Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Party on, Wayne.

Whoa, can you say sensory overload? I did find out that Jasper does not have a future career as a petting zoo horse. To his credit, there were probably 200 people at the Arena Warming party and kids everywhere jumping off hay bales, riding the "bull", going for pony rides... He had to walk on a blue TARP to get to his pen. The horses next to him were NOT running away when he made his very meanest ears-pinned-back-I-will-kill-you face. They pretty much ignored him. He did some nice bucking in place...

Nom nom nom. I don't even want to know how many pounds of oats he was fed. And carrots. The horses were so saturated they quit eating them and the kids just threw them in the pens. At the end of the party it looked like a giant carrot graveyard.

The kids riding the "bull" were not as scary as when the music had people clapping in it.

Oats? Carrots? Small children? Don't mind if I do.

Serena and Roxie are borrowing my Konklusion treeless jumping saddle. Serena gave me her HDR to try even though it's a wide tree and she had it stretched even wider for Roxie. Uh, this is what it looked like when I set it on his back:
Really??? This is an X-wide tree???

Granted, after it was cinched up it did a little bit of a nose dive. But still. Either Jasper has some wacky conformation or HDRs are seriously narrow.

I really liked it. I felt like my leg was solidly in place and not moving around. I love the big knee blocks, and they saved my a** a couple of times when we did some sudden sideways airs-above-ground. I haven't had a chance to jump in it but am looking forward to giving it a try.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Newly Toothless

The vet's reaction to me pointing out the lumps on the front sides of Jasper's hocks was, "Huh, that's weird." Which was obviously not quite the reaction I was looking for. She poked around, decided they were hard, and flexed each hock. He was fine. I'll keep an eye on them, she suggested Cosequin as a preventative measure, and that was about it.

The teeth, however, were a different story. He still had his WOLF TEETH. Apparently the vet that did his teeth two and a half years ago did NOT pull them out. She filed them down. Say what?? Which of course made them that much harder to extract. There was a lot of digging to get them out. Poor guy! Wolf teeth are sensitive and are right where the bit sits in their mouth. I wonder if I can blame them in part for Jasper's tongue problems. If he was trying to protect his teeth by putting his tongue over the bit...? Time will tell.

I've decided against getting the saddle. It's not a perfect fit, it's an older saddle, it has foam panels, and it's quite pricey. I would love to find a Jeffries JMX to try. Actually I did find the perfect one over in the UK and sent the gal an email. The saddle was already out on trial, but she recognized my email address from this blog and knew who Jasper and I were. Small small world. So cross your fingers it doesn't work out. :)

Alexandre has moved to his new home. I drive by there on my way to the barn (they're practically next door, they saddled up their horses and rode them home) and this morning they were all staring at something off in the distance. Then they all turned and pranced around, soooooooo scared of the Thing In The Woods. He's in a great big paddock with a little black Arabian about half his size. It's a breathtakingly beautiful place, every horse should be so lucky.

And, we're having a barn party on Friday. A celebration of the new indoor going up, sweet! I've volunteered Jasper to be in a corral in the arena for petting and treat eating- free desensitization experiences always welcome. Norm has been working on building a big wagon for hay rides, there will be a bonfire, horse rides for kids (not toothless Jasper, duh), food, and more stuff. And after that, a punk-ish band is playing at my favorite bar downtown. Life is good.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Saddle fit- help!

I have this Jeffries Flyover on trial. It's a forward flap x-country jumping saddle. It's great to ride in, very balanced. It just doesn't look like it fits very well to me- it looks like the pommel is way too high. Like he needs a wider tree or something? (This is a medium, they don't come in med-wide).

Is it just me? I really like the feel of it.


After I rode in it and it settled a bit.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Good Things.

Who knew that when I found an ad for Valley Chapel Farms two years ago on Craigslist that it would turn out to be such a great situation for me. Newly unemployed (and then soon back to school) with two horses to take care of had me desperate to find good, affordable board. VCF was a godsend with their options for pasture board at very reasonable prices, which turned into stall and paddock board at the same very reasonable prices. Trails right off the property. Alexandre has found a new family. Norm and Lisa have put in a brand new huge outdoor arena, Norm helped me build jumps, they've put in a little obstacle course. And the latest and greatest (and totally unexpected) addition... an INDOOR arena!!!

It has been SO long since I have had access to an indoor. I'm really excited. They're just finishing things up, Jasper and I had our first real ride today.

He, of course, is absolutely THRILLED.

The vet comes out on Wed. to check his hocks and his teeth. I'm no longer too worried about the hocks as we had a good ride today, although it's hard to tell if the "lightness behind" was from the sand hitting the panels, the light from under the door, or if there really is something wrong. I'm pretty sure it's excitement related.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Forgot about these.

I got an email from the photographer that was at Aspen Farms Horse Trials (June 2010) today, offering discounts and deals on photos. I bought the CD but no prints and decided to look through them. I had forgotten about these...

This fence was the second in a combo and came as a bit of a... surprise.

You know it had to be spectacular when the photographer takes a shot of the LANDING.


We were only jumping this fence. There is not another one outside of the frame that we were also jumping.


Actually, I like all of these. He didn't have much experience but he sure had a lot of heart that day.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Bog Spavins?

On Sat. I went out to the barn to check on the hoss, check out progress on the indoor arena, and grab my saddle for Serena & Roxie to try out. (It's a treeless so it's supposed to fit everybody). I noticed that Jasper has small hard bumps on the front (flat) sides of his hocks. Were those there before? I don't think so, I 'm pretty sure I would have noticed them. Or maybe they're just bigger now and more noticeable. Later that day Serena looked it up in her horse medical book and figured out they're probably some kind of bone spavin.

I worried all last night and went out today expecting Jasper to be dead lame on both hinds. When I drove up he was out in his run bucking in place. I'm assuming it's because there's snow and ice on the ground so galloping around isn't so much an option. He can buck in place pretty high, heels waaaay over his head. He wasn't acting like he was in pain.

Even though the indoor doesn't have footing yet it has a roof and walls so I took him in there to lunge him around. He seemed verrrrrry happy to be on non-slippery dirt and cantered around throwing a huge buck every time he went past the big open space where a door will be. Seemed a little stiff to the right?

I decided to ride to see if I could feel anything. Nope. Not that that means anything. He was excited and forward but didn't feel uneven.

I don't know why lumps would show up on the fronts of his hocks. I'm going to have the vet out to check on his teeth so I'll ask her about it then.

On another note, while I was doing research I discovered there is a band called Bog Spavin. Their logo is "rock out with your hock out". It was disturbing to me.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Happy Halloween- Fantasy Costume Class!


Friesian people take their costume classes SERIOUSLY. How are these horses not spooking at themselves? Each other?? WINGS???

Friesian people are a little weird.

I feel I have the right to say that.


Oh, and the Queen of Hearts was my favorite.

Don't bother to watch it to the end, it takes 20 minutes for the judges to decide then cuts off before the winner is announced. I think it was the Eagle though.

Oh oh and the yellow horse with the horsey LEGGINGS is a sphinx. Dude. Horsey leggings. The particulars behind those boggle the mind.

I'm pretty sure I'm going to come up with an outfit like the pink vegas showgirl's for the next time we compete XC. Or wait... wings...

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Beginings of Modern Day Eventing

Holy crap, check out this video:


These guys are flying.

I wonder if it helped the horses' courage to be in large groups while galloping at breakneck speeds over giant obstacles? Seems like if one stopped he'd pretty much be rammed from behind. Might instill a "go or die" element to the training?

It's sobering to think these horses were being trained to charge into battle under fire. I can't imagine doing a BN cross country course while dodging bullets. Not cool man, not cool!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Equine Assisted Psychotherapy

Last weekend I was down in Portland, Oregon area for a training in EAP for work. It's a really interesting model and if you're in the health care field I recommend you take a look at it. EAGALA (Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Assoc.) puts on trainings throughout the US and abroad (for some reason my boss didn't think it was necessary for me to go to Europe or South America to get certified...???) and offer them pretty much year round.

It's a team approach, so there's a licensed Mental Health person, an Equine Specialist, and a horse or horses. The client (or clients) come in, are given a task (for instance, go get a horse and bring it over here), and the MH and ES step back and watch what happens. The MH person is watching the people, while the ES person watches the horses and looks for Shifts, Patterns, Uniqueness, Discrepancies, and/or Self-awareness.

When the client feels they are done, you process what happened. It doesn't matter if they complete the task or not. Questions are asked in the here and now, and always relate back to the horses. (In other words, it is not talk therapy). For instance, if the task is to bring a horse back to a certain area (probably without ropes, etc.) the ES might ask, "I noticed when you walked towards the horses, the one you were closest to ran very quickly down the side of the arena. What was that about?" I would ask this question because I'm interested to know if the client saw the horse running away as a success or a failure, and if it brought up issues for them.

-I thought it was good, the horse got to have some freedom and do what it wanted.
-It ran away from me like everyone else does.
-I didn't really notice when that happened.
-I just went on to a different horse.
-I felt like I failed, because I was going after that horse.
-etc. etc. etc. etc.

You can see that all of these answers would tell something about the client. Then the MH person comes in and either asks another question or relates the answer back to the client's life.

It's a great way for kids, especially angry and somewhat reluctant kids to start opening up. You're lucky to get some kids to sit across from you and talk for 10 minutes, while they can be doing EAP and processing for an hour.

Oh, and the horses are AMAZING. You would not believe some of the things they do in these sessions. It's like they know exactly what the client needs and take care of business. Pretty cool. I'm looking forward to getting this started at the Ranch.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Letting Gogo go.

Andrea at Eventing-A-Gogo is letting her beautiful young mare go today rather than keeping her around to live in pain. One of the most popular blogs in our horsey community, most of us have been following Andrea and Gogo's adventures into eventing for years. Unfortunately the injuries to Gogo's hind legs are not healing and instead are breaking down further. Today Andrea lets her beloved mare leave her pain behind.

Andrea, Gogo's story has been inspirational to us all. I think every one of us out here in blogger land has shed a few tears for you today. Hang in there and just know you have a huge community of support to fall back on if you need to. Hugs to you and Gogo.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Pre-Green Division Champions!

We came. We saw. We walked about 15 miles up and down and up and down the dirt road while everyone else sat on their half asleep horses and watched the competition. We won!

Jasper was... tense. I'd say he was high as a kite, but it gives the wrong impression. He wasn't rearing and screaming and spinning in circles, but he would not stand still. For. a. second. He was humpy and tail swishy and oh so in front of my leg, and I'm wondering if maybe he was a little bit sore. It's hard to tell because he was so excited. At the same time he would walk happily around the grounds on a loose rein.

The jumping classes got better as the day went on, the jumps are great because they give him something to focus on. We warmed up in the 2' division, ending our first class in a nice kick and bolt when the audience clapped. Luckily they were an attentive bunch and waited to clap from then on.

The classes in the Pre-Green division (2'-2'6) were by far our best, he was finally starting to relax a bit. In each division you had to ride a flat class at the end, and the judge suggested that perhaps my horse was "not fond of the flat classes". I don't know why, just because he broke into canter often, did hopping transitions, picked up the wrong leads, and even kicked out a few times!

The video shows our last and best class of the day. He's great once he's jumping. There were people on the hillside, horses in pastures on the far side of the arena, a road down below, and the usual show hubbub. He never thought about refusing anything and was very, very brave, especially considering he hasn't been out of the barn since April. He also does an automatic lead change, which I missed, so I made him trot and do a simple one. Doh!

Pam & the goods!

We won our jumping classes and got last I think in the flat class, putting us in first for the division. The "trophy" is a nice saddle pad from SmartPak with fancy 2 tone rope edging and the Post Falls Equestrian Center's logo on it. It is the nicest one I own. They're so... white when they're new...! :)

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Fresh and Clean as a...

(Ignore dirt and rocks on mat and slight holes in front of it, just concentrate on the er... calm expression and all four hooves in contact with the ground)

All cleaned up with somewhere to go. I had to take a picture for posterity since today was Jasper's first bath with shampoo this year. On the first of October. This is as clean as he gets. He was not happy about it and got in trouble several times. Clean horse, clean tack, ready to go have some fun tomorrow... Post Falls here we come!

The new indoor! They did all this structural work today. IN ONE DAY. Three guys and tractor type lifty machines. Yesterday it was just a flat expanse of dirt with some concrete & rebar footings sticking out. Today it has a ribcage. It's going to have lighting and a sprinkler system. Very exciting.

I heard that Alexandre's new people have bought materials to put in fencing and build shelters so they can put their horses on their property. What will I do when I drive up in my car and there's not a deep, rumbling Harley Davidson greeting?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

We're going to a show... woot!

I think we're going to head to the little Hunter/Jumper show on Sunday! Jasper's knee seems fine and we had a good schooling day today. I think we'll do a couple of 2' classes and a couple of 2'-2'6 classes. My friend Kodi came out this morning to play jump crew and take some video with my crappy point and shoot camera.

I've been trying to not jump ahead. When I watch the video frame by frame it looks like I'm jumping waaaay ahead on the way up, but then end up in a pretty good position over the top of the fence. He, however, looks pretty good to me considering the lack of schooling we've had this summer. There is a little more tail swishing than I like... but he's got a nice rhythm and isn't rushing.

I think he really likes jumping. He even started to do a flying lead change for me right as I was asking him to trot to do a simple change. Cool!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Whoooooa, Waterford!

Jasper was SO angry about having the Waterford in his mouth. He HATED it. Sure did listen though, a little too well. He tried rooting a few times, popped himself in the mouth, and about flew over backwards. I was being as soft as possible and trying to leave some slack in the reins but he still went around tense with his ears back. It wasn't all because of the bit... he was hyper and wanting to run and really just wanted to give all his attention to the horses in the nearby field. He would speed up and then realize the punishment was that damn bit and would throw his head up in defense. And then down in defense. And then get angry and begin to hop. So anyway I'm just going back to the KK Ultra for dressage and the French Link for jumping and am going to quit worrying about his tongue. I believe I'm going to try the Waterford on a horse at the ranch that pulls the reins out of the boys' hands. I think it might be perfect for him.

Today was a great ride. Same arena, but the middle of the day instead of dusk with all the horse eating shadows. I set up a grid, barrels, one stride to a vertical, one stride to a second vertical, 2 strides to barrels. I'd say the verticals were about 2'3, a little higher than the barrels. The first time we fleeeeeewwww through it and did the 2 strides in one. I second guessed myself... was that really a long one stride? I thought I measured 30'. So we did it backwards and lo and behold, it was two. I discovered something really important today. Jasper responds to half halts between jumps. I never even tried before because I totally assumed he'd be oblivious to them. We jumped the grid both ways, first from a trot and then from an easy canter. Our last time through we landed over the last vertical, I gave a half halt and a "whoa!" and got a nice 2 tot he barrels. He was balanced enough after barrels that he was able to stop easily and smoothly and I jumped off and gave him lots of praise. Good 'nuff...!

It's the first time we've jumped since he injured his knee. He seemed very sound to me. He'll have tomorrow off for sure, then I'll go out on Tues. or Wed. to see how he's doing.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Musings of no real relevance.

The guilt was getting to me even though I've been fatigued lately and only had one day off this weekend. I forced myself to drive out to the barn to at least clean Jasper's run-in and give him carrots. Then I got there and he had his head over the door of the stall, all bright eyed and expectant and adorable. So we went on a ride, I thought it would be good to get him out of the barn area and hit the trails since it's been a couple of weeks.

He was really amazingly well behaved. Soooo out of shape though. We saw deer and 3 flocks of turkeys. As usual, the last field I make him walk through on the way home got him all amped up so by the time we got back to the driveway leading back to the barn he was more excited than when we left.

I'm thinking of taking him to a little jumper schooling show on Oct. 2. It would be our one and only competition this year. I figure we could to the 2' division without much practice or need to get in shape. Just kind of go and pop around, see what happens. I don't want him to forget how to do it! I would like to start competing again next year... hopefully with a horse trials or two thrown in there.

I LOVE his color, especially now that his dark winter hair is starting to come in. All three of my horses have been bay with no white. Mindy was very red, almost a blood bay. Alexandre is a dark bay with red highlights. Jasper is a dark bay with golden highlights. He almost takes on a grulla-ish buckin-ish look in the fall.

Monday, September 12, 2011

A Bit of News

Look what Kacy over at All Horse Stuff sent me in the mail! She's been reading about my bitting woes and sent me this Waterford to try. I've never used one before and I'm curious to see how Jasper reacts. My only concern is that it will be too harsh for him and he will avoid contact with it. We will see! He may love it because it's nice and flexible. Fingers crossed it is the miracle cure. :) I love our blogging community. There are some very generous people out there.

In other news I got my old job back at the boys' ranch. Without saying much over the internet, two years later I am back to running the horse therapy program for boys with histories of abuse and neglect. There are only four horses left, and three of them are angry and resentful of their jobs. Hopefully I can turn them around. Send them good vibes if you'd like. I'm almost certain I'm going to keep Jasper at the barn where he currently lives... it's such a great place and they're building an indoor. It would be great to see him everyday but I'm not ready to bring him to the ranch. It does mean that I'll see him even less if that's possible. After working all day with horses the last thing I want to do is drive out to another barn and do more horse stuff. Ugh. I dunno.

In unrelated news I went to the doctor's office today and left with a $1000 bill. And I thought vets were expensive. The CT scan experience was very strange. They thought it was appendicitis but I just have a cyst which is good because it will eventually burst and heal on its own, and the pain will go away. Too bad it couldn't have waited 6 months until my health insurance kicks in. D'oh! Oh Canada...

Monday, August 29, 2011

Happy??? Mouth

After spending a week on the Oregon coast and in Portland, I came home to find my Happy Mouth bit had arrived. It was pretty much my last ditch effort to find something that Jasper doesn't stick his tongue over the top of.


I actually stood there with my finger in his mouth holding it in place so he couldn't get his tongue over the top for at least 5 minutes. Realizing it was a battle I was not going to win I decided to go for a ride. Maybe he would figure it out.


Granted, I haven't ridden for a long time. Gave his knee time to heal and went on vacation. It was one of the worst rides I've ever had. He is usually light and responsive but today he put some weight into it. Chewing and crossing his jaw. Rooting. Tongue hanging out and waving in the wind. He was so concerned about the bit he forgot how to go forward and I actually had to use a crop.

So I'm wondering if these are signs that this is NOT the bit for him, or is he figuring out that it's not comfortable to have under his tongue? I'm thinking about tying the tops of the bit rings together with a piece of leather over his nose so he can't fit his tongue between the bit and the roof of his mouth. Also, I'm pretty sure the bit is too wide. Apparently a 5" mullen mouth is not the same thing as a 5" snaffle. Oh well, at least the insides of his lips aren't being squished into his teeth.

Friday, August 5, 2011

The bee's knees & Al's new life

Jasper got his groove back yesterday. It's pretty obvious when he's feeling better, he gets the (...ahem obnoxious) sparkle back in his eye. I borrowed an equine ice pack and iced his knee which had much better results than cold hosing. The swelling was already down and the ice pack took it down even more. I walked him up and down the driveway and he didn't appear to favor it at all, of course he was giving all of this attention to the horses in the outdoor arena so who knows if his brain was just completely distracted.

Every time I get the hose out Alexandre comes over and stares at me until I squirt him with water too. He usually starts off this way, then turns sideways so I can get his side then backwards so I can get his butt.

Alexandre's new life
Yesterday a whole pack of adults and kids came out (Alexandre's extended family) and started saddling up horses. I caught this image with my phone as they were heading out for a trail ride. If you would have told me 12 years ago that two little girls would be riding him double out on the trails someday I wouldn't have believed you.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Bad bad bad bad bad

horse owner.

Yesterday Jasper decided he didn't want to be caught. This happens every now and then, a flashback to the first two weeks after I brought him home and he wouldn't let anyone near him. He was in a pasture when I worked at the Ranch and the only way we could get our hands on him was to strategically position people throughout the pasture and keep him running until he decided he'd rather be part of the "herd" than to be exiled. Kind of reverse psychology, chasing him around with a halter and lead rope and cookies was useless. If he wanted to run away, we made him RUN AWAY.

It worked and he's hardly ever hard to catch anymore. Until yesterday. It didn't start off as a big deal, I entered his stall and he calmly turned around and trotted out into his giant paddock. Not wanting to play the game, I tied a rope across the opening in the fence that allows him into the smaller paddock area leading into his stall and swished the lunge whip around. Alexandre heard it and panicked (forgot about him being next door and being terrified of whips) and got all excited. Jasper bolted for his stall, picking up speed every stride and didn't see the rope until the last minute. He tried to stop and all I could see was a giant cloud of dust when he then decided to jump it. Luckily the rope was not tied tight and came undone, but not after pulling the fence post sideways. When the dust cleared my horse was standing on 3 legs.

Besides a few rope burns on his legs he didn't look too bad. He was limping horribly but putting weight on it. I gave him a couple grams of Bute and started cold hosing the hurt leg. I couldn't see the source of the pain until about 45 minutes later when his knee started swelling up.

Sigh. I called the vet and she said cold hosing/ice Bute was what to do. She's pretty sure it's a soft tissue injury and said to plan on taking care of it for the next week. If it got worse she'd come out and take xrays.

I drove up today and was really surprised to see he had two front legs. I thought he would have a leg and a tree trunk. The swollen knee looks almost exactly the same as when I left it yesterday. More cold hosing and Bute, although I didn't notice any difference after 20 mins. of cold water running over it.

I was planning on taking him for a x-country schooling on Thurs. Then possibly doing the XC/stadium/dressage clinic with Karen O'Neal on the 13th & 14th. And THEN possibly signing up for the Stanton Farm Horse Trials the 26th-28th. It's a "real" (USEA) event and the only one on this side of the mountains in Washington.

So now I don't know, even if it heals up in a week I don't know that we'd have enough time to get ready. The last time he did XC was last summer. The closing date for Stanton is the 9th and I'm sure not going to send an entry in if there's any chance he's seriously injured or in pain. I've never dealt with a knee injury although strangely the feeling I get from people is that it's not that big a deal since he's walking on it. We'll see.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Jumping lesson!

We trailered out to Busy Bee Ranch & Landfill (I always have to type that out, it cracks me up) for a jumping lesson this afternoon. Jasper, as usual, was a sweaty shaking mess when we got there but surprisingly he calmed down after I walked him around for 15 minutes. Like really calm. Like standing tied at the trailer without pawing or screaming. He let me groom and saddle him without knocking me over.

I dunno, it was hot.

Walked up to the jumping arena and there was no mounting block so I got on from the ground. And he stood there. First. time. ever.

It was hot?

We warmed up and Regina asked me if when I'm posting the trot if he likes it when I'm sitting or standing. Huh? She repeated her question and I admitted I didn't know, but that I've always tried to stay off his back because he's a baby. Um, was. Is?

So I started posting the trot sitting heavy like I had a 200 pound weight on my head pushing me down. He started using his hind end, back legs coming up underneath him. Then I switched it up and put all the emphasis on the rising part of the trot. He went back to his normal choppy trot stride.

THAT was a big breakthrough. All horses are different. Some like you to sit, some like you to stand. He responds when I sit and tries to bounce me out of the saddle.

On to trot poles and I got in trouble for not sitting in the down part of the posting and letting him bounce me out of the saddle. The second time it totally clicked. Connection.

We did some simple low stuff, talked about position when jumping which I totally needed (man it's nice to have eyes on the ground)!!!

We ended by doing trot-canter transitions. He had a lot of trouble with these before when I was riding with Jessica, and we found something that worked. I would kind of let him trot into them by giving him "get ready" cues for 2 or 3 strides then sit and ask. By that time he was ready to canter and would simply fall into the canter simply and smoothly. Success meant he didn't come off the bit. Yes, it's a good way to teach babies (especially TBs apparently) how to canter. I found out we're not a baby any more, and he basically does the transition and 3 strides later is on his forehand.

We would trot, and canter 2 or 3 strides or until he went on the forehand, then transition to trot again. Trot a few steps and ask for canter by sitting (there's that sitting word again), rinse and reapeat. And... he got it. He really did. It was easier for him to canter using his hind end than to do all those dang transitions. We got at least 3/4 of a circle each direction in the end.

Gooooooooood booooooooooooooooooooooy!!

It's great because I feel like I have lots of homework I can do on my own for quite a while. I am an eventer, after all. :)

As far as the tongue over the bit, Regina suggested something made out of rubber. Possibly a straight type of bar. Anyone have any experience with these? Is there really a difference between the Happy Mouth and the Nathe (besides $50 and that they're shaped slightly differently)? I know people rave about the Nathes.

I'm also looking into the Australian noseband.
Happy Mouth $25

Nathe $75

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


Two years later and Jasper still sticks his tongue over the bit. I've been on every horse chat board known to mankind and no one seems to have any real solutions other than tying his tongue down. I've tightened his bridle up, made it loose, used those rubber ports, and tried all kinds of humane bits for his pathetically small mouth. He has a nice thin KK Ultra ($ca-CHING$), a nice thin French Link, and even a Myler. He goes about the same in all of them, nice and light with his tongue sticking in and out of the side of his mouth. I don't use nosebands other than for shows. I don't believe in clamping horses' mouths shut and it's not a solution to the root of the problem. Plus he gets his tongue over the bit with the anyway, they just don't stick out of his mouth as far. (I use a flash for dressage).

I found this bit and decided to give it a try. It's a 3 piece bit with a piece that sits on top of his tongue so he has to keep it in place. I put it on pretty snug.

It looks like a big D-ring when it's on.

He chomped and chomped at it trying to get his tongue over the top. After awhile I got on and walked and trotted around on a loose rein. Gradually I took up pressure on the reins and he slowed waaaaaay down, to the point I was pony kicking. A thoroughbred. We went around like this for a while and I finally asked him to stop.

What? What is that sticking out of the side of his mouth?

I jumped off.


Friday, July 1, 2011

Get in meh BELLY

Came back from a couple of weeks away and my horse has a BELLY. B-E-L-L-Y. He was galloping around the arena like a mad man and I couldn't even see any ribs.

I don't see no stinking hip bones.

^SEE? Belly!!
Oh, Mr. Hard Keeper... I knew you'd break someday.

Running when you're this fat makes you have to take a lot of rolling breaks. It doesn't stop you from running, just requires more breaks. We're at about 4 layers of sweat and dirt, sweat and dirt, sweat and dirt here.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Quick Update.

It's still raining. It's the middle of June and we haven't hit 80 degrees yet. I don't mind the temperature, I'd rather have 65 than 95, but the rain makes riding without an indoor difficult. So between the weather & the virus outbreak, we've not done much. The Icebreaker jumping show and the Deep Creek Derby were both canceled due to EHV, but we wouldn't have been ready anyway.

In recent news Jasper's legs have decided to swell up. It started with both of his hinds, then moved to left hind and front, and now is left hind and both fronts. It seems to get better with exercise but doesn't completely go away. The only change has been that he's now in a paddock with grass, but the vet didn't think that would be the cause of it. At first it was like his legs were stocked up, and now they're more swollen higher up. He doesn't seem at all unsound or unhappy so it's a mystery. I did get shoes put on him because he is so footsore from all the moisture.

In Alexandre news, he is still in rehab. Being ridden at the walk now, maybe a little trotting. He still has a big knot right above his left hind pastern that looks like it's permanent. He doesn't seem to favor it. As he will be a trail horse for the rest of his life I think it's going to be OK.

Grace came out to help rehab both of them- walked Alexandre around the round pen then out and around the arena, and walked Jasper around bareback with a halter & lead rope. (It was one of Jasper's mellow days- he DOES have them every now and then).

Grace & Alexandre- they're both smiling. :)

Bryon came out and helped rehab too.

Rehab is hard and requires a lot of fuel replacement.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Jasper's mug is in the news today.

Of all the crazy things... there is a picture of Jasper in the news today.

Spokesman Review

Valley Chapel is an out-of-the-way little boarding facility off the beaten path, not even listed in the phone book. I have no idea why a reporter went out there, or of the 40 horses why he was chosen for a photo shoot, but it's Jasper's 15 minutes of fame! (The story is about the herpes virus, Jasper is not sick nor are any of the horses at Valley Chapel).

I am quite fond of the completely random. This definitely tops the list.

ETA: Fri: Aaaaaaand made the front page of the paper today.

(ETA ETA: Apparently today he's in the Wall Street Journal- Sat.)

Front Page

Lisa Talbott of Valley Chapel Farms checks on Jasper, one of her boarding horses, on Thursday. A virus has forced many horse owners and boarding operations to keep their horses away from events until the health issue passes.
May 20, 2011

Deadly equine virus hits Washington

Horses, alpacas and llamas at risk of disease

Three cases of a virulent strain of the equine herpes virus have been reported in Washington state, prompting horse owners to take precautions against spread of the disease.

The Spokane Lilac Association reported Thursday that seven of its 15 equestrian entries in Saturday’s Armed Forces Torchlight Parade have canceled as a precaution.

Some of the area’s horses were exposed at recent competitions in Ogden, Utah, and Clarkston, Wash., said Mike Dedmon, vice president of parades for the Lilac Association.

“I’d rather stop the spread than have them coming here,” he said.

One of the Washington cases occurred at the Washington State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital.

That horse was admitted to the hospital for unrelated problems, but the virus was later detected. The horse had competed at the National Cutting Horse Association Western National Championships in Ogden about two weeks ago.

In a recent letter, state veterinarian Leonard Eldridge said the infection was a variant of the Equine Herpes Virus (EHV-1) known to cause extreme neurological complications and death.

Voluntary quarantines, veterinarian monitoring and other precautions are recommended for horses that were exposed, he said.

Confirmed cases must be reported to the state veterinarian’s office at (360) 902-1881.

“This is a reportable disease,” said Charlie Powell, public information officer for the WSU College of Veterinary Medicine.

The WSU veterinary hospital has been under a voluntary quarantine, not accepting any new equine or camelid patients except in dire emergencies. Camelids include alpacas and llamas.

“This virus is so contagious,” Powell said. It spreads through sneezing, whinnying and other contact. The virus can survive on tack gear or even shovels to infect other horses.

Its incubation period is two to 14 days.

Powell recommended that horse owners limit their animals’ travel for the next few weeks so the outbreak can be stemmed.

Humans, livestock and pets are not at risk, Powell said.

In Colbert, the McKinlay & Peters Equine Hospital treated a horse that had symptoms of the disease, but that horse was sent home for quarantine and the hospital is under quarantine and taking precautions.

The horse had been at one of the competitions to which the virus was traced, a spokeswoman there said. The hospital was awaiting results of a lab test to determine if the horse was infected.

Lilac Parade officials are taking steps to protect horses during the parade. A veterinarian will be on hand. Equestrian entries will be spaced at least 50 feet apart in staging areas.

Dedmon, in a letter to equestrian entrants, asked that horses that attended the Ogden event stay home.

In the Spokane area, stable owners are taking steps to halt the spread of the disease.

At Valley Chapel Farms south of Spokane, owner Lisa Talbott notified horse owners that the facility was closed to incoming horses and asked that horses at the farm be kept there for the next two weeks as a precaution.

She said she is not concerned about the virus spreading there because “we are more of a recreational facility” rather than a stable for competitive horses.

However, she noted in an email that almost all horse events have been canceled for the time being and many stables have been “locked down.”

The Kitsap Sun reported that equestrian entries were pulling out of Bremerton’s Armed Forces Day Parade on Saturday.

One of the confirmed Washington cases was reported in Snohomish County.

The neurological strain of EHV-1 was first identified in 1971. Treatment is available, but may not always be effective, Powell said.

For more information, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has a guide to understanding the neurological form of EHV infection. Also, visit www.vetmed.wsu.edu/.

Sunday, April 10, 2011


We went to a Pony Club benefit jumping day at Busy Bee Equestrian yesterday. They had a great idea- we paid $10 to enter and bought tickets for $2 a piece. Every time you wanted to take your horse in for a round you gave a ticket and could either follow the course that was posted or take 90 seconds to jump anything you wanted.

Jasper jumped right in the trailer yesterday morning, and by the time we got to my friend's barn to pick up her horse was sweating and shaking, as usual. He is so nervous in trailers and seems particularly nervous in mine. It's huge- I had to get an extra tall extra wide extra long 2 horse straight load so Alexandre could fit in it. Aluminum so my dad's wimpy truck can pull it. Maybe it's too big for him? I don't know, it does seem loud. I've duct taped all loose parts down to reduce noise. He's much, much better when there is another horse by him. He rode in a 2 horse straight load almost every day last year at this time when I was grooming for Jessica in order to get from her house to the barn, so I don't think it's a desensitization issue. I drive like a snail. I just don't know what else to do to make him more comfortable.

Melissa's horse loaded right up and rode great and by the time we got to Busy Bee they had started the trot pole class. Which went on for hours, literally. I had the lower enormous sand outdoor all to myself to warm up in- NO MUD!!! That was worth the trip right there. Our warm ups usually go like this:

Me: trot
Jasper: canter?
Me: no, trot.
Jasper: canter?
Me: no, we're trotting now.
Jasper: canter here?
Me: trot
Jasper: canter now?
Me: no.
Jasper: canter, right?
Me: no.
Jasper: okay, canter...
Me: no.

In Jasper's warm-up world, there are many cues for canter. A weight shift, a circle, a leg yield, a spook, a loud noise, a moldy hay bale, an eye twitch, a leaf floating by...

And then finally we canter. The arena is HUGE. I got in 2 point and let him canter the length of the arena right down the middle. By the 3rd or 4th time he had finally relaxed and I called it good. Maybe I should start out cantering, it just seems like we should have some sort of connection and responsiveness to leg first. Something to think about.

By the time we got up to the jumping arena the trot pole class was still happening. I took him in the warm up amongst lots and lots and lots of horses and he was great. We must have walked 50 laps until it was our turn to go in. I was thinking trot poles, schmot poles but hey, it was only 2 bucks so why not. Turns out there were horse eating jump parts set out for later use in the arena and he wouldn't even go near the far end. The trot poles themselves were not a problem, but going near the grey wall was. Eventually got through the course and then went around again leading Melissa's horse Mister who had never seen a jump course in his life. He was fantastic and didn't spook at anything.

The 12" course also took hours. Seemed like it anyway. We led Grace and Margie through once and they did great. Cantered around a second time and the spooking got a little better. After the 12" class things started thinning out and we jumped up to 2'3 basically over the same course as they raised the jumps. At 2'6 they put in a roll top, barrels, and a brush box. I really wasn't sure about any of it, and we had some hard looks and a few hesitant strides, but he went over everything the entire day without any refusals. Didn't always get our striding right and I did ask him to chip in rather than rush and leap. I am beginning to trust him more, and I'm sure the reverse is true as well. It's starting to feel like we might be developing a partnership. :)

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Wettest spring EVER.

The other day someone asked me if I blog a lot. Lately every blog would pretty much read "it rained today" thrown in with a little "I cleaned Jasper's stall" and "I let him run around in the muddy outdoor arena". This week I could have added "hurricane force arctic wind is fun". Riveting, I know.

BUT, this Saturday might be blog worthy! A pony club is offering their arena for a jumping practice day. Ground poles on up. You pay $10 and then $2 a round. The question is, am I crazy to take a horse I haven't ridden all spring to this? Maybe. But it's in an indoor arena, and I figure at least I can actually ride! Maybe we'll just do lots of trot pole and crossbar rounds. It's not judged or anything.

One of my friends from high school just got a new horse and she wants to go so yesterday we hooked up her Suburban to my trailer and filled up the tires. I also took a look at Jasper's mane:

And realized how horribly out of control it is. It's super thick and grows equally on both sides. I really didn't feel like pulling it (especially in rain and wind) so I took thinning shears and chopped it off. There is a reason you should NEVER DO THIS. Think cross between a Thelwell's pony and a Norwegian Fjord. Yeah. Do I care enough to fix it? Probably not. Not until I actually have to put it in braids.

This could be fun!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Tack Swap Score

Went to the annual 4-H tack swap this weekend. It's a HUGE event around here. I took a bunch of stuff in on Friday to sell, and got up at the butt crack of dawn on Sat. to get there early. I got a "get in an hour before everyone else" ticket for $20 it was SO worth it. They only let 100 people buy them and it was like having the whole place to ourselves for an hour. You are literally elbow to elbow once the masses enter.

I actually found an eventing saddle. I couldn't believe it when I saw it sitting there in all it's forward flap goodness. Most of the english saddles there are cheap all purposes made in Argentina. It's in good shape and fits Jasper pretty well. It has a spring seat and I was surprised when I sat on it that it squished down quite a bit, but still clears his withers.

I can't believe how clean he looks in this pic. I was too excited to try the saddle on so he's not even brushed.

Unfortunately it doesn't fit me. It has very minimal padding on the flap and nothing underneath, not even blocks. My knee didn't come close to making contact with it and my lower leg kept scooching forward so I was in chair seat position.

But, I have velcro knee blocks on my Ansur Konklusion. I took those off and took everything to the saddle shop. They're sewing velcro underneath to I can attach the blocks and see if it fills in the gap between my leg and the saddle. Has anyone else ever had that problem? I used to ride in a Crump that had a plain flap with no padding whatsoever on my QH mare and it was fine. Maybe it's his conformation and skinny shoulders or something?

If not I'm pretty sure I can get my money back, it was a steal! (I'd really like a Jeffries Flyover.) I also got a pair of Ariat full seat breeches in great condition and a pair of Tropical Riders that are a bit too big but nice if you fold the waistband down. Oh, and a pair of Tailored Sportsmans that were too big but were only $5!!! I gave them to a friend. Plus I sold almost everything I took, I got back more money than I spent. :)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

One Trick Pony

This is Grace. She is teaching Jasper to give at the poll, something I never did with him. Yay! Jasper now knows a trick. We will probably celebrate with running and bucking when the ground dries out. Which could be in a million years.

Grace is my new student, but not in the horse world. She is taking all of her Freshman high school classes online this semester, and I'm helping her get through them. Yesterday she came with me to the barn and started working with Jasper while I cleaned his stall. Luckily we have a horse connection...! She just started her own horse blog called Bucks-A-Penny featuring Margie, a 13.2h palomino POA pony she's taking dressage and jumping lessons on.

She has offered to work with Jasper on the ground. Teach him a thing or two.

Goooooooood boy.