Saturday, December 28, 2013

New Year!!

I'm pretty excited for 2014 with Licorice.  He came out of his last bout of not feeling well pretty quickly.  We wet down his hay for 24 hours and he has been fine since.  We'll be watching him closely to see if we can figure out what triggers it for him.  Also, a few of you were concerned about grains possibly being the cause.  The only grains he gets are from the Succeed, which has oat flour in it.  Since we started him on this after the first colic, it's not likely that this is the problem.  So far, our best guess is that it has to do with weather changes.  Only time will tell.

Licorice has been on limited turnout for a little while for a few reasons.  His turnout buddy injured himself, so they were only getting half days.  Then he colicked so they wanted to keep a closer eye on him.  Unfortunately, the communication wasn't great between the barn and myself and when I showed up to ride yesterday, I had no idea that he hadn't been out.

He was pretty tense in the cross ties, but it had only been two days since I had ridden and I didn't want to give in to my fear so I got on.  He was sluggish and crabby, but we managed okay.  Then we went to canter to the right, which is the hard side for both of us.  He kicked out.  I asked him to go forward and he bucked.  To be fair, it was nothing I couldn't handle physically but from an emotional place I kind of freaked out.  I knew I needed to get through it so that he didn't think it was okay, but my heart was pounding a million miles an hour.

I got off.  I know, I know.  I totally could have ridden him through it, but I was scared.  So I got off and put him on the lunge.  I'm glad I did, because what my sweet boy as trying to tell me was that he needed some time to stretch his back and legs without me pounding on him.  He was fine to the left, but when we turned to the right he took off bucking and snorting and leaping.  Then he cantered and cantered and cantered.

At that moment, one of my trainers wandered by.

"I thought you were already on that horse?"

"I was....but he bucked and I got scared."

"Time to get back on, then."

So I did.  She reminded me to ride with confidence.  Licorice had loosened up his back and was so light and forward.  It was almost a little scary.  Who am I kidding?  It was totally scary, but also totally fun.  Forward makes them so much more adjustable.  It also means that instead of slamming into them with a death grip on my 'oh crap' strap when I want to canter, that all I have to do is think about cantering and voila!  Canter.

I am going to work on visualizing this kind of forward at every ride and remembering that this is safer and better for both of us.  Forward.  Forward.  Forward.  Even with a new horse, this remains my constant mantra, my new year's resolution and my One Big Goal.  Forward.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Walk the Walk

In both of my last two lessons we worked on getting warmed up the right way.  At the walk.  On a loose rein.  For most people this is probably the easiest part of their lesson.  For me, it's one of the hardest.

Riding at a brisk walk on a loose rein on a horse brings up all my fears.  Allowing Licorice to have his head means he can look around.  And boy does he like to look around.  Sometimes he wants to look hard enough that he stops and refuses to go forward.

So we're walking around and I'm trying not to hold on to the grab strap and transmit all of my anxiety through my body into him.  I'm mumbling under my breath and I keep doing these big sighs to let go of the pent up breath I'm holding.  I must look a bit crazy with all the sighing and lifting my legs up off the saddle so I'm not clenching.  But, I'm doing it.  I've had two lessons in the last few days and our walk on the second lesson was already much improved.

I also put spurs back on, which was exciting and nerve wracking.  I was really worried about my leg moving too much and leaving another spur rub.  I'm happy to report that there was no spur rub!  I did see a little darker patch on the right hand side though, so I really need to focus on letting my leg drop down and being still.

After our walk warm up, we worked a lot on getting consistent contact during transitions and in all gaits.  Contact is hard for both of us.  Finding the balance between softness and consistency is tricky and I have a really bad habit of allowing the reins to slide through my fingers.  I even have rubber reins and it doesn't help!

I went out to ride yesterday and Licorice was off.  He was kicking up at his belly with a back leg and flaring his nostrils.  So, instead of a work out he got a nice long walk with lots of hand grazing.  He was pooping, eating and drinking fine so we think it was a mild gas colic.  Still, something to keep our eyes on.  It turns out that although my new pony looks a lot sturdier than my princess pony, he's actually a sensitive boy.  I'm contemplating putting him on the Smart Pak Smart Digest Ultra.  He's currently on something called Succeed, but the Smart Pak has something called Colicare where you can get reimbursed for up to $7,500 if your horse needs surgery.

I'm glad I know Licorice well enough to know the signs of him being a little off.  The next step is to see if we can pinpoint why he's off.  Is it weather changes?  Stall changes?  Turnout changes?  We just need to track it.

I finally got a white dressage pad during one of Dover's amazing Christmas deals.  It looks amazing on Licorice.  Now I just need some white polos....and to learn how to properly wrap polos.  :)

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Ahhh, December

December seems to get crazier and crazier each year.  Between the holidays, my birthday, various other birthdays, and the fact that I work in marketing now, December ends up being a flurry of desperately trying to check things off my To Do list.  At least on the days that I remember to make a To Do list.  December is also the month of Fighting Off Every Illness Known to Man (or at least known to Elementary School Children).

This December brought with it an unusual few weeks of very cold weather.  Our barn just isn't set up for weeks and weeks of temperatures that don't ever get above freezing.  I know in the grand scheme of things, that's not that cold but we just aren't well equipped for it.

First, the last two months of rain turn our pastures into mud holes.  Add some horses and they churn all that mud up so that it's fetlock deep.  Then, everything froze.  And froze hard.  Which means the turnouts were all skating rinks of pocked mud.  And since it was so cold, all ponies had extra fizzy temperaments.  So, they couldn't get turned out because they would slip and fall and strain or worse, break something.

So, all the horses were being lunged in the arena and turned out in there to blow some steam off.  Until a few days ago when the arena (we just put in sand) finally froze solid.  The cold weather meant the sand was too solid to break up with the tractor and it couldn't be wet down.  So it was dusty and got increasingly packed over the last few weeks.  This week they cancelled lessons until later in the week when the temperatures will have been back to normal (40's) for a few days because the arena is rock hard.  Horses are limited to lungeing and light riding, no free turnout.

And of course, this is coinciding with a giant deadline at work for me and I seem to be 'off' every other day.  I haven't gotten entirely sick, but just that dead tired, sinus aching feeling when you're trying not to get sick.  So, I have only ridden once on Sunday.  Licorice got lunged on Saturday also, but he hasn't been out since.

I will be texting my trainer to see if I can pay someone to lunge Licorice this week.  I have a lesson scheduled for Friday, but I just don't see myself getting the time or the energy to go out there before then.

I'm excited for my lesson on Friday and look forward to more normal, rainy, cold-ish weather where I can resume my regular riding schedule.  Most likely though, this will be in January.  Next year, I may try to remember this and just gift myself the gift of full time training in December.  After all, it is my birthday month!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Learning to Work

Wednesdays lesson had a few themes.  The first was about bending and forward, two things I forget to focus on when it's just me and Licorice.  Plodding around with his head cocked at an angle is not the right way to warm up.  He must stay forward and I must not nag with my leg!

Then there was the outside rein, which I'm prone to just letting go of and Licorice is prone to just ignoring even if I am holding on to it.  Which means we did some really ugly circles with Licorice's head pointing to the middle of the circle while the rest of his body drifted out to the wall and my hands raised up and did something that looked like sign language.  Not pretty.

The overall theme of our lesson was about work.  Licorice isn't used to working like this.  I've now owned him two months.  One month we rode and had progress and learned stuff about each other.  Month two Licorice got sick.  Then he colicked.  Finally, at the beginning of Month Three, we are hoping to start work and keep going!

The kind of work Licorice is used to do is called 'Going Around The Rail' and 'Jump That'.  He does both of those with no problem.  He is a trotting machine.  Get him on the rail with no contact and he will trot (okay, it's almost a jog) forever.  Point him at a jump and he will keep his sad trot and heave himself over a jump.  Over.  And over.  Which is what makes him a great beginner/husband kind of horse.  He doesn't mind if you're up there flopping around, no rein contact, no leg contact.  In fact, he prefers it.  He spends most of his time looking around.

Oh, there's my buddy from outside.  Hey, are they watering horses out there?  Oooh, is that me in the mirror?  Hi Trainer, are you eating something?  Can I have a bite?  Oops, I'll catch you the next time I come around.  I'm trotting.  There's the goat!  I think I see a car driving in.  Hey, look at the baby horse.  How cute is that?

So Wednesday, when we started asking him to pay attention to me and work, Licorice was a bit confused.  We'd take two gorgeous steps of on the bit and then he'd lift his head up to look around and see what he missed.  Then he'd go back to work for another step.  Then he'd want to look around.

Being that I'm not the world's greatest rider, what was my first answer?  Yep, you got it.  Pull his head down.  I got away with that twice before my trainer stepped in and reminded me that I have legs and that if I would stop mindlessly thumping them against his sides to try and get more trot, I might actually have a chance at communicating with them.

Sometimes it's so hard to see improvement when you have to go back and make sure you're not asking with every stride and that you're riding back to front.  They seem like such basic things.  And yet I have to remind myself constantly.  Of course, my list is miles long and when I ride without my trainer I have huge internal external dialogue (yes, I totally talk under my breath) where I remind myself "Don't nag, don't give away the reins, ride back to front, head up, look through the ears, turn your shoulders and hips, not your head, use your core, shoulders back, look up, heels down, long legs."  The list is endless.

So while Licorice is working on not getting distracted by external things, my goal for myself is to be there with him.  To pick one or two things about myself to focus on and let everything else go.  If I'm working on not nagging with my leg, I'm going to focus on that.  And I will try to let go of the thousands of other things that we need to work on.  It's one of the things I love/hate about dressage.  It's a never ending journey and there's always something to work on.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


December is not usually the coldest part of our winter around here.  December is usually pretty mild.  We get our crazy cold streaks in January and February.  However, this morning it was 24 degrees out and our high is supposed to only reach 33.  Brrrr.

Though it's cold, it's also sunny.  I have been really wanting to get Licorice out on the trails.  Unfortunately, I'm just not ready to go out all by myself and most people are riding in the afternoons and evenings, when there isn't much in the way of sun.  It's important to me that Licorice not get too burned out, so I put the word out to my trainer that if there was anyone wanting to go out on trails, they should take Licorice.

Nothing new on the riding front.  I have a lesson today.  My first one in over three weeks!  Yeah!

Last Sunday I had a super fun ride.  There was a lesson going on with Sarah (a trainer) and her student Ben, who has Autism (I'm not exactly sure that's what he has, but it's probably the easiest way to describe him quickly).  Her student was weaving through the cones.  Sarah then decided to pull a horse out and hop on bareback.  We were then joined by another rider, also riding bareback.  On the spur of the moment we decided to do a little drill team action.

We did figure eights.  Follow the leader.  Weaving the cones.  Threading the needle.  Another boarder was out and saw how much fun we were having and pulled her horse out and hopped on also.  Since Ben was challenged enough with steering and keeping up, we did everything at the walk.  It was so fun to do something different though!  I really wish there was more of that.

I still struggle with the question of what I want in a boarding barn and what my priorities are.  I like laughing a lot, but I also like working hard and progressing.  Dressage fills the need of working hard and progressing, but let's face it, there's not a lot of laughing going on.  Not that we don't have a sense of humor when working on dressage, there are smiles and some laughing but it's usually not flat out fun. It is incredibly satisfying though.

I'm not looking to move barns anytime soon, but the questions are still there.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Getting Better

Second ride on Licorice today.  I was told I could ride him, but not to let him work up a sweat.  We did a little of this and a little of that and had a pretty ugly ride, but both of us were just finding out feet again.  It was good to be back in the saddle.

I don't think Licorice shared my enthusiasm for this.  When I went to get him out of turnout (his second time getting out with friends in almost three weeks!) he gave me "Are you crazy?" look and turned and walked away.

Once under saddle, he tried looking back up at me a few times and stopping.  He just wasn't all that motivated to get back to work.  I think he enjoyed having a three week vacation with 24 hour room service.

I gifted Licorice with a new bridle that does not have a pink sparkly browband.  I forgot to take a specific close up of the bridle, but I'm pretty happy with it.  It's a Horze brand bridle and I think the stitching looks fancy.

See the white stitching?  I love how it looks on his big, black head.  I think he likes this better than bling.

It's a bit stiff though.  What do you use to soften up your leather?  Keep in mind, this is not an expensive leather bridle so it's not going to 'break in' the way a nice bridle would.  Still, I would like to soften it up some so it's easier to undo the buckles.  Any ideas would be appreciated.

Also, I would like to bitch a little about how hard it is to find a bridle without a flash AND a crank on it.  What happened to just nosebands?  Sheesh!!  Also, Licorice is wearing a Cob size bridle and the giant crank noseband is still too big.  He doesn't even have a delicate face so I find this surprising.  I don't want to crank his noseband down and put on his flash.  Sigh.  Stupid trends.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.  I'm hoping to catch up on my reading tomorrow somewhere in between oiling my new bridle and drinking wine and eating so much that I pop the button off my pants, which shouldn't take too much since I haven't ridden in three weeks and have been eating my way through Licorice's illness.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Keeping Fingers Crossed

Licorice seems to be doing alright.  He's eating and drinking like he should.  Because his hay is getting soaked before he eats it, he is drinking a little less but my vet said that's fine.

Someone asked about EPM (I think that was it) and we did have Licorice tested for everything.  All of his blood work came back normal.

At this point, we don't have any good idea about what happened.  It was probably a viral infection that gave him a fever and diarrhea.  Who knows what caused him to colic.

We are starting him on Succeed next week, which is supposed to help sensitive flowers like my new pony.

I have also been given the okay to lunge him lightly today.  I'm pretty nervous about that since the last time I did that, he ended up getting sicker.

It's been perfectly sunny (and cold) here.  I'm sad that Licorice has been sick because it's VERY unusual to see the sun this time of year and it would have been fun to be out exploring the trails.  Hopefully we'll see some more sunshine in December when we can actually get ourselves outside!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


Lots of poop.  Poop is good.  I love poop.  Poop. Poop. Poop.  I can breathe a sigh of relief now that we're seeing regular piles of good poop.

I don't have much else to say right now.  There will be lots of grazing and hand walking until Licorice can go out with his buddies and be back on a normal diet.  We're putting him on a supplement for ponies with sensitive hind guts and I know more about my ponies internal workings than I did before.  It's all part of getting to know him.

Hopefully this was an unusual event in his life and not a way of being for him.  But even if he does turn out to be a sensitive flower, I'll take it.
Look who's back to wearing a chain and dragging people to his favorite patch of grass!  Yeah for feeling well enough to have horrible manners!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Uphill Downhill Uphill

Well, I spoke too soon about Licorice.  I got a call yesterday from my trainer saying Licorice looked off.  She said she thought he might colic and his poop went from normal back to cow pie diarrhea to overly dry normal.  We called the vet who was 60 minutes out.  In vet speak, that means about two to three hours.  By the time the vet arrived, Licorice had tried to go down and roll twice.  His nostrils were flared from pain and he was pawing at his belly and swinging his head.

The vet listened to his gut.  One side sounded normal.  The other side sounded inconsistent, which is about what you'd expect from a horse that has had diarrhea for seven days.  So, he sedated Licorice and stuck his arm up his behind to find out what's what.

The good news:  he found nothing.  The frustrating news:  he found nothing.  There was some expected inflammation (again, after diarrhea for seven days that's not surprising) and a few slightly dryer than normal stools, but no red flags.

So, then he got a half dose of Banamine by injection.  Banamine acts an anti inflammatory and a pain medication to help keep Licorice uncomfortable.

Next up, Licorice got a tube up his nose and down to his stomach and was pumped full of water and mineral oil.  My vet said he normally uses milk of magnesia but he was concerned about the level of inflammation inside Licorice.  Especially since he went from cow pie diarrhea to normal to diarrhea to dry.  If there were some extra dry stools in there, he wanted to flush them out gently.

The vet said to keep him off dry foods entirely and give him warm mashes.  We were also cleared for grazing as long as he continued to look okay.

I went home and got my stuff for the long night ahead, had a hot dinner and a hot bath and came back ready.

The first thing we figured out is that Licorice doesn't like warm mashes, or cold mashes.  He does not like bran mashes.  Or oat mashes.  Or alfalfa pellets soaked in warm water.  He does not want beet pulp.  Licorice wants hay.  He was increasingly crabby as all the other horses got hay and he didn't.

It was pouring down rain when I took Licorice out for his first graze.  I let him graze for thirty minutes, then took him back to his stall to see how he fared.  He took a nap and a poop and I huddled under two down sleeping bags, failing at catching some sleep.

Two hours later, we were back out in the pouring rain and he was grazing again.  He was happy to graze but I was cold and tired.  After thirty minutes I called it good and put him back in his stall.

I didn't sleep at all last night.  Partly because I was cold and sleeping on a lawn chair and I'm just not good at that.  I would not make a good adventurer.  I don't like being cold and uncomfortable.  Partly I didn't sleep because the other horses were so loud.  I didn't realize that horses are like cats and like the have parties at 3am.  And the snoring.  Oh. My. God. The. Snoring.  Oxford was across the aisle from Licorice and I and I checked him three times before I realized he wasn't dying, he was snoring!

I ended up leaping out of my sleeping bags about every twenty minutes because one of the horses would shift, lay down, get up, kick something and I would be sure it was Licorice going down and rolling.  Every two hours, I took Licorice out for thirty minutes of grazing.  By this morning, he was looking much better and I was looking much worse.

At seven a.m. I rolled on home and into bed for a few hours.  Last update was that he was beginning to pass the mineral oil, and he ate his mash breakfast.  Will probably head back out this afternoon for more hand grazing.

So....lesson learned about horses.  It's not over until it's over.  I'm not calling this until it's been gone for a few weeks.

Also, despite my bone aching, head pounding, dry mouthed tiredness, I would do it again.  It's my pony and I'm starting to suspect he might be that heart horse everyone talks about ('s too early in our relationship to drop the HH phrase!).  He was worth every lost hour of sleep, every dollar spent on multiple vet visits (I haven't gotten the bill yet.  Merry Christmas family, we bought ourselves a well horse!) and every new worry line on my face.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Steady Uphill Climb

Licorice had a dramatic weekend full of vet visits every day.  The good news is that his blood work came back negative.  His current diagnosis is that it's a viral issue.  He was very lethargic this weekend, with a fever and bad diarrhea.  My barn and trainer have been wonderful about taking care of him.  His stall got cleaned out every few hours so that he didn't have to lay down in any poop piles.  His temperature was taken regularly and everything was closely monitored.

Saturday afternoon he started to turn around.  His fever went away and when he came out to be looked over by the vet, his bad manners had returned.  I've never been so happy to hear that a horses bad manners are back.  Some day this won't be the issue, but he can still be a bit of a moose and will just keep walking to where he wants to go, dragging the person along with him.  When he was sick, he wasn't interested in his friends or that extra pile of hay in the corner.

Sunday, I was cleared to let him out on the lunge line.  He hasn't had turnout and has only been hand walked since Tuesday.  I was only to lunge him for a few minutes to see how he's feeling.  If he offered to canter that was fine, but I was told to just let him trot around a bit.

Despite the quarantine and five days without work or turnout, Licorice wasn't super interested in being on the lunge line.  He trotted for a few minutes and at one point got excited when a horsey friend of his walked by the arena.  That resulted in about thirty seconds of cantering.  After which he had a very messy (and disgustingly smelly) poop in the arena.  Then he looked worn out.  I made him walk on the lunge for another few minutes just to stretch his legs out, but he was obviously not feeling fit and sassy yet.

I gave him a quick grooming and tucked him in for the night.  I'm back out today for some more lunging and to see how he feels after yesterday's excursion.  Now that he's turned the corner (I think) we can put him on some probiotics/gut supplements since it seems he may have a sensitive digestive system.  To my knowledge, though he got a virus, no other horses have gotten sick.

Thanks for all the well wishes!  I do believe my pony is on the mend.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Biohazard Pony

I had a couple posts about how amazing Licorice was, how I did my first body clip on Licorice, how much I looooove my pony and all that good stuff, but they all seem trivial now.

Licorice is sick.  Monday night during my lesson he pooped a lot and by the end of the lesson it was flat out diarrhea.  Tuesday he was in good spirits, but still had runny poop.  Wednesday he had a small temperature and runny poop and it was decided that we would check in the morning and call the vet if necessary.

Though he's not completely off his feed, he was not eating voraciously at lunchtime today and his poop was runny.  His temp came in a bit high for a morning temperature so the vet was called.

A little back story that I can't remember if I've covered.  When I bought Licorice, they told me he had gotten very ill about six months ago.  He had a temperature and went off his feed and ended up in the hospital for two weeks.  They pumped him full of fluids and kept him there and he got better.  They never did figure out what was wrong with him and just wrote it off as 'mystery illness'.  I think the vet called it a kind of founder if I recall correctly.

When I had my pre-purchase we talked about this with Licorice's former owners and my vet.  My vet showed me where you could see that he was sick by looking at his hooves.  But he pointed out that the new hoof was growing straight and strong and that since Licorice had never been sick any other time in his life, that it probably wasn't an issue.

Fast forward to today and we were a bit concerned that he was having similar symptoms.  So the vet came out, took some blood and pronounced my pony a bio hazard.  He will get his stall done by someone who will change clothes after doing it.  He will likely be kept inside or turned out into one of the small, individual turnouts.  He is getting Bio Sponge today and they gave him a dose of Banamine.  Tomorrow he will get re-checked and we will get blood results back.  From there, we will know what to treat.

It's scary on two levels.  The first and by far the most challenging, is the emotional level.  I know it's only been a month but dammit I adore this horse.  I connect with him in an entirely different way than I did Tessa.  I don't want him to be sick.  I don't want him to feel bad.  I went out and just hung out with him for a few minutes today.  Sadly, I'm going out of town this weekend and won't be able to just go sit in his stall with him this weekend.  The second scary thing is just the financial level.  Tessa didn't sell (though she is on a lease) so we still haven't fully recovered from purchasing Licorice and all the costs associated with a new horse.  If Licorice is really ill, it could be incredibly costly.  It's too late to get insurance at this point (note to self:  look into insurance!!!  if they'll even cover us after this....) so everything has to come out of pocket.  It's not that we can't afford it, but horse stuff so quickly goes into the thousands when they're ill.

So, please send Licorice healing vibes and let's keep our collective fingers crossed that the vet comes back with something straightforward and easy to handle.  Maybe I'll get back from the weekend to a recovered, happy pony.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Shortest Ride Ever

Yesterday there was sunshine.  In this area, sunshine does not come around much from the months of November through May.  So when it does, you do what you can to get outside and soak it up. 

My daughter had stayed home sick from school, so my husband came home early to help take care of her so I could get some work done.  But when I saw that glorious bright light, I opted to ditch work and head out to the barn instead.

I got there as the light was starting to fade, so I decided to ride in the arena.  Despite having four days off, Licorice looked half asleep in the cross ties.  I got him tacked him up and was getting ready to head into the arena when my trainer reminded me that he had his teeth done that morning (and a sheath cleaning while he was drugged up)

"Will he be okay to ride?" 

"He looks alright, but pay attention.  It's been a while so he should be fine."

I got on and we walked around the arena.  We tried two steps of trot.  He stumbled both steps.  I patted his neck and got off.

Back in the cross ties, I could see signs of being a little out of it.  His front legs were a little wider than normal.  He was resting a back leg so hard that his fetlock was practically touching the ground.  He got lots of praise and put back in his stall to sleep it off.

It's only been 30 days, and this was a good reminder that we only barely know each other.  I still absolutely love him, but I need to pay closer attention so I have a baseline of normal.

In other news, look at his gorgeous new saddle pad!  I love, love, love this color on him.  I bought the pad from Tack of the Day and am a little disappointed in how thin it is.  It wrinkles up super easy.  But the color is perfect.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Best Intentions

This morning started off super stormy, with a crazy squall blowing through with high winds and sideways rain.  Though I was dressed for the barn, I decided to wait and see what the weather did.

It did finally stop raining and the wind settled into a breezy day, but not a crazy windy day so I geared up and headed out to the barn.  Only to find the barn completely dark and quiet.  A horse was turned out in the arena and all the lights were off.  The horses that were in stalls were all taking their mid-morning nap.

My pony was outside.  I contemplated bringing him in and riding him, especially since I haven't ridden since Monday.  But without a soul around, I just didn't feel comfortable.  I also didn't know the horse in the arena, so I wasn't sure where I would put him so that I could ride.

I ended up going out and giving my horse a carrot and some scritches.  He was turned out with his new buddy, Fallon.  At one point, Fallon kept trying to get in my space and despite my waving my arms at him, he wouldn't back off.  He would put his ears back and move his head to the side, but wouldn't get out of my space.  I was starting to get nervous.

Until Licorice stepped in and told him what for with a quick bite to the neck.  I know, Licorice probably wasn't protecting me, but it felt nice anyway.  Fallon immediately backed off and every time after that when Fallon would come to close to me, Licorice would shoo him away with pinned ears and a wrinkled muzzle.

I stood outside the gate for a few minutes to say goodbye and managed to get a few pictures of the two of them.  Fallon loves Licorice and wants to do whatever he's doing, including drinking water at the same time.

I'm sad to see the mud back so quickly.  It's only early November, but we've had some major downpours of rain.  This is the mud before it gets bad.  Welcome to horsekeeping on small acreage in the Northwest.  Mud, mud and more mud.  I know some places do gravel turnouts, which does keep down on the mud.  But then in the summer, there's just gravel.  We at least will have some grass in the summer.  Oh summer.  Why are you 9 months away?

Sunshine Award

Sunshine Award.  Better late then never, right?  Thanks to Equine Snob and Kelly at PrincessDiva Diaries for nominating me.

I'm skipping the part where you nominate other folks because I'm pretty sure it's already made the rounds.

1. Mares or Geldings?

I've always owned mares.  I've enjoyed the deep bond that you get with a mare.  When you get it right, a mare will turn herself inside out for you.  Now I'm on the gelding team though and I'm enjoying his steadiness and his ability to forgive mistakes.  Looks like I play for both teams on this one.

2. English or Western?

I currently ride English and it's what I'm most familiar with.  But I've also ridden some Western and really enjoyed it.  I'd love to do some reining events and some cow events.  I'd also love to go on a dude ranch vacation!  So, yeah.  Again, I choose both.

3. Do you prefer younger or older horses?

I like them right in the middle, but probably more on the older side.  I really appreciate Licorice's tolerance and his ability to retain information.  He's not prone to testing boundaries the way a young horse is.

4. Have you trained a horse from ground zero?

No.  All of my horses had basics when I got them.

5. Do you prefer riding or groundwork?

Obviously I don't have huge preferences in my horsey life, because this is another one where it depends.  If you are really, really working on groundwork it can be super satisfying and carries over into the riding work.  There's also something to be said for working up a sweat on horseback or flying around the arena on your horse, the wind on your face and a big grin from ear to ear.

6. Do you board your horse or keep him at home?

I board.  I bought a house once with a little barn and pastures and brought my horse home.  The year that I lived there I only rode a handful of times.  I was too busy mending fences, picking out pastures, cleaning stalls and water buckets and other chores to actually ride.  Also, where I live it rains and gets muddy for a good chunk of the year.  You need an arena with decent footing if you want to ride year round.  And that would require more maintenance and more money.  Plus, I like the social aspect of boarding.

7.  Do you use all natural products or commercial?

I use commercial natural products and some chemical products.  Mostly I want stuff that works that isn't going to give anybody cancer.  

8. All tacked up or bareback?

All tacked up.  But bareback is on my bucket list with Licorice.  I want to get to know him a bit more before I try.  

9. Equestrian role model?

Younger girls and their horses.  They ride without fear, without worry.  They dress their ponies up.  They ride backwards and bareback and sometimes get bucked off for riding bareback and backwards.  They laugh, dust themselves off and get back on.  They play games.  They go on trail rides.  And they can kick my ass in the dressage ring, but still find plenty of time to just mess around with their horses.

10. What's your one main goal while being in the horse world?

To keep enjoying my horse and to get to a point where it's not a question of being scared.  I'd like to just be excited to ride, without the extra edge of fear.  

Monday, November 4, 2013


Licorice had four days off this week due to work stuff and then the barn lost power in a big windstorm on Saturday.  Not that I would have ridden in the big windstorm anyway...

I decided to lunge him on Sunday before I got on.  I'm not sure that he needed it, but it went a long ways towards calming me down.  While I was lunging him, he had a very hard time focusing.  He would whinny to his friends outside, he would spin his head to look out the open door to see what was happening there.

This happens, to a lesser degree, under saddle.  If we're really working hard and focused I can keep him with me, but it's a struggle whenever another horse enters the arena.  He's just very horse focused.

On the ground, if I do very specific exercises with him (yielding of hindquarters etc.) he will pay attention, sort of.  I'm not as confident with these and I don't want to just yank on him.  But I'm losing his attention constantly.

What are your best exercises for getting a horses attention back on you while you're on the ground?  He will move his hindquarters while his head is completely away from you and he's whinnying to his friends!  I want his focus to be in the arena and on me.  Same thing when we're walking and I'm leading him.  He's not naughty, just oblivious.

Who me?  What?  I think I see my friend over there....

Friday, November 1, 2013


Today was sunny and warm-ish and a perfect day for a fall trail ride.  Sadly, there wasn't anyone out at the barn to go with me when I got there.  So instead, Licorice and I worked on our sitting trot and canter transitions.

After a short but effective workout, I took him outside to ride around a little bit.  By this time there was a lesson in the arena and Licorice's buddy was getting tacked up in the aisle way.  I got on outside and was walking on a loose rein towards the barn.  Our barn is small, so it's like riding in the front yard.  Something spooked Licorice and he jumped a little sideways.

We moved on and kept walking.  We went around the side and then came back down.  Licorice was definitely more up than he has been previously.  Then, as we were heading back to the 'front lawn' Licorice suddenly scooted and took off.  And by took off, really he trotted two steps, flung his head up and cantered one step.  I pulled him to a halt and looked around.

One of the teenagers at the barn was walking up the driveway.  Licorice and I walked over, said hello, she gave him a scratch.  We walked around a little bit more, but he was tense and I was tenser.

The upside of this is that Licorice is a different spooker from Tessa.  He still does the scoot and bolt, but he's just not as athletic as Tessa.  His body can't get out from underneath me the way Tessa could.  She's got that Arab athleticism on her side, but Licorice doesn't.  It was much easier to sit and though he was tense afterwards, he was willing to go right back to work.

I really need to make a plan to get him out more.  The key is going to be getting him outside and on the trails more often, not less often.  My barn just doesn't have a lot of folks (ie: there are NONE) that go out unless it's to shows.  And since it's not show season, well....people just aren't going anywhere.

I'm going to email my trainers and ask if we can put together a plan to go out at least once a month.  I want to do it now before it becomes more of a THING in my head.

Edited to add:  I wrote this on Tuesday.  It's now Friday and I haven't been out to the barn since.  I definitely need to not let this get underneath my skin.  Man, it's hard to be a worrier some days.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Lessons in Love

Not really a lesson in love, but a lesson and I'm in love.  Ha!  Monday was our lesson night and Licorice was fabulous.  So fabulous that I heard Linda say "He might be ready to go to a dressage show in a few months."  Wheeeeeee!

We started with making sure he was marching in the walk and moving forward into contact.  He's a long horse, so its super important to make sure he's pushing into the contact.  He would rather pull into it.  We did the same thing with trot, adding in some bend and pushing him off my inside leg.  Going to the left he falls out and going to the right he falls in.

Then we did sitting trot.  I have not sat the trot in uh.....fifteen years?  I didn't sit the trot with Tessa because she would spaz out when I would try.  I just gripped too much with her.  And before that I had a looooong riding hiatus, so it's been ages since I've sat the trot.  Let's just say that I am feeling the burn today.

It was clear that Licorice hadn't had folks sit the trot much on him, as he kept trying to rush into canter.  But I stayed focused on bending him and relaxing him and we had some lovely sitting trot.  Then we worked on going into the canter without throwing his head up and scrambling with his back feet.  This was hard for both of us.  For Licorice it was hard because he became very flustered when I asked for canter.  We ended up asking and if he didn't go into it right away and using his hind end, we just went back to getting him relaxed and bending.

It was hard for me because I tend to hear 'canter' and fall apart.  Suddenly I have chicken wing elbows, I'm leaning forward and my leg is coming so far up and back I could kick my own behind.  So, having to go back to the trot helped me get my self organized too.  Then I worked on not waiting TOO long before I asked again.  The second he was pushing off with his hind legs and coming into contact, I asked.  We had some lovely canter transitions.

At one point, I was cantering to the right and working on maintaining my outside rein and letting my hips swing from inside hip to outside ear and I was grinning like a fool.  It felt so good.

In other news, I finally ordered a winter blanket for Licorice.  I got the Smartpak blue plaid even though it was not the best deal out there.  Tessa had the pink one and I LOVED it.
My giraffe pony in a too small cooler last night.  He was so sweaty!  I really need to buy him a cooler that fits.

Also, if you haven't seen it, there is a contest going on over at SprinklerBandits blog for some amazingly cute boots.  Of course, I want to win so maybe I don't want you to go over there after all.....but seriously, you should check it out.  It looks like a little company just getting started and I love supporting little companies.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Boundaries and Bad Behavior

I posted something similar to this (I think) about Tessa, so forgive me if I'm rehashing old stuff.  I would really like to know your opinions on this.

Where is the line between a horse showing you his opinion and expressing bad behavior?

Here's what brought this up.  I went out to visit Licorice yesterday.  It was super dark and gloomy in the morning, with a cold wind blowing leaves off the trees and a light drizzle.  The barn was empty.  I was already feeling reluctant about being there, as a giant pile of laundry was beckoning me to come home and be productive.  So I decided to just take Licorice out and groom him.

I put him in the crossties and ran my hand down his neck.  He was so soft and fuzzy and smelled like warm horse that I wanted to hug him.  So I did.  He was not a fan.  He pinned his ears and nipped at the air.  Or maybe at me but he didn't get me.  I couldn't see exactly clearly.  I backed off.  Then I moved to his shoulder and simply touched his shoulder with my body.  He pinned his ears.  I stepped back and put just my hand on his shoulder.  No reaction.

I tried it on the other shoulder.  Putting my hand on him as fine, but if I put my body up against him he pinned his ears.  If I kept my body close while putting my hand near his girth, he pinned his ears.

I didn't push the issue, but instead brushed him (with no pinning of ears during the process no matter where I brushed him) and then let him wander around the arena for a few minutes.

I want to get Licorice and I off to a good start and I'm wondering your opinions about what to do in this situation.  Here's my first thoughts:

1.  He's pinning his ears because he doesn't like being crowded that way.  Do I respect that?  Or do I tell him "Sorry buddy, it's not your choice if I crowd you."?

2.  Do I discipline for expressing his opinion or only if he actually tries to nip?   I'm trying to allow him to be himself, but I also want him to be a safe horse.  He was a beginner lesson horse at his previous barn and did not display this at all.  Though I don't think I crowded his shoulder there either.

3.  Is this unhappiness due to something else?  I don't think I can answer that without giving it more time.  If it escalates then it could be because his turnout is different at this barn and he doesn't get as much trail riding (his other barn had AWESOME trails and he went out  a few times a week, my barn has one sort of trail and we haven't even found it yet, so we've just gone down the driveway and we've only done that twice because I haven't found the courage to trail ride alone yet.)

I will be double checking the usual stuff like saddle fit, looking for signs of pain etc, but my instinct is that it's not those things since it was specific to me putting my body against his shoulder (not even leaning, just being there) and he wasn't sensitive to my hand.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Three week-aversarry

Happy three weeks to my new pony, Licorice.  I have only had Licorice for three weeks and already am head over heels for him.  I feel like a different person with Licorice.  I feel like we can accomplish so much and I'm super excited for the things we can do in the future.

I rode without stirrups today for a few minutes.  I'm sure my body will be feeling that tomorrow!

Licorice has a pretty hefty winter coat and I'm not sure if it's winter coat or if it's the vitamins they give at the barn, but his coat is SO SHINY.  It's also really soft.  It makes me want to snuggle with him.

Licorice has not been a snuggly horse.  He's mildly interested in me, but not the way Tessa was.  Licorice often stares off in to the distance while I brush him.

I have noticed his eye changing.  I'll be curious what it looks like in six months or a year from now.  It might be that he just has permanent sad face, but maybe some one on one bonding and attention will change it.  It looks to me like his eyes already have more life and depth than they used to.

The weather has been relatively dry here and I really want to go back out and do some trail riding.  I'm not quite ready to go out on my own yet, so I'm hoping to con a friend into coming along with me and just walking with us while we go down the trails.  Sometimes Licorice and I stop at the outer edges of the arena and just breathe in the fresh air.  I think we both want more variety.

It's so refreshing to be thinking in terms of a team and all of the things we CAN do.  We're on the list to join Horsemasters, the adult version of Pony Club.  A woman at my barn has a truck and trailer and is also interested, so it looks like that will be happening.  I also may want to do a few schooling shows this next summer.  And I want to do some jumping on Licorice.  I haven't jumped him yet and I'm excited to try it!  Everything is different with the right horse.  Everything.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Follow The Nose

Last night was my lesson on Licorice.  This is only the second lesson I've had on him since I bought him so I was excited to work on some things.  L asked me how things were going and I told her about how his hind end still feels like it's falling behind me and slipping.

She had me dismount and brought over some rubber tubing.  She held one side and I held the other like reins.  We worked on how to ask for a turn using the inside rein.  I have tendency to open the rein and move my hand out, so I got the practice just moving my elbow and then just my wrist and then closing my hands.

Then it was back up on Licorice to practice what I learned.  To get him started, we simply worked on bending his nose to the right and doing nothing else but asking him to go forward.  The idea is to get him following his nose, a pretty basic premise when horses first start out, but one that L said a lot of them lose as we get busy with our legs and our outside reins.  So, we just turned his nose slightly, wanting him to follow it.  It was harder than I thought and took Licorice and I a good fifteen minutes of walking to figure it out.  As soon as he followed his nose, he got lots of praise.

We then moved to trot where he got pretty bracy.  My goal was to post quietly and keep gently asking with the inside rein.  In the beginning, we didn't use any outside rein but as Licorice got the idea, I closed my fingers around the outside rein.  It was hard for Licorice because when he gets frustrated he likes to go lateral with his head up.  We had some good work in the trot, though (as usual) I could use more forward.

Then we tried some canter.  Our transitions are pretty terrible still, but I worked hard on waiting until I had the good trot before asking.  If he fell completely apart, I went back to working my trot until he relaxed.  Once we were in the canter, we actually had a few good strides.  Spending the time working at the walk really paid off.

After our last canter, we finally had the trot we're looking for.  He was reaching with his head and neck and his back was up and his hind legs were going forward instead of just up and down.  It was so forward that there was a breeze on my face.  It was forward enough that had I asked for canter, it would have been instant.  It felt incredible.  I'm still on top of the world with this horse.

I really need to take some better pictures of my man.  Cell phone pictures in the cross ties when he's standing on and off the mat are just not particularly flattering. 

Friday, October 18, 2013

It Keeps Getting Better

Oh Licorice.  Sigh.  Swoon.  Flutter.

He's just such a good horse.  Every ride, he tries his hardest.  We're still pretty discombobulated in our arena work and we've decided to hold off on more training until he gets his teeth done.  I'm hoping to have that done in the next few weeks.

In the arena, Licorice is very strung out.  His back end actually slides out from underneath him or he'll trip.  I was told to push him forward and shorten my reins.  I have tendency to let the reins slide through my fingers and to ride on a rein that is ridiculously long.  Still, any exercises you guys would recommend for helping a horse use his hind end and back better would be appreciated.

On the trail, Licorice is perfect.  With a capital P.  Okay, we didn't actually ride on 'trails' this time, but we went down the driveway.  Licorice stood while I opened the gate from his back.  He walked down the driveway without batting an eyelash.  At the end of the driveway, we did a short loop through some houses with flags fluttering in the wind.  Licorice enjoyed looking at them.  We turned and went up the road.  Licorice took note of the horse in the pasture ahead of us, but that was it.  He just kept walking.

Turned and headed back to the barn.  Same walk.  No slower.  No faster.  Just interested in being outside.

Suddenly a whole new world is open to me.  I feel like we can go places, try new things.  Like riding at the ocean, going to a show, exploring the neighborhood.

Me, my majestic pony, and the trash can.

In other pony news, I have worked out something for Tessa.  The family that has her LOVES her, but we all agree that she needs more exposure.  They are putting money down and taking her on a six month lease.  For three of those months, she will be getting full time training and exposure with my trainer's daughter (who is a trainer in a different area of our state).  After six months, they will have the option to buy her at an agreed upon price.  Even if she comes back to me, she will have had so much more exposure that she will be way ahead of the game.  Either way, it's a winning situation.  Tessa loves their little boy so much and they love her, so I'm really hoping it will work out for all of them!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Pony Jammies

It's supposed to be a glorious week here with lots of sunshine.  The mornings are definitely starting to get a little chilly, which has me thinking about blankets.

Currently, Licorice is wearing an ancient, ripped, stained Pessoa blanket.  It seems to be a medium weight from what I can tell, which is actually a little heavy for him since he has a fuzzy coat already.

I'm trying to hold off on buying anything for him until Tessa sells, but I have started the blanket search.  It seems like a thousand new blankets have come out in the last few years.  More likely, it's that Licorice can actually fit a wider variety of blankets.  With Tessa, I had to be careful the blankets didn't hang on her like a mumu.

Licorice is 16 hands at the withers and not the picky princess that Tessa is.  If you turn Licorice out into a muddy pasture, the first thing he does is drop and roll.  Though he hasn't been in the big turnout with his new buddy, they play kissy face in their stalls all the time, so he may  need a tougher blanket also.  And the third consideration is that Licorice has giant withers.

So, tell me what blankets are best.  I'm definitely on a budget so a Rambo is not in my future at this time.  I need a medium weight turnout and will eventually need a sheet.  Licorice is a true black, so most colors look good but y'all know I dressed the Princess in Pink Plaid and I will not hesitate to dress Licorice up in ridiculous  ridiculously awesome blankets.

I like the Smart Pak light blue plaid, but it fit Tessa pretty well and she has NO withers to speak of so I'm concerned about it rubbing on Licorice.

There's also this brighter blue one from Weatherbetta.  It looks like it fits a little better to me.

This one is from Rider International and is only a hundred dollars!

There are so many to choose from!  What's your favorite blanket for your high withered, hard on blankets horse?

Monday, October 14, 2013

It Will Work Out As It Should

I'm a firm believer in things working out the way they should.  Fretting does you no good.  Worry is just borrowing trouble from tomorrow, so what's the point?

Tessa is off on a trial period and I've bitten my fingernails down to nubs.  Not literally, but my brain has had a hard time letting go.  Mostly because financially it makes a BIG difference to us if she comes back at the end of this month.  So, we're in this holding pattern where we can't buy anything in case Tessa comes back.

Tessa was an angel for her trial ride, but reverted to her insecurities on her trial.  She has been spooky and even ran through a tape fence when she got scared (for a moment, I will climb on my soap box and say that horses and dogs need real fences, not just electric ones.  A real fence doesn't get shut off if you lose electricity and takes a lot more effort to run through.  I think electric fencing is a great addition to fencing, but not a replacement.  Okay, climbing down now....).  Anyway, Tessa brought out her Ay-Rab and has had a hard time settling in.  The mom wanted to bring her back.  But then she said her son is in love with her.  Tessa follows him around like a puppy and they love her.  So, they're going to try schooling her cross country with an older rider to see if getting her some confidence would help.

It's frustrating because we both know that with more mileage, she would be perfect.  If Tessa comes back to me at the end of this month it will be Operation Mileage for her, which will probably mean sending her out to a different barn/trainer that travels a lot.  I'm not sure how I will afford this and my new pony, but....back to the title.  It will work out as it should.

Licorice continues to be Mr. Awesome.  He's super steady.  He goes down the driveway alone or with other horses.  Barking dogs?  No problem.  He's not a deadhead AT ALL, he's just not reactive.  I'm able to work on my position while we tool around the arena.  I can ride him outside.  Inside.  I can stop and get off and get back on without argument.  On Sunday, poor Licorice had me ride him, then my friend Jill tried him just to see, then my friend Sara hopped on him for a few minutes, then I rode him again.  He was a perfect gentleman the whole time.

Also, his black coat makes me kinda swoon.  It also makes me obsess about dust.  Oh, it's gonna get bad I can tell.  I want to see him EVERY DAY!  I just came down with the first cold of the season though (thanks to my second grader) so I will miss my lesson tonight.  But I will try to visit him as soon as I'm feeling better.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

I've Heard Patience is a Virtue

It's not a virtue I have though.  So, without much back story except to say that I tried a bunch of other horses and the first horse I didn't even want to see ended up being Mr. Right.

I am now the proud owner of two horses.

Meet Licorice.  11 year old gelding.  1/2 Thoroughbred, 1/4 Quarter Horse, 1/4 Percheron.  Ground manners of a bulldozer but heart of a Golden Retriever.  Measures 16 hands at the wither, but is probably 15.3 at the back.  I expect his body will change a lot as he gets fitter and starts using himself.  I have before photos but I haven't downloaded them from my camera yet.  It will be fun to see the changes later on.

Don't worry, the chain is NOT connected the cross ties at all.  I do have a rope halter for him as well.  He just plows right over you if he wants to go elsewhere, so we're working on that.  Also, he is relegated to wearing pink stuff until Tessa sells.  Writing a board check for two horses pretty much killed our budget.  We'll be eating lots of Top Ramen this month.

I brought Licorice home for a trial and he never left.  The first day he came in, it was a stormy day with lots of wind.  And the shavings truck showed up.  And he was screaming his head off for his friends.  But I rode him.  Walk, trot and canter.  And he did it, even with his head in the air calling for his peeps.  Then he passed his vet check and the deal was done.

It's been a week now and I've ridden him every day.  On day three, I rode him outside the arena.  On day four, I hand walked him down the driveway and up the road and back.  I had my first lesson with him last night and it was amazing.  Took him out to graze on Sunday and there were people re-roofing a trailer.  He didn't even look.  He just wanted to eat.  The goat?  Licorice loves the goat.  Mounting?  He stands like a rock.  He looks around at stuff, but he keeps doing his job.

I just...I had no idea.  I was so busy trying to make it work with the princess pony that I didn't recognize how unhappy I was.  I learned so much and for that I am grateful.  But it's an entirely different world with Licorice.  I absolutely adore him.  Every ride has been fun.

He's got a lot to learn about contact and using his body, since he's been ridden by beginning hunter jumper riders he pretty much knows how to go around on the rail on a loose rein.  His jumping is perfect as long as you want to trot into the jump and canter away from it.  Twenty meter circles?  Contact?  Not so much.  But he's a willing guy and tries his heart out.

I.  Love.  Him.  So.  Much.  This just can't be overstated enough.  I grin from ear to ear while I'm riding and can't stop smiling at the barn.  I can't wait to go out to the barn to ride him again.  To get us off on the right foot, we're starting with 30 days training but he doesn't really need it.  He's a solid citizen already.  And I'm already head over heels....

I Give Up

I can still easily search for my name and Tessa's name and this blog comes up.  So screw it.  The right person for Tessa will love her for the horse she is now and how she is with them.  If this blog scares them, they are probably not the right owner for my silly pony.  I am just too technically challenged to spend more time worrying about this.  :)

So......back in the real world, stuff has been happening.

Tessa leaves tomorrow for a two week trial with a family that has a 9 year old son in pony club.  The little boy LOVED Tessa, who was on her very best behavior.  He was so small that his feet barely cleared the saddle, but Tessa packed him around at walk, trot, canter and even popped over a crossrail a couple of times.  He had to stand on a stool to brush her and Tessa just stood there like a rock.  It was amazing.  I think Tessa is one of those horses who is just super intuitive and good with kids.  I guess we'll find out while she's on trial.  I am calling to get insurance set up for her this morning so that we are covered, just in case.

I went out last night and gave Tessa kisses and carrots and scratches.  I really hope that this family works out and that she finds a home that will give her the kind of attention she wants.  She would get to do lots of different things since she would be in Pony Club, so she wouldn't be nearly as bored as she is going around in circles.

Fingers crossed.  Prayers sent up.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Temporary Shut Down

Hi Everyone-

Though I have nothing to hide and will be totally upfront with my pony's new owners, it does seem like a good idea to take a short hiatus with this blog.

So, in the meantime, I will be reading your blogs and might pop up commenting with a new blog.  I'll let you know.

Again, I went and re-read everything and I don't see anything horrid, just a very honest view of someone who had the wrong match, but I also know that it doesn't put our best hoof forward and Tessa has come SUCH A LONG WAY and is really only a freak when it's me handling her.  Sigh.  :)

Thank you so much for all of your support and I can't wait for my pony to find her perfect home and to start my new adventures.

mona and Tessa

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

I Hate Marketing

The Princess is up for sale now.  She's not on Dreamhorse quite yet, as I first wanted to tap into the local market.  We have a great Facebook page that is very community minded and made up of a bunch of folks involved with Eventing and Pony Club, so I started there.  Here's her ad:

2007 Registered Half Arabian mare for sale. Currently being ridden dressage and jumping up to 2’6. Has been out on trails and to schooling shows and handled it all marvelously. Super friendly, lovely mover, gets along with other horses. An uncomplicated ride for advanced beginners and up. Loves to jump. 

Currently being used in the lesson program and would make a good pony club mount.
Clips, bathes, loads. Tessa would be a perfect match for a small adult amateur or junior rider. 14.3 hands. $3,500. Also the cleanest grey horse (in fact the cleanest horse) I have ever owned! Located in Woodinville WA.

Video with Junior Rider (age 11) riding her:

Jumping Video:

And then I used this lovely picture of her.

The ad has only been up for two days, but so far nothing.  I've been watching other ads and it seems like the horses that sell quickly get lots of comments right away.  Maybe I'm reading too much into it, but I'm concerned because she's an Arab and they don't have great reputations in the Pony Club/Eventing world.  It's funny that everyone at my barn loves her and always says how much they don't like Arabs, but they do love her.  And yet, she's not a completely atypical Arab.  I think I've just had more exposure to Arabs than most folks doing the eventing thing.

So, for those of you who have sold horses, what was most effective?  How long did it take?  Was Dreamhorse the way to go?

And if anyone knows of someone looking for a super cute partner, I'm flexible on price for the right home.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Busy Lesson and More Waiting

My lesson on Licorice started off with another lesson finishing up.  I stayed on the rail, while a man named Jim rode his fresh off the track Thoroughbred over fences.  She was a handful and quite the jumper.  She would gallop up next to Licorice and I, who were trotting at a snails pace along the rail.  She'd snort and huff and sail past us.  Licorice ambled on.  Later when I was grooming Licorice, the mare was in a stall waiting to go back out.  She showed her VERY off the track Thoroughbred side by weaving side to side and back and forth and slinging her head up and down and up and down.  She made me anxious just looking at her.  Luckily, her owner came back after putting his tack away and took her out to her pasture.

So, after Jim was done riding his horse, my lesson on Licorice began.  You know what my favorite thing about the lesson was?  NONE of it involved fixing Licorice and ALL of it focused on me.  Ha!  This makes me sound so narcissistic.  But really, it was lovely to be able to focus on pulling my shoulder back on the right side.  And feeling, viola!  Licorice straightened his head out.  We worked on finding my seat in the canter, which is something I have struggled with.  Licorice simply cantered and cantered and cantered.  At first I was heavy and stiff.  Licorice cantered, strung out, but still cantering.  I worked on breathing and counting.  Licorice cantered.  A bit lighter.  I pulled my right shoulder back and let my hands move with him.  Breathing and counting.  Licorice got lighter and more together every time I pulled it together.  It was brilliant.

And of course, every time I wanted to stop, Licorice was more than happy to obey.

At the end of my lesson, we were left alone to trot some poles and mess around.  During my lesson, outside the arena, a colt was gelded.  When his sedation began to wear off and he was able to stand, they tried to move him to a stall.  Somehow he laid down (or rather began to fall down) on a pipe corral.  There was much yelling and running and the two horses next to the arena began to run frantically around their pens.  I could feel my whole body tense up.  Licorice looked over there, clearly interested.  I put him to work, asking him to yield off my leg, my heart thumping.  Licorice went right to work and didn't look over there again until we trotted past a while later.  Then it was with mild interest.

After my lesson, Licorice and I were hot and sweaty.  Licorice is growing in his winter coat and it was quite warm out, so I asked if I could hose him off.  They don't have a formal wash stall, but he ties, so she had me tie him to a post and just hose him off outside.  He moved around a little bit, but was mostly good.  When we went to eat some grass, he was atrocious about pulling me along, but once I was clear about him not dragging me along to eat grass he was pretty good about it.

It's been interesting because I don't feel the 'rush' that I got when I found Tessa.  On the other hand, this time, I'm trying really hard to shop with my head first and my heart second.  I think I'm being really guarded about Licorice because he's at his home barn still.  And my trainers haven't tried him out yet.  And he hasn't passed a vet check yet.  I think I will know how I really feel, when I saddle him up in my own barn and ride him down the driveway.

Already, I have noticed that I have the horse bug back.  It's taken everything in me not to bug the living daylights out of the trainer he's with now to see if I can ride him every day.  I wanted to go see him this weekend so badly!  But I know he's used for lessons and I don't want to wear out my welcome.  :)  Keeping my fingers crossed that my trainers check him out this week!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Thoughts about Licorice

In no particular order, here are some random thoughts about Licorice:

1.  He will need some ground manners refreshing.  He's just thoughtless.  Not in a quick, dirty way but in a doofy, not paying attention kind of way.

2.  The first thing my husband said when he saw a picture of him and I (my selfie) was "That horse needs a new halter.  A nice leather one."  Oh honey, that's reason 341 why I love you.

3.  When I took the family out to visit Licorice, I went into his paddock and was petting/scratching him.  He put his ears back and his face came towards me.  I stopped what I was doing because I didn't have a halter on him and was uncomfortable.  Later, as I was grooming him on the shoulder, he kind of did the same thing.  I don't know him well enough to know if this was a 'Stop That' reaction or a 'That feels good, let me groom you also.' kind of reaction.  He is the kind of horse that will pick up brushes and play with his leadrope, so I'm hoping it's a playful thing. I am going to ask the trainer about it today to see if she has any feedback.  He wasn't giving obvious cranky signals so it was hard to tell.

4.  This may just be nerves talking, but his mouth looked a little hard while I was grooming him.  He seemed a bit more frustrated than the other times.  This may be because I visited him in the late afternoon and he was hoping that he was coming in for dinner.  It's something I'll pay attention to in the future.  I'm really looking forward to getting my trainers out and getting Licorice out of his comfort zone.  I think it's SUPER important to know what he'll do when he's out of his comfort zone, as that will be a make or break thing for me.

5.  I haven't been riding Tessa at all and now she no longer kicks out at the canter.  I will miss her adorable, bright eyes and dainty princess face.  I sometimes feel guilty that I'm not riding her.

6.  I think about riding Licorice EVERY DAY.  Maybe this is because he is a new horse, but mostly I think it's because when I ride Licorice he just does what he's asked.  Okay, we kind of run into the trot. He's been used as a lesson horse so his transitions need some help and he needs a lot of work on using his body, BUT if I want to tool around at the trot practicing MY body, Licorice just goes.  And goes.  And goes.  Until you ask him to stop.  It feels like a minor miracle to me when I get on him and he just goes.

7.  I actually want to go on more trail rides with him.  I can see a future of taking him places.  Of me doing things.  Of joining in because I'm not worried about my horse.

8.  I may own two horses at the same time.  Ugh. Eek.

9.  I will need a new bridle.  My fingers have been positive itching to buy things for Licorice.  He needs blankets, a bridle, a new halter, saddle pads (okay, my hot pink one would look pretty awesome on his black coat).  But I'm waiting patiently until the deal is done before I spend money buying things for him.

10.  I had expected this process to take a year, not a month.  I know in my gut that if Licorice is everything my trainers, his trainer and our mutual friends say he is, that he is the right horse for me.  I also know that this horse is not one that I was 'shopping' for, but one that comes recommended by my farrier, his wife, their daughter, the trainer who has him and my trainers.  That's a pretty solid background.  Still...unexpected and leaves me a little emotionally gritty.  I'm so excited about Licorice (also I have a lesson today with him!  yeah!  will post updates!) but also grieving over my darling little Tessa.  I'm sure it will be better when Tessa finds her person and we can all celebrate that.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Second Date with Licorice

My second date with Licorice was a trail ride.  He was a star.

 Ear picture!!!  I FINALLY HAVE AN EAR PICTURE!!!!
 He tried to eat the ferns and sometimes wanted to be up in the lead horses business, but was otherwise amenable and quiet.  Even when someone drove by on a golf cart with trees loaded on it, he didn't look.

We only walked on the trails and when we came back we went into the arena and I did some basic flat work.  Then we put out some ground poles and trotted over them.

He doesn't have any dressage training and gets a bit heavy on the bit, but he is easy and simple and he doesn't argue about anything.

He did try to eat grass when I led him back to his pasture, but nothing horrible.

He's also a talker.  Whenever I would walk into the tack room, he would do this low nicker until I came out.  Adorable!

I tried another horse.  It was meh.  Then another one that I was lined up to try sold before I got the chance.

My trainer told me that the really good, really broke horses usually don't go on the market.  They're sold just like Licorice, by word of mouth.  If Licorice went on the market, he'd sell in a hot minute for what they're asking for him.

Dressage Championships are happening this week and my trainers are busy with 9 horse and rider combos going.  As soon as that's over, we will get busy marketing the pony and moving forward with Licorice.

Oh - and I can't remember who asked, but Tessa's other parentage is a Paint.  Though it's her Great, Great, Grandfather so she's really more of a 7/8ths Arab.  They just register them all as 1/2 Arabs if they have anything else in them.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Putting It Out There

The worst part about horse shopping for someone like me is the part where you have to tell complete strangers that you are a nervous rider.  And then you have to be willing to get off and say "I'm scared to stay on this horse."

It's like going on a first date and starting out the conversation with "Hi, I don't like snuggling, I am anal retentive about how the silverware is lined up and I leave my dirty clothes all over the floor.  Also, sometimes I cry for no reason and I get anxious in new situations."  I'm pretty sure that would send most prospective dates running for the door.

The double whammy for me is this feeling that I am somehow a failure as a horse person because I'm not sticking with Tessa.  It's embarrassing that I have a horse that is 'easy to handle' for most people and she feels like too much for me.  It's embarrassing that I've been riding for over 10 years and I'm needing a babysitter horse.

The logical part of me knows this is not exactly the truth of it all, but man, my ego is taking a bruising.

I hope that Tessa sells quickly and without fanfare to a lovely family who will want to do Pony Club or something with her.  I hope that I find a horse who helps me find my confidence and my mojo again.  I know that ultimately, it's the journey that's important and not the destination.

I made a video of Tessa this morning.  She's being ridden by a 12 year old and they look adorable together.

She should be officially on the market in the next few days.  Hoping the process is straightforward for both of us.