Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Exam Time!


Tess and I had another "Exam" this evening: and this one we passed! We did a lot of in-hand-work/laps around the ring, and she was SO CALM, despite several simultaneous lessons (and a nervous horse she usually gets spooky around). She had a couple moments at the start where she kinda froze in place, and then we went about our business with no fuss. (Even the trainers noticed "She is very quiet tonight".

There's a bomb-proof pony in there that's gonna emerge eventually :)

Monday, January 30, 2017

Knock on Wood

Ninja skills still at Expert

Tesla was snoozing when I went out to get her (wiggly lower lip and everything!)

But the lower ring was open - so I decided to do some groundwork in there (no longing allowed :(

The BM was chopping wood nearby - and made sure to ask if it would be OK to continue - I said YES, we are all for opportunities to desensitize.

Tesla was pretty sure that

1) a horse was being beaten with or 
2) said horse was being shot (possibly both)

She was pretty reactive (i.e. I saw some nice passage again) but we just kept walking by, and I let her look once, but then kept her brain busy with lots of halt, backing, and turns on the forehand.

By the end, she was walking calmly, with a soft eye and her head down around the ring. She got a ton of praise and stuffed with sugar.

Chop Chop.
We got this one.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Itty-Bitty Tess

Honey I shrunk the...

A dear friend got me the best gift ever: a hand-painted Tesla Breyer (painted over a Gem Twist model).

So, of course, Itty-Bitty Tesla came out to the barn.

Life-Size Tess LOVED Itty-Bitty Tess!

This is my baby now

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Barn Chorus

I get serenaded every night at the barn:

<3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3

Thursday, January 26, 2017

All hail broke loose...

There was another break between storms, so I braved it out to the barn, and everyone else had the exact same idea.

Is that cube edible?

As we got to the ring door, there was a burst of hail, and it sounded like a stadium of applause on the metal roof (obvs, training for the Olympics, yes?)

Tesla took a few steps back, and then we went in. The ring was hoppin' with three kid longe line lessons, a jump lesson, a dressage lesson, and two folks warming up. Tesla was AMP'd after the hail burst, but settled down as we stood in the middle of the ring and observed all the action. I was hoping to longe, but when my trainer explained she was going to be showing a horse to potential buyers (so 8-9 horses would be in the ring at that point), and I could hear thunder rumbling in the distance - we did the sane thing and called it a day.

So, Tess and I chalked up more courage building experience, and she was actually quite good under some less-than-ideal circumstances.

What are your favourite exercises for helping your horse gain courage?

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Tack Review: Devoucoux French Bridle

While the amount of bridle options available now is amazing,  I still love me a good plain traditional bridle. 

A lot of Chrome there...even sans rhinestones
I found an older version of this bridle on Ebay (the latest versions have a mono crown) in good used condition, and I stalked it for a while until I could talk the seller down to my price point. I love the cut-outs in the crown piece, and the padding is soft soft calfskin, which is perfect for Big Mare Ears.  It's a size 3 (warmblood?!? I guess I didn't realize what a giant head Tesla has....)

The leather quality is tip-top, but the buckles are plated (sad, Devoucoux, just sad), but it has a nifty removable flash tab (hooray, cause we don't really need it!). I use it as our everyday bridle (and hopefully show bridle in the future!)

Still the H/J reins, LOL - I'll swap to my black ones for lessons :)

I love brown tack, but I gotta admit the black-on-black is super sharp on Tess - so I guess I'm rollin' with it :)

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Time Out

There was a break in the rain, so out to the barn I went!! 
 I knew the ring would be kinda busy,
but an awesome chance to test for all the evening work we've been putting in.

Tesla had one good spook at another horse which came up behind her, which earned us some time-out:

At least we looked matchy-matchy with her saddle pad and my breeches, LOL!

So even tho' we kinda flunked on this exam, when the ring cleared out of beginner riders, we did more homework.

Always room for improvement!

Monday, January 23, 2017

Fungus Amungus Update!

The Thrush struggle is real. I've been alternating between a 50:50 mixture of Listerine & Water (recommended by Jules!), and the Thrush Buster, and so far this has been keeping the little nasties at bay.

Cheap and Effective!

Ordered a box of ToMORROW dry cow mastitis treatment (which everyone recommended!), and will probably throw that in the rotation as well.

Everyone at the barn is slathering anti-thrush products in their horses feet - with all the rain (and every drop is appreciated!) it's turned into a full on battle!

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Review: 32 Degree Heat Infinity Scarf

For Christmas, one of my sisters got me one of these for the barn:

32ยบ Degree Heat® Polyester Infinity Scarf in Black

and now it is a staple in my barn wear. It is light and warm and keeps my ears from being cold (even if I don't actually cover them!). It is breathable, and since one side is slick, doesn't collect too much horse hair and washes up well.

Scarf + three layers for a snappy evening

And in a pinch - I can loop it up over my bun to keep my head warm!

4 Stars!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Basking in Light-bulb glow

Howdy, Neigh-bour, I've seen the light

A light-bulb has come on in Tesla's brain.

 She is much more comfortable working in a busy ring, with horses jumping/cantering/spooking

Wait...so they do all the work, and I get all the snacks just for standing here?!? DEAL.

And if she does get scared, she is much less reactive and I can get her back focused on me.

So, my plan is when I can longe in her in a busy-weekend-mid-morning with no fuss, then we are signing back up for regularly scheduled lessons!

Monday, January 16, 2017

It's hip to be a square.

A square cube that is!

When PiccoloPony blogged about hers, I realized it was the solution to the scarcity of blossoming film-makers at the barn ;)

Tesla looks away in shame (or more likely disappointment that it wasn't a sugar cube in my hand)

The first trial was epic fail - I ran out of battery after literally 1 second!

2nd try = Success!

Tesla had a spook/scoot at around 30s, but I love that she came back to me right away, and then went back to work.

(also, can we say, Fancy?)

Saturday, January 14, 2017

A promise......

Rain makes for some amazing rainbows!

Tesla took off on the longe yesterday, in a genuine panic (not quite sure what set her off...), with bucks and kicks and bolts and rears: the works! but I was able to talk her down, rather than letting her just blow it out. I could see she was still terrified, but she listened to me, and when I asked for the trot, she broke out in the most beautiful cadenced passage.  She was good as gold the rest of the evening.

A promise of what is yet to come!

Friday, January 13, 2017

The ears have it!

horse ;)
There was a break in the storm-pocolypse, and the roads were clearish, so I scurried out to the barn to see Tess. 

All the ponies have been Super Amped - what with the chillier temps, wind and rain: so I took some extra time grooming Tess - especially those big girl ears. 

She was super happy to work - even with the big Westfalen gelding cantering in the ring.

Progress, one cuddle at a time :)

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Fence Posts

Emma loves barn door vistas, but as I walk around my barn, all the best views that catch my eye are between fence posts :)

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Ride the Right Horse: Tesla

Tesla was a bit harder for me to peg...She is definitely not Aloof - but I saw elements of all the other personalities (Social, Fearful and Challenging)....(prolly I don't know enough to be able to pick out the subtle cues, or Tesla doesn't fit neatly into a box ;)

I is special

Interaction: Want to observe and interact with the world (Social) Guarded or cautious (Fearful)
Yes, but she is cautious: case in point, the automatic waterer makes a loud sound when pushed to refill the bowl, Tess touched it once, and then never touched it again. She is very respectful of her things - she never shreds blankets, gets grabby with treats, etc.)
 Tesla also has a very strong sense of self which are traits associated more with "Challenging" personalities....(but maybe this is just a bossy "mare" thing???)

Need for Personal Space: Tolerant of people or horses in their personal space (Social)

Yes, she loves people and loves attention. Everyone who meets her describes her as "Sweet". In the field she is OK with other horses  except when it comes to feeding time:

classic mare stare
She has to be constantly reminded to stay out of my personal space (Challenging) but I've also seen her become claustrophobic (Fearful) when another horse with a lot of presence is coming towards her, or being disciplined. 
Not sure how much of this is greenie behaviour vs. underlying personality...

Relationship to herd /humans: Near the top of the pecking order (Challenging)
Tesla really doesn't care about the other horses in turnout, unless food is involved, then she is an alpha. She's also quite competitive (she and Porsche used to race each other at my parents 5 acres, Tesla always won)

Vocalizing: Usually vocalize out of anxiety or loneliness, and upon arrival of someone they have bonded with (Fearful)
Tess is not a big talker, but will call out to her pasture neighbours on occasion (same ones she is glaring at in pic above :)

Adaptability: Generally accepting of new environments (Social) Resistant to new suggestions (Challenging) Not immediately at ease in new situations (Fearful)
I have seen Tess give me all of these responses. Often when I am teaching her a new thing, she will guess at what I want and give me the wrong answer, but may be resistant to try for other answers...she is usually pretty calm in new situations (from the ground) while she can get ill-at-ease under saddle: she wants to get it right (which is a fearful trait) and likes ALOT of reassurance.

Reactiveness: Generally reflexive reactions (Fearful)
Tesla never is deliberately naughty - I feel all her reactions are reflexive (Fearful)

Attention span: Can be short (Social)
Busy TB brain, and she starts anticipating!

Response to training: Once trained, make very strong efforts to comply (Fearful)
Yes, Tesla is very very willing! She tries very hard to get it perfect, and she wants to be good.

Lessons & Routines: prefers variety (Social)
Yup! Drilling is a no go.

Fight or Flight: Flight (Fearful)
Autopilot says outta here and take the person with you!

Tolerance: Not tolerant of poor treatment (Fearful)
Tess has never been treated poorly in her life, Miss Princess Pegasus Pony, but she does have a strong sense of "fair".  She shut down at the trainer re-boot cause she felt abandoned. She isn't confrontational, but she will anticipate like crazy!

Often strong brave performers with true charisma (Challenging)
Tesla has a lot of "presence". She often gets off the trailer with a "Here I am" attitude.

Happiest and most content: When allowed to interact with other horses and people (Social)

As far as my personality, there wasn't a case study with my specific Meyers-Briggs, but as a feeling type, social or fearful horses are a good fit. Porsche and I clicked immediately. Tesla has pushed me to become a better leader, and as I have stepped up my alpha game, she is becoming a better and better fit :)

Monday, January 9, 2017

Ride the Right Horse: Horse Shopping & Porsche

I was completely intrigued by the post Megan from A Enter Spooking wrote about horse personalities, and tracked down a Kindle version to read over the predicted storm-pocolypse.

I thought a lot about the horses I have ridden, and what if any categories they fit into.


When I was horse shopping, I definitely tried an "Aloof" AQHA mare. A looker - but completely dead to the aids, and that glazed over disconnected feeling described in the book was totally there....

Last I googled "for the last 3 yrs she has lived up in the mountains outside all year round...." o_O


 Moderately Social, with a streak of Challenging (or should I say.....Storm Cat?)

Interaction: Want to observe and interact with the world
Totally yes, always a snoop! She also is very confident and brave and has a very strong sense of self which are traits associated more with "Challenging" personalities - and nice to have!

Need for Personal Space: Tolerant of people or horses in their personal space.
Yes, but she's not a huge fan of grooming/cuddling - I wouldn't describe her a puppy dog (unlike Tesla, LOL) - what Porsche really loves is being ridden.

Relationship to herd /humans: Rarely at the top, but often second in command
Porsche is usually somewhere in the middle.

Vocalizing: Often more vocal than other types.
Yup, she like to use her deep big-girl voice, and "talks" when anyone is putting together her grain.

Adaptability: Generally accepting of new environments.
Yes! She is happiest out exploring on the trail! She settled in quickly during barn moves.

Reactiveness: Generally under-reacts
Even her "naughty" has a limit :) 
She tends to "spook in place". 
Best. Reaction. Ever.

Attention span: Can be short
Both girls have busy brains, LOL - a trainer once affectionately called Porsche a "Little squirrel" :) 

Response to training: Once trained are steady performers, may need occasional tune-ups
Even if she's had a bit of time off - some time on the longe or a few discussions and she comes right back!

Lessons & Routines: prefers variety
Yup! Drilling is a no go.

Tolerance: Tend to be accepting
Yes, I've had pea-green beginners on her, and Porsche always takes care of her rider :)

Happiest and most content: When allowed to interact with other horses and people

Sunday, January 8, 2017

So I bought a barn...

a 1/9th size barn that is ;)

While snooping in my favourite used tack shop, I came across a Breyer traditional size two horse barn. It was in a bit of rough shape, but it was a steal and all the pieces were there: nothing a good coat of paint and some screws wouldn't fix!

A similar barn - I was in such a rush to paint it - I forgot a "before" photo!

Half of the fun in buying it was the bag of little jumps and pipe corral panels that came with it.

Even some cavaletti! (and this isn't even all of it!)

The Trail Boss is always looking for panels - and I rushed in saying I had found a killer deal on panels - he was so excited - and then I handed him the model ones ....... priceless!

Over the Christmas Break I finished assembling it:

Looking right at home above my bookcase (and ready for when little nieces and nephews visit!)

The only pony in there at the moment is Zenyatta....but there are plans to change that....

Friday, January 6, 2017

A few take-aways

After the melt-down yesterday evening, I had no idea what to expect at the barn tonight, but Tesla was on best behaviour - and I came away with a few thoughts:

1. No naked longing. Tesla always goes better with her tack on...I kinda think she doesn't know she can be naughty with it on, (fingers crossed she never figures it out :) and I can see the side reins help her stay more balanced, and she can transition more easily.

2. More cuddles when tacking up: I spent a little extra time grooming her fav spots (her forehead and ears especially as I chatted with a barn mate), and she was putty in my hand afterwards.

I can't stand wet ears (even if I'm the one who chose to stand out in the rain....

3. No wet ears: I need to bring a towel and dry them cause she was just irritated and distracted.

4. Horses have bad days too, Tess was trying to communicate, which ultimately is a good thing.

I dosed her feet pretty good and she seemed to be much more comfortable and was moving freely tonight (even cantering!)

Thanks to everyone for all the thrush advice - I'm definitely ordering a few more products to aid in clear out the little creepy crawlies.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Fungus Amungus

this pic looks like a mugshot, lol!

Tesla just could not even last night. Her canter departs on the longe were complete flails. She was willing for everything else, and forward is never a problem, so I suspected she might be a bit uncomfortable, and sure enough, with all the wet weather, it looks like thrush made some inroads on her hinds during Christmas Vacation. I've been using ThrushBuster, but may need to toggle between treatments to clear it up for good.

What are your favourite anti-fungal and anti-microbial hoof products? 

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

2017 Ambitions

1. Get Tesla more accepting of contact, working over her back, and bored, bored, bored of longing.

So bored

2. Work Tesla 4-5x per week (girl loves routine!) and try and come out in both busy and quiet barn times too!

3. Keep her mind engaged with trot poles/patterns, try at least one exercise from 100 Dressage Exercises for Horse and Rider each session!

4. Take lessons with Trainer J 2-4x per month (once we have graduated past longing ;)

5. Attend a schooling show/clinic this summer!! YAS - we can do it Tess!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Blogger 2016 Secret Santa Exchange!

This was such a blast to participate in! I sent along a few things to Jules at Kickin' Sand in the Croatan. By doing a bit of snooping on her blog, I found that turquoise was Jules & Razz's colour, and I ran with it. The tail extension was a hit :) You can read her post about it here.

My equestrian secret Santa was PiccoloPony from Stubborn Together and she spoiled both Tesla and I with goodies!!!

Foxy socks (now this song is suck in my head, LOL!) from Shires that are so soft and comfy! PLUS - they will look fab with my fav red-orange Horze breeches ...Foxy Lady ;)

Next, a Mrs. Conns bath sponge, a soft soft Tail Tamer face brush and some HealQuick organic salve from the Herbal Horse.

Tessie loves being pampered - so I can't wait to try the Herbal Tea bath sponge as soon as the weather warms up!  I've head rave reviews about them in the blogosphere. The face brush is a winner already, especially across her blaze ;) and Tess is a bit bumbly - I'm always finding random scrapes, so the Heal Quick will come in handy!!

Thank you so much, for the treasure trove of equestrian goodies, PiccoloPony - and I'm looking forward to reading all your adventures with Katai (who is such a doll!!)

Monday, January 2, 2017

First Longe of 2017!

Tess got a week off due to the Holidays: and the timing was pretty good, as I was able to squeeze in a Christmas Eve afternoon barefoot trim appointment (he was going straight from us to do mini donkeys, LOL!) and dose her with ThrushBuster before I headed to see the family for Christmas, so that gave her time to heal up that cut heel and get back to 100% sound.


Tess was SO happy to see me today (like nuzzle me to pieces happy ;) and for having quite a bit of time off, she was very well behaved. The horse behind her in the cross-ties was getting shoes - so there was a lot of sizzling and smoke - Tess kept turning her head back to look, and the farrier laughed, "yeah it sure does look like he is on fire!"  We worked on the "Stay" command and ground tying (I like it better than cross-ties) and then we headed up to the arena to longe.

There was a beginner lesson in progress, as well as one of the stallions in the ring, so we did a lot of hand-walking until the ring cleared out. She had 2 good spooks, one as the stud was piaffing next to her, and one as a horse was being disciplined on the longe (she's never gonna be a fan of cracking whips) but after that I could see the hamster wheels turning after that and she thought about spooking, but waited for sugar instead :)

Then we longed: 5 minutes each way trot and canter with one side-rein and the longe looped through the bit and snapped onto the girth. The goal is to get her taking more contact, and to work up to it. She sure did look fancy and SOUND.

2017 is off to a great start!