Friday, January 25, 2013

Horse camp anyone?

An adult horse camp with Denny Emerson?

Yes, please! I love overnight camps, and if it involves horses and jumping and an Olympian...well, all the better!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Where The Big Guy gets his awesomeness

Just for fun, a video of Gabe's daddy winning a race in 1982. He's the big gray who comes up from behind and leaves the Derby, Preakness and Belmont winners  in his dust. "Runaway Groom, from Canada!" the announcer exclaims as he suddenly appears in the frame.

The Travers Stakes race at Saratoga.

And Runaway Groom's breeders video. I think Gabe got his butt and his neck and really, his overall build.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

On the road, again

Despite the addition of much-needed arena lights, I've found my after-work riding time is still limited. Not because of cold or snow or lack of desire, but because of the recent super-muddy conditions.

I'm not complaining, not in the least bit! We need the rain, badly. After the summer drought any and all forms of precipitation are more than welcome.

But, it does limit my ride time, dadgumit. So, we've been doing a lot of road riding lately. A lot. There are good things and bad things about road riding. Fortunately, we have enough roads around the place to be able to go for hours and stay to very lightly traveled back roads. Only once have we been on those roads at the busiest time and thankfully Gabe is about as road-broke as he'll ever be. When a rumbling Harley zips by closely followed by a school bus and shortly thereafter a milk tanker and he doesn't bat an eye or twitch, you know your horse is traffic broke.

Small, extremely hairy, and very vocal Shetland ponies, on the other hand, are vicious horse eaters. Just ask Teddy. I don't think I've ever seen a horse cross a ditch and go up a steep bank sideways quite as gracefully as Teddy when that fire-breathing pony came running at us across his pasture. He never took his eyeballs off that pony the entire time, either. Silly boy.

Unfortunately, roads around this region are generally straight and narrow, which is not conducive to working on 20m circles. Which Gabe is probably thankful for. Circles are NOT his favorite thing, and they aren't mine, either, but they also happen to be what we really need to work on the most. What roads are conducive for is working on straight and forward movement and lateral work. Those who know dressage also know that good bending/circle work cannot be done adequately until you have a horse who travels straight and evenly. Granted, you can't have one without the other and both build upon each other, but when your riding conditions are limited, you do what you can. A good, flat straight surface, like a back country road, is ideal for feeling if the horse is moving straight and an almost perfect environment for doing zig-zag lateral work from one side of the road to the other. Side pass to the center, walk straight a few steps, side pass the rest of the way over or back in the opposite direction to the shoulder. We've also managed to throw a few fairly decent shoulders-in work into the mix.

The long, straight riding area has also presented to us the most ideal opportunity to work on lengthening and shortening within the gait. Gabe is getting much, much better at responding quickly to my request and finally (FINALLY!) understanding what I'm asking. Instead of just getting faster, faster, faster at the walk or trot, he is actually lengthening his stride. Yes, it does get a tad faster, but most importantly, his strides get longer. And the same goes for shortening, he doesn't just get slower, his strides get shorter. Yay! Breakthrough!

The most unexpected bonus of doing so much road riding? His feet, they look absolutely fantastic! We've been doing so much road riding that the abrasive surface is keeping his feet well-shaped and at the correct length. His hind hooves are flaring a bit, as they always do, but we have zero extra length on them.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

On Being a Seller

So, I'm trying to reduce my herd from five down to two (this doesn't include Teddy, my boarder). I don't have time to ride everyone (after all, I only have one butt!) and feeding a bunch of pasture puffs is becoming a little bit insane, even for me.

I am actively marketing one right now, Montana. He's the five year old paint cross we picked up this summer. He's a real sweet horse, and smart and fun to ride, just not the "right" horse for my husband. Jaquie and I have a done quite a bit of work with him and I think he'll make an excellent horse for someone who wants to do just about anything. I've had a few interested buyers ask about him, but nothing more than that. I have him listed on a couple of websites and a couple of boards on Facebook.

It's winter, it's a tough time to sell horses right now, I know this. I'm hoping things will pick up a bit when the weather starts warming up and horse people who take the winter off start thinking about dusting off tack and getting back into the groove of riding.

In the meantime, for those of you who have successfully sold horses, can you offer any selling tips?

So far, this is the ad I've been posting.

And this is the video I have of him that I have posted on some sites and send if requested.

I have photos from both sides of him (which are posted) and also have front and rear photos if someone wants those.

I'm never quite sure how to price a horse, so I peruse the 'net for similar horses with similar training and price about median of what I find. I think he's priced reasonably and I do have a rock bottom price I'd be willing to take if offered by the right potential owner. I don't want to under price him as I can't raise the price as easily as I can negotiate a lower price.

Any suggestions on how to beef up that ad, maybe change wording? Would you add or remove anything?

Calypso will be the next ad I create, as soon as it's decent enough out to get video and get her cleaned up enough to take fairly flattering photos.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Crazy Good Extensions

I think my face has thawed. Pretty sure most of the feeling has returned, but it's windburned and red today.

Two hours out in the cold wind yesterday morning. Two hours of riding the farm roads down in the bottoms and hurrying to the next turn in the road so the wind would be at our backs, not blasting our faces and numbing our ears, cheeks and chins.

Two hours with two horses who couldn't decide if they wanted to have a plod along ride or a sitting-on-dynamite ride so they gave us both, equally.

And it was fun. Gabe and Teddy are so funny when we take them out together, they are like bi-polar psychics. One moment both are plodding along as Jacquie and I work work work to just get a decent forward walk. The next moment, as if on cue, both horses are FORWARD and silly, wanting to move as fast as we will let them go, trying to race each other while we keep them from getting too insane and out of control.

Gabe gives me the move beautiful extended trots on these trail rides, extended trots I wish I could achieve in the arena. I'd be pleased as punch with half a dozen good extended trot strides in the arena, but I can't even get one similar to what he offers freely on the trail. Those extended trots are HARD to ride, I can neither post nor sit it, so I hover in a half-seat, and work to just get out of his way as his back lifts, his shoulders LIFT! and so much power comes from behind I feel like I'm riding a jet engine. Jacquie says he looks amazing and powerful, I can only attest that if he looks anything like what I feel in the saddle, he could take your breath away.

The feeling is incredible as the wind pounds my face and rushes through the air vents in my helmet (who thought THAT was a good idea for winter riding? Ugh! Nothing like cold air rushing in concentrated streams onto your head) He snorts with every stride and I swear I could feel him smiling. He's a very, very vocal horse with all his squeals, grunts, snorts and sighs. You never wonder how he is feeling, he's quick to let you know, vocally. For most of the extended trot I can keep him on the bit and well-rounded, but, with all that push, all that effort, he tires. That's when I have to work to keep him rounded, not flat and falling onto his forehand, and ease him back into a working trot. A trot that's easier to ride, easier to post.

I think the grin of that ride was frozen to my face hours after it ended. The arena may be too slick, too muddy to do any work in right now, but what an excuse for an amazing extended trot down a long, straight, pea-gravel and dirt road.

P.S. I've been trying to post snow photos, but Blogger is being a crab about it. I will keep persevering!