Horsey Thoughts

A journal of my training of my new almost two year old paint/percheron filly. Interspersed with time management issues, mommy stuff, and normal daily woes.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Thoughts All Over The Place

Having Lola so close is kind of a mixed blessing. Don't get me wrong, it is awesome, but I’ve been to the barn every day this week, even if just for a quick visit. I don’t want to torture the kids with endless barn visits, but it is so hard not to stop by when the barn is so close. We’ve been spending a ton of time at the town pool, and it is just minutes from Lola’s new barn. It’s pretty hard not to take a detour by.

I’m getting a little antsy to ride, but I know Lola isn’t ready. I’m a little nervous about starting her under saddle. I’m excited, but I also know that I’m older, more out of shape, and not nearly as confident as I was last time I started a baby. Deep down I know I can do it, but I’m also very thankful to have Lola and not another crazy thoroughbred. I need to be patient and get our ground work as good as I can, but I also don't want to get stuck in a rut and have either me or Lola get bored.

Lola seems to be adjusting to her new home pretty well. I don’t think she is thrilled with being in a stall. Jackie said she can be a little pushy when it is time to be turned out. I hope she gets over that quickly. Part of me hates having her in a stall at all, but part of me is happy to know that she is protected a bit. I know when this winter comes and it is freezing cold and windy that I’m going to be thankful she has a warm barn to spend her nights in. I bet she'll be a bit more content in her stall at night once she starts going out in the big field with the other horses. That will probably tire her out more than just being out with the one other mare in the smaller field.

I think I may bring my saddle to the barn and start tacking her up a little. I’m not convinced she is ready, but it won’t hurt her to get used to the saddle. I have no plans to introduce a bridle for a while. I just don’t see a need. I think Woody was under saddle for at least a year, or close to it before I introduced a bridle. Parelli sells a beautiful bridle that I would love to get, but it is pretty expensive. I guess I’m going to need to start thinking about saving up some money for a new saddle in the not-so-distant future as well. There is a chance my current saddle may fit her now, but I know it won’t fit forever. Lola is going to be a big girl! There is a Wintec saddle with Cair (air panels) and an adjustable gullet that looks nice. I’d like to get to a tack store to check one out in person one day and see how comfortable it is for me. The air panels and adjustable gullet would be great because hopefully it will fit Lola for a while, even as she grows, if I can adjust it.

I was thinking today that last year as my birthday approached, I couldn’t really think of anything I wanted, other than a couple of books. This year, I could make a huge list! Should I start with the saddle, bridle, Parelli Level 2 kit? The thing that stinks is that there are practical things I need to that aren’t horse related. I desperately need a rain coat and have for years, but part of me thinks that if I’ve lived without one for this long…..

The family is taking a cruise in December, and I know I’m going to need clothes for that. The kids are going to need clothes for that too. Ok enough, I’m going to get myself all stressed about finances again, then I’m going to start wondering why I bought this horse, why I moved her to a more expensive barn, and how I’m going to pay for everything. Not going there tonight. Instead I think I’ll go online and check out some horse blankets. I know Lola is going to need one this winter and I thought I saw some on sale!

Monday, July 31, 2006


What a great morning! Yesterday was NOT a good day. The whole Hamilton family had a bad case of the grouchies. Everyone was complaining and fighting, myself included. We made a shopping trip to BJs and didn't buy anything. It was that bad! I wanted to spend a little time at the barn, working Lola and getting her cleaned up before her "big" move today. Well, that didn't really happen. Skye threw a tantrum, and as punishment we decided she couldn't go swimming with Dave and Luke, so I got her. Her punishment was a barn trip with me. Lucky me. I did a quick trip, quick grooming, gave Lola some treats, and cleaned out my stuff. I didn't have a chance to do any work with her, so I was slightly nervous about trailering her today.

I dropped the kids at camp, ended up chatting with the director and some teachers there, so I was running late, but I did manage to stop for a quick ice coffee, thank goodness! I function so much better with coffee.

Headed to the new barn, and was relieved to see the trailer hitched up and ready to go. It was a nice big trailer with lots of windows. It could be a 4 horse trailer, but it was set up with two nice big box stalls, couldn't be more perfect.

I met up with Jackie and her daughter, and off we went. We had a nice time chatting on the way. Jackie is a wonderful woman, and she and I seem to have a lot in common. I'm really excited about this new barn! We got to the old barn, and the circular driveway we were told we could use for a turn around was blocked by a car. I didn't really know the people who's house it was, but we needed to turn the trailer so.....

I rang the doorbell and a woman I had never seen before answered. "I uh, hmmm, I board my horse across the street at Sarah's house, and she told me it might be OK for us to use your driveway to turn our trailer around. Would it be OK, and would you mind moving your car?" Sure enough, she was very nice and came right out to move it. She did look at me a little strangely, but that's not the first time I've gotten a funny look from someone.

It took a little work to make the left turn out of the driveway, we had to go into 4-wheel drive to get the truck out of the ditch, but we made it. We parked on the side of the road in front of Sarah's and went to get Lola. I was so happy I hadn't left much at the barn. I just had a brush and some flyspray. Got Lola's halter on, and took a nice slow walk up the driveway. I let her stop to eat a little grass and kept things very slow and calm. I let her stop again just outside of the trailer to eat a couple of more bites of grass, and then I asked her to get in the trailer. She took a sniff and stepped right in! Wow! I was so proud of my girl!

We had a pleasant ride back to the barn. More chit chatting, and Lola happily munched her hay and stayed quiet. When we got to the new barn, Lola was very calm. The ride didn't seem to have made her nervous at all. She stepped off the trailer very calmly and took a look around. Jackie went to get a pasture ready for her, and I walked her around a little. We turned her out by herself, but right next to the other horses. She calmly said hello to them and started grazing. I think I'm going to like this new barn! It was so nice for me to see her out grazing. I can't wait until she has a chance to adjust a bit and she can get turned out with the other horses. She is going to be in heaven. The barn is airy and clean, her stall is HUGE. I think we are going to like it here!

I can't wait to get back to the barn tonight to go check on her, but I'm sure she is fine. My guess is that she will be in her stall, happily munching on some hay when I get up there tonight. I'll walk her around outside a bit, and maybe do a little bit of ground games in the ring and groom her. Sounds like a great night. I'm so excited I don't have to drive half an hour to go see her anymore!

Friday, July 28, 2006

Is it too much to ask for my horse to have water?

What a nightmare! I knew Sarah was away for the last couple of days, and I went to the barn yesterday expecting dirty stalls. What I didn’t expect was to find the horses without water and to find out they hadn’t been fed breakfast yesterday! I’m so angry!

So I paid my babysitter yesterday so that I could go to the barn, clean all three stalls, feed and water the horses, and let poor Lola have a bath and graze. Why do I find myself worrying about whether or not my horse has water on a 95 degree day? Isn’t that part of what I’m paying board for? It really sucks that what is supposed to be my “relaxing” time was SO stressful. Ugh. I'm not asking for any fancy care here, I'm asking for WATER. I don't think that is too much to ask.

Today, I ended up dragging the kids to the barn because I was worried about the horses not having water again. As it was, there was very little water left when I got there. Sarah did show up while I was there and cleaned stalls, but it really bothers me that no one is more stressed about the horses running out of water.

I really wanted to work with Lola this week and get her driving game as strong as I could before we try to move her on Monday. Hopefully I can get in another barn trip on Sunday. It sucks when I have to spend the little time I have with my horse cleaning up and I don’t get to do anything fun.

Since I seem to be in a mood to rant, I mind as well go into my next problem with the barn yesterday. Sarah’s friend shows up with her boyfriend who doesn’t really ride. They tack up Sarah’s two horses and say they are going out on a trail ride. The guy is nervous, so of course the horse gets nervous. What does the girl say to do? Of course she yells on him to get a grip on her mouth, pull her back, and give her a good kick if she doesn’t listen. YIKES! It makes me crazy. Why are people so terrible to their horses? So they ask me to walk the horse to the end of the driveway. Why the guy would even go out when he couldn’t control the horse is beyond me, but not my problem. I help them walk out, and a few minutes later I see them switching horses. Now the guy is on the young thoroughbred. They try to leave and end up coming back again. They walk around the ring a few times, more yanking to turn and of course lots of yanking and kicking to stop and “make the horse listen” and they venture out on the trails again! Yikes. I’m thankful no one got hurt. I’m so thankful I discovered Parelli. I wish more people would learn that there are so many better ways than being rough on these poor animals.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Driving at the Barn

Dave’s away, so I decided to head to the barn this morning while the kids were at camp. I figured that I could work tonight after the kids were asleep, and then I could have a little barn time too.

I’m starting to really get into some fun stuff with the Parelli program. The latest lesson I’m reading/watching, is teaching how to pick up all four of the horses feet from one side, and also how to drive the horse from Zone 3, (the side of the horse.) I'm also working on getting Lola to put her head down when I ask her to, and to keep it down until I ask her to pick it up, but that isn't really as much fun as the new driving game I was doing today.

When I got to the barn today, Lola was basically black. Forget those big white patches she used to have, she was just a ball of mud. I hosed her off, and checked out all her new scrapes. She seems to itch herself quite a bit, and in the process rubs fur off her face and butt. Nice. Thankfully, none of them have been seriously so far.

I played Friendly, Porcupine, Driving and Yo-Yo Games. I spent an extra lot of time playing Friendly and Porcupine with her legs. Lots of rubbing them, practicing to get her to lift them as easily as possible, but not yet trying to left all four from one side.

Then we tried the Driving from Zone 3 task. It was quite a bit more challenging than I expected. The idea is to stand next to the horse with the lead rope in one hand, loose, and the carrot stick in the hand closest to the horse, resting on the horses withers, or tapping the top of the butt to ask the horse to move forward. Sounds simple enough, right? The problem is trying to keep focus on where you are trying to go, while juggling the rope, the carrot stick, and the horse that of course wants to go in a different direction. We had a couple of successful tries, but it is definitely something I’m going to need to work on a bit more. At least it is a fun and different game to play. You are supposed to pick a specific location to drive the horse to, a rope on a fence, a fence post, the end of a jump, etc. The idea is to focus on the place you want to go, and drive the horse there and put its nose on the object/spot. I had to take some time practicing turning so that Lola understood that I wanted her to do what I was doing. Really all she wanted to do is eat grass.

I’m really looking forward to the new barn. She’ll be turned out on grass, so hopefully it won’t be as much of an obsession when I’m trying to work with her, and the ring is sand, so I’ll have a place to work without worrying about her snacking all the time!

That pretty much took up my time with her today. Of course I groomed her a bit, covered her in fly spray several times, and put ointment on all her boo-boos.

I’m really enjoying the new Parelli Level 1 kit. The directions are good, and the order makes sense. It is so logical to do this driving from Zone 3 thing before introducing the Circle game.

I’ve got to get to bed. Going to the barn this morning was awesome, but then I had to work tonight, didn’t finish until after midnight, and now it is after 1:30am. I wish I wasn’t such a night owl sometimes, but if I wasn’t I’d probably never get anything done!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

A Perfect Night!

Had an AMAZING night at the barn last night. After a couple of really hot days, the weather was perfect. It was low 70s and sunny. Between being away last week, and the hot days early this week, Lola hasn’t had much work. The couple of times I’ve been to the barn since vacation I basically groomed her, hosed her down, and let her graze a bit. Last night, we actually got some work done.

We started in her stall and did a really good grooming. I spent lots of time scratching her itchy spots and rubbing her down. The flies were pretty terrible. Fly spray helped, but didn’t solve the problem. At one point, I was grooming her, and she rested her head on my head and just stayed there for a few seconds. So cute! She’s a very snuggly horse.

After I groomed her, we went down to the indoor. We started with lots of Friendly game, and then moved on to the Porcupine game. I pushed her a bit and asked for a full circle of her front end, in both directions, and the same with her backend. I also asked her to backup quite a few steps, until she was almost touching the wall. She did really well. I tapped her feet, asking her to pick them up, and she did great.

We did Driving game. Her front end is now moving almost as well as her back end. It’s great! She was driving back with just the slightest shake of my fingers. We were really communicating well last night. It was really special.

I increased the challenge a bit by using the porcupine and driving games to back her over a ground pole and to ask her to come over a jump. It’s taking her a little getting used to. She’s a little nervous about backing over the ground pole, but she is really trying hard and really working to figure it out. It’s so neat to see her drop her head and lick her lips while she is relaxing and figuring things out.

We played Circle game a little, and she did very well. She understands what I want now when I send her off, she’s just not quite confident on keeping going yet, but it was MUCH better last night than it has been in the past.

I thought it might be a good challenge to stand outside the door to the indoor and send Lola in ahead of me. No problem at all. I decided I should make things a bit more challenging, so I played porcupine game with her through the much smaller people door. Again, no problem. I used the circle game to send her in through the people door in both directions, no problem. This horse is not very claustrophobic at all. I haven’t officially done Squeeze game with her yet, but I think that is going to be the easiest of all for her.

I finished the night be playing Friendly game with her from up on a mounting block. I leaned on her, rubbed her all over with the carrot stick, and rubbed her opposite side while I was leaning on her. She’s still not perfectly happy with it all, but she is getting MUCH more tolerant. I can't wait to ride her! I also can't wait to move her to her new barn and have her close enough to stop by and say "hello."

What a great night! I love my snuggly horse!

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Barn Confusion

Friday, July 7, 2006

I’m so conflicted. I found a barn yesterday that I really like, but of course it is more than Sarah’s. They have a pasture board option, but as I thought about it, I’m not sure I want that. At Sarah’s, I do have a stall, I use it all the time to groom in, to confine her for treats, and she spent lots of time in her stall when we had the horrible rain this spring. What would I have done about her rain rot if I didn’t have a stall for her?


This barn conflict is driving me crazy. I’ve been emailing with Jackie, the owner of the new barn for a couple of days now, and I really like everything she has to say. I think this barn could be a really good fit for me, and for Lola. The woman seems very open-minded about all different kinds of riding styles, and she’s even studied some natural horsemanship. The only thing holding me back from jumping at this barn is money. It will be an extra $65 a month. Not the end of the world, but certainly enough that I’ll need to reorganize my finances a bit.

I’ve been stressing, and fretting about this decision for a couple of days now. I like this new barn owner’s attitude a lot. She has a 10 x 14 stall, right in the middle of the barn, nice and big and airy and rubber matts, there is a lighted riding ring, trails, a jump field, great turnout, and it is kid-friendly. Of course it is also very close to home which is a huge bonus. I think I’ve just got to go for it. I’ve already crafted a letter to the new barn owner, but I’ve decided not to send it until the morning so I can sleep on it one more night.

There are only 8 stalls in this barn, and I’m afraid if I lose this opportunity, there won’t be another opening for a while. I’ve been looking at barns for a couple of months now, many of them I was able to rule out without even seeing them, some I could quickly rule out when I visited, and two I actually liked pretty well, but they had waiting lists for stalls and no openings in the foreseeable future.

Barn confusion aside, Lola is doing really well. I’m pushing her a bit on the first three Parelli games and asking her to take more steps each time. Skylar has been working with her quite a bit and they are doing really well together. It’s so neat to see Skye learning the Parelli stuff and working with Lola. I hope one of these days I can get her into a lesson program, and even better, I can't wait for the day when she can ride Lola!

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Lots of Friendly Game and a Great Walk

It’s been a good horse week! I got to spend a bit of time at the barn yesterday morning while the kids were at camp since I worked Tuesday morning and Tuesday night. I had a nice morning with Lola yesterday. I spent lots of time working on the porcupine game since that is the section I’ve been reading about most recently in my Level 1 kit. I’m even making really good progress moving her front end which has been a sticking point for us.

I did a bit of Friendly game with the clippers. She’s certainly not excited about them, but she is getting better and better. She’s also getting better about letting me rub her nose and inside her mouth.

After lots of porcupine practice, I took Lola for a walk down the street. It was by far the most relaxed walk I’ve taken her on so far! Now there wasn’t much traffic at all, which I’m sure helped, but there was just something about her demeanor that was very relaxed. She wasn’t fighting me to get to the grass. She just walked and looked around and stopped once in a while to sniff the air. It was great! As we turned around to head home, I did let her graze a bit on the side of the road. She was on a very loose lead rope the whole time. It was great!

Today I started with lots and lots of Friendly game in her stall before we even went out. I played Friendly with the clippers, and she was more hesitant than yesterday, so I didn’t push it. I got her to the point where she would stand calmly while the clippers were on and touching her side and I called it a day.

I got a needle-less syringe and filled it with apple sauce and started playing the Friendly game with that today. She wasn’t sure what to make of it at all. Lots of rubbing it on her neck and around her nose. She wouldn’t let me put it anywhere near her mouth. I did squirt a little of the applesauce on her lips, but it didn’t entice her. That’s something I plan to work on lots with her. It would be nice to be able to worm her without it being a big fiasco every time. Eventually she put her nose out and sniffed the apple sauce and I called it a day on that note.

Also played Friendly with a plastic bag. I think the crinkly noise made her think she was getting treats because she kept sniffing the bag. No fear there at all. I waved the bag around and made all kinds of noise with it and she couldn’t have cared less.

Worked in the indoor today and spent some time working on Porcupine game again. She is really moving nicely. I had her back with and without the carrot stick, moved her front and hindquarters, and had her put her head down. I also tapped all four feet and asked her to lift them. The Parelli video also has an exercise where you hold the snap of the lead rope and ask the horse to move forward and back from that pressure and Lola did great with that today.

Did some Driving game today and had luck moving her front end with it for the very first time today! We are definitely making progress. She is getting much easier to move in lighter phases.

Even though I have done all the Parelli stuff before, I’m really trying to work with the home study program and keep to the steps. I feel like it will keep me progressing in the right order and not skipping around. I do find I’m learning new ways to do things with the program and lots of tips that are making things easier. I love the way the program is organized with books to read and videos to watch. It’s very well organized and easy to follow. Officially, I’m reading about and working on the driving game.

I did the Yo-Yo game with Lola a couple of times today and she was awesome. I pushed it a bit today and asked her for more than one step at a time. She didn’t quite understand at first, but she figured it out quickly. I backed her all the way to the end of the 12 foot line and brought her back a couple of times.

We are heading to the lake next weekend for a whole week. I know Lola will be in good hands and she probably won’t even miss me, but it is going to be hard to not see her for a whole week!