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?

Using Studs on your Horse: Part I

Part II
Part III

Up until recently I haven't seen the need to use studs on my horses. Intro eventing doesn't involve much technicality or speed as the higher levels and so horses can be ridden on most surfaces without too much trouble. But as I start moving up I see more and more that studs would be useful for bad grounds, especially after a number of other riders have chewed up the ground on the course before me. In this series we will learn all we need to know about using studs on a horse.

Studs (or caulks) are small metal devices that are screwed into specially made shoes. The studs grip into the ground to give better traction on muddy, slippery or hard ground.

Basic Rules for Using Studs:

1. Always wear strong, covered footwear when using studs on a horse. You know how much it hurts when a horse stands on your foot without studs, imagine having a stud stabbed through your foot.

2. Always use small, blunt studs on the inside of the shoe. A horse can easily stand on itself and large pointed studs can rip the leg up pretty badly.

3. Horses must wear protective boots when wearing studs. As above, a horse standing on itself with studs in, is not pretty.

4. Put the studs in just before you ride and take them out as soon as you are finished.

5. Use the smallest stud possible for the job. While slipping can be dangerous, a little bit of slipping is better then jarring your horses legs with over large studs.

6. If your horse kicks other horses, or humans you need to limit the time a horse has studs in greatly. Studs may not be an option for you.

7. Never travel, turn your horse out, or stable your horse with studs in.

8. Be sensible and don't use studs if your horse is lame.

Do any of you use studs on your horses? What other rules do you consider are a must to know?

Tomorrow: The Basic Tools and Gear needed for using studs.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Cross Country Lesson

Jack suprised me today by behaving nicely for the lesson today, even though he had the past couple of days off due to New Years. Sue, who helped me a lot with Red, was my instructor.We started off the lesson by doing lots of transitions. First it was 8 strides of trot, then halt and repeat. Then 4 strides of trot, 4 of walk. Then 8 of canter, 8 of walk etc. She wanted him to get much softer in his transitions and soon she had me try getting downward transitions by breathing out and not using the reins. It took him about a minute to grasp what I wanted but he was soon doing it perfectly. He is a very, very sensitive horse and responds beautifully to the lightest aids.

We started off small and went bigger. I had my faithful dad following me around with the camera and part way through the lesson my mum and "auntie" arrived to watch.

It seems that Jack hates having his head interferred with from about 5 strides out of the jump and 3 strides after. As soon as I let him have "his strides" and sung to both of us to keep an even rythm he jumped very nicely. No galloping away after the jumps and no head tossing.

Sue had us jump a ditch during the lesson. I've jumped a couple of ditches before when I was living in Taumarunui but I really don't know much about them. Jack refused the first time but on the second time he jumped it. Really, really big. Even though it was a massive jump I felt really secure and not at all un-balanced... Thank you Red! Sue told me to stay sitting up over the jump, that I don't need to lean forward for it. It looks like I didn't listen to her very well if the photos are any indication. (Click to see the bigger version)

Next it was onto the Water Jump. We all remember my unfortunate incident with the water last time. He jumped into the water like a star and would canter through the water as fast as he could. The cool water refreashed us both I think. One time when we jumped into the water he cantered straight towards a massive bank. I don't know what he wanted to do but I pushed him the other way at the last minute and my knee was almost taken out on a wooden post.

After schooling a few more jumps we stuck most of them together for a course. Jack was a star and jumped everything without looking twice.

I don't know if you noticed but I've got some mean man muscles coming through on my arms. Which shows especially on this photo. They are getting pretty big haha.

We finished off the lesson there since it was our first Cross Country Schooling together. I learnt a lot about Jack in this lesson. Sue really likes Jack which helps a lot. She says he has "unlimited potential" which is very encouraging.

There is an ODE on the 1st of February and I think I will compete at Pre-Training lesson. Hopefully I can fit one more Cross Country lesson in and then we should be good to go.