Tuesday, January 28, 2014

No Riding, Just Skiing

I didn't get to ride this past weekend because I was away skiing in PA, but it was SO cold I wouldn't have wanted to (and we got more snow Saturday). I did take off next Monday after the superbowl for our VT trip. VT skiing is 100% better than the Poconos, but both help pass the winter months. I do feel guilty not being able to ride for 2 weeks, but the lows are just brutal. I keep telling myself that for every week that passes, we get more and more daylight. Now, if only we could get warmer nights so I could ride after work!

This weekend was fun and enjoyable getting on the slopes both days, and we even got some hot tub and quad riding time in the snow with plenty of needed relaxing. I need more weekends like this to switch up my poor mood.

Here are some pics from this weekend...
Quadding by the lake.
We look like marshmellows
Elk Mountain lift
Yes, I have junior skis.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Weekend Fun

Since I'm on this CTR kick, I've been trying to work out places to go, people to ride with, and questions I have to ask. I sent in my membership for the NJ TRA, but I haven't yet heard anything. They don't really respond to questions much, and it's really annoying! I tried to use it as a network tool, but the people they gave me to contact are just as non responsive as the group. I've joined a few Facebook groups to sit back and read about the sport, and I am trying to figure out a training plan. Training plan? Really?

Saturday was cold and windy, but I decided to ride since the sun was out. We warmed up, and then I used the "track my hack" app to figure out our pace and distance. It's pretty awful for the most part, and I may pick up endomondo again. We worked on the track doing trot sets, and we even cantered a bit (in circles, but it happened). I decided to man up because we both get bored and dive into the trails between the track for something different and to cool out. Spyder was 100% fine and super excited to be doing something different. We've got a whole new set of fun to be had at the farm! We did just over 3 miles with warm up and cooling out.

Very Tired Puppy
After riding, April came over so Kaiden and Gucci could have a doggie play date and we could catch up. Winter is getting to both of us, and the riding less thing is upsetting. We need spring to come so we can get out and get off the farm. Since I need to practice with the trailer, I am working on a truck, and that will make it much easier to get the job done! There are a few places to ride that aren't too far from where April keeps Shadow, and I can even ride at the farm with her there if they allow it. This riding alone thing is SO boring for both of us so we're making that happen this spring. The dogs got along after they worked out their boundaries and were looping around the yard like crazy! It was nice to have a tired pup at the end of the night.

Sunday, I had the same schedule - warm up on the track, trot sets on the track, and cantering while TRYING to move out straight which turned into a funky gait (so I came back to trot then started over with asking). Spyder's leap into the canter is so dramatic that I never know if he's going to pull a stunt or move away nicely, but he was moving nicely. There was one point where I'd say we went about 50 feet in a straight line down the track to the left. To the right, it's still just circles. To either side it's been frustrating, but it's been easier to move him out off my left leg (and I think that's my fault because it's stronger). We went faster today, and did about 3.25 miles. I have no idea what a good pace is for a ride so I guess I need to figure that out.

Amped in the Woods
Most of both days this weekend was trotting and south jersey is just too flat for the "use hills" suggestion everyone gives to work on muscle and cantering. He's got the command, and he knows that when I sit in the saddle and grab mane, I mean pick it up and go, but we are still stuck in the circles which I don't get. I'm a lot less scared to try things with him (even though he sits more, and I think it might be because he's a bit more spunky having time off in between rides which means he's more willing to go when asked. Not using spurs or a crop both days made for a great work out, and the two-point at the trot both days has really helped me stretch my legs and work on my core. I think that I'll have to get in better shape than Spyder will have to if we plan on making this happen in March. I've also networked within the groups to ask for people in the area to ride with, and I found a person a little older than me in the area where the CTR's are. I hope to get out and off the farm with her if it's nice at the end of February, and if not, early March. Spring is just around the corner! We've got 4-10 inches of snow coming tomorrow so skiing this weekend will be fun, but I'll be missing the riding time.

Blue Skies
Shadow Selfie

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

101th Post for My Little Dalmatian

101th post for my spotted fried! WHOO! For this, I'm celebrating our newest addition, Kaiden. He's no dalmatian, but he's certainly a mutt. We have no idea what mix he could even be other than FUN!

As some of you may know, I wanted a dog when we got our first house! We fostered one that didn't work out, and at that point, we knew we wanted to sell the house to upgrade. Upgrade we did, and we knew it wouldn't be fair to a dog between moving and fixing up the next home. OK, I wanted it more than I'm admitting to it, and I tried a few different tactics to get one, but with the upcoming wedding, it would have been too much. Who cares! Chris did because he'd have to listen to me trying to plan while dealing with a puppy. It would have been fun though, right?

I talked to Dom and a few others that I knew were in positions to get inside stories on dogs even though it was before the "approval" stage. I knew it would be a matter of time, but I couldn't help myself. I follow a TON of shelters in the area, and I began to comment on photos of some that came in. While some were SO adorable, I held on to hope that Chris would see one and say, "Let's go take a look." That didn't happen for a few months even with persistence (and annoyance... and possibly aggravation). Anyways, I posted on Kaiden's photo that the AC Humane Society posted WEEKS before we went to look at him, and it was the day they posted it! He looked so cute and very similar to our foster dog so he caught my interest right away! I don't know how he ended up staying there for the time he did because he was so sweet.

The photo that got my interest!
We went to look at him the day I did the hunter pace... what an exciting day for so many reasons! It was right before Halloween, and I met Chris at the shelter to save some time since their hours are strange. All day I was thinking he'd get adopted, but he was still there (and they already had my application... oops). All of the dogs barked and jumped, and Kaiden just came up to the gate of his run and wagged his tail. When they went to put the leash on him to bring him out, he curled and moved towards the ground. It was so sad! We played with him in a small pen, and he wasn't concerned with us or toys... just the food in our pockets. He was a bit shy and mild mannered - a bad and a good? A good and a good? What kind of puppy doesn't want to play with toys? I told myself he just never had anyone teach him how to be a dog, and I knew he'd been there for a few weeks, close to a month. How? He was so sweet!

Since he seemed independent, I was worried that he wouldn't be too into people. Chris and I talked about it and I wanted him to decide so nothing could be blamed on me, and he wanted me to decide since it's what I wanted all along. I expressed my concerns for him being a bit too uncaring about people and toys, but I mentioned the fact that food was a motivator which always makes things easier (Spyder is a prime example). We went with the decision to get him, and headed home to our house with broken heat! We were worried about that and a Halloween party we were throwing, but hey, all good experience for him, right? It was nice to see that the shelter posted our adoption photo on their Facebook for everyone to see! I didn't even get to tell friends before a lot of them saw it on their site so the texts started coming in!

The day we adopted him! Yes, those are riding pants!
The drive home
We set everything up for the dog and let him explore, then we had people over the house right away to see how he'd react. He was a bit confused and didn't have much energy which was both good and bad. I liked that he was chill, but I didn't like that he might be sick or depressed or BORING. He didn't wag his tail much, and he had no clue what to do with toys. He liked the yard and walking/moping around it, but he still wasn't too interested in us. He plopped down and sunbathed and just lounged around in the sun. Cool? We let him be and he eventually came around.
Sun bathing

Day 3 or so, he was WILD! He started jumping, wagging his tail, and getting bursts of energy. We decided it was the perfect time to start TRAINING! Sit was easy, as he came with that almost perfected. We got him in the car and to stores as well as a few different parks to walk and get used to things. He was terrified of wind and leaves, but he's good with those now. He's still getting car sick which is slobbering like crazy (to the point everything is soaked) and vomiting if he's too anxious. He's not scared to get in the car, but the motion must make him sick. He was a bit shy in Petsmart with people, but he quickly warms up. Dogs excite him and he hates that they are on leashes in the store because he just wants to play. We need to find dog parks! He's such a "talker" and loves to tell you when he wants something.

Because they posted the photo of us on Facebook, I decided to tag myself. I read through all of the "good luck" comments and found a post from someone that knew him from the south where he was in Georgia. Long story short, I ended up talking to her, and she fostered him at her kennel/rescue that she runs. He was so great on a leash because of her, and we got his story! He was found by someone that found him in the street with wounds, and they called the shelter which was closed so they sent him to their vet and said, "We'll pay for it!" He went through surgery/sealing up the cuts and had drains put in which is why he was under the care of someone that could provide for him with experience in working with an injured dog. The story was that he was attacked by dogs that "tried to rip his head off", but no one saw it happen. To me, it looks like it could have been an embedded collar because of the symmetry, but who knows. He could have been stuck under a fence or something, too. I'm so happy he went from Georgia all the way to NJ and found a great spot with us. His foster mom is still in touch with us and loves seeing what we post on Facebook! I'm sure I annoy people on Instagram, but oh well!

These are graphic photos so don't look if you can't handle them.

He's met quite a few dogs between pet store visits and friends coming over with theirs, and he LOVES them all! He's warmed up so much and learned so much in just a short amount of time, too! He was a bit challenging for housebreaking and still can't help himself if he "forgets" because he's too busy playing, but he's chill with the right amount of play. He's a testy one and likes to listen when he wants, but his temperament is so willing to please it's unreal. He's got sit, paw, other paw, high five, give me ten, up, speak, stay, and come. I may be forgetting something, but he's come along quickly! We're working on crawl and roll over which he just doesn't get, but I know I do need to get some patience to keep progessing! Below was just two weeks with him in our home (don't mind our soon to be replaced kitchen floor). Yes, I set up the camera myself to get this because I wanted to remember the timeline.

Kaiden and my sister's dog, Penny


When we went to Jamaica, he went to the kennel since we didn't want to burden anyone with his puppy tenancies for almost a week, and we paid the extra to send him to doggie day care where they take photos and you can see the camera of the facility. In the airport in Jamaica, we were watching him run and play and look so happy that it gave us comfort knowing he was in such great care. Now that he's older and more well behaved, we take him to our family's homes, and he gets along with everyone and listens well. Next time we go away (skiing this month and next), he'll be under family watch which is always a better feeling than the kennel because he'll get more attention. I think he wants to come skiing because he's crazy in the snow as you can see from the video above.

I'll refrain from other photos because this is a LONG post, but more will be posted, I can't help myself.
Best friends - Chris & Kaiden

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Weak Aids

I thought my 100th post would be about our adoption of a new dog, buttttt I ended up riding before I got to it...
I rode Sunday with some weak aids. My legs are nothing, I forgot to grab a crop, and I was too lazy to put on spurs. It was in the 40-50 range for the morning ride, and it had been in the 60's Sunday, but with rain. This coming weekend, we're back down to the 30's for the high. Blah. Anyways, the ride was good. There was one slight kicking out issue, but it wasn't too bad.

I rode on the track since everything was soggy, and we did a warm up with w/t before moving to canter. Trot was nothing special other than Spyder didn't want to move and my legs are shot. Riding once a week is not giving me the tools I need to push him forward. Without spurs or a crop, I was all kick, squeeze, cluck. None of that made him particularly angry so we worked on pushing forward and moving back down within the gait. I'm going to need to work on trot sets if I plan on doing a CTR, and I have until the end of March for the first event so let's hope the weather is decent. I'm happy the track is sand because it's never too bad in the weather patterns we get. I also got the date for the hunter pace which is in April! :)

Moving up to the canter, it was slow, smooth, and nice! It's more comfortable than the trot, and he moved around in a full circle in both directions with little, but some pushing. When he wanted to come back down to a trot, I pushed back to the canter which is where I got the bucky, kicky thing Spyder's got going on once in a while. We have [yet again] worked in a circle so I need to think about this straight tactic to bring that into shows this season, potentially... never. I don't see it happening so I have the CTR on my mind! We ended the ride cooling out after I tried the sitting trot to see how that would go. I am going to recap on the last videos where I decided it was a good idea to try it without stirrups (I think that was the first ride of the new year).

After I rode, I stayed and cleaned up Spyder since I let the mud from the paddock dry as I rode. I made sure he got some ginger snaps for being so good for me! He LOVES anything that comes in a plastic wrapper/container and goes crazy even when he hears a shopping bag. In this video, he's not half as bad as usual, but you can see his excitement. It's worked for my advantage to get him out of the field, but he acts like a mad man if he doesn't get his treats right away!

After he went back in the paddock, I stayed for another 2 hours with the wind (only because there was sun) to clean my tack and enjoy what I could of the decent weather.

Finally cleaned it up!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Riding in the Snow - 99th!

Happy almost 100th post to me!

I went to the barn on Sunday because it was close to 50 degrees. From the 8-10" of snow, we were down to about 6 since I went later in the day. I was slipping and sliding down the driveway at the barn because people had driven over the snow so it was slushy and wet with some ice. I didn't care that it was disgusting and not the best riding conditions (with just 4" left at the farm), I just needed to get out of the house! I worked from home on Friday for the storm since travel conditions were tough, and this was the first opportunity with the "warmth" to venture out without ice on the roads. Last night, it rained a poured and went back to 50 degrees, and I woke up to no snow. I'd prefer rain over snow, hands down and today at lunch, it was starting to become a wintry mix again. So we have -5 degrees, then 8" snow, then 50 degrees, then rain and thunder, then wintry mix, and tomorrow, back to 17 degrees. Tonight, 7! AHH! Whacky, right? This coming weekend looks like 50 so I might be able to get in another ride. If only it would dry out! How does 12 hours change the temperature 30 degrees +? These poor horses must be so confused.

I tacked up in the slush and ventured onto the track. I figured that'd be the best terrain being it's the flattest. I warmed up with a walk to make sure that there was no ice under the snow. We did hit a few spots that were lower where we broke through ice, but nothing bothered Spyder. Once I got bored of the track, I went out to the ring to find deer that were trying to get by on the little grass that we could see. Once we got bored there, I went back to the track to trot a bit on the areas where I walked. Spyder was bored so we decided to brave it out and go around the track. I headed towards the house thinking that if anything happened, maybe they would see me. I forgot my phone at home so I didn't want to fall off, but I thought this was a good idea? It was a ton of fun, and Spyder kept his cool. The snow was beautiful, and the only tracks were those of rabbits and deer... lots of deer. I wish I had pictures, but my phone was on the counter when I got home. I don't want to say I hope it snows again, but it wouldn't hurt to get some nice shots around the barn in the snow. I just need a sleigh. No one else was out at the barn, yet again!

I'm excited for spring because I want to get off the farm and have people to ride with. I'm excited that I've gotten braver, and I trust Spyder to try new things (even in the snow). He's come a long ways, and I couldn't be happier with what 2013 has brought us. Bring on 2014!

2013 in Review

Well, for Spyder...
  • The canter got better
  • Jumping got more frequent and higher
  • Less nipping
  • Better ground manners
  • First dressage test - awesome score, but items to work on
  • Working through issues - I got more brave at dealing with it
  • Less spook - because I trust him more
  • More brave - Each ride is like nothing bad ever happened, new motto of the past year
  • Danny Warrington clinics - made me realize being pushed would create quick progress
  • Trailer purchase - 2014 will be fun!
  • Hunter pace - First place without trying. Can't wait for more!
  • Trail rode off-farm - the hunter pace gave me a whole new level of respect for Spyder - more fun overall
  • Wedding - Holy 2013!
  • Dog - Adopted the most fun little mutt from AC Humane Society (I'll have to post his story)
  • House - Sold the first home and purchased the second. A massive project but a lot of reward!
  • Painting, painting, and more painting. You have to paint a lot when your new 2,700 sq ft room is almost all wallpaper, ugh! Worst invention, EVER!
  • More.grad.school..4.0...enough said.
Goals for 2014
  • Get off the farm with the trailer... a truck would help.
  • Canter straight. Stupid, but I can't even think of where to start
  • Do a CTR or the like - there is a trail riding group in the area that should be helpful with this
  • Look into endurance - ask questions, network, decide if it's a fit
  • Another hunter pace - pony club is scheduled to do another in April, I'm in!
  • More trails - need to explore around the farm
  • De-spooking - he doesn't spook much, often, but what fun it'll be to play with pool noodles and plastic bags
  • Clinic - do one, do something

Friday, January 3, 2014

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Happy New Year

I got to the barn after some much needed sushi and shopping to get in a ride on my day off. It wasn't perfect because Spyder was a grump, and he decided needed to kick out. I am angry with the weather and a grump about it so I can't blame him! He was a bit up, but not when it came to cantering. He didn't want to go so I didn't push him too much. Again, I was the only one at the farm riding and I didn't want to get hurt. We worked through his one episode, but that didn't stop the pinned ears and obnoxious grunts. We did some sitting trot to change the work a bit.
We worked through some transitions and didn't push to keep moving at the canter. We worked down to a trot from the canter, and we did a lot of w/t transitions. From there, we moved on to jumping. Spyder wasn't nearly as peppy as he acted when I first got on so we worked on picking his feet up over fences. I really need to get off his face, but his rushing is so frustrating so I sit back as far as I can. Since he wasn't too enthusiastic, we went out to the track. I did a lot of trotting in two-point and was trying to get him into an extended trot. Clucking, ears back, squeezing, ears back... he wasn't happy. I think he may have thrown in a few steps of pace to be spiteful, but I got him right back to trot. It was feeding time so I decided to leave it on a good note as he was actually listening (even though he wasn't happy about it). We went on a mini trail through the middle of his old paddock and the new muddy paddock, and I think he liked changing it up.

We cooled out around the barn, and he went in his stall to eat while I cleaned up the dried mud all over his legs. He was actually looking decent because I got off most of the dirt. I waited for him to finish to turn him out because the sun was starting to set, and I knew it would be the last of the sun for a bit. Our temperatures are dropping, and we are getting a snow storm tonight into tomorrow. GREAT! I hope everyone and all of the horses stay warm! I posted a picture below of our crazy changes in temperature. If you remember, I had a post about the 60's... now this! 22 one day, and 50's a few days later.

On another note, I completed a few of my "wish list" items from my page above. I ordered new boots because I found a great deal from a site where you could get a giftcard, and they would add 20% to the amount. That was like getting them for 20% off (but they were also the cheapest I had found so far), so I ordered riding gloves while I was at it! Chris cleaned up the garage so I have a crate to use as a mounting block for the trailer, and I found a hay bag on clearance from the same site. :) Happy New Year!
These changes are crazy.