Sunday, April 19, 2009

the schooling show

After bemoaning the ordeal (to the horse) of hauling and stabling and showing, we woke up this morning and prepared to haul the pony 40 minutes to a Combined Training schooling show at the barn where both my children learned to ride. It's an easy haul, a good atmosphere, and I think our familiarity with it makes it fairly easy to manage.

We got a good start to the day. The pony self-loaded! My daughter has been teaching him to walk forward when she throws the lead line over his neck and says "walk on." He's been self-loading half-way (his front end, then he seemed to want to stop and wait for her) for the past week, but today he did it perfectly.

Interestingly enough, I was distracted by Dickens E. Wickens, our tuxedo cowboy cat, who had gotten in the trailer and sequestered himself in the hay manger behind the hay net. Fortunately I saw him when he went in, and was able to extricate him before we drove off!

I was also distracted by a certain young donkey (Rafer Johnson) who seemed to be toying with the idea of loading himself and going along for the ride.

In a new trailering protocol, I am feeding a bit of alfalfa pellets mixed in with the pony's timothy hay balance cubes when he travels, in an effort to reduce the possibility of ulcers. I think it made a difference, and I plan to continue doing this.

We were happy to start off on such a good note.

One of the dressage judges had a car accident on the way to the show this morning, and as a result the rides in that arena were falling further and further behind when we arrived. The first dressage test went well. I was so proud of my daughter, who, upon learning she had won 6th place, didn't care as much about that, or about the green ribbon, as she cared about the judge's comments and what she might do better for the second dressage test. She reviewed every movement and each comment, and we talked through it together.

It was very interesting to think back over the comments he got 1-2 years ago and realize together that because we took the time off, sorted out what was going on with him, and created a plan to address it, the comments he got yesterday reflected some pretty big positive shifts.

In previous tests he had gotten comments like "needs impulsion, lacks energy" and yesterday he got "great energy, ridden with authority!"

Previously, the accuracy of the movements was not exact, but yesterday he was very in front of my daughter's legs and they did a great job of nailing the entrances and the execution of transitions.

The things to work on now are making those circles accurate, and addressing the pony's counter-bending tendency. One judge suggested we move the saddle back to free up his shoulders more, and we tried that with some success in the second test. I think we were more excited about that observation than anything else.

There was a LONG break between the two rides, so the pony got untacked, had some hay and water, and then went on a walk around the show grounds so he could experience a few new things. He was a sweetheart, and as usual, got many comments about his cuteness. At this kind of show, there are generally many, many big warmbloods, and he looks like a mini compared to them. It's so much fun walking him around.

We ate lunch, visited with my mom, and talked with my daughter's trainer. She had brought a horse she has in training, who is also for sale, and won two blue ribbons on her before we arrived. Rita, the lovely chestnut Hanoverian mare, is an absolute sweetheart. I confess I was thinking all day about how she might fit into our herd, especially after she gazed into my eyes and licked my hands for five minutes while we awaited the pony's second ride!

The second ride went very well. The pony was relaxed and much more comfortable with the commotion around him, and he and my daughter looked really good together. They improved their score and took 4th place.

By this time of the day, many people had left. We picked up the ribbon, said goodbye to my mom, and my daughter loaded the pony in about 30 seconds. I should add that we returned to hauling w/o the divider, and w/o tying, so he was free to move around in the trailer. He wasn't stiff when he got off, so he was quite willing to get back on when it was time to come home.

We witnessed the usual horror moments at the show, but we took care of our little man, tried to make his time as easy as possible, and he did a wonderful job and was a pleasure to be with all day.

When we arrived home, Rafer Johnson had let himself into the big barnyard and was waiting for us at the gate! He was determined to greet the truck, and I had to physically move him back. A few minutes after the pony got off, Rafer loaded himself ON and kept me company while I got the extra hay out and swept the mats.

The pony was ready to head out to the field with the rest of his herd. Which right now has quite the drama going on, as Salina is in heat and has once again chosen Cody as the apple of her eye. Only THIS time, he is not dumbfounded, but quite intrigued with his elevated status. Fortunately, Keil Bay seems not to be depressed this time around, but relieved that the attention of the black mare has shifted to someone other than him.

This evening, the sun set on a contented herd, a tired but happy crew, and the sound of the neighbors' ATVs blasting. Which reminds me: there are now TWO properties for sale in our little neighborhood. One is an easy conversion to an equine property (and just think, if you buy it, you'll make the whole neighborhood happy when the ATVs leave!) and the other one is a fully functional horse property just waiting for your horses to move in. I am not a real estate agent, but I would LOVE to sell these properties to some kindred spirited, horsey people. :)

And I'll add some photos from today, as soon as they get transferred from my husband's camera.

And... I forgot to add the crow sighting. At the end of the day, just before we loaded the pony, a big crow came right up to our trailer and stood there pecking at the ground. I turned to look at him, and he flew up about to eye-level and hovered there in the air in front of us. There was a pretty stiff wind blowing, and I think he was using it to hover, but it was quite an encounter.


Grey Horse Matters said...

Cody is a star! Loading and showing and just in general being adorable.
I'm so happy for you all that your daughter and Cody did so well. I'm especially happy to see that she was more proud of herself for taking previous comments and improving on them with some time off. If only more riders would take the time to do this they'd be helping their horses and themselves to live up to their potential.
It must be so much fun and add amusement to everyday by being the mother of a 'watch donkey'. I'd love to have one or two greet me at the gate when I came home. Again, so happy to hear the day went so well, congratulate your daughter and Cody for me.

billie said...

Thanks, Arlene - I should have put the name in just to make it clear - she rode the pony, Apache Moon, not Cody the QH!

We decided it was more important this show season to work with the pony, as she is growing and he is, sadly, not - so the opportunity to do this with him may well be gone if her legs get any longer! :)

ponymaid said...

Well done, all of you. These outings can be a pleasant adventure or absolute horror, depending on the human element and you have obviously figured that out splendidly. Now, about Rafer. He needs an outing of his own, with younger brother Redford, of course. He's being very clear on his need for travel - next will be the brochures casually draped on the fence. Is there somewhere he and Redford could go for a visit? Perhaps they would like to go to the local tack shop and choose some items for themselves? Or the feed store for a treat? Wherever, they go, they will attract a following of devoted fans and admirers; that I know for certain.

billie said...

Sheaffer, I shudder to think what would happen if I drove away with Rafer Johnson and Redford in the trailer! Salina would probably either jump the fence and follow, or lose 100 lbs. pacing between when we left and when we came back!

Considering that donkeys live so very many years, Team R&R may have to postpone their world travels until they are a bit older. I have no doubt they would win over anyone they come into contact with!

Nachodonkey said...

Congratulations on your daughter's placings. It is great that you are taking your time to find out what works for him and have him a willing partner instead of forcing him to do something he is just not understanding. Apache Moon is a wonderful name!!

Was Rafer keeping you company or sneaking little tidbits of leftover food?

The donkeys are clearly telling you a road trip is in order. Do you think they heard rumours about Sheaffer's party?

A month ago the properties next door sounded very appealing but now the leaves are starting to bud and the grass is peaking up and other than the odd patch under a tree, the snow is mostly forgotten. Let me know if they are still available in December....

We had a major mishap with a gate this week end ending up with my quarter horse having some serious scrapes and swelling on his lower front leg. It has responded well to the cold water hose (and Nacho licking the water as it is streaming down the leg) but I was wondering about arnica which you had mentioned in a previous post. I haven't been able to find a holistic vet at present and would appreciate any advice.

billie said...

I would definitely use arnica for swelling and bruising - pellets by mouth.

I have recently been using calendula tincture in warm water (about a dropperful/gallon) to treat minor scrapes on the horses, as well as two tick bites that Salina got which became big and yucky.

I cleaned the bites 3-4 times/day with the calendula solution and they were better by the second application, and I used it on a third tick bite I found and that one never got bad at all.

She scraped her flank around the same time and the solution cleaned the area, but also seemed to take the redness and sensitivity right out of it. It has already healed and is starting to grow hair again.

I'm sorry about the mishap and hope the QH heals well and quickly!!

Nachodonkey said...

Wonderful pictures. They make a very flashy pair but I think those legs will be too long for him in the not so distant future. As I found out all too soon....they grow. However, that being said, my daughter is 6' tall and doesn't look out of place on my 14.1 hand mare.

I will stop in at the health food store on the way home and pick up some calendula. Any recommendations as to dosage for the arnica? Mr. Bing weighs about 1200 lb.

billie said...

Homeopathic meds do not dose by weight - so the dose would be the same as it would for you, or a puppy. :)

Different folks have different dosing methods, but for something acute, I would do 3 pellets AM and PM for 3 days. You can dissolve the pellets in spring water and give with a syringe (idea is to bathe the inside of the mouth with the remedy - it doesn't have to be swallowed to work) OR just tuck the pellets inside the lower lip. The pellets are made of milk sugar so usually the horses don't mind them, but sometimes will try to work them out of the "pocket" and into their mouths!

Nachodonkey said...

Many thanks!! I will give it a try.

billie said...

Sending good thoughts and I hope it works!

I have been mixing remedies this past week myself, as our homeopathic vet sent the remedy for Moomintroll (one of our cats who has seizures), the cell salts and two remedies for Chase the Corgi, and a remedy for me to use with any equine vaccination shots, to ameliorate side effects.

The vet sends tinctures (the cell salts are powder) and it's like having a small alchemical lab, with the little brown bottles, mixing a certain amount of spring water with a specific number of drops, etc.

Moomintroll has not had a seizure since he got the remedy, and Chase now lines up when it's "remedy time," AM and PM. He sees the remedy coming and opens his mouth!

Nachodonkey said...

Your pets' names are quite unique and amusing! I would love to hear the stories behind the choices...or do they come already named?

I will try again to find a homeopathic vet. Unfortunately, I had let it slide until I needed one right away.

I think I got off lucky as when I went out to feed this morning they were all up the back in the shelter of the trees and when they saw me with the hay they came charging down, full blast, with Bing leading the way. There was still some swelling in the knee area he is moving out very well. Big change from Sunday.

Thanks again for your help.

billie said...

That is great news about Bing - I hope the improvement continues.

I'm avoiding doing housework right now, so here goes with the names:

Keil Bay, Apache Moon, and Salina came with those names, although the previous owners called the boys Keil and Apache. I like multi-syllabic names, so we use their full names most of the time.

Keil Bay is also The King, The Big Bazooka, Big Bay, Biggie Bay, and Handsome Bay.

Apache Moon is also Patch, Patch Pony, The Little Man, and Pudge.

Salina is Salina-Beana, Salina Bean, Beana-Bean, Beauty, Sweet Girl.

Cody is Riskless Asset but my son chose his barn name. He is also Coden-Locomoden, Coden, and Cody-Locomody, and Locomoden.

Rafer Johnson almost always is called by his full name, although sometimes Rafer, and many times I call him Dr. Johnson, or just Johnson. There is one person in the family who uses RJ, which the rest of us hate, and always complain if we hear it.

Redford is mostly Redford! And Cutie Patootie. :)

The dogs:

Chase is often called Chase-Kabob, or just Kabob. I often call him Chasa. Or The Loyal Corgi.

Kyra is Kyra-Girl, Booboo, Missy Girl, Little Miss.

Cats: and this will take the longest!

Dickens E. Wickens is also Dickens Edward Wickens, Wickston, Wickens-Bun, Wickston-Bun, The Cowboy, Desperado.

Osage is Muffine, Muffine Eloise, Muffiane, Puff, Princess.

Keats is Keats-Meow, Squeaky, Weets, Weats-Ann.

Apollo Moon is Apollo, Pollo, Moomin, Moomintroll.

Mystic is the Mystical Kit, Mysti, the Wolf.

Every time my mom comes she gets totally confused because all our animals have so many names, and we use them all, sometimes calling the same animal two different names in the same sentence!

But they know who they are! :)

We named all but the horses and donkeys, who came with their registered names, although as you can see we have come up with many alternatives.

Nachodonkey said...

My head is spinning!! Thanks for the chuckle.

By the way, I avoid housework every day!!

billie said...

I know - a frequent question from extended family:

Wait - did you get a new horse/donkey/cat/dog?

Nachodonkey said...

What a creative idea to keep people confused as to the actual number of pets you have living with you. With daughters marrying and leaving home (can't take the dog because of spouse's allergies etc) and some returning temporarily with their dogs has brought the total up to seven dogs in my small house. I am also known as the "crazy dog lady on the hill".

Add this to the three horses and donkey and I must be mad indeed!!

With your fabulous system of confusing everyone with three or four different names for your pets they really don't know how many you actually have. My project for the week will be to think up more names for each which I can actually say out loud and baffle everyone into thinking seven is really not that bad.

billie said...

LOL - I hadn't thought of that angle, but you're absolutely right - keep everyone slightly off count with all the names and the actual number pales in comparison!