Saturday, February 28, 2009

Arabee's Big Day

The trailer at the horse day use area at Versailles. If you look close, Arabee is still inside. There's hitching rails and a section w/ picnic tables were no horses are allowed. There's also a hydrant but no handle, I'm assuming due to the risk of winter freeze.
Today was Arabee's second time ever to go on a REAL trail ride! It went great.

I was unsure, because it was cold, and WINDY, and we just don't do wind very well - tends to make her spooky, besides hauling to a new place. But, she settled down quickly and did me proud.

We met up with Jacke at Versailles State Park, which took me exactly 58 minutes to drive to, going verrrry slow. Not too bad of a drive, either.

I had a good time, and I think Arabee enjoyed it too - she had her ears perked forward with interest, but she was not spooking at everything, just observing. She was still paying attention to me, so I was fine w/ letting her look.

I for one was very sad when we came to the end of the trail, I wasn't ready to be finished! We did the A loop in 1 hr 23 minutes. LOTS of water crossings, lots of water and mud on the trail, some hills, plenty of down limbs to cross over. I still had horse left, and probably should've pushed her harder/faster/or further, but she had a good time and we got great experience and some further conditioning on her, so it was great!

This ride was going to be a bit of a "tester" especially in Matt's eyes. He wanted to see how quickly (or not!!) my "crazy horse" would settle down and do on a brand new trail in the wind and if she'd be safe or not. Well, she passed the test! I'm going to give her an A, and Matt would've too if he'd have been there. Here we go!! I'll put the miles on this week and next, then I hope to go to Clark State Forest to train on 3/14. Maybe go all day, do two 2hour rides that day to make the drive worthwhile.

Thanks for letting me tag along, Jacke! Had a GREAT time!!

The trail head at Versailles:

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Tuesday's Ride

I rode Arabee yesterday. It was pretty obvious I had tired her out on Monday. It took her a long time to get warmed up, and she was not doing a great job of picking up her feet - she tripped over herself quite a bit.

So we took it a little easier. Still rode for a little longer than an hour, but did less trotting and more walking. Worked on crossing the ditch in more places, and trot-walk-trot transitions. She's great on the walk-trot (likes to go!) but takes close to 10 strides to come back down to a walk. I like to see more promptness. So we practiced: close seat and rein aids, say WALK, firmer rein/seat aids, then if still not walking (which was often!) a single-rein-stop.

I was surprised at how many repetitions it took before she would walk without the SRS. I know transitions take strength to do them smoothly and promptly, so I was shooting for 5 strides rather than the 10 to get a walk, but I'm hoping with practice and increased strength and conditioning she'll get more prompt. I don't like having to use this much rein to get downward transitions. She'll come around.

It was a good ride, but just not as GREAT as Monday's. She'll get tonight (Ash Wednesday) off. There's church tonight, the beginning of Lent, and our Pastor is on a 12 day mission trip in Thailand. He is planning on preaching from there on video and electronically sending the video back to us. Looking forward to seeing that! My husband has flown to Japan a couple times for business, and that's a 13+ hour flight (which he reports is AWFUL!). Thailand is close to 24 hours!!! I can't even imagine sitting still that long. I hope it's dry on Thursday, so I can ride again.

I spoke w/ Trumbull Mtn. Saddle shop yesterday, since they sell both Toklat and Skito saddle pads to see which they suggested w/ my specific saddle and slippage problems. They are sending me a demo Skito dressage pad, which should be here in time for the weekend. Can't wait! My current pad is beginning to cause rub spots where it is now bunching up. I'll get to try out the Skito, and if it works, great, if not they will order me a custom one w/ keepers shaped for the Thorowgood, but I'll get to use the demo until my pad arrives. Looking forward to trying it out :-)

Arabee's Rump Rug

To make this rump rug:
I bought one yard of fleece fabric, 2 large buttons, elastic strapping, and webbing. I used thread I already had, and my sewing machine, that can do a zig-zag and straight stitch (among others, but those are the ones you need for this project). This cost less than $5, because it is spring and the fleece was on sale, besides the fact that I had a great coupon!

Start by making sure your fleece is square. Most of the time when they cut fabric they manage to make it uneven, so try to start with a square piece as much as possible. This will help your rug to lay right.

Cut a piece of "regular" fabric - a cotton quilter's type fabric that doesn't stretch, about 2" by 24", and fold it in half twice, so it is now .5x24" Line this fabric up at the middle of the cut edge of your fleece, and fold the fleece over twice to make a 1/2" seam covering the cotton fabric. This will keep the rump rug from stretching out of shape where you attach it to the saddle.

Now Measure your saddle from the back billet strap to where you want your rump rug to start. For me, this was 12.5" - I made a loop for the billet strap to go through, but now I greatly wish I had used velcro, instead! I may rip out the stitch and sew on the velcro yet....we'll see how ambitious I get. This is where you need the zig-zag stitch, to keep the end of the webbing from fraying. You can see that I did a double stitch, and went back and forth several times to make sure the seam was plenty strong. I added my webbing straps 10" from the center, which made the straps 20" apart. I could have put them closer together, but this will work fine.

After you've sewn on the webbing to attach the rug to the billets, add the buttons to the top of the rug, just inside of where you stitched on the webbing. Just use a needle and thread and sew them on like any other button. Now cut your elastic to the length you desire (mine was 15"), and stitch that onto the rug just inside of the buttons on either side. In this picture I'm holding up the elastic on the off-side of the rug. It's short enough it doesn't get in the way, long enough and elastic enough that it is easy to use to "tie up" the rug when I don't need it.

Here it is a bit further zoomed out: you can see the webbing, the button, and the elastic strap.

Here is the rump rug with the off side tied back. This is very simple to do one-handed and while you're in the saddle. No need to tie any bows or knots, just reach back and gather the rug, slip the elastic loop underneath, and loop it over the button, making sure it's secure. That's it!

So now I've tried the rug on Arabee for length and I have since finished the other three sides of the rump rug. I cut the selvage edge off (about a 1/2 inch on either side) and cut a quarter circle off the back to round the corners. Then I cut 1" x 4" strips all around the rug except for the front, and tied those strips in knots, to finish the fleece rug similar to a blanket. I don't have a "finished" picture of it on her yet, so just imagine it like this only with the knotted edge around the sides and back.

Now, this isn't the only way to make a rump rug, by any means, but it is how I made mine. I think the best part of the one I made is the buttons and elastic loop to tie the rug back when it's not needed. And also, the less than $5 price tag!! The fleece was priced at $3/yard, but it was 50% off of that even! I thought the apple print (even though they are funky colors) was fitting for Arabee, since like many horses she enjoys the occasional apple treat :-)
**Note: The stirrup covers you see on the saddle are ACTUALLY halter fleece tubing! The nose piece was 12" (perfect for me) and the crown was 4" longer, but I cut it to match. Not bad for an old tack box find repurposed!
Hope this little tutorial helps. If you make one of your own, I'd love to see photos - post them on your blogs and link to them in the comments section.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Riding in the Rain?!?

In planning for my first LD ride in the middle of April, my husband posed the question:

"What are you going to do if it is NASTY weather on ride day? Rainy, AND cold?"

I didn't know how to answer that question. To be truthful, I'd rather not ride if it is rainy and cold!!! But if I have hauled and set up camp and trained and paid my ride entry fee, I can't imagine not riding because of the weather (unless lightning or a tornado).

I mean, being April in Indiana, I could expect anything from 30's - 70's! It could be snowing, it could be sunny, it could be rainy, it could be blowing strong wind - and all on the same day with the Indiana variety weather we so often get.

So while I can't imagine the extreme disappointment of hauling to and entering a ride and not riding because of the weather, I also know I would be waterlogged and miserable in my current riding attire of breeches, suede chaps, and whatever layers I need up top to stay warm if it was raining.

How do you prepare for wet and cold weather at a ride?? What clothing do you use to stay warm and dry??? Any must-have gear for rain riding? Tips?

(picture from a few weeks back, from the post where I went "trail riding" with Matt and Cora. See the ridiculously unsuitable clothing for rain riding!!)

Monday, February 23, 2009

Monday's Ride

So the rump rug worked great. Gotta get some pics sometime and share how I did it - very easy to use in the saddle, and it wasn't bad to make, either.

Arabee warmed up nicely at the walk, but when we started trotting she got pretty HOT. This was okay, because she was still controllable. It was actually a hoot to ride! I surprised myself by not minding too badly when she kept breaking gait into a canter - it was calm, and FUN! I just may end up being a competetive rider, after all! We will see!

Still had saddle slippage problems 15 minutes into the ride even with the addition of a crupper, so I got off and readjusted, and strapped down the crupper. I had it way too loose to affect anything. Tightening it helped, but it also caused a tiny bucking fit the next time she cantered, but it was easy to bring her back. She'll just HAVE to get used to it, or else learn to enjoy having the saddle riding up towards her neck. She was good though later when I asked her to canter, no bucking :-) even though the crupper had been tightened.

She was good.

There will be no riding on a totally loose rein for a while. I had visions before getting out on the trails of trotting down the trail with absolutely no contact on a looping loose rein, but I just like my knees too much to try that just yet. They are mostly loose, just not draping. There were some times at the trot where she got pretty hot to go, that I had a pretty good hold on her. I tried to ease up my hold and use my voice and legs instead, which worked surprisingly well.

Rode a full hour, counting warm up and cool down, and I had a wet, sweaty horse. That is saying something when the ground was starting to re-freeze again by the time I finished up!

I still am in amazement at myself for why in the world I quit riding for sooooo long. After I finished up tonight I was so ENERGIZED from the ride, and I know I had this much fun before. I'll try to quit pondering that one for now, and just really enjoy the ride now.

Rump Rug FAQs

Okay, so maybe they're not so frequently asked, but I do have some questions on the use of a rump rug.

I've got a horse with a thick winter coat that I plan on riding outside tonight. Forecasted high of 33 degrees. I'll ride for about an hour, and I plan on getting her sweaty. I also plan on sewing up my rump rug today before the ride. Got some great plans for it, can't wait to show you how it turns out. Will post that up later this week.

  1. Do I start out riding with the rump rug?
  2. For how long - just warm-up, or for the whole ride?
  3. If I use the rump rug for warm up only, do I put it back on during the cool-down walk out?

What I'm imagining is that I'd use it for the first 10-15 minutes of walking and slow trotting, then I'd fold it back up for the bulk of the work out. When we're done, I figured I'd spread it back out over her rump for the 10-15 minutes of slow trotting, walking out cooldown time. By then she should be pretty well recovered, then I'd bring her back and untack, then throw the cooler sheets on until she's dry since I figure I'll get her sweaty.

I sure appreciate you all letting me know how you use your rump rugs, and any suggestions you may have!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

No video - Would NOT upload.

((Trot and Canter Work Video from 2/20 coming soon, maybe))
**There will be no video. I tried repeatedly over the weekend and Monday am trying to upload the thing to blogger - to no avail. I am not a quitter, but there are some things that you just have to say, ENOUGH! :-) Maybe another time I will get one, that is shorter, that will upload okay.**

Is my horse landing heel first???? I tried for a long time last night to freeze the video enough to tell, but I couldn't be for sure. The footing in the arena is pretty deep, so that makes it tough to tell.

Certainly I have a lot of room for improvement. I need to work at not working as hard at posting, let Arabee's movement push me up out of the saddle. I need to quit leaning forward so much. I need to work on less upper body movement at the canter, especially.

I love how far Arabee is reaching underneath with her inside hind leg at the canter. Very nice!

I also need to decide whether I really want to ride on a loose rein or not. From the video it is clear I haven't been. In some ways a loose rein makes sense, in others, Arabee was wanting to lean in on the corners, so she needed some extra guidance to keep her from leaning so much.

Friday, February 20, 2009

What am I getting myself into??

On the drive to and from Louisville, KY where this year's AERC Convention and Trade Show was held, I was able to talk to Jacke, and in talking with her and looking at the hills in the distance of Clark State Forest off of I-65, I've come to the realization that I have no idea what I am getting into with this whole endurance thing!!

I mean, it doesn't sound too bad, to ride a horse for a maximum of 6 hours including an hour long hold covering 25 miles of varying terrain. With a good base of conditioning, that shouldn't be impossible to tackle.

Except the fact that the only other trail ride I've been on was in 2002 when I discovered that Arabee is afraid of maps, and I ended up in the dirt with a compression fracture in my spine. I was able to get back on and ride to the trailer, it was a long time ago, it doesn't bother me anymore, but it happened. This is an inherently risky activity, and I have a 14 month old daughter to think about.

Then there's the fact that I have not a clue how to take a horse's pulse, but I can learn. Thanks for the stethoscope, Jacke!!!

And we still haven't mentioned how I am pretty much afraid of heights - to the point of even when hiking on trails I stay very close to the hill side when there is a steep drop off and try hard not to think about it - and I have a strong suspicion there will be several single-track trails with steep drop offs.......yikes!

I'm working on collecting my endurance tack ensemble. This has been an interesting time where I've been challenged to learn more about saddle fit, hoof care, leather vs. synthetic, sizing, and most of all a time when I've been very creative on how to save money when most of the items needed are pricey.

Am I in over my head??? Probably a little. Maybe a lot. But I think I can do it.

I have a mentally and physically sound Arabian mare who knows me, and whom I am getting to know better and better. We're putting in the basic training, adding on miles, and getting conditioned little by little.

I have a very supportive husband who loves me and who wants me to be able to do this - he can see how much fun I have been having. He also wants me to be safe, and isn't quite sure that riding horses is a good way to keep me safe - but beyond that he knows I am loving every minute of it, and for now that is good enough for him.

I have a great location. Plenty of area to ride in, access to rivers, hills, flat places to build wind, good pasture. My farm is about 1.5 hour trailer drive from Brown County, Versailles, and Clark State Forest - I have PLENTY of places to train, just got to find someone to ride with me close to my level - I am as BEGINNER as they come, and a hesitant, cautious beginner at that.

I've found so far that the people in this sport seem to be genuinely interested in seeing others succeed at endurance also. Sure, they want to win too, but it seems there are so many definitions of "winning" at endurance that people aren't afraid to help you out. This is great!

So, I don't want to be all "gloom and doom, I can't do this" - because I think I can, I have a lot of good things going for me that say I can succeed at this. On the other hand, I have got to make sure I don't jump into the deep end before I know how to swim, so to speak. I think it would be very easy to get in over my head with endurance, so I have got to remember to take things slow and easy. 2009 will be my first season riding endurance, I don't want it to be my last - I want to make sure I get a good start and don't scare myself or ruin my mare. I'll quote someone I forget who said it: "The slow way is the fast way"

I think they might be right.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Tuesday Ride

I went on a ride tonight, had a lot of fun! Arabee was handling like a sports car, winding in and out of trees, moving nice and smooth underneath me, over logs, hills, ditches, grass clods, you name it.

I rode a solid 30 minutes up and down hills, walking and BIG trotting, before I noticed the saddle had slipped forward significantly (2 or so inches!!) Looks like I'll be needing that crupper after all...

I had been hoping to not need the crupper with this new saddle, but I'm going to have to use it. I found someone I think who can put a D-ring on the back of this saddle for me, they usually work on Western saddles, but a D-ring is a D-ring, right? I think a real D-ring will be more secure than the "T" adapter I bought for my other saddle - it came out from under the panels too easily!

At one point she gave me one of those big whole body shakes, the kind they do after a good roll in the dirt, though I am not sure if that is what moved the saddle, or if she was trying to move it back by herself. I wish I'd have paid closer attention.

I had noticed she was wanting to break into a trot from a walk, and even broke into a canter from the trot a few times, and it felt "off" riding her. Finally I had to stop and look, and that's when I noticed how loose the breastcollar had gotten........or how far forward the saddle was. I didn't want to get off and re-position the saddle, because I figured she'd have thought she was finished, and she had been very good so I figured we'd stop on a good note tonight.

She drank from the creek again, and crossed through it very nicely. She had a lot of energy and really wanted to GO, but was under control and wasn't spooky. It was a fun time. :-)

Change of Plans!

I had posted up my planned riding schedule for this week. So far it's not going as planned!

I was going to go to the arena and ride again on Sunday, but I couldn't justify it!! Our house had become somewhat of a war zone (it happens quickly with a toddler and two not-so-neat adults) and I hadn't kept up with laundry and I hadn't made any plans for supper that night and we had to be in town at 6:30 for a bible study (small group, for young adults - it is AWESOME to have bible study in a group with people your own age!!).

Anyway, one of the "rules" I had set for myself was that if the house was clean enough that I wouldn't be embarrased to have unexpected guests and if I had a good idea of what we were having for supper, then I would ride. Well, I wasn't at that point, and Matt was encouraging me to ride anyway, and he would work on the house a little, but I would have felt way too guilty, so we had a fun afternoon working together in the house and playing with Cora.

So Matt goes to do chores, feeding the horses and our meat goats and the LGDs, and had mostly finished, and had gone back to give the goats mineral, when he climbed over the gate and twisted his ankle VERY BADLY. He had called me saying he thought he broke it and to come get him - so it was bad!

We went to the dr. yesterday and they x-rayed it but it wasn't broken thankfully, but unfortunately they didn't do anything really for him - gave him some exercises. Yesterday was a very busy day for me between helping Matt move around, going to the doctor, caring for Cora 100% myself since he could hardly walk (hobble around...), let alone carry her, and we also had our first goat babies of the year (yay!) but it was going to be a cold night so they had to come in the barn and having to make sure they were nursing and up and okay.

So I didn't ride Sunday. Monday was scheduled off, and while I had thoughts of trying to ride there was no way - I was wore out yesterday. I will try to ride tonight, but it won't be in the arena since the therapeutic riding program uses it Monday thru Wednesday.

Arabee has been extra welcoming (whinnying/nickering more than usual) when she sees me from the paddock - I can tell she wants to go out and work with me, which is great! Seems like with her the more I work with her, the more she wants to.

My thought right now is to ride in the pasture/woods across the road, close the gate, and do some walking and trotting and cross the little creek. If it feels right I might canter, based on her ANGELIC performance Friday night. I had such a GREAT time riding on Friday, I couldn't stop grinning about it all weekend! I am such a horse geek!

**also, yesterday I went to Jo-ann Fabrics (Presidents Day sale and good coupons!) and got enough stuff for 3 projects - Re-cover the antique rocking chair from his grandparents, a Rump Rug for Arabee, and webbing to finish up that throw-blanket-into-a-cooler-sheet I was talking about Friday. All this for less than $22!! I would have been willing to spend that much on the rocking chair alone, so I got some really great deals! I'll take pictures along the way, and if the Rump Rug and Sheet turn out, I'll post up tutorials.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Almost Boring Post

Well, I almost hate to even bother writing about last night - it was so uneventful! Got the mud brushed off of Arabee, put her on the trailer. She hasn't left the farm since she got here in 2005. She was sortof hesitant, did a short rear, but right away walked right on. I tied her by the hay bag, and off we went the 1 mile down the road. She did a lot of whinnying and pooping....but then my horses always did on the trailer.

We got there, and the farm hand met us and showed us the lights and restroom. I unloaded Arabee, Matt put the saddle, etc in Cora's wagon, with Cora, and we walked in. There were some horses in the stalls in the barn, and they whinnied to Arabee, and they talked back and forth as Arabee and I walked around the arena, about 2 laps each direction. There were many interesting obstacles - the arena fence was pipe gates, and there was a tarp on the other side, a stack of round bales with cats, pool noodles, a mailbox on a barrel, manure buckets, etc - but she quickly settled down. I tacked her up, got on, walked a bit, then trotted out.

She gave me the biggest, most rounded, hindquarters engaged trot I had ridden in a LOOONG time. It was exhilarating!! I almost didn't want to stop trotting it was so much fun, but the reason we came was for the cantering. So, I kissed her up into a canter....and it was like we'd never stopped riding in 2002. She just rounded up into a beautiful working canter - it would've won a hunter pleasure class! I was prepared for a rushed up trot until forced into cantering, then a few crow hopping bucks along the way - but no - just a perfectly beautiful canter! I love this mare!

After the first direction of cantering, the barn owner came - she had been in town and wanted to stop by and introduce herself. So we took a break. She is very nice - offered me to use her hot walker if I wanted, to ride on the 3 mile trail they have back behind the house, to ride with them when they go horse camping in Brown County - and she has a daughter who is only 5 months older than Cora (and two boys, too). So she left after we talked, and we trotted and cantered the other way after warming Arabee back up again (we talked for a long time!)

She was great the other direction too. It took longer to get her to come back to a trot this time - I think she was having fun cantering! It was getting late and Cora was DONE, so we walked out for 5 minutes on a loose rein, and finished up.

So, I put the sheet on her steaming back, walked her a bit more as Matt turned the diesel on to warm 'er up, and I loaded Arabee, I put her in her stall for about 1/2 hour while Jack finished his Senior feed and she ate her handful of corn, and when I finished the rest of the chores she was dry. I took her sheet off, and turned the horses out for hay. It went great, and I'm ready to do it all over again on Sunday!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Arena Workouts

About a mile south of where we live is a big horse farm. They have two indoor arenas, plenty of stalls and pasture, several outbuildings, and an outdoor arena. As I haven't had the guts to ask Arabee to canter out in the open yet since I've started riding again, I called down there to see if they'd let me use the arena a few times. They said YES!

So Friday evening after Matt gets home from work we'll put the rubber mats back in the trailer, haul Arabee the 2 minutes down there so I can "practice" driving the truck/trailer, and she will get a WORKOUT.

In anticipation of getting her good and sweaty tonight in coolish weather, I attempted to try out a blanket for size (a throw blanket) on her w/out a halter in the paddock. She sniffed it, I put it up over her shoulder, and GONE! Kind of a stupid move on my part. So I went back to get the halter, but by then she was hyped up, and wanted nothing to do with being caught.

So I "round-penned" her - sent her away, changed directions, until she started chewing/licking and lowering her head in a request to come to me. She was UP, she bucked, she jumped, she spun 'round FAST. It was beautiful to watch, with her tail flagging straight back over her rump Arabian style, nostrils flaring, neck arching gracefully. Cora in the wagon on the other side of the fence squealed with delight each time Arabee snorted or did something unexpected (which was alot!). Well, this only lasted about 5 minutes, and would've been shorter but she was having fun, and she very quickly gave up and followed me around like a puppydog. I haltered her, and pretty easily got the blanket on.

Eventually I'll be adding webbing in a color to match (and may post up a tutorial for turning an old throw blanket into a horse cooler sheet) but for now I'll just stitch some leftover ribbon on to keep it on under the "real" sheet I have - it's an irish knit sheet, for extra wind protection on the short trailer ride home tonight. We probably won't drive over 30mph, and it is less than a mile away, she will be fine.

The plan is this:

  • Big workout Friday - After familiarizing with the arena and warmup - Walk trot and CANTER, work on transitions. Walk to cool down, haul the 2 minute drive home.

  • Saturday OFF with turnout

  • Sunday - Workout in Arena. Refamiliarize/warmup - more trotting and cantering transitions, work on speed control at the canter.

  • Monday - OFF with turnout

  • Tuesday and Wednesday - Pleasure trail rides in the woods around home. Practicing creek crossings.

  • Thursday - Arena work again. Hope to be fully confident in my horse to canter calmly and safely with minimal cueing and good speed rating.

  • Friday - easy trail ride in woods at home

  • Saturday - TBD: Either first big trotting workout on the trails at home (see how Friday's ride goes spookiness-wise), haul to the arena again, or trailer out to a park to ride with other horses.

I'm really not too far off of my previously posted goals. I had front boots and a saddle by 2/6, with rear boots on the way, and have been having steadily longer workouts with more trotting. We should start cantering tonight, and do hour-long workouts. We've worked on expanding the comfort zone on the trails around home. I think the plan for this week I posted above will be making great strides in increasing Arabee's fitness and wind. Friday 2/20 is the AERC trade show, and I hope to fill in a lot of the gaps in equipment that day. Potential for trailering out 2/21 for our first trail ride with other horses - we'll see what the family plans are and how the weather is.

A big thanks to Rott'N Horse Farm (they raise rottweilers and horses) for the use of the arena!!!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Wanted: Saddle Pad for Endurance

I'm looking for an endurance quality saddle pad that will fit under my dressage saddle.

Color not really important, though I'd prefer either a neutral color (white, black, natural) or hunter green, teal, burgundy, or navy.

I've checked, and ebay, and will keep looking, but if anyone knows of one for sale I'd sure appreciate it if you'd let me know! Priced new, some of these things are outrageous! Thanks!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

What a fun afternoon's ride!


I have found a local riding partner! I'm not sure what Arabee thinks of the steed (stud?) :-) But it sure seemed to ease her and we were able to go farther and in places I would NOT have felt comfortable riding alone!

Yeah.....he's pictured below - the one in the black ball cap! The little girl in the gray hat w/ teal coat carried on his back is just so enamored with the horse that she wouldn't look at the camera (she loves getting her picture taken). Technically, the both of them together have 4 tail though :-)

With Matt carrying Cora on foot, we walked for 30 minutes through the woods on some farm trails, Arabee stuck right to his side more or less. It wasn't like he was leading her, but she didn't want to let him get too far away!

This next picture shows Arabee carefully negotiating through a stumpy/rooty area.

Proof that she'll drink out of puddles:

And this next picture shows a creek that had a still pool to Arabee's left, and ran off quite swiftly on towards her right. I was glad I got off to lead her through the first time - she jumped it! But after she got used to it she walked through very well under saddle a couple times. We walked up and down a steep hill, then headed back to the barn lot.

When we got to the gate (shown behind the picture of her drinking) she was blowing air pretty hard. Matt wasn't impressed - he thought he was carrying more weight that she was, but if you do the math he actually had it easier as weight carrying percentage of body weight, plus he didn't have to wear a saddle!
So we took it easy for about a minute of flat walking, then I asked Arabee to trot out for a couple of laps in the barn lot. This would have been close to 1/2 mile of trotting. She tried her headshaking bit at the place where often I have her slow to a walk in front of our garage (usually when Matt's working out there I don't know what noises to expect coming from there!) but I had her trot on and she seemed very surprised at this, but she wasn't in the least bit "off". So we trotted on BEAUTIFULLY, and eventually I walked her on a loose rein for probably 10-15 minutes to get her breathing back to normal. It was a really fun ride. Matt had fun too, he said, and Cora always likes being outside and going for walks. What fun family time!
The best part is my NON-HORSEY husband said next time he'll ride, and I can walk!! Maybe there's hope yet that there will be a "husband" horse in our future??? :-)
What's the best place to get a stethoscope? It would be good probably to learn how to take her pulse and keep track of this.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Weekend Notes

Arabee is a puddle drinker! This to me is great news - she hopefully won't give me any trouble drinking on real endurance rides! On two separate occasions this weekend she stopped while standing in puddles to drink and drink, once while in hand, the other while riding w/ me on her back. She crouched down - it was fun sitting there on her and feeling her adjust position to get to the water. I was glad she felt comfortable with it!

Now...for this mystery "issue" - I'm not sure if it is equipment, "sour, i-don't-want-to-work" behaviour, slight lameness, or a trimming issue.

Here's the behavior: fine at the walk, but lacking impulsion. At the trot after 3-6 strides, she begins tossing her head. Sometimes she will stretch her neck down towards the ground for several trot strides, and then toss it. Occassionally she will short step (usually w/ her right front) but it is difficult to know whether to attribute this to actual lameness or stepping on a rock or something. It is slightly difficult to get her into the trot....but I mean slightly. She still goes into the trot very well. I can still squeeze her up into a "bigger" trot. She's always been good w/ transitions, and doesn't go trot-walk any faster than usual.

I'll start w/ thoughts I have about the equipment, and what it may be:

  • Reins - I have taught Arabee the "head-down" cue - when I jiggle the reins, I want her to lower her head. At the trot (and I am afraid this is just plain poor equitation...) the reins swing from side to side....which may very well be cueing her to lower her head! The head tossing may be in annoyance from not getting "relief" from doing what she's supposed to do. Tonight's ride I will try to eliminate this problem.
  • Saddle - I don't think that saddle fit is causing this problem. She has wither and spine clearance, and you can see from the previous photos that the tree angle fits her MUCH better than my other saddle. It just is obvious that my new thorowgood matches the shape of her back much better (one nagging concern - is "better" good enough?).
  • Saddle Pad - it's not great quality, there is a seam that runs front to back on either side, and I have difficulty keeping the pad off of her withers. Any suggestions for a good endurance style pad that fits a dressage saddle? I am seriously considering buying a pattern and sewing one of my own if I can find the material I want (wool fleece on the bottom, a nonslip upper to help it hold it's position under the saddle, and I hope to sew on pockets to carry some things, plus strategically placed straps that will also help the pad stay in place).
  • Hoof boots - Possibly a cause - but no issues on Friday while wearing them, Saturday she had issues while wearing the boots, Sunday issues but no boots. We have a hit and miss pattern if it's solely in the boots.

"Sour, I-don't-want-to-work" behaviour is a definite maybe. But then....maybe not. Since I've been riding again, she's been greeting me with a whinny, and often will come up to me on her own. She's been hit-and-miss in the past about whether she'll let me catch her easily or not, but lately she's been very good about coming up on her own. But, yesterday it was the warmest it's been with the sun shining, and she was very relaxed (read...slow!) at the walk, and would randomly spook at things she's seen a zillion times. This is something she always used to do when she was bored. Which she probably is because we've been up and down back and forth in the barn lot for months now. Yesterday the ice was finally melted off, and we could venture out, which was a definite plus. She's a smart mare, and probably the first time she lowered her neck and tossed her head and I pulled her down to a walk she thought - "All right! if that's all I have to do to get out of work, easy!" Hard to say

Slight Lameness - I say slight because if it's lameness she's not showing it at all w/ halter and lead rope at the walk or trot. I had Matt trot her for me yesterday, and I couldn't see a thing! He's familiar with checking cattle for lameness and other issues, so I trotted her for him too - he couldn't see anything out of the ordinary either. She didn't show it at a walk, or trot. Once or twice she short stepped after stepping on a rock....but I do that too when I walk on the driveway! I'll be treating her for scratches (though I don't see any scabs on her front legs....and most of the ones on her hinds have gone away) so hopefully that will help. Since I've known Arabee (I got her in 2000), she's had a puffiness on her right front leg around her tendon just below the knee joint towards the rear of her leg. It's never been a problem before, and if I were actually working her hard right now, I'd say the increased work was aggravating it, but since I've started riding again last fall, she has not yet broken a sweat! We are on easy street right now still!

It could be a trimming issue. I've been barefoot trimming her myself since last August (self-taught from the internet, some of the sites I've bookmarked are and but I've looked at and read over ALOT of them). My strategy in trimming is to rasp the wall into a "mustang" roll that stops at the white line; ensuring the wall and bars all around the hoof are even with the sole. I never, ever touch the sole, but leave that to her to "wear" the way she needs it. I have been updating this mustang roll when her hooves look more "flat" and less "rolled" which comes out to be somewhere between every 2-3 weeks. I trim the frog back only slightly - when it's overgrown it is easy to trap manure and invite thrush. Her white line right now is nice and tight especially at the toe, but on the sides of her hoof it's still a little loose yet. Her hooves are beautifully concave (which makes them almost self-cleaning!) and she has a nice toe callus. She does not yet have what I would call "rock-crunching" hooves -but I have seen definite improvement in her hoof toughness with each trim. The last trim she had was 1/31/09. So it's been just at a week.

So if I can just get to the bottom of this little weirdness, I really believe I'll have a great endurance partner. By "great" I mean one I can have fun with and who should with training be able to do 50s pretty easily next year, and LD's this year. She's got a nice deep heart girth, and it was very hard to tire her out in our showing days (but then, working on the flat in soft footing is very different than trail riding) and she is getting older, but I didn't think 12 was THAT old. I don't want to act like she's the "perfect" endurance prospect, but if I can get this figured out she should be able to handle my completion and fun-oriented goals. I seriously doubt I'll be a racer, "just" an endurance rider.

I've been having such a great time riding again....and I want Arabee to feel the same way - I don't want it to be uncomfortable for her.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

saddle and boot photos

Here's some photos. Arabee's boots after the ride. One thought I had was about how last week she had the bruises on her lower heels from punching through the ice and snow - I would think it would be easy for any kind of boot that covers that area to be sorta painful there. I'll still double check the renegade site and see what I can see about adjusting fit, but otherwise perhaps some time off (hand walking w/out not a total waste) to let her heels heal would be good.

I feel the saddle fits well. But, I'll need a shorter girth (this one is just snug enough at the shortest billet hole!), and a better saddle pad. This one scares me - it seems to like to bunch up. It didn't do it yet, but I can see the potential and I don't like it.

Friday I rode for probably only 15 minutes, but just back and forth on the driveway (too much crunch ice and snow everywhere else). We walk for about 5 minutes, then trot for about 100-150 ft on the flat, then walk for about the same distance or longer, then trot a little again and so on - whatever feels right. Then I make sure to walk again the last 5 minutes, so Friday wasn't much of a workout.
This morning Arabee and I took a short walk down the road just halter and lead rope to "scout" how well the ice had melted (it hadn't....) But, this afternoon I saddled up anyway around 2:30 and had to force myself to keep going for 30 minutes. Going back and forth, back and forth gets pretty tomorrow though if it isn't raining I'll be able to ride out more places, but I may try leaving the boots off since the ground will be soft too. I really need to avoid getting her sore!

New Saddle, and other stuff

So this is bound to be a long one......sorry. It's just that so many things have happened this weekend that I want to be thorough!

1) My new saddle came! After MUCH deliberation and research and prayer, we decided to purchase a used Thorowgood Broadback saddle. I happened to find one in the seat size I need. It is a dressage saddle.

It was EXHILARATING to drive home on Friday and find the big cardboard box on the porch. I couldn't get in the house fast enough, and if I cared, I would've been pretty embarrassed for doing the happy dance in front of my husband and daughter!! :-)

I tried it out, and Arabee seems to love it. I really am happy with the way it positions me as well. So far, so good! It is a lot easier to position the saddle properly, and it seems like the breastcollar is in a better position. I haven't ridden in it with the crupper - I will see how it goes without.

2) I've ridden in the Renegade's two different times now. Friday was great, today not so much.... I must not have gotten them on just right, they were bothering Arabee today. I need to go back and re-read the fitting portion of their site. At first I was VERY worried that the saddle was bothering her, as she kept lowering and stretching her neck out and down, and occassionally tossing her head at a trot. She also wasn't walking out very well. Friday I didn't have these problems at all.

I feel I can safely eliminate the problem beign in the saddle though (huge sigh of relief!!), because after the ride I took the saddle off and lunged her a little to see what I could find, and she was doing the same weird head/neck thing and not wanting to move forward very well. So, to check out the Renegade site again, here I go...

3) I just want to say - if you find yourself working with a hoof knife....PLEASE wear LEATHER gloves! Even if you are very careful, it is amazing how fast that blade can slice through a canvas glove and right into the side of your thumb and even into your thumbnail a bit. Now, while a hoof knife is sharp enough to cut through even leather ( is designed for trimming hooves and frogs....) my husband and I decided a pair of leather gloves would have slowed the knife down significantly more than the pair I was wearing..... I'll need to double check on when was the last tetanus shot I had. What a drag! Why is it that little stuff like this hurts so much!?

4) On a good, "spring is coming" note - Arabee is starting to lose some of her winter coat! Hooray for spring and warmer weather ahead!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Endurance Questions - Odds and Ends

For this weenie, the temps have to be in the 30s + to ride or else very still wind, and so conditioning is put on a bit of a hold. Instead I've been working on the planning part. I've checked out the AERC handbook they have online (I think I may just break down and buy a membership) and they've got great info in there, but I'd love to hear what others do in practice! I've got some miscellaneous questions also.
  1. What all is included when it comes to determining weight division? Rider plus EVERYTHING your horse will wear/carry at the ride? Even water or horse treats and rider snacks you carry on the ride? Even the bridle and reins?
  2. Do you all clip your horses? By this I'm asking about bridlepath, chin hairs, pastern/fetlock hair, hair around the coronet band? Right now Arabee's hair-do is au naturel, and I like it - especially her full mane! The fetlock hair I could do without.....but clipping is a pain! (plus I'd have to re-re-purpose the clippers.....originally they were strictly for the horses, then as I got out of showing, I started cutting hubby's hair with them.....maybe he won't mind sharing again?!)
  3. Do you carry water for yourself on the trail? If so - how do you do it?
  4. What clothing do you wear on ride day?
  5. What all DO you carry on a ride? How do you carry it?

I'm trying to figure out what all I will actually need to have vs. what I will want to have on a ride. With the AERC convention trade show on 2/20 I hope to fill in most of what I don't have that I will need. Unfortunately the conservative, bare bones list I've already come up with is staggeringly expensive when I add up the estimated prices, not counting shipping or tax!!

I have a feeling I'll need different kinds of stuff for while on the trail, and stuff for vet checks. The handbook has a great list - but some of it is redundant it seems, so again it would be WONDERFUL if any of you are willing to share what you pack with you on rides, and what you pack for your crew! Thank you ahead of time :-)

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Arabee's Line

I have tracked down Arabee's registration papers. Some showed interest in her ancestry - and while the format is terrible, I typed up the names, since I don't have a scanner. Each line is a column, and reading left to right, the names go from top to bottom (LE BARON and SUNN MAIDE produced FA SUNN BARONE....for an example). She's pretty heavy in *BASK up top! And, while I'm not a fan of writing in all caps, that is how they showed it on the certificate, so that's how I wrote it.






Anybody experienced in distance riding see any familiars in there? I'm guessing not - she came from a breeder who leaned more toward showing. But then, Arabee's not built at all like a halter horse - her topline is not flat enough - her hindquarters have plenty of power built in - quite the athlete :-) not just a dainty doll who can pose pretty. (although I think she's pretty, too!)

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Renegades are Here!

UPS, FedEx - neither one can ever deliver stuff right! Luckily the neighbors are trustworthy -we are related to the majority of them. They left my boots on my in-laws porch, not mine, so my father-in-law brought them over this afternoon.

If I get a chance today I'll try them on Arabee this afternoon and post some photos up here. Can't wait!


I headed out and put the Renegades on Arabee's fronts. SOOOO easy!! It took as long to pick out her hoof as it did to put the boot completely on. This is impressive too - it was 15 degrees out and snowy, and I had my super thick and awkward insulated gloves on.

I let her out of her stall, and had her walk around a bit in them. They didn't phase her - no reaction to the boots at all! She slipped a little bit - but I am 90% sure she would have slipped anyway - thick layer of ice covered by drifting snow tends to be slippery barefoot or in shoes or in boots!!

Taking them off was a little more difficult because I had taken my gloves off to work the camera and take some pictures for you in blog-land! My fingers were very stiff and cold, and didn't want to move anymore. It was a little difficult to get my frozen fingers to loosen the velcro strap, but really it wouldn't have been an issue in normal temperatures.

Here's a few pictures, sorry they're a little dark - I got outside as quick as I could, but what can you do about these long winter nights? It will be interesting to see how they hold up for riding! I'm sure they'll be fine, but I do have to wonder if they're so easy to put on and off, how hard will it be for her to lose one? We'll be finding out soon, I suppose!

Horse Sewing Projects

After my daughter was born I started learning how to sew. I had had the sewing machine for a year, it was a Christmas present that had pretty well sat around until I finally got up the nerve to try sewing something. I've made several little outfits for my daughter, and a couple of things for myself - I'm getting quite handy at this thing! I'd like to try some d.i.y. projects in the equine department, it should save me some cost, and be a fun project to try. has equestrian patterns for sale. I'd like to try several of their patterns.

Here is the Fleece Vest, Riding Tights, and Riding Sweatpants #2900: I have been riding in stretch jeans and chaps, but come warmer weather and actual competition I'll want a pair of riding tights, maybe with a padded seat? maybe with full seat gripping material - I sure do love the chaps for that reason....the more stick the better I think!

this is the Horse blanket, sheet, and cooler #7900:
Arabee has a very nice, thick, waterproof winter weight blanket, and a loose-weave cotton knit "sheet" but I think that a cooler that covers her whole body in a fleece material would be good, and maybe a middle weight blanket/sheet.

And, I have seen crew bags that look like they'd be helpful during rides, but I don't want to spend the money to buy one. I am thinking I could get either of these patterns and format a crew bag that would be very handy for anyone helping crew for me at rides to hold hay, feed, electrolytes, halter....whatever I need to have on hand.

Does anyone have any experience with Suitability patterns?

I may try the cooler without a pattern, it's straightforward-looking enough, but the rest I'll definitely need a pattern for. Should make for some fun projects on days with weather too nasty to ride in (and looks like there will be plenty more of that yet this year.....out the window is a white-out snow storm, I can't even see the trees across the road!)

Sunday, February 1, 2009

What did you do this weekend?

Saturday I updated Arabee's barefoot trim. Her new Renegade hoof boots are on order (please get here soon!) and I wanted her feet to be in tip top shape before trying them on. I took another set of pictures, since I hadn't done that in a while. Sorry about the snow - it makes it hard to really see (but I didn't order it!) Her feet looked a little weird especially from the bottom since they'd been soaking in the snow since Tuesday night (more or less).
All 4 from the front:

Her hind feet:
She's got some purple bruising right on her hairline at each of the outside edges of her hoof bulb - I am guessing she is overreaching? I guess the Renegades will help protect her, otherwise it looks like I'd need to look into putting on some bell boots. Also, I think this picture shows the concavity pretty well - they really are more impressive in real life, though!

Compare these to this photo taken in August just before I started trimming her myself. It had probably been about 10 weeks since the last visit from our farrier on this one:

After that first trim I've updated her trim every 2 weeks, 3 weeks at the max. That puncture on her right front has grown out, and I think they look great.

Today it got up in the upper-middle 40's and sunny! We had a good start on a thaw, and I just couldn't help but ride! Yesterday after I trimmed her feet, Arabee followed me around that all I get to do today?? So she was great today, but we only went about 10-15 minutes.

We still have a lot of packed snow turned to ice on our driveway, and with the little thaw we're having, Matt decided to put the disk blade on the little Massey tractor and cut the ice a bit - this coming week it's supposed to freeze back up again. His dad came back by with a scraper blade on the deere 4450, and scraped what Matt broke up off the drive. Hopefully this will help keep things less treacherous! Anyway, this relates to the horse because as Matt fired up the tractor, I slipped off Arabee, and she and I walked behind them for about 20 minutes.....SCRAPING, and turning, and metal blade occasionally hitting rock.....this was a good experience for Arabee. It didn't hurt her, and I think that she'll be better able to handle a tractor next time she sees it.

We've got friends coming over later, we'll do the chores outside, come in for sub sandwiches, meat/bean/cheese dip, veggies, brownies, and check out the Superbowl. I'm not even sure what teams are playing...but I always enjoy the commercials.

**A NOTE: As I was doing the morning chores, I think I might have solved the mystery of Arabee's bruised Coronet band. It bothered me that she had the bruises, especially since I hadn't ridden in over a week, so any interference she was doing was really troubling because she would have done it on her own.

Here's what I think happened: Last week we received a generous helping of snow, followed by a thick layer of ice, and then several more inches of snow. As they walk through the snow (very slooowly) each footfall crunches through the partly melted snow, and then punches through the hard ice layer and drops a couple more inches through the snow underneath. Her hoof would only be making a small hoof-size hole, and if she wasn't very careful, she could easily be hitting her coronet on the ice and bruising it. So, I am relieved, because I really believe as soon as the snow melts away, her bruising will heal away. Hurry up and melt, Please!