Monday, September 26, 2011


Well I got in two good workouts with both Kat and Pal over the weekend.  Yesterday, Kat Rocked it! He had one of his best workouts to date.  I had thrown out two wooden lids from produce boxes that I had and used them as a 'bridge' for him to get used to going over things. Then I had also turned on the hose for our homemade puddle as a water hazard.  I left two of pasture gates open and we started working.

Before taking Kat over to brush him off, I led him out to the 'bridge'. I walked up to and over it as if it were not even there. Because of this, Kat followed without any hesitation. When I lunged him, I lined him up a few times so he could go over the bridge by himself. Not even missing a step, over he went. One time though, he trotted on, then jumped off and went into a canter. Apparently he was having fun with it.

I harnessed him up, put him to the cart and off we went.  Recently there was a CDE in California. A few or the club members here, went there to compete. I received a few photos in my inbox of horses doing the extended trot that were drool worthy....  man were those horses Moving!

We worked a bit on our extended trot, I took a hold of Kat, pushed him on and he did just that.  He was just gliding around the arena. When we came down to a walk, I guided Kat over to the bridge. He walked right over it with no problem.  We went over it both directions and he never missed a step.

Once we got a bit of the 'work' finished, I guided him out the gate and headed for the water. The hose was still running, which can be an issue for him.  The water in the irrigation ditch had him slightly rattled on one of our outings, so I figured that letting the hose run will help him get over this. Twice through the water at a walk each direction and I shut it off.

Then as we were playing around, we went through the gates, around the stalls and trotted through the muddy water.  We trotted through the water a few times each direction and Kat went through it with no hesitation at all.  As we came around the front of the stalls, through the gate back into the pasture and down the slight hill, the neighbor behind us was out with a couple of his friends and seen us. They had been watching us and he said the pony was really looking good.  Words I was happy to hear, considering how well he had worked. Awesome!

I moved on to working Pal. I have lunged him a few more times and figured it is time to start getting on him and we can work on things at the walk.  Plenty of walking, stopping (by his choice), turning, walking off and plenty of circles.  I honestly have not been on this horse for nearly two and a half years, yet the worst he did was stop and wait to be prompted to move on. How is that for a crazy Arab stallion?  He still had plenty of energy, he hadn't even broken a sweat, he just chose not to bother using it if he didn't have to.  

Even while lunging, he was not exactly 'energetic'. He was a bit lazy until I put the camera away and pushed him to actually work.

I like this picture, but he is not moving like he should. His head is raised to help 'lighten the load' on the front end. If he were more balanced, it would quite different.

I have also FINALLY gotten my hands on the book Centered Riding, by Sally Swift. For anyone who rides, this is one of those books you glance through and KNOW it is full of useful information. I have not gotten all the way through it yet, but using a few of the things she describes, I was able to ride with no lower back issues.  Sure I feel it in a few places- inner leg and a bit in my calves- muscles that haven't been used in a while, but for the most part, it all went well. My seat felt deep, my legs felt longer and I think I need to drop my stirrups a hole... Talk about instant results.

Afterwards I got a few close up shots of his head.  I have also gotten a book called Bodywork for Horses. I forget the authors name, but in the book it mentions massage, shiatsu, TTouch techniques and a few things on grooming. It also mentions how to make and use a hay wisp. I haven't tried it yet, but I may, just to see how it works. I'll post about that on the other blog when I do.  I worked on Pal Saturday morning and He was so relaxed, he stood there half asleep, halter around his neck, rope looped over the rail and was really, really enjoying it.  Naw, our horses aren't spoiled! 

Monday, September 19, 2011

Progress has slowed down with Kat recently. My time has been cut short on the weekends, and what time I have during the week- well daylight has been slowly disappearing on me as well.  Add to that, that I am going to be working with Pal a bit more and get him going under saddle again, we need to get my big mare going under saddle and shown and it becomes a bit crazy at times keeping up with everything going on.

I looked at the show schedule for Pal. There are upcoming shows in November, December, March and April.  The Scottsdale show in February? Is mighty damn expensive to enter, so I am not even considering it. Entries close usually mid December, right in the middle of the holiday season... Not a good combination.

One of the websites I found concerning conditioning for the CDE's had made mention of a notebook. The notebook contains a calendar. On the calendar, you note the competition dates, when entries open and close as well as any other important dates you need to know about. Something that is sure to help keep you organized throughout the year...  Something that I could put the competition dates for each horse on in one spot and hopefully not have any more sneak up on me again... 

For now I am gearing up with Kat for the next schooling show. There was an ADT last weekend. But if I enter two or more as a green driver, the following year we must move up to the green pony class and compete with everyone else. By skipping these last two of a six part competition- it saves us in gas, expenses and mileage for one, but it will also allow us to compete in the greenie division all next year, really giving Kat some time to figure it all out, before we have to move up and compete with everyone else who has been doing this for a while. 

Pal? Well he is broke to ride. The driving has not been coming along so well. I really haven't been able to get out and get anything done with him since the last time. For now, I will focus with him on getting him going under saddle. We'll see where it takes us. He could be a nice hunter or dressage horse, but time will tell.

I also have to check my girths and bridles to see if we have anything that fits. To get him going though, it will be western tack. Both of us are comfortable in it, it's there, so why not?  I was thinking to maybe take him to the schooling show next month. Cutting it kinda close so he will have to pass.  Right now we are just working on getting him into shape. Round is just not that flattering...  not when he isn't moving anyways.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Interval Training

I have found a few things lately on Interval Training in my quest for ways to condition Kat for the marathon course. Pretty much all of them state that once your horse is fit, they are really, really FIT!

Article on IT in relation to race horses

A TB racing blog post discussing IT and different aspects including weight

For the most part, it is a strong workout, followed by a quick break, another quick strong workout, a break then push for another stronger workout, before bringing the horse down to relax for the day.

It is definitely something to consider as I prepare Kat for the marathon course for the CDE's, but also the one day ADT's. For the moment, I am focused on keeping him working at a strong trot and not getting lazy on me because he is bored. He is really coming along and every drive, proves to be a bit longer and encouraging.

It is also something for me to consider as well. We bought a new scale over the weekend. I am not impressed with the numbers. :(

Friday, September 9, 2011

On Course!

I know I promised to post this a while back and I am finally getting around to it.  This was the course for the Darby in Paulden last month. Doesn't quite seem like it was that long ago, but I guess it was. Time flies when you are having fun, huh?

Click on it to enlarge for better understanding of what it entailed. Time was from when you crossed the start / finish line in the center.  You could only go through the cones once in the direction allowed. Going through a cone again or in the wrong direction- Elimination. Knocking a ball down off the cone- 10 second penalty. Going through the gates in an obstacle out of order (A,C) but then correcting (A,C,B,C) - 10 second penalty.  Skiping or missing a gate (A,C and continuing on)- Elimination. Training level- trotting only. Pretty simple and straightforward rules.  We were free to walk the course as many times as we wanted to choose our path and decide what route we would take.

Not shown on the diagram to the left was a full sized dressage arena. I was warming up Kat out there while the other pony in our class / group / division was competing.  He picked up a few strides of canter since he was a bit wound up about being somewhere new and another horse being around. Remember, this was his first real time out and working in harness...

When Meg and her pony Jose headed into the water, I headed over to pick up hubby Johnie Rotten, because soon it would be our turn to go. They turned in a time that even with their one penalty and without ours, still put them clearly ahead of us.  Our big sweeping turns and taking time at the water hazard trying to get Kat into the water- were what killed it for us.  Otherwise it may have been pretty close. Or not? Who knows! lol

Anyways, as we headed over I heard that they had one penalty. Cone 17 was it for them.  We went through the start / finish markers and headed off to obstacle 1.  We made a big wide turn and headed through gate A, went straight past the next part of the obstacle and made another big wide left turn lining up and heading through gate B.  We went past the next part of the obstacle and out on the right, another big wide left turn coming back through C and straight ahead and out of the obstacle.

We made a right hand turn and headed back to cone #2. Lined up and headed through. That was baout where the first photo was taken.  I then swung Kat out to the left a bit, allowing him plenty of room for the right turn around  the end of cone 5 so I could line him up for cone #3. Coming out of cone #3, I swung him out to the right a bit too soon, to allow for another big wide left turn to #4. We knocked down the ball on #3. I turned my head and watched it fall. Dammit! Oh well, nothing I could do about it now, but just go on. Live, drive and learn!

A big wide turn and we went through #4, veered left, another big wide turn and we went through #5. A wide right turn and we headed out to obstacle #6.  I went a little past obstacle 6 and made another wide right, lining up for gate A with plenty of room. We went around the left side of gate B, swung out and around with plenty of room to line up for B.  We veered left a bit and came out of the obstacle with plenty of room for another wide left and we went through gate C. Another left, out of obstacle 6 and off to find cone #7...

I aimed in the direction of cone #7 and loosened up on Kat. I let him flatten out and relax at the trot. He was covering some ground and was happy to do it.  Approaching #7 I gathered him up, shortened my reins and brought him back to a slower trot. The one ball down was still on my mind and I didn't want any more falling. Through #7 and a big right turn around and lined up for #8. We ducked through between #7 and #9, made another right turn, lining up for #9. Through there and ducked between #7 and #8, wide left turn lined up for #10.  Once through #10 we made a hard right turn coming back around to go into the side of Fort Atonna for obstacle #11.

We were one of the few who went through the middle entrance on the side of the obstacle that day. We came in, veered left and headed for gate A, made another big turn to the right.  Swung around, found our way through the posts and boards to gate B,, through gat A again which is now considered 'dead', a left turn out of the 'fort' a right turn around the side to gate C, another right turn and out of the obstacle looking for the serpentine of cones #12-15...

Again I loosened the reins and let Kat relax and trot. Off we went covering some ground. More big, wide easy turns as we wove through the cones. I was again, careful to line him up, let him go through, wait until the cart wheels cleared he cones before swinging out for another wide turn. I wasn't having any more penalties... 

We wove our way through the cones #16, #17, #18, and #19, being careful not to get to close, leave plenty of room for turns, don't go back through any of the other cones, line up for the cone ahead... and finally make another hard right heading for the water hazard...  Cone #18 is where pic #2 came in. 

Then as we came through gate A on obstacle 20 is pic #3. I made sure to take it a bit wide again, allowing for plenty of room to make a right turn around the small mound with the mermaid statue, which would line us up for gate B if we headed straight thru the water. Which we obviously did not! Kat got to the edge and balked. Unlike jumping- refusals don't count. He squirmed left, he squirmed right, back to the left again and I gave up. We went tot he right, around the pond, slipped through gate B, a hard right, around the posts tot he left, through gate C and back past gate A before making another hard right and heading off to find the finish line.

Once we were aimed in that direction I loosened the reins and let Kat go again. He relaxed into his lengthy trot and we breezed easily through the marker. Our time was 5:42, with a penalty- 5:52. Meg and Jose had 4:39. with penalty 4:49.  The fastest time on the course for the day? A blistering 2:78 with a clean round. Half the time it took us. That was a mini in the expert class where galloping is allowed- which they did! It also happens to be the woman I bought my cart from. How cool is that?

The funny part I forgot to mention before, happened the night before. We were the only people there with a horse, so we took Kat out to drive him a bit and help him settle in. I walked him out and down the hill behind the barn and we headed out to the dressage arena.

Kat was a bit strung and was really picking his feet up and letting them fly. He was light in the bridle and really turning it ON! Hubby JR said if everyone from the blogs had liked him so much from the one picture before, if they could have seen him then, they would be beside themselves and freaking out. Thanks to his dead cell phone battery- we had no camera to catch it.  After he settled down and we finished our workout, Hubby got on the cart for the walk back to the barn. The course was between us and the barn so we walked down the road through the start / finish line.

Markers for the darby were the same as for jumping. Red on the right, white on the left. As we approached the start / finish, Kat was giving the red marker a long hard look. So much so he was drifting to the left. He drifted enough that he was headed right at the white marker. I stopped him before he ran right into it and as I pulled his head around to the left so we could go around the marker, he looked at it, spooked a little and backed up a few steps. Kat shook his head as if to say "Oh Crap! Where'd that come from and how did it get in front of me?"  Next time he knew to listen to me and we went right through it with no problem. Gotta watch out for those spooky white signs ya know... They pop up out of nowhere!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Know your horse

Anybody remember hearing the line in one of the Dirty Harry movies- "A man's got to know his limitations..." That applies to horses too. And when you are showing your horse or someone elses, you need to know not only your own limitations, but those of the horse as well. 

Not wanting to ever be "that horse", (the one that gets pulled out of competition by the officials) I have decided we are not going to push for competing at the CDE next month. Kat just won't be ready and I would rather wait until he is. I don't want to fry his mind or blow him out physically, trying to get ready in time for one event. 

This realization came over the weekend after one of our 'outings'.  We only made it out into the neighborhood Saturday morning. We managed to get out early enough that the garbage truck was not an issue.  We worked a bit in the arena, blowing off some steam and knocking the edge off, before setting out and heading down the driveway.  We hit traffic (three cars) at the corner and Kat was fine. Waited patiently while the dually went by, then proceeded on down the street while the other two turned and went on their way. 

I decided to let him pick up the trot since we were going away from the house. No sense in trotting towards home and starting that habit.  So we moved off into the dirt and picked up a trot.  Kat was fine until we passed the second neighbors pasture and their 'herd' came galloping to the fence to see what we were. Up went his head and tail and he thought he was hot to trot!  I brought him back down to a walk and managed to keep him on the other side of the street, but he was suddenly very energetic and enthused.  No big deal, there is an empty lot up ahead. We will make our way over there and he can work it off.

Or so I thought!  We made our way into the empty lot and once there, Kat immediately picked up a swift, striking trot and rolled into a very energetic canter... Which would have been fine, if he was listening to me.  I did get him brought back down to a trot and he soon kicked it back up into high gear and was galloping again. He was getting resistant and blasted threw a patch of weeds.  That seemed to piss him off that we went through the weeds and somehow in his mind it was my fault. What? Really?

I managed to bring him back down to a trot as we came back around headed for the weeds again. He was still being a bit squirrelly and our steering wasn't what it normally is.  He did give in enough that we went around the weed patch this time- not through it- and after that he came back down to a walk.  If he had been listening and responsive, by all means- I would have let him trot. Blow off some steam, release the energy, use it up and also learn that you still have to work even when we are away from home and somewhere else. It would have been no different than if I was riding him.

When he was back on the road, he settled right into his elastic, ground covering walk and we went on our way. He seemed to have it in his mind- this is our 'walk only' route, which is fine by me. We both needed to settle down and relax again after that. We came around the corner onto one of the busier parts of the road (yay! no traffic!) and I seen a bicycle off in the distance headed our way.  The cyclist was on the other side of the road and as they approached I talked to Kat, told him to walk on, the bike went by and he never missed a beat.  Progress!

As we made our way home, I changed the course a bit and we went to the west end of the street. Our neighbor at the end of the street has 3 or 4 horses that ran to the fence to greet us. Kat whuffled to them and that was it.  I reminded him he was still working and we went on with no further issues. We worked a bit more in the arena when we came home and although he acted a little tired, when I asked him to go around the buckets and poles out there- he came to life and it was Game ON! again.  He really seems to enjoy going around and through obstacles.

We made figure eights, loops around the buckets and poles, went across the arena at a diagonal, serpentines through the poles and buckets and he was having a blast.  He remained at a trot, but was kicking it up a few notches and was his usual light, responsive self. I made up our 'course' as we went and he responded by turning it up and playing along.  I really think he is going to be a strong competitor in the ADT's as well as the marathon and cones portion of the CDE's.  He clearly has fun when all of the pressure to be 'correct' is off.

The next CDE is in March and much closer. I can also get in touch with the facility owner and go there to train ON the actual course with the actual obstacles we will be using. How better to prepare than that? They also have enough space that we can work on the stamina and his endurance- with no real outside influences.  Sure an occasional train may pass by, but it's not like you can't see or hear them coming and get far enough away form the track or even dismount the cart and stand by his head until it passes. 

There is also an ADT up north this weekend and the local schooling show.  The ADT is out of the question and the schooling show is a maybe. There are a few things I need to pick up before then, so it could happen. Although it is a schooling show, I like to be prepared. If there is another entry, I don't want the judges job of pinning the class to be made easy because I didn't have this, that or ??? and someone else did. If I am only going for the sole purpose of 'schooling' a horse, then it is different and things are a bit more relaxed.  I still want everything to be presentable, but it doesn't have to be down to the letter and exact.  So we shall see.  And if we make it to the schooling show, I will be braiding him for it. Part of making sure everything in our turnout is, as it should be.

Friday, September 2, 2011


By now, speak of the CDE in October is pretty much an every day occurrance at our house. While I am still getting Kat ready and trying to build up his endurance for the marathon course, I don't want to push him too hard just yet.  Before going full bore at getting him in shape for the event, I am going to have the vet give him a once over and make sure there are no underlying issues nobody is aware of. I would hate to get half way there, send in the entries and discover a huge flaw that will prevent him from ever going any further, if not ending things altogether.  That would just plain Suck!

Some people may hate me for saying this, but maintaining horses in performance type competition is a lot tougher than maintaining the average show horse.  Think about it. Which sports or competitions place higher demands on a horse and us, as competitors?  Which events have a higher risk of injury? Which horses need more energy, more power, etc. to compete? There you have it. Maintaining an arena horse is a breeze. 

For some horses leg wraps are pretty much decoration and a bit of support. Different events- leg protection is everything.  I used to use polos and/or typical splint boots on Kat.  A lot of times for lunging, he did fine with either one or nothing at all. I have used Toklat boots, Pegusus boots, Showman brand boots (which I like, but not for this) and even went the route of SMB's.  Now with the Roma boots, I am loving them and they are holding up really well. Kat pretty much travels straight enough, but the quick turns and lateral movements- these boots are taking a beating! Glad it is them and not his legs...

As far as ridden dressage vs driven...  OMG! Riding is soooo much easier!  At the lower levels of ridden dressage, you can have a 'caller' stand along the rail and call out the movements and where you should be making them. Driven- all tests are to be done from memory. End of discussion.  

Riders have their hands, seat, legs, weight, voice and whip to guide the horse through the test. Drivers- hands, voice and whip.  Although your posture does tend to carry through the reins somehow, you are not afforded the use of your legs.  Driven- some competitions use tests that require handling the reins with one hand, even in training level. ADT Training Level Test 2  Ridden- yeah, not so much. lol  And sure enough, I can hear it now, "It's only a straight line across the arena at a diagonal a few strides past X." Dressage riders can attest to how difficult achieving a straight line can be.  Driving- it can be a beast. Any deviation and your wheel tracks show it.

Since it is going to be a long weekend for a lot of us, everyone stay safe and have fun. I will be getting Kat out and about so hopefully when I come back to blogging, there will be a lot to discuss. I also remembered I still need to post the Darby course and explain it.