Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Breathing Again

New Barn. I'm calling it "sleepy hollow".
I grew up riding exclusively in an arena and never realized there was a whole world outside until our last barn. Since entering that world (and earning the title "hacking queen"), I've discovered there is no going back. Don't get me wrong--I recognize the value of the sandbox for many things. 

It's just that I can only deal with it a little at a time. I bought Cuna to jump and feel safe on, not to play in the sandbox. He doesn't want to be a dressage horse and I certainly don't want to make him. 

Not this innocent pony
The new barn doesn't have the hills and extensive trail system of the old facility, but it does have something different: ADVENTURE HACKING!!! 

Today was Cuna's first time out. We went with Steph and one of her horses who's a decent hacker. I know I always rave about how Cuna is the amazing spookless horse, but not today! 

We spooked at dogs, a tarp, a culvert, another tarp, bushes, a bird, a manure pile, a manure pile with a tarp, running horses, and birds. 

And I laughed the whole time. 

It doesn't matter how silly he is. I feel safe on him. His panic moments feel natural to me. At one point, we were on a trail between two fences, creating a long lane. Pastured horses were galloping beside us like mad things and our hacking buddy was losing his mind. Cuna was up and threatening. He spun around a couple times, backed up a bit, tried to bolt forward, basically his whole bag of tricks. 

And I laughed. I called to Steph, "This is the shortest his neck has ever been!! I love it!!" I used his suspension and engagement and enjoyed the ride. 

Saving me from myself, one day at a time
Mr Nutter Pony made it back to the barn in one piece, despite his misgivings, and I felt 100% better about life and riding. 

PS This is my 700th post! 

Monday, October 29, 2012

Fuzzy Pony

I feel like I've been a totally scattered blogger lately, but I've been out of town pretty much every weekend, which means that I'm behind in every area of my life and I've been pretty inconsistent with Cuna. Poor thing only gets out 5 days a week. For shame!

I know, I'm an overachiever who needs to get over herself.

Despite a ridiculously long holdup, Cuna's winter blanket FINALLY arrived right before I left town on Friday. I was waiting for it to clip off Mr Fuzzy's yak coat, so I'm excited to be able to work on that now. Just need to find a couple of extra hours during the week... let me know if you hear of any. Seriously. My life=chaos.

Dressing up his handsome face

The blanket came with a free halter, which I'm not complaining about. Since Cuna has the most beautiful halter in the world, I didn't think I'd use it, but halters at the new barn live in the elements. The beautimous halter is now living at home and the new halter is in use.

With the winter blanket came his fancy new bell boots. Because he gets boot rubs from pretty much everything and interferes without boots, I am basically screwed. Currently, I'm using fleecy boots as much as possible, but they have to be washed between uses and the wet weather is preventing any semblance of drying, plus then they freeze overnight. Awesome.

In hope of preventing bell boot rubs (which sound like their own special kind of hell), Cuna is now rocking the fleecy bell boots.

I'm not sure white is the right color to get a paddling horse (hellooooo obvious), but it looks good with the fleecy boots. Black is just wrong with brown boots.

Give this horse cookies
Yesterday's ride was... different. The course set looked ginormous, so I thought we would hop over a crossrail a few times to get me confident. After 10 reps of said crossrail, with each ride getting successively worse, I decided I needed a new plan.

Put the crossrail to a vertical. Hm. That might work. All of a sudden, life worked again. I could ride forward, put my leg on, stay in balance, and not screw up my poor horse. Win!

Not sure what my problem was, but Cuna got lots of treats. I'm hoping to explore some hacking trails tomorrow. The lack of non-arena riding has been making me completely crazy and I think I'm starting to piss off Cuna, which is never a good thing. Of course, that means putting off clipping for another day. Again.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Picture Dump!!

Ok, I have been promising pictures from the new place, so here goes. 

I want more organizer boxes

Here's my shelf in the office area. I store things I need to keep around, but that don't fit in the tackroom. My quarter sheet will migrate there soon. I also keep my light-up hat (indispensable), a complete set of wraps, spare boots and gloves, treats, and a cooler. You just never know.

No two bits the same

The tackroom is definitely taking shape. It's pretty full already, but we have 4 more horses coming in the next couple of weeks, so I'm excited to see how it fills out.

I keep Cuna's dressage and jump bridles handy, plus breastcollar, martingale, and saddle/girth. Of course, everything is immaculately clean. I LOVE the smell of this room.

Swooping curves!

Our main crosstie area is outside, covered with a nifty tent. I snapped this picture this morning because I love looking at my saddle. It's no CWD, but it has pretty lines.

We're still getting the niceties of this arrangement figured out. It will be more streamlined in the future I'm sure. Let's face it: we've been at the new barn less than a week.

Feed cookies.

The Cunafish models the outdoor crossties. I thought that a white tent would be spooky, but I had the spookiest horse in the barn under them today (not Cuna) and he was totally fine. It does make picture taking hard--so bright!

You may also notice that Cuna is sporting polos up front here. No, I'm not riding in a clinic.

I washed my fleece boots yesterday and hung them to dry. They froze solid. Yes folks, it's polos for me for the rest of the winter. I can't say I'm super excited.

Pre-ride sass

The good news is that Cuna looks super sporty in wraps. I have a feeling that he'll have a whole collection come spring--anything to let me put off washing/drying/rerolling wraps ad nauseum.

He already has white, royal, and navy. I'm thinking black, hunter, and maybe something cutesy that Steph will hate? Ha! Ideas in the comments, please.

Boss horse sees teeny jump

I've spent enough time talking about our lovely new jumps. Now with pictures!!

This is the white gate that was totally not scary yesterday. Mmhmm. Jumped it.

More interested in neighbor cows

The green gate. It's scarier than you'd think. I don't actually think we stopped at it, but I did give Cuna the panic ride a couple of times.

That's the fun thing about a new arena and new jumps. It's pretty much mimicking the show environment for me, at least for the first couple of weeks. I get to have all my panic attacks and bugaboos over fancy jumps.

Hopefully when we go to the little local winter show series, I won't even blink. I know he won't.

Looking at pretty trees

And who can forget the giant doom oxer? I admit, it looks pretty underwhelming with the red ears pricked up and the mane lying flat. He was all business today, but no jumping for a couple days now. I'm trying not to stress his old man joints unduly.

I am a little excited to jump these on my own a few times. I'll set them down to something that doesn't scare me at all and just work on lesson stuff until I make it automatic. So fun!

Counter flexion is hard! 

In light of that, we did a lot of shorten/lengthen and lateral work today in our ride. I need to feel when Cuna is long and flat and already have to tools to pick him up without pissing him off. It's not rocket science, but the more intentional I am about practicing it, the better it will be.

Hopefully in the near future I'll round up some video of us rocking the shiny jumps and maybe even some pictures under saddle...

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Over and Over

Third ride at the new place today. We were on the schedule for a jumping lesson. I pretended that Cuna hadn't had the biggest spook of his life yesterday in the new arena (relocating all four feet three whole times) and tried to ignore the threatening clouds and sprinkling rain.

Ack! Jumping lesson. We have these ritzy new jumps with panels and flower boxes and gates and blindingly white poles.

Cuna felt fabulous warming up--he LOVES the new footing. It's packed sand (I think?) and he doesn't have to sink in every stride. I worked on going forward and back and throwing in some small circles to keep him flexible.

Despite how awesome my horse was going, I felt like a peanut. Tight, nervous, and curled up. Not useful. Steph had us canter in to a 2'9"ish square oxer to start the day. I put my leg on, cantered towards it, and sat perfectly still while my brain locked up and my horse leaped sideways and ran out. Two strides out, he asked, "Really?" and I was so tense I couldn't respond, "Yes."


Steph put it down to a 2'6"ish square and stood on the right side to close the easy out. We trotted in so I'd feel better kicking (another idea of hers) and when Cuna said, "Really?" I said, "YES." He hopped right over, then galloped across the diagonal. I brought him back to a bouncier canter to get over the green gate with red flower boxes. It was small and non-threatening.

Leg, leg, leg, and over we went! We kept doing the figure 8 a few more times until I was able to ride to the fence, keep my butt out of the saddle over the jump, and bring him back on the far side. I finally started feeling secure in my position. We mixed up the course--green gate towards home, then square oxer to green gate bending line, then add in the outside line with flower boxes to white gate (3'!)

I rode the first three jumps great. Cuna was forward and flowing. My position was strong. As we cantered around the corner to the new flower boxes, I felt strong and confident. He motorcycled the turn a bit, but I had my leg on...


This was the first time it actually irritated me. All our other problems were because I was locking up and not riding. This one?? Not ok! Steph pointed out that I just let him get long and strung out through the turn and then motorcycle. Not exactly a good ride. Ooops.

Take II.

I gave myself plenty of room, got a proper canter, sent him forward, and brought him back before making the turn to the jump. I changed his balance by tightening my core and getting tall with my upper body instead of pulling. I kept his inside hind engaged around the turn, and we motored right down the line. At the last stride, I realized that I needed to pick either 5 or 6 strides, and chose 6. Cuna SLAMMED on the brakes. Hell no lady. Choose distance before fence, KTHXBAI.

Again, oops.

Take III.

Just the outside line. Instead of sending him on a straight line towards the barn, Steph had us change direction. Going away from the barn would reduce the mad galloping we were doing. She told me to stay out of the saddle on the landing, so my seat didn't shoot him forward, then advised a strong half halt as soon as we landed to hold for the six.

I got a lovely canter, rode to the 3' vertical like nothing, stayed out of the saddle, and felt a lovely canter towards the oxer. I chose not to half halt because he felt so nice... ooops, and we're running out again. Damn.

After I complain that I had a lovely canter, he didn't shoot off, and I intentionally left out the half halt, Steph points out that just because a horse is running faster doesn't mean their stride is bigger. Even though he was on a lovely stride, I still needed to half halt. The jumps are big enough now that he's not going to let me get away with shoddy riding.

Take IV

Ok. Good canter. Bouncy. Over the first jump, stay out of the saddle, BIG HALF HALT, settle for the 6 strides to the scary oxer and we popped out politely.

I didn't ask Steph for video of today because, seriously, it was rough. I haven't jumped much lately due to moving/travelling/October in general, and it showed. Plus we're ramping up the difficultly level, and Cuna is expecting more from me. I can do it and he's completely honest and up front about it, but today was not the prettiest ride ever.

That said, wow, what a difference a year (and an old man horse) makes. This time last year, I would have crapped my pants at the thought of the jumps we did today. Just think: the least "scary" jump to me was a brand new 3' white gate. Yeah. Not a crossrail.

Occupy crossties. Demand cookies. 
On top of that, this is why Cuna is so perfect for me. He saved me, over and over, when we started together. Over little fences, he requires almost nothing from the rider. Now that we're jumping up, he's really teaching me to ride. He's a packer, but he doesn't just give things to me. So not only is he the cutest and most loveable old man in the barn, he's still my schoolmaster. What a guy!

PS I promise I will take actual pictures of the new barn, plus the snazzy jumps, and many more shots of everyone's favorite Cunafish tomorrow. This whole "one pic a day" thing isn't doing it for me.

Saturday, October 20, 2012


It took longer than I thought it would (what doesn't?), but Cuna is officially moved to the new place. Because he is amazing, it took him roughly 2 minutes to settle in.

It's cool guys. There's food.

He was a little unsettled by the prospect of turnout, but once he found his box, all was well.

A more different box

I made him wear bell boots because I was afraid any hijinks might pull a shoe and screw up his poor feet. This was as wild as he got, though. He even had a nice roll in his run.

Not sure why this is hard,

The auto waterers are cool because they're insulated and I am all about not breaking ice on winter mornings. I was concerned because they didn't look as intuitive to use as some, but he got it right away.


As for the turnout, well, get this: HE LIKED IT!! For 20 whole minutes, he grazed and only had minor fits about the lack of a box. He walked away from the gate and didn't weave or flip his head. Oh my!

I didn't have time to ride yesterday (boo!), but I'm about to race out today and begin my epic marathon weekend.*

*I'm not running a marathon. I just have way too much to do and no time to do it.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Last Day

Today is our last full day at the current boarding facility. I took full advantage of the freaking gorgeous fall weather and the amazing trail access, and took Cuna into the hills to my favorite overlook. 

Look how tiny I am!

It was 29f this morning and frosty out, but Cuna isn't clipped yet.He marched along while I dropped the reins and merrily snapped pictures. As long as I don't stop him or make him pose, he doesn't mind.

It was weird to think that this is our last time heading out in the hills like this. Our new facility has some trail access, but just being able to cross the road and wander hundreds of acres has been amazing.

Am holding own reins

Obviously, Cuna was very wild. Once I convinced him that yes, he really did have to go out without a buddy again, he just followed the trail. He knows the drill. I was actually living dangerously for a little bit and not holding the reins, but I kept worrying that he would stop and step on them and I'd be stuck.

You never can escape your inner safety nazi. I guess that's a good thing. I mean, I would feel really stupid if I had to ride back with one rein over something like this. Plus these are my favorite reins.

Love these hills

The sky was amazing. My camera wasn't picking up all the detail I wanted it to, but just the deep, rich blue with the wispy clouds flying overhead. There's a reason to live in the west, folks. The sky is like none other.

Observing the world

When we made it to the overlook, Cuna very obligingly stopped and let me snap away. It's this really cool spot where we're still in the hills, but the city begins about a hundred feet below us. The atmosphere is finally clear and clean after the summer of smoke and fires, so we could see all the way across the valley to the mountains on the other side.

Downtown stretched away to our left. The fall colors just enhanced an already striking view. I love all the yellow, green, and red we're seeing and it's only going to get better.

Most handsome old man

Then a very nice hiker lady came along with her friendly dog. She was nice enough to take a picture of us together, which is officially the only picture I have of Cuna and I actually riding in the hills...

To my surprise and delight, she did an excellent job! Cuna even posed politely and didn't try to leave until she was done.

We're excited for the move tomorrow and yes, there will be a photo tour once we're settled in. This winter should be oodles of fun, even without these wonderful hills at my doorstep.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


Learning to breathe
This is one of my favorite pictures of Cuna, (taken by Ellie) when he and I were a brand new partnership. I was just learning to trust him, and he was so wonderful to me. At the time, I was busy working for my trainer and riding horses (any horses) was a cause for anxiety. Cuna helped me to realize that I did this for fun, and it actually was. 

Fast forward six months. I've been riding just Cuna all summer/fall and loving it. He is so much fun to be around and work with. He and I just connect and he's completely rekindled my love of riding. :-) I couldn't be happier. 

Not Cuna, but still cute

Today, I had two other horses to ride as well as the Cunafish. I was a little nervous/curious to see how I would do on "horses not cuna".

Answer: just fine. I started both of them in the arena. It was actually pretty fun to remember what horses that bend and move laterally can feel like. After some good solid arena work, I took them out in the hills.

They weren't nearly as fun as Cuna is for me, but I had a good time. It was good to know that I can still ride other horses.

It was also a reminder of just how much fun Cuna is. Not all horses gallop up the hills on autopilot. Some make you kick. What is that nonsense??

Monday, October 15, 2012

A Touch of Whimsy

We had a jump lesson on Saturday, which was crazy hard--I rode a two stride bending line and was perpendicular to both obstacles. Eek! Then dressage/hack on Sunday...

We are past the gate. 
So obviously we didn't want to work too hard today. Hurrah hacking time!! I talked a western riding friend into going out with us on her midget horse. That's the key--there's one trail I'd never followed because you have to dismount and get through a Montana gate. That is way too much work on a giant horse, but a handy chica with a shrimpy pony? Perfect!

Because Cuna is a superstar, he was totally chill about the whole thing while the midget mare jigged along. She had a massive spook and he didn't even flick an ear. What a guy.

The trail dead end-ed(?) into a paved road and locked gate eventually, so we turned around. This whole time, I've been missing out on a flat, sandy arena with a gradual incline that I could have been galloping on. #fail

We watched the cars go by and decided to explore a fun trail that went up the hill.

At this point, the midget mare was still prancing, so we went up the steepest part to calm her little brain down. She jigged about three more steps and went, "Oh." And that was that. She's old enough to know better.

We got to the top and I had to take a picture. It was gorgeous.

You might also notice the picture is a little lopsided. That's because as I snapped the shot, Cuna spotted ZOMGZZ LOOSE HORSES RUN FOR THE HILLZ!!!!!!

Yes. One ridgeline away, there were some loose horses grazing. They barely even looked at us.

Clearly, this was a cause for PANIC. We pranced! We jigged! We snorted! We went down the hill an easier way, and out the trail we came in on. I did not recover Cuna's brain until we made it to the barn.

Can't touch this!

And then, covered in foam, he's all, "Yeah, totes won that race, bitches."


Friday, October 12, 2012

The Countdown

We're closing in on the end of our time at this barn at a crazy rate. I've been pretending it isn't happening, but at this time next week, Mr. Matata will be living the high life in the new barn. In light of that, I'm trying to make the most of what's left. 

So handsome 
We jumped yesterday and did a long/low workout followed by a slow hack today. Then we'll jump Saturday, easy day Sunday, hack Monday... and probably trail ride the rest of the week, with a galloping day thrown in. I do love my ridgeline gallops. 

It's not like the trails are going away forever or anything, but as a person who grew up in the sandbox and only at this barn had to opportunity to ride out literally whenever I want to, I sure will miss them. 

People with trailers: you don't know how lucky you are.

All dressed up

In light of his new shoeing job, Cuna is always only ever allowed out of his stall in bell boots for the foreseeable future. Fortunately, he doesn't really "do" turnout, so I'm hoping they don't rub him. 

In keeping with the schedule, we did a lot of walk/trot long and low in the arena to start today. Cuna and I really have come a long ways together--when we first started, he didn't have a long and low. Period. 

It took a lot of gentle reminders, particularly to the left, but we had some good stretchy work. If I keep riding in an arena and practicing this winter, maybe we can even refine it enough to do a training level dressage test in the spring. Oh my! 

Love this view

When he felt loose and relaxed, we headed to the hills for a slow hack to continue the stretching. I even brought my phone so I could re-shoot one of my all time favorite Cuna pics: 

There's nothing like a good ride on a fall day. 

As much as I'll miss this place, I'm excited for new adventures at the new barn!

Pertinent details: my trainer is leasing a place for the winter and Cuna and I are on board. We'll be bringing along all my favorite horses and clients and have a super time. Maybe I'll even ride in an arena and jump giant things and take PICTURES. Be excited.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Equine Education 101

Because this was expensive
I often find myself wondering why it is I bust my butt working in a barn for minimal compensation and am constantly just squeaking by financially. I mean, I have a college degree and am perfectly employable. Even in this economy, I could get a "real job" and make more money and have a easier life.

And then things like the last few days happen. I swear, it's like getting a whole new college education while never leaving the barn.

Farrier Work 101 

Cuna's feet have been a mess since I first met him. Since he is now officially mine (yay being more poor!), I finally got to go with a farrier I had a little more faith in. I called him kind of last minute, but after I assured him Cuna was easy and all, he agreed to come out.

He looked at Cuna's feet. He mumbled. He looked at Cuna's feet again. He mumbled a strong of four letter words. Finally, he looked at me and said, "You should ask the last guy what the h*ll you were paying for."

He explained that Cuna's frog was fusing with his sole. He pulled his shoes and pointed out that his hoof wall thickness, especially in the front feet, was completely uneven. At the front of his front hooves, he had less than an 1/8" of hoof wall. His frog was overgrown and folded over and despite the bone-dry weather we've had for the past... months, there was decay in the frog because it could never be cleaned or dry out.

We went over and looked at another horse he does in the barn, and he explained more what the bottom of a hoof should look like--a foot, instead of weird lumpiness. We talked about the balance of the hoof a little bit and how Cuna is growing unevenly.

By the end, he and I made a plan to try and rehab Cuna's feet to a point where the heels can decontract and the hoof wall can grow and they can return to a much better balance. Whew.

Farrier Work 201

Our BO (who I like a lot) was a vet tech for many years and has lots of useful knowledge to share. As we discussed Cuna's shoe job, she explained to me how to see balance in a hoof. Start by looked straight at the hoof from the front. The hair line should be parallel to the ground. A line dropped through the center of the fetlock should bisect the hoof.

From the bottom, the heels, quarters, and toe should be equally divided. It is important to look at the hoot in a natural position underneath the horse, not step to the outside for an easier view. It is more stable for you, but it stresses the horse's joints and shows the hoof at an odd angle. Trimming in this position frequently contributes to off-balance hooves because the farrier isn't seeing the horse's hoof as it is used.

When watching the horse walk on a hard surface, it should move heel-toe-midsection-breakover. Any deviation should be noted.

Hoof supplements need to contain biotin, copper, and methionine. These supplements can be fed in crazy high doses because they don't build up in the liver, but are instead dispersed in the urine. Thus, the horse can get as much as possible out of them without causing any residual damage.

Chiropractic 102

Yes,  he's been worked on
My favorite "chiropractor" was out this morning. I put it in quotes because I don't think that's what he'd call himself. He practices receptor-based therapy, using the electrical (nervous) system of the horse to reset muscles and joints in a holistic way that addresses the whole horse. While an accredited DVM, he practices concepts that western medicine frequently lacks. As he pointed out, western medicine tends to focus on one issue. A sore back, a tendon problem. They fail to address a horse with a sore back, and thus miss the root problem.

He feels his way along the spine of the horse, looking for electrical problems. Instead of trying to manipulate with force any joints or muscles that are "out", he focuses on gentle motion interacting with the nervous system to in essence, tell the nerves to reboot themselves. After all, muscles just do as they're told.

He points out that when we interact with horses, 90% of what we do hopefully doesn't harm them, while 10% might actually help. He's always refining his methods to try and keep reducing down to just that 10%.

The most important issues with horses is symmetry, which the human eye is naturally drawn to. In order to detect lameness or tightness, watch the entire horse with a soft eye and see what isn't symmetrical.

As we watched one horse walk by, I noted that it moved it's right hind quicker. He looked at me and asked, "Is it that, or is the left hind slower?"


Sometimes pain manifests as a muscles being held high and tight. Sometimes it's lower. The presentation can be unique to the horse, so it is critical to be in tune with the animal and deal with the entire horse, not just one sore spot.

Jumping 111

And we capped the morning off with a lesson. Cuna felt amazing after getting his new shoes. Seriously. The last time I felt this much difference was when I first started riding him after his hock injections. Regardless, we we in for a fun time today.

I'm not really to the point in my riding that I need to jump angles, but because Cuna is a rockstar, I get to anyways. We talked about how the reason we jump perpendicular to the face of jumps is because of our depth perception. We see one take off point and so does the horse. Jumping at an angle can be dangerous because it leaves a lot of room for interpretation and altars our depth perception.

Amazing diagram
When approaching on an angle, it is important to visualize basically an extension of the jump that is perpendicular to you. In my diagram, the jump on the left is a normal jump. The rider focuses on the center of the jump and goes straight over.

The jump on the right is being jumped at an angle. The blue line is still the jump, but the rider must visualize the yellow line to keep the takeoff spot consistent. Otherwise, the horse's legs (especially hind) may be too far apart and therein lies the danger.

It's kind of a trippy thing to visualize, and it's difficult to ride when your horse is leaning left and you pull on him, which disengages the hind end. Oops. We got ourselves sorted out and he was brilliant, though.

In Summary

I may be poor and and constantly  behind, but this kind of education is worth every minute. While I enjoy riding, this holistic focus on the entire spectrum of hose care makes me so much more confident and informed as an owner. There's really no comparison.


PS Sorry for the lack of pictures... I'll insert a gratuitous cute Cuna photo to make this post more palatable to the average reader. In fact, I'll sprinkle several throughout the post. You're welcome. ;)

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Getting Ready

I'm still in a money-free wasteland, so aside from a couple of side jobs shopping for other people's horses, life is pretty quiet. No shows or clinics and only occasional lessons. (Perk of working for trainer: even when poor, I get lessons. Win!)

HOWEVER, we are getting ready for something exciting. In 10 days (eek!) we are moving from our current facility and it's beautiful trails to a whole new barn. While I will miss the trails like crazy, the new barn has some promising features.

Like a giant gorgeous arena.

A fancy set of jumps with a brick wall and a liverpool.

Grass turnouts.

Auto waterers.

And I'm sure many other cool things. I haven't actually been to the new barn yet to check it out, so I totally stole these pics from someone else.

Here's a view of the barn. There will be runs attached to all the stalls. I hear nothing but good things about the new place, and I am really excited to be jumping regularly this winter.

There is not an indoor, so it will probably be cold and wet for a while... but this being Idaho, the water never lasts long.

Stay tuned! The giant bambi horse will be exploring new horizons soon.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Rubber Meets the Road

I am fond of getting clothes for my horse. Most anyone can tell you that within 30 seconds of me starting to talk about him. As frivolous as it might seem, it actually has an immensely practical side, too.

I call this his 'bambi face'. So glad I got a pic.
Here's Cuna after our ride this morning. We did a 40 minute trot set in the hills, capped off by galloping up our favorite stretch and speed walking down the backside. Thanks to his rocking TB recovery rate, his respiration was completely normal by the time we got back to the barn. However, he was still damp with sweat. He's growing in a winter coat (that I can't wait to clip off) and it was barely 50f outside, so way too cold to hose him off outside.

I love this horse

Enter shopping win!! I pulled his tack off, threw on an irish knit I scored off of FB a few weeks ago, and let him finish his breakfast in peace while I did chores. When I came to get him for a quick grooming to take any sweat marks off, he was dozing in the sun, dry and warm.


PS Have I mentioned how badly I want to clip him? He has like .25" of hair and it's KILLING ME to have to deal with it. I like my horses bald.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

This is my Brain on Drugs

We had a lesson this morning. I've been feeling progressively better every day, and I'm down to only taking dayquil 1-2 times in any 24 hour period. Excellent.

It's brisk and the sun is coming up as Cuna and I trot and canter around the arena. He's forward and sound and feels great. I am balanced over my feet and in an awesome position. I get winded easily, but that's ok.

As we canter off to jump our first exercise, I am stuck by how balanced and 'with' my horse I feel. Oh yeah. Can't touch this. He chips in to every jump, but since I didn't jump up his neck, I figured we were golden. Honestly, I was surprised to see the look on Steph's face as she asked, "Soooo when was the last time you jumped?"

"Last time you saw us... two weeks ago?"

"Let's try putting some leg on. He might not be that forgiving next time around."


I could not seem to remember a course for anything, but I did finally get my leg on and my reins short and kept my brain calm around a super tight rollback turn to a 2'9" vertical, so that was good. Maybe not as good as I thought it was, but good.

On the last exercise, I needed to focus on jumping the center of the jumps instead of letting him drift right. It was difficult because after every jump, Cuna just accelerated into the corner, which I was trying not to anticipate.

This horse. Amazing.
After we raced around semi-straight over the center of the verticals, Steph stopped us. "You can't seem to keep your leg on and hold a contact today (hence the rocketing post-jump). You did get him straight over that last fence, but then you almost fell off the right side and he caught you. I think that's good for today."

Oh my.

Really. I'm not usually like this. I actually can ride a straight line over a low vertical with my leg on and hold a contact, just not while on cold medication.

The flip side is that I still feel completely awesome about how I rode. Totally rockin'. Maybe I should take cold medication every time I want to feel competent.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Still Sick

I feel less like death today, can actually breathe, and might have a lesson tomorrow, so it was definitely time for a ride this morning. Plus, while my head still feels like it's stuffed full of cottonballs, at least they weren't spinning in circles. Win! 

The weather is changing into fall--we still have bugs during the day, but it's dropping into the 30s and 40s overnight, so I was greeted by this unusual getup when I came to the barn.

Yes folks, only my horse can justify wearing a sheet and a flymask at the same time.

The nice thing about cool mornings is that no one else is out riding, so we spend time in freshly worked arenas. Since I only have our hoofprints to contend with, it's easy to see where I'm giving up the outside aids or letting my mind wander and not even trying to go straight. Although Cuna isn't a bendy horse, he does require me to ride him straight from my leg every stride or we just make squiggles.


The Cuna history hunt goes on. No definitive leads yet, but I have inquiries out and some helpful blogger friends. I'm sure we'll find something.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Confessions of an OCD OTTB Owner

I'm sick. Sick enough that riding even the world's most dependable and awesome Cunafish sounded like a terrible idea, but not so sick I feel compelled to call upon the medical profession. Where does that leave me?

Compiling a spreadsheet of every race Cuna ever ran, his trainer/owner/rider/results, and any relevant notes. I'm hoping to track any trends in his career and see how consistently he was handled and owned. Maybe I'll be able to break something loose that will lead me further back in his career to PICTURES(!!) of course. 

Oh, and Johnson-DeHority Enterprises, Inc., I'm looking for you. It's a Texas-based corporation that bred Cuna. I somehow need to find them because I think they're the key to giant red baby bambi pictures. Any ideas?

Because who doesn't want to see his baby pics?

Monday, October 1, 2012

Checking In

I took a weekend away from all things horsey. While it was lovely (and I got to go to a dog show, so fun!), I woke up this morning with a sore throat and a car that's overheating again. Good thing I'm all happy and relaxed and coping better now.

I'm supposed to have a lesson tomorrow (I think) and hopefully then I can get some solid feedback on the whole "I'm-asymmetrical-and-my-horse-is-suffering" thing I'm worried about and then we can jump over stuff because I'm getting tired of flatwork with stirrups.

In the mean time, I'm playing with my super awesome old man horse and enjoying the beginnings of fall.
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