Thursday, January 28, 2016

A Tale of Two Rides

So, you saw the video proof of our first serious ride back into work. On Weds night, J once again accompanied me to the barn and took more video. When we got there the barn was dark and when we flicked on the light, I could see Ashke blinking himself awake (he had his head over the wall staring at the arena). When he saw me he whinnied, bellowing really. He seemed happy to see us both and was polite in the stall. J and I turned him loose in his turnout sheet while we pulled out obstacles. He was moving better than he had been on Monday, for which I credit the BOT sheet.

The arena was a different story. He was spooky and playful, so I decided that letting him lunge, even at the end of the lead rope, was better than trying to work him while he was all wired up. He let me catch him after we had the obstacles set, but had zero interest in standing at the tie rail, so I took him out to work around the two barrels we had set up. She started off at a trot and then suddenly accelerated to mach 10, ripped the lead rope out of my hand, which then thumped heavily against the sheet, which caused more maching to happen. I just let him go. He needs to get used to dragging a rope and I figured it wasn't going to hurt him. He figured it out pretty quick and stopped running before he ran into anything. I made him move around with the rope hanging to his side and finally he was ready to stand quietly to be saddled.

Our first ten steps were wicked stiff. J asked if he was okay because he looked lame to her. After those ten steps, he dropped his head and settled into a really nice walk.

I didn't have to fight him and was barely touching his mouth.
I really enjoyed how he was moving for me.

He was still pretty energetic, but listened and tried for me really hard.

It was a much smoother ride than Monday night.

One of the things I need to start doing at the canter, which I was working on last night, is not grabbing on with my thighs. It's easier when I don't feel like he's going to spook or try to bolt on me, and I managed to let go and just ride the canter a couple of times last night. I recognized that when his energy feels tense, I gather tension in my hips. Letting that go felt very comfortable and he felt more relaxed.

Ashke hasn't been worked on obstacles since the show in September. He hasn't been worked in an arena. All of our dressage training has occurred on trail. 

He was stiff in the barrels and we can't make symmetrical shapes to save our lives.
Geometry is not our forte.

He wants to dive in and make the circle to the left as tight as possible.

Things we are working on now is cantering between obstacles and cantering the obstacles that we have the ability to canter. Things we need to work on is a better and more prompt canter depart. 

We are also working on our square halt.

Preferably without dancing. We are a work in progress.

You should watch those last two videos closely. Ashke does this thing with his mouth which I am convinced is his version of sticking out his tongue.

The bell has a tassle that hangs down that kept tickling his ears.

You can see him wiggling his tongue.
I would love for him to do this with his head lowered and relaxed.
However, it may be a long time coming, since this is a very difficult exercise for him to do.
Even now his right hind collapses under him a bit.

Changing it up to keep him interested.

The sweetest thing happened. We were taking a brief walk break and J was crouching down against the wall, stretching out her back. He walked over to her and basically put his head in her lap and just stood there checking that she was okay. He was very gentle and did not demand attention via a head butt.

You can see how Ashke reacts when he thinks the question is too hard.

I told him if he would really try on this set we would be done.

Overall, the ride was awesome and I really enjoyed being able to play on the obstacles again. I think he feels better and is responding better than he did six months ago. There are things to work on, but I think that is the case when one is striving to achieve a goal. And my goal is to improve our performance at the shows this year.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016


On Monday, J came out to the barn with me. I had told her how lethargic and unmotivated I was feeling once I got home from work. She, being the wonderfully supportive spouse that she is, she offered to come out and video us. I know she's not going to want to come out every night I go to ride, but it was really great to have her with me this time.

I don't know what I was expecting from Ashke. He hasn't been in consistent work since October and hasn't been asked to practice in an indoor since last winter, primarily since I didn't want to fight with him at SQA. It was the first time since August that he was ridden three days in a row. At the risk of being anthropomorphic, I think he's liked having the time off, since he pretty much picked a fight with me from the get go.

He was spooky. He was snorty. He spooked at things he's walked past with no problem. He didn't want to walk near the end of the ring with the jump standards. He spooked at dark patches of sand. He didn't want to stand near the mounting block. We even let him run a bit in the indoor before saddling him up but it didn't really help.

When I got on I could feel him short striding on his right hind. The time off has not helped us with that muscle. I kept him at a walk, in both directions, until it started to loosen up. He was reactive at the end of the arena with the jump standards and I used the Mark Rashid technique of ignoring what he was paying attention to and asked him to pay attention to me. Once his back was swinging at the walk, we moved to the trot. He kept spooking at the jump standards and acting like he thought he was going to be eaten. He was completely disregarding what I was asking and basically blowing me off. I was not going to let our ride deteriorate to the point of doing nothing but trying to get him to walk past the standards without spooking. I was doing everything I could to get him to work - leg yields from the centerline to the side, working on haunches out, some turns using just my legs. Nothing made a difference.

I finally had enough and got a little pissed off. He was not going to start pulling this shit again. He balked in fear (he wasn't scared - he was acting like a little kid who is trying to find a reason not to do something) and instead of stopping or turning or pausing, I just kicked the little shit forward. There was head tossing and trying to go above the bit and a couple of rear-threats, but I just kept kicking. Hard enough that he grunted a time or two. But finally, he moved forward and began paying attention to me.

After that, the ride got better. Although you can see in one of the videos where he braces and throws his head up when I ask him for  a leg yield. It's not that he's weak or unable to do what I'm asking. And he knows what I am asking probably 90% of the time. He just didn't want to on Monday night.

I have to find a good balance between having him on the bit at the canter and not being on his forehand, without his head being straight up in the air. This is what we are working on right now.

He got plenty of breaks in between being asked to work.

We also did a lot of trotting, which is our go to gait on the trail when he is being energetic. I figure the longer he can trot the better our chances of completing an endurance ride is. Not that I think we will ever get there really, but a girl has to dream.

We ended the evening by cantering without asking for anything other than him going forward. He did okay to the left but I really needed to at least ask him to tip his nose down when traveling to the right.

It's the first time I've ever heard in snort in rhythm with his canter, although he does look hollow to the right. It will be a struggle to get him back into shape where that right hamstring is concerned.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Another Week

I am having a hard time fathoming the fact that we are almost in February. Another week has slid by and the month is almost over. The only good thing about that is the fact that Expo is a week closer.

About Expo . . . . there is going to be a Tarrin Warren Clinic on March 9th, then a WE show on March 10th with T Warren as the judge, then three days of Expo clinics with T Warren. I and K have already submitted our entries and so we will spend five days at the NWSS grounds with Ashke and Eddy. We move the horses in on the 8th and will probably spend at least some time familiarizing them with the grounds before we go home that night. Then our clinic starts bright and early the next morning. It should be an awesome five days.

Monday we hung out with mom, then she flew out on Tuesday night. I let T drive her to the airport, which meant we drove for about an hour and fifteen minutes, in the dark, on not well marked roads, and the highway for the first time. That was a lot of firsts. When I got home I went on Amazon and ordered "Student Driver" magnets to put on the back of my car when he is driving. By law, and to get him in the habit of it, he does not drive over the speed limit, which means that often we are the slowest car on the road. We stay in the right lane but his merging skills still need practice, so I'm sure we pissed someone off. I'm hoping that the magnets will put people in a forgiving mood, although I'm not holding my breath.

Weds night I made it out to see Ashke, but did not have the motivation to actually saddle him up. I realized after dropping off supplies and saying hi to him, that I am going to have to set a strict schedule and adhere to it. See, for the past three years, I've had the option of going straight from work to see him, instead of going home first. In fact, one of the reasons I wasn't riding consistently is that once I was home, I didn't want to leave. I think the crosscountry season next year will look very different, because I will have developed the habit of going out after dinner. It's just that I have to cultivate that habit now, because I get home and don't want to go anywhere.

By Weds, J had a pretty ferocious cold going on and was heading to bed by 7:30. She really should have stayed home on Thursday, but the piles of work she had waiting for her at work would not allow her to take a sick day. Thursday, I went and bought shoes (I had holes in the ones I was wearing) and then started a new browband for a friend (I'm really excited to bead a new pattern specific for her and her horse!!)

Friday morning when we went to get T out of bed, he was really sick. His stomach hurt too much to eat (I know! Really sick!!) and he was feeling like he wanted to throw up. I tucked him back in bed where he slept til 1 pm. Friday night we watched Spectre (007) and all of us went to bed early. I haven't gotten sick yet, but I have been feeling very worn down. I have no energy. Zilch.

Saturday we got the boy on the bus for the slopes and then hitched up the trailer (had to pull it out of a foot of snow still) and loaded the horse. I should have known that he would be fresh. What I wasn't expecting was that both he and Eddy would lose their senses. We took them to the East-West Regional trail thinking that trail would be less muddy than Waterton and J would be able to ride it fairly easily (without a lot of bricking of her bike). It was a beautiful day, with temps in the upper 60's. Ashke is shedding like a mofo.

 Shirt sleeve weather, albeit long sleeves. 
The sun felt amazing.
All that white on the ground is hair. I was covered. When I was done grooming him I stripped off the shirt and shook it out. Thankfully, there were no witnesses.

He's lost a little bit of topline, but I think being out in turn-out for two hours a day, 7 days a week, has really helped with his condition. It, however, has not had a positive effect on his attitude toward other horses. He is getting a bit snarly and actually humped at Eddy twice on our ride. 

K was feeling under the weather too. We hoped for a ten mile ride and ended up doing 7. Our pace was 4.6 mph and considering we walked the finally two miles back, I think our going out pace was closer to 10. Neither horse wanted to walk. Neither horse wanted to trot, although we were able to hold them to an extended trot for at least the first two miles. There was much spooking. And snorting. And pulling. And trying to race. The one canter we tried in that first two miles included rearing and snorting on Ashke's part, as he was trying to vault us into a hand gallop. Eddy got the bit in his mouth and galloped with K right up to the point that he was directly behind J, then spooked hard to the right and took them into a stand of head high weeds. Poneh still knows dirty tricks. A year ago, K would have bit dirt, but this year she stuck every spook he threw at her. At that point I was pretty tired of fighting my own steed, so we working on half-pass at the trot back and forth across the trail behind J. Ashke did pretty well at keeping the bend in the direction he was moving and keeping his nose out in front of him, instead of bending into the leg moving him. I think I am also getting better at communicating what I am looking for. 

At almost three miles, J tuckered out. She was struggling to catch her breath. K and I went on until the crusher fine trail ended, then we turned to ride back to where J was waiting. Ashke went up the first hill completely out of control, trying to leap him way up and when I told him no, he bucked. A couple of times. We spent the next mile in a very collected and slow trot. By the time we got back to J, both horses were sweaty and breathing hard. Ashke less so, but still warm. We headed back via the back loop of the ride (through the neighborhood). We did a bit of trotting, but ended up walking the last two miles because Eddy had sweat dripping off of him. (I have to say, having Ashke do his very collected, very slow trot across the street in front of the waiting cars - at a light - felt pretty cool. He was being very Arabian.)

Which earned him his new nickname: Eddy the Yak. Swear that horse has four inch hair. 

We sponged them off and let them stand in the sun to dry. Ashke was dry after about fifteen minutes, but Eddy was still wet even after riding home in the trailer in a cooler. It took K another hour or so to get him completely dry. 

Sunday morning I picked up shavings and headed to the barn. Ashke got his feet rasped and a really good grooming, then I saddled up and we headed to the mounting block. Ashke has redeveloped the bad habit of moving when I go to mount or once I am on him. I decided that it was going to stop today. The first time he held still until I was on and then began trying to move away before I asked. I got him to stop moving his feet, dismounted and tried again. This time, he started moving his hip away as I stepped up to the mounting block. I backed him up and then we tried again. This time as I stepped up onto the mounting block he began to jig forward, so I popped him on the hip with my hand.

OMG! The world was ending!!

My overly dramatic horse reared, pulled back and bolted. We were in the indoor, but the doors to the outside were open (two garage doors) and he headed right out of them. I hollered "loose horse" and thanked the Maker the property is gated. Ashke went out and tooled around and then came tearing back inside. Thankfully, the reins were around his neck so I didn't have to worry about a broken jaw or bruised bars. He pranced and galloped around me a couple of times and then finally came to a stop across the aisle from his stall. I walked up and took him back over to the mounting block. He was snorty and defensive, expecting to be in trouble, so I calmed him down, unhooked my reins and led him up to the block. I petted him until the tension went out of him, went to mount and when he moved away, I sent him in a circle at a trot at the end of the rein (10 feet). I made him keep moving until he didn't want to any more. The next time I asked him to stand he did and I was able to mount without him moving his feet. 

The ride was pretty uneventful. He felt relaxed and easy at the walk. We worked on trotting, did a bit of canter and called it a day. Total ride was about 35 minutes. I need to come up with a series of patterns or things to work on if I really want to ride more than that. We need to do more cantering. Like a lot more. And transitions. It's hard remembering that when I am on him though. 

Then I came home and watched football. The Broncos are in the Superbowl again. Against the Panthers. Should be a good game. Hopefully, Manning is healthy and ready to go after two weeks off. And our D is for real!!!

Monday, January 18, 2016

This Week

This week has been busy, busy, busy. As some of you might have guessed by now, my mom is a HUGE Bronco fan and part of what we do every year is fly her out for a game. This year, as soon as the San Diego game was over and I knew that we had a first round bye, I used points to fly my mom out for the first round playoff game. We got bonus points for it also being the first weekend of the National Western Stock Show. So, my horse time has been limited, but I have been incredibly busy anyway.

To start, I had a wonderful ride on Ashke a week ago Monday. He was incredible and even though we only rode for 45 minutes, I felt like he did really well and tried very hard.

Tuesday, T had a concert that lasted four and a half days. His part was only about ten minutes. He sang very well and seemed to have a good time. Afterwards, I was informed that he volunteered me to make chili for about a hundred people as part of the mystery theater concert they are going to put on in May. Ahhh, at least I have some warning. And a chili recipe that might actually be able to feed that many people.

Weds was frantic house cleaning before I drove out to get mom from the airport. She was there on time and the drive back was uneventful. Thursday she hung out and recuperated in preparation for Friday. J and I ran to the barn on Thursday night to drop of supplements and say Hi to the boy. I found the brand new blanket bag I had proudly hung on his door shredded into three pieces and the blanket out of it. Best we can figure, Ashke and the mare next to him played tug of war with it until it fell apart. J offered to fix it, but I think it's dead, Jim. After visiting with him, we hit Costco for our weekly shopping trip.

Friday we all took a half day and J, Mom, K and I headed to the stock show. T opted to stay home.

 NWSS first started as a sale house for beef being shipped back east.
The cattle are all shown and then auctions are held for each breed of cattle.
There is also an auction of the cattle, sheep, and pig raised by the 4-H kids. The money is placed into a scholarship for college for the winning bid. Usually, the beef is sold to Chris Ruth or Del Friscos, or another high end restaurant for $130k. For one steer.

 Alpacas. Fuzzy faces.

 We spent some time watching the CHJA shows. We got to see one of the trainers from TMR ride her incredible horse, Limit. They were jumping 4' and ended with 12 faults.
The green and purple fence caused a lot of rails. 

Not a bad action shot with the iPhone.

We wandered through all of the exhibits, ate some decent for show food food, bought a couple of small things (I got an ear cuff, Mom got a small pair of earrings,  and then headed home, exhausted. There is something about wandering through huge crowds of people that is too overwhelming for words. The next time I am at the Stockshow grounds will be for the Expo. I can't wait.

On Saturday, Mom and I got hair cuts, then stopped to check on Ashke before hitting Costco for some of the things we had either eaten all of since Thursday night (T has an obsession with the small Chicken Caesar salads they are carrying and managed to eat seven of them in less than 24 hours). Mom liked the barn. We headed home and watched football until late that evening.

On Sunday, J and I decided to take the dogs to the dog park prior to going to the barn. There is a small park close to the barn where we have been before. When we got to the park there were a couple of older people there with older dogs. We opted not to go in. Our dogs can be overwhelming, especially if the people aren't familiar with dog behavior, and I wasn't in the mood for the discussions and recriminations that would be coming my way if either of them was not calm and quiet. Since they are not calm or quiet dogs, I just figured I would save some heartache and just not go in. This particular park has a canal and weeds and downed trees on the far edge away from the paths and fun areas. J and walked out there and let the dogs off of leash to run and play in the weeds and snow.

They had a great time, chasing each other up and down the edge of the field, always returning when I hollered for them. After running like insane dogs, they settled down to playing with each other mixed with searching the undergrowth for scents. J and I both noticed a segment of fence that had barbed wire on it, so we moved further south away from the wire. There were poles, but we both looked and neither of us saw wire. We relaxed and watched them play, calling them back when they tore off too far.

I was watching Skittle run when I heard a twang and spun around to see Lily stagger to her feet at the end of a somersault. I knew what had happened before she managed to limp over to me. She had been running down the canal bank, cut toward her sister and hit a strand (or in this case two) of barbed wire which had flipped her head over tail. It had also cut a couple of pretty good gashes in the soft skin between her legs, as well as taking off all of the hair in a couple of other spots.


We headed back to the car. J cleaned the gashes with the wipes we had in the medical kit and we managed to bandage it as well as we could for the trip to the barn and then home. She is okay, although there was some swelling tonight (Monday) and we ended up throwing her in the tub and cold hosing the crap out of the area. We are treating with antibiotic cream and it seems to be healing okay.

It's not really slowing her down, however. The t-shirt is to keep the antibiotic gel from getting every where and to help her remember not to lick.

Sunday we went to the game.

 Early to the stadium is the best way to be.

South Stands under the rearing Bronco (the model for the Bronco statue is Trigger - Roy Rogers horse.)

This is what victory looks like - stadium version.

Tonight has been mellow. We are all tired from the game (the cold and the wind really take it out of you - not to mention we stood and stomped and screamed for the duration of the game.) Tomorrow mom heads back to sunny Arizona until April, when she'll come out for T's and her birthday. It's been a great visit and a busy week.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Update: Lameness

. . . . on my part. . . .

I don't know how many times I am going to have to go through this process before it sticks in my head that Ashke needs to be on his Smartpak Rehab Joint supplement. Dr Ramey aside, this supplement works and works really well. This is the fourth or maybe fifth time I have decided to try something else and once again we went through the same process that we have gone through the last three or four times I have done this . . . .

Day 1: Switch the Smartpak supplement for something else.

Day 4: Gosh, does he look okay? He feels a little off. I wonder if it's his hoof? Or maybe his hamstring?

Day 7: Gosh, he just doesn't feel right to me. Does he look off to you, K?

Day 10: J? Can you see anything? Is he tracking up? Is it his RF?

Two Months Later: He sure feels stiff. And I can feel a slight hesitation.

In my defense, no one else can see what I am feeling. He looks sound to everyone else, but I can feel the hitch (I have no better word for it than that.) 

Four months later: duh!! I switched supplements! Time to go back on the Smartpak. He started getting it on Friday night and by Monday he was moving better.

Granted the past several times I did this it didn't take so long for me to make the intuitive leap between what I was feeling and the switch in supplements. I chalk it up to not being able to consistently ride for the past four months. It's easier to identify what is happening and connect it to a recent change in his supplement program, than if I am dealing with what seems to be a sudden change in his way of going. I feel like I should gently pound my head on the wall.

As far as the bruised fetlock and slight lameness we've been dealing with . . . . it has resolved itself (along with his chronic issues) and we had an incredible ride on Monday night. He was so good and we even got to work with some ground poles and our sidepass. I could feel him relax and ease into his gait about ten minutes into our warmup and there was no lameness, no hitch and he was tracking up well.

So, I decided to fix this issue once and for all. I put Saiph in charge of reminding me not to change supplements if I lose my mind in the future and decide that I should do this.

Ashke thanks you, Saiph!!!

The stupid, it burns.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Of Lameness and Barns

So. Ashke had Sunday off (Bronco game) and I rode on Monday night. I stood him at the tie post next to the tack room to groom him. He started to paw his way to China. I asked him twice to stop and then thumped his stomach with the back of my hand. It was not even a smack. Just a reminder to not paw. You'd have thought I had beaten him. He pulled back and flipped his head up like he was going to be killed. I told him to stop being silly and raised my hand to brush him and he pulled back and reared in fear.


Nothing like pretend fear, because I don't think he was really scared. Mostly he was upset I had tapped his belly. Sometimes he is like dealing with a toddler. God forbid he stand still. (Although, I don't care if he moves in the crossties, I just don't want to have to drag the arena because he dug a hole to China.)

I started to laugh and because I was listening to music through an earbud, I started to dance while waving my hands over and around my head. I was probably four feet away from him at that point. He snorted. He pulled back. He reared a couple of times. I completely ignored him and continued to dance badly, with lots of gyrations and waving of hands. Finally, he stopped and started at me in curiosity. I was laughing pretty hard by that time and it took me a minute to walk up and rub his face. I think he thinks I'm crazy.

After that he got tacked up and we rode. He seemed a little stiff and sore from our weekend. We started slow, did a lot of walk, some trot and a little bit of canter. I honestly can't believe how much he has grown and developed as far as  the canter is concerned. Even stiff and sore he was able to hold the left lead and although he did have one spook, I didn't over react and after we stopped briefly, we went right back to the canter. We had two missteps in the arena, where it felt like he rolled his fetlock, but he seemed fine afterwards. We rode for about 45 minutes and then I tucked him away.

On Weds, I got out there late, so I just turned him out in the arena. He didn't look entirely right. There was intermittent hesitation or tenderness on his right front.  I checked his legs and his RF fetlock seemed a bit puffy. There was no heat and just a little swelling. I cold hosed and gave him a little bute, then put him away. On Friday, I finally received my Smartpak (paid for expedited shipping. It was supposed to be here on Weds. I hate UPS.) We went to give Ashke the supplement and check on his leg.

It was more swollen. I trotted him in a circle and he was Grade 1 lame at the trot. But not on every step and no head bobbing. We went to try to cold hose it but the water was turned off due to a significant temp drop expected Friday night. I ended up putting his BOT boots on him and texting the BO to let her know. We went out again on Saturday and this time I was able to find a place where he knicked the outside of his fetlock. The swelling was gone, but I could still see just the slightest hint of hesitation. I think he has a bruise and is a little sore. He will have until Monday off and I will see how he is then. The BO said she couldn't see any hint of lameness and he was tearing around in turn out like a mad horse, so it can't be that bad. I plan on riding him in the exercise boots on trail going forward.

About the barn . . . . I love this new place. Two reasons that cemented my love for this place that happened this week.

First, on Monday when I got to the barn Ashke had a pile of hay scattered around his stall. They had pulled some of the hay from their hay storage to the barn and it was a bit different from what they had been feeding. There was a lot of brome grass in it and for whatever reason, Ashke hates Brome. I wondered how long it would be before he got hungry and ate it any way. When I was out on Weds, there was no hay left in his stall and he was working on the hay in his hay net (they load the flakes in slow feeder hay nets and hang the nets in the stalls. They have enough nets to keep one in the stall and one ready for the next feed.) I figured that Ashke must have stopped moping about the change in hay and he was eating again. On Saturday when we were out I saw the BO and as we were talking when she told me that Ashke was a picky eater. She had seen he didn't like the hay, so had her husband pull some of the hay with more alfalfa (which they had) and set him up with that. He went back to eating all of his hay. She was happy that she was able to accommodate him.

I was floored. Not only did she recognize that there was a change in hay and he wasn't eating it, but she took steps to change the feed for him so he was eating. Do you have any idea how many times I had to talk to the people at TMR about the fact that the grass hay was knee deep in his stall and he wasn't eating it? Or how many times I had to change my feed request because every time they got a new delivery of hay at SQA he wouldn't eat the new feed? The BO said that she now knows what he likes and since I want him on an alfalfa mix (or mostly alfalfa) that they are more than happy to accommodate his pickiness. I luvs them.

Second, I texted the BO at 7ish on Friday night to tell her I had him in wraps and asked her to check on him Saturday morning (since I had an irrational fear his legs would fall off). She texted me back two minutes later and said she would check on him before going to bed and again when she went out to feed the next morning. I have never had a BO or BM text me back that quick. At TMR I was never sure my texts or emails ever went through. I also know that the BO likes Ashke. She was telling me he asks her sometimes to let him go to turnout first and she accommodates him. He is very sweet with her and the head shying he was doing elsewhere has disappeared (I think the barn help at SQA would swat at him and I know at the temp barn the girls there whacked all of the horses.)

Overall, except for the little bit of lameness in his RF, I'm a happy camper.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Start to the Year

On January 1st, K, Eddy, myself and J started out year out the right way. We did a 7.75 mile ride at Chatfield in the snow.

We had sunshine, but temps in the upper 20's

 K riding in her full length Carhartts.
She and Eddy match.

The footing was somewhat sketchy, so we did a lot of walk and trot.
Tiny bit of canter, but not much.

 Magpie. Tree.
It doesn't get much better than that.

 Favorite Chatfield trail every.

 It got a lot colder along the river bank and there were a couple of places where we went off trail because I couldn't see the trail, which was right on the edge. We didn't want to risk the edge collapsing under us.

Just about two hours of riding for 7.75 miles.

On Saturday, we did it again, only this time we hauled to TMR, paid the usury fee, and rode the Fairmont trail. That was one of the trails we hadn't had a chance to ride with K and figured we should before she left TMR. On top of that, we wanted to limit the amount of time we were out, since the boy is skiing again and we had to pick him up at a set time.

 Top of Fairmont trail looking at North Table Mountain.

 The footing was worse on Saturday for J. There was a lot of ice under the top layer of snow.

 K and Eddy looking out over the vista.

We did a lot of walk, trot and some decent cantering in all of the normal places. When we got close to Tucker Lake, we had a decision to make. We could go over the bridge (there were pedestrian walkers approaching from the other side) or we could take the horse trail through a slight, very wide ditch, and up the other side. My gut told me to go over the bridge. I ignored my gut in favor of trying to race up the hillside. That was a mistake as both horses scrambled, slipping and sliding, up that hill. It was muddy and deep. K said Eddy almost went down. Ashke felt off afterwards. Not by a lot, but a little. I thought he might have strained his hamstring (always a possibility) and made him take it easy for the rest of the ride. J couldn't see anything, but I could feel that slight hesitation in his stride. 

K saw this in the snowbank on the inside of the canal we rode back along. There was a drift of snow from the far side of the top of the bank to the bottom of the canal. In the snow was an imprint of a story: Mouse tracks to the right. Hawk impact to the left.

So, like a snow angel, we have a hawk angel.
You can see the feather demarcations on the left, the head and body to the right and bottom.
One of the coolest things I've ever seen. 
K thinks it might be a kestrel, but I think it was a Redtail. 

 Been awhile since I rode that trail. And a great way to start the year. Here's to lots more trails.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Hey SC-

I think your comment to my post must have been lost. I did get an email and since I have no other way to contact you - you get your own post. 

This is for anyone in the Denver Metro area that is interested in Working Equitation. We are having a party and everyone is invited,  even if you've never seen WE before. This is a great Club and a fantastic sport. A little bit dressage, a little bit like a trail class and a little like a horse race - we have it all.

The people involved in this club are wonderful and very supportive. There are trainers that can focus on the skills necessary to be good, and there will be shows this year!!! Come introduce yourself and see what this is all about!!

I'll be there and am very excited to meet any and all newcomers. I can't say enough good about this group.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Goals 2016

Goals are always a fun thing to set at the beginning of the year. I did pretty good at meeting the ones I set last year and I don't get upset if I don't meet them due to circumstances beyond my control. In fact, K was stressing and planning to try and make one more ride (or maybe two) in order to meet the trail riding goal more than I was. I pretty much figured when December rolled around and I needed almost 40 miles that it wasn't going to happen. Goals give you something to work toward and strive for, and helps me keep my focus during the year.

So here goes:

1. High Country Working Equitation
I haven't said anything on the blog about this yet, but I got asked to be on the board for High Country Working Equitation. I said yes and am looking forward to all of the fun things that are in the works, as well as, ready to work hard and diligently to really establish HCWE as a serious club in the area. This will go hand in hand with promoting the discipline of Working Equitation and getting the foundation for a show series/circuit (or whatever you call it when you have schooling shows and rated shows and Championship shows) laid down for future years. I'm really excited about what the future holds for this sport.

2. Clinics and Shows in Working Equitation
So far, it looks like there are plans for a couple of clinics and a couple of shows. One of the clinics and show will happen at the Rocky Mountain Horse Expo this year, which I plan to participate in. The clinic and show will push the event to five days for Ashke and I, but I think that will be just fine and I really look forward to being able to ride and have fun. Unfortunately, it does mean that I need to procure Spanish riding clothes, because of the Alta Escuela. I hate having to buy clothes. I miss my pre-child/pre-menopause body something fierce. I need a Spanish jacket that will accommodate my voluptuousness and a pair of pants that don't make my butt look the same size as Babe. The other part of this equation is to make sure I practice with Ashke. Which leads us to the next point.

3. Ride Four Days a Week
This has completely derailed the past two months. Now that the holidays are over and we are in a barn where I don't dread being in the indoor, I need to get back to work. It will take some finagling to give myself time to get a ride in, like making sure I can fix leftovers for dinner the nights I ride during the week. It also means not talking myself out of riding in the evening. That has gotten really easy to do. I think I am feeling the cold a bit more than I have in the past, because it is a mental struggle to leave the house after dinner to go ride. It is certainly more of a challenge to go home, eat, snuggle the boy and then leave again to drive out to the barn. On Monday, when I left the house a little after six, it was much easier than tonight when I got to the barn at 7:45. There was no ride happening then, which is a good thing, since Ashke's right front leg was a little puffy. (It wasn't sore to the touch, there was no heat, and it was along the outside of his fetlock. My gut tells me this is a battle wound from Saturday when we scrambled up a gully and he almost lost his footing.) I think he nicked the outside of that leg on a rock during the ride. We will see how it looks on Friday night and I will start using the BOT splint boots on all of our rides. I have plenty of things to work on in the indoor, so even if the weather is bad, I'll still have specific techniques I am working on. I hope to move the gate, the corridor and bell and the garroucha pole to the barn over the weekend.

4. Develop our canter
We finally have a relaxed and balanced canter. Now we need to develop it. A good walk-canter, canter-walk transition needs to happen to facilitate a simple change of leads through the walk. We need to canter nicely between obstacles without flailing and giraffing. We need to pick up our canter at the exact moment I first ask for it, instead of feeling like I am pony club kicking him into the gait. We need to work on smaller circles, which will give him the chance to develop the strength to do them without needing to cross canter. I am putting him back on the Smartpak Rehab pellets and this time I hope I remember that every time I take him off he starts having issues with the right hip.

5. NATRC - At least one ride
I have discovered there are four rides in Colorado within a couple hours drive: one at Buffalo Creek and one on the East-West regional trail, the other two at the Air Force Academy and Lake George (by Tarryall). The dates they are scheduled do not conflict with the WE, although I'm not sure all four rides are doable. But I have the goal of doing at least one NATRC ride with Ashke, K and Eddy. J will crew and I think this might give us the excuse to get our truck camper. 

6. Our First 25 Mile Endurance Ride
The Colorado Mountain Mettle Express at Greenland is already scheduled for this year on Oct 1st. I really, really want to try that ride. K is game and I think we should be able to make the distance without any problem, considering we've done training rides that long, over that amount of time. It would be good to finally accomplish what my stated reason was for getting Ashke in the first place. Then I could say I had ridden an endurance ride. And if I didn't like it I wouldn't have to do it again.

7. 500 Miles on Trail
 I think I will actually make this goal this year, especially if we don't travel at the holidays and I do the above mentioned rides. It was a goal worthy of trying again. And with K and Eddy close to where we board, (until they can get into my barn), it should be easier to go for longer periods of time.

My only personal goal this year is to never drink soda again. It's been a month without and I am almost over the depression of no more DP. I can't drink any soda at all, since other sodas (rootbeer or lemonade for example) are gateway sodas to the gloriousness of DP. Seriously, never again.

That is it for now.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Year in Review: 2015

I was going to do a month by month review, but I just don't have the energy. Instead of month by month, I'm going to bulletpoint the high points.

1. We rode a lot of trails. The new ones were parts of Chatfield, new parts of Bear Creek, Buffalo Creek, Indian Creek (which we still need to ride from there to here), Waterton Canyon, Marshall Lake and Hidden Mesa. In all, we rode 470 miles - just a bit short of my goal.

Colorado trail and Indian Creek top my list.

2. K and Eddy became great trail riding partners. K is up for anything, complains about nothing, and thinks 15 miles is just getting started. We have made adjustments in water, food and clothing over the year, but mostly have just grown together as a team. Her hubs joined us one time, but overall, this is a thing we three have going for us.

Eddy has grown up in the past year and become quite the trail horse. He and Ashke like each other and formed a bond. They provide a steady influence for each other instead of feeding off of nervous energy. Eddy will take the lead when Ashke needs him to and vis versa. It has been educational to see how well they do together and although they will both go out alone, they seem happiest going as a duo.

Ren and Stimpy

3. I rode at the horse expo. That was exhilarating and exhausting and terrifying all at the same time. It was an experience to haul Ashke to a show like that. It was exhilarating to show in front of a crowd. I think we both learned a lot about each other. I can tell you, Ashke likes knowing the answer before the question was asked and when he realized we were there for Working Equitation, his stress dropped immensely.

Rosa and Ashke

4. Practiced a lot of Working Equitation. Built obstacles. Attended clinics, worked with a trainer and attended practice days. Joined High Country Working Equitation Club. Showed in my first show, which was terrifying in it's own way. We rocked the Speed Trial, but need to work on the other stuff. Ashke grew a lot during the process and I think we are finally figuring out some of the dressage side of WE.

Babe, the big, Blue Ox

5. Moved barns. We moved from TMR mid December of 2014, then again on 11/1/15. Finally, we moved to what I hope can become our permanent home on 12/1/15. There is a lot of crazy out there in the boarding world and going forward I will try very hard to completely avoid it. We are in a place where I think Ashke feels safe and happy. He is in turn out with a horse or more every day. He can move around, graze, groom, and roll when he needs to. He has arena TV to watch when he is in his stall and the people at the barn seem to really enjoy him. He is already a barn favorite. Best thing, Eddy is moving closer until he can get into our barn. There are new trails for us to explore.

It has been a busy but successful year. Ashke is getting better and better as time goes by. I have great hopes, which I will detail in my next post, for 2016.

Saturday, January 2, 2016


We went to Phoenix for our holiday

 The dogs came with us. Of course. For the first time, T and I took turns sitting in the back. (He's gotten so tall, we figured it was only fair.) The dogs did wonderfully.

 Once again we sat in traffic for almost three hours getting out of Denver.
(Picture of the volcanic rock we were driving past.)

 We spent Friday night at the KOA campground in Raton, NM in a Camping Cabin.
(More volcanic rock pics)

We love Camping Cabins. We have access to a bathroom, shower, beds without having to worry about our dogs. The dogs and I shared a double bed (the beds are not big and the cabin is a single room), while J and T each took a bunk. The dogs have a tendency to freak out a bit when we travel and then do better if they can be touching me while we sleep. We pulled in after ten, picked up our packet waiting for us at the after hours check-in, went to the cabin and found the room was warm and ready. We unloaded, crashed, woke up and showered, then hit the road again without ever talking to anyone there. (I did, accidentally, release the dogs to do their business in a private fenced yard. In my defense, it really was perfect for a dog run.) We were back on the road before eight and heading south.

 Random art work made out of barbed wire.

 Distant Mesa in NM.

 And more mesas.

 Juniper, Cedar and Pinon trees.
Lots of wide open spaces

 Many, many Mesas.

 The colors were incredible, not as bright under a cloudy sky.

 The rocks range from pale green to dark red and every imaginable color in between.

We decided after looking up Cedar trees on Js tree app, that most of what we were seeing was juniper, American Red Cedar and Pinon.

Those cliffs were so red and just didn't show up in the photos.

Mountain with a face.
Do you see it?

See it now? It was pretty cool in person.

So many cool rock formations.

There is a cave you can pay to explore. We didn't stop.

Nifty bit of trivia: Louis La'Mour described a lot of landmarks and unusual geographic things in his novels and all of them were based on actual landmarks and topography of the land. I used to think about riding through the areas he described to see if I could find them.

More interesting rocks.

We drove South through Albuquerque and then turned west. At Holbrook, we opted to turn South again rather than going through Flagstaff, due to impending traffic issues we always have on I-17.

 The road takes you through Salt River.
There are wild horses there. We didn't realize that's where we were going.

 The scenery was amazing. It just takes your breath away to realize the scope of our planet.

 We stopped about half way down the canyon as the sun was just setting.

 It's the kind of beauty that is indescribible.

 The Grand Canyon is magnificent, but so are many of the smaller canyons.
We were bummed it was so close to sunset, although the color was amazing.
 I, of course, was itching to see the canyon from the point of the river.

 I wouldn't have been unhappy to see the wild horses either.

 That really was the color of the sky.

We got safely to my parents house with plans of going back home the same way so we could stop and see the river and the canyon in the day. Those plans were derailed by the blizzard that tried to eat Texas (and parts of New Mexico).

 Winter Solstice Dawn from my parents' back yard.

We spent a week with my mom and step father. We saw The Force Awakens, ate lots of good food (In n Out, El Pollo Loco), opened gifts and watched football. My mom made the best Christmas dinner and I managed to not destroy the prime rib (next time we don't try a new recipe on the prime rib we are serving for dinner - I just use my old standby of salt and pepper rub.) Then it was time to head back home. We had to drive north on I-17 toward Flagstaff because blizzard was happening between us and Albuquerque. We cancelled our reservation at Albuquerque and made a new one for Grand Junction, planned to spend 10 hours driving instead of just under eight, got up early and loaded the truck.

 We took home a grill and a recliner, on top of what we had brought with us.

I hate driving north on I-17. Traffic was so slow we got to watch that Sugaro sprout and grow while waiting.

It took three hours to go 20 miles.

That mountain wasn't there when we first got stopped.
It shot up out of the ground while we waited.

This was north of Phoenix about 60 miles. It stays decorated all year round.
It has stuffed animals and Holiday decorations.

I have no words.

The drive was long and so miserable J got sick from lack of sleep. I was falling asleep in the back of the truck when she suddenly had to pull over. I drove (again) for the last 45 minutes to find the KOA. I hate being that tired, but it was still safer than the 10' drifts we would have been facing in Albuquerque, not to mention we would have been stuck in the KOA cabin for a day if we hadn't gone home the way we did. It was almost midnight when we pulled in and unloaded. Once again the cabin was lit and warm when we got there. I think J might have been asleep before the light was turned out.

This is Grand Mesa. It is the largest flat topped mountain in the world.

It rises 6000 feet (top elevation of 11,000) and covers 500 square miles, and is 40 miles long.

It was majestic.

So very breathtaking with the snow.

They were such good pups and traveled with us very well.
They are very happy to just be with us.

It's always amazed me the difference in the view between driving west and driving east.

It's the same mountains, but they look different depending on the direction of travel.

We made it home fairly early in the day on Sunday. We had enough time to unpack, rearrange the living room to accommodate T's last gift (new tv) and even watch some football. It was a great week and we really enjoyed spending the time with my mom. We are ready to be finished with the holiday, however. Time to get back to our normal routine.