Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Dressage Lesson

I had my first lesson with Sarah today. I was nervous, so I got ready really early and was on and walking around by the time Sarah got the barn. We started out at the walk, making Werther move forward without me having to cajole him all the time. Sarah had me practice having my legs hang loose at his side, which is weird for me, because with hunters you never want your leg to swing. Sarah also had me significantly shorten my reins and take a much bigger feel of his mouth than I am used to. Werther didn't really mind, but it was new to me. It took me awhile to figure out the placement of my elbow, I'm still not entirely sure if I have it right, but from what I understand, you want a straight vertical line, and to have your elbow act like a hinge, but not push it forward like it hunters. I am also used to compensating for short arms by straightening out my elbows. We moved on the trot, Sarah had me work on a circle which I spiraled in and then would leg yield him out to a larger circle. I have to make sure Werther does not cheat and that he uses his whole body when he leg yields and not just his neck. We did some walk trot transitions to help get Werther lighter to leg and to give me a chance to practice upwards transitions with more contact. I'm used to giving when I move into an upward transition, with the hunter mentality of making sure you don't punish the horse for moving forward. I also working on sitting on seat bones like a dressage rider, and not my crotch like a hunter rider, especially in the forward transitions. We moved on the canter transition, which was really good on the right lead, but he was still a little resistant on the left, and even offered a little buck, but he finished well. I'm happy with how things went, and I feel like I have new tools I can use when I am hacking by myself. 

Monday, December 29, 2008

Rest In Peace, T.J.

This morning my Mom's horse T.J. was euthanized. T.J. was only six, but he had Lymes disease which had gone neurological and he was very lame. Mom tried to keep him as a pasture ornament, but he just was not happy without a job. It was the right thing to do, but it still makes you feel sad. Sarah rode Werther today, she said he was a little stiff which probably caused by lack of turn out and riding because of the holidays and icy conditions. Sarah said she did a lot of lateral work, leg yielding, shoulders-in, ect. to get Werther supple. Then Sarah had Werther trot canter transitions to stretch out his back, and do a collected canter to help build muscle in his hind end. I have a lesson with Sarah tomorrow, I am excited to start working on flat work for it own sake and not just a necessary precursor for jumping. I think this is going to make me a much stronger rider. 

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Update

I got the gift of strep throat for Christmas, so I have not been out the barn for the last few days. My Mom was kind enough to turn Werther out in the indoor today and let him run around, she said he was wild. I was going to try and have my first dressage lesson on Saturday, but I'm putting it off until early next week and hopefully Sarah can ride Werther again on Monday. Happy Holidays to my readers!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


I got to barn just as they turned Werther out today. This was bad luck on my part because Werther was really mad he had to come in and even though he had hay in his stall, he was spinning and rearing to look for his friends. I took Werther into the indoor and chased him, he ran pretty hard and was a little less neurotic as a result when I groomed him and tacked him up. I had to have help to get Werther to stand when I mounted because he was still distracted, he was a little tense when I started riding him but he settled down when we started trotting. Just as I started to canter, Andre came in with Tryst and he got distracted and tense again. I went back to the trot again for a little bit and then finished out my canter which was okay. Werther was pretty good about picking up his leads today, and he was lighter on the forehand as we cantering and did not root as much when we started.  I didn't see a dramatic change with the new bit, but I think it is an improvement over the old one.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Dressage ride

We changed Werther's bit today per Sarah's suggestion. We changed from the traditional french link snaffle on the bottom to the cooper loose ring french link with a ball center. Sarah came out and rode Werther today. I liked the way she rode him, she had him nicely framed up, but she didn't have a death grip on the reins and he wasn't over flexed so his head was at his chest like you see some dressage riders do. Werther was really good for her, Sarah said he was one of the nicest horses she has even ridden, which made me feel like a proud mother indeed. Sarah even had tempi changes, and she did not spurs on. She thinks somebody must have put in a lot of dressage training on him in the past because she had Werther doing movements up fourth level. She loved how soft he was in the mouth, but did say he could be a little more responsive off the leg. I'm really excited to take some dressage lessons now, it's really nice to have a horse that knows all of these things, so I can really work on becoming a stronger rider.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Busy Barn Day

I met with the dressage trainer today, Sarah (not to be confused with Dr. Sarah, our vet). She is a year older than me and is in her second year of full time training. I was putting on Werther's bridle when we she got there and I she went out the indoor with me to watch me ride. As I got on Werther, he knocked over one of the heavy post caps as he was going to crib on the viewing area railing which made a large thud on the floor. Werther was good and didn't flinch response was "well, I guess he's not spooky" which was pretty funny. My Mom was hacking Spike, and I think Werther was excited to have another horse in the ring because he was a little fresher than usual (aka a normal horse quiet). Sarah works mainly out of Brightonwood Farm which is not too far from us. The object of having Sarah coming out today was to have her observe me and Werther and how we work together and to discuss my goals. I pretty much did a routine hack, but I threw in a couple extra simple and flying changes since I have been struggling with the canter transition. She was very complimentary of Werther, she said he looked like he was very elastic (especially for 15!) that he had a very nice canter and good flying lead changes. She had the suggestion of his getting his hocks done to help with his rooting, but he had them done on November 4th. We also talked about bits and Sarah recommended changing to a french link snaffle with a ball instead of a flat center piece Werther currently has. I talked to her about my goals, which is to basically up my game on the flat and get stronger. If everything works out, Sarah is going to ride Werther once a week and give me lessons twice a week. The only thing I am concerned about is that she seemed a little bit timid about my disability, but I think after a few lessons and developing a relationship with her I can convince her she does not have to treat me like I am made of glass. I've run into that problem with trainers in the past, they get afraid to push me even though I tell them I like to be challenged and I perfectly capable of telling them when something is too much and I need to step down or change something. After Sarah left Mom and I went to Anoka to pick up Wesley after he had his tumor vaccine shot. I learned that they actually inject the vaccine into the lymph node, which is really interesting. Mom drove the trailer into the indoor so she and Andre could practice loading with Violet and Beckham, two of our young horses. Violet was a pill but Beckham was great. Dr. Sarah is coming tomorrow to give horses shots so they are leaving the trailer in the indoor and having those two practice loading and unloading a couple of times for the next three days.
Wesley with Mom waiting to show the young'uns how it is done:

Violet, checking out the scary horse eating ramp:

Beckham with Chloe in foreground:

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Hair Cut

Werther was getting too hairy so the guys clipped him last night. The poor guy looks kinda dorky, we left his legs and neck hairy so the parts of him not covered up by his blankets would not get too cold when he goes outside.

I turned Werther out in the indoor first to see if this new state of undress would inspire any freshness, which it did not. Dr. Sarah was at the barn this morning doing hock injections for the horses going to Thermal and she drew blood to check Werther's iron and magnesium, which were low when we did the blood-work on the pre-purchase exam. He has been on red cell and a magnesium supplement, so hopefully that will have improved. After all that I did not have much time to ride and we just had a very quick hack. Werther was good picking up the canter initially, and I did a flying lead change each direction which is easy for him, but good for me to practice.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

You want to go outside?

It was so cold this morning that the horses were not turned out until 10AM and brought in at 1PM. I was just getting on Werther as they were starting to turn out and he was less than pleased that he was still inside. He was not too bad, he just would not stand for me to mount him and had his head up in the air like a giraffe half the time we were trotting before he settled. Decent canter transitions, I got it on the second try with my weaker left leg and the first try with the left lead. I finished out our ride with some really big figure eight circles. I did one at the posting trot, then one sitting, then one at the canter. he started to anticipate a little at the sitting trot circles, he just started to root in the circle. I did get some very nice simple changes from him with the canter circles though. I heard back from the dressage trainer, I am meeting with her on Thursday. I hope it works out!

Monday, December 15, 2008


It was -6 when I got the barn this morning. You would think Werther would be grateful to come into the barn which we keep heated to about 50, but he still was upset that he was the only horse in the barn. I got Werther a flake of hay which placated him while I got him undressed and his boots on to run around the indoor. Werther didn't gallop too hard today, and he was very quiet when I rode him for having three days off. It was so cold today that it actually sucked the energy out of all the horses, instead of making them fresh. I was really happy with his canter transitions, he picked up both leads on the first attempt. I took advantage of this weeks course not being set up yet and did some serpentines at the sitting at posting trot. Werther was much better about not getting worried and anticipating, but I did find he wanted to cut in on that last stride before the turn, so I really had to work on holding him with my leg and not fiddling with my hands. Put a call into one potential dressage trainer for this winter, I'm waiting to hear back from her.

Sunday, December 14, 2008


I moved last week and I finally got internet hooked up in my apartment so I can updated my blog! Werther has been good, he is adjusting to our new schedule, I go to the barn in the mornings now. He does not like this as well because I am usually riding by the time Mom and Andre get to the barn so Werther has to be in the barn by himself. Mom brought in Mike Hennigan last week to do a jumper clinic with her and Andre. I watched, I really liked Mike's training style. He was a really good professional trainer. I wish Andre was a better teacher, but sadly she just really does not have that ability. She can teach to the horse, which is good when you are not doing the basics, but I really need the basics right now. I really need someone like Mike who can teach to the rider. Mike did see me ride Werther and he thought Werther was really cute, which made me happy.

Thursday, December 4, 2008


My Mom and I picked up Wesley from getting his tumor vaccine injection at Anoka equine before going to the barn to ride. I got a picture of him on my phone of the camera we have in the pick up truck to watch the horses in the trailer. It made the hour long drive entertaining.

My ride was OK. Werther was fresh and lazy at the same time if that makes any sense. He had a ton of impulsion at the trot but I still had trouble getting him to pick up the canter. I tried something new today, I knoted my reins at my Mom's suggestion, (not super tight) to keeep him in a little bit of a frame during those first couple canter strides so he would not root. It worked pretty well, but I got a little nervous because he had a ton of impulsion at the canter, and with the reins knotted he was framing up very nicely and went into his dressage horse mode and did a lovely extended canter. I was just nervous because I could feel all the power underneath me and I could really tell that he wanted to let loose and gallop but was being too polite to bolt forward. Mom left the ring with Stoli when I started to walk and Werther got really wound up being alone in the ring, all his muscles were tense and his head was up in the air like a giraffe. I'm really struggling right now, becuase my trainer Andre just is not helping me. She is good at riding the horses but she is not a good teacher. I tried to get advice from my Mom, but she is an amateur and while she was a professional and taught at one point, is busy with her own horses. I'm trying to arrange a Dressage trainer for when Mom and Andre are at HITS and the Oaks so I can work on my flat work. I'm just frusterated with my situation right now, I miss college where I had three compentant trainers to choose from who were all more than willing to help me and they had the experince teaching lessons so I always felt confident.

Tuesday's Ride

Now that all the grass is frozen Werther is more than willing to barter a horse cookie for coming inside. I'm grateful, I like to spend as little time as possible outdoors in Minnesota winters. All of the energy Werther spent on Monday finally caught up with him and he was super quiet. I'm really happy to have such a smart horse, while I was trying to hack Werther my trainer Andre was on Vinny and he flinging himself around like an idiot practically doing airs above ground because he did not like the light streaming in from the indoor windows. Werther and I just sat at the other end of the ring and watched Vinny until Andre got him back into a more civilized state. Vinny's drama may have upset other horses but Werther could care less. Werther was super slow at the trot, I had to cheat a little and use the stick just to get him to wake up enough to move into the trot. I was able to get him to canter, but he was still really lazy so we did not do too much and I did not want to give Vinny an excuse to have another tantrum. I did not go out the barn yesterday, Wesley had to go to Anoka for his next tumor vaccine injection. Malibu had his surgery yesterday, Dr. Bob said it went very well. 

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Thanksgiving vacation before and after

This is an update of the few days before I left for Thanksgiving vacation and the day after I got back to get everyone up to speed.

Before: Werther had Friday off and I hacked him on Saturday so we decided he did not need to get chased in the indoor on Monday. If the horses get two days or more off in the Minnesota winter, we like to turn them out in the indoor for a short time and chase them so they can run around because with the ground frozen outside they tend not to do much in their paddocks and get wild.  Saturday all the jumps were out of the ring because the guys were going to water, roll, and drag the ring for the next week so I decided to practice serpentines. I alternated between sitting and posting trot so I could practice my diagonals which I have a hard time feeling because of my CP my right side is so much stronger than my left. He got a little nervous doing the serpentines, he was really anticipating, and I think he might have thought we were going to train on him for flying lead changes. When I did go to canter, I decided to use all the freeded up space in the indoor to practice making a shorter turn down to quarter line and he was definitely anticipating a lead change there on the straight line, so instead of letting him worry about it, I just encouraged him to go forward and relax. Monday we decided not to chase him and he was very good, the course for that week mainly consisted on two jumps on the center line and two on the far quarter line so I decided to use the available space in the front of the ring to do some figure eights, but I could only to two before he started anticipating what we were doing so I stopped. Monday night my friend Chelsey from college had come to Minnesota to spend Thanksgiving vacation with me, we went out to the barn together on Tuesday which was really fun. I hacked Werther, than let Chelsey get on a do a little walk/trot work (Chelsey and I rode together in college). It was really fun to see someone else ride Werther, and since Chelsey rides mainly at a rescue facility these days, it was night for her to ride a horse that was really fit and well broke. 

After: Chelsey came out with my family to our home in Arizona for Thanksgiving vacation, we got back Sunday night and she left yesterday morning. I went to the barn that afternoon. Werther was so good to catch today, I used to have a lot of problems catching him, but he came up to the gate today before I even got to the paddock. Werther had Thanksgiving vacation off so I turned him out in the indoor and chased him. He ran around like an idiot and did some turns at top speed that would have made a barrel racer proud. He was so cute when he was finished running, he was at the far end of the indoor and I called out to him, then I turned around to get his halter and set down my whip. As I was walking away, he lets out this big whinny and trots up to me with this worried look on his face, "don't leave me Mom". Werther was good when I hacked him, I was surprised to find he still had energy when I got on him. I was rusty on the canter transition and had some issues with Werther rooting at the first stride of canter, but I was happy that even though he pulled the reins out of my hands I was able to stay balanced. My Mom and I were on our way home when Andre called me, one of our barn cats was hurt. Mom and I turned around and we took Malibu to the vet, Dr. Bob x-rayed it and he has a high humerus break. He was never outside of the barn and it did not look like a dog bit him, so we don't know how he broke it. We think he jumped from something high and fell. We left him at vet and he is scheduled for surgery on Wednesday or Thursday to put a plate in.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


Werther was such a good boy today. I rode him alone in the indoor, the space heaters where in high gear and he was a little apprehensive about the noise at first, but he did not do anything bad. He was super pokey at the trot but he brightened up a little bit at the canter. He picked up both of leads right on cue, we did quite a few flying lead changes today. Changes are so easy for him, and barely have to ask. I worked up canter up the quarter lines to work on my turns, once I got the turn at funny angle so he did a lead change because he thought we were changing directions. Mom brought Wesley back from the clinic, apparently he was not happy there at all, he did not drink any water and he was sore from the injection and the vets messing around with his tumors. After Wesley was back in his stall for a little while, he perked right up and was his usual sassy self. He goes back in two weeks to get another injection of the tumor vaccine, we are going to see if we can arrange it so Wesley does not have to stay overnight. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Werther and Vinny, Not a Match Made In Heaven

So when we put Werther out in his new turn out situation with Wesley and Vinny, Vinny was inside because Andre was going to ride him. When Andre turned Vinny out with Wesley and Werther, Werther tried to beat up Vinny, he did not want him anywhere near his friend Wesley. So the horses are going back to their old paddock arrangements. I could not get out to the barn today because Wesley had to be dropped off at Anoka Equine so he can get his tumor vaccine shot tomorrow, they have to inject it within the hour of receiving the vaccine. Andre rode Werther today, and I did hear anything from Andre so I am assume he was just fine, I will talk to her at the barn tomorrow and get the full report.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


I was worried Werther would be difficult to catch this morning because I came out earlier than usual but he was very good, he is starting to come when I call him. I am sure he just wanted to get out of the cold weather, it was in the mid 20's all day today. Hacking was difficult today, my Mom had a lesson on Spike so I could not keep Werther moving and I had a really hard time getting him to canter on the right lead. He was rooting quite a bit today, Mom thinks maybe switching him to a rubber snaffle might help, Werther is in a french link snaffle right now. I had to get Andre to help me with the right lead, basically all she said was to "hit him until he belives you" and not worry about what lead I get. We did more canter transitions and he kept getting better, which I was happy with. Just as I was finishing up my ride the power went out in the barn, but luckily we have a lot of windows in our indoor so it did not matter to much. When I turned Werther back out we changed paddocks, TJ is now going out with Stoli and Werther is going out with Wesley and Vinny. I think Werther will like having more company.

Monday, November 17, 2008

New Shoes

Werther got his new shoes on today.

Our farrier, Scott was happy with his feet. He was able to bump Werther up to size three, when he first came to us they were a two. After Werther got his feet done my Mom and I chased Werther in the indoor which he definitely needed. After a small intial prompting, he galloped around like a mad man, tail up in the air and lots of stallion snorts. Needless to say, Werther was very tired for our ride and I did not do too much with him. After Werther was done, Mom and I switched Werther and Wesley's stalls. Werther cribs on the automatic waterer so we put him in a stall closer to the hose and we put low hanging buckets of water in his stall. My Mom turned off the automatic waterer, ducktaped the bowl to the top and sprayed it with pepper spray to discourage his cribbing.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Riding Lesson

I went to get Werther in from the paddock and the first thing I do is loose my footing and end up with my knees caked in black mud. It was kind of a mix bag after that. He was really good when I was warming up, I got the canter both directions on the first attempt. We started cantering over the pig jump as a low vertical. Then we moved on to a line of small cross rails that is really a three stride but Andre was having me add a stride and do it in four. He was really good on the left lead going away from home but I ran into some trouble when I changed direction. The first time I did the line on the right was good, but the second time I turned too early and he jumped into the line big and got really quick going though it. I got nervous after that, and I asked Andre if I could trot the line once before going back to the canter. She kind of snapped at me, told me no and said she doubted if I really wanted jump and that I had to make the choice if I want to keep doing it. I do really want to jump, it just took so long to find a horse after we retired Wesley, it took over a year to find Werther and I am really rusty jumping and I have lost a lot of the confidence Wesley gave me. Andre is the kind of trainer she almost rides too well, I don't think she has ever had a moment of anxiety riding and genuinely does not understand other people's fear and does not know how to deal with it. I don't think she was trying to be mean, but it made me feel bad. I sucked it up and went up the line again to the right, and because I was worried about him leaving long and speeding up again I kept him really collected to the first jump and did not release well over the first jump. Andre yelled at me for that, which frustrated me because she really did not understand the cause and effect of him going to fast one time, and me being to conservative the next time. We switched direction and went to the left again, I thought we had a good pace going in but he was going too fast because he did the three stride instead of adding and doing the four. This time I just mentally said "fuck it if I fall off" and stayed in two point in the line. He was still a little quick after landing the second fence but I did stay on. We did the line one last time to the left with a slower canter, however, he had rooted down the long side so I was going to overshoot my turn with the time it would take to get my hands reorganized, so I canter a circle and went over the line again. This time it went much better. I think Andre was happier with me after my lesson but I was a little depressed after my lesson, I don't know what I can say to Andre to help her understand. Any advice would be helpful.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

I Love My Horse

Today I went to bring Werther in, after I walked a few feet, he actually came when I called him which he has not done before. After I got his halter on and gave both Werther and TJ their treats, I turned around to leave the paddock and I noticed the gate had swung open behind me. TJ was moving too fast for me and I could not cut him off before he got out the paddock. He started out waliking so I thought maybe I could catch up to him and herd him into the barn. As soon as I got out the the paddock he started trotting down the lane of paddocks. Luckily, I had my cell phone with me and I called my trainer Andre inside the barn and she got a groom to come out and help me. At this point, TJ was on the grassy lane on the left side of the barn in between the paddocks and the paved driveway where we pull up the trailer to load it. He started galloping and bucking up the lane, and sometimes turning and cantering down the blacktop. I was really sacred, I thought that A) he was going to run into me because he kept galloping straight and Werther and turning away at the last second. B) That he was going to slip and fall and I was going to watch him break his leg on the black top. Luckily, Jorge caught him. TJ is already extremely lame right now because of arthritis from Lymes disease, my Mom has already pretty much decided that she is going to put him down before she leaves for Thermal. I feel really bad for him, but it is better than living out the next 15 years being so uncomfortable and wild because he can't be in work. While all this was going on Werther was so good, he just stood at ate grass. I was afraid to move Werther because I thought it might rile TJ more. Werther was so good in his stall and cross ties, and was just so relaxed and calm when I rode him, it helped me to get my heart to stop racing, I had so much adrenaline pumping after what happened with TJ. I started out cantering on the right lead, it took two tries to get him to pick him up but once he did he was perfect. Lately when we have started cantering, he roots on the first stride, especially on the right lead, but he refrained from doing that today. He picked up the left lead on the first try, and when I switch directions and asked him to pick up to right lead again he did it on the first attempt. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Mom's ride

I could not get out to the barn today so my Mom rode Werther. I guess it went well, because she was threatening to steal him when she has four jumpers of her own to ride. She said he was a little up trotting but very quiet at the canter. She also jumped him over a few fences, and she said he was excellent and felt like he still had a ton of jump left in him. We think that the people who had him before us were showing him too hard and got him ring sour. Now that he has had a couple months r and r with us, he has a much better attitude and could probably do bigger jumps if I needed him to. One of my main frustrations with the hunter/jumper world is that there are so many big name trainers out there who view horses as disposable, they show them into the ground. Because of my disability, I can only show at 2'6, so I usually end up with those trainers cast offs, which is good for me, but not good for the industry as a whole. 

Still Catching Up

I am still a day behind in my posts, but I will try to catch up today. Yesterday was freezing, Werther was turned out in super heavy Rambo Wug blanket. Werther was still difficult to catch and my hands were numb by the time I got him in the barn. He was better in the cross ties, but still a little fidgety. Werther was really good when I got on him, he was much more relaxed than yesterday. He was still a little more fresh than usual, so I spent some extra time trotting him. We were alone in the ring most of the time, and he started out a little bit of a drama queen, whinnying like a horse in a hollywood movie. I was a little nervous about cantering him, so I was pretty conservative about the asking so it took a few attempts to get him to canter. I also started out on the right lead, which means I have to ask with my weaker leg. I switched to the left lead and he was really good, he was moving really well after he got his hocks done. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Yesterday's Ride

I got back from NYC late Sunday night, and went out the barn yesterday afternoon. We are finally experiencing true November weather for Minnesota, which means the temperature has dropped about 20 degrees. Because Werther got his hocks injected last week, he basically has had a week off. This combined with the recent cold weather made me a little nervous. He was very good to catch in the paddock, and moved quickly to get inside instead of his usual stop and stall routine. He was a little fidgety in the cross ties, but he did not do anything that raised any major red flags. My first true indicator of how fresh he was was when I was trying to get on. He would not stand so I could get on, Andre was riding Vinny, so she came down to my end of the ring, to help me pen him in a little so I had enough time to get my left foot in the stirrup and my right knee on the seat of the saddle so I had enough balance to get him stopped so I could finish swinging my leg over. He had impulsion at the walk, but he did not misbehave himself. When we started to trot however, he wanted to be very quick, and found excuses to spook forward at little noises. When I trotted him around for awhile and he did not really settle down I asked Andre to get on him canter Werther around. I took Vinny from Andre and untacked him for her, than went to watch Andre with Werther. Werther was cantering around like the engerizer bunny, closer to a hand gallop really. Andre had the reins very relaxed, and was not doing circles with him, but every so often she would do a flying lead change on the diagonal and change direction. She said he did not offer to buck, which was a relief to me, before I got Werther, I tried a horse from a rescue who after we got him fit and feeling good would buck really hard when you asked him to go on the right lead.  I got on and walked out Werther for Andre, he was tired but that did not stop him from being anxious about being the only horse in the ring and whinnying like something out of the movies. Andre and I decided that during the winter he is going to chased in the indoor once and week to blow off some extra steam.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Light Hack

Werther was already in when I went out to the barn this morning, they weather was really icky so the guys brought the horses in early. Werther was happy to see me, he wanted to know where his treat giver had gotten to these past couple days. I only rode at the walk and trot, but next week when I get back from New York City he should be able to return to a regular schedule. He was still pretty lazy even after having had the last four days off, but especially after we had been troting for awhile he gained more impulsion and seemed to be moving well off his hind end. I groomed Wesley before I left, he was still wet from being out in the rain, he is not clipped so he takes forever to dry. I put scrim on him, and they guys were going to keep an eye on him to make sure he got fully dry. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Dr. Sarah came out very early and injected Werther's hocks. She said he really needed it. Werther will be off until Thursday. I go out of town on Friday for my niece's baptism for the weekend, so I am going to ask Andre to hack Werther on Friday. While I don't think the hock injections while turn him into a wild man, it is nice to have the trainer be the guinea pig. Wesley is doing well after his biopsy. He is such a cheerful horse, Wesley is not phased by much. It is nice they were able to just do a local block for the biopsy and they did not have to tranquilize him. 

Monday, November 3, 2008

Tumor Biopsy

I did not ride today because Wesley had his tumor biopsy done by Dr. Turner at Anoka Equine. I could not go, I would have been a mess. It is not a needle biopsy but they actually cut a piece of the tumor out. I'm told it was pretty bloody but it went well. I don't know how long it takes to make up the vaccine, but I am anxious to see if it will help him. 

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Sunday Visit

Quick trip out to the barn today, Becky came over with a girl who currently works at her boarding barn to interview for a grooming position. Tom is no longer with us, so my Mom is trying to find someone before she goes to show at Thermal. I groomed Werther and Wesley, Werther's scratches are greatly improved. I was going to take some pictures with my camera but the battery died. It was nice to spend some extra time with Wesley, I don't want him to feel like Werther takes up all my attention. I worry about Wesley with his melanomas too, his condition is stable right now, but I don't know for long that will be it could be years or only weeks. When I rode Wesley he really took care of me and gave me a lot of confidence, I just want to make sure I return the favor. He is going in tomorrow to get this tumor biopsy done so they can make a vaccine from the tumor cells which they inject into him and is supposed to help reduce the tumor size. We had some more leads on Dressage trainers, Dr. Sarah recommended a person, and a woman my Aunt Karen used to ride with gave her a name as well. Debbie was also going to ask a trainer who works with the Leatherdale's, a local high end breeding barn. 

Lazy Saturday

Another nice fall day here in Minnesota. One minor incident, when we pulled into the farm this random woman had pulled over her car and was trying to entice Jingle Belle and Fiona to the fence, so now we most likely will have to move them.  Luckily she was not stupid enough to try and go in the paddock and the two ponies did not go over to her, but it was worrying none the less. My Mom and I went on a long walking trail ride with Werther and Stoli. We went across the road and went on some of the hunt paths over there which we don't usually do. Werther was really good, he and Stoli are both excellent trail horses and they enjoy each other's company so it made for a very pleasant ride. After we were done I brought Wesley in for my Mom to clean up before he goes into the clinic on Monday for his tumor biopsy. I washed Werther's back legs with Microtech, his scratches are getting much better. We had to move around some horses, because our young mare Violet was being a wench, so Werther and Wesley are two stalls down from where they were before, I think they like their new digs. 

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Last two days recap

Thursday was gorgeous out so I went on a trail ride with my Mom and Spike. He was a little bit up to begin with, we had one little spook where we turn around after the small hill, he also decided to canter up the small hill which took me by surprise because normally he is so lazy I can barely get him to finish trotting up it. Cantering up the hill was about the midway point in our ride and after that his energy level went down considerable and he behaved more like his regular self. The one thing I was really proud of is even when he was doing those things I did not anticipate, I was able to stay centered and balanced on him, The whole ride was a good exercise in steering for me, my Mom's horse Spike was leading, and he is a touch spooky, so he would not go in a straight line on the path, but was constantly zig zaging instead, so I had to steer Werther around him. We ended by walking up the bank jump and going into the outdoor ring where I worked on my canter. I started him out on the right lead and he was really good, the left lead he was reluctant to pick up and was pulling his head down very low. My Mom was watching and she thought he may need to get his hocks done, the way he was going indicated he wanted to get off of his hind end. He has not had has hocks done since we got him, and we are not sure if he ever has had them done. Andre rode him on Friday, to confirm what I was feeling and my Mom was seeing, he is going to get his hocks done on Tuesday.

Thursday, October 30, 2008


Werther got body clipped on Tuesday night so when I went out on Wednesday he looked like a totally different horse:

I'm really proud of his overall body condition, he looks so much better than when we first bought him. I tried to get a conformation shot in here, and I am terrible at conformation critique but if you feel up to it feel free to comment. It was really warm yesterday so I was able to ride outside, we were by ourselves in the ring, but Jingle Belle and Fiona were on one side, and one paddock over from the ring on the other side Wesley and Vinny were turned out. He could care less about Vinny and Wesley, but he gets very distracted by Fiona. He does not do anything bad per say, but when he goes by, he slows down and bulges out so he can watch her. Fiona is not much help, when Werther trots by, she trots along the fence with him, when Werther canters, she gallops along the fence like his little shadow. He was excellent at the canter, he picked up both leads the first time he was asked with a minimal amount of fuss. The right lead was more difficult, I will have to start with that one today. After cantering I decided to do some no stirrup work at the walk and sitting trot. When I do a new stirrups sitting trot he goes into total dressage horse mode, beautiful collected trot with lots of forward impulsion and very round and on the bit. Werther actually likes having a lot of contact, he is relaxed and his ears are forward the whole time. This is a new experince for me, most of the horses I have ridden in the past were very much know it all packers who hated being told what to do. Werther likes direction, which is something I have to get used to giving.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Dr. Sarah Visits

No riding today, Dr. Sarah came to do shots and worming so we let the horses have the day off. The horses were turned out late, so I took the opportunity to spend some time with Wesley and groom him. He has a little scratches spot on his left front ankle, it gave me a chance to practice using the clippers, which is something I am not totally comfortable with yet. Werther was good with his shot, he did not care for the worming paste at all (and why should he?). I also had a doctors appointment today with a PT MD. She is concerned with the amount of pressure the current level of  spasticity is putting on my knee. I need to do more stretching and after she gets some records from my surgeon she is going to start me doing botox injections every 90 days in my leg, which they think will help provide some relief. 

Monday, October 27, 2008

Just a Little Trim

Werther got his whiskers and ears trimmed today.

We did his legs after I was done riding. Werther is getting entirely too hairy for a heated barn and will be body clipped soon. He has a little bit of scratches on his hind legs so we put some stuff on that to help him out. Dr. Sarah makes up her own anti-scratches cream, I think it is a mixture of anti-biotics and DMSO. It was windy and in the high thirties today, so I rode inside with Becky who was out riding Victoria. Werther was very good at trot, moving forward with little urging but I ran into trouble with the canter transition again, same issues as Saturday. This week is less crazy so I'll be able to have a lesson with Andre and she can evaluate to see if Werther needs a tune up.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Trail Ride

The forecast is predicting snow tomorrow, so my Mom and I went out on a trail ride while it was still in the high fifties. Werther was really good, but it was really windy and it made Stoli a little spooky, so I got nervous. I just could not shake the mental what ifs today. After doing a little walk trot work on the trail I did some canter work in the outdoor ring. He is getting much better at the canter transitions the issue I am having now is that in that first canter stride he tends the pull his head down really low and pull the reins out of my hands, after which he picks up his head and carries himself nomally. I'll have to ask Andre what she thinks I can do to fix it next week, though I have a feeling I know the answer, move my elbows forward and more leg. 

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Back in the indoor

It is cold and wet here in Minnesota so we were back in the indoor today. Yesterday was really busy so Werther got the day off. We had to wait awhile to get started because Mom was having a lesson with Andre on Spike. Since we did not get going right away I struggled at the trot, Werther was very sluggish. I did several walk trot transitions and that helped a little. When I was getting ready to canter, Andre came in with T.J. to do some lameness evaluation and that distracted Werther a little as T.J. is his pasture mate. I started out on the left lead instead of the right, because Werther had more difficulty with that lead last time. Werther did not pick up the canter in the first corner of the short side, but I kept after him and he got on it the second corner of the short side. I did the rest of our normal canter work and Werther was very good, he had no problems picking up the right lead. I let Werther walk while Mom and Tom watched Andre trot T.J.. After T.J. was done trotting I asked Werther to pick up the left lead again which he did really well. I did a few more canter trot transitions and I was really happy Werther was still responsive after having more down time than usual. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Pictures from yesterday

Andre on Tryst, a jumper of my Mom's he is an Irish Thoroughbred x Dutch Warmblood.

Becky on Victoria with her dog Buster, young Farnley Welsh pony we have for sale. She has been shown in Children's Pony Hunter's and is ready to move up to the small greens.

My Mom with our Basset Hound Chloe.

Twinkie ready for his photo shoot.
One of our other dogs Divot, a Lab x Swiss Mountain Dog.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The next generation

The MHJA meeting was interesting, it was really fun to watch all the rounds of hunter derbies on the DVDS that Diane brought. The whole family came out the barn today so they could take some pictures with my niece Lily and Twinkie. Twinkie taught all of girls how to ride and he is in his mid thirties at least and definitely feeling his age recently. He adored all the attention, and was very good with Lily. After those guys left I hacked Werther outside, he started out a little distracted by Jingle Belle and Fiona, but he had Stoli for company so that help. Another really good day with the canter transition, I got the right lead first without having to use my stick, when went to left lead I had to use the stick twice and he was a little delayed picking it up, so I am going to start with that lead tomorrow. I ended the ride using a figure eight exercise to practice my turns and he was very smart about it, the first time we missed to lead on the straight line, but after that he was very good about picking it up. 

Monday, October 20, 2008


My older sister Katie and my niece Lily are coming in to town today so I had to go to the barn early this morning. That means I had to go catch Werther only a few hours after he had been turned out. T.J. was happy to see me, but Werther was not. Werther trotted a couple of circles around me before giving up and letting me catch him. Even though Werther could not see any horses from his stall he was very good, not frenzied as he was on Friday. I took Werther for a hack in the outdoor ring with my Mom riding Tryst. Werther was very good at the walk and trot, not at all distracted by the baby like he usually is. I really think I made a breakthrough with the canter transition. When I first asked him to pick up to right lead, he kept doing a hop step like he was going to break into the canter but then going back down to the trot, so I kept hands forward and used my stick until he broke into a canter about a quarter of the way down the long side from the originally corner I had asked him in. It was a very good forward canter, I even practiced doing trot canter transitions on the straight line going both directions. I feel like today was the first time he was actually listening to me instead of just agreeing to along with me. I wish Andre had been out there to see but she came out on Vinny just as I was walking out Werther. One more horsey thing tonight is the annual Minnesota Hunter Jumper Association Meeting. Mom, Tom, and Andre and I are all going, Diane Carney is going to give a talk on high performance hunter classes. 

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Friday's Trail Ride

Friday was warm enough that I went on a trail ride with my Mom on Stoli and Andre on Vinny. Werther was pretty good for me to catch even though I went out to the barn earlier than usual. T.J. was hysterical in the paddock. T.J. is a huge moose of a warmblood and walked up to me almost immediately after I went into to the paddock, while Werther was studiously ignoring me. I gave T.J. a quick pat and then shooed him away so I could go about the business of catching Werther. T.J. decides to follow me, but because I shooed him away, all 1,700 pounds of him tries to creep behind me by following me a couple paces away. It is really funny to have a horse try to sneak up on you when they are that big. Werther was fine to catch, but then he was a pill when he got in the stall. Not many horses we inside so Werther got very worked up, walking in circles, whinnying, and even rearing a couple times to look over the top of his stall. I was not very pleased with this behavior, so I used a lead shank to make sure Werther would stand while I took off his blanket. Werther was fidgety in the cross ties but did not do anything really bad. When we got outside and I got on Werther he was still a little worked up when I started walking him, but once he realized he was going with Stoli and Vinny he settled down. Werther was great on the trail, we did walk trot work. After we were done I went into the ring by walking up the bank jump to work on my canter transitions, and Werther picked up the right lead on the first attempt which I was really happy with, but then when I changed direction he was reluctant to pick up the left lead. I did more canter transitions with him and he was excellent after that, even picking up the left lead on the straight line. After I was done I turned on the heat lamps in the wash stall and gave him a bath. When I put Werther back in his stall I took Wesley out and groomed him, Werther became anxious again without a horse directly next to him and not very many horses in the barn. I think park of the issue is the barn that he used to live at was at the Colorado Horse Park, where he was constantly surrounded by other horses. Does anyone have any advice as to how to reduce his anxiety on those occasions when I bring in him in early without having to bring in another horse to babysit? 

Thursday's Hack

My hack on Thursday went OK. Werther was good, I was really unfocused. It was just one of those days when your mind is on everything but the task at hand. I rode outside by myself, which was fine except Jingle Belle and Fiona were still turned out.  Werther is fascinated by the baby Fiona. The first time we go by Werther bulges out to look at Fiona, and every time after that he slows down on the long side next to that paddock so he can watch her. I decided to work on my turns by using the quarter line instead of the rail and that seemed to be a good exercise. The canter was a little bit of a mixed bag, I started out with the more difficult right lead first and it took a few tries to get Werther to pick it up, but then he got the canter on the first time every time I asked for the canter. I decided to do some simple changes across the diagonal to practice my transitions, and Werther thought it would be better to do flying lead changes. Even though it was not what I wanted, I also did not want to discourage Werther from doing auto lead changes so I went on the rail and did a few more canter transitions which went well. 

Friday, October 17, 2008

Wednesday's Riding Lesson

I am catching up on my posts, so as the title indicates this is from Wednesday's ride. They put new footing in the indoor the day before which was good but it was still a little dusty. We warmed up and did walk trot work on our own, Werther was good, my Mom was in the ring riding Stoli, I think Werther liked the company. The canter was better, it took me a couple tries but I did eventually get him to pick up the canter, and Andre did not have to get on him this time. I think Werther is learning what we want, now when I ask Werther to canter he is really difficult to get it the first time, and then all the other times after it takes very little effort, most of the time I don't even have to use my stick. I graduated from the pile of ground poles to a small cross rail. I was a little nervous at first, even though I have jumped much bigger. I always get nervous doing something new with a new horse, because of my C.P. I need to trust them that much more than your average rider. The best thing about Werther is as long as you maintain enough leg to keep him going he keeps a very consistent pace and is not inclined to take the long one. The first time I did not have enough leg and he broke to a trot. I was able to get the canter back though and continue. I am still working on perfecting my turns with him, it is hard to maintain the impulsion I need to keep him straight. I had more difficulty turning him down the line on the right lead, because it required that I support him with my left leg, which is the one effected by my C.P. I was really happy with my last jump, we had a decent turn and got the lead change very quickly on the straight line. Before I left I turned Werther back out, he is now going out with T.J. a horse of my Mom's that is recovering from Lymes disease. Werther seems to like T.J. well enough but I miss getting to visit with Wesley in the paddock. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Trail Ride

They were adding more footing in the indoor today so my Mom and I went on a trail ride with Werther and Spike. Between the weather and deer hunting season coming up we have very few chances left to go out on the trails. The ground was still soft from all the rain was have been having so we did not do much beyond let them walk and eat grass along the way, we did a little trotting behind the paddocks were the ground was drier. When we were walking them in there was a lot of noise from the guys using the manure spreader to add the footing in and it made Werther a little nervous and he did a collect trot in the drive way to get away from the noise but he seemed to settle when I got off him. However, he spooked again when I lead him thorough the door into the barn and I lost the reins and he started trotting down the aisle. We stopped him quickly and then he was fine, I am just glad he did not slip on the concrete aisle. Things are progressing in the hunt for a Dressage trainer. My aunt Karen moved from Minnesota to Idaho a couple of years ago and rides with Bob McDonald, the husband of the Olympic rider, Debbie McDonald. My aunt Karen mainly does jumpers now but she used to do Dressage when she lived in Minnesota, so my Mom called her to ask her about Dressage trainers in the area. Karen asked Debbie, and Debbie is making some phone calls. How nice is that? If it is somebody that Debbie recommends, I know I can't go wrong. The rollkur stuff I hear about with Dressage scares me a little, and I want to make sure I am with a trainer that will teach me who do thing the right way. 

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Emperor's Old Clothes

It is finally cold enough that we dug out a old blanket for Werther to wear:

Werther has no idea what he is in for when winter hits here in Minnesota. It was cold and raining today so Werther came inside just soaking. Werther actually ran up to the gate with this "Oh, thank god you are here" look on his face. Considering Werther is normally a little difficult to catch, I was very grateful for this change in attitude even if the weather was crummy. In spite of putting a scrim on Werther when I got him inside and toweling him off in the grooming stall he was still wet when we went to work in the indoor. Werther did not stand very well to mount today, it took me two attempts to get on, and still wanted to walk off right away. After I got on Werther my Mom came in with her horse Spike. Spike distracted Werther a little bit, Werther is a very social horse, and while he was not bad, he had to watch and see what Spike was doing. Werther was good at the trot, we worked on the canter transitions like I practiced in my lesson on Friday, I started on the right lead and got it on the second attempt, then got it on my first attempt on the left lead. I should have a lesson on Tuesday or Wednesday, I feel that while my flat work still is not perfect, that it is good enough I can finally start to build myself up to jumping again.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Riding Lesson

I had a really good riding lesson today. We started out working at the trot, doing a lot of walk trot transitions and alternating between posting trot and sitting trot. Our new goal with Werther at the trot is to get him moving forward as quickly as possible without resorting to using the stick. Even though Werther is very quiet and could probably use them, I don't wear spurs because I don't trust my leg to be stable enough, so I use a stick. Werther was very uncooperative about the canter transition, so Andre had to get on him and do a mini trainer ride so he would pay attention to me.  The new plan is to keep my stick in my right hand (because of my CP my left hand is weak and I cannot react as quickly with it), cluck and then hit Werther really hard with my stick and maintain contact so he stays balanced and does not rush into an extended trot. Andre thinks the more time I spend working with Werther the better he will get, it will just take him more time to get used to me as I ride differently from most people. I am supposed to start Werther out on the right lead as that is my more difficult direction and he tends to favor his left lead anyway. Andre thinks that the quality of canter I am getting out of him is much better which is encouraging, and she also thinks I look more confident. We worked jumping the pilled up ground poles again, Andre was pretty happy with me. I missed one lead change, Werther's canter is so smooth and I was so focused on him not breaking that I did not even realize he was counter cantering. Her best words of trainer wisdom today came about turning on the line to the jump: If you plan out your turn, all you have to do is guide instead of steer. I am also starting to look for a dressage trainer to take some lessons with so I can improve my flatwork and help me with my communication with Werther, as he started out his life as a Dressage horse.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

New Halter

Werther's new halter came today, it is very handsome, but I was not successful it getting a good picture of him in it today. We get our halter's from Quillin Leather & Tack in Paris, KY, they make beautiful and durable leather pieces. Andre rode Werther yesterday, and while he was not exactly wild, she did say that he took less leg than usual. I rode Werther in the indoor, he was extremely good about mounting, he did not even try to crib on the railing of the viewing area as I got on. Werther was initially a little looky when we got to the far end of the ring, from the windows he could see some guys outside that were using hoses to run fertilizer to our trees. Werther did not do anything bad but  he did want to stop and see what they were doing, which I let him do, and then he moved on without too much complaint. I had difficulty with the canter transition, he has figured out my game plan of walk trot transitions to get him collected and is really anticipating me. I think I need to shake things up a little, so I am having a lesson with Andre tomorrow, and I am sure she will be able to give me some insight as to the best way to do that. 

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Mud King

So when I got to the barn yesterday, I didn't see my horse, but this mud creature stood in his place:

So needless to say, I put him in the grooming stall with the vacuum and got out every curry bush I own. Tom told me that Werther and Wesley were playing very hard outside, bucking, rearing, ect. I think they were fighting out out to see who would be the king filth, Wesley is the reining champion. Although Werther tried his best, he did not beat Wesley, when I took Wesley to college with me in VA he would be orange about 90% of time from rolling in the red clay mud. After vacumming Werther, I moved him to my grooming stall on the other side. There Werther could not see the other horses that were in, but he could see the horses outside. Werther has always been very social but today he got really amped up. Werther put his head up like girafee, whinnying, pawing, and his whole body was just vibrating. So I decided to stick Werther on the lunge line, he did not buck, but he ran pretty hard. I wasn't really sure if I should get on him or not, if I didn't have CP I don't think I would have had any qualms about it, but with my disability I have to be very thoughtful about the situations I put myself in, and make sure I am not taking any unecissary risks. So I called Andre to see what she thought, and she said not to get on and she would ride him the next day. So I spent the rest of my time out at the barn giving Werther a bath, it took two soapings to get the majority of the dirt out, but he still was not close to show ring clean.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Home Sweet Home

I picked up all of Werther's new tags and nameplate from the local tack shop today, so I guess you can say now he is all officially moved in.
It was extremely nice out today so we went for a hack in the outdoor ring. I did not have a lesson per say, but I did have Andre watch me with my canter transitions, to check in on how I am doing. She thinks I am doing everything correctly, and that we should be heading in the right direction. However, after she left and I went to pick up the right lead again, he would not do it. I guess he thought he was done. So I ended up changing direction and getting the left lead, then doing a flying change to get the right lead. While Werther was pretty good today, I am still thinking he may need a tune up later this week. On the way home my dog Chloe decided she needed to make herself at home as well, and ended up burrowing under the towels, which were intended to keep dog hair off the seats.

Friday, October 3, 2008


The weather was a little bit better today, low 50's but sunny and no wind. I rode outside, Werther was very good about mounting, though it took me a little while to get the mounting block positioned, because its storage space is filled with our extra jump cups, which means it is quite heavy, but also it does not tip over. Werther was very, very, quiet today, he seems to defy that natural law that when the weather gets cooler, horses get wild. Canter transitions took a little more time today, it could have been the change from inside to outside, or he could need another trainer tune up. I will ride him on Monday and see how he feels after having a few days off. I talked to Andre about my ride yesterday, and she made very good point to try not to let him pick up the canter from the walk, because he will get high and hollow rather than moving forward, and I will achieve greater consistency if I ask from the trot

Thursday, October 2, 2008


Very quick trip out to the barn today, I had an appointment. The guys got Werther ready, and took care of my stuff after I turned him back out. I am grateful that we have such good grooms who can really help when you are in pinch. I would never be one of those people who has a groom tack up their horse for them everyday, I like grooming and spending time with my horse too much. It was a little bit chilly today so I wussed out and rode in the indoor. Werther was really relaxed and happy today, I think he really enjoyed himself on his trail ride with Tom yesterday, they went across the road and went on some of the hunt paths. Werther's walk and trot were routine, and we did really well with the canter transition. I was really patient in making sure that Werther was really balanced and listening to me and as a result I got the right lead on the first try. When I went to ask for the left lead he sneaked up to an extended trot in the first corner, so I made him stop and back up a few steps. That really got Werther's attention and the next time I asked he picked it up from a walk. After we both caught our breathe I finished up the ride by doing some sitting trot without stirrups, focusing on keeping long and wrapped around him, and feeling my balance and staying in his center.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Big Shoes to Fill

I had a job interview and could not get out to the barn today, so I thought I would showcase some of my old horses, so you can see who Werther has to live up toThis is Twinkie, he was my first pony. Twinkie is a large pony of unknown breeding, he taught me how to ride again after I had major surgery on my left leg for cerebral palsy. This is me at about twelve winning my first ribbion in a hunter under saddle class. Twinkie is currently in his mid-thirites and is retired with us.

This is Noa, nickname "The turbo wench". I leased her in high school. She was an Argentine Polo Pony x Thoroughbred cross. Noa was the first horse I was ever able to show over fences, and she had this great boss personality, Noa really wanted to take care of her rider. Sadly, my junior year, Noa was out in the paddock and fell and broke her leg above the knee and had to be put down.

This is Wesley. He is the love of my life, I was able to show him extensively thorough college. He is an aged Thoroughbred gelding who won about $60 dollars on the track. He was totally automatic, in fact, he would get downright pissed if I tried to pick a distance. He currently can only be ridden lightly because of complications from his melanomas. :(

Bonus picture, the grumpy old men. If I had to guess just from this pick, I would say Werther is the Thoroughbred and Wesley is the Warmblood.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008


No lesson today, Andre is really busy with my Mom out of town so I decided not to ask for a lesson and just work on flat work today. The barn was very quiet today, I rode by myself in the indoor, sticking to my plan of "no rest for wicked Werther". The plan worked out fairly well, I only let him have a short break in the middle of our trot work so I could catch my breath. I missed the canter transition with the first attempt on the left lead, I had the impulsion but I did not have him listening well enough or balanced enough to get the transition. I had a better game plan on the second direction and got the right lead, my more difficult lead, on the first attempt. I have a phone interview tomorrow afternoon so I will not be going out the barn, either Andre or Tom will take Werther on a trail ride tomorrow. 

Monday, September 29, 2008


Today was very quick at the barn. The weather today was a little chilly and windy (:gasp: real fall weather) but I decided to ride outside anyway. I am dreading when the cold sets in because I am worried that Werther will become quickly bored with the indoor. He was pretty good, I had a little trouble at the walk and trot.
Our pony baby, Fiona is turned out in the paddock next to the outdoor ring with her mom Jingle Belle, and Werther really wanted to go over and see Fiona, she is dark chestnut with a white stripe on her face, she could be his mini me. Werther wasn't being bad exactly, he would just slow down as much as he could get away with and stare at her every time he passed. Our small pony Victoria was in the ring with Werther, so at least he had a friend to shame him into kind of working.
The canter transition was good and bad. When I asked for it the first time on the left lead using the walk trot transition exercise Werther picked it up right away, but I think I let him get too relaxed in between changing directions and picking up the other lead it took me three times to get the right lead. Then I walked and went to try the canter transition again that direction and I could not get him to pick it up. I feel kind of bad coming to this conclusion, but I think after my initial walking in my hacks, I cannot let him relax. I have to change things up more and keep Werther constantly listening to me, so I get the response I want.
When we were leaving the ring our groom Tom came in riding my Mom's horse Spike. Spike was wild his head was up in the air like a giraffe. It made me nervous leaving the ring because I was afraid Werther was going to pick up on Spike's energy, but thankfully he was oblivious.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Trail Ride

Werther has the weekend off, this is my post about yesterday's ride which I was going to write last night, but I got too caught up in the presidential debates. Thanks to global warming yesterday was hot and humid. My Mom and I took advantage of the nice weather to go out on a trail ride with Werther and Tryst. My Mom does the a/o jumpers and has several horses, and when we have been taking the horses out we have normally paired up Werther with Stoli.

Werther did not like going out with Tryst quite as much, Tryst was leading and he is a real wiggle worm on the trail, always going from one side of the trail to to the other. This annoyed Werther, as the trails have been cut for the local foxhunt and are plenty big enough for two horses to go abreast but because of Tryst's wiggly behavior he had to travel further back and I had to shift Werther quite a bit to make sure that he was not directly behind Tryst. Other than that the trail ride was uneventful which I was grateful for, as I had that fall last time we went out. In fact, Werther was even lazier than usual and would barely trot up the little hills we set them on.
I finished the trail ride by walking Werther up the bank jump and into the outdoor ring where we worked on our canter. I did the walk trot transitions that Andre recommended in my lesson the day before and it was pretty successful. I asked Werther to pick up the left lead first which is easier for me because I can use my right leg, and I was able to get it on the second attempt. I switched directions and did the same exercise with the right lead, which is more difficult for me, and Werther picked it up on the first attempt. After we were done Werther got a bath, which he was less than pleased about, but the horse cookies I gave him seemed to console him.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Riding Lesson

I had my first official riding lesson on Werther post sale today. I had to get him inside from the rain and Werther, and my retiree Wesley were all the way at the end of their paddock which was a pain. Whenever I go to get Werther in, Wesley always wanders over and bites Werther on the nose before I start leading him away. I like to think he is saying to Werther, "You better take care of her buddy, or you will have me to answer to".
We got off to a little shaky start, I think he was a little bit antsy because of the rain and thunder, but he would not stand when I tried to mount him today. It is very difficult for me if a horse does not stand perfectly still when I mount them. Since my left leg is my bad leg, I have to position the horse at the mounting block, drop the reins, walk up the mounting block, take both hands and physically lift my left foot into the stirrup and use my arm strength by using my hands to push off of his neck to swing my other leg around. If the horse is walking while I try to mount, I don't have enough strength in my left leg to push myself off. He has been pretty good up until now, especially in the indoor, because I let him crib on the railing to the viewing area while I get on, which I feel kind of bad about, but it gets the job done.
Andre did not say much at the walk and trot, but we did work on the canter transition. She told me to do several very quick walk trot transitions and to imagine shortening his body with each transition to help collect him and maintain impulsion for the canter transition without getting stuck in the extended trot. We did not jump, per say, but we did practice cantering over two pilled ground poles. I was nervous going to the poles the first time and I did not make a decision and he took the long one. I did not get left behind, which I was happy with, but I needed to stop and collect myself and reorganize after I landed.
The rest of the "jumps" were good, the key trainer phases today were heels down (as much as possible), centered body, shoulders back, and elbows forward. I had to redo my last attempt because on the second to last jump I had a momentary brain lapse focusing on all the above phrases and trying to will my body to do them, that I forgot to grab my neck strap (a piece of leather I hold on to to help my balance in two point). Overall, I was pretty happy with how the lesson went and I think Andre was pleased too, but I have a lot of work ahead of me.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Pampered Cribber Indeed

Werther's new cribbing strap came from Smartpak today. It is very fancy with his name embossed on the side:

When the grooms came into the barn this morning they said his hind legs were stocked up, but by the time I got there had had been turned out for a awhile and the fluid had gone down almost completely. We hacked inside today, the outdoor footing was not good to ride in after the rain we got yesterday. Werther was very good at the walk and trot, even a little bit fresh. However, I am still having trouble getting the upward canter transition. I think it is combination of his tendency towards laziness, my signalling and his Dressage background. My CP causes all the muscles in my left leg to be constantly contracted, so when I ride my heel is either level or slightly up, I cannot get it down. The muscles in my left arm are also slightly tight, and it makes the fine motor skills of contact with the bit with my left hand and using the stick on his left side difficult, but not impossible. This also makes balance difficult, so I am not at my best in those initial first steps of moving up to that faster gait. Right now, most of the times I ask for a canter, he think I want an extended trot. I've tried moving my leg back to an exaggerated position like a Dressage rider would have it for the transition, but that makes it more difficult for me to stay with him when he does go faster. I am having a lesson with my trainer tomorrow,we primarily jump in our lessons but I think she will be able to help me with this flat work piece too. I want to look into maybe having a dressage trainer come out and help me with him on the flat. Dr. Sarah came to the barn as I was leaving, she left a magnesium supplement for Werther. When we did the blood test for his pre-purchase exam we found him to be slightly deficient in Magnesium and Iron. So now he is on two new supplements, Red Cell and Magnesium 3000. We think these deficiencies are due to his lack of turn out when he lived in Colorado, and our good Minnesota grass will help with this as well.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Trainer Ride


Jump (He is actually a much better jumper than this, I am just a bad photographer)


"Hi Mom, got any food?"

I thought I would attempt to post some pictures from today's trainer ride. Since we started leasing Werther I have not jumped him except for a few small trotting fences. The main reason for this was since we retired my horse Wesley it took a very long time to find a horse for me to ride consistently (not to mention senior year of college hell). So I was very much out of riding shape and needed some time doing flat work before I was ready to start jumping again. Werther also needed a break, he was on a very rigorous show schedule before we got him, and he was very close to burn out. We have spent these last unusally warm Minnesota days going on lots of trail rides. We have enjoyed our trail rides very much, with the exception of Sunday. My Mom and I were finishing our ride by letting Werther and Stoli eat apples off the trees on out on the front of our property from the grass shoulder of the road. It is country dirt road, the speed limit is 40 mph. This kid speeded by going at least 60 mph and his tires kicked up a lot of rocks spooking our horses. Werther jumped to left, which is my weak side, and I landed in the road and got road rash on my shoulder and side. It is painful for me, but I don't blame him, it all happened very fast. I took the last two days off to recover, and my trainer Andre rode Werther.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Getting to Know You

Hello! My name is Ellie, and as the description says, I am a hunter rider with Cerebral Palsy. I have never been able to show much higher than 2'6 but I love it. After over a year of searching I just got a new horse. His name is Werther, he is a 15 year old Hanoverian gelding. He was born in Europe, and has lived in Canada. Werther was a Dressage horse in his youth, but he spent quite a few years as a high children's jumper/big eq horse in Colorado. I leased him for about 6 weeks before we took the plunge and bought him. The sale just went though, so I thought this would be a great way to document my experiences with my new horse. I also wanted to share the challenges I deal with as a competitive rider with CP. This is a new exercise for me, and I hope you enjoy reading about my experiences.