Sunday, February 26, 2012

Huey in collected canter

Here are Huey and me working on collected canter in a lesson a couple weeks ago. He's never going to have spectacular gaits, but I like how he looks here. I have to walk a fine line between playing with his mouth enough to keep him loose but not so much that he drops his poll and wither.

Saturday, February 25, 2012


Thursday night was lesson night! The boys are coming along so well! Huey and I worked some travers in canter. I haven't really schooled this on him so he was somewhat perturbed. "Why would you want me to do THAT? I think a flying change is called for," was his response at first. A little bucking was the next response. Then he settled and we got a few nice lines in each direction. Poor man is such an overachiever -- if he would just wait and really listen, none of these movements are even hard for him. It's just that TB brain of his. But I do love me a TB brain, so we'll get there eventually. We also worked trot shoulder-in to diagonal to shoulder-in and he was a rock star. By far the biggest improvement over the last year is Huey's increased ability to quickly re-focus after a meltdown, without absolutely requiring a free walk to gather his thoughts.

A couple weeks ago, Camilla was schooling some jumps on Flash, and as they came across the diagonal into a corner, Flash just up and switched leads, neat as a pin. So Camilla and her two trainers (Carrie Ann in jumping and Leslie in dressage) have decided to go ahead and begin working on changes with Flash. At the lesson Thursday night, Leslie had Camilla start with, on the long side, true canter, trot, counter canter, trot, true canter. Flash was very obedient in this exercise. After a couple lines, Camilla asked for a flying change, but every time Flash sneaked a trot step into it. He's too smart for his own good.

Next they put Flash on a 20-meter circle in counter-canter, which blew his mind. He got all discombobulated, legs flying every which way. Good thing Camilla has an eventer's seat! Flash did switch in front a couple times on the circle, but he seemed claustrophobic about the exercise.

Finally, they tried good old-fashioned changes across the diagonal, and in this exercise at first Flash kept the counter-canter around the short side; then he started switching behind in the corner and switching in front after three or four strides. Then there was a diagonal where he absolutely launched himself at the ceiling, and Leslie and I were so sure he was going to switch, but he faked himself out! Finally, on the next diagonal he offered a lovely, clean, exuberant change, and then it was walk, long rein, lots of praise! What a good boy.

I love watching a horse be introduced to flying changes. You can often really see the wheels turning as they try to figure out what's being asked for. And it's so interesting to see which exercise finally results in that little light bulb between their ears!

Monday, February 6, 2012

A treat to minimize choking

This is Willow, anxiously awaiting her applesauce treat. It's only gushy foods for her until they're sure she done with her choking spells. She looks pretty psyched about the applesauce.

This month, I am getting a new bedroom added on to my house! It's currently a one-bedroom house, so this is a 100% increase in number of bedrooms. It's being added on using my existing carport, so the roof already exists. I am excited out of all proportion. I love home improvement projects, and this is going to make such a difference, storage-wise. My house was built in 1912, when the world did not believe in closets. My new room is going to have many, many closets.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Long, scary story; happy ending

I have been the world's worst blogger lately. Mostly, there have been several scares with Willow and a visit from my mom keeping me occupied. I'm now feeling much more focused and inspired!

Two weeks ago, I had a call from the owner of the barn in Liberty Hill, Texas, where Willow moved to in November. Willow was having a terrible choking spell, and rinsing her mouth with water and administering Banamine were having no effect. It was late at night, and we finally decided to call the vet out. She determined that it was bad enough that Willow should be moved to the vet hospital. There, she was able to clear the obstruction after a couple tries. A scope showed no abnormalities, so that was good news. But then Willow started to choke again the next morning, and they had to clear another obstruction, this one made of her bedding. Silly mare, eating her bedding. So for the next five days, they kept Willow at the hospital in a dry lot, to keep her from ingesting more wood shavings. Then, she was able to go home for a week of stall rest.

Then, last Friday night, Willow started to choke again. The barn owner called me immediately for permission to take Willow back to the hospital, and I agreed. This time, because we didn't wait as long, the obstruction was cleared much more easily, and Willow was able to go home Monday. For the first few days after her return she was coughing during meals, but still able to eat, and now she seems to be doing well again. They are thoroughly wetting her meals, and I suggested they might try adding large river rocks to the bucket to try to slow Willow down. That mare does love her food.

The scope showed no abnormalities, so I had blood drawn for an EPM test. It showed an exposure but no active infection. I'm wondering if maybe the nerves in Willow's throat might have been affected? She's never had this problem before.

Through all this, I was feeling really down. I had begun planning to bring Willow back to Oregon, since it had been almost two years with no buyer. But now, with the choking, I was terrified to try to ship her so far. What if she choked to death en route? Brrrrrrr. No way. So I had several folks in Texas casting about for someone who might want her as a broodmare. All along, all I have ever wanted is a good home for her.

Suddenly, out of the blue, a student at the barn where Willow is housed popped up and said she wanted her. This lady has had some hard times in her life recently, and she had been volunteering to hand-walk Willow while she was on stall rest. At some point, she became very attached, and when she heard Willow was probably going, she decided to jump in and take her. I don't think she has ever owned her own horse before, but she has been riding all her life, and the barn owner (also the trainer) has known her since she was a child. She thinks it's a good match.

We are at almost two years to the day since Willow got on the truck, bound for Texas, then Louisiana, then Texas. It's hard having a horse for sale that long. In this economy, you wonder if you'll ever find a good home. And then, click, it all works out. I'm so happy for Willow, and happy for her new person. The barn she's at is amazing. If you're ever looking for a barn for jumping or dressage, near Liberty Hill, Texas, let me know and I will hook you up.

Huey is doing awesome as well! Now that I won't have to pay board on Willow, I should have a little extra $$ to take Huey to some rated shows. I would love to try to earn my bronze on him.