able to go with Schleese).

Anyone have suggestions - advice?  I will most likely sell the Kieffer when I find something that fits Riva.  The Kieffer is too large for our other TB, Cheers.  Will try and get a pic of it and post if anyone is interested!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Some Great News!

This will be us at Oktoberfest in Edinburgh next month!  Dr. A cleared Riva for more work yesterday.  She said Riva's feet look fantastic and her trot the best she has ever seen her.  Much relief at our house :)

Dr. A took pre and post shoeing x-rays yesterday and watched her move.  We had her fronts re-shod and will wait to re-do the backs at the next shoeing in 4 weeks.

I came home, printed off the entry form for Oktoberfest, and will pop it in the mail today.  I am entering Riva and I in Intro Test B and Lex will ride Riva in Intro Test C.

Dr. A wants us to begin with 30-40 meter circles for the next two weeks, then we can add 20 meter circles - just not drilling her on them.  She wants us to take it slow.  Doc also advised not over practicing the test - as she said - Riva knows how to do 20 meter circles - she will do fine.

Excited to get her out to a show again.  I competed her at Edinburgh in April and in May we took her to Come Again Farms - but she was lame and couldn't compete.  Other than hauling to the vet, she hasn't been anywhere.  She has been to Edinburgh several times and always seems comfortable there.  We took her last October just as a companion for Hennessy.  Hoping she remembers!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

New video of The Diva and her Trainer

Here is some video of Lex working Diva taken last week.  I can see so much improvement from the previous video we took about 3 weeks ago.  Riva's stickiness is disappearing - her trot is improving - her canter has gotten stronger and she can sustain it longer - she is learning to canter on cue instead of running in to it - and she seems much happier working.  We are still riding every other day until she sees the vet for her re-check this Friday. 

Tonight, Lex rode her very briefly and then gave me a lesson on her.  We worked on slowing the trot on the short sides and lenghening on the long sides - walk to trot and back to walk transitions - medium walk and free walk.  Lex then hopped back on and took her for her first walk around the galloping track = new feature at our barn!  Riva was a superstar and walked calmly around for Lex.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

In her words

If you would like to read about Hennessy from Alexis's point of view, please visit her blog.  Thank you all for your kindness and support, for fellow horsewomen that you have never met.  It continues to amaze me.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Wake Up Grateful

I have a CD by Templeton Thompson titled "Girls and Horses".  The last track on it is the song "Wake Up Grateful".  I did wake up grateful today for the friends and acquaintances that have made their way in to my daughter's life over the past year - especially this summer.  Without them, Hennessy's injury, diagnosis and prognosis would be so much harder than it already is for her to handle.  Thank you to the bloggers who have expressed their support, thoughts, and prayers over the past week.  Sometime next month, we will have Henny euthanized.  Until then, Lex continues to groom, talk to, and hug him.  He gets turned out in a small pasture each day with Cheers, our other TB, and just gets to be a horse.

One of the things I am most grateful for in Lex's life is her new part time job that a trainer she met this past summer offered to her.  This trainer has already talked with Lex about a working student position, after she has completed her high school courses in October.  It is a dressage barn - the trainer gives lessons and trains horses for their owners.  Lex spent this past weekend on the property, staying in the apartment on the grounds, and worked.  We went to visit her yesterday and watch her ride - a lovely Fresian mare.  The trainer/owner wants Lex to ride the Fresian and another horse on a regular basis.  Lex can take lessons as she has time also.  This is a great opportunity for her to work on her dressage, receive excellent instruction, earn money, and further her education.  It is a beautiful, clean, well organized and run business.

Lex even got a change to compete at CAF on Saturday, spur of the moment.  She was to compete Beginner Novice on one of the trainer's horses - combined training and event derby.  Unfortunately, the horse slipped in warm up, after the first dressage test.  They did not realize until after they completed their 2nd test that a back shoe had shifted and a side clip had embedded in his foot.  So, they pulled him out of the competition before their jump round.

Some pics I took when we visited on Saturday:

Fell in love with this little filly!  She is so sweet :)

This Llama just made me laugh every time I looked at it!

Going out to ride Riva this afternoon.  We had some very good rides last week.  We worked on trot poles in the outdoor arena on Friday afternoon - had not done that for was fun and Riva liked doing something different, I think.