Monday, June 29, 2009

Jack is for sale.

Yes, sadly I have made the hard decision to sell my darling boy.

Originally I had decided just to lease him out. I didn't think it was fair on him to have him with me in Palmy as I didn't have the time to ride him, nor the funds to compete him.

But my parents have both been diagnosed with cancer and they are no longer able to help with extra support of me while I study, so Jack must be sold.

I'm really gutted but I know its the best thing.

Here is his sale ad.

Jack is a 15.2hh Black Thoroughbred Gelding. Sucessfully completed at 1.20m with previous owner, has scope to go higher. Competed at Training Level eventing, schooled easily at Pre-Novice. Has had some dressage schooling. Easy to float, truck, shoe, worm etc. Can be pushy on the ground so needs a firm hand. Jack is not a beginners horse but can be handled fine by a competent rider. Is great to ride right off a break. Is a cool PC horse. Can be grazed in a herd or seperately. Tries hard and is an honest jumper. Hes really a lovely horse and is stunning looking... I get compliments on him all the time. Good to ride on the beach, road and forest. He has a very soft mouth, I ride him in a straight bar happy mouth with no trouble. He is a good keeper, only needs feed in the summer to get electrolytes into him since he sweats a lot. I am looking to sell Jack because I can not fufil his potential while I am at University. Comes with a winter cover, an inbetween seasons cover, and two summer covers. Saddle and Bridle if needed. You can email me at or txt/phone me on 0274125548 or 096279878 for more info. He is currently turned out in Taumarunui.

So if you are looking for a new horse (and you live in New Zealand), feel free to contact me. He is advertised for $6000 ono.

A side note.. Jack is loving his time in Taumuarnui. He is head of his herd and was as gentle as a lamb when I rode him after a good two months off. My good good boy.

Monday, May 11, 2009


I've been very busy lately and have neglected this poor blog! Uni is crazy at the moment so poor Jack has been getting fed and cleaned regularly and not much else. I'm sure he's happy though, what horse doesn't want to hang in a paddock and eat?

I've arranged for Jack to be turned out on my best friends farm for 6 weeks (this is where I lived last year). The paddocks and hills are huge so hes going to get the chance just to be a horse for a few weeks and regain some mental health. My only worry is that he will be turned out with some other horses and there are always fights... hopefully he doesn't get hurt! I'll be praying hard.

Otherwise, there is not much else going on here! This blog will be having its own winter hiatus so don't expect too much!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

E's Show Jumping Lesson

My friend E had a show jumping lesson this morning and I decided to tag along to watch. Her horse Tom is a cool guy, this was the first time I really saw him in action.

Here are some of the photographs I got from the lesson. My camera is old, and pretty lame. It takes the photo a second after you press the button, so timing a jumping photo is a art. It's also a gamble whether you get a fuzzy action photo or not. So some of these are a tad fuzzy. Isn't he awesome though? The very last photo is E and Tom jumping 1.35m and the corner in the 2nd photo is 1.3om.

On the way home from the lesson, E let me drive the float home! I was stoaked as I've been wanting to learn how for ages. I went nice and slow and drove nicely. E said I did great! So now I feel pretty confident about driving a float when I get one :)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Hot to trot

I love early morning rides (apart from the waking up at the crack of dawn part). The sun throws its morning light over the paddocks, the horses are eating quietly... and the arena is free. Jack was on fire this morning and it was wonderful. Even the cold air biting my face couldn't wipe my smile away. As soon as I was on him, he was walking out with big strides. He usually plods along like an old cart horse when I first get on, not your typical hot thoroughbred behaviour, but its how he is. He broke out into a beautiful, ground eating trot when we reached the hill below the arena. It was forward and his strides were long. His first trot normally is a short, choppy affair but Jack was showing his dressage potential... and this was all before we actually got into the arena.

I didn't want the amazing trot to end, so I trotted him straight into the arena and we went to work. (We had walked a good 5 minutes from his paddock before this in case you were wondering). We did serpentines, figure 8's, transitions and straight lines all over the place and he rocked. On the bit and light in my hands, he was showing me what he can do. Since his trot work was going so well, I moved onto the canter. He's been having trouble with his left lead recently, I think it was because I was acting more like a passanger then a rider. Instead of giving him clear aids about what lead I wanted, I would just ask him to canter. So today, I made sure I was VERY clear about the lead I wanted and he got the correct one everytime. We practiced simple changes on the diagonal too. We will be doing test A4 in the trial and last time we did this test, our change was terrible and dropped our marks down a lot. He did really well today and was quick and precise with his transitions.

After about 45 minutes he started getting lazy and falling behind my leg. Since I didn't have a whip with me, I had to give him a good couple of kicks to keep him moving forward. Once I got a nice forward trot I asked for a walk and then cooled down. I will have to get moving on that conditioning program... he looks like hes going to need it.

Naming horses (and other animals)

Solitaire Mare from A Good Horse wrote a great post about naming horses and what those names mean to the owner.

I have always loved naming animals, especially horses. Luckily my best friend's family breeds a number of horses and I've had a couple of opportunities to name some of their horses.

My first horse, Red, came with his very unoriginal name. Since he was 14 already, I decided to keep his paddock name. We looked up his racing records and found out his racing name was Tin Solider (and that he also had not won any races). Again, I wasn't impressed. If I was going to compete him, I wanted him to have a name that meant something to me. I thought about it for ages. I considered putting Red somewhere in name... Red Sunrise, Red Sensation, Red Robin. The Red Robin got me thinking and I remembered Christopher Robin from the Winnie the Pooh books. I used to love the books and movies as a child and my it also was special because my mum used to always call my cousin (with whom I grew up with) Christopher Robin (his name was Christopher) and used to quote "Christopher Robin is saying his prayers" to Chris often. And so Red's competition name was Christopher Robin.

When I got Jack, I also kept his paddock name. It suited him and I didn't think it needed to be changed. His racing name had been "Jack's Back" which I thought was pretty lame. Again, I thought about it long and hard. Jack is impressive to look at and commands attention. I wanted a strong name. Sometimes I looked at him and thought he looked like a battle horse, and he has a couple of scars on his leg that made me think of battle scars. So I started playing around with names with 'Battle' in it. I came up with 'Battle Cry' which suited him amazingly. He is very vocal and it fit well. I haven't registered him with the New Zealand Equestrian Federation yet and it may be that that name is already taken, if that is so I am going to put my second and third choices down as War Cry and Battle Master.

My cats also have names that mean something to me. Chucky, our first cat, came with his name. He was ginger and was named after 'Chucky' from the rugrats.

Muffin was named by my brother (i'm not sure why). It has been my experience that if you name cats after food, they get fat. It might night be scientific, but its what I have seen. Muffin is fat, and so was my cousin's cat Donut. My friends cat, Chrunchie, was also a fat cat.

Next, Ellie came into our lives. Her real name is Al Queda (if that offends you in any way I am sorry). She used to terrorise the other two cats and also us, when she was a kitten. The name was given to her as a joke and we call her Ellie at home.

I got Forrest last year, and had named her before I thought I was going to get her. She looked like a cat from the Forrest, and I also love Forest Gump. It really suits her, so it stuck.

How did your horses and pets get their names? I'd love to hear.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Our First Training Event Planning

Jack and I are competing at our first Training Event in 3 weeks time. I am a little nervous but my friend E has convinced me that I will be fine, and that Jack is more then capable. I find that planning things really helps to make me feel prepared and ready for such a thing as this.

So I have made a plan to do which includes a mixture of dressage, show jumping and conditioning. Hopefully we will be able to get at least one Cross Country training session in at one of the local pony clubs. My friend is going to give me some Show Jumping lessons and hopefully my other friend will be able to give me a dressage lesson or two.

The trial is at Arran Station, in Takapau, Hawkes Bay so if anyone wants to come say hey, feel free.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Quote of the Week

Where in this wide world can man find nobility without pride,
Friendship without envy,
Or beauty without vanity?
Here, where grace is served with muscle
And strength by gentleness confined
He serves without servility; he has fought without enmity.
There is nothing so powerful, nothing less violent.
There is nothing so quick, nothing more patient.
-Ronald Duncan, "The Horse," 1954

Saturday, April 18, 2009

I'm Back!!

I don't know why but I couldn't stay away. So here I am, ready to get this blog back up and running.

A Girl and Her Horse has been renovated. What do you think of the new look? Is the black background too dark?

Its glorious holidays at the moment. My body has decided to rebel against me and has crashed making me need to head to bed at very early times. Most of the people from my hostel have gone home from the hoildays but I have had to stay in Palmerston North because of Jack. I don't mind this because it gives me alone time. Alone time never happens in the hostel so its been a welcome change. I love people but sometimes it can be too much. I do miss my parents though. Hopefully I will be able to spend a few days in Auckland next holidays.

All this spare time has given me a lot of time to ride and spend time with Jack. I have given him lots of grazing time out of his paddock. He loves grazing up and down the grass verge by the paddocks and I let him wander freely while I muck out his paddock. I've taken to listening to audio books on my ipod while I muck out his paddock. It takes my mind of the job and it makes it go a lot faster.

Today, my friend E and I took Jack and her horse Tom to the beach. The beach we went to is huge and long, and perfect for riding on. Jack came off the float and immediately went hyper. He was very rude when it came to brideling and it took me awhile to get it on him. He jig-jogged for the first 20 minutes when I was on. This behaviour is unusual for him but he settled down after awhile. Tom and E haved been to the beach a few times and led the way. I haven't been to the beach with Jack before and found that he was petrified of the waves. I encouraged him and he followed Tom into the water tentatively and then jumped all over the place when the waves hit his leg. I almost came off a few times but thankfully managed to not fall into the drink. Since Tom's hooves are a little sore at the moment, we didn't do any galloping. We did a lot of cantering and trotting and found some awesome logs to jump. We went a long way down the beach and it took ages to get back once we finally decided to turn around. By the time we were back, the horses were covered in sweat and sea salt. We loaded up and went home.

Jack and I have our first Training Event in the middle of May. I have some work to do on my Dressage so will have to get cracking on that, hopefully I will be able to get a lesson before it.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Thank you and Goodbye.

Due to time contraints I have made the decision to close down this blog. Who knew that having a horse, studying, working and having friends and family could take up so much time haha?

I've really enjoyed writing this blog but I feel that I don't have the time to invest into it to make it a success. I will be riding still and I will also continue to read all your blogs when I get the chance so I wont completely dissapear from the riding and blogging world.

Thank you all so much for the support you gave me throughout this endevour.

God Bless you all.

Happy Trails.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Dressage Lesson

My lesson was fantastic. M, my instructor, is also a good friend and I knew he would be able to help me a lot with my Dressage riding. He kindly agreed to give me a lesson.

The first thing M did was drop my stirrups down two holes. He said he had wanted to do that since the first time he saw me ride last week. Previously, my position has been bunched up and I used my heels as my driving aid, rather then my seat. Next he had me turn my toes in so they pointed forward rather then out. Both these adjustments meant that I was sitting on the middle of my pelvis rather then on my butt (this is sometimes referred to as"the armchair position".) These adjustments also meant I felt like my ankes were going to pop out of their sockets at anytime. When I told him this he said I would soon get to used to it if I kept practicing. Since I wasn't used to having my stirrups so long and I was un-coordinated with them at that length, M took them away for part of the lesson. We did lots of work without them (and I'm feeling it now in my thighs and core) and my legs lengthened down a lot. M asked me to put my feet back into the stirrups later and he said they would probably feel too short now. And lo and behold they were, so he put them down another two holes and they were perfect. If someone had said to me that I could ride with holes 4 down from my original dressage length I would have told them to stop joking. Its amazing how much a change in position can make.

The entire lesson was about me retaining the right position and using my seat as aids. There was no forcing Jack into a frame or generally interfering with him at all. We literally did nothing but transitions the entire time and I loved it. I felt I improved a lot and Jacks transitions and the quality of his paces were way better then they ever have been.

Most of the lesson was great, except when my legs and arms decided to disconnect from my brain. My elbows started moving out and upwards given me the dreaded "chicken wings", my heels would start turing out and my eyes would drop. M would be calling "Toes in! Toes in! Keep your eyes up! What are those arms doing?" and I would try and try to get everything to go in the right places but they would just float off in their own direction. I felt like an absolute un-coordinated freak. It was really funny and M and I both laughed a lot.

Jack did really well throughout the whole lesson. He responded so well to all my seat aids and he really was using himself well. The quality of his paces improved ten fold. It really shows that when you use your body right, your horse has a way bigger chance to use himself correctly. Hopefully M will be able to give me a lesson in the near future so we can keep improving.

Let me show you around

Jack has now been at his new home for about three weeks and we are finally getting a routine set. There is always a need to smooth out some kinks when moving to new grazing and I think we have finally done that.

Jack lives at the Equestrian Centre on the main campus. I am currently studying at the other campus in town but it doesn't make much of a difference since its only a 3 minute drive from one campus to the other. I will be moving to the main campus in the second semester so that will make things a tad easier.

Feed Sheds aka Rat Haven

The centre is pretty well equipped with an all-weather arena (which is sqaureish... I find that strange) with 15 hectares of grazing land that is divided into 21 paddocks. There are feed and storage sheds. The feed sheds have rats... "shudder". Usually I'll bang a lot on the door of the feed shed and then count to 20 to give the rats time to hide before I go in. I can't stand them.

The Arena

Two of the stables

Jack's paddock is rather small which means supplement feed is essential. His feed has been upped since I came down and he's getting a biscuit of hay a day. His weight has finally stabilised so I think we have found the right balance for the time being.

Jack in his paddock

I keep Jack's tack in one of the sheds by the arena. The arena is quite a way from the paddock so usually I'll chuck Jack's halter on and bareback him up to the shed and tack him up there. He's actually really responsive in just the halter, I can neck rein and leg yield him to get him to change directions. There are closer tack sheds but by the time I found this out, the sheds were pretty much full.

Jack's tack shed

Its a great place to be and the other grazers are really helpful and nice. I am so glad I have the opportunity to bring Jack with me here!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Stomp! Stomp!

Jack's ground manners have been bad from the start. Apparently he's pushy and overbearing because when he was first rescued off the track he was on deaths door. He just stood in the paddock and was dull and lifeless. As he started getting better, his personality started appearing and his rescuers were so happy that he was finally showing signs of life, they let him do whatever he wanted. This meant showing him no discipline whatsoever. As a result, he can be a big bully and thinks that everyone should get out of the way of him. I dealt with this when I first got him (with the help of an instructor from Pony Club) and overall he's become a horse that will respect your space much more.

But... he has the amazing ability to stand on my foot often, and hard. I swear he knows what he's doing because he'll literally grind his hoof down and will totally ignore me as I try desperately to push him off. This is the state of my left foot at the moment:

My feet are ugly generally, but Jack does not help with his re-modeling. Please note my big toe. Currently half the nail has peeled off due to a particularly bad stomp that Jack granted me with a few months ago. The whole toe went black and recently the bottom half of the nail decided to vacate my foot, leaving the top half. Once the new nail has grown completely underneath, the blackened top half will come off (hopefully).

Please also observe the two purpley patches just beneath my toes. Jack gave me this on the day of his arrival to Massey. He did at the last possible minute of our time together, which shows he knows exactly what he was doing. He stomped and he twisted and when I finally managed to push him off, the foot was hurting badly. I originally thought it was broken and could barely walk on it. But soon the pain went away and was replaced with swelling and bruising. The cuts bled a lot and my foot looked huge. Once the swelling went away, I could wear normal shoes again. The cuts are only just healing properly now.

My right foot is in better condition. But only just. I have some mean blood vessel damage from Jack getting his stomping shoes on.

Maybe its time to invest in some steel cap boots. Maybe that will foil Jack's stomping attempts... but he would probably just wait until I changed into my riding boots.

Back to blogging

I've been having massive problems with my laptop and internet over the last few weeks which has been the reason why I haven't been regularly blogging. But yesterday it was fixed and everything is running smoothly which means I can get back to blogging.

Jack had a two week break which finished yesterday. His hooves had grown out and the farrier was unavaliable for awhile. I didn't want to risk riding when the shoes were pressing into the sole of his hoof. R, the new farrier, was good. He was very fast and he did a decent job. Although to my eye, he made Jack's club hoof much shorter then it has been in previous times... I'm going to keep my eyes open and see how that goes and ask R about it next time he comes.

Jack's ground manners have deteriorated in the two weeks that he had off. And getting his bridle on was a nightmare. I'm going to have to bring him back to basics again and do lots of groundwork with him. Next time he needs time off, I am going to make sure I bridle him every couple of days and work on his ground manners.

Once I finally managed to get his bridle on, we rode. Dressage was on the books and Jack worked great. He got straight down to work which really suprised me considering the bridling performance he had just given me. We did lots of bending and serpentines at the walk and then gradually worked up to canter and trot. We are having a Dressage lesson with one of my friends on Saturday, which I'm hoping will get us on track for improvement in our dressage since I really don't know what I'm doing or what I should be doing.

I'll be riding again today. I'm hoping to work on Show Jumping since we both love that and what is riding if it isn't fun?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Bucks and other stuff

Wow, I have never been so busy in my life. Uni is obviously taking up a lot of my time, and juggling Jack and my social life is a massive feat but I'm doing it. I'm living in a Hostel with 30 other (mostly) first year uni students so study is based on pure will power. The temptation to leave my room to join in the interesting coversations in the corridor is big, but I am determined to get high marks in my course.

It poured on the weekend so I didn't ride for two days. This turned out to be a mistake because I also started Jack on twice daily feedings at the same time. When I got on him on Monday night he had turned into a monster. He bucked, he reared and he shyed A LOT. My well-behaved horse was showing his bad side. I'm the one to blame though. It was a fun ride anyway, we jumped for the first time since coming here and I didn't fall off. Jack did drop two poles which was very strange for him. I really must get him back into regular work for both our sakes.

Life is good, I'm really hoping to get Jack to a couple of one day events in the Hawkes Bay in April but we'll see whats happening with my finances. I'll be looking into Show Jumping around the area too so maybe I'll finally meet you Beckz?

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Whats Happening?

My computer is still playing up so I am having to steal friends computers to access the internet so it has been hard to blog recently. Hopefully my computer will be up and running soon.

Jack was pretty stressed for the first few days of arriving. He wasn't drinking at all and was barely eating. I had to give him lots of molasses water in an effort to get him drinking and I had fun trips out late at night to make sure he was okay. Thankfully he's drinking by himself now. His weight also plummeted so he's on twice daily feedings in a effort to get his weight back on.
His paddock is quite small so I'll be starting him on hay soon which is going to drain my bank account but I got a job yesterday at a local stud so I'll be able to keep afloat. It also means daily mucking out which is really fun. The paddock also has lots of rocks in it, so I've been slowing working my way through getting those out.
The stud is a racing stud with about 50 horses including foals. The owner wanted to see how I handled horses so we did some basic jobs with the huge thoroughbreds in the pouring rain. He had me put a horse on the treadmill and I got to see that in action. It's a water treadmill so it was really amazing to see the horse work. We did some work with a foal and then he offered me the job which is awesome.
I'll have to write more about the water treadmill later, right now I have to go to Church.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

We're here!

We've arrived in Palmerston North and we are getting settled in. Jack is in a paddock that is situated the furtherest away from everything but it has hills which mean it will drain well in the winter and it is not permantley split in two like the other paddocks so we may be able to break feed in the winter and get the grass to last longer yay!
Jack's paddock mate arrives tonight so he won't be all on his lonesome which he will be very happy about. We had our first ride this morning in the arena, in the pouring rain. We were both soaked by the end of it. And then after I put him back in his paddock I locked my keys in the car which meant I had to walk a long way to get help and then had to bus into town to get my spare key and had my friend drive me back out to my car. It was mission and a half and wasted half my day!
Jack also stood on my foot the first night he came. I initally thought it he had broken it but the pain subsided after awhile but its swollen and bruised and still pretty sore. I'm looking forward to getting Jack going again after a week and a bit off.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


I've been busy getting ready for University and haven't been riding.

However, last night I found out that at the Dressage and Show Jumping Night last week that Jack and I placed 5th equal in the Dressage and 3rd in the Dressage! These are the first Rosettes I have ever won so I am really happy! Jack got a big pat when I found out.

We leave for Palmerston North next week so keep checking back to see how we go.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Dressage and Show Jumping Night

We had a dressage and show jumping night at Pony Club tonight. The test was a Open level one and required fun things like extended trot and change of rein through canter which I have never done before.

Even though I was expecting our test to be as bad as the one on Sunday Jack proved me wrong by trucking along with an awesome trot. He was forward AND on the bit. We got a bit of extension on the second trot and our change of rein through the canter was shocking but otherwise I was really happy. I love it when he gets into his trucking trot. He just gets on the bit and stays there and moves along at this really nice pace.

Our show jumping was fantastic. They had banged the jumps up so I was doing Training Level and we both flew over the course without hesitation! I even went the right way on the course. We went clear and I was soo happy. I think I'm finally gaining some confidence. We got heaps of yells and cheers and kind words from people after the round.

I am VERY happy with my boy.

Monday, February 2, 2009

More Photos from Massey ODE

These two photos are from a double log combination about 1/2 way through the course. Jack looks awesome in the second photograph. I might order this from the photographer.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Massey ODE - Sunday 1st of February

Phew, boy am I tired. Its been one long weekend.

The day started off cloudy with that annoying spitty rain that doesn't stop. I got there nice and early because I HATE feeling rushed at competitions. Apparently it wasn't early enough because I still felt rushed while I was getting ready. I had plaited the night before so I balled his plaits and saddled up. Our warm up was good and I got a nice working trot around the arena until the judge stopped me to ask me something about my number. Once I asked him for a trot again, it was not nice. The test was bad but it was much better then I expected. The judge thought it was bad too and we were placed last. I was really happy with him though because he was calm and responsive the whole time. The judge commented that once we "established our paces" we would do great.

It was onto Show Jumping. By now it was heating up, and I was sweating in my jacket. I hummed to myself before going into the ring to keep us calm. I probably should have been concentrating on the rider before me because after the 3rd jump I lost my way and acquired 23 time and "crossing your tracks" faults. Otherwise Jack was amazing and HE jumped clear. So once we sort out the pilot errors we'll be great! I was REALLY happy with him though. He jumped everything without hesitation... in spite of his rider.

Onto the Cross Country. We started off really strong. Jack was on fire and he DID NOT want to slow down. After the second jump there was a bridge that is supposed to be trotted on for safety and I couldn't get him to slow down until about half way over the bridge. The third jump was a ramp, which was quite steep and Jack ran out. I didn't think it was going to be a problem so I wasn't ready for the run out. He jumped it the second time and then we had to circle because I had caught up to the rider in front of us who was attempting the Pa jump which consisted of jumping up a bank onto the Pa and then spinning around and jumping down the other side. Heaps of people had trouble, including the person in front of me so once she refused I was allowed to ride in front of her and do the jump. I lost speed control after that :)

We hooned around the cross country course. My gloves provided a problem as they are goat skin leather and they got slippery on the course so Jack could pull the reins out of my hand easily. We had a second refusal at the Dog Box. I must have been looking at it but I was ready for a run out so when I felt him start to dodge to the left I jammed my left heel into his side and he thought better about it... and ran out to the right haha. Sneaky horse. Lots of other people had trouble at the Dog Box too. After the dog box it was a sharp turn into the next paddock. Jack was at a flat gallop by this point and I thought that he would be over on his side if I tried to take the corner at that speed so I circled him and took it fractionally slower and on the straight. It was all go after that. I was pretty much a passenger that controlled the steering and not the speed. We did the rest of the jumps at a nice fast pace and cleared them all with no trouble. I did, however, manage to get him to slow to a trot for some control on the water jump which he did without hesitation. Then it was out of the water and up the double bank and then over a staircase jump and that was it.

Jack's old owner came to watch the Show Jumping. She told my parents that Jack seems to be really happy and that Jack and I have more of a rapport with each other then Jack ever had with her. She also said that she can't believe how calm is Jack. Speaking of Jack being calm; sometime during the day I had tied Jack on a long lead so he could graze around his pen. I left him to graze and then came back a little while later. Jack had his head close to the ground, and his lips touching the grass but he wasn't eating. I thought he looked a bit funny but went on with what ever I was doing. When I looked at him again, he was still in the same strange position. Then I realised that he had got his leg caught in the lead rope and he was waiting calmly for me to come help him out. I really love this horse.

We ended up being placed 13th out of 22 starts. Lots of people got eliminated on the Cross Country so even after our massive penalties in SJ and the bad dressage test we got boosted way up! I was really, really happy with Jack all through the day. He tried his heart out for me. Once we get the pilot errors sorted out I think we'll be a forced to be reckoned with.

Our next competition is on Sunday the 15th. We leave for our new life in Palmerston North on the 16th so we are going to have to be mega organised. Once I receive the professional photographs I'll make sure I'll put them up here.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Just a quick note

Its our first One Day Event tomorrow!! I spent alllll day today helping to get ready for it at Pony Club which was hard, hot work and I got a bit sunburnt which is not very nice at all.

Jack is currently sitting in his paddock, washed and plaited. I washed him with some blackening shampoo to cover up his faded bits and he looks fantastic. We're riding second in our class so we'll be getting their bright an early.

The Show Jumping course is really twisty with lots of tight turns but I don't think we're going to have much trouble with that. Cross country is relatively easy looking. The jumps are all very small and they have moved the Dog Box to an easier position thank goodness because that was what I was worried about. It was previously positioned close to a fence and on an angle so you had to hug the fence and jump on a strange angle to get over it. Now they have moved it out into the open!

The most techincal jump is the water combination. The first part of the combination is the jump into the water and then its a sharp turn into a double bank. I think the trick will be to keep him on a tight rein because he always makes really big leaps into the water.

Anyway I'll let you guys know what happens! I hope we do ok!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

He was round and on the bit

Wow. Thank you for all the comments with suggestions about how to get Jack to come round and on the bit during transitions. I really appreciate that you took the time to do that for me.

Jack had an unexpected 3 days off when I went to Parachute Music Festival. Once I was back to reality, it was back to work. The ODE is this Sunday and Jack really needed to get worked hard. The first day back (Monday) was a bit of a write off. Jack never works too well after time off , his brain seems to stay in vacation mode. So I made it easy for him and just did fitness work.

Tuesday it was back to the hard slog. Rally started up again for us, just in time too. I really needed help with the hollowness in transitions and during the trot. Thankfully, half of the lesson was focused on flat work and we really got to work on being round. A, my rally instructor, has a style of teaching that usually doesn't appeal to me. I am definately a person who needs words of affirmation and she doesn't do this often. Through the majority of the lesson I felt like I was doing something wrong but we got results from Jack, so I'm happy. This being said, she really likes Jack. She hasn't seen much of him due to his lameness and I don't think she liked him much at the start of the lesson when his head was way up in the air. But as he softened and rounded she started complimenting him. My favourite was "He's a really nice mover." I never expected anyone to say this due to Jack's mincing trot, but by the time she said this he had started lengthening his stride nicely.

A had me concentrate on getting Jack long and low throughout the whole lesson. By flexing his head to the inside then asking for roundness and lowness with the outside rein, Jack really responded and lowered his head nicely. When transitioning from walk to trot, A told me to ask him to lower his head and as he did ask for trot. This resulted in him having to use his hocks to transition rather then pulling himself into the trot with his front legs and head. It worked wonders and he stayed collected almost throughout the whole transition. Once in trot, Jack stayed rounded and on the bit almost the entire time. I was truly flabbergasted. We got some nice downwards transitions too. We didn't do much canter as we were concentrating more on the trot and walk.

I was aiming to reiterate last nights lesson today as I was hoping it wasn't just a fluke. It wasn't! Jack was really responsive and worked rounded and on the bit nicely. We also did leg yields and turn on the forehands which Jack is getting better at. Again, we didn't do any canter work. We were working in a un-even paddock which only had a very small flat area and it was too difficult to do anything much. I'll be working on canter tomorrow in the arena or on a nice flat paddock.

All-in-all it looks like things are going well. Hopefully this means we won't completely humiliate ourselves at the ODE on Sunday. I'm riding 2nd in my class which means I won't have to spend ages waiting around to go into the arena which is a good thing.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Show Jump Champs and other things

I headed down to Cambridge on Monday to watch day one of the Pony Club North Island Show Jump Championships. Two of my good friends from Pony Club were the seniors competing in our District Team and I also had a few other friends from other clubs around the North Island competing. Unfortunately I forgot my camera but let me tell you, there were some pretty fantastic falls. I never seen so many falls at champs in the 4 or 5 years I've been attending. Even one of the comentators said that someone might need to break out the PVA glue. One of the falls was really bad and the ambulance had to be called in. I didn't see the fall so I'm not sure what happened and I don't know how the rider is doing. One rider was almost bucked off her horse, she ended up with one foot still in the stirrup and was holding onto the mane for dear life. She was pretty much touching the ground but the whole crowd was encouraging her to get back on and with sheer will power she managed to haul herself back into the saddle and kept on with the course. The crowd went wild lol.

Unfortunately our District place 2nd to last but some of my other friends did pretty well. I think I have a pretty good chance of getting there next season. Its been my dream to get there ever since the first time I saw my friend compete there. And since Jack is such a good show jumper I think we just might make it.

Speaking of Jack, we did some dressage schooling today. I usually ride with a Martingale but since they are not allowed in the dressage phase of competitions I figured we needed to school without it. I'll tell you what, that martingale really helps keep him from hollowing out and sticking his head straight up. He is particularly bad with hollowing his back in the canter/trot transition. Its just terrible. I can get him to go round a couple of strides after but the initial transition is nasty. He also hollows when I'm doing rising trot sometimes, I'm guessing this is my fault but I don't know how to fix it. Anyone have any ideas? Can anyone give me any exercises to help him stay round in downward transitions?

Friday, January 16, 2009

Cross Country Lesson II

Today was my second cross country lesson on Jack. On Thursday, at the Cross Country Schooling Night, one of our big problems (or should I say my big problem) was looking down at the jump. This again came into play today. Its a bad habit I REALLY need to break because it makes Jack unsure of whether to jump or not.

As always, we started off small. Focusing on rythm and softness we quickly moved up to higher, but simple jumps. Jack jumped them without hesitation and we worked more on my position then anything else. Sue did the old trick of sticking grass between my calf and the saddle which has always helped my with my position. I need to imagine grass there all the time, because sometimes my leg goes flying back over the jump.

We moved onto two logs set up as a double at the top of a hill. Jack refused first time and I'm sure I was looking down. Sue had me bring Jack 4 strides out from a jump and just stand there breathing deeply, showing him that the jump was no big deal and nothing to panic about. She told me to kick him on and jump it from a trot. Eyes up, eyes up, leg on, eyes up, soft with hands. This was my mantra the entire lesson. He hesitated but I drove him on and he basically crawled over the jump. The second time he jumped and we did the double easily.

We moved onto a log that was set up on top of a bank. A DOWNHILL BANK. He crawled over this the first and second time and then refused the third time. Sue pointed out that often I will drop my eyes at the last second which makes him not sure about whether its okay to jump. He refused another time and then we managed to get two good flowing jumps over it. I was very balanced which I was proud of.

Next we moved onto the Dog Box!! Sue seems to think that they have raised the jump and instead of it being Pre-Training, it is in fact Training which is great! Again Jack ran out. He runs out to the left which is rather a nuisence because I HATE holding my whip in my left hand but I'm going to have to get used to it because he never runs out to the right. After the first run out we trotted by one of the ponies who was grazing in that paddock. Apparently she doesn't like Jack because she double barreled us a couple of times. The first kick got the underside of my foot, but thankfully didn't hurt. The second kick got Jack in the chest. I trotted him out and he seemed unhurt so we kept on with the lesson. I found a small cut on him later which I sprayed with iodine. He ran out a second time and tried on run out a third time but I kept my whip pressed up against his left shoulder and he scrambled over the jump. The second time he scrambled again and the third time I pushed him more forward into the jump and it rode very nicely! YAYAYAY I JUMPED THE DOG BOX! I've been wanting to do that for so long.

After we schooled some other jumps, Sue put together a course for me to do. One of the jumps in the course was jumping off a bank! Sue timed the course without me knowing and my time was 1.45min. She said she wanted it down to 1.30min so we did it again. I had to do the down hill bank fast and we rode it really well. I got 1.32min so she made me do it again and I really pushed him to go faster. The down hill went great again and we got 1.29min yus!

The funny thing about Jack is that he doesn't puff. He sweats A LOT and soaks his saddle blankets everytime he's worked hard but he doesn't puff at all. I don't know why he does this, maybe he just has really good lung compacity but its not like any other horse I know. But if it works for him, then why not?

It was good lesson and I'm really happy we did the Dog Box!

The horse and his emotions

I came across an interesting article on Horse Channel called Equine Emotions. The author, Brenda Forsythe, talks about the age old question of whether animals really have emotions or can their reactions to certain events be explained by two basic animal drives (to stay alive and nurture offspring). The article is really a great read for anyone with horses.

In my very armature opinion I would tend to lean towards the "Horses have emotions" side of the argument. I remember a particular event where Red was being grazed by himself in a very large paddock complete with a small lake and forest area. I arrived at his paddock and couldn't see him anywhere and since the paddock was absolutely massive I decided to call him rather then go look for him. I called and within a few seconds I heard a loud whinny from a long way away and he galloped out of the forest a couple of minutes later. He came straight up to me and was lavished with love and affection. To me, he seemed lonely and wanted company. Later when I moved him to Pony Club and he was in with his own kind, he would sometimes run away from me when I went to the paddock to get him and only came up to me every once in awhile. Obviously he wasn't lacking company anymore and so didn't feel lonely. In both these events, Red was fed and so in theory the food could have motivated him to come galloping up to me but if we're sticking with that train of thought he would have had the same reaction while he was at Pony Club. Of course it could have just have been really really hungry when he was grazed by himself, but I doubt it.

What do you think? Do you believe your horse has emotions?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Cross Country Schooling

S and I headed to one of the local pony clubs for Cross Country Schooling. The course was opened at 4 to anyone who wanted to pay the $10 fee. Thankfully S had a meeting at 5.30pm (she is off to Show Jump Champs on Sunday) so by the time we saddled up it had cooled down a LOT. It has been really hot here recently and Jack and I were glad to be out of the worst of the sun.

We started off small (as always) and Jack refused the very first jump. It was a hedge and I'm pretty sure I looked down. Looking down is my worst fault when it comes to jumping and I constantly have to remind myself to look up. This came into play later when Jack refused a relatively easy ramp about 6 times. I was getting frustrated with it and so I left it and came back later once we were on more of a roll. He refused again but I realised I had looked down so the next time I came in, I clamped my legs on, kept my eyes locked on a point up the hill and was soft with my hands and he jumped! I will definitely have to watch that in the future. Jack took awhile to settle into the jumping which is strange for him but I always find he is a bit more difficult after a day off.

My favourite moment of the session was the banks into and out of the sunken road. Up until my last Cross Country Lesson I had never done down hill banks. The technique that is supposed to be applied on a down hill bank is basically sit back, eyes up and let the horse take the reins through your hands. For some reason, when I try doing this I always feel really un-balanced and feel like I have no control as Jack would take off after the bank. When I rode up to the down hill bank, I leaned forward, looked down and put my leg on. Jack jumped and I felt perfectly in balance and control. I tried this a couple of more times and it worked great. I think that this will set me up for trouble in the future on larger banks and so I will keep trying the correct way but at Pre-Training it hopefully shouldn't matter too much. Doing the whole combination felt great and I was really proud of Jack, he jumped even though I was looking down.

We had one more refusal at a reasonable sized picket fence. I think I was looking down again so I cantered up to it and when he slowed down to a walk, I pushed him on and he jumped it from almost a standstill.

The rest of the night was so so. We did some Training size jumps which I haven't had the guts to do before without having my "safety blanket" instructor with me. I think I need one of those Sports Psychiatrists Beckz was talking about. I have confidence issues when it comes to jumping which I can mostly talk myself through but I find that having an instructor really boosts my confidence.

I have a cross country lesson with Sue tomorrow which should be good. I'm planning to jump the "Dog house" which I've been wanting to do since I saw it. Stay tuned.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Show Jumping Lesson

When I first went to try Jack out his previous owner told me that Jack was a horse that you had to have a special bond with otherwise you would end up hating him (don't worry, this is not a story about hating him). When she said this I was a tad worried. I mean although she said I could sell him back to her at anytime, I really didn't want to do that. He seemed like a great horse that could take me places and he was well in my price range. But what if we didn't have that special bond? What if I ended up hating him? I would have to sell him back and would be horseless. I wouldn't be able to afford another horse with his amount of talent.

Thankfully I didn't need to worry. Somewhere along the way Jack has come to trust me and we've created a special bond. I think part of the reason was all the ground training I put into him after he tried to kill me a couple of times. Sue noticed this too during our lesson. We had just flown around the course and I trotted over to Sue and said "This horse is a real confidence builder." "I wouldn't say he was a confidence builder at all" she said "Oh well, I think hes a confidence builder" I said "He's a confidence builder for you because he trusts you but if anyone else got on who couldn't ride he would terrify them." I was pretty pleased with that and we got on with the lesson.

Unfortunately my personal photographer (aka Dad) was unavaliable so there are no photos of the lesson. The lesson was pretty basic. I really just wanted to get in a bit of schooling before the ODE on the first. Sue just set up a number of different jumps and gave me tips as I rode over them. Jack was fantastic and we did really well. He started getting tired towards the end of the lesson and dropped a few poles. We were both sweating like pigs when we finally finished. My bright purple polo has very attractive sweat marks all down my back thanks to my back protector and Jack's saddle blanket was soaked through.

I really, really have fallen in love with Jack. He is such a fun horse to ride. I love that he doesn't bolt off if I give him the rein and that I can slow him down by thinking it. When we're cantering around the SJ course it feels like magic. I was talking to one of the parents at Pony Club a few weeks ago and he said to me "Sometimes I don't know why you riders put yourself through all the hard work only to be heartbroken when your horse doesn't come through for you on the day." I thought about this for a moment and then said to him "That can be true. Riding can be full of disapointment sometimes but then you experience that one moment when everything you have been working towards just falls into place, and that makes everything you have to put up with, finally worth it." I felt that moment today.

Thank God for my boy, Jack.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

A crazy day

I spent yesterday running all over the show trying to get a myriad of stuff done. The farrier was coming at 8.30am so it meant I had to be out of the house by 7.30am. I have to take the motorway to get to the club and the roads that lead up to the motorway get jammed by motorists heading into the city for work. Thankfully I'm heading the opposite way so once I'm onto the motorway itself its free flowing. The District Camp started yesterday which meant there was heaps of people arriving with their massive trucks and floats. My friend S, arrived just as I bought Jack down from his paddock. She was heading off to a Games camp. Since it was only 8am I walked up to get Brandy, her games pony, from his paddock. We doubled him back which had us in fits of giggles everytime we trotted.

D, the farrier, was nice and early as usual (he is soo good compared to all the other farriers I've had). Jack was getting stud holes put into his shoes. I like the way that D does his stud holes. Instead of drilling the holes in to the shoe, he heats the shoes and puts his special stud stick thing in which pushes the hot metal back into the shoe making them stronger. Jack was being a right pain the whole time D was working with him. He was way too interested in all the things going on around him and wouldn't keep his dam legs still. This wasn't good when D was dealing with boiling hot metal shoes. D was sweating hard by the time he was finished. I really like D, he actually cares about the horse and remembers things about them. Last time he came to shoe, Jack was obese. This time Jack has trimmed down a lot and D noticed and congratulated me on it. It is actually quite hard to manage the weight of all the horses at the Club. The grass is lush and rich and the horses pack on the pounds easily. Most everyone wants to get their horses and ponies put in the fatties herd but there is no room left there. Being a hack, Jack gets put in the bigger paddocks with the richest grass. Currently he is only getting a small feed daily and thats only because he needs to get electrolytes. Otherwise I wouldn't need to feed him at all. D also takes the time to talk to you and to explain what he is doing with your horse. Past farriers just grunt at you when you asked questions. I'm going to miss D as a farrier when I move to Palmerston North but he said he would get me the name of a good farrier to carry on with Jack!

Then it was off to another appointment I had way back over by my house. I was at the appointment for a grand total of 10 minutes and was told I need to come back tomorrow. Seeing as I had some free time that I hadn't anticipated I went to the library and stocked up on heaps of different non-fiction books and also some Audio Books (which I have only recently discovered and are loving). I still had some un-anticipated free time so I went home and washed all the dishes that I hadn't had time for last night and got some lunch.

Then it was back on the road. I had to head up to the feed place to get some electrolytes, molasses and a couple of other things. On the way back I bought some delicious fresh fruit. Then it was back to Jack. The vet was coming to give him another Strangles shot and I needed to put Jack's keepers in his stud holes since I didn't have time to do them earlier. He was a little ass when I was screwing in the keepers, but he was being plagued by flies so who can blame him. I skipped the ride since it was so hot and headed home.

I pretty much lazed at home the rest of the night. The house was a bit of a mess but I couldn't be bothered cleaning up. I've been flat tack the last few days running around the city so I decided that tomorrow would be basically a day at home. I still had to go ride Jack but I wasn't going anywhere else.

Using Studs on your Horse: Part III

Part I
Part II

There are heaps of different studs around and each of these studs are made for different conditions. Below are a number of the more basic studs that are avaliable.

Stud Keepers
Keepers are designed to keep the stud hole clean and undamaged when the horse is turned out in the paddock or in the stable. There are three main types of keepers avaliable in New Zealand (as always there are more avaliable overseas). Metal keepers (Pictured), Rubber Stoppers, and Stromsholm Keepers. I prefer the metal keepers as they are simple to take in and out. Rubber plugs need to be pried out with something sharp and Stromsholm Keepers use Alan Keys to get them in and out. Some people also prefer to plug the hole with cotton wool.

Road Studs
Road studs are usually used on roads or on very hard ground. Road studs can be used on the front or back and on the inside and outside of the shoe. Generally road studs are the best studs to use on the inside of the shoe as they are blunter then other studs and are less likely to cause damage if the horse should stand on itself.

Grass Studs
Grass studs are avaliable in a few different sizes. Grass studs are longer and generally narrower than road studs so they can dig into hard, dry ground. Contrary to the name they don't have to be used everytime you ride on grass, road studs can be used too. Grass studs should be used the when the ground dries up and gets hard, which can cause your horse to slide on the slick grass. They can also be used when it has rained on hard ground, causing the surface of the ground to be really slippery.

Mud Studs

Mud studs are used for very wet and soft riding conditions where deep traction is needed. Some mud studs are called Olympic Studs and these are used for extremely slippery ground. Generally, small mud studs are used in the front shoes and slightly longer mud studs are used in the back shoes when conditions are wet and slippery.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

When the bowl is not microwave safe

It SAYS it's microve safe! But I stuck the dish cloth around handle and "HOLY CRAP!!" it burst into flames! I quickly smothered them. Now I have to explain this to my parents haha.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Into the Wild

Waiting to head off

We went for our first ride in the forest today and it was awesome! S took her eventer Rocky and I of course was riding Jack. This was the first trip away from Pony Club since I got Jack and in truth I expected him to act a bit crazy. His previous owners told me that he was a great floater but since I hadn't floated him before I was a bit aprehensive. Well Jack proved me wrong by walking straight onto the float after Rocky! Yay! No bum ropes, whips or natural horsemanship required.

Woodhill Forest is situated a nice 20 minutes from our Pony Club. A Equestrian Park has been established there and has a lot of a great trails to ride on. Endurance Races are held in the forest and there is a campsite that is open to hire. Our pony club camps there every Easter which is a lot of fun. Right next to Woodhill Forest is Muriwai Beach and is accesible on horse back which means if you have enough time to get out there, you can go for awesome gallops along the beach.

The carpark was filling up fast when we arrived. Horses of all shapes and sizes with all sorts of riders were being tacked up and ridden out into the forest. When Jack came off the float I noticed that his tail bandage was no longer on his tail. He had given his tail a good rub on the bum bar and the tail was sticking up in all places. When I looked into the float, the tail bandage wasn't there either. Somehow he must have flicked it out the back of the float in transit. Can't say thats ever happend to me before.

Again I expected Jack to act crazy after coming off the float since it was his first time away from the club in quite a few months. Again Jack proved me wrong. He was as cool as cucumber and was no more fidgety then his normal self. We tacked up and headed off into the forest.

Tacked up and ready to go

And again I expected Jack to be a bit crazy, but again he suprised me. Are we seeing a pattern here? Man I love that horse. Both the horses were calm and we rode happily along at the buckle. The trails are marked with posts with either a green or orange horse on it. Green is going away from the carpark and Orange is coming back to the carpark. We didn't have enough time to make it out to the beach and back so we just meandered in the forest. Its quite hard to get lost in the forest but it can be done (I know because I've done it before). We stayed on the marked trails keeping mostly at a walk. The footing is really deep sand in most parts and hard on the horses legs. Most of the trails were only wide enough for one horse and Rocky liked being in the lead. But Jack was never far behind, he face planted into Rocky's butt a few times :). We found a wider trail that had good footing and was big enough for both of us and went for a good gallop along it. Jack came straight back to a trot when I asked him. Man I love this horse! There were also some great logs set up as "natural jumps" along the trails so we had fun jumping those.

S, Rocky and Jack (S has a very strange smile here haha)

Both the horses were very brave, they both had a couple of spooks at horse eating logs and bushes but were generally well behaved. Rocky actually spooked when he heard the noise of Jack's poop hitting the ground. It was halerious.

Since S's parents were waiting back at the carpark for us we headed back just after an hour. It seemed way longer then that though and we covered a lot of ground in that time. Both the boys were super sweaty so we sponged them down before booting them up and heading back to club. We found my tail bandage in the middle of the road on the way back haha.

S grabbed her pony and we gave the 3 boys a bath when we were back (this was after S and I raced each other to the bathrooms. We drank a lot of water on the ride). After the baths we let them graze on the lush green grass by the pens.

"Munch, Munch"

After a few photos the boys were fed and put back in their paddocks.

It is hard to get two horses to stand nicely when there is
lots of nice grass right under their noses.

I headed home to do housework and clean the outside and inside of my car. I don't know about the rest of you but my car gets fithly, dirty when I have my horse stuff in there. It really annoys me!

Mr "Don't Call Me Crazy" and me
(perhaps I'm a tad more crazy then him)

Anyway, it was amazing day and it really showed me how much more Jack trusts me. He keeps revealing little bits of how great he is going to be one day! I think I am in love :)

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Using Studs on your Horse: Part II

Like everything else horse related, using studs on a horse involves a plethora of gear if your going to do it correctly and safely. Listed are the basic items you need.

A Selection of Studs

A selection of studs are needed for different conditions that may be ridden on. Different shapes and sizes are avaliable and need to be used correctly to avoid injury. More on this later.

A Tool Box


1. A couple of different size wrenches. Used to loosen and tighten studs when putting them in and taking them out.

2. A "Tap". This is used to clean and re-thread the holes in the shoe so the stud screws in correctly. A tap doesn't need to be used if you keep "keepers" in the stud holes when they aren't being used.

3. A stud hole cleaner. As the name says it is used to clean the stud hole. Again, it doesn't need to be used if a "keeper" is kept in the stud holes.

Protective Boots

This is a must as mentioned in Using Studs on Your Horse: Part I horses can easily stand on themselves and cause great damage to their legs. JJ mentioned this story in my comments which shows exactly what can happen if a horse has been studded with no boots, and trailered with them in:

"I don't use studs, but I know a girl who left her trainer's horse's studs on while they trailered him to a show. The show was only twenty minutes away, so I guess they assumed that he would be all right. When they got to the show his legs were pretty much torn up. The vet said put him down. He ended up recovering a few (long and painful) months later, but never enough to go back to work. I agree that boots (for the horse) are ABSOLUTELY necessary. If it kicked itself just a bit, it could tear its leg up"

A Stud Girth

The stud girth is used instead of a normal girth and is used to protect the horses chest from being pierced by the studs when jumping.

Usually made out of a tough leather, the stud girth is a must for any horse wearing studs. Another option is to buy a stud guard that slides onto a normal girth, this is often the cheaper
option but works just as well.

There are lots of different brands that can be used for this . This keeps the studs in good condition and will keep them usable for longer. Cleaning studs after using them is a good idea.

Have you got something else that is great when it comes to studs? Tell us.

Part III: What studs to use where?