From racing to riding... the training diary of an off the track Standardbred

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Comedian

Jet has now decided that he is a comedian and is obviously the most hilarious thing that has ever walked on this planet. He even laughs at himself because he believes he is so funny. When I decide to go for a nice relaxing trail ride, he likes to amuse himself by playing a game. He thinks of it as "I don't want to be ridden so let's play 'You can't catch me!' instead." I, however, am not as amused. While he perks up his ears and leaps and bucks around, I grow more and more annoyed because the past few days I have only been able to ride about an hour before the sunsets so he wastes minutes that could be put to good work on playing games. When he does this, I free lunge him until he is willing to join up.

After that, I brush him - that goes well. Then I go get the saddle pad and place it on him, turn around to get the saddle, turn back around to place it on Jet and the saddle pad that I placed on his back is now in his mouth being flung around in little circles. I try it again and he tries to remove the saddle pad again but I was quicker than he was and succeeded in putting it on! I do up the girth - no problem. I grab the bridle and warm the bit, the go to put it in his mouth. My 16hh horse magically turns into the world's tallest giraffe. However, being 5'8" has it's advantages and I still manage to put the bit in his mouth and bridle him.

When I ride him he is perfectly fine. We have been going on trail rides for the past few days while I have the time during my school vacation. He absolutely loves the trails and he has been going really well! The slightly overgrown grass helps him engage his hind end and the hills are great to work on too. Today he went REALLY well going to the right (his bad way) at the trot and going to the left at the canter. I got an awesome canter out of him and ended it on that good note.

We go back to the ring where I get off and untack. I don't have cross ties so Jet has learned to ground tie. Today, he decided it would be fun to play peg-Mother-with-the-lead-rope. He took it in his mouth and swong it around and manage to clonk me one in the noggin. Silly horse.

I have been working on his "Smile" trick but he prefers to use the trick to laugh at me. I'll have to get a video of it to show you guys, it's hilarious!

Here are some pictures I took at my friend's house with my new camera!


Mary-Kate's dog Boston, one of the models in this set!

Boston and Beverly playing

Mary-Kate and her Standardbred Katie having a good time!

CLICK READ MORE for more awesome pictures! Don't miss out!!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Today was a great day. It started at the mere time of 5:30am when my little brother woke me up so we could open presents. I love watching little kids open presents on Christmas; it's like the energy and spirit of Christmas lives within the younger kids. Everything that my brother opened was "UNBELIEVABLE!" "Are you SERIOUS?!" "Where did you find this?!" It was heart warming to see how happy he was (:

I was lost for words when I opened up one of the presents and saw my wildest Christmas wishes coming true right in my hands. I opened a Nikon d3100 DSLR camera complete with 2 different lenses, a carrying case, this that and everything in between. I was shocked. I felt like I was a kid again! I was acting just like my little brother was, basically jumping up and down with joy. I immediately opened everything up, looked at it, read the manuals, and plugged the battery into the charger so I could start taking pictures. 

While it was charging, I went back to sleep. Hours later, I grabbed the camera and went outside to take some pictures. I was further amazed to see what seemed to be a Christmas Miracle. Despite all weather forecasts, it was snowing! There was no snow predicted and everyone was a bit bummed that it would not be a white Christmas but surely enough, it was! Unfortunately, the snow left just as quickly as it came. It only left a light covering that vanished back into the earth a few hours later. 

I am still getting used to everything so the pictures will only get better from here! Prepare for photo spam 
Click Read more to see more pictures!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Winter Goals

To keep myself motivated to ride in the bitter cold New England winters, I have decided to make a list of things I would like to do or achieve. So far, the list consists of:

  1. Work him at least 3x a week even if its just walking around the street
  2. Work on his new smiling trick and master it 
  3. Have him bow while I ride him
  4. Bareback and Bridle-less riding at least 3 times
  5. Stand on him as he walks around
  6. Modified skijourning at least twice
More to some as I think of them...any ideas on tricks I could teach him? It's important to keep his mind as well as him body moving in the winter!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Blast from the past

Here are some pictures of Jet when we had him as a three year old!

The day we brought him home:

Trail Rides:


At home:

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Battling Thrush

Let's back track to the summer...There were some really rainy times, especially when the hurricane hit. Where we are, our turnouts are dirt and geniusly placed at the lowest point of the property. What does rain and dirt make? Mud. And lots of it. Jet stays down in the muddy area over night and goes up in the sand ring for turnout from about 9am to 5pm every day but he still managed to get a nasty case of thrush.

I have tried many thrush products to fight it including the never-failing Thrush Buster. Now I relate Thrush Buster to the Titanic. The unsinkable that sank and the never-failing that failed. We had the farrier look at him and she is very concerned. Right now, I have to be extremely careful with him, especially on little rocks, because he is a prime case of an abscess waiting to happen. His frog and heel are extremely squishy and on two of his hooves, the median of the balls of his heel has rotten open. Even though this is extremely bad, it allows me to use a much stronger method of tackling the thrush.

Right now, I am using a sugar-dine cotton ball mix and legitimately shoving it as far as I can into the rotting area (this is all under farrier orders and it is being closely monitored). The sugar-dine will help draw the bacteria and infection out of the frog and thus ending the thrush. The cotton balls are soaked in the mix and separated into small sections so that they will stay in the frog. For the first few days I also diapered the front two feet so nothing could get in and nothing could get out. Now, I am not diapering but I am putting the cotton balls in the frog, and removing the ones that are there from the previous packing, twice a day. All throughout this time, Jet has been locked in a stall ( we have run-ins) overnight so he has a much slimmer chance of getting moisture in his feet at all. He is in dry areas 24/7 and hopefully this will help kick the thrush.

I'm not sure what I'm going to do over the winter...snow is just moisture which is what the thrush bacteria thrive in. I can't keep him locked in a stall all day and night. That  isn't fair to him nor is it healthy for him. I think he is just going to be turned out in the snow in the day and locked in the stall at night. We will see when the time comes.

As far as riding goes... I have been keeping it pretty low right now because of his feet. I do not want him to abscess at all. So when I do ride him, I only ride in our ring where I know the rocks are picked from daily. I would love to go out on the trails a few more times before it snows but I don't want to hurt him. We will see how his feet are in two weeks and take it from there.

He got a little break from riding after the hunter pace but he is back in work now. I am riding at least four times a week and every now and then I will ground drive or lunge him just to do something different. Ideally, I will be able to keep him fit and working throughout the winter by using indoors nearby. If that doesn't happen, he will at least be walked multiple times a week just to get his body moving.

I have also started a written Riding Log so at the end of each month I will post it here for you guys to see!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Apple Knoll Hunter Pace- November 12, 2011

Last Saturday, Mary-Kate and I embarked on an adventure to Apple Knoll for their annual Hunter Pace. Usually it is on the weekend of Halloween but this year that weekend got snowed out. Luckily, the postponed the event and didn't cancel it. I have been waiting all year to do this and I would have been really disappointed if they cancelled it.

We ended up getting to Apple Knoll pretty late, around 1:00pm. The first riders rode out at 9am and they said the last riders could ride out at 2pm but we were the last ones there. We had the trails and jumps all to ourselves which was really nice!

The course was 8ish miles of beautiful fields, lakes, and trails. Surprisingly, there were very few really muddy spots. We were concerned that since it snowed (and rained two days straight before!) the course would be too muddy and wet to do anything. There was a wide variety of jumps of all sizes. Jet absolutely LOVES cross country courses and trails so this was the perfect combination for him.

We started out with some smaller logs (about 18") anf by the end of the pace, we jumped our biggest jump ever together, a 2'7" coop! Jet is a lot more confident over solid fences than he is over poles and oddly enough, I am too. I think it helps both of us find our spots and with it being in a field, we have a nice long approach to prepare for the fence. Jet was bold and brave to the fences but got too quick at times. We only had one refusal which was completely my fault. He broke from the canter a few strides about before a little tiny coop and I dropped him before the fence and it fell apart but he simply scooted off to the side. He has never dirty stopped on me before and I am really thankful for that. He usually trusts me enough to do whatever I ask of him which is a great feeling!

The only downside to the day was that the people running it were getting pissed off because we were the only ones out there and they wanted to go home. If they wanted to go home at a certain time, they should have said that the course was closed SOONER. One lady in particular gave me, my friends, and my family an extremely nasty and rude attitude. They had my Mom call me saying that if we didn't hurry up and get back, they were going to send a horse and rider out there to bring us back asap. Umm...excuse me? We paid for this hunter pace and we will go however slow or quickly we want to. Even though we did take a lot of walking breaks and hung around in the fields to jump a bit, we were only a few minutes slower than everyone else who did the pace. Not everyone at the facility was rude. There was one woman who welcomed us back when we got there and asked us about our ride, if we had a good time, and she even apologized for her fellow workers'/friends' poor attitude.

Even though we were pretty upset about that, we didn't let it ruin our day! Here are some videos from the day. The find one is a combination of them all put to music and with pictures so if you only want to watch one, watch that one. If there are some you want to see more of/watch the whole video, see the videos labelled below. Enjoy!

Apple Knoll- Party Rock Anthem

Small course: medium log, to small log, to coop (refusal), back to coop, to large log

Big side of the log! about 2'3"? Yes...he supermanned it..

Roll Top try 1

Roll Top try 2

Red coop

Raised log

Raised Log to little coop

Big coop

Our biggest jump ever- the big coop! He was so good (:

And here are two of Mary-Kate and her Standardbred!

Big log

HUGE roll top! about 2'7"?

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Bristol County 4-H and Open Horse Show at Haskins 10/23/11

Last Sunday, we had our final show of the season at Haskins. This is the last time Jet and I would ever be eligible for the Green Horse classes we have been doing for the past two years. I really wanted to make it count.

I decided to do seven classes that day. We started with Halter, then went to the Green Horse classes (equitation, pleasure, discipline rail, and trail), and then I decided to throw in two crossrail classes just to see how he would be in them. I wasn't expecting him to be a superstar in crossrails or Halter because we usually do not do those classes.

We got there nice and early and I decided not to get on and warm up before Halter. This meant that he would have to go into the show ring without being able to look around first. In the past, this has been an issue because when we warm up in the ring, he usually spooks quite a bit at first. It was time for him to grow up and put his big boy pants on.

Halter went really well. We were waiting for half an hour outside of the indoor ring before our class started. By the time we went into the ring, Jet was getting aggrivated. However, he held it together during the class. He stood still and square and trotted right when I wanted him to. There were seven in the class and we ended up tying for sixth. I did not care about the ribbon, I was just proud of Jet. All of the other horses have been trained to do this class and have been doing it for some time. However, my Mom was not as happy as I was about it. She asked the judge why I placed so low and he said that it was because my bridle was a flash bridle (even though I did not have the flash on the noseband). If I didn't have that, he said I would have placed in the top of the class. Oh well, atleast I know I did well!

After that, I ran back to the trailer and tacked him up for the undersaddle classes. We only had two classes to warm up in a small warm up area. Our class was called and we entered the ring. There were three in my class this time (better than it being just me like the last show!). One of the girls has been going for year end points, like I was.

Our Green horse classes went really well! Jet wasn't spooky at all in the ring! We didn't break or do anything stupid. We stood still when we were supposed to, and didn't go around at 100 mph! The only this he was iffy on was trotting right on the rail. As the day went on, the track on the rail got really deep and mushy and I think he was having a hard time so I pulled him to the inside just a bit so he wasn;t on the track and he was MUCH happier. He was moving straight, getting great transitions, keeping an even tempo, level headset, he was just being great! We were spot on in trail too! In one of our classes, the girl that was going fr year end awards fell off of her horse RIGHT infront of us when the horse spooked. I immediately dismounted (a habit I guess) and just looked on. Jet was fine throughout the whole ordeal but was a bit looky where the horse spooked. After once past that area, he was fine. The girl was fine and hopped right back on like a champ! The rest of the day was fine with no injuries. We ended up with two firsts and two seconds!

Then we went on to crossrails. I snuck into the warm up and got a few rounds in and was laughing so much that it interfered with my riding. Jet was being good though! He was going over everything...WAY over everything. Our lines could have been straighter, we could have had a better, more consistant tempo, but he did it! I knew I wasn't going to place well compared to the lesson ponies so I took the oppurtunity to try some things out in the ring. i was trot one line, canter the next, trot in and canter out, ect. Just playing around with lines while we had the chance. Our ring at home isn't big enough for lines so both of us are only used to riding single fences so we both had some trouble doing lines. At Flatlands, the jumps were set as a jumper course so there weren't many lines but at Haskins, they were set up like a  Hunter course so it was all lines.

Overall I was super proud of him! We somehow ended up placing fifth out of eight in Equitation and fifth our of eight in Hunters....I have NO idea how that happened! Here are the videos: (notice how Jet decided to stop and poop in our first opening circle! lol)

(Will be edited in alter once they load so check back!!)

They ended the day with announcing day and year end champions. Jet and I won Day End Green Horse Champ and year end Green Horse Champ!! Yay Jet! I was so proud of him! Our hard work paid off and we improved from our reserve champion last year. We endded the show season being undefeated Green Horse Champion (except the show I did with Elsa). I'm a proud mom! (:

Here are some pics:

Monday, October 24, 2011

Fall Show October 15th, 2011 and Trail Rides

Since Flatlands, we have spent the majority of our time out on the trails. We have gone here there and everywhere. If you don't already know, I used to own Jet when he was three/fourish but then we sold him because I couldn't train him to canter. The last ride I had on him before we sold him was a two-hour trail ride down some streets to fields after fields that led to great trails. This past week, I re-rode the same trails with Jet.

It was such an awesome time. The trails were amazing and the fields were gorgeous. Mom took Elsa along for the ride. It must have been the first time in months that Mom rode Elsa for this long. It must have been nice for her. We rode for two hours and ended up with two very happy horses. They both enjoyed the ride. A few days later, Mary-Kate and I rode the same trails and had just as great of a time. Here are some videos:

Attempting to gallop Jet...

Off into the Sunset

Anyone have any ideas what his "hitch" in his hind right might be? He always does this with this leg...

After our trail rides, Jet and I had a show at my school. We have our annual "Fall Show" where every major puts on some sort of display, competition, educational demonstration, etc. For Large Animal science majors, there are shows that allow students ro learn how to show various animals. This year we had a horse show, dairy cow show, beef cow show, and sheep show. At the horse show, students can use the school horses or bring their own. I decided to bring Jet.

There aren't a whole lot of classes offered but we managed to find three out of the eight that we could do. We did Open Fitting, Open Showmanship, and Limit Walk Trot Canter Equitation. Yes, our first canter class!

The morning of the show, Jet was all jacked up. The show was on a Saturday and I hadn't ridden him since that previous Monday due to rain and poor I had a bad feeling he would be all prancy. It took a few people to hold him and help me get his shipping boots on and then get him on the trailer. He usually loads himself on just fine..

Anyways, we got to the school and I opened the doors on the trailer and just let him chill. I checked in, got my lunge line, then brought him into the indoor arena where the classes would be held. To my amazement, he calmed right down and was really lazy on the lunge line. So I went back to the trailer and tack him up and warmed him up. He was great! I couldn't get him to pick up the canter on the right lead (his bad lead) but I was thrilled at how he did besides that. I knew going into it that the canter would stop us from placing well but I went anyways for the experience.

The Fitting and Showmanship classes came around and I was worried he would get bored and aggitated in the middle of the class. It was a huge class (16 people!) so we woudl be in the ring for a long time. Each horse was on the rail standing then got called individually to the center to have the judge evaluate the horse and then the handler would have to perform a pattern with the horse.

Jet was a little spooky with all the other horses in the ring and the HUGE crowd on the sides. After a few time around, he was fine. Thankfully, when he was spooking, the class wasn't being judged because some of the school horses were being passed off to different handlers. So it worked out to our advantage.

By mid-class, he was falling asleep. We were in the middle of the pack to get evaluated. He was great except he wasn't perfectly square. I had been fitting him all day long on the rail to get him square. Most of the other kids didn't even know how to swuare a horse so I figured that I'd just let it slide and let him be. He was great for the pattern too!

We placed 3rd of 16 in fitting and didn't place in showmanship. I am guessing it is because he wasn't square all of the time, the fact he was falling asleep, and that the teacher was talking to me on the rail during the class lol Woops. Oh well! I still had fun

Doing the pattern. The draft paint X in the back is the horse I ride for drill team (:
He's a 3 yr old named Finnegan. He's green but is willing to learn!

Not quite square..

Pretty boy!

Then we had the wtc class. There were only 3 in the class thankfully...the other classes had 10-17 riders in it. I was riding against one of my best friends, Julie, who was on the buckskin you see in the pics. He is cleverly named Buck. How original!

Jet was great in our class! He was PERFECT walk trot. I was so proud! He even got both canter transitions and kept the canter WITHOUT bucking for about three times around each direction! His right lead was a mess but he still did it! We were racing around like an idiot that direction and I knew we blew our class but I didn't canter. He got both leads and kept them for as long as I asked!

The judge came up to me after and asked if he was a Standardbred. She went on to tell me how she went to Maine and judged a big Standardbred show up there recently! She said that I have him going very well and to work on the canter a bit more but in no time he should be a star (:

Obviously we placed 3rd out of three. The other horses are school horses with very good riders that deserved to do well. I felt like a winner because Jet was a superstar and proved me wrong that day. Even though it started out iffy and I thought it was going to be a disaster, the show ended up being great!

After the show was a drill team performance...that ended in disaster and an ambulance ride (not from me though!). More on that later...

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Flatlands Pics


Cross Country