Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I Hate the Cold

I sure do hate the cold. I hate the cold more than anything. I can wear 3 pairs of socks, 5 layers of shirts, hats, gloves, snow pants, and moon boots, and still be cold. Sometimes, when other people are wearing shorts and t-shirts, I'm wearing long pants, a sweater, and a jacket, and I'm still cold.

When it's 95 degrees outside, I'm comfortable in my jeans and t-shirt. Everyone else is dying of heat exhaustion. It's crazy.

I lived in Michigan for 18 years. MICHIGAN! And I did just fine in the cold. I even had an after school job at a horse farm, so I was out in the cold all the time. I'm not sure what happened between the time I left there for boot camp in Parris Island, SC and now, but I just cannot handle the cold. I'll shiver and shake until my muscles ache... and it takes me forever to warm back up. Everyone says it's because my blood has 'thinned' from living in a warmer climate, but I think that's a bunch of hullabaloo. I think I've just gotten used to the warm weather, and like it!!

Let's just say I literally FREEZE when I go home at Christmas.

So what the hell does this have to do with horses you ask? Well, case in point: I missed the JCHSS show last Saturday because it was "too cold". When it is this cold (right now, as I type this, it is 49 degrees outside) all I want to do is hibernate. Ride in the warm truck to work, work for 8 hours, ride in the warm truck home, and crawl under a blanket on the couch. Notice how the word "Lilly" never appeared in that statement?

I'm such a slacker. I even bought those new pants, gloves, and boots to help me stay warm. And I've put more warm stuff on my Christmas list. But unless someone develops a heat bubble that I can ride in, I'm going to hate riding in the cold, because no matter how much I wear, I'll still be cold.

I don't know how to motivate myself into thinking freezing my ass off is a good idea. Anyone?

Monday, November 24, 2008

2008 JCHSS Results!

The results are in, and here's how Lilly and I did in 2008!

Stock Type Division 2008
Miss Zip Abby Do Da - 140 Points
This Zippohs Hot - 74 Points
Mr. Lucky Assurance - 63 Points
Slow Lopin Cookie - 49 Points
Made That Way - 48 Points
R Lil Bit of Cash - 38 Points

Adult Division 2008
Miss Zip Abby Do Da - 198 Points
R Lil Bit of Cash - 113 Points
Holly - 111 Points
Nagria - 71 Points
Moonshine Troubles - 70 Points
Made That Way - 60 Points

Luckily my 113 points held up even though I didn't go to the show Saturday! I don't know if they give out year end awards or not, but maybe I'll get something for being "reserve champion" in the Adult Division!

They have quite a few divisions, but we only had enough points in the Adult Division and the Stock Type division to show up in the results. I didn't know they were going to "place" up to 6, so we managed to get some recognition in the Stock Type Division too!

In the All Around Division, we came in 23rd out of 111 horse/rider combinations. Not bad! :-)

Plus, we got those 4 PAC points in halter/showmanship.

I can't wait for next year. Hopefully we'll be even more ready to show!

So I Wimped Out

I didn't go to the show on Saturday. I really wanted to, but I couldn't bring myself to step outside the nice, warm house into 38 degree weather. The sun was shining, but the wind was blowing and it was just too cold. I feel like a wimp, but I'm sure Lilly was thrilled that we didn't go. I show to have fun, and I hate the cold more than words can say. With it that cold, there's no way I would have enjoyed myself. It was the last show of the season, but February will come soon enough. Shows start early here in NC.

Lilly's SmarkPak stuff came last week so today she got her first dose of the new digestive supplement that will hopefully get rid of the icky mess I always find on her rear end. I cleaned and braided her tail yesterday and applied some Desitin on the spots that collect manure and get irritated. I'm hoping that will be one of the last times I have to do it. It's getting too cold to be washing her every day. We both get cold and wet.

Cross your fingers!!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

My Little Bronc

My precious little Lilly has turned into a bucking bronco...

Ok, maybe not a bucking bronco, but she has turned into a bit of a bucker. Yeehaw? Yeah, not really. She has become so concerned with cantering that she tries to do so every chance she gets. And when I don't let her, she explodes with a little buck to let me know she's not happy.

I've been riding her with as much leg contact as she can stand (which isn't much these days) and the more leg I use, the more she wants to canter. She's forgotten all about the fact that she's only to canter when I slide my leg back behind the girth. Now the cue to canter is whatever she chooses. She's been doing really well at keeping her head down, but she's behind the bit a lot and just chomping away.

I was working her the other day in circles like my trainer suggested and trying to get her to be round in the circle and also push her hindquarters out a bit to help her canter correctly, easily, and on the correct lead. Whenever I would apply any pressure with my legs, she'd hop into the canter. Now, the transitions were wonderful, but they weren't asked for. So I'd have to bring her back down to the trot and try again. When I'd feel her start to canter, I'd half halt and make the circle a bit smaller. Sometimes she'd canter anyway and sometimes she lets out a little kick. Once she let me have a pretty good buck.

I also got some of those really cool floaty trot steps... she was prancing and pawing and just carrying on. I ended up having to give up on the circles and have her sidepass toward the rail and then away from the rail to get her mind off "leg pressure means canter".

When I decided to quit, I got off, loosened up the girth, and she let out this big sigh. Then she started sneezing and I could see the nerves just disappear. Poor girl... I don't know why all this gets her so worked up.

I don't get to have my lesson today, so I'll have to wait another week for some more help from my trainer. Instincts tell me to reprimand her in some way to let her know that bucking isn't an acceptable form of letting off steam, but at the same time, I don't want to punish her and make things worse.

I have my last JCHSS show on Saturday, so we'll see how that goes.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Could It Be?

After searching every store in the county for AJ's Focus SR supplement, I finally found some at the Ace Hardware store for $29.99... I usually pay $19.99 at the local feed store. That's a hell of a deal! (*insert sarcasm here...) So I have decided to turn to SmartPak. They'll ship the stuff to me every 28 days (and gladly charge my bank card) no matter what. I won't have to forget about getting the supplements, I won't have to worry about the store not having it, and I won't have to worry about AJ or Lilly running out. Done. It's a little bit more pricey, but I think it's worth it in the end. Not to mention, the stuff is in little plastic containers (that are recylclable for all you crazy tree huggers out there) so my supplements stay fresh. It drives me crazy to go into the feed room and see the lids to my supplement jars half off and not screwed on.

After searching and doing some research on their site, which is wonderful I might add, I have decided to change AJ's supplement to an MSM pellet and ditch the Focus. There wasn't really much in the Focus that I thought would benefit him when I compared it to the MSM. (Makes me wonder why the hell I've been buying it for him all this time...) The MSM will help his joints, his coat, and his hooves. The focus had some minerals in it, but he's a pretty healthy horse and I want to make sure he's getting a supplement that will help him with his arthritis.

I originally planned to order some Probiotics for Lilly because she's still really runny and I have to wash her hind end off in 40 degree temperatures every day. I figured it couldn't hurt, and maybe it would help. I tried them already, but I thought maybe... just maybe. As I was searching, though, I ran across this: SmartDigest Ultra It says that it will "not only help maintain a healthy intestinal tract and normal digestive function, it also promotes proper gut pH and helps safeguard the stomach lining against gastric acid. This formula is also an outstanding choice for seniors, hard keepers, horses on antibiotics, those with chronic diarrhea and those undergoing a change in diet." Sounds like someone I know!! Well, at least the chronic diarrhea part. It also says, "If your horse working hard or under stress, supporting his digestive health is essential! SmartDigest Ultra is a comprehensive digestive formula for any horse that needs G.I. support, but especially those under the stress of training and competition. In addition to probiotics (beneficial bacteria) and prebiotics (food for the beneficial bacteria), it also provides digestive enzymes, soluble fiber, soothing herbs, and amino acids that support G.I. cell health." The reviews were really good and while it costs WAY more than the Probios, if it works, I'll be so thrilled!! I hadn't really thought of her having loose stool because of stress, but that could be a contributing factor. She does get ridden a lot more than she used to and the shows also seem to stress her out a bit. It's November and she still has diarrhea, so I'm desperate.

I hope, hope, hope that it works!! She'll probably stop having runny stools after I start feeding it to her and at the same time she'll stop coming into heat. That way she'll make sure I don't know the cause of her diarrhea and I'll still be clueless come spring.

Ahhh... this is the life!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Latest Lesson

I ride on more days than just Wednesday... I promise! The writing about it part just tends to get redundant after a while. It's the same thing over and over.

I had my lesson last night and things went well. (See, I even say that every time) Lilly was a bit fired up for some reason. She wanted to go, go, go... I think she's going through a phase. Before, she didn't canter until I brought my leg back and asked. Now she thinks everything means canter. So because of that, we did a lot of circles last night. We circled at the walk. Then we circled at the trot. And finally we circled at the canter. It was mostly trotting work and trying to get her set up and prepared for the canter transition. I was trying to get her to bend around and also stretch down. It was a challenge because she wanted to put her head up, not bend, and go extra fast.

We ended the lesson on a good note when she finally picked up the canter going clockwise... she had been getting the wrong lead (although the transitions were awesome!) so we had to keep starting over. It amazes me that we can be trotting in a tiny circle and she still manages to pick up the wrong lead when I ask her to canter. Crazy...

When she picked up the correct lead and we cantered around a bit I asked her to walk and then I praised her to death. Even my trainer rubbed all over her. After that, I got off and Lilly had the cutest look on her face... it was as if she was VERY proud of herself! She kept going back and forth between me and my trainer like, "I did good, huh guys?" She's such a fun horse!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Wednesday's Lesson

I hate it when the time changes. My lesson is at 6:00 and it's dark before my trainer even arrives! There are lights in the arena, which is nice, but it sucks that it is dark outside the arena. So untacking and putting things away is a hassle. There are various lights outside I can turn on, but I just like to complain. And I prefer to have it light until 9:30 in the evening.

The lesson went well. Lilly was a good girl and my trainer and I both noticed a big difference between last night and last week. She's gaining more confidence and is really getting the hang of the canter depart. I've been instructed to ride with leg, leg, leg because it really makes Lilly nervous when I put my legs on her. She's not used to it and right away thinks she's supposed to do something. She needs to get used to my legs being there. We did some canter departs from the trot and also some from the walk. The trot departs were pretty good and the walk transitions were ok. Going counter clockwise was better than clockwise, but all horses seem to be better one way than another. Lilly seems to know when I ask for the canter that I'm asking for the canter. She doesn't seem as confused, although she still seems to act as if she can't do it, or doesn't think she can. One of the transitions going clockwise was interesting as I got a nice buck from Lilly! It wasn't really big, but it was enough to let me know she didn't want to canter. She tends to pin her ears and get a little pissy when I ask, but once she's in the canter, she seems fine. Little brat...

I talked to my trainer about my saddle issues too and we looked at my show saddle and my work saddle. She thinks they both fit fine and there's no reason why adding my number pad would make it not fit. Her assessment was that Lilly is just being a brat and doesn't want to work, or that all those classes in one day is too much for her, OR that she's sore for some reason and by the weekend she just can't take a whole day of showing. I'm skeptical because of all the testing I've done with new pads and old pads and everything, and even at the one CMESC show I hadn't even been on her back yet when she started acting silly with the saddle. My trainer is very sure it isn't the saddle, though, so I'll roll with that assumption. Next time Lilly starts acting like a goober she said I should longe her and see how she reacts then. From all the scenarios she suggested, I tend to think maybe she's sore come show day or knows she'll be sore by the end of the day, so she's letting me know. Her reaction isn't that of a pissy mare, in my opinion. That's not Lilly. I still think she's in pain for one reason or another. I'm willing to give it a try though because not buying 4 new saddles sounds like a good idea to me. She was impressed with my show saddle, though, and thinks I should ditch the work saddle and ride strictly in the new one. I get the impression that she hates my work saddle! She said it's slippery, hard, and just not comfy. I like it... but it's all my butt knows! I just like the idea of having a saddle that is strictly for showing, but I see her point. The new one is more comfy. I'm still mulling it over in my head and contemplating making my current show saddle my new work saddle and saving for a really nice show saddle. I'm accepting donations now.

My trainer suggested we have a chiropractor take a look at Lilly and I mentioned I already had, but she hasn't been looked at since August. I told her about the pelvis adjustment and also about Lilly's injury when she was a yearling. She watched her move a little more closely and said that she thinks something might still be off because she saw just the slightest issue with Lilly taking her right lead. She has a chiropractor that she suggests I call and thinks maybe she should see Lilly more frequently. More in conjunction with her training, so as her muscles get stronger we keep her adjusted properly. Can you say MORE MONEY? I wonder what it's like to have a horse that doesn't need to be catered to all the time?

Trailer Washing

I have a 2007 Exiss Sport ES 200 with a weekender package. I bought it new last March when it was on "sale" and traded in my 3 horse Sooner. The Sooner was just too big. It seemed silly to haul around a 3 horse trailer with just one horse in it. Not to mention, the gooseneck part was empty. No insulation, no nothing. I had fleeting thoughts of a do it myself project to build living quarters in there and then realized I was stupid for even considering it. The 2 horse works great because I use the first stall for stuff like hay and totes that hold all my camping gear and Lilly rides in the back stall. I liked the 3 horse better because I could turn her around and walk her out straight rather than having to stand outside and pull her tail to get her to back out. Small price to pay, I suppose.

When I was shopping around I found the 2 horse Exiss. The weekender package has a fridge that runs on propane or electricity, a shower, a potty, and a sink. It also has a/c and a heat strip along with a microwave. I LOVE IT. Every time I go camping overnight with Lilly it is so nice to be able to take a hot shower and curl up in bed with a locked door. I run the hot water heater off propane, the fridge off propane, and the lights work with just my marine battery. So when I'm camping somewhere without electricity, the only thing I can't run is my microwave and the a/c. It's like heaven in that trailer. When I go to shows, I have a sink I can use to wash my face when I'm sweating my butt off and a potty I can use when I don't have time to run up to the bathrooms. It's hard to get a good picture of the inside because it's so small, but you can see the bed on the left and the fridge and sink in the middle. The microwave is in the cabinet above the fridge and the other two cabinets are for storage. To the right is my shower/potty combo and on the wall to the right that you can't see, there's a really cute towel rack that has boots on it.

The horse part is also very nice. It's roomy and insulated, so it keeps the temperature regulated well for travel. I have no complaints (except when the payment comes due)! :-)

I try to take really good care of it. I make sure I wipe everything down and keep everything clean and in top shape. So this past weekend it was time to give the horse part a thorough cleaning. Lilly has taken to peeing in the trailer on the way home from the shows, so I always make sure I hose it down, but this time I wanted to take the mats out and scrub the floor really well. I hate taking those mats out... damn they are heavy!! And the mats in the back on the trailer are pretty much permanently in there because the tack door keeps me from being able to take them out. If I took out all the pins from the tack door I could remove the mats, but that's a little much for me to do by myself.