Olympus Ranch Stables

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Well looky what I found!

My camera made an appearance when I was cleaning in-between the cushions of the couch! WAHOO! OK first things first: My hubby gave me some new arena letters for Christmas! I LOVE them. Here are a few pictures:
Here is one of my whole arena. It is only a schooling size, but it works for us!
Here are some beauty shots of my new letters! Aren't they good looking?
 So, now for today's ride. It went much better today than the other day. I did my usual warm ups then went into some trot work... My abs are BURNING! I did A LOT of up up downs. I started out using a handful of mane to help me keep my balance but about half way through I quit. I felt like I was still a bit behind his movement but tried to use my core to keep up. We did a lot of trot work today, I mean a lot. We did the 30/45 in each direction, came up centerline then would track left/right, circles at B/E and also free walked in-between each new exercise. All in all it was a really good workout. I know I need to work on my own strength and balance but that WILL come with more practice. Enjoy some pictures of our ride today! (Notice the new front boots from the Sprinkler Bandit give-a-way and the new polos in back from Secret Santa! THANK YOU!!!)


Monday, December 30, 2013

The catch up post

It has been a few days since my last post. It seems that my camera is MIA! (Missing in action) I kept hoping it would appear so I could take those pictures I have been promising but alas, not yet. So, I will have to just report on my rides:

I have been on a few rides since my last post. I had a lovely arena workout with Varro on Thursday. He was willing a forward! I have noticed that I am using the reins too much for my own balance... UGH! I thought I was getting better at that.... I am a little frustrated about it. On the diagonals I would ask Woobie to really power up and extend himself. He would push right into the contact and go! When he really got going, I felt as if he was going to pop me out of the saddle and I couldn't keep up... I used the reins for balance, pulling on his mouth and he would respond with an almost halt. I NEED to be a better rider NOW! It is not fair to him! SO FRUSTRATED!

The next ride Varro was less willing to be so forward (can you really blame him?) We did a few circles etc. and then went on a 2.5 hour trail ride. He was very good and enjoyed it. His head was nice an low (not a giraffe) and he just plodded along! Nothing seemed to bother him!

Our last ride was about 15-20 min in the arena...He seemed off. I would ask him to trot and he was sluggish, didn't push at all from his hind end, very short strides. I got off and check for stones in his hooves, heat in his legs etc. and didn't notice anything! I got back on and decided to go for a short trail ride. He was slow and sluggish out on trail too. We were only out for about 30 min. I think he was just stiff/sore from our super long tail ride. I gave him a good rub down with some liniment and gave him some turn out time. I gave him yesterday off so hope that today he is feeling better.

Let's hope that pesky camera shows up soon!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Post Christmas Post

This post is all about the last few days. I am so very blessed with good friends and family who understand and even enable my horse craziness. My hubby got me some arena letters and we are going to put them in today! I also got some awesome blue polo bandages from Sprinkler Bandit for the blogger gift exchange! Pictures of all my horsey gifts will be posted tonight!

I have not gotten to ride the past few days as our social calendar has been a bit crowded. We are putting the letter around my schooling arena today so I hope to go for a short ride this afternoon. Hubby is home from work today so hopefully he will be able to take some pictures.

I would also like to thank each of you for reading and commenting on this blog! The support this community has shown me has been so important.  I appreciate you ALL! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Tune back in this evening for pictures galore!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Riding with the New Boots

I LOVE the front boots! They fit very well and stayed put! They provided just the right amount of support! The hind boots on the other hand kept creeping up Varro's leg then twisting. Perhaps I did not put them on correctly but I ended up taking them off 20 min into our ride. I will do some research and make sure that "user error" isn't involved and try again tomorrow. I didn't get any pictures of the boots on Woobie today as I left my camera inside... I will be sure to take it out with me tomorrow and get several pictures. I was so very pleased with the fit and how secure and comfortable the front boots were (Woobie LOVED them) that I am SURE the hind boots are user error! More to report on that tomorrow!

On to our ride! Once of my friends, CP trailered out and went for a ride with us! I worked Varro in the arena first for about 40 minutes a: to try out the boots and see how they worked and b: to get him warmed up and in the right frame of mind to hit the trail. When CP arrived and unloaded her horse, Varro was soooo nosey about it! He tried everything he could to get out of working so he could head over and investigate. He was naughty, just very curious!

Once CP warmed up her horse off we went. We rode around for over 2 hours and both horses behaved amazingly well! When we got back, I took off the front boots as was super pleased to see that they hadn't slipped around or twisted. Varro seemed very comfortable in them. AWESOME!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Guess what came in the mail today!

So, I went to the Post Office to check my mail and I got a package notification. I went to the desk to get it and the post lady brought it out. (Insert squeals of delight here!) It was my new boots from Dream Horse Studios! If you recall Sprinkler Bandits hosted a fabulous contest give-a-way for some amazing open front boots! Well kiddies, I WON!!!! I was to terribly excited to get them and so far they were SOOOO worth the wait! My "riding window" is closed for the day so tomorrow I will give the riding portion of my review!

In the mean time here are my impressions of them straight from the box:


I opened the box and was so pleased with the color of these boots! Blue just happens to be my favorite color EVER!

 These boots are extremely well made. The insides are soft, pliable and look like they will be very comfortable for Woobie to wear. The straps are very heavy duty with some stretch to them as well.
 
The detail stitching is just beautiful! I love the design. First impression? I love these boots! I think Woobie will too! Tune back in tomorrow when I put them on Woobie and take 'em for a spin!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Double Headder

Today was my first day working both horses. Knowing what a "Diva" he can be I took Varro out first and we had a lovely ride! We did our normal warm up and then moved on to trot work. He was quite willing today so I mainly spent time on his canter today! He was a champ today! Our fair weather seems to be ending as it is cold and damp again today. We only spent about 30 min in the arena, as I am worried about him getting too sweaty and not have time to dry out before the temperature bottoms out for the night. All in all he was wonderful....until....

As I said yesterday, it is time to restart Aspen. She is bored silly and is finding new ways to get into trouble. She needs a job and an outlet for her curiosity/energy. I took her out and started round penning her (like normal) once she was warmed up and ready to listen I took her over to the trailer to tack up. You would have thought I took Varro's Christmas presents away! He started throwing a first class fit! His corral is right next to the trailer and he paced up and down the rail snorting at Aspen! It was CRAZY! He was NOT a happy camper! Aspen didn't pay him any mind though.

We went into the arena and I automatically walked her around the outside of the dressage court like I do Varro and then to the mounting block. She was a bit antsy at the mounting block but stood relatively well for mounting. I got up on her and asked her to move forward. We walked around the inside of the dressage court stopping at E,C and B. Then walked to the gate and I got off and told her what a good girl she was! All the while Varro was throwing his fit! I didn't realize he was such a spoiled brat... HAHAHA (I kinda did, but am in denial)

Great day all the way around!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A new training challange

Well, I have taken on a new training challenge! My hubby has a draft cross mare that he hasn't had the time to work with. She is about 16.3, around 5 or 6 years old and is VERY green broke; like Neon Lime Green! She has only had maybe 4 or 5 rides. She is very easy to handle and has a super work ethic, wanting to please no matter what is asked of her. I have done quite a bit of ground work with her (my specialty) and she is attentive and responsive. My hubby is not going to be able to restart her anytime soon and she desperately needs a job! So, starting tomorrow I will have 2 horses to ride!

Meet Aspen! I expect her to be easy to ride and eager to learn! You better watch out Woobie, you might not be the ONLY one I take to the shows next year!!!!

Pretty Girl!!!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Bestest Day EVER!

So as I started my chores this morning I had a song stuck in my head: (To the tune of It's My Party)

It's my Birthday and I'll ride if I want to
Ride if I want to
Ride if I want to
You would ride too if Woobie belonged to you!

So with that said, yes it is my birthday today and I chucked all my normal chores out the window and spent the day with Woobie! We did our normal arena warm ups and he gave me some real nice trot work so I decided to continue the workout out on the trail!

We spent an hour on trail working on trot/canter transitions, leg yields, walk/trot transitions and free walking! We had so much fun out there. I am so proud of him! When we got back we had a mini beauty parlor day. I clipped his bridal path and did his mane. It was getting pretty long and unruly!


It was so nice today that I was outside all afternoon in short sleeves! Awesome Day all the way around!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Another Beautiful Day

It is just like a gorgeous Spring day here and Varro was awesome today! First, I want to let you all know about my recent fitness quest. 2 years ago I had a serious back injury and have been fighting "The Battle of the Bulging Breeches" ever since. Earlier this year I got spinal injections and so far the pain has been greatly reduced! Last week my sister turned me on to a new fitness site: www.myfitnesspal.com (It's kind of like Facebook for fitness) Anyway, I created a profile and have tried to stick to being a healthier version of myself.... Drum roll please... I lost 5 pounds this week! WAHOOO!!!

OK So, on to the reason you are reading this blog. My ride on Varro was wonderful! I was expecting him to be a little argumentative since it has been over a week since we have had a good arena workout. I started out with A LOT of walking as a warm up. Like 10 minutes of collected and free walking. Woobie was a little resistant in the beginning and DID NOT want to trot. He turned himself into a pretzel to keep from having to work. I immediately went into the up up down exercise. This seems to calm him down and give him something to focus on rather than being a brat. It really helps me too. My legs were a but weak as I did do a 2 mile run this morning.... It took me one diagonal to get my timing down and Varro really started his power trot on the second diagonal! We ended up doing a lot for trot work. I did a lot of different patterns trying to change it up to keep him guessing what I was going to ask next. This approach really made a difference. He was attentive and just powered from his hind end! Once we were both breathing fairly hard I slowed to a walk and let  him take the reins.

I finished off the workout with him walking around the property to cool off. There is a particular "scary" place over by the chicken coop that Woobie is certain is home to a Palomino Horse Eating Monster. I tried to walk him by it and he had a fit... I guess he wasn't tired enough. I got off and walked him back and forth several times and let him sniff around. Once he settled down I called it good for the day! Can't wait for tomorrow!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Beautiful Weather, Beautiful Ride!

Today started out great! My excellent hubby fixed my little tractor last night so I could drag the corrals! I have been mucking them out by hand for the past week. Keep in mind that each corral is 24x72.... UGH! Was I ever getting a workout. But I digress...

I got all my corrals dragged along with the arena! They look so beautiful! The sun is shining and there is NO wind at all. It is a pleasant 55 degrees out so my friend TB came out for a trail ride today. Varro was a champ!

I took him to the round pen about 30 minutes early thinking he was going to be a handful and need to blow off some steam before the ride:
 
As you can tell by these pictures, Woobie was a "wild man" hahaha. He trotted around the round pen a couple times, stuck his tongue out at me and just stood there... I think we are ready to tack up and get on our way.

We went over to the trailer to tack up. Varro was easy going and only got uppity when TB arrived and started tacking up her horse.

We went to the arena and did our usual warm up while we waited for TB to join us. Woobie was a DOLL! We went for a short ride, maybe about 45 min. Long enough for both horses to stretch their legs and work up a tiny sweat. Woobie enjoyed getting out and relaxing on the trail... Tomorrow; the arena!
Woobie had the tiniest of sweat marks when we got back.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Final Five

It has been a couple days since I have posted. I am now enrolled in college! I spent the last few days getting all of my paperwork together (GI Bill) so I can use my military education benefits! WOOT WOOT! Classes start next month!

OK so on to the final day of the 5 Day Challenge:

21. Favorite classes to watch:  I love to watch ALL dressage classes. I am secretly addicted to USEF TV. At the shows, I like to watch the next level up from what I am competing at. (Training and 1st Level)

22. What's in your cooler at horse shows: Well, it kind of varies as to what is in my pantry but, hard boiled eggs, Gatorade and water are my staples. I also have sandwiches and carrots (for both me AND Varro haha) I like to bring pudding cups for a quick "pick me up" and at least 1 or 2 Cokes.

23. One thing about showing (or riding in general) you wish you could change: Dressage in not extremely popular where I live and have to drive at least 2-3 hours to the closest shows. I would LOVE to have at least a schooling show closer to home.

24. Your ringside crew: There is a group of girls that generally go to the same shows and we tend to support each other. We all haul separately but try to be there ringside when we compete. I adore my Horsey Girls and like to get together with them for group trail rides and cookouts as well!

25. Best Prizes: Well, when I first started riding English I went to a Hunters Show and made a clean sweep! I won a 3 hook bridal bag! It is awesome! It is hanging in my trailer and I LOVE it! Best Prize Ever!

Tomorrow I will post about my ride! After a week, the weather is finally warm enough to do a nice arena workout then a nice trail ride! New pictures of my Woobie in all his winter wooliness will also be posted tomorrow!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

5 Day Challenge: Day 4

It is super cold this week and I don't expect to ride at all. So I will continue with 5 more tidbits!

16. One thing you'd like to change about your horse: Varro is expressive, dynamic and I just adore him. With that said I do wish he had just a little bit better work ethic. He is, despite his snort and blow, a lazy horse at heart. He will use all sorts of tricks to get out of working hard. Now, once he is working he likes to be challenged but getting him to that point can be frustrating.
Varro running with the Ladies with all his snort and blow!
17. Your horse's future: Woobie will be my baby until the day he dies! I plan to continue to dabble in the show world as long as I can ride AND afford it. Even though his primary purpose is to be my "Show Pony" I plan to do a lot of cross training with him and maybe even a parade or two!

18. Your worst show ever: I don't actually have a worst show ever. I have only shown Varro a handful of times. I have always left the dressage court ON my horse with NO bloodshed, so I consider it a successful show!

19. Favorite horse show venue: This is easy! PepperGlen in Norco CA. It is only a schooling show venue but it is a beautiful and well maintained facility. They have day stalls which you can rent and it is so nice for Varro to hang out there instead of being tied to the trailer. Their shows are always well run and most everyone to include the riders are friendly, helpful and supportive.
The beautiful Dressage Arena at PepperGlen
20. Your show day routine: Since I am a lower level rider, my classes are generally the first ones meaning I need to leave my place as early as 4am. Most of the show venues are about 2-3 hours from me. I do as much prep work the night before to make my morning go as smoothly as possible. Technically my show day routine starts the day before. Of course I wash and braid Varro and put a sheet on him to keep him clean but that only starts my prep work. I clean all of my tack and ensure the trailer is packed with all of my grooming supplies, hay and treats needed for the day. Then I ensure my clothes are clean and packed up. Lastly I pack my cooler. Show morning all I have to do is load Woobie and take off for the show.
Bathed and braided and ready to go
Once I get there I usually find the round pen first before anything. I round pen Woobie for at least 15 min, or until he gets his wiggles out then tack up. Depending on how long I have before I ride. I walk him around the grounds and let him eyeball the area all he wants. 20 min before my test I mount up and head to the warm up area and take him through his paces.  That is usually enough time to work past any arguments but not so long that he is tired. I love show days but they take a lot out of me so when I get home, I put Woobie away, clean out my trailer and go to bed!!!
Once we get home we are both tired and just want to relax!

Monday, December 9, 2013

5 Day Challange: Day 3

Here are more questions and fun facts about Woobie and me~

11. Critique your horse's conformation: I have been dreading this one. I am blinded by love and cannot see Varro's faults. LOL I will give it a shot but I welcome you to chime in with your opinions!


I just love everything about this boy! Varro is a Swedish Warmblood x Arabian and I think he got the best of both worlds. He has a nice topline but his withers are a bit high. He has nice neck and a pretty face. He could use more muscle in his chest but that is not conformation, it's lack of work on my part. He has some flaws but all in all I think he is a well put together horse.

12. Horse's favorite riding exercise: Varro likes to be ridden, he likes to be fussed over but do not confuse that with liking to work. He gets bored quickly in the arena so I need to think of things that challenge him mentally. He prefers a combination of trail riding and arena work. If I had to narrow it down to one thing, he likes to conquer trail obstacles but in the safety of the arena!

13. Favorite spa day products: I LOVE EZall Body Wash! It is so easy to use. Just spray it on, wait 5 minutes and rinse it off. It leaves Varro soft, shiny and gorgeous!

eZall Bathing Kit
 
 
14. Three best things about your horse: 1. I love Varro's personality. He is quite high maintenance but is very affectionate with me. My hubby does not like him and thinks he is quite the psycho. Admittedly he was when I first got him, a bit dangerous in fact, but we have made a lot of progress in the last 3 years and our bond is remarkable.
 
2. Woobie is fundamentally brave. He likes to spook a lot and snort even more, but in his heart he is brave and does his best to "protect me" when we are out on trail.
 
3. Varro is extremely smart and figures things out quickly. We have a lot of ground work under our belt and he naturally translates that to saddle time. I am so lucky to have him!
 
 
15. Favorite picture of your horse: Varro is such a ham, his personality is big and he just loves to be the center of attention. This photo is him to a "T" and is my absolute favorite!
 



Sunday, December 8, 2013

A Short Cold Ride

It is really pretty today. Just a light breeze (which was bitter cold since it is slightly humid out) and not a cloud in the sky. I had only one goal today: get Varro warmed up but not sweaty. Mission accomplished!

I did not do any round penning today. He was calm, cool and collected during the grooming/tacking up session so I knew he didn't need it...thankfully. When it gets this cold out I am very worried about him bowing/tearing a tendon if he "WAHOOS" around the round pen. I used my favorite pair of polo wraps (a present from hubby last Christmas) and his black dressage pad in hopes that the dark colors would help soak up some heat. LOL When I grabbed his bridle, I touched the bit and BRRRR! I thought, there is no way I would want this in my mouth so I warmed it up under my arm pit on our walk around the arena. The things I do for Woobie!

We did our warm up as usual and Varro seemed happy to just mosey around the arena. He had no interest in actually putting in any effort at all! We spent a lot of time walking, both free and collected then moved on to some trot work. I kept putting my fingers under his saddle pad and when I felt he was pretty warm, I called it a day. I wanted him warm, but not sweaty.

I love living in Southern California as the weather is quite temperate most of the time, but honestly, I wish I had a real barn. It is really cold right now and the Spring winds are horrible. I know that 4-5 weeks of the year of yucky, awful weather doesn't validate the cost of one but still....A girl can dream....


I want one like this!
 

Saturday, December 7, 2013

5 Day Challenge: Day 2

So, on to day 2 of the challenge. I am enjoying this. I hope to ride a bit later today if it warms up so you MIGHT get 2 posts today!
 
6. Favorite equestrian book and movie: I love this! My favorite book, like many young girls has got to be "Black Beauty" I loved it so very much. Ginger was actually my favorite character in the book and I have a fondness for red spirited horses to this day.
 
Black beauty et Ginger by Citron--Vert on deviantART
 
As far as movies go, Pharlap has got to be my favorite. I cry every. single. time. I love the strength and loyalty that the horse and stable boy show each other. If you have not seen it, I highly recommend it!

 
7. Most common riding misconception: "You ride and show horses? WOW! You must be rich!" Not even close my dear, not even close. It's like that old joke: How do you make a small fortune with horses? Start with a large one! LOL Anyway. There is so much money that goes into riding and showing a horse: feed bills, lessons, tack, horse trailer, big truck to pull the horse trailer, show fees, membership fees... and the list goes on. The scientific name for an equestrian? Equus Keepus Brokus!
8. 2 riding strengths and 1 riding weakness: This is a tough one as I am so critical of myself. I can come up with plenty of weaknesses. OK here goes. One of my strengths is that I have very light hands. Most of the horses I ride really appreciate that. My Grandad taught me well. The horse's comfort comes first and everything else will follow.
 
My second strength is that I can read a horse's body language quite well. I am very good at ground work and then translating that bond and confidence into the saddle. I love working with youngsters and starting horses or giving second chances to hard to handle horses.
 
Now for my weakness. I have been riding my entire life and have a hard time taking criticism, especially from those I am most close too. I am getting better at it since I have been taking lessons from my awesome trainer Liz. I need to work on having an open mind so that I can be a better rider. I also need to work on my leg strength and having a better center of balance. Oh what...just one, oh well I know I have lots to work on!
 
 

9. What you like least about riding/owning horses: Well, I cannot think of anything I don't like about riding or owning horses. Well the money of course (see question 7) but I love taking care of Varro. I love making breakthroughs during training sessions. I even like working with "psycho" horses that no one else will work with. Horses really are what makes my life full and complete. OK so I do not like going outside to feed when the wind is blowing so hard I feel like Dorothy's house might fly by at any moment!
 
Your Love’s Like A Hurricane | A Little Charisma
 
10. What do you feed your horses: This is a great question! I am very proud of my feeding program. I feed free choice Bermuda hay. I think that having a good quality hay in front of my horse 24 x 7 is the most important part and the foundation of my program. Since it is winter, I will continue with the "Winter Feed Routine." In the mornings Varro gets about 1 pound of AB pellets soaked in warm water. In the evenings he gets 1 pound AB pellets, 1.5 pounds of Safe Choice Original, Beet Pulp and electrolytes. For supplements, he gets 1 scoop of Platinum Performance at night. All of this is also mixed with warm water. If it is particularly cold/windy I also feed a flake of alfalfa at night. Varro LOVES it.
 
web_nutrena-safe-choice-original.jpg

5 Day Challange: Day 1

Tracy, over at Fly on Over, started a 5-Day Blogging Challenge. It has been so cold and windy that I have not been riding and find myself needing something to post about!
 
1. Most influential person on your riding: There have been several influential people during my lifetime but the most influential was my Grandad. He was a true natural horseman and taught me so much. I hope to be half the rider he was. 



2. Piece of tack you'd love to splurge on: I typically save my money and get exactly what I want the first time BUT I would love to get Woobie a really nice show bridle. One with nice soft thick padded leather and a sparkly browband! Maybe a Passier or a Keifer.

Kieffer Ergonomic II Dressage Bridle
 
3. Top 5 riding playlist: I don't actually listen to music/headphones while I ride. I feel it takes too much away from my "oneness with my horse." I would however love to be able to listen to a radio playing softly in the back ground of either classical (Mozart) or heavy metal music (Old Metallica), depending on my mood.

4. Most important aspect of your barn: I actually have my horse on my own property and I do not have a "barn." I LOVE being able to care for, feed and hang out with Varro whenever I want. I also have miles of dirt roads (trails) right out my front gate to ride on when we both need to just zen.
 
5. Three winter riding goals:
1. Memorize the training level tests.

2. Work on better transitions. Varro tends to give me arguments on his up transitions. He is getting better but we still need work.

3. I also need to work on my own personal balance and softness. Varro is very picky and I cannot "ride too hard" I love that he MAKES me be a better rider.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Finally time to ride

Thanksgiving weekend was wonderful! I got to spend some time with my wonderful family and eat some fabulous food. I did not get much time for riding, but made time today. Varro was very snorty, bucky and full of himself! I lunged him for a good 20 min then tacked up and even lunged him a bit on the line in the arena before the ride. My friend TB came over for a trail ride and I had a great time! We did not work in the arena at all today just warmed up a bit to make sure Varro wasn't going to buck me off, then away we went.

Woobie was quite alert for the first few minutes of the ride, not naughty, just alert. After about 10 minutes he lowered his head and just ambled along for the rest of the ride. I was so proud! Most of the ride was uneventful. We did have to contend with some "desert vehicles" speeding up the dirt roads but the horses did fine.

Tomorrow I am going to accompany a friend to the vet. Her horse is a bit L A M E.... so no ride. The vet is about a 2 hour haul... Next ride: Tues. it will be arena work, and lots of it.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

Well, no ride today. I pulled Woobie out and took him to the round pen to see if he had "wiggles" he needed to let out before our ride. He didn't. He just walked, very slowly. I noticed that he was a bit off on his hind right. I asked him to change directions and yes... he was definitely off. Well bummer! He must have pulled something during his spook-a-thon yesterday. I felt bad for my poor Woobie so put him back up. He happily continued munching on his hay.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving so I won't be posting: I want to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you! I appreciate you welcoming me to the Equine Bloggers Community. I look forward to getting to know each of you better and sharing our experiences! Happy Thanksgiving everyone and I will "see" you Friday!

From both of us to all of you: Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Blogger Gift Exchange

My friend over at Fly On Over is hosting a Blogger Gift Exchange! How fun! Click on her link to find out how to participate! This sounds like a great way to make new friends! Join us!!!

Good Times

Today was absolutely beautiful. I didn't even need a jacket today. It has been a few days since I got to ride Woobie and rainy days at that! I thought for sure that he was going to be frisky and I was not disappointed! I walked out to his corral to get him and he spooked as soon as I came around the corner! I took him to the round pen and as soon as Pepper (our dog) came outside and barked at us, he spooked. I walked him over to the trailer to tack up and the wind blew and he spooked... are you sensing a pattern yet?

I groomed him up, picked his yucky muddy feet, tacked up and headed to the arena, prepared for the ride of my life.... The neighbor turned up his radio pretty loud! (I could near Johnny Cash sing "I walk the Line") Aaaaand Varro spooked. We did our customary walk around the arena and our other neighbors drove by aaaaaand yes, you guessed it, Varro spooked. UGH! This was going to be a tough ride.

I lead him to the mounting block and mumbled a quick "prayer" something about "please don't let the feed delivery truck arrive while I am riding" and "please don't start off bucking as I'm getting on, at least wait until I get my seat." As we are standing by the mounting block, Varro's head pops up into giraffe mode and I say to myself, "and away we go!"

I mounted up, Varro dropped his head and started his lazy walk  around the arena, just like we ALWAYS do! Thank goodness for our routine! I was so very happy! We did our normal warm-up and then moved into some trot work. I was reading Karen's Dressage Blog this morning and got some good ideas. I tried her Square Pattern and it went quite well. I am going to add it to my regular routine and call it "Gator Squares." Gator Squares is a term used in the military. It means floating around in circles in an area waiting for further orders. I road down center line and tracked left at C. Then tracked left at E and right at B. I went down centerline and tracked right at C and repeated the pattern going the opposite direction. As I finished that, Varro decided he was done and threw a fit. A little crow hopping and tossing his head was about all the fit he could muster and it was over almost as soon as it began!

After the fit I knew I must continue and end on a good note! I did 10m figure 8s at a collected walk then crossed the diagonal at a free walk and did the same thing at the other end of the arena. I then did the ice cream cone pattern encouraging Varro to really power up his trot on the diagonals. Once we were both breathing pretty heavy, I let him do a "stretchy trot" for 2 circles at C, collected him up for a diagonal and then 2 "stretchy trots" at A. I let him slow then break into a walk without gathering the reins and walked around for a few minutes. All in all, good ride! I just LOVE my Woobie!!!
 

Monday, November 25, 2013

Back into the ranks of the EMPLOYED!

As some of you may know (if you have been following my blog for awhile) I retired after 20 years of active duty service in the military. I have been "unemployed" since Sept. Although I have loved being a woman of leisure and riding Wobbie nearly everyday, it doesn't pay much! LOL I have sacrificed my weekly lessons and dropped out of the show circuit until I found other employment. I received a job offer a few days ago and everything has worked out perfectly! I will be starting work after Thanksgiving! This is, of course, bittersweet as I LOVE riding everyday but alas, I do need a paycheck.

I plan to start my lessons back up after Christmas and will go to a schooling show January 19th at PepperGlen (see the 2014 Show Schedule page for details) I will only have 2 lessons under my belt at that time but feel confident that Varro and I will have fun! It is only a schooling show after all!


I cannot wait to start lessons again!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

It Is Raining!

It has been raining for 2 days now! A soft, steady rain. We need the moisture so bad! What does this mean to you? Well, it means I do not have any exciting rides to report.... So, you might be a bit bored reading this post.

I thought I would solicit some advice about winter feeding and share what I feed for winter. Each of my horses have their own custom diet/feed so for this post I will focus on Varro. Varro is a 13 year old Swedish Warmblood x Arabian. We ride nearly everyday and he is currently in very good weight. The foundation of my feeding program starts with quality Bermuda hay available 24 x 7.

Let's start with morning feeding: Varro gets about 1 pound of Safe Choice Original, 1 cup of dry beet pulp shreds that have been soaked in warm water, and 1 scoop of Smartlyte (electrolytes by SmartPak). I also add enough warm water to make it the consistency like oatmeal, mix it all up and serve! Varro LOVES it!

The evening feeding goes about the same way. He gets about 1.5 pounds of Safe Choice Original, 1 cup of beet pulp soaked in warm water, 1 pound of AB Pellets, 1 scoop of Platinum Performance Equine and last but not least, 1 flake of alfalfa. I also mix warm water in the evening feed, my boy is so spoiled!

What do you feed to help maintain your pony during the winter?
Wooly Woobie!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Frisky Horses

What a gorgeous day! My friend TB came over for a trail ride today. I was prepared for a bit of an attitude from Varro as we did not have a workout in the arena first. However, I do live close to the Marine Corps Training Area and helicopters have been low flying overhead all day long! This does NOT make for a relaxed Varro! I should have done some arena work first....

On our ride, I swear I was riding a giraffe!!! Varro's head was sooo high I thought he was going to end up with whiplash. hahaha Anyway, he chose to snort and spook at every little thing during the first part of our trail ride, so I put him to work! I asked him to trot then walk then trot then walk for about a 1/2 mile... ALL collected! By the time we were done he was "begging" me to give him a loose rein to stretch his head down! The rest of the ride went much better but tomorrow will be a serious arena workout!
Run first. Snort second. Don't let the monster get you!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Less than stellar

So today, Woobie was less than stellar for our arena workout this morning. He was LAZY and argumentative. It has been MONTHS since our last "Bad Ride," (by no means am I going to label this morning a bad ride) so I was a little surprised when Varro was tossing his head, resisting contact and very sticky with his transitions. He wasn't bad but wasn't willing and forward either. I ended up doing my "45 min" exercise.

Let me describe it: As you are riding a 20 m circle at C, think of C as 12 o'clock (as in the face of a clock) Mentally mark 12, 3, 6 and 9 o'clock on your circle.
   
Once you have your mental markers, start trotting at 12 o'clock (C) and continue trotting for "45 min" until you get to the 9 o'clock mark, then transition into a walk. Continue walking for "30 min" until you get to the 3 o'clock mark and transition back to a trot. Continue the 45/30 pattern until you have made it all around the clock markers. This pattern will give you 4 circles. I then do a free walk on a loose rein across the diagonal and around the "A" end on the arena then back to "C" and start the 45/30 pattern going the opposite direction.

It is a bit tedious but the repetition of trot/walk transitions really helps Varro to relax and just go with it. By trotting the "45 min" pattern, Varro has no idea when the stop and walk cue is going to be given, so he doesn't automatically stop at "C"

We finished up our workout doing a little canter work and then a lot of free walking. My friend TB came over when were just finishing out arena work for a trail ride. Nice cool down for us both! We went down a new route today and both boys were VERY alert but the ride was uneventful and relaxing for us all!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

A Zen Ride

I had a great ride on Varro today. It has been a few days since I had ridden and I soooo needed to "zen" a little bit. We did a lengthy grooming session then tacked up. Varro (and I) like routine. We like to start our ride the same way every time. There is comfort in repetition. We start every ride with me hand walking him around the outside of the dressage court. I have some trot poles set out and we walk over them. We both take this time to relax and warm up. Once we walk our lap, I do the final tightening of the girth at the mounting block and hop on up. After that we walk one lap in each direction then get to work.

Now back to the reason I haven't ridden for a few days: Thursday I had to put down my 37 year old horse, Major. I was an emotional mess. It was time as he had arthritis in both shoulders and horrible hooves. As the weather gets colder, it really affects him so, in the interest of his quality of life I decided it was time BEFORE it got so cold that he couldn't walk. Last winter was very, very hard on him and I could not watch it again this winter,,,,,,

Today's ride was a welcomed emotional "zen" for me. I did not plan on working on any movements or specific gaits. I just wanted a willing, forward horse to ride and Woobie did not disappoint. We did a lot of walking alternating from free walk to collected and back again. I was just looking for a steady rhythm. I then moved on to some trot work. He was steady and forward for most of it! We did a tiny bit of canter work then took off on a short trail ride. The neighbors put a flag up on their fence for Veteran's Day and Varro snorted at it a lot while we were tacking up. Since he was fairly tired from our arena work, I thought it would be a great time to go walk past the flag! He eyed it very closely on our way out, but on the way back his head was lowered and he was happily swinging along and relaxed. It was a good ride today. I cannot wait until I am employed again so I can start my lessons back up with my awesome trainer!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Reflections

Due to Veteran's Day, I decided to post some pictures of my Military Side. This one is me when I was a Drill Instructor about a millions years ago. That's me... on the left.

This is my retirement picture. It was a LONG haul but I am so thankful for each day I spent in my beloved Corps.

Now I am ready to ride off into the sunset on my Woobie! Time to change gears and put all my military discipline into Dressage!

All of this would not be possible it I did not have the most wonderful husband in the world. Without his love and support I would not be the woman I am today!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Lazy Days

It is Veteran's Day and in military speak, that means a "96." A 96 is 4 days off in a row! A Looong weekend. I retired a couple of months ago, so for me it has been one long 96, but for my Hubby, who is still active duty, it is a few days off to relax and recharge. He got to sleep in this morning and I got to hit the trail with my friend again.... Today's ride was even more uneventful than yesterday so not to encourage your boredom, I decided to do a review of my favorite tack items. 

I love reading reviews about tack, so lets start off with my saddle. I have a Wintech Isabell with the CAIR and quick change gullet. I absolutely love this saddle. It fits every horse I have put it on and cleans up super duper easy. It retails for $1299 on www.doversaddlery.com but I got it gently used off www.tacktrader.com for only $900! 

 


My bridle is the Suffolk Dressage Bridle. I don't have a picture of it but I bought it from Dover (see link above) for $54.99. I originally bought it because I was just starting to convert from Western to English and didn't want to spend a lot of money in case I was horrible. OK so, that was 3 years ago and it still looks great! I don't clean it as often as I should, but it has held up amazingly well. I highly suggest it!

I would love to hear about what you use!


Friday, November 8, 2013

Easy Peasy Ride

I have been working Varro in the arena fairly hard this week and thought a nice relaxing ride was in order. A friend of mine came over and we hit the trail with our boys. Varro really seemed to enjoy the ride. His head was so low I thought he might trip over the reins! LOL

I pulled him out of his corral and lead him to the trailer to tack up. I gave him a good grooming, tacked him up and off we went to the arena. I did the customary lead him around the outside of the dressage court then stopped at the mounting block. I finished cinching him up, mounted up and did 2 laps of free walk. My friend was also saddled up and ready to go, so off we went. (No round penning or lunging!)

On the right side of my driveway, leaving my property, is a group of palm trees. Whenever we walk by them Varro is certain there is some kind of horse eating monster that is lurking behind each tree that he MUST snort at! Today he just gave those trees the evil eye and kept walking! The rest of our ride was very uneventful. Sometimes the progress you make isn't in the quality of your transitions or the rhythm of your gaits; but in the quiet trust you share just hanging out on the trail together! 
Smile and enjoy each day as it comes

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Way to go WOOBIE!

Quick little back story for those of you who don't know me yet. I got Varro around 3 years ago. He was so hard to handle and I was new to the Dressage world. By new I mean I had ridden in an English saddle like 15 times. I had had a few "hunter" lessons and did fine but it just wasn't my "thing." I am a long time rider.... all of my life actually.... Western. So when I got serious about Dressage and showing I decided it was time to get a serious horse. (Enter stage left: Melissa) she made it all possible to bring Varro home! (but I digress)

Our very first ride was something like you would see on the PRCA:
 
Now, it may not have been this bad, but it sure felt like it! Varro was such a "hotie" that my trainer needed to hold him as I mounted, lead us to the arena and then I would hold on for dear life and this was AFTER I round penned him for an hour! I may post about how we made it through all the shenanigans later....

It seemed that no matter how many lessons I took, we just didn't make much progress. I had just about given up and posted him for sale, but most everyone that came to look at him was "afraid he was too much horse." I decided to give it another go. I found the most awesome trainer: Liz (her link is to the right) and we started making progress. We showed a few times in 2012 and I was injured (herniated disks and cracked vertebrae) in the beginning of this year so was out for the majority of the year....

So lets fast forward to a few months ago. I retired from the military and found all this time! Time to ride, time to watch riding videos and time to get stuff done around the ranch. (now if I only had a paycheck to go with it haha)

Today our ride was amazing! Varro (whom I affectionately call Woobie) was forward and willing! No matter what I asked him, he did. We started our ride with a lot of walking both free walking and collected. I am working on his tempo and his willingness to just keep moving forward. HE DID IT!

After the warm up we moved on to trot work. We did so many circles, diagonals and loops. He kept steady and forward for the entire 20 minutes of trot work. I was exhausted and needed a break so we did free walk loops for a few minutes. We finished up with some canter transitions and a grand total of about 40 minutes for our ride today.
Not from today's ride; but a tired horse is a happy horse :-)
I am so lucky to have such a willing partner to explore this wonderful world of Dressage with! And GEE isn't he good lookin' too??? 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

OH! MY! GOSH!

I cannot believe it! I WON!


Sprinkler Bandit had an amazing contest! I cannot believe I won! I am so very excited! I will blog all about them as soon as I can! Varro is going to LOVE them!!! WAHOOOOO!!!!!