Sunday, November 27, 2011

Bless Me and My Sensitive Horse

 Yesterday was a full day of equestrian activities.  My day began with the Blessing of the Hounds ceremony which opens the fox hunt season for the Woodford Hounds at Shakertown, Kentucky.

Shakertown, an old restored Shaker Village, is like stepping back in time.  Having an old tradition, such as the Blessing of the Hounds, fits right in with the atmosphere of the Village.  Also, there are wonderful trails at Shakertown to take you horse for a small fee.  During WEG, this was the home location for the U.S. Endurance Riding Team. 

After the Blessing was made for the dogs, foxes, coyotes, horses and riders, the hunt galloped off throughout the surrounding countryside. 
 Later in the day, I had scheduled a riding lesson at a Lexington park which has a wonderful equestrian area.  Matt came along to help me load Ollie and otherwise be my assistant.  Of course he had his camera in hand. 

In a nutshell, Ollie was on his toes with the new surroundings as I suspected he would be.  He was doing fairly well UNTIL...

Three other horses entered the arena we were in.  Ollie made it clear to me that he did not know those horses and he had a meltdown.   There was just too much stimulis for him and he panicked.  I'll fess up that I did come off at one point and a gal who was standing nearby was able to catch him.  Several people remarked how beautiful he is and asked if he was an arab or anglo arab.   I told them, "Nope!  Just a thoroughbred who is lacking some brain cells at the moment..."

Julie arrived soon after our incident.  She directed me over to the dressage arenas up a hill.  But at this point, Ollie's brain cells were gone.  So we spent our time in the dressage ring getting him to settle down.  Even though it wasn't like a traditional lesson, I learned a lot about owning a sensitive animal and dealing with it.  Next time I'll probably be better at nipping things in the bud. 

Here are some not so glamorous photos of getting Ollie to relax and come back to earth.

We are finally walking flat footed in this next photo...  phew!

Here is a photo of an exhausted horse and rider.  My helmet still is askew from my earlier tumble...

So while he wasn't a rock star on this day, we did learn a lot.    Julie and I spoke about the show and she encouraged me to still go.  I'm going as a non-compete.  This way I'll be able to use my running martingale which we still need (especially under new situations) with Ollie. 

I can't say enough good things about working with Julie.  She's very supportive, still likes Ollie and she's been in my shoes before with a hot horse.   I truly value her input and her amazing understanding of a sensitive horse. 

This first show is going to be all about getting Ollie's feet wet with a positive new experience.  One from which we can grow.  Sometimes it takes baby steps...

Monday, November 21, 2011

I'm Committed

I filled out the entry form, made of copy of Ollie's health certificate, wrote a check and put all of the items in the mail.  My first show in a long time!  I'm excited!

My rides on Ollie have been more of the same (see video from previous post), he anticipates, makes himself anxious, and eventually after practicing for awhile, he gets it.   Julie and I are trying to get together for a lesson but the weather isn't cooperating.  It's been wet, soupy footing and we don't have an indoor arena.  I haven't given Ollie time off just because of the weather.  I did some ground work with him today and he was good in the warm wet weather.  

I think we can put it together down the road and each day is a new adventure.   It just takes Ollie a lot longer to learn to relax than most horses.  He's lucky to have me! 

Outside of Ollie, I've been having fun with photography.  I had a photo shoot with the nicest young family.  One picture from that shoot just warms my heart so much.  It's of their elderly jack russell being walked by their 18 month old little girl.  SO CUTE!  What a good dog...

Then I dragged Matt with me to help out at the Lexington Humane Society's big annual fundraiser - The Beastie Ball!

This year the LHS had "The Wizard of Pawz" as their theme.  The byline being "There's no place like home" for all the animals in their care looking for forever homes...

Not unexpectedly, Matt and I ran into many people in the equestrian world attending the event.  We had fun and hopefully we did our small part to help the LHS animals find their forever homes. 

That's all  from this neck of the woods for now.  Hopefully the rain will stop, Ollie will relax even more and everyone can have an enjoyable Thanksgiving with friends and family.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


Awful!  That's what we were today.  AWFUL!

I had a very fresh horse who kept trying to think for me.  He was all about cantering when we went to a corner.  Going straight wasn't easy and occasionally we could actually halt at X. He was just busy, busy, busy.

I rode him and I cantered him around to get the edge off.  I STILL can't keep my seat in the saddle.   I get so aggravated with myself.  I'm trying!  I really am!  Sometimes I can do it but I just can't maintain it.  I have to think of myself as a jellyfish in order to do it. 

At any rate, I'm committed to showing on the 3rd and by George we'll do it come hell or high water.  We guarantee to help any others who may be competing in the Intro levels.  I even video taped our best effort this morning.  Truly - it's our best effort for today.  We were pathetic!  Ollie just had "GO!" on his mind.  In hindsight I should have lunged him first.  I have to remind myself that he's like Amos.  Amos, our not yet 2 yr old lab mix, needs to run around and get his yahoo's out before we work on obedience training.  Otherwise he just can't listen.  He just wants to play and go!  Ollie's the exact same way.  If I want a good citizen then I need to let him get out some energy to get there.

Note to self, ride him a good long time before we go in for our tests at the show...

So here is our video for this month.  It's not pretty but he's SO CUTE when he goes well if even for a few strides...  The song is by one of my favorite artists K T Tunstall (think Black horse and a Cherry tree song) - Hopeless!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

I'm Beginning to Obsess

I'm beginning to obsess over the Dec. 3rd Snowbird Horse Show.  It's been a long time since I've been to a show.  Even then, those shows were schooling shows.  This show is sanctioned by the Kentucky Dressage Association.  My mind = Big Time.   Ok.  I know.  It's not.  But...

I have multiple sheets of paper on my desk where I drew out the tests.  I'm talking Intro A and Intro B.  (I can hear you laughing).   I tried on my show clothes.   I rode Ollie through the tests - hmmm we need work.  We practiced without the running martingale too.   He was great until he realized it wasn't there...

Last night I tossed and turned in bed worrying if we'd embarrass ourselves.  In my mind, Kentucky riders are more serious than my supportive group of riding friends in northern Michigan.

Right now he looks like a "wooley" lamb, the end of his tail has that awful yellow tinge, in fact his whole body has a yellow tinge to it.  It's too cold to bathe him and he'll roll several times every day anyways.  He's kept outdoors so I need his wooley coat and he needs to be kept outdoors to maintain his sweet demeanor. Why oh why did I get a gray horse???? 

But in my heart of hearts, what I'm most excited about, is that I CAN take Ollie to a show!  I have a feeling we'll be horrible since we struggle with halting at X and in just about any corner he wants to transition into canter from the trot.  At home, we own the walk.  But that's at home...  I'm realistic in my goals and my main goal is to get him through the test as steady as we can and to gain him some experience.  To his credit, he rode the tests fairly well while he was eye-balling a large buck in the field next to the arena.  I took that as a good indicator of how he will be.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Ollie's In Good Shape

Ollie had his scope today and he seems to be just fine and normal there.  His teeth seemed to be in good shape and there are no early signs of EPM.  In a nut shell, he just eats too fast and swallows too big of gulps.  When I water down his feed into a soupy consistency then he has no problems.  So that's what we're going to do from now on.  Easy enough!  

In other developments, my husband felt badly about my riding britches so after attending an open house to meet Havre de Grace, he stopped the car at my favorite tack store in Lexington - Wise Choice!   I have a pair of new white show breeches and two pairs of full seat breeches for schooling that I bought on consignment.  Great prices!  Great products!    I'm ready to sign up for the next Snowbird Show in December!  Woo hoo!

Havre de Grace at her meet and greet hosted by Vinery and Fox Hill Farm.
 I'm also excited to see that the Paulick Report picked up the War Horse story that Fran Jurga wrote.  Very cool! 

Friday, November 11, 2011

Happy Veterans Day

I hate that I haven't been posting on a regular basis - thank you to my regular readers for staying with me!  I've had so many things going on.  Living in Lexington (as opposed to Traverse City) means that I have a stream of visitors coming and going during peak equine events in the area. 

It also means that Matt and I are attending many of those functions as well..

Paulo Santana going through the Grand Prix competition at the Alltech National Horse Show

Jessica Springsteen (Bruce Springsteen's daughter) competing in the Alltech National Horse Show.
Royal Delta sells for $8.5 million at the Keeneland November Sales a few days after she won the Breeders Cup Ladies Classic.

Multiple graded stakes winner Blind Luck sells for $2.5 million at the Keeneland November Sales.
And we had visitors!  Here is Tracie Fream Noel who came over to help feed Toby and Ollie one morning.

In a short capsule - Ollie has been having issues with choking on his feed.  Twice in a week.  So I have a vet coming out tomorrow to scope him.  Right now he's being fed his feed that is well watered down.  It's like soup and he wears it like a baby eating spaghetti.  Entertaining until he rubs his food covered mug on me!

I had hoped to take him on Sunday to the Snowbird Dressage show at the Kentucky Horse Park as a non compete but it's not looking so good now.  I need to get his eating issues resolved. 

Also, my loving husband washed my clothes one day.  That included my riding britches.  There was an ink pen that found it's way into the laundry.  The rest is history.  So I need new show britches too. 

But today I wanted to make sure I posted a link to Fran Jurga's blog on Equus Magazine's website.  Fran and I have become friends via the social network.  I'm hoping one day she'll be a visitor to Lexington and can meet the Wooley's!

Fran wrote a wonderful piece about Jaguar Hope, me, my friend Ali Bannister and the movie War Horse.  She put our story together beautifully! It's a perfect piece for Veterans Day:  Racehorse To War Horse 

Thanks for sticking with me!