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.