Friday, September 30, 2011

Yet another possibility

So I got another email a few days ago, someone local looking for a stable hand. It's a 20some horse boarding stable, nothing big, not a show/ competition barn, mostly pasture potatoes and trail horses.

They are looking for someone to muck stalls, do general housekeeping around the barn, and to pick manure out of the pastures. All fine and dandy with me, though colder weather is coming on and the idea of taking an outdoor job... when the weather is friggin COLD... is... eh. But it's ponies, so I'll deal with it. :D

Anyways, the girl I interviewed with liked me, and is going to try to set up an interview with the owner tonight or maybe sometime this weekend in the that Monday will be my first day.

Of course, this is not a set thing. I'm excited, but trying not to get my hopes up like last time.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Silly bridle

Siaga's been having serious issues with it, not wanting to take the bit and seeming uncomfortable when he's got it in his mouth. So today I altered the bridle a bit, so that I could easily clip on and off the reins. This way, I can take the reins off and leave the bridle on, under supervision, obviously, to help him get used to it. I also plan on finding a way to get him to enjoy taking the bit, such as peppermint flavoring or something.

Eventually he needs his teeth floated and might need wolf teeth removed, but after that saddle and everything, I have a bit of recovering to do on my bank account and this will have to wait a while.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Love it

Love the new saddle. I felt very secure, very comfortable in it, and Siaga wasn't complaining either. Well, he was complaining about the bit, but that's a different matter. He also decides, randomly, if he's going to back up when asked, he's also going to turn WHILE backing up, funniest thing, like being on a weird roller coaster.

Anyways. I love it, it's not going anywhere.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Horses do love

I've heard so many people say that they do not think that horses have the capacity to feel love, or care about humans the way humans care for their horses (or at least like some of us care for our horses) ...but Siaga melted me entirely today.

I have a story.

I am not the worlds best horse mom. Siaga has a muddy paddock and gets grass only when I bring him down to the yard and hand graze him or let him in the back paddock, which due to summer grazing, doesn't have a lot of grass in it at the moment. His stall is tiny. His only stable mates are a couple of tom cats and some mice, and whatever other wildlife (racoons and possums) that make their homes there.

The barn does not have plumbing or heating, and is a more of a metal shack. It was made by the Amish, does not have a front door, and the roof on the other side had a branch go through it last winter and has a hole. It's cold in the winter and hot in the summer.

I had just mucked his stall and given him hay, which he was busily munching, and leaning on the gate and making little sad sounds, and telling him I wish I were better horse mom, wish I could afford a big rolling pasture and other horses as stable mates and a good trainer and a safe, warm, well plumbed barn, and Siaga lifted his head from his hay and turned to look at me, and I kept talking, then he turned entirely around, came over, hung his head over my shoulder, and pressed his jaw and chin into my back and I put my arms around his neck and said I'm sorry and... and... silly horse pinned me closer and then I did start crying, because it was emotionally overwhelming.

My heart is still having trouble processing it, that he did that, but it's saying, this is why.

This is why I muck his stall and carry buckets of water in the winter and stack hay. This is why I fret over the quality of hay and whether or not to give grain and what supplements. This is why I want a career with horses. This is why I can't go to school unless he goes with me. This is why.

One muddy, bay, 14.1 or 14.2 hh, 7 year old, Quarter Horse gelding with attitude problems is why.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

lol horse hair

All over the butt of my sweats. Went for a very short ride, legs proved too jelly-fied from my work out this morning to hold me on with any degree of stability, so then I jumped down and we worked on direction from the bit. It took him a while to remember how to turn based on the pull from the bit, I finally had to turn and walk away in the direction I was asking him to turn and give a clickclick vocal cue, however, we had a great breakthrough, I had him backing up and woahing on bit cue, with no vocal cues whatsoever.

:) We're getting there. Excited for my girth to hurry up and get here so that I can test out the new saddle.

Speaking of new saddle, that reminded me, before I went to actually get on Siaga, we tested the chair a bit more, walking around and when he was close enough, I laid a hand on his back and said "woah" and he stopped and it made me giggle to look down at his back, because he had stepped so close that his sides were against my legs, I had a directly vertical view of his back. I realized just HOW flat it is, and just how WIDE he really is. He's like a giant barrel. Little tiny horse with BIG HUGE BARREL BODY. xD

I do adore that horse. lol.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

If it's not one thing...

It's another.

When I put the saddle on the boy today, it actually went right where it was supposed to and sat flush but not tight. So we went about getting ready to ride...

Until I discovered, much to my dismay, that the girth from the other english saddle is about 43" buckle to buckle and I need something more like 26 or 28" and this one hung several inches below his belly.

So that idea was nixed, so we instead fitted the new bridle and worked from the ground on left, right, woah, back up. He still needs the verbal addition with the woah and back up, but his response after the verbal command is timely and quick and soft.

After we did that for 15 or 20 minutes, we went to the front yard and started working on side passing from the ground. After about a half hour or so of that, I had him taking a step or two across. :)


So the new saddle came in the mail today, so excited. It's gorgeous and black and... well... Wintec-y. When I first pulled it free of the bubble wrap and the saddle cover (wasn't expecting it to come with a cover, that was nice) I took one look at the gullet and thought "That looks like it'll fit!"

It's nice and wide (being the white extra wide plate) and looks like it will sit comfortably on his back. I'm so excited to get to use it, but letting the ground outside dry up and myself start feeling better before we try it.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

As Usual...

I've spent a big part of my day thinking about Siaga, my current long term goal, and how the heck I'm going to get there.

Long term goal:

Transfer to the University of Findlay for an Associates of Arts in Equestrian Studies with an emphasis on English riding/ training via the Dressage Program. I fully plan to take Siaga with me.

The problem:

I have to submit a 5-minute long video of Siaga doing dressage, at the very least walk, trot, and canter both directions, and anything else he can do, by June 1st. It seems like a long way off now, but it's really not, especially when you consider that with winter coming on, there will be very little riding actually happening unless I can get him to an indoor arena.

This is a big thing, a big, huge, not so easy to reach long term goal. It's stumping. So I'm going to break it down, because my thoughts must be organized.

Goal 1: Score lessons in exchange for work, waiting on a reply, if I don't have a reply from the lady by Sunday, I have to call her or find someone else.

Goal 2: Take back everything I learn in my lessons to Siaga. Whatever I'm learning, he can be learning, too, whether or not there is a trainer around to help.

But for now, until I get those lessons, I have to start working these things myself. Next time we go for a ride, my goal is:

Get one ear.

That one ear back to me saying "I hear you, I'm paying attention to you." and the swiveling ear saying "I'm also paying attention to my surroundings." That is what I want. Normally his ears are both forward or to the sides, swiveling around paying no attention to me, though he generally obeys what I ask him to do. To accomplish this, our first lesson will probably be riding up and down the road at a walk until we achieve that relaxed, long and low, swinging back, easy going walk. Then back to the yard to do a lot of walk/halt/walk/halt/backup/walk/etc transitions and direction changes, while trying to maintain that long and low form.

We may attempt a rising trot, if I feel that my balance is good enough for it and if I feel that he isn't going to go hog wild and throw me. Even if we achieve only a couple paces or so of the trot, before we switch back to a walk, it would be good for me, and for him, and I'm glad that he has trotted with me before, though I don't remember if we have gone faster than a walk since my bad fall. (Shin still hurts from that when pressed, and the skin there is numb still, though all memory functions have returned to normal.)

Anyways... we have a long road ahead of us.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

It's Mine


Yup. I just bought a Wintec 500 dressage saddle on ebay. So excited.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Victory is mine, and so is the failure

Well and so, Siaga and I had several victories today, and one loss.

Victory 1: After much spiraling around and around, I got Siaga semi-used to standing by me on the chair. So when we finally got tacked up (second time around, had a heat-exhaust attack the first try) I was able to very easily get up there.

Victory 2: Siaga stood tied. Yes, he's 7. Yes, that is something he should have been taught a very long time ago. I tried, I really did, but it never worked out very well. But somehow, today, he stood tied while I tacked him up and held his head up while I put the bridle on! It was nice.

Victory 3: We successfully backed up with minimum contact on the reins. I simply "sponged" my hands on the reins, and he tucked his head and backed up.

Loss: The saddle has to go back. It fits him better, in width, than the western I have, but it has somehow managed to rub the hairs on his shoulders in the wrong way, even though I put the saddle on a little forwards and scooted back like one is supposed to, and he kept giving me little crow hops when asked to move forwards.

So now I'm going to look for a Wintec 500 Dressage saddle with the gullet system.

Also, although it's not set in stone (as I have learned that focusing on one thing too often leads to much despair if it doesn't work) I am planning on taking lessons in dressage and working in a barn, with the intent of taking everything I learn in my lessons back to Siaga and starting him on dressage. And then, I called the art school I went to today to see how many transferable credit hours I have, and I have like 60-something, so I will be able to transfer to Findlay if I want, so I might try to go next fall and take Siaga with me. I would probably be going for the english/dressage program.

Have a maybe

In regards to a stable in which to trade barn work for riding lessons. She mailed me back, asking for more details about me, my age, my experience with horses, and my riding experience. I very honestly told her I have about 7 years of horse ownership experience, and all my riding adds up to maybe a year of western trail riding and only two rides on an English saddle. I told her I knew I had my work cut out for me, but that I am highly motivated and really want to learn.

So... hopefully. Hopefully I will get another email here soon.

Also, I haven't heard Siaga coughing at all lately, so that's good. Going to bring him down and work with him some today I believe. :) Maybe go for a ride after I listen to his breathing and stuff, if he seems alright. And try to get up there from the ground again, with the regular saddle pad instead of the fleece. That might have been the problem.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

When you fall

You gotta get back up. Get back in the saddle. I am trying.

To say that I am disappointed is an understatement. That was like my dream job and the universe held it in front of my face only to snatch it away for a lack of experience with no practical way to get that experience.


As always, when life knocks you down (or the horse, or the boss, or whatever) you have to get back up again. So now my game plan is this: I have contacted a local dressage stable and asked if we might work out a deal where I take a lesson every week and in turn, I will work for them. This provides me with two levels of experience, both on, and off, horse back. And it gives them pretty much free labor.

I'm only contacting one stable at a time, because I don't want a bunch of refusals all at once because my spirit in this matter is currently quite broken, and I do not wish to risk it fully broken.

I wish, oh I wish, I could have had that sort of childhood where I had riding lessons and a horse with sense and had gone to school for horses instead of art. But... here I am still. Gotta keep slogging on.


The owner of the barn told me that I do not have enough experience with people and horse management and that I need to start from the bottom and work my way up. So I didn't get the job.


She did refer me to another lady who is starting another stable and expanding the Dancing Horse Farm name. She's got about 20 horses on the old property and no help, so I feel like I should be a shoe in.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Getting closer to being a BMA

I went to tour the stable yesterday.

Holy crap. It's huge. And full of warmbloods. Walking into that first barn full of jumping horses was like a car fanatic walking into a garage full of Ferrari's.

I felt so at home there, like I was nervous on the way there, but I forgot all about being nervous when I stepped out of the jeep, it was just awe inspiring, and huge. Did I mention it's huge? I mean, there's three barns, an indoor, two outdoor arenas, a round pen (Oh, excuse me, they called it a lunging arena, lol) and several pastures, and they are making a new indoor, also. And horses everywhere!

The whole place is very cutting edge, they don't even worm the horses, they send off fecal samples for each horse and give targeted worming only IF the horses have worms. Brilliant. And they have top nutritionists and saddlers come out every so often to make sure all the horses are healthy and that their saddles are fitting.

One rider there won a silver medal in the USDF riding dressage on a one eyed Thoroughbred while riding side-saddle. Are you beginning to see how big this is?

To top it all off, I was asked to write up a business proposal with all of the things that I need to have as pay, being how much I expect/ need to be paid, and also including Siaga's stall and board and once a week dressage lessons if I so choose. I could ask for jumping lessons, but it would probably be better that I learn to sit in that saddle before I learn to jump in it, you think?

So basically, it's not final, but it's really close, and I'm really excited, and .... and... and... Yeah I'm just really excited. It's like I let go of Victoria's Secret, gave myself over to the flow, and bam, here I am, with this amazing opportunity hanging in my face. And I plan on doing everything in my power to grab it.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Still Coughing

Gonna call the vet and see if I can get someone out next week to take a listen and see what can be done, I've tried wetting down his hay and that hasn't helped much, maybe soaking it more thoroughly would help, I don't know.

We have a camping trip next weekend that I look forward to every year but if his cough gets any worse or if the vet prescribes medicine for him, then I'm probably going to stay home, because I have a hard time trusting anyone else to take care of him (especially when medicating comes into question) and aaargh.

I'm really frustrated. I still haven't gotten a good chance to see if the saddle fits properly, because I refuse to ride him while I don't know what that cough is. It reminds me of heaves or RAO (formerly known as COPD For Horses) because the only symptom I see is this coughing.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Barn Manager Apprentice

I got an email today, asking if I might be open to a job as a Barn Manager Apprentice to a large boarding/training facility in Lebanon, an hour away.

I expressed interest and am going to go tour the place on Friday with Mom. I'm so excited and I really hope it goes through. It's such a big opportunity and I want this job.

Monday, September 5, 2011


Horse is sick or something. He's got a cough and a slight wheeze after having bouts of being active (even riding at a walk for ten minutes had him wheezing)

I do think the saddle will work out, I felt a major difference in his movement and the fluidity of it, even though he was coughing quite a bit.

I discovered it's very hard to pull myself up into the english saddle from the ground, without a horn to hold on to, also saddle was slipping a bit, very challenging to get that thing tight enough! Tried getting on from the chair.... ended up flat on my back. Thank goodness it had rained and the ground was soft. Finally did manage to get up there, but almost went over the other side, not used to a slick seat, since my western saddle has a suede seat. Got the stirrups adjusted, but they might need to be adjusted a little bit more.

Have a bid placed on a bridle on ebay, made a ridiculously high max bid so that people hopefully won't try to outbid me.

Worried about that cough, thinking it's just from having such a dry and dusty climate lately. No runny nose or eyes, stool is normal, temp is normal, hay isn't moldy or dusty, same stuff he's been getting.

Bah. Why are the things we love most also the most frustrating and problematic?

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Are you kidding me?

Rain?! I mean, I love rain, and we need all the rain we can get, but seriously? The day after I get the girth extender in the mail? Really? :(

I just want to ride. Maybe tomorrow evening after work, jeez.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

100+ and counting

In regards to how many posts I've made in this blog, I think this one is number 102 or something.

Girth extender came in the mail today. Too hot/busy to ride today until later, may go for a late evening ride if I have time/ it cools down some.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Stuff we need to work on

I got the book in mail yesterday, already on chapter 6. The first thing that the author (Kurd Albrecht Von Ziegner) says to teach the young dressage horse is Relaxation. He says that a warm up to reach the stage of Relaxation may take 10 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the horse, the atmosphere, and the horses level of fitness. What he's describing as relaxation and being ready to work, I've thought were symptoms of being tired in Siaga, who takes about 15 to 20 minutes to reach that stage.

So this is the first thing we will start to work on, is reaching relaxation and being willing to move forward with me and listen to what I ask of him. Before beginning work in the make-shift arena I'm going to make in the front yard, we'll probably go for a little trail ride just to get the juices flowing, so to speak, and watch for that relaxed, long and low, swinging back signal to say he's ready to work.

Once he reaches that stage of relaxation, we're going to start on Regularity, which comes next in the book. Regularity refers to the foot falls of the horse in each gait, and such exercises as going up and down hills and over cavaletti helps.

These are the first two sections in the book.

The third section, which I will start after I feel that Siaga has developed a soft, even, long and low, relaxed, regular movement in walk and trot (and canter if I feel brave enough to attempt that) is Freedom, where the horse is to feel free and willing to move forward, but not rushing, when asked. This should, I would think, develop in tandem with the other two.

The fourth section on the training tree outlined in the book is Contact, which is getting the horse on the bit in a rounded and relaxed, but not collected, frame. Then, in order, is getting the horse On the Aids, where the horse is appropriately responding to the riders hands and legs and seat, Straightness, having the horse developed evenly on both sides and moving fluidly in a straight line without flex to one side or the other, Balance, or having the horse carrying his weight properly, but again, this is not collection.

Then it goes into Durchlässigkeit. I'm assuming this is pronounced something like "Durch-less-i-kite" but I'm not sure. Anyways, this means that the horse is supple, capable of shifting his center of balance forwards, backwards, or to either side. That one is going to be very complicated.

Next is Schwung, another German word, which refers to the powerful impulsion of the hind-quarters. It would seem that Siaga, as a Quarter Horse, by breed, should have quite a bit of Schwung, with that big butt. A horse unwilling to propel strongly with the hind will have a hard time achieving Collection, which is the next, and final phase.

After this section, the book goes on to discuss figures, movements, transitions, and then onto the basic first level test. The final sections regard lateral movement and finally the flying change of lead.

So far, I think I'm getting around to understanding this stuff. I have no plans for showing Siaga in dressage, but hey, you never know, maybe some day, maybe. Anyways, I understand we are both new to riding, more or less, and certainly both new to English riding, let alone Dressage. But, as with all things, we will get there some day, some way.

Check here (Google books) to see the book I bought, The Elements of Dressage.