Sunday, November 7, 2010

Barrel Jumpin'

Yesterday we had a great little ride. I had been doing some suppling work with Drifter and a few sessions working on lateral work. She was very easy going when I introduced the dressage whip to help cue her to move her haunches over more in the leg-yield.

We hadn't jumped in awhile, but the jumps were pretty low in the outdoor arena and she warmed up real nice- so why not? We jumped over the simple cross rail first and then over a few small verticals. She was barely trotting them and totally relaxed. We did a line of three fences- small cross rail to large cross rail to one stride vertical which she did very nicely. The next time around we aimed for the two barrel jump and she went right over. I supported her nicely with my leg, but she didn't even waiver like she used to at each fence. I trotted her down over a panel fence and she did fine, but when coming back over it she plowed into it. This panel fence is pretty heavy and she must of felt it because after hopping off and re-setting it she snapped her back and jumped way over it. This is one reason I still feel that schooling cross country will help her be more tidy with her legs. It was a really fun ride and I was very happy with her!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Hooray for autumn

Things have been going well with Drifter and she has been so much fun to ride. Even when she has a week off of work- she comes right back and tries hard. She is such a great horse. Can't wait to keep moving her forward.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Unstuck and moving forward

Sorry for the long delay... we're unstuck and things are going well for Drifter and I.

Her cantering is better- we now have a galloping track at our barn and it's been a lot of fun.

I was at WEG yesterday! I will have cross country pictures to post soon.

All is well.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Do you ever feel stuck?

I feel like Drifter and I are stuck- we're working on the same things and not getting anywhere. I don't know if it's just the level of training that she is at where no big discoveries are going to happen, but a lot of fine tuning instead. I just feel like I am getting frustrated working on the same basic concepts and if I miss a day or week then we're even further behind.

She seems pretty stiff and tight right now and I don't think I am riding enough to rebuild that flexibility, so therefore we can't progress. We're still having issues picking up the right lead (unless we're jumping) and therefore we can't progress.

I hate feeling stuck.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Almost a month

It's been almost a month since I have posted an update. Mostly because it's been very hot and I have been very busy and hadn't ridden in two weeks. Yes, Drifter got a two week vacation in the middle of summer and show season. I am hoping to get her back to the Thursday Evening show this week.

After having two weeks off I figured it would be better to start back a few steps and establish our working relationship again. On Thursday, she came right out to see me and I lunged her for 20-30 minutes. She was very forward at first, but amazingly cantered on her right lead for several times around without breaking. I was wondering if I had gotten the correct horse from the field or if I was having trouble telling my left from my right.

Friday was a second lunge day with improvised vienna side reins. This was also good, although she had some more trouble with the right lead this time. She was forward and mostly responsive to voice commands. It was very hot and she got a bit of a hose off at the end.

Saturday was our first ride day and she was super good. No issues during the first few minutes after mounting. She was certainly stiff when asked to bend and a little more above the bit. We got both leads correct the first time and cantered about half way around the arena. She was very good and I kept it a short ride.

I expect to ride again on Tuesday and pack for the show on Thursday.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Jumped a course

Sorry for the delays in posting- it's been a tough and busy month!

I lunged Drifter on Sunday- it was really hot and she still had some issues getting the right lead. I have to find/buy a nice pair of side reins again. She got a quick bath after lunging so the flies didn't try to eat her sweaty butt. Here are some pictures of her from Sunday.

Tonight I got a ride in before it was supposed to rain. She was a little nappy when I first got on, not sure if she didn't want to leave the barn, was sore from lunging or had a horse fly. She kicked/bucked on the way out to the outdoor and I was wondering what kind of ride we were going to have. Once in the outdoor ring, I dismounted to check for flies (I forgot to spray her) or other obvious issues. None seen, so I remounted (working hard to have her stand quietly beside the block) and went on with our ride. I took a few trot laps, popped over a few of the little jumps and then needed a breather break. While resting I created a jumping course out of the smaller jumps available. It was a downhill vertical to a left turn over the white jumping blocks jump to a left curve over the palm tree jump to a broken line over the red jump with a tight turn back to a blue cross rain with a sweeping turn between two other jumps to a straight line of flower boxes. The last jump we hadn't jumped today and was the largest. She trotted and cantered the little course and went around really nicely. It was a great ride and a great highlight to my week.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Horse personality

Drifter is a ... SLAF - The Wall Flower
Wrap these sweet, kind, gentle horses up and keep them safe. They are not very brave and tend to internalize their worries. They want to please and will try very hard for you, but they can be pushed too fast very easily. They make few demands of you and are quite content to perform the same tasks repeatedly as long as you are pleased with them and the jobs are not to strenuous. Quiet enough for the beginner once they understand what is expected of them.

Find out about your horse at:

Thursday, June 3, 2010

69.5% a huge success

Now I just need help figuring out how to keep her white... suggestions?

She loaded up pretty well, but when I arrived she was dripping sweat- not sure if all the windows in the trailer should have been open (might have helped) or it was just nerves. She unloaded pretty well and stood to have her soaked shipping boots removed. She was alert, but calm.

I walked her around the grounds and she was looking around, but quiet and well behaved. We came back to the trailer and I tied her up with her hay net. I didn't have a lot of time, so I started to tack her up. I also sprayed her with Skin So Soft- mistake! It kept off the flies and green heads- but we looked SO DIRTY by the time we got to the ring! I am showing alone- so no one to wipe down or brush off my horse for me.

She was great going into the new ring and trotting by the judges booth. She was so good for the test. She was calm, straight and forward. The judge commented that she needs more impulsion in her medium and free walk. Our lowest score- a 6- was on one of our medium walks.

After the test we hung out, she grazed, I watched a few other people from our barn ride. She trailered home like a dream without sweating too- I opened a few more windows. I am so proud of her!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Horse Show

Hopefully tomorrow will be our first horse show. I had to give her a bath on Tuesday and hope that it held out pretty well for tomorrow. It is a dressage show and if I can get an evening time slot we'll be doing the walk-trot test.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

No riding!


No riding... I have been sick since last weekend and haven't been out to the barn to ride. I can't wait until Friday.

Remember this from last year?
Oh, how far we've come!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Lunging did the trick

I lunged on Sunday. I was perfect for Drifter to break up the riding boredom. It was great to work on cantering on the right lead on the lunge. Having to canter over a pole helped her to change to an keep her right lead. It was very successful break in our normal routine.

I skipped riding today, due to the heavy rain- we do have an indoor, but Drifter is outside and in her fly sheet and probably very wet today. I am aiming for Friday.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Almost back

to where we were two weeks ago.

We had a shorter ride today. Worked on getting both leads, cantered over a small jump and went on a trail ride. Great day.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Trail ride and a few steps back

A week ago Drifter and I had a good, but really intense ride. We worked on walk/canter transitions and simple change of lead. She still has trouble with her right lead, but I wanted to get in several good canter departs. The first right lead depart was probably her best ever. I thought about quitting with that perfect depart, but I didn't. I pushed. She did several nice left and right departs. She began to fatigue and began stopping in the middle of the ring. We finished with one more good one to the left and called it a day.

On Friday she had her feet trimmed before our ride. I started with a new saddle pad and new footing in the arena. As soon as a got on Drifter she stopped and planted her feet. I got off and trotted her in hand and she looked sound. I changed her saddle pad. I got back on and as soon as she felt my leg aids she stopped and balked- no backwards, but no forward either. It took the "pony club kick" to get her to walk and she stopped several times in the first 10 minutes. We finally got some forward at walk and trot to the left. When ever I changed to the right bend she would stop. Wash, rinse, repeat until she will trot a circle to the right. I wonder if she is body sore from the cantering on Tuesday or if it really just overwhelmed her. We trotted in the outdoor ring and the dressage ring to reinstall forward in all three riding areas. To end I figured we would walk out to the field/trail and back. She was totally relaxed and forward when walking out to the trail, so we just kept walking. We did our first trail ride, alone, around the field/trail that's closest to the barn. She was so brave and good. She did one little spook in place, but then moved right along. I didn't know whether to focus on the ring issues or the trail success.

Today we just continued to focus on trotting forward in both directions. I started her on the lunge line and she was unable to pick up the right canter lead on the lunge, but I didn't drill her about it. I got on and rode and only one or two little hesitations at the trot when I put my leg on.

I learned an important lesson about how hard/far I can push her.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Drifter turned 9

Drifter turned nine the day of her "field trip". I was excited to be allowed to bring her to my work for a group "mock lesson". It's a place that I feel confident and would be able to pass that along to her. She wore "big girl" shipping boots and a sheet for the 1hr drive. She was a little nervous in the trailer, evidenced by the runny poops when we got there. She loaded nicely and snacked on her breakfast before we took off. On arrival she waited for me to back her out of the trailer and was alert, but well behaved at the farm. I walked her into the barn and around the indoor before undressing her and putting her in an empty stall for a little while. She was happily eating hay and the rest of her breakfast within 20 minutes. After a few hours we tacked up for our "lesson". I walked her (on the ground) up to the outdoor ring because it was along a field and tree line following two new horses. She was really good on the way out and that helped my confidence before mounting. She didn't stand so well for mounting, but was calm once I was aboard. She was very distracted by the horses turned out in the field by the outdoor arena, but was able to be redirected to focus on leg yields and bending. It probably took her 20 minutes to begin to really focus on me. We even cantered!

She was great for untacking and then went back into the stall for the afternoon while I worked. She was less happy about that and managed to nick her fetlock and cause some minor bleeding. She whinnied each time she saw me, as if asking "can we go home now?" Finally, I put her on the cross ties, dressed her up again and cleaned out her stall. While cleaning her stall she managed to pull the velcro cross ties loose and started to walk away, but was brought back and made to stand while I finished cleaning the stall. She loaded nicely back into the trailer and rode quietly back to her farm. She was a very good girl for her birthday.

The trip must have tired her out because the barn staff said she has spent most of the day laying down and sleeping. She was still sleeping when I arrived at the barn this afternoon.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

She clips

Drifter allowed me to clip her today. I just did a little bit on her face, bridle path and feet. She stood very quietly for all of it and just moved her head a little bit during the bridle path clipping.

Riding went really well. Walk, trot and canter in the outdoor ring. I got stung in the eye while beginning my ride and remembered how important teaching voice commands are. She was a very good girl today.

Thursday she goes on her first fieldtrip....

Friday, April 16, 2010


Drifter now JUMPS. She really JUMPS, like all feet up and over the jump. She felt much more coordinated tonight. We started trotting through 3-4 trot poles. She was straight and forward. Then added a cross rail, which she took beautifully. After a few times through it was bumped up to a vertical. She hesitated, but stayed straight and went right over with a jump. Then a few more times though we added a second vertical about 4-5 strides out. She was also cantering away from the fence for several strides and then just relaxing into the trot. We ended trotting several fences in a course type experience. She was really great and only sucked back once. She took a few jumps where she was taking me to the jump and a few where I had to ride with leg on. We had a few rough turns AFTER the jump, but she really jumped so nicely tonight.

I gave her a really good rub down, curry, a little mane pulling and a good brushing. She really enjoyed the curry and massage and I hope she is ready to go tomorrow again. Also, going to pick up my trailer this weekend!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Still getting better

It's been almost a year since Drifter had her foal. She has come so far. We worked in the dressage ring (no fence) and focused on being straight. She still bulges a little towards the barn, but I am able to rider her through the twists and turns and keep her straight. We took a short jaunt over to the jump ring (fence) to work on our canter. She departs so nicely to the left now with a great canter. She still gets a little deep, but she is balanced and responsive. To the right, she is now getting the right lead 75% of the time and I can actually feel her bending and working to pick up the right lead. It's awesome. She will do a few flying lead changes from right to left, but actually changed back from left to right today. What a good girl.

Lastly, we are working on pre-trail riding skills. I walk her to the back of the property alone after our rides. I am working on walking on a loose rein. She stops a few times and looks and I wait for her to feel confident to walk forward with minimal leg aids. I don't want her to feel pressured, but rather to feel interested about exploring new areas.

I am so impressed at how well she is doing and just a bit proud of the fact that I have helped her learn it all.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

So happy with my mare!

This weekend we had another good session on Saturday. I didn't get to lunge her over the jumps outside as the ring was too busy, but I did get to start with some lunging. I asked her to come back from the wrong lead canter on the lunge and would then ask for canter again. She was able to get and maintain the right lead several times on the lunge. Under saddle, she was really good too! She was able to stay focused despite another horse calling from the barn. It took a few times to get the right lead under saddle, but finally we did and ended with that. It was a good day.

Today was also a good day at the barn. Drifter was soaked through her sheet- apparently it isn't rainproof anymore! So, she was more then willing to come to the gate to get inside. She was wet and probably a bit cranky. She seemed a little cranky when I got on her. She relaxed pretty quickly though. Her trotting was nice and her shouler fore/in is coming along nicely. I can also now do a turn on the forehand with her in the middle of the ring, not just when she is facing a wall. The two biggest accomplishments for today were:
  • pooped at the trot!
  • Cantered in both directions on both correct leads in a circle with two other horses in the ring, like a really big, grown up and trained horsey!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Two great days.

Yesterday I was able to lunge Drifter over a small jump for the first time. She was really good overall with this exercise. She ran out the first time I presented her to it, but I didn't line her up very well and was too far away from the jump to prevent the run out. She figured out pretty quickly that cantering the jump was easier then trying to jump from a trot. She did not get wound up when cantering the jump and showed a lot more enthusiasm on her own. She cantered in both directions on both leads. I took the cross rail up to a vertical and had another little run-out, but again pilot error played a part in that. She then took it several times in each direction. She wasn't too careful and knocked the rail several times. I let her continue a few times when the rails weren't too spread out to make her look at the "new jump" and where the poles were. After lunging, I rode her WTC. She stayed more calm and didn't rush into the canter as much. She continued to have difficulty getting the correct lead, but took both leads- just in the wrong directions. I am now using my jump saddle and am able to get up into a forward or half seat when she is cantering, which seems to be helpful for her.

Today I set up a cross fail over a flower box. I lunged her over this, which went well, but there wasn't quite enough room for a lunging circle. She jumped all times but once and only took out the vertical. She was much more careful with the cross rail. Another ride after lunging, including jumping over a cross rail under saddle. We made continued progress on the ease of cantering, including cantering a large circle. I was able to force the right lead- tracking right today and save the left lead for tracking left more often. I had very little rushing at the trot, but she was very deep and going behind the bit when cantering at times. I worked on sending her forward, giving my hands and "bumping" her up when needed. She was so very good for all our work today I am so excited to ride again. I may try to get some updated videos tomorrow.

Here is a video from our last jump school:

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


I've gotten several rides in since our jump school, but no chance to lunge her over a jump yet.  We cantered a few times with improvement on the left lead.  I found that she is much better about cantering after doing some lateral work.

This week she is a bit stocked up with all the mud we have here, so I chose to lunge instead of ride on Tuesday.  She cantered beautifully on the lunge to the LEFT and on the LEFT lead only.  After lunging I did a few stretches to the right and found that she has adequate range of motion to get the right lead.  She will also do a flying lead change when cantering left onto the right lead if she is off balance.  However, she is very reluctant to pick up the right lead.  I have a little more luck under saddle. 

I know most horses have one lead that is difficult, especially green horses, but when do you worry about missing the lead or start correcting for the wrong lead?

Friday, March 5, 2010


Yeah, bellydancing.  It's great for building core muscles and helps me figure out where I am uneven or stiff.  I really like the class and it's great to know that it will also help improve my riding. 

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Time off and on

Now I am down to only having Drifter in NJ.  Fritz has moved to PA for "retirement"!  It's weird knowing that if I want to ride I only have one choice now- so no more "bad days" for Drifter.  She was really tense/stiff starting off yesterday- it was wet and rainy and I hadn't been out in a week to ride!  It took me almost an hour ride just to get her moving forward.  We only worked in walk and trot.  She also pooped four times, which meant four dismounts for clean-up.  I think she's figured that little trick out.  We have a jump school on Sunday.  I am planning to ride Saturday and Sunday.

What schooling exercises do you use for getting a horse relaxed, but forward?

Friday, February 19, 2010

Cantering again

We cantered again today.  Drifter was good on the lunge line with her cantering- much better then under saddle.  Under saddle was better then previously.  Some rushing still, but less fussing with her head and no bucks going into the canter.  Hoping to have her work on the canter on the lunge more and S L O W L Y incorporate it back into our under saddle work.  So, no cantering tomorrow under saddle, just going back to reinforcing calm, quiet and forward.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Turn on the forehand

Drifter learned turn on the forehand today.  It was much easier for her to do a turn on the haunches.  I attribute this to her Quarter Horse bloodlines- that girl can spin.  However, asking her to keep her shoulders stationary and move her haunches was a total enigma for her.  I ended up dismounting and doing a little ground work.  I used a dressage whip to apply an aid where my leg would be and backed it up with a tap on the hock.  When she was reliably moving off the whip aid on the ground I remounted and worked on it from "up top".  She still had trouble with the concept and it required several tries in both directions.  I stood her facing the arena wall and asked for a 90 degree turn on the forehand.  When she moved her haunches at all I stopped the aid.  We repeated both left and right sides.  She had more trouble moving off my left leg and often stepped into the leg aid the first three or four attempts.  Once it clicked it really seemed to made sense to her.

I also lunged her before riding and she had a nice canter on the lunge.  I think I will have her canter on the lunge again a few more times before reintroducing it under saddle.  She has been so much more relaxed since I have backed off on cantering under saddle.  Today was a really good schooling ride!

Monday, February 15, 2010


Results came back today- negative n/n for PSSM type one. 

Now the question is, what to do next. 
  • continue to go slowly with training, but do no further medical testing
  • do blood tests for Lyme and mineral levels (low E and selenium)
  • add supplements, such as magnesium, to deal with muscle tightness and tenseness
  • other... what to do now

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Two rides, two days

Yesterday, we rode outside in the snow.  I focused on
getting relaxation and figured she couldn't go anywhere to quickly with the deep snow.  This worked out pretty well.  We did 20 minutes in the snow at the walk, 10-15 minutes in the indoor at the trot and another 5 minutes walking around the barn.  She's been a bit barn sour and tense walking around the barn, so we practiced walking calmly.  In the indoor she was moving so nicely.  She was forward and really able to move. 
Today, she was much more stiff.  It was too windy to ride outside at all.  She was very short strided behind and I had to work hard to get her to move out at all.  She seemed like she wanted to go forward, but just couldn't extend or stretch at all.  We did some lateral work at the walk and some trotting.  I rode about 45 minutes total.  We had several stops at the trot and I wonder if it's training or muscles.  Guess we'll find out soon.  Her left hip was really tight after riding and she really leaned into a little massage over the hip after riding.  She's been much more relaxed since we haven't cantered in a few weeks.  With improved trot and lateral work we should be cantering again soon.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Still waiting

Still waiting for Drifter's results from the PSSM DNA test. 

On Friday we were able to work outside a litle bit.  Kim (barn staff) told me that she looked really stiff in the field and was reluctant to go though the gate near the other horses.  When I brought her in, she was reluctant to walk up to the gate, but I wasn't sure if it was stiffness or leaving the other horses.  I noticed that her ilicus muscle was taut and hard.  I figured I would start with lunging and take it easy.  We did 15-20 minutes of walking on the lunge with a few half circles of trotting.  I got on and rode after she relaxed and lengthened her stride and rode for 20 minutes, also mostly at the walk.  She stayed nicely relaxed during our time outside.

On Tuesday, I rode her for another 20 minutes.  She was mostly willing and relaxed.  She handled the snow falling off the roof and the dogs playing in the indoor with a slow down or a stop.  She was soft through her neck and willing to bend in both directions.  She got her rabies vaccination and a coggins drawn, so I wasn't sure how she would be.  I wanted her to stay relaxed and go forward.  We accomplished most of this and looking in the mirror at the end of the ride, she looked good.  She was up in front, round and tracking up.  Great way to end our session before the snow!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The horseman and the trainer...

Sometimes I am conflicted by which role I am playing.  Right now, while awaiting Drifter's PSSM tests I am reluctant to push her under saddle at all.  The trainer in me screams at each resistance Drifter shows.  The horsewoman says give her a chance, she might be cramping, she might be stiff, she feels like she is trying. 

I took it really easy tonight a few minutes on the lunge line at walk and trot and 15 minutes under saddle.  At the trot she was reluctant to go forward under saddle.  She broke to walk a few times and then she would offer up the trot again- hard to figure it out.  However, overall she was more calm at the end of our ride then the beginning.  She had a "happier face" on by the end of our ride.  It was like she knew that I understood that she wasn't trying to be "bad". 

Even if she is negative for PSSM I want to investigate further what could have been increasing her anxiety and tightness through her neck, back and hips.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

PSSM test is in the mail

I sent out the hair sample for Drifters' PSSM test. This will be a starting place for us, whether it comes back positive, carrier or negative. I have researched the two feeds at the barn (Horsemans Edge at 35% and Legends Legacy at 19%). I have researched vitamins, minerals, supplements and fats that may need to make up her new diet in a feeder friendly form for the barn staff.

Currently I have backed off pushing her under saddle until the results come back. If they come back negative I will get blood work done. This cold weather is also not very motivating. I did lunge her and ride at the walk the other day. She seemed pretty tense most of the time and I just wanted her to get back to the relaxed place she was earlier in training.

With this new event on the horizon this might really be a journey through horsemanship and not in the vein that I intended. I intended this to be about her training and how we got to lower level eventing- we might still get there, but it might be a bit more of a journey if PSSM is involved.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Nature or Nurture?

After our last few rides being more challenging I have been thinking of testing Drifter for PSSM. It is the Quarter Horse version of EPSM- which is a metabolic disorder and causes cramping, muscle atrophy, back soreness and other symptoms.

After reading about PSSM it may explain some of Drifters' NQR symptoms in the hind legs in the past as well as the increasing difficulty with the level of work we are doing. There is a DNA test that would rule in/out Type 1 PSSM. Type 2 can only be diagnosed with a muscle biopsy.

I will also be discussing with the barn the possibility of changing her diet to a more PSSM friendly diet. I didn't see my horses all last week, so I am looking forward to going out to see her on Tuesday.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Horribly good!

We haven't had any more opportunities to jump and even some times cantering has been limited depending how busy it is in the indoor. A rash of cold weather slowed down my desire to ride.

Yesterday was the first nice day in a few weeks and riding was fun.

Drifter started out a bit tense, but I couldn't figure out why. She's been a bit testy and I've figured it's mostly from the cold. However, I am beginning to suspect we're having our first rebellion against work.

When I asked for my first canter she jumped into it with a few crop hops for good measure. I got her back and had her trot a few rounds. I got off and lunged her at the canter for 2-3 minutes in each direction waiting to see if there were any big bucks in her. She was fine on the lunge- so then to see if she would be okay with me on her. If not, maybe it was a saddle fit or pain issue. Nope, she was fine with me on her and we had some of our best cantering to date. We cantered in one direction until she broke gait, trotted across the diagonal and then picked up the canter in the other direction. She stayed way more calm, less behind the bit and got the correct lead most of the time. I didn't focus on the lead, just on cantering, staying calm and no bucking. It was a horribly good ride. Horrible for the bucking, but good for the rest of the cantering. Back to the barn today!