Monday, March 9, 2009

Who else hates this time of year?

I'm just gonna whine!

I hate it. I want it to be May. I want to be able to go outside and use the round pen. I want to be able to haul horses to another arena to ride without worrying that the roads will be slippery.
And I'm ready for the horses to shed - I am tired of having long-haired, filthy yaks!

We have mud and intermittent snow here. Our indoor arena has not yet completely recovered from the flood damage, so it is nice in some spots and way too deep in others. Sly, the buckskin Paint mare, reacts to hitting a deep spot by freaking out and scrambling so I am hesitant to continue her under-saddle training until we get the arena in better shape, so I've introduced her to long-lining. I thought she was kind of spooky about it the first time until I learned that her actual first time doing it, a year or so ago, she flipped out completely. So now I decided that the fact that I got her going around both directions in a reasonably controlled manner to be a success, and we'll keep working on that. She is terrified of the rope being near or around her butt, so we will work up to that - for now, I am letting it just lay over her saddle.

We are sticking to walk and jog. She needs to learn that it is OK to walk - I like for horses to have a solid walk on the longe line and she thinks you need to go out there right away and charge around - which I think is pretty common. Lots of people ignore walking and it's not just the NH-ey round penning set - I see plenty of hunters that think you go out on the longe line and run around like a fool. I hate that. I want 3 good, reasonably controlled gaits on the longe, just like any other time. Fortunately she is a smart mare and is catching on quickly!

I also want to introduce her to ponying, so I'm going to try to put some riding on a very well broke, huge Appy gelding that we have here as I think he'll tolerate the idea of being ponied off of. He is Mr. Personality - big as a house, so big that he looks part draft even though he isn't. I have renamed him the Moosealoosa. :-)

All my others are fine except for my 35+ year old, Clover, who had to be put to sleep last week. She just got to that point where her balance was going and even though she was still "cleaning her plate" and looked good, it was obvious she was going to go down at some point and not be able to get back up. She was a free Craigslist horse two years ago, thrown away by a girl who wanted "a young horse who could go fast" and "didn't know why she was so skinny" (she was long past any ability to chew hay, and was starving to death). She ate hay pellet mush with me for a little over two years and died looking like you see below. That's my idea of a happy ending!


Melissa-ParadigmFarms said...

I totally agree with you about the walk. Such an important gait whether working from the ground or undersaddle - yet so often skipped over. I hate it when I see people get on, walk maybe halfway around the arena and start trotting.

I've already mentioned it but I'll say again thanks for being Clover's angel, "you done good."

Anonymous said...

Sorry for your loss of Clover - it looks as though she had an excellent home with you.

I couldn't agree more about the walk - it's a foundation for everything else, and if something doesn't work right at the walk, it won't at faster gaits. I also use long-lining (I call it ground driving) a lot, particularly to introduce horses to new experiences.

Spring (and summer) will come!

sidetracked said...

I'll join in on the whining. I live here in Maine and it's still winter here, although we had a really nice weekend with temps in the 40's and then today we got snow again and Wednesday we're getting more snow. Luckily we have a cover all indoor and it's held up really nicely, but it would still be nice to work in the outdoor which still has about a foot and a half of snow on it.

As for the lunging, I am totally with you. I show hunters and equitation and lunging is an important tool. I don't do it to get energy out of my horse, I lunge to get him to listen and go through all three gaits balanced and attentive. We start all of our 2 and 3yo's on the lunge learning their voice commands and working on transitions and balance without the added weight of a rider.

Our indoor shows have already started and I can't wait for the big grass courses in the summer months.

manymisadventures said...

Ugh, I am right with you on the weather whining. Worst of all, I know plenty of horse people are still dealing with tons of snow this time of year, so I feel like I can't complain about the cold wind and annoyingly persistent sleet-slush!

Thanks for what you do for those thrown-away horses. They deserve a happy life and, in time, a dignified death. After all I've seen and read, I know I will do the same when I am in the right place in my life to do it. It must feel wonderful to be able to do that for a few...even if you can't save them all, you've still made a world of difference to the ones you do take.

Ellie said...

Sorry to hear about Clover, it is wonderful she was able to live out the rest of her life in such a good home. I'm with you on the weather, I live in Minnesota and we are supposed to get another snow storm this week. I don't think I can take it anymore. I am also itching to take a clipper blade to my horse, but it is too cold so I had to content myself with a nose and ear trim and having his mane pulled.

Ellie and Werther Blog

Karen V said...

R.I.P. Clover!

It's almost the 10th of March and it's still full-on WINTER! It's supposed to be 18 degrees overnight, 14 degrees tomorrow night and the next. We had scattered hail and snow showers all day.

*putting fingers to my temples and chanting "warmer weather-warmer weather-warmer weather" *

Mikolaj said...


I am so sick of Canadian winter. Honestly, it's almost the middle of freaking March, and today we're blessed with -13F with an extreme wind chill warning of -45F. I guess it's trying to get it's last kicks in before spring officially starts. This garbage is supposed to last the next three days.

Supposed to get nicer this weekend, hovering around 30-35F so that's a blessing! I don't know how much more of this us OR the horses can take!

Deer Run Stables said...

Quote: I want it to be May. I want to be able to go outside and use the round pen.

Amen! Preach it, sister.

The young woman I cut a deal with to start training and selling the ex-broodmares has managed to get the first one of them a 30-day spot in the show barn down the road, in exchange for me providing all feed, etc., and hauling my outta shape ass down there to clean and strip stalls for eight hours on my day off every week. (First day was yesterday-- owww... my back... my knee... *whimper* *whine*)

Anyway, trainer says she wants to get the mare clipped up and bathed, and have her husband, a professional photographer, take the first round of sales photos.

So I smile and nod, and inside I'm thinking


And of course it doesn't help that she's now surrounded by show horses who've spent the winter in 12x12 stalls with five blankets on while she was out rolling in the mud and scratching itchy spots against the corner of the barn.


I'm holding firm on not doing the video until she's shed out, though. Dammit.

On a more sober note, I'm sorry to hear about your oldster, Fugly-- but you're absolutely right. In the world of horses, that *was* a happy ending.

A Bay Horse said...

Clover looked great! I love seeing pics of healthy old timers.

I agree with you on longeing. I enjoy using it as a little "let's try something different" for my horse. We really go for control and refinement. At dressage shows you don't see horses racing around on the end of a rope as much, but I've seen a few.

twhlady said...

Clover looked like she really enjoyed her time with you. I am sorry for your loss.

On another note, I am sure all of you would like the weather around here. Well maybe not. It has been between 70 and 80 degrees for about four days. Welcome to unpredictable Louisiana weather. We always say if you don't like it wait five minutes and it will change.

Kathryn said...

Hunter trainers get a bad rap for lunging the sh*t out of horses, but my experience is that it's just like any other discipline ... the good trainers teach the horses manners and use the lunge as a training tool (and recognize that if a horse needs to be lunged *that* much before every round, it probably should be in a different ring). The bad or mediocre ones use it as a shortcut. I held a lot of stereotypes about the hunter trainers too, you know, until I trained with a really quality one.

And I am SO SICK of the rain and the snow and the rain and the snow and the grey and the ick. I am tired of getting wet walking my tacked up horse from her stall to the indoor. I am tired of having to wear three layers every time I go to the barn. And I am especially tired of the MUD.

mugwump said...

If you can't do it at a walk, you shouldn't do it at a trot...if you can't do it in the arena you shouldn't try it on the trail....seems so simple, doesn't it?
And this coming from one of those horrid people who walks half way around the arena and then lopes off...
I just can't whine. It's staying light long enough for me to head up the mountain after work. It's snowing and windy today, but I'm going anyway dammit.

Bambi said...

Clover looks like one happy mare in that picture. Thank goodness she got a second chance with you.

The weather sucks!
You can hardly tell that my lil guy has white stockings. It takes about ten minutes to make them a dark grey >>
Also, our arena is swamped, as are all our feilds. The only place t oride is the snobby place next door (which costs $15 a ride) and the driveway.
I am SO READY for summer!
(but note, I'll be bitching as soon as it hits 25C :])

Patches said...

AMEN to that! I've done enough whining about the weather on my blog so I'll leave it there, but I will say that I'm soooo there with ya!

Sorry to hear about Clover, but it sounds like she had a well deserved and wonderful retirement. Kudos and thank you for doing what you can!

RussianRoulette said...

I live in Southern Ontario and I certainly feel the pain of long winters only to be capped off with mud season.

Sorry to hear about Clover. I'm sure she had a comfortable last two years though.

I agree with you about the walk. Every horse I teach to lunge has to be able to walk. I hate when they immediately start trotting. Or better yet hit the end of the lunge and start running... lovely.

Kathryn said...

mugwump--or they can't do it at home, so think they should try it at a show--that really gets my goat. Why do you think you are going to get around at 3 ft when you've only schooled 2'6 courses at home? It isn't going to get easier at the show!

spottedmonster said...

No whining from me, I'm in sunny Florida. My whining will begin in June and won't end until November!

I agree with the walk comments, my daughter's pony could poke all day long at the walk, trot or canter. We are working on her walk but I'm not sure we will see success!

Michelle said...

Blech, mud, and rain, and sleet, and snow, and all kinds of yuck here in the Northeast. I did, finally get a brief ride in the driveway this past weekend, just did a few mindless circles, and some sidepasses that looked more like turns on the FH. Oh well, it was a first for both of us.

But, the good news is that my daughter got on her rescue horse for the first time. This horse was scared to death of tack, totally shut down and went to la-la land if she thought you were going to do something to her. Well, we just walked the length of the paddock a dozen times, and then got off and untacked ... and guess what? The mare wanted her tack back on! She mouthed her saddle, then stuck her nose in the bridle as it was hanging in my hands. Something clicked with her over the winter. Yeahaaa!!!!

I'm so sorry to hear bout Clover, but she had a great end to her life. I've BTDT, got the t-shirt, so I do know how you feel. Not good, but it was the right thing to do and under favorable circumstances.

fernvalley01 said...

Sorry to hear about your old girl. Sounds like she had a good life with you.

athy said...

So sorry about Clover - I know you will miss her- but you did the right thing.
From one Moosaloosas mom to another- I want to see pictures :D
Where in heck are these huge Appys coming from?

athy said...

ps- about this time of year.
I did a full post of bitching already on the freespeech forum.
Boys started shedding 3 weeks ago- and it was 18 degrees last night. Blankie time and heated water troughs - ugh - again.

fuglyhorseoftheday said...

>>mugwump--or they can't do it at home, so think they should try it at a show--that really gets my goat. Why do you think you are going to get around at 3 ft when you've only schooled 2'6 courses at home? It isn't going to get easier at the show!<<

On this note: Did anybody see the stuff from the Hampton Classic on the Real Housewives of NYC?

Sorry, but that Kelly girl asked for that refusal! You know, I am guilty of riding loose-fingered and letting the reins slip through my fingers but that's better than getting left behind and popping the horse in the face the way she did.

The other woman's daughter appears to be a very competent rider whose horse was acting up for whatever reason. But I thought she did all of the right things to correct him and she seemed like she had a very solid seat.

Anybody else watch? I was pretty much stuck in the house with a tooth abscess for a couple of days until I could get that taken care of - too painful to do anything but gulp Advil and watch TV - so now I'm the official Bad Reality TV Expert. :-)

chamoiswillow said...

I'm sorry for your loss of Clover. I'm glad that her final years were with you, getting the care she deserved.

brat_and_a_half said...

You sure gave clover a great last 2 years of her life, its too bad all old horses don't get that..

I hate this time of year too, because spring is almost here and teasing you. Little warmblood filly is exceptionally peppy and is trying some cheeky tricks out (I think they all go through that at 4, and again at 5 when they're feeling bigger and stronger). It feels like we've gone back to the first couple weeks of training, shes begun pulling a bit on the lunge, and started lunging with her hip in. We've done a lot of ground work, and she leg yeilds away very readily on the lunge now, and it's getting better. But I'm going to have to wait a bit to do much more, since the ring is frozen and it's not often I get to get hauled down to the public indoor.

Can't wait to use the round pen again, it helps so many problems even if it doesn't look like your adressing the paticular problem.

fuglyhorseoftheday said...

I had such a fun ride tonight!

I rode the Big Moving Horse from the prior blog and I just, freaking, LOVED him. OMG. He is an Appy but he feels like a warmblood to ride.

Mugwump, if you're reading this, you really helped me out because he's a very looky horse. He is high headed and looks at everything and I just remembered your blog about letting him look and not thinking it was going to lead to a spook. You're right. It didn't. He's merely a range-bred, very alert horse and if I didn't worry about what he was looking at, he didn't worry about it either.

Will get pics of him next week but I just had such a great ride. It was a real confidence-builder for me - he was just one of those that I felt instantly comfortable on.

Shibass said...

My condolences for Clover. Starving to death would have been awful and you gave her another 2 good years.

I hate this time of year too - but because spring is not coming here to Alberta fast enough, just a couple of days ago we hit -40F...again!! Ridiculous. Tomorrow looks better - up to freezing finally.

Trainers who just take off running on horses drive me crazy. I think you should only walk and trot for a good year before even thinking of going at any speed. That is how we trained our horses and they were very controllable and responsive - not crazy like some of the take off and run arena circle types. I had one horse trained by a guy recently who thought this was just great. Our Daughter fell off of her when she went into her 'circle the area fast' mode. That is what he did so she did it automatically. Being in control is key and so many horses are turned into idiots by people who do this. Barrel racing etc. are prime examples of blowing horses minds. I've never seen so many initially calm relaxed animals transform into wild 'can't walk' horses after a few months of 'training'. All the spurring and whipping that goes on should be banned. They actually call these things 'propulsion aids'!! It makes me mad to even observe the beating some of these animals endure. No wonder they are wrecked afterward.

Drillrider said...

I moved to Idaho to get away from the rainy, muddy, PNW weather. Don't miss those days at all. The winter gets colder here and the spring brings some really windy days, but all-in-all, I'm LOVING Idaho!!!

VLC--Congrats on the great ride. It feels so wonderful when you click with a horse and it all comes together!

moosefied said...

I won't say, "Poor Clover," because she was lucky.

I am sick of winter, too, and I actually like winter. But the one-day-warm, next-day-freezing is the pits.

Heidi the Hick said...

Thanks for giving that horse a good retirement. You did the right thing. You know that.

I hate this time of year too!!!!

I'm another southern Ontario reader here. It's way too cold today. I'm sick of being cold. March is nasty; It's either mud or ice. I never know what temperature it'll be. Never know when it's gonna snow again. (It will.)

My horses are the dirtiest they ever get right now. Not enough snow to roll and and take the dirt off, and the mud is not just Mud if you know what I mean. My parents' corral is clay, which means when it's wet it's heavy, extremely sticky and takes two days of steady sun to dry enough to ride in. (Then I've got another two days before it's hard.)

Plus, for reasons unknown, this is my worst time of year for depression. Everything is hard now. It takes so much determination to get anything done.

Everyone thinks more daylight will help. Nope.

Well, I've been riding usually once or twice a week all through the winter, so at least I'm in decent shape. I can't imagine how lumpy and drab I'd feel physically if I didn't have horses to ride and a dog to walk. Being active really does help. So get outside folks, even if it's miserable out!

BritnieAnn said...

MOOSALOOSA!! That is hilarious! Thanks for the laugh! And RIP Clover, she was a blessed girl to have made her way to you! Glad you had a good ride!

BuckdOff said...

I'm glad Clover had a wonderful two years. My favorite TB at my current stable also had to be pts recently. He was a large OTTB, honest, and just the best boy, I will really miss him. His legs were starting to cause him pain toward the end, so the decision was made. The same deal, you could tell that one day he wouldn't be able to get back up.