Vacation!

     Looks like the ponies will be on their own for the next week! Robert and I are visiting my parents in Ohio, so Jeannette will be horse-sitting for us. Byron will be staying with Robert’s parents in Houston, so he gets a vacation of sorts too. The weather has been spacey again, although it looks like we will miss the “cold” in Texas (mid 40 highs) and trade for some highs in the 30s. 

     I did get to ride Jellybean on Sunday, and we worked on keeping her attention. She worked on walk/trot/canter transitions in both directions before I got on. Then Robert helped lunge her. We cantered for the first time, she has a lot of suspension. She has been pinning her ears at Robert as he signals to her with the whip, but she seems to stop that when she has to focus on other important things (like not falling over at the canter). I think this will be our strategy, and I am still planning on putting the 30 days on Jellybean. If I can rider her with Robert or Jeannette (please? :)) for about 7 days, I hope to be able to ride her with minimal assistance. The thirty days starts after vacation… whoop!

    In other news, since we can’t afford to indulge ourselves with horse blankets (seriously, the overnight temperatures don’t dip below 40 for more than one day at a time), we did decide to get Byron a blanket. Because they’re adorable, and he’s adorable, and why not? Pictures when we return from Ohio 🙂 Happy Thanksgiving!

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Jellybean’s progress, or lack therof and Oberon’s hidden skills

     I have been posting some entries about how stagnant Jellybean has been these past few weeks. I have been a little down on myself about her lack of progress. With the weather and light and schedules, I have only been able to ride/work Jellybean about once every week or so. She has decided to be pissy and isn’t progressing well. I expressed my frustration with this to a friend this morning and she suggested just putting the 30 days on her and moving on. 

     I considered this at the beginning, but I didn’t want to commit the time. This situation I am putting myself in reminds me that maybe I need to hammer down and just do it. Thirty days is relatively short, and then I can start riding Jellybean every day that I have time as she continues to grow. Then next summer we can actually start moving! I think a thirty day training plan should yield a horse that moves off your leg, walk/trot/canter, turns, and stops. I think if she’s smart we could also progress further and any way we throw it, we should be riding in any arena with similar success. 

   Maybe I will plan on doing this once school ends. After Thanksgiving. I need to look at the calendar and hammer down. Well. Looks like I could do Dec 1-20. Then see where the Christmas holidays put us. Until then I need to work on riding her every free moment I have. 

     In other news, Oberon is going to be a solid acquisition. He is going to challenge Robert and I to be much better, active riders. He is not the type of horse to tolerate putzing, he needs constant direction or he decides to do other things. I sent an email to his breeder recently, and I hope to learn more about him soon. In the meantime, I need to put on my focus pants if I want to ride him successfully. And I think this will be a fun challenge!


Rain, cold, and stalls!

     Well we finally got everything under control this past weekend. The barn mess was finally resolved, at least until it rains again. We made some big changes, and hopefully the next time it rains we won’t have major flooding again. This is mostly due to some different shavings appearing at a very good time.

     So when I last left you, Oberon was squishing around in his stall and Jellybean was displaced. Well Saturday we got started straight away and pumped the major water out of Jellybean’s new stall. Once there was too little water to pump, we tried to rake the stall flat. Then we tried out the new shavings. They are very wood-chippy and almost chunky. This worked out very well for us, since mud has no structure and wood chips do! We loaded down Jellybean’s stall and then left a fan blowing. In the evening when she came in, the stall was live able again!

     Oberon needed some help too, he had his stall raked forward to the front. Then we borrowed some stall mats to help pack down the mud and push the water out. Then more shavings! We filled and dumped a lot of wheelbarrows, but when we were done the stalls looked and felt 100x better! I didn’t actually take any pictures, but you can believe that it was MUCH better. So now we just need to continue building up both stalls and soon everything will be better.

     We also started another preventative method. Home Depot sells some flood barriers, although they don’t offer them in store…. only online. So we ordered a 6″ x 10′ and a 6″ x 17′. They should be in early next week, just in time for the next round of rain!

     After the rain stopped, we actually had a real cold front and it dropped down to the mid 30s overnight. Chaos ensued at the barn as people tried to decide how to deal with their horses in the cold. Sunday we actually got to ride Jellybean, although not with a positive result.

     Consistency is completely key with horses, and we have not been able to offer that to Jellybean. Therefore, she doesn’t always move forward in our lessons. She is fairly stagnant at this point. I need to figure out how to teach her to move forward off my leg. That will be considerable progress. Any ideas, feel free to advise.

Oberon’s nasty dinner, which he seems to enjoy…

New boy at the barn…

So, you would think by the title that this is going to be in the voice of Jellybean.  Sorry to disappoint but, I wanted to talk about Oberon in my real voice.

Well, there is always a story to tell right?  Here is the story of Half of That the Cleveland Bay Thoroughbred cross that came to live with us on Tuesday.
Amanda found him on line and the fact that he was 17 hands tall was an immediate red flag that required further investigation.  Amanda got in contact with the owner and set up a time and place for us to go meet this wonderful sounding horse.  We packed up and headed done to Magnolia to check him out.  
When he got off the trailer we could already tell this guy was special.  He had one of the most interesting personalities and face I had ever seen!  He let me feel all over him, check him out in his legs and picked up all four feet.  After we looked him over a bit he got to do a little work out to show off how well he knows how to move!  I was excited…  The horse was not.  There was arm waving and lunge line swinging but nothing more than a speedy walk was attained…  So the ante was upped and he got tacked up!  Now we have a show!  He walks, he trots beautifully but….  You guessed it, sooooo lazy, no canter.  Well, the seller had had about enough so he got the spur treatment.  Suddenly, he remembered how to canter without any issues.  🙂
After showing off under saddle for the seller it was time for my test drive.  Now mind you, I am still a green rider myself and am still learning to sit a canter effectively.  However, my faithful girlfriend told me I needed to walk trot canter this guy so I knew what he could do.  Who am I to tell her no?  So, up I go on a 17 hh strange horse in a strange arena to him and me on a gorgeous day with barrel races flying around at 150 MPH.  Now, everyone is expecting the worst, green rider, new horse, crazy arena, nerves everywhere about a sale…  But the horse and ride did fine.  We walked a bit, we trotted a lot and we even cantered!  
As I got more comfortable I started pushing the envelope..  We were having fun, cantering around and suddenly we had a miscommunication.  The horse went left, Robert went right and the ground came up and bit me in the butt.  I did fine thanks to years of aikido teaching me how to fall down but, the horse was more than a champ!  When I bailed off of him he took two steps back and stood there looking at me…  Kind of saying ” what are you down there for? We were riding!”. 
My story is that Amanda told me to try him out thoroughly… I thought I would see how he did when someone fell off!  I think he did great.  Test passed horse!  (that’s my story and I am sticking to it)
Long story much shorter… 
We loved him, he liked us, we bought him.  He came to College Station yesterday and needed a very noble name to go with his noble carriage.  There is nothing wrong with his registry name of Half of That, or his barn name of Yoohoo but, I like Shakespeare and Oberon just seemed to fit. So, welcome Oberon to the family! And follow him on twitter @oberonthehorse.

Jellybean’s new boyfriend!

     The rain has returned in force! After the last major rain event, we spent some time thoroughly investigating the rain situation and then made some fixes. Currently they are working, but unfortunately the aftermath of the last flood is still with us. Two barn stalls are flooded and trying to slowly dry out. While Jellybean has been displaced, we have been diligently working to accommodate our newest addition.

     I spend a lot (this is a huge understatement) of time trolling craigslist and other questionably savory venues for horses for sale. As I mentioned earlier, I am looking for a horse of around 17 hands or taller and with sufficient bone for Robert to ride comfortably. I prefer a broke horse, no greenies, and something older than 7. Well I finally found something priced correctly that met my qualifications!

Meet Oberon!

     Oberon needs a few groceries and a long term conditioning program, but I expect he will prove a great investment. He is a Cleveland Bay/Thoroughbred out of Imagine That by Sky Image. His registered name is Half of That. He is twelve years old and about 17 hands (to be taped later). He has some dressage training and some eventing background, although the specifics are fuzzy. 

     Robert test-rode him, and he did well, although I think he will do better in a snaffle than a tom thumb. He was responsive to leg cues, although fairly lazy. Either way, I think we have a great project on our hands. I will be letting Robert give him impressions of the test ride, stay tuned 🙂
     So today Oberon is coming, through the rain and mud. I am hoping to turn him out once he arrives, but that will depend on the weather trends. He definitely needs to meet his new girlfriend Jellybean, and hopefully they will have stalls ready, as soon as I get out to the farm and get started with some work!

Rain rain go away (year two)

     So the rainy season is upon us once again. Back when I lived in NC I thought only places in Indonesia and Africa had rainy seasons. Then I moved to Texas. It rains once a month between May and September, then the heavens open and it rains at least once a week. I like sunshine, and while the heat can be tiresome, I enjoy being able to ride whenever my schedule allows. In the monsoon season, I can only ride when I have time AND the farm is only moderately saturated.

     The owners of the farm have made significant improvements from last year, but managing rainwater in an area extremely prone to flash flooding and in a low spot to boot is challenging even with unlimited budget and time. So week by week, we make some changes, and at some point in the future everything will be perfect 😉

     Jellybean usually enjoys the rain, although I doubt she has any love for the days spent in the stall. I mentioned last time it rained, we had some serious barn flooding. This time it was much worse, completely flooding my stall (right) and the one next to it.

Oh nos!

     Luckily, the barn owner was able to investigate the problem, and she tracked it down to a detached downspout behind the barn. We all remain hopeful that this will prevent water from entering the barn. Jellybean was relocated after the flooding so she could enjoy a dry stall until hers dried out. Since most of my readers ride horses and (I hope) all of you have been charged with maintaining a stall…. you know what comes next. 

     We missed out ride on Thursday, and now we get to strip Jellybean’s stall and re-bed it if the shavings make it here. This is going to be quite the process… we will have to shovel out everything, regrade the stall and then re-bed. If we were rich, we would simple mat the entire stall and save a large headache. Unfortunately (and fortunately) the stall is 14 x 12, and that would require several hundred dollars. Later.
     In other news, Robert and I (well mostly I) are horse shopping with increasing seriousness. I hope you are on the edge of your seat with (hopefully) our next acquisition.