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.