Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Its Us. Always Us.

How I even managed to get my tired ass on my horse today is a miracle. I don't think I've sat down since 6am this morning and I feel like I'm going to collapse. Anyways.

I've been meaning to talk about the clinic I watched this weekend, but I really don't know how to put it into words. Jana is literally the best rider I've ever seen set foot on a horse and I was floored. I think I icreated mud in my intestines from the amount of dust I inhaled, simply because I couldn't shut my jaw. Most of the riders had her ride their horses first and she put all kinds of horses through their paces and I was just blown away. BLOWN. AWAY.

She was so solid, perfect and calm. I didn't know riders like her existed. And I've seen pro's ride in person. Even when the horses were acting a fool or not doing what she asked. I don't think she ever moved, but damn, she could get a horse to do things I didn't even know were possible...all without seemingly moving a muscle! GAH.

After seeing that kind of riding I wonder if I will ever get there. I realized today how out of riding shape I am, and its pathetic. She has got to be in beast mode shape to be so still but get horses to half pass canter, pirouette, piaffe etc without even moving. Even her whip work--it was like the whip moved by itself. Never have I seen a more efficient rider.

Typical German. ha.

One of the things she hit on was how completely unaware most riders are of lateral work. WE only think about forward, rarely back and in the lower levels, laterally. She noted that most horses are very stiff sideways and have trouble unlocking their hips and shoulders. Thus, their flatwork will suffer.

I already knew that about the hips, but never really thought about working the shoulders much, even though they ARE a part of lateral work.

I ran Yanks through her exercises, and was impressed by the way he responded.

 End result was a relaxed, supple horse throughout. Have you ever ridden a horse and just felt like you were on top of a stretchy rubber ball? It was fantastic. I NEVER thought I weould ever get my OTTB to feel that way.

I've been concentrating so much on getting him to unlock his neck and push through the bridle from behind I never even considered part of the problem could be a stiffness in his shoulders. I'm glad I thought to try it though because he was a totally different beast!

His trot had LOFT and his canter had POWER. He wasn't flat or hanging or crooked. I just...can't even.

I also played around with schooling the halt. Another thing I rarely think about but is oh so important.

This practice made me realize how tense I can get and how it transmits to the pony. Its difficult when you're trying to teach a horse something to think about what your body is doing as well. BUt 97% of the time, its us that screws our horses up, not them. I consciously have to MAKE myself think about where my body is since I am so out of riding shape. I tend to crunch forward since my muscles arent used to being long.

Yoga. Need dis.

As soon as I relaxed my shoulders and fingers and remembered to sit and close my legs before half halting to a halt, he didn't come above the bit. And was ALWAYS square.

Funny how that works.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Selfish or Savvy?

OK, I'm back after a mini vaca/sick/sleep days. I worked WAY too hard for 2 days in a row outside and at the restaurant and I was pretty burnt out. But I feel MUCH better now. Yay.

Per my title, I wanted to ask you guys if I'm being selfish. I don't think so really, but there is always that little inkeling of doubt.

Yankee has ALWAYS been the most retarded of all hard keepers and it took me years to figure out what will keep weight on him. In Ohio it was $65 bags of grain that was a mixture of beet pulp, oats, high fat (%11) feed and corn. He went through about 4 of those A MONTH. God. Luckily I was still in high school so I didn't have anything else to pay for, so that was easy to swing. That was $260/mo

Then I moved here, and had to change his feed because it was a local shop that made his prissy grain in Ohio. The grain NSF used wasn't high fat enough and I was adding gobs of supps in addition to his almost FOUR scoops of grain a day, costing me an additional $70/mo. So that was technically $445/mo but I bet the grain costs were about half that.

So when I moved to SHF and went on self care I played around with his grain rations and found a mixture that worked pretty well, but was also hella expensive. It was 3 different grains, Omelene 200, Omelene 500 and Strategy-about %12 fat total. He would get 1/3sc of ea. AM/PM, 1/2sc of alfalfa cubes, and 3 flakes of hay at night, in addition to $65/mo in supplements. The bags cost about $20 each, and alfalfa was $11 (x2/mo) and I went through about 3-4 bags in a mo. So thats about $147/mo.

As you all might know, I am piss poor and barely make enough to feed myself since I spend all my money on bills and my horse. Trying to be savvy, I looked into the nuggets they put into the Omelene that adds all the fat. AND THEY SELL THOSE NUGGETS SEPARATELY. IN 50 lb bags. For only $29!! So. I thought, if I keep him on a competition feed that has %14 protein and just add the nuggets at 1lb a day, that should work right? The bags are $14, he will use 3 a month, plus 2 bags alfalfa, and 20 lbs of the nuggets (out of a 50lb bag) [have I lost you yet ;)] thats about $75/mo!

Now, I didn't count hay into those hay costs at all, minus the cubes, because I get those at the feed store. But I think with the protein and fat content remaining that should keep him stable. Haha, barn pun.

But seriously, the more processed the grain, the ^ the price, so why not buy the contents separately and mix them myself?

Am I being selfish doing this, trying to save a buck, or is this smarter?

PLEASE, do NOT think I am trying to neglect my horse in any way. As I said before, he comes first, always. I've been late on rent because I make sure hes fed, shod and housed before anything else. Its just what I do, he's my baby. But there's no harm in trying to save.


Does anyone else lay awake at night thinking about feed programs, haha. Lawd. Horses people is cray fo sho.