Saturday, February 5, 2011

Those Thundering Thoroughbreds

Win for alliteration!

I have come to a conclusion today. I life altering decision. It came to me sitting in lecture today and I swear, it was like a lightbulb, not only went off, but exploded in my head. I want to work with Thoroughbreds. And not just any Thoroughbreds, but ones off the track.

At first, my huge dream (besides Rolex) was to own and maintain and international sporthorse breeding farm. I dreamed of it all day. Rolling pastures, sleek stallions, gleaming mares, bounding foals, several barns...ah it was gonna be fabulous. But then, I went to college and it hit me. Life is hard. And expensive.

I have worked on several breeding farms in the past, since I had the interest, including New Springs Farm, where I currently work. I came to realize foals are dicks. They kick you, bite you, get sick at very inconvenient times, born at the worst times, and are a real hassle. So cute though. Now, I don't hate on foals at all, I just realized they aren't my cup of tea, especially having bred my own pony, Zephyr (see Yankee's sister, above, in pages). Breeders are my hero's. Never again do I want to hand breed 2 me...

I see it now even more with Cheryl and Windfall. Yes Windfall. EEEEEE-can't blieve I have touched him, even LED him to a pasture....EEEEE! Anyways. Cheryl is a god I think. She has to keep track of so much, raises them, cares for them, trains them. That equals big dough. I DO NOT have money to but a farm, a couple stallions and a mare herd and hope I get somewhere with it. I just don't. So there is 2 things against me, against others.

I have also discovered I have fallen deeply in love with the TB breed. They are so unique compared to QH's or Arabs or Warmbloods. I love their fire. I love their speed, Their grace, their prowess, their sweetness, their willingness to please. I love their beauty, their craziness. I love everything about this breed and I am hooked and obsessed. Thanks a heap Yankee :P

I like to think of myself as a good rider (who needs a bit more work) and an OK trainer. I have never bought a finished horse and I have always worked with my horses myself. I have learned so much in the past 10 years owning my own horses and I feel I have a pretty good base to go by, and I YEARN to learn more. I mean, Yankee is a damn fine horse, if I do say so myself. As with all horses, he can use improvements in many areas, but to take a crazy ass racehorse and transform him into a galloping, dressaging, jumping eventer is.....awesome. I would love to do it again.

As some of you might know, I adopted Yankee from New Vocations in Ohio. This mighty fine young buck is another I have my eye on. I. Want. I think I would give my left arm right now to take him in. Same as with Yankee, I see something in him. His trot is so beautiful and he has the most natural rocking horse canter I have ever seen. I can only imagine what he'd look like with training.

Who couldn't love that face?

I'm hooked...

I also looked at this guy in the summer...even went to ride him. He is massive at 17.1 and I had the checkbook in my hand, but with no trailer and no barn I just couldnt've...

What I would give to have this filly in my hands...

Or this gorgeous grey....

I drooled over this guy for months too...

But I realize SO sadly, that I am poor. And in college. And work a minimum wage job. And already have a horse & pony.

I am serious about wanting to work with OTTBs for life. I would like to try to adopt from New Vocations (Anna Ford, Dot Morgan) since I have had the most wonderful experience with them. They try so hard to place their guys (and girls) in the best of homes and really do follow up checks. They truly care about their horses and have an amazing facility. I even stopped by at their booth at the WEGs to give an update on Yanks. Anna always remembers Yankee when she sees him at shows and she tells me she never forgets a horse. That, my people is dedication. We recently made a full page appearance in their newsletter magazine :D We are also on their website under success stories.

I know what I want to do, ride, train and compete OTTBs. I would love to take more TBs through the eventing levels. I would adore to train them to compete and rehome them to amazing eventers.... but I don't have the means yet. Meaning moo-lah. Money. Denero.

My big awesome-fantastic-plan-of-a-lifetime is A) Graduate college (may 2012...whoopwhoop) B) Become a working student at a very prestigious barn and bring 2 horses, Yankee and another OTTB C) Get awesome-r C.2) learn shit D) Score rides on wicked nice horses E) Become famous, lol E.2) Try to get my ICP intructor thing F) Score more rides G) Gets some monies H) buy a farm...and thats where I stop for now.

The price of an OTTB isn't what gets me. I could buy that beautiful bay right's the upkeep and show bills that kills me. You know, The $____(insert here) board , farrier bills, vet bills, tack money, blanket repairs, for showing- the $160 entry fee, the $170 stall fee, the $120 in gas to get there, the hotel (if I stay in one. I rarely did last year, Slept in barns or the trailer. Its not as fun as I'd hoped), the food, etc etc etc etc..does it ever end? I am realizing how spoiled I was to have parents who owned land...paying board sucks...

I seriously do plan on getting a working student job after college, and I am only applying to really nice barns. My dream would be to work with the O'Conners, since I have loved them for like, ever, but its wicked hard to get into their program. I am hoping that with the working student program and the resume I already have with working with top horses and riders will help shoot me to the top. And if I do it on other rich people's horses I don't have to stress over more than 2 show horses upkeep and bills.

Solid plan, yeah?

Bet thats about as clear as purple crayon, that was quite the ramble.

Thursday, February 3, 2011


...out of my ever lovin mind.

Homework and cleaning the house did not cure my appetite to do something.

It was way too cold do go outside today (when I took Zoey out, it felt like my face was freezing off) , so hiking up the drive to the barn was out. sadface.

So after painting my project for painting class (finally), and doing all of the above stuff, I drew this. In about 30 that didn't occupy my mind. I bet I will spend all night either playing WOW, eating food I shouldn't or looking at horses that I can't afford.

I honestly can't wait to go to class tomorrow after 3 snow days. And go to work. Weird to say that . This whole not riding for a week or so is driving me crazy. Saturday back to riding again :)

Also I'd like to say, we've reached our 21st follower! I know, nothing compared to Andrea and Gogo or Denali and her mom, but hey its not about followers( or is it? :P) . I just like to post our activities somewhere where I can always go back and find it! But I thank you all for taking this journey with us! i really enjoy you all, and reading all your blogs too!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

This is Re-effing-diculous.

Today was frustrating. The aftermath of the winter storm was insane and today was hectic and a massive aggravation to my sanity.

We ended up getting 19 inches and upwards of 4 foot snowdrifts in some places.
it was -8 this morning. My Brandon woke up at 6a.m. to dig my car out since his was buried deeper and it sucks in snow, to take to work. WHICH WAS STILL OPENING. WHAT IN THE HELL. Are they on crack?! The entire city is under snow emergency, police are ordering restaurants and other establishments to close, roads are not the greatest, 1000s of cars buried and my boyfriend had to risk his life to open freaking Chipotle? Obviously your bosses think everyone wants a god damn burrito in a winter storm. On Tues when it was snowing they stayed open till 3 and 2 of my friends/coworkers had to walk to a friends house in the blizzard since their cars were stuck. I am FURIOUS right now and I tried to find our area mangers email to give him words.

Also I am on day 3 of no school. Mizzou never closes. Goin crazy!

I could not get over my anger all day. WHY do they expect minimum-ish wage workers to risk their necks to come to work when no one is out anyways??

Getting to the barn was also an adventure.

Brandon's car buried :( mine is dug out in the row above, 3rd to the right.

Driveway to barn was not plowed but we trudged up the lane (almost a 1/2 mile I think? not sure). I HAD to check on Yankee. It had been two days and I could not not check on him. The walk was difficult and COOOOLD but we (Brandon, Zoey the dog and I) made it.

Fence iciles

AH-mazing sunset :)

So i got to the barn and all the horses screamed at me. I was like, um, did they get fed? its almost 6pm. So I walked over to see Yankee and I was astonished with what I saw. An insanely dirty stall. It most definetly did not get cleaned today and maybe not even yesterday. I was livid at first. This was unacceptable. I pay good money to keep peace of mind and to come and see this...was just unacceptable. Every other stall was dirty too. I texted away to see if they got fed, they did, but no stalls. Odd.

Forgot to mention that the barn help lives on the farm, right next to the barns.

Yanks got into his treat foods in the arena

So Yanks got turned out into the arena to romp whilst I hunkered down and cleaned 5 stalls. I can see why they didnt get done, the pathway to the dump area was covered in 3ft snow drifts, but last time it snowed we dumped manure in an empty stall until we could clear snow. Still, they could have been done today, no excuse.

Yanks spooking at the jump that was in the arena. Lol silly ponyface.

Anyways, I cleaned the 5 stalls and the horses seemed appreciative. normally they are mucked twice a day and I just felt so awful thinking about them standing in their own excrement for more than 2 days and I just had to do them. I was insanely angry the entire time. I just COULD NOT understand why they were left in this condition. Gradually, I became less angry. I thought, maybe something happened to the person who had to feed today and they couldn't get done, but it still didn't make sense to why they looked 2 days dirty. It wasn't that I minded cleaning stalls, I actually enjoy it, it was that I left MY horse in the care of others and a daily chore was neglected. I felt jipped and shafted and my horse had to stand in 1-2 days of frozen poop and pee. UGH!

H's horse Pronto. He is so massive! I am 5 ft 9! Such a sweetie

Another one of H's horses, warrior

Zoey "helping"

Double layers for the wicked cold temps tonight.

Dogface's snow nosey.

So yeah, I don;t think I am being unreasonable, but I don't think I should have gotten as mad as I did. I dunno if I am missing a part of the story. I calmed down though and trudged back through the snow and made it home safe. Movie night and pizza! So much for that diet...

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Deathstorm Pondering

This was taken at noon today. No joke.

Zoey after being outside for about a minute. I had to drag her back inside

Anyways, trying to ignore the swirling storm outside and trying me best not to fret about the ponies 10 miles away at the barn, I have been burying my nose in Intro Communication Analysis is so riveting. I have also been studying the daft language that I cannot grasp, Spanish, and raping my brain with algebra. AND reading blogs! Your blogs provide me with endless hours of procrastination.

Threedaysthreeways blogged an interview with Silva Martin and Eventing Nation referenced it as well.

Silva discussed the importance of riding lower level dressage tests accurately in competition and how the little things matter. I was especially impacted by her statements on keeping calm and moving on. When Yankee was a wee lad he had major issues in the dressage ring. I would always let myself think even before going into the test "This is going to be crap, as usual" and would completely lose it if we had numerous mistakes. Sometimes I would leave the ring was a bad time for me. It wasn't until after we both got older, wiser and calmer that dressage became less of a worry. But we still have some issues...

Silva notes that the first circle is critical, "A circle shows if the horse is not in that tunnel and if they’re not then they will turn out or they’re not round or they fall apart or drift. First thing is it’s a test of if they’re in balance underneath you." . Popping a shoulder, drifting, swinging hindquarters are all things that haunt us on occasion still. Shoulder pops seem to be prevalent. It is most important to keep the circles balanced since we go straight into extended trot after the first circle. The circle should be preparation for that and I know I don't let it be mst times.

"I’ve been to lots of horse trials at the lower level. A lot of riders go around then at C throw the reins at the horse and the horse goes around with his neck down. Stretching forward and down has to be with a connection." All too often I see this in other riders. Most people can go around BN. N and sometimes T in a fake frame and still do well, but stretchy circles and free walk are mucho importante. You cannot score well with a fake connection, since horses will not stretch into contact when you SLOWLY give. Same as with horses trained properly, if you throw the reins away, they will have no contact to seek. I make the time to practice stretching with my horse, as should all riders!

Speaking of the stretchy..."....The main thing is it shows if the horse is relaxed. You can’t do it with a horse that’s excited or tight in the back. The only way to do it is if the horse is supple underneath you... If you have a hot horse then when you pick up the reins for the medium walk most horses that are a little tense will jog there...We’re so busy practicing trot and canter that the walk gets forgotten. Which is dumb, really, it’s easy to practice"

This happens all the time to me. I go to pick up the reins from a walk break and Yankee tenses his back and tosses his head. He anticipates working hard with picking up the reins so I try to vary the way I do it. One hand at a time works usually. I can never figure out why he is tense though. All his gear fits, he is fit, not sore...anyways. This one really hits home. I school the canter more than any gait and our walk is very blah and not energized at all. I think I have spent too many years trying to get Yanks calm, that I have trained all the impulsion out of him. I went about relaxing him the wrong way, and I feel I've ruined that part of him. Trying to get it back is frustrating.

"If something really bad goes wrong that’s out of your control, if you’re thrown off your game, the important thing is don’t quit on the test. Put it behind you and move on"

EXCEPTIONALLY difficult Silva. Dressage has ALWAYS been my bane in eventing; I had always been absolutely fearless jumping too, but lately that has changed too...In dressage though none of my horses have been winners. It took years to get Spirit in the low 30s, and thankfully he was a superb jumper, so we never had rails or refusals. Our very first dressage test we scored a 75. Yes that is not a typo. And the judge told me I should not go on with a score that bad. With Yankee, he has always and beautiful gaits, while Spirit had rough, untimely ones that eventually got better, but Yanks lacks the calm to BE exceptional. If he feels he can't do something, he loses it. And then I lose it. I instantaneously tell myself I am a failure as a trainer, rider and competitor and the rest of the test suffers. I go around zombie-esqe and barely finish. I cannot get a grip when something goes wrong in a test, I forget the next movement, I forget how to ride like a dressage person, I forget to keep my horse inbetween the aids.

This is something I really would like to get better doing.

But Silva also made me think about something else. She made me realize everyone has these problems no matter how fancy a horse or how rich they are or what trainers they use. And I feel proud knowing my horse is not fancy, I am not rich and I do not have a trainer and yet I am still here showing my guts out and going for it.

I will always keep trudging on, and I know things will get better, I just have to take steps back and figure the problems out.

Back to basics!

I suggest taking a peek at this article BTW.