Sunday, January 31, 2016

The Schooling Bridle

I currently have two bridles: one for everyday schooling, and one for fancy occasions.

The schooling bride is a plain raised snaffle bridle marked "Made in England" and is horse sized. I found it second-hand at Twin Cities Tack in Herald, CA. They have a lot of Western things, but some good english things come in too!

The owner, Pamela, is wonderful! (be sure to say hi to Belle for me if you stop by!) 

The Check-Out Nook

The bridle is simple, no frills, hook and eye ends, but the leather has a nice feel. Especially the laced reins - just the right amount of grip.  And it fits the pony face well. 

As modeled by one fuzzy girl...

Saturday, January 30, 2016


Let's talk about young horses. 

Young horses who are high octane sportscars.

Young horses that like to GO.

I watched this video, where a young mare (with a go button) was being worked on a lunge:

Lunging the Explosive Young Horse and Improving the Canter - BONUS FOOTAGE LIMITED TIME from Manolo Mendez Dressage on Vimeo.

For me there were several gems at the very end - about young horses having a lot of fire, and about supporting and going slowly, so you don't crush the brilliance out of your horse and turn them into something ordinary (totally paraphrased there).

This came in handy when I finally made it out to the barn after finally defeating this epic cold (hooray!) When asking for the trot (verbally) Tesla got excited and offered some lovely canter under saddle, very round, she was carrying herself, rather than throwing her head down and chugging away on the forehand.  
Her canter can be tough to sit (think: pogo stick) but this was much more balanced and quiet.

This isn't what I asked for, but I didn't want to discourage her trying, so we practiced walk-few trot steps- to canter then slowly down back to trot in both direction, in big round loops around the arena (and lots of "good girl").

Mental note to self: don't always ask for the canter every time we do trot work
(otherwise she starts anticipating like crazy!)

and if she is offering something lovely, time to work on that :D

Thursday, January 28, 2016


While I've been benched from the barn for a few days, recovering from the worst cold ever and holed up in a vapo-rub-ricola-ibupropfen haze I've been getting my equestrian fix virtually.

link here
Some good things to keep in mind when working with babies :)

I also may or may not have gone on a Peaky Blinders Netflix binge....

spurred by the opening scene.

I mean who could resist this:

I was surprised to see an era appropriate horse - he is supposed to be a racehorse, and yes he looks very thoroughbred-y! He is obviously older (I'm looking at you deep depressions above the eyes) but he still cuts an impressive figure! The bridle looks legit too, flat workman-like leather with no frills.


Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Master Dressage

Tesla (and Porsche's) Christmas present finally arrived!

I decided to give them both the gift of a better rider :)

It's signed :)

and came with a BIG POSTER!

Which I've tacked up on the wall so I can start memorizing some new geometry :)

I'm liking it so far....more updates to come as I read through the chapters!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

I keep on Fallin'

How many times have you come off a horse? (or how many can you remember? LOL)

Let me count the ways:

#1: Goldie

Goldie, the best buckskin paint partner a girl could ever ask for. We had so many adventures!
I went to get on her bareback (a little two enthusiastically) and went right over the other side.
She didn't budge an inch.

#2: Chocolate

In a polo warm up, I was riding the lovely Chocolate, and she tripped in the field, and tripped again, and I went flying over her head and rolled. She leaped right over to avoid stepping on me (always a lady!). My team-mates assured me that I looked like some sort of ninja, I was so graceful in landing. I have a scar to prove it.

Chocolate Smile

#3: Porsche

 I was riding bareback around the pasture, and she was lovely and soft, (her gaits are always amazingly smooth). And I remembered seeing a peacock feather at the far end, so I rode her out there to get it. She wasn't thrilled, and was half convinced it was some sort of fancy whip. There was a fallen log, and I led her over, and hopped on, and was 2 inches too short!  My left heel jammed her in the kidneys, and she was off like a rocket. Like the start of the Kentucky Derby. I almost had my balance, but as she picked up speed, I realized I better bail. So I slid off the side on to the hard rocky ground.  I popped up with a thumbs up, at the parents, who were of course watching (and screaming by the end.) Still have the (mostly intact) feather.

Note to self: Do not engage rocket boosters until ready.

This was basically the view I had as she left me in the dust

#4: Tesla

Soon after we got Tesla, I was riding her in the pasture, and asked for a trot transition, and she gave a few baby bucks, and off I came. She was traumatized at what she had done, and put herself in her pen. We realized she had some training gaps, and decided to give her a re-boot
(I did a post about it here)

"I needed to go back to school...."

Monday, January 25, 2016

Flip a Switch

Today was CRAZY weather at the barn. Sideways trees, Gusting Winds, Popcorn rainfall: all the scary things were out in full force.

Went to pull her out of the pasture and she & her blanket were covered in mud. The barn guys laughed at me as I walked her up to the arena

Is there a pony under there??

I scraped off as much as possible, and tacked her up. We did some walk/trot both directions, and she was super forward and "floaty", I tried to keep my aids super light.

Suddenly, there was a huge gust/creaking/popping noise that sent the two other horses in the arena flying.

And what did Tesla do?

Scary stuff don't scare me! (blows raspberries at arena monsters)

Absolutely nothing.

Finally, after over 3 months of regular riding, the switch flipped in Tesla's brain, and now she trusts me as her rider to keep her safe, even in scary situations, and even if other horses are panicky.

This is a HUGE step forward, and I can't wait to see what things are yet to come!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

It's all in the genes!

Horse genetics is fascinating!

Two of my favorites include:

Chimeras (i.e. two embryos fuse in-utero)

link here

and Birdcatcher Spots (genetic cause unknown)

And of course, I've never made hypothetical foals ;)

link here

Because Tesla was an IVF baby, I had to do a paternity test in order to register her.

Link here

You pull out a twist of mane, follicles intact for a DNA extraction and sequencing of SNPs, and they send you the results in the mail.

Who's your daddy?


There be Monsters

Got to the barn super late, and only had an hour 'til 10pm lights out. 

Not enough time to tack up and do any real work, so Tesla and I played around in the covered arena. 

I turned her loose, so that she could roll, and she promptly went over to the mirrors to admire herself :) 

So I put her halter back on, and we walked all sorts of figures around the arena. The wind picked up and it sounded like a monster was trying to break in. 

Tesla stayed calm and focused on matching her pace to mine.

Such a brave girl :)

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Blog Hop: Planner Peek

and while I am an old-school kinda girl, 

Exhibit A:

Exhibit B:

Exhibit C:

All my planning is electronic.

 I use Google Calendar to keep track of my schedule:

It isn't pretty, but it gets the job done.

(but you all have me drooling with your beautiful planners!!)

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Hoofbeat by Hoofbeat

An evening ride, squeezed in the brief respite from the rain :)

Tesla got a touch up trim to bring her mane back up to "sporty" length, thinned the top of her tail and took a few inches off the end (I've always liked the look plus keeps it out of the mud!)

Tesla was happy to work, and we did some shallow serpentines at the walk,
link here

trot circles, and canter departs. She was crazy crooked at the trot, and I used MOAR leg, and she straightened out and was lovely and even on the bit for a few strides (woot!)
Note to self: more pilates!

She gave me one perfect canter depart to the left, and a few semi-decent to the right.

We did a lot of "wandering" around the ring on a loose rein, working off my seat bones. It feels like she is finally settling into the routine and I can see her improving, hoofbeat by hoofbeat.


Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Baby Steps

A quiet ride yesterday, Tesla was in a nice quiet headspace, and luxury of luxuries, we had the entire indoor to ourselves (benefits of being a night-owl ;)

We did lots of 10m circles and half-circles at the walk/trot, to the left and right.

link here

Practiced square halts and backing - (she currently flings her head up at the first request, and then backs nicely (albeit so crooked at this point, lol!)

Baby Steps, Baby Steps.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Equestrian Library

In an effort to expand my knowledge, and continue to improve between lessons, I've started to put together a little library.

link here
I am enjoying how this book breaks everything down into easy steps, that I can communicate clearly to Tesla.

link here

Cause, seat needs work!

link here

I love the descriptions in the book of how things should feel

What are your favourite additions to your equestrian library?

Next up on my list? Xenophon (in the original greek ;)

Sunday, January 17, 2016


Had a lovely ride tonight. The rain started just as I left.

Worked on steering and working off my seat at the walk and trot.
Trot-to-Canter transitions both directions
(they were ugly, but we did get 'em!)
The canter felt more cadenced, not her typical bunny hopping or flopping around on the forehand, and there was some rudimentary steering even with some speed :) but going to the right was completely crooked at the trot, so lots of circling/bending/spirals to the right is in our future....

(and any exercise recommendations? I'm all ears!)

Her halts were right on point, very square!

Stripped off all her tack, and let her saunter around the arena while I scooped.

Someone had left a lunging whip, so I picked it up, and asked Tesla to back up. Then I walked off, and she followed me, head at my shoulder. We did several loops around the arena, with halts and changes of direction.

Felt like I had fallen into one of my favourite movie scenes :)

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Diamond Wool

While the Kieffer is a pretty good fit for Tesla, and gives her plenty of wither clearance, the seat is tipped slightly forward, and Tesla is a sensitive girl, and a little more padding between my seat bones and her back would be a plus ;)

So one of the trainers at my barn suggested I try one of these wither relief pads:

link here

and I went from a saddle I liked, to one I loved.

(Tesla bashfully agrees!)

Friday, January 15, 2016

The Kieffer

I have a very warped sense of what an English saddle should feel like.

I rode in saddles used for this:

which are honestly slightly glorified versions of this  :)

"Across the Board" by Michael Flohr

So everything I sit in feels very well padded!

I am currently riding in a Kieffer Gran Prix International made in 1983 (but honestly it looks and feels as though it was never used: the wool stuffing is pliable, and the leather flaps didn't show any wear marks).  Kieffers are a very polarizing brand, kinda love 'em or hate 'em, but it would appear that I am built like a tomboy because it fits me like a glove.

I'll be honest, I much prefer brown to black tack. I love the way brown ages (and can be revived).

It is a good fit for Tesla at the moment, and I liked this saddle, but a trainer at the barn recommended something that made me LOVE it....

stay tuned!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Tack Minimalism

In the spirit of minimizing the amount of tack I don't currently need/use and keeping only the things that are absolutely necessary, I'm putting a few things up for grabs!

A pair of Herm Sprenger Stirrups. These are great for reducing knee strain, but I really need to work on improving my position the old-fashioned bending my ankles! In lovely condition, measure 4.5in. inside the rubber sides. Black rubber with cheese grater stirrup iron fills. Paid 228 new, $90 shipped.

Old Mac (Cavallo) brand memory foam half-pad. Fits under a 17in. saddle (would fit under an 18in. too!). A great pad, very cushiony, but with the EXTREME withers of both my racecars, and their rapidly changing backs, it isn't getting much use :) In great condition $65 shipped.

Send me a note for pics/details/trades.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The C-word

I had a bit of a scare with Tesla yesterday. 

When I came out for our evening ride, she was pretty low-key (even for her!). During our ride she was super sluggish, and I kept hearing belly rumbling, which is not something I normally hear. 

We took it easy, mostly walking, and I watched for any signs of discomfort or distress, I even stripped her down and let her wander around the arena to see if she would roll or lie down, but other than being very low-energy and loud belly grumbles she seemed ok.

I have had one other experience with colic, when the Porsche was boarded at another barn. She was turned out with piles of new dressage arena footing (which apparently contained ripped up artificial turf) and was happily munching on plastic grass and toxic chemicals all afternoon. When I came out that evening, I could tell something was not right, and when I put her in the round pen to stretch her legs, she went down. I ran to get the barn manager, and we got her up and moving, and dosed her with Bute. I caught it in the nick of time, and she made a full recovery, but that experience has made me more aware of out-of-the-ordinary behaviour (and what are red flags at a boarding facility - she didn't stay there long).

I went out early this morning to check on Tesla (she was in the very corner of her pen so I couldn't see her as I drove in (insert slight panic), but when I walked out to the run, she was happily munching on her breakfast, and I could see fresh droppings. I pulled her out and we walked the property, she was alert and relaxed (her floppy bottom lip always gives her away ;)

So. Relieved.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Baby Spook

For the first time in a high-stress environment, and her first away clinic, Tesla had one good baby spook


More Looky than Spooky (and a little Bombay Bicycle Club :)

Friday, January 8, 2016

First Dressage Clinic (120 days)

One of my favourite dressage clinicians was in town, Jutta Schott.

I've ridden in her clinic before with Porsche, and I love her teaching style, especially with beginning riders and horses. I asked if it would be Okay for me to bring the greenie along, and she said yes!

We worked on getting Tesla turning off my seat :) "across the arena like a drunken sailor" Jutta said.

I left in the audio, so I could listen to Jutta's coaching afterwards, but heads up it is pretty fuzzy

Tesla made quite a little splash at the clinic (and gathered quite an audience during our lesson). Jutta's instruction was more about teaching me, Tesla is perfectly willing to try, she wants to be a good girl, and when she doesn't do what I ask, it is the way I am asking, (or muddying up the cues!). For the clinic, I had her in a Sprenger KK butterfly baucher bit, as I had been advised it was very stable in the mouth, but Tesla wasn't a fan of the slight poll action (hence the head tossing in the video). I've tried quite a range of bits since then, and she is happiest in an older $20 KK french snaffle 14mm bridoon, but it looks a little odd cause the rings are small, but she works up a nice foam and goes well in it. Whatever makes the pony happy, right?

so. Blessed.

We had such a lovely ride tonight, with a brief respite from the rain (no complaints, but raindrops on the arena roof can be terrifying to baby brains :) We got two good canter departs both directions, and she eyed the little orange cones, but decided on being brave instead. A nice long relaxing cool down, nose to the ground and stretching over her back. I stayed late, chatting with one of the other riders, and she nearly fell asleep in my arms while I rubbed her blaze.

so. Blessed.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

The First 90 Days

Due to lack of time, a bout with pigeon fever (grossest thing ever!), and a bit of a search in finding the perfect trainer, Tesla got a bit of a late start.

We wanted someone who would be firm with her occasional baby attitude, but fair, as it was clear from the start that Tesla was a sensitive girl, and a little goes a long way with her.

This summer, she had 90 days under saddle with Nicol of Average Joe Horse Training.

I can't say enough good things about this gal, she gave our Tesla a fantastic start under saddle.
Tesla had some opinions, like always thinking whatever she "guessed" Nicol was asking for was correct, and never wanting to be wrong. Nicole was very patient and deliberate and worked through Tesla's "over-achieving" attitude.  She did body-work to work out any issues, and took her outside the ring on trails, and desensitized her to all sorts of scary things (pool noodles, anyone?) as well as lowering her head in response to pressure at the poll (essential for baby giraffes!) and drinking after rides (a great habit!)

Nicol even had me come take her for a test-drive before we brought her home (to make sure I knew where all her buttons were (videos to follow)

We hauled in a wide-eyed baby, and hauled out a calmer, happier riding partner!


Monday, January 4, 2016

Family Connections

Cruisen in Stilettos (barn name "Tesla" straight out of pasture 2015)

Her Bloodlines:

Her Grandaddy:

Her Daddy:

Her OTTB Momma:

She has a thoroughbred sister: Plaza Queen:

and two APHA/AQHA Sisters as well, one of which is Simply Queen N Sugar:

(I see some family resemblance!)