Finding that Left Lead

Everything has been pretty quiet recently and just chugging along as normal this July. I do not particularly love the heat this time of year, so I try to plan all my vacations and time away during this month. Montego has been feeling great after his hock and stifle injections. I think the stifles were the key we have been missing for finding a more comfortable canter. I am excited to see how the next month continues with our training before our big show at Devon at the end of August.

always puts up with my shenanigans

Both horses are getting ridden about 3-4 times a week which I do not think either are complaining about. It has been hot and like me both my horses are heavy sweaters and prefer cooler temps to the warmer months. After my dressage lesson in July, I have been riding Luna more in her dressage tack to try and get her to balance a bit better through her entire body. She has really been a horse that I have needed to take a lot more time with to help her figure out where to put her feet and move correctly. I have mentioned before just how much of a challenge I had this Winter and Spring keeping her Left front shoe on her foot through her shoeing cycle. I am not trying to jinx it but she’s been doing much better on that department lately. My farrier thinks a lot of it has to do with her strengthening her hind end and also growing a deeper foot which helps her shoe fit a little more closely. I think her Professional Choice Bell Boots are helping A LOT, but also think she is finally maturing into large gangly body.

we go hard in the matching department

Part of these growing pains are her new reluctance to pick up her left lead under-saddle. Luna is a big runner in the field. Being a baby she has lots of energy that she needs to zoomy out of her. You guessed it, in the field BEAUTIFUL left lead canter, no issues. Put her on a lunge line and she will pick up her left lead canter about 50% of the time from left. She likes to pick it up about 25% of the time going to the right too, so no explanation there. But under saddle, she will not give it to me. She will just counter canter around like its no issue. Probably makes sense she was a shitty race horse if she hate this lead SMH. After taking her to the dressage lesson, I felt she is definitely much stiffer going left than she is right. It is like riding a 2 by 4 that direction. Trainer B sent us home with a couple different suppling exercises to try to even out that left side to be more like the right.

when its hot we go bareback

After a couple of just walk trot rides, I finally attempted to ask for our left lead canter. She gave me the right lead two times before finally picking up the left lead. I praised her a TON and ended on that note. I think the suppling has made a big difference. She just bulges in her should and does not want to pick up that lead. I am having a saddle fitter out again to make sure all the saddles that I found actually fit my horses again, just because I am not convinced her jumping saddle fits her 100% which could also be making a difference.

my favorite personalized moody Luna sticker

As we get into August, I am not completely out of the humid muggy weather, but planning on continuing to get both horses ridden as much as I can with a couple of outings thrown in for the both of them in between. Really happy with where they both are and so grateful I get to have two amazing horses in my life.

July Dressage Lessons

Every month, my dressage Trainer B, travels up from his farm in VA to give lessons to a couple different riders and farms in our area. If my schedule allows, I always try to do the two lessons (one Saturday and one Sunday) when he is here. The amount he has been able to help me progress Montego is crazy in such a short amount of time. I always leave each lesson with usually a huge smile on my face and so much that I have learned.

While Montego is my main dressage horse, he is usually the lucky one to attend these weekend lessons. However, I had scheduled to have his hocks and stifles done the Friday before Trainer B was coming up. So this month Luna was the lucky lady of the lessons. Trainer B has years of experience training and breaking babies, so I have wanted to get Luna in front of him to see her progress. The last time he saw her, he did a lunge lesson at our farm in December, so its been a little while. The farm we take these lessons at is about 15min down the road at a beautiful facility with the most gorgeous indoor arena.

hooked up and ready for the morning

When I brought Luna home from the TB barn down the road, I commented on how easy she was to get on and off the trailer. With this in the back of my head, I assumed that she would have no issues trailering this weekend to a new property for a lesson…but boy was I wrong. Early Saturday morning, I got to the barn to get her boots on and trailer loaded for the lesson. Headed up to the trailer and she loaded right up, but before my friend could get the butt bar up she FLEW back out of the trailer. She proceeded to do that one more time before deciding she did NOT want to be going on a trailer ride today. It finally took 1 hour for us to get her loaded, trailer was completely deconstructed to be just one big box stall and we were heading to the lesson very very late. Trainer B was very understanding and we just worked on some ground work for the remaining 10 min of my lesson time to practice some trailer loading skills on the ground. Of course when it was time for her to load back up again, she did it no issues. She always likes to show off with NO problems in front of my Trainer.

Sunday morning, we started the trailer loading process much earlier with some tricks we learned from the day before. Still had some hesitancy getting on but what took an hour the day before took only about 15 minutes this time around (still with the trailer being deconstructed into a big box stall. Got to our lesson about 30 min before my ride time so it was perfect to let her walk around and cool off from the trailer ride before tacking her up and riding.

rainbow on the way to the barn

I will say I was very impressed for her first off property weekend how she was able to really relax and chill in a new place without any friends. No calling or excessive anxiousness. There were some vultures running across the roof of the indoor, which understandably might freak a 5yo baby out, but she was able to come back and have a sane brain. We just worked on her starting to accept contact in the bridle and getting her gaits a little bit more defined in the Walk and Trot. Trainer B was really impressed by the way she is put together and the amateur friendly brain she has for a 5 yo TB.

what mom makes you wear when you decide to through a tantrum on the trailer

Our homework is to continue having a more forward gait (ride with a whip at home) and getting her used to bending in her neck so she can bend through her whole body. I also added on the need to start trailer loading with her so there is no more flying backwards. I’m keeping my trailer at the barn for the next couple of weeks so I can hook it up and practice with her every day so she gets the idea that even if she loads she needs to stand and be patient until we say she can unload.

Overall, a very successful weekend. Montego will be back in the riding schedule today from his hocks and stifles and I am excited to see how he is feeling.

really not impressed

Show Recap: June Dressage Schooling Show

Montego and I finally made it to our first schooling dressage show of the season! A little later than I was hoping to because ideally I would love to show before the heat of the summer (me + heat = a disaster). Our plan was to enter in Training 2 and Training 3 to attempt at getting some qualifying scores for our GMO end of year championship show, and see where we are starting out this year. This was also the first time I was going to be trailering my own trailer and horse to the show rather than just riding passenger.

Our If the Bonnet Fits Mermaid Bonnet ❀

I got to the barn about 3 hours before I was planning to pull out to make sure I had everything in order. We are lucky the show is only a 7 minute drive from our barn so super low key drive to get there, a perfect maiden voyage to test everything out. I planned on just bathing Montego, cleaning my tack, loading up the trailer, and doing some other things around the barn before leaving. Probably over estimated how much time I needed, but it was nice to not feel rushed.

Got a little obsessed with these professional photos!

Montego has been on solo-turnout for a while 1. due to him mounting Luna and 2. he has been acting as a buddy for the horse currently on stall rest due to colic surgery. For some reason, he decided he no longer could stand not seeing any friends and continued to SCREAM while getting his bath which he never does. Decided braiding was really overkill for such a low-key show so we skipped that, but I did give him a nice 1/2 dose of Perfect Prep to make sure he was a chiller by the time we arrived at the show.

that stretch…

We were one of the last two scheduled riders for the day, but the lady in between us ended up being a no show so we brought the show home. Our warm-up was mediocre, but I am not a big fan of a long warm-up anyway so I was ready to just see what we were gonna get in the ring. Montego was feeling a little tight and resistant to bending through his back so I figured we might get some tension points in our tests. He is really due to get his hocks done which I think will make his overall demeanor much happier in the sandbox.

always matching!

Our Test 2 test definitely did not feel like our best ride, but he was clean and concise in his transitions and we got some great feedback from the judge. I am heavy on my inside rein to bend instead of pushing him with my inside leg to outside rein (something I am working on constantly in lessons). We still managed to score a 70% so on par with our previous tests.

Test 3, I was a bit scattered brain after a long day so far, he was tired from no break in between and I was chasing him around more this test to get any sort of energy we had left. My geometry for this test was WAYYY off… problem of riding in a shorter and wider ring than regulation. But the judge still loved Montego and we scored a 68.27%. I am really happy with both tests and it gives us a good list to work on for our show season this year.

could not love this horse more and the photo shows it

These two solid scores definitely put us on a great track for the rest of the year, now for planning the rest of our season and getting Luna started in the dressage world too!

New Ride, Who Dis

As I mentioned briefly in my last post, I officially have a new to me trailer. I had been casually trailer searching this past year especially now that I have two horse that I plan on bringing a bunch of places. Two boarders at my barn have trailers and have always been so nice to invite me and my horses to trail outings, lessons, and shows; but not owning your own trailer you are always subject to their schedule. Most trailers that I have seen posted on Facebook have been selling within a matter of hours. I saw this one posted immediately messaged the owner and then it was a bit of a waiting game. She had a few cosmetic fixes she wanted to do before selling it, but I was sure at that price I was definitely going to miss out on another trailer.

hello gorgeous!

Lucky for me I must have been the least annoying person pestering her about this trailer and she knew I was seriously interested so it did end up luckily being mine!! Something I had on my goals for a while was learning to drive and own a trailer, and I am really happy it all fell into place right before our little show season began.

Its already had its maiden voyage with Montego in tow. We attended a local schooling dressage show. First time showing Montego this year, first time ever driving my horse in a horse trailer, and first time ever driving MY horse trailer. I was a bit scattered brained by the time we got there, but everything went so smoothly I could not be happier.

blank canvas of a tackroom

There are a couple minor improvements I would love to make to the trailer to make it more comfortable for me and the horses, but I am really happy that I have this option now to take to more shows, lessons, and clinics when I want to. Now I need any and all recommendations of things you cannot live without in your trailer. The tack room isn’t huge, but not tiny either so I want to make sure I maximize my space and have all the essentials πŸ™‚

Happy horse on the maiden voyage!

Mid Year Check-in

It’s hard to believe that it is June already. The first half of this year has really seem to have just flown by. I am glad as we get into consistently nicer weather, I have had more time to ride both of my horses on a more regular schedule. Daylight savings also makes this so much easier because the sun does not set until about 8:30 now which is amazing for some cooler night time riding. Half way through the year I wanted to look back more specifically at the goals at set at the beginning of the year and definitely make some adjustments for the next 6 months.

2021 Goals for Reference

Goal 1: 3 Recognized Dressage Shows- Right now we have completed 0 Recognized shows but have enough on the calendar that I am not too worried about this goal. I have entered Montego into our first Schooling show in June. I plan on riding him in Training 2 and Training 3 tests. I am hoping this show will qualify us for our USDF Area Group Championship show, but it will be a good test to get out this year and see where we are compared to last year. The recognized shows on my radar are a couple local (5-10 min from our home barn) shows usually run on a Wednesday. I try to avoid July and Early August shows just because I HATE the heat, but we have some in late August, September, and October to look forward to. My big recognized show I plan on entering is the Dunmovin Dressage at Devon show end of August. There is an adult amateur only show before and then a recognized show the day after so thats the show I have been looking forward too since they announced it would be at Devon in 2019. I am dying to ride down the centerline in those arenas so very excited it will be happening this year.

Ready to be back in the ring with this boy!

Goal 2: Buy a Trailer- I will likely have a follow-up post on this soon, but I officially have my own trailer and I could not be more excited. I have always been super grateful for awesome barn friends who are always willing for me to tag along to events and shows, but having a trailer of my own will make this so much easier and less dependent on anyone else’s trailer. It’s a 2007 Cotner Trailer in great shape and was a steal of a price so I am very excited to have this for our future adventures.

Goal 3: Get Luna off Property- This goal has been a bit of a bust and was probably a stretch at the beginning of the year anyway. She has been all over our property but with winter weather and taking it slower with her training, I have not been able to get her or Montego off property as much as I would like. I think re-evaluating this goal, I would love to keep her LF shoe on long enough to actually go on adventures, but if I can get her to a clinic or off-site lesson maybe once this year I would be happy. I have no concerns that I think she will be great in a new place, but really want her going more consistently at home before I start trailering her to lessons instead of Montego.

Goal 4: Blog Once A Week- For the most part this goal has actually been kept up with. There might be a couple extra days here and there between posts, but overall my blogging and instagramming has been so much more consistent than last year where I pretty much stopped for months. I love that this blog has turned into a bit of a training journal of our progress so I am happy I have been able to stick with it and keep putting my thoughts on paper (or website).

TBT to the first picture of me and Luna

Very excited with the progress of our goals so far.

Pretty Pony Pedicures

In truly girly girl fashion, Luna is a prima donna when it comes her feet. Luckily she is well behaved for the farrier, but as I have mentioned many times before she is notorious for losing her left front shoe at the most inopportune times. She is a wild woman in the field and loves to zoomy around and usually as she is giving her best reining horse stop the LF shoe just bounces right off with her. My other horses in the past have not had any serious reoccurring lost shoes but Luna its about 2-3 weeks and like clockwork no shoe. My farrier is an absolute saint that still keeps coming out as quick as he can to put the shoe back on. SO thankful he has not dropped us as clients yet LOL.

Now its seems like we have tried everything for this horse to try and keep her shoes on her. After about 3 cycles of throwing shoes, my farrier recommended back shoes for her. I noticed a big difference in her movement, but unfortunately that did not help her throwing that front shoe. Luna lives in thick and I mean THICK bell boots 24/7. While we ride, while she’s turned out… these boots do not come off. I have tried all types, Davis, Rubber, Neoprene: none seem to be the one yet to keep that shoe on. Yesterday she just ripped the whole shoe and bell boot off in one piece together.

I have some go to products that I have definitely stocked up on because of Luna. That includes: rolls and rolls of vet wrap for wrapping, duct tape, diapers. This was my go to for wrapping with the first couple times she continuously lost shoes. I also should just buy stock in Magic Cushion because this horse almost always has this on her foot. While she does not always do horrible damage to her foot when she does pull the shoe, she does get pretty sensitive on hard ground and easily stone bruises which leaves me with a lame horse about a week after the shoe is put back on. The minute she loses that shoe Magic Cushion is stuffed up in there to try and relieve any pain or heat that she might have already caused herself

After like the 4th time of her pulling her shoe, I bit the bullet and invested in those Sparkly Cavallo boots so I did not have to keep wrapping her foot myself. Anyone could just slip the boot on her and she can wear that out in the field for a couple of days until my farrier is able to make it out. She has some pretty weirdly sized feet, so I ordered a size 4 and 5 to try.

She is double bell booted on her left side. I am still trying to figure out a better solution because the two I have on her right now are not my favorite. I think around 2 weeks I am planning on turning her out with the Cavallo Boot and shoe and see if we can keep that shoe on the entire cycle. I’d rather her destroy the boot than her foot.

Open to any and all helpful tips for those with horses that love to only wear some of their shoes πŸ™‚

Thankful Thoughts

OK so slacking a little bit here on my goal to blog every week at least…this past was a little busy with some unexpected surprises so I am back on the blogging train. Unfortunately, one of the horses in our barn had Emergency Colic surgery a week ago, but is luckily coming home today. They ended up having to take 4 feet out of his intestine due to strangulation from a lipoma. A very stressful situation for everyone in our tight knit barn family, but we are just so happy he is on his way to recovery! Colic man, it hits fast and out of no where. I have had my minor experiences with gas colic and the occasional tubing but never on this level. He was out grazing when I had left the barn earlier that day and 4.5 hours later on the table for major surgery.

A bit of an optical illusion, but Montego looks like a pony next to his friend MAC

It was a reminder to just how precious every moment I get with my horses is. Both have been really great the past couple of weeks. Montego has been in steady work again prepping for the show season. The vet was out for both horses for annual Spring Vaccinations and coggins. Montego has some slight hesitation in his LH stifle and both hocks so I think I will schedule to have them injected again end of May. The hock injections really made a difference for him at the canter last year so hoping that we will have that success again this year. Luna was great for all her vaccinations. I had the vet look at her right hip that seems to be the only lingering problem from her fence injury. Nothing she was overly concerned about, but suggested as I increase her strength training with gridwork and hills to strengthen her stifles I throw her a bit of bute here and there to keep her comfortable.

BABY LUNA PICTURES

Luna had also recently gotten hind shoes as a recommendation by my farrier to hopefully help stop the removal of her LF shoe every 2.5 weeks. He’s hoping its just the way she’s learning to use her body and that when her front legs learn to get out of the way of her hind she will stop ripping that damn shoe off. WELL….it didn’t exactly work like that. Exactly 2.5 weeks from when our farrier was out she was running around like a nut in her field and poof LF shoe off. I did actually have new Cavallo boots to put on her after the shoe pull to see if I could minimize the amount of wrapping I have to do between when my farrier can come back out to put it on. They were so new and sparkly, but now completely covered in mud…SIGH. I ordered size 4 and size 5 because her two front feet are actually different sizes. The farrier is luckily coming out today to put the shoe back on, so I will ask him if he has any other suggestions to keep me from seeing him every two or three weeks. I am going to try the professionals choice no turn bell boots, she lives in rubber ones now 24/7 but maybe a harder material will help. If any one has any ideas I am desperate. My poor farrier probably hates me by now LOL.

Before the boot was completely covered in mud

Before Luna decided to pull her shoe, we were having some really nice rides. My jumping trainer returned from her winter in Wellington and did a training ride on Luna for me. It was the first time she has met her, but she really liked her brain and movement for me. The biggest take aways from that riding with spurs is a must. She respects them so much more than a whip and it just helps to gently remind her forward is better and she needs to move laterally to supple herself and balance. She is such a big horse getting her front end to match her hind end is a bit of a challenge right now, but with a lot of transitions and lateral movements I think we are going places in our training. I did end up switching her bit again and am actually riding her in the same one as Montego, the Stubben EZ control. Its just a normal loose ring 3 piece, but when the horses get heavy on the bit it locks into a Mullen. I think she is overall the least mouthy in this bit and paired with a flash she does not have a rogue tongue sticking out in all directions.

New Saddle ❀

Best news of all…I finally found a saddle for Luna too! I ended up going with an Amerigo DJ Monoflap (post to come soon on the new saddles). After riding Dressage, I just could not go back to the short billets and since my goal is not hunters mono flap is perfect for us. My goal is to have the saddle fitter out to flock both saddles to the horses, but I am very excited to be over with the saddle shopping for now.

Another picture of my favorite sparkle boot, before the mud

Dressage lessons this weekend, so I am sure to have updates and new riding video. Goal is to stay on the blogging train!

Pollen and Shedding Blades

Spring is in full force and I am not complaining. My seasonal allergies are back and the amount of hair that I come home with on me every day from the barn are the best signs that the weather is finally warmer and here to stay. Spring has also brought on some new problems especially for Montego. He is currently separated from the herd because he decided out of nowhere to develop his stallion tendencies and has started mounting Luna and the other mare Tes in the field. Before I got Montego, he was only in solo turnout in small paddocks and sometimes had a gelding buddy, so while I knew his experience with mares was limited he has been with mares at our current farm for over a year and has had none of this behavior. I think a lot of it is that he is bored and Luna is a newer younger mare. Luna is a kicker too so all it would take would her to stand up to him one time and he’d cut it out, but of course the time I want her to kick she won’t!!! He’s been separated for about 2 weeks now, but as the horses are starting to go back out on the grass pastures he has been re-integrated and fingers crossed has not been getting into any trouble. I think he honestly is bored and luckily is such a piggy he’d rather stuff his face with grass than interact with the mares.

Peep the pony on solitary confinement…

Don’t worry, Luna has been getting herself in just enough trouble too. My farrier mentioned last cycle that if she kept throwing her LF shoe we should think about putting hind shoes on her to see if she moves a little better and gets that front left shoe out of the way. We were on such a good track and then one week before my farrier was supposed to come out….no LF shoe. At this point my farrier probably wants to kill me but luckily is a saint and is coming out earlier to do both of their shoes and put hinds on Luna. I am hoping this helps with her just chucking off this LF shoe whenever she feels like it. I am looking into Cavallo boots as a backup to wrapping it because my wrapping duties are not even up to par with Luna’s antics in the field.

How Luna?!

Wrapping job is subpar

The saddle hunt is still on, but I am one step closer to the finish line. I found a really nice 2009 Custom Wolfgang Solo online that looked wide enough for Montego. I took it on trial and it does not even look close to its age!! Full buffalo leather and has the most comfortable seat and short blocks in a saddle that I have ever ridden in. My legs finally feel like they’re in the right place for dressage. The saddle is now officially mine so I am happy I have something to start really training in again for Montego and my show season this year. Once I find a jumping saddle I like for Luna, I will probably have my saddle fitter come out again to make sure the flocking and fit is perfect for the two problem children.

HELLO GORGEOUS

Other than that both have been really great for riding. We are taking full advantage of this beautiful weather to get out and hack the hills for some conditioning work. My goal for Montego is to get to a schooling show or two in May and maybe a recognized in June. I like to try to beat the heat for show season. I think we both do a little bit better in cooler weather. I would love to get Luna off property to a couple of clinics or even a schooling show early summer. She has come a long way in a short time and I am excited to start jumping her soon.