Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Day Soonie Almost Got Eaten

Had to meet the vet this afternoon for Soon's annual dentist appointment, so I left early and decided to go hacking before the vet showed up.  It's balls hot, spring went AWOL and now we're just stuck in early summer suckfest.  So what better way to beat the heat than a nice, relaxing walk down the road?  It was lovely, Soonie even thought so.  That was up until the flies started biting.  He was SO unbelievably polite too, it was adorable.  Such a gentleman walking down the road and enjoying himself in between bouts of Itch of Death.  We'd walk, stop, I'd scratch just behind his cheek and he'd turn himself inside out, and then we'd continue walking another 75 feet and repeat.  It was almost as if he was trying to tell me, "Ma'am, while this is indeed a lovely hack, I wanted to let you know that I'm going to throw myself on the first object I find with a proper scratching edge on it, because the flies are biting and I very well might die out here."

And that's exactly what he did. We  wrapped up our ride and were nearly back in the barn area when he launched himself at the bale and rubbed his entire front end all over it.  I had a good chuckle over that.  And when we got back to the barn, and he was on three legs, reaching back to scratch his side with his teeth, I just about fell off laughing (do you know how delicate the balance is when you're sitting on top of a horse who's on three legs with his face behind your leg?).  This POOR HORSE was SUFFERING TERRIBLY one itch at a time, and I was just hysterical over it all.  I scratched behind the girth, all over his neck, his jawline, sides, chest, and the whole time he had the "OHH THAT'S GOOD!" lip going and even tried to groom my boots to return the favor.  He must have something special in his blood, because the flies treat him like fine dining.

He got a nice, cool bath and surprised me with some extremely vocal nickering when it came to Carrot Time.  He knows Carrot Time is immediately after grooming and/or bath time following a ride, and when he turned around with that "Hey I'm cute now carrot me" look, I stepped across the aisle and grabbed the carrot from the grooming bucket, and asked him "Oh do you want this?  Carrot time?" To which he loudly nickered and half whinnied very enthusiastically.  Like he had just wandered through the jungle and emerged victorious, and wanted a medal.

Soonie loves carrot

Oh, and for the third time in the last week, we didn't get his teeth done.  Frustrated at the scheduling issues.  I just need his teeth floated already!  Ahhh!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Watch and learn

So Soonie has some fans at the barn.  We did a flat school in the indoor today with the horse show going on outside.  Some horses came in to warm up over some fences, and some of the girls just lost it at how adorable Soon is when he watches other horses go around.  Seriously.  He tunes into the horse approaching the fence, watches them jump it, and turns his head to watch them going away.  Every time.  He was all too happy to stand in the middle and watch both horses go back and forth over the oxer, and his fans swooned over his cute face and his little ears watching the other horses go by.  It was hilarious.  And then when they left, we had to go back to work, and he was sad.

But he felt great today, we did some light canter work and I had a smile on my face all throughout!  We followed that with a quick hack down the road. It was quiet, the sun was shining, I could hear the birds was perfect.

"I would prefer to stay in here and sleep"

"Seriously.  Sleep."

Friday, May 23, 2014

Race video evidence! And cuteness


This is video from Soon's last win (Oct 10th, 2012).  He was in the lower claiming/allowance ranks his whole career, so we won't blow things out of proportion, but that field made him look pretty freaking brilliant.  I have another win video where he runs away with it as well.  I saw some of this other races as well, good and bad ones, last place finishes and gutsy head to head victories.  All in all, it's really cool to see him doing his thing on the track. 

So there's another horse show this weekend, which I am not partaking in so I can save a little money for the upcoming move (says the woman who just posted about getting custom field boots...which will be AWESOME by the way!), but this does mean I get to dodge extra people and obstacles in the rings for the next three days.  I don't mind sharing, but for the love of all things cute and furry, CALL YOUR FENCES and generally where you plan on going.  It's not difficult, just give me a passing mention of your flightplan. If I'm trotting around and going to be near the oxer when you plan on being airborne, and I'm good at guessing but cannot read your mind, why not at least call it on the approach?

Oh well.  At least it wasn't like every time I was at any large rated show, where schooling fences are claimed like kingdoms and every visit to the crowded warm up ring is an episode of Game of Thrones.

Meanwhile, Soonie was great undersaddle, and had a spa day afterward.  He got a bath, got some manscaping done (pasterns, chin, bridlepath), and mane trimmed.  He was supposed to get his teeth floated and some pre-shipping vet stuff done, but vet was running behind and my phone just elected to not take the vet office's multiple calls.  So here are some adorable Soon photos because he is one hunk of a horsey.

He quite literally fell asleep immediately after peeing.  No joke.

Shiny bum!

It's tough being pampered and primped


Thursday, May 22, 2014

One inch at a time

"I can't make you do it.  You gotta look at the guy next to you, look into his eyes.  Now, I think you're going to see a guy who will go that inch with you.  You're going to see a guy who's willing to sacrifice himself for this team because he knows when it comes down to it, you're going to do the same for him.  That's a team, gentlemen.  And either we heal, now, as a team, or we die, as individuals.  That's all it is."
(Al Pacino, Any Given Sunday)

I love Linda Zang I love lamp.

Seriously though, check out this video of rider/trainer Nuno Santos and his Thoroughbred dressage horse, Ken's Kitten at their demo ride at the 2014 Thoroughbreds for All! event in Kentucky.  He and Ken's Kitten are working with Linda Zang (USDF Hall of Fame member, FEI dressage judge, international competitor) and the change you can see in the horse's way of going based on her inputs is really beautiful.

Ken's Kitten is already a pretty nice mover, and is being brought along nicely by Santos, but I like this video because it demonstrates the subtle changes you can make in the quality of the horse's gait.  Seeing the horse improve noticeably in the walk, trot, and canter is really neat.  And someday, if I learn to not ride like a drunk monkey, my horse will look that nice too!

Someday.  And with a lot more dressage trainers yelling at me in probably not as nice a way as Linda directed Nuno.

In other news, Soonie and I have our mojo back!  I gave him a few days off this week, doctored up another one of his boo-boos, and just hung out.  Literally.  We have fun walking around the ring together with no halter or lead rope, him following me, putting his head in my lap while I sit on the mounting block, and enhancing our majikal bond.

Dude has a f^#ckin unicorn on his shirt.  UNICORN.
This is Soon's favorite game
Hopped on him tonight and just wanted a relaxed, happy ride, and got it.  He felt good in the walk, very behind the leg starting out (maybe too relaxed), but got where I needed him to be.  Our shoulder ins were good in both directions tonight, right off the bat, so that's fun to see.  Our trot work was quiet and very steady.  He was great in the stretch and on a shorter rein, and stayed right in rhythm the whole time.  Very good work!  He felt like his old self and I made sure not to screw him up, so I consider that a great day.  I think we were both beaming after the ride.  Back to normal!  "Off" rides or bad rides don't happen often with this guy, and they're my fault when they do.  But they definitely make me appreciate how hard he tries, how consistent and great he really is, and not to take that for granted.  :)

Love this boy!

Also, I got two of Soon's race/win videos to share!  Going to upload those tomorrow and we can all bask in his glory.  I'm also going to get measured for custom Dehner boots.  First pair of customs, because my old Ariats are dying (I seriously cannot fit the amount of damage/disrepair into one photo, they are so old and holes everywhere), and I won't buy their new stock.  I figure if anyone can make a boot that can stand up to daily use/abuse and last a long time, it's Dehner.  Should be money well spent...I don't have a lot of it, so I look at it as an investment.

Now, please excuse me while I go cry over my beloved old Ariats.  I love you, Sigfried & Roy!!!

Friday, May 16, 2014

That uphill feeling

My two favorite boys:  Bubba and Boo
So the last two flat schools have overall been good, in that we've reached good places and had lovely moments.  However, we've had to overcome a couple little hiccups.  Part of it is me, being too soft and and not being more proactive as a rider, as Soon is a smart horse and tends to anticipate what to do next.  Sometimes during stretch trot down the long sides (mostly tracking right which is his weaker side), he anticipates going into the leg yield.  When I correct him, he tenses slightly and speeds up, which leads to him speeding up down the next long side.  I corrected this by bringing him out of the stretch, onto a shorter rein and higher outline, and keeping him on the aids.  A few school figures and passes straight down the long sides, with him nicely balanced between my hand and leg fixed the issue.  I just need to remember to be more proactive, talk to him even more to keep him steady and relaxed, and to keep him guessing.  He has the routine down, and when he throws himself into his work (sometimes literally), it's tricky to do a reset and get him to listen to what I'm actually asking versus what he thinks I want.  We always get there though: soft, through, relaxed.

We had some really nice trot work today in the shorter outline, working on the connection phase of the training scale.  He's able to sustain that longer these days, and it's such an awesome feeling when he's really pushing from behind, up into the bridle on that shorter rein.  Very uphill!  We also had our first real shoulder-in at the trot today, he felt great in it.  I'm really looking forward to riding with some dressage trainers this year to see how much further we can progress, now that we have a great foundation underneath us thanks to the long and low training.

Hi cutie!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

A place only love can go...

Soonie and I hacked yesterday, just went around the farm and down the road a little bit because I didn't feel like doing anything in the ring.  I need a mental escape badly right now, so yesterday's hack was nice, and we had a great flat school today.   Let me just say how much I appreciate this horse and that he's helping me once again through a tough time.

He actually loves chasing turkeys, damn near ran them into the woods

Sleepy Soonie loves head rest!

Racehorse figure officially gone, has his hunter fat

On a serious and non-horsey related note, I hope those with kids hug them a little extra tight tonight.  Appreciate the gift you have. I'm leaving the place that has been my home for the last five and a half years, a place that has been very kind to me and that I think very highly of.  But when I drive away, I'll leave a big part of my heart here.  Not my child, but one I have been around and helped bring up for the last several years.  Never take the people in your life for granted, because one day they may not be there, and you may not get a chance to say goodbye, or tell them how much you love them.  So tell them everyday.

Soonie is my boy now, and we'll head off into the sunset together and leave this place behind.  But I'll always have the memories of my time here, learning how to love another person's child as my own and what sacrifice really means.

Take my notions and words to heart
This is the cry of a man
I can't bring you fortune or noble life
But I'll love you all I can

Oh, I know this song won't do
Enough to prove my love to you
In my heart you'll always know
There is a place only love can go
There is a place only you can go

(Needtobreathe, "A Place Only You Can Go")

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

"Are you f&@*ing kidding me with that whip?!"

Talking Racehorse

First off, I love this, it's perfect.  Cry laughing every time.  Also, probably because I feel like that at work sometimes too.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Guess who's back, back again...

Back to work after a week's vacay! :)
I flew back east last week to look for housing and a new barn for Soonie.  Crazy to think we have less than a month left before the big move!  I found a great barn for him not too far from where I'll be living.  Huge property, much better turnout situation than where he is now (with grass!), good indoor, huge stalls and lovely barn...color me happy.  They have a plan for turnout and transitioning him on to grass.  The atmosphere around the place also seems to be pretty relaxed, since it's mostly adults with various discipline focuses.  There are some great eventing trainers in the area and the property allows us to bring our own trainers in, so I'll be working hopefully with a variety of them to help Soon and I put even more tools in our toolboxes. 

My new place should be great too, plenty of room and I don't have to find storage space for all my extra tack trunks!  Also, I will have a hockey room.  That's right, a whole room dedicated to all my hockey gear.  It'll be in the front corner of the house so it doesn't have to be in my living room anymore.  You have NO idea how excited I am just about that one little piece of information.

I got back last Monday to a text that Soonie wasn't feeling well.  I drove out to the barn and there he was, looking quiet, not having touched his food, but not really being obvious about anything.  I stayed and observed, he started acting a little miserable, so I gave him some IV Banamine.  Bubba started to turn around pretty quick after that, passed manure, and with a half hour was looking like his usual self.  Thankfully that was just a little bellyache and he was completely fine.  He's been working well all week and we had a wonderful hack last night.  No wind, no cars, just the sound of us clip clopping along and the birds talking away. 

Soonie's idea of "fast food"