Donerail Farm
                                                              Dressage and Sport Horses

                                                       Flying Colorz
                                                    (Frohwind***** x Sonnys Mona Lisa+/ )
                                                                                                        Born 8/5/00

 I've bought lots of young horses and raised them, but Flying Colorz (Fling) was my first "from scratch" project. ;)  Her mom, Sonnys Mona Lisa+/ is my 'horse of a lifetime' horse that I've owned since 1990, and dad is Frohwind, a five-star Oldenburg stallion. Raising and starting her has been a wonderful journey and so far, it seems she's inherited the best from both her parents. She's a joy to ride and she's an eager and serious student. I was so happy with the result that I bred Lisa to Frohwind again in 2004, and as of June 26, 2005,  Fling has a full sibling, Faeryn! She doesn't have spots but we love her anyway. Click HERE to see Faeryn.
 
 
Photo courtesy of Angela Guy, www.horsephotoguy.com

Fling at the March 2007 Sienna Stables Schooling Show, her first outing at Second Level. She's starting to 'get' collection. Notice that ridge of muscles along the midline of her barrel - that's a sign she's really using her abs and lifting her back. The photographer, Angela Guy, has done a super job of catching her in the "up" phase of the canter stride. 





 



  

Photo courtesy and copyright, Jill Garret, www.equigraphix.com

Fling is just three years old here and still looks very "babyish." This was at her first show.


To read Fling's 2006 Training Diary, click HERE.


Fling at home, 2002.I always thought her face looks a lot like her sire, Frohwind, here. I finally got to meet Frohwind in person in 2006, and she really does have his "eye" and expression.




Fling competing at Sienna, February 2005. She was 4 1/2 years old here.  

Photo courtesy and copyright, Jill Garret, www.equigraphix.com


 


Fling at the Sienna Stables show, April, 2004. She was reserve champion of her division. Her second show ever. She is 3 1/2 years old here.
  Photo courtesy and copyright, Jill Garret, www.equigraphix.com

To see photos of  Fling at birth and as a youngster, scroll to the bottom of the page for links.

2007 Highlights:


October 3, 2009
Fling's work continues to improve, especially at the canter. Marta said now it's time to really school canter more than trot. Normally I've spent about 75% of my time on trot...now it's time to spend 75% of our sessions working on canter.  Her canter still is not quite up to speed from being off for her coffin bone injury - but she's made super progress the last few weeks. My last ride on her, I took her out in our ten-acre field and worked out there and did lots and lots of straight lines, transitions from canter/trot. Toward the end, her canter had _almost_ the same quality of self-carriage, throughness and connection as her trot. She is just super fun to ride. Here's a recent video clip during a lesson:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dJCVGKSYOdg



September 4, 2009

This is Fling's idea of water torture. She came in from the pasture limping with a big knee. This wonderful little contraption saves me from having to stand there and hold a hose. It probably cost about $5 in surgical tubing, couplings, etc. and sells for about $40 but worth every penny. It's one of those things you only need once or twice a year, but when you need it, you really need it. The tubing has piercings that allow water to flow down the leg. It's all very flexible so if your horse freaks out, it will come right off. Mine have all gotten used to it. Having horses is kind of like having 1,000 lb. perpetual preteen boys - they're always doing something stupid to get themselves hurt.

This is F

July 26, 2009

Fling is working well. It's great to be riding a truly collected horse! Faxx and Faeryn are both doing super but they're light years away from third level!   I ran through some shoulder-in, turn on haunches and some half pass at trot. The canter departs are good, and she's super round at the canter. One thing that has helped about riding the youngsters is it's made me realize just how much outside rein you have to have. And that's seems to have helped Fling's canter in just the few times I've ridden her. Her left canter has always been the weaker direction, and when I used a bit more outside rein, that seemed to really help hte roundness and 'throughness.' I haven't been brave enough to try a flying change yet - I'll get her canter a bit more solid first. I feel like I need to work on strength/flexibility a week or two before I start asking the really difficult questions.

May 7, 2009

Two steps forward, one step back. My trainer was out of the country for 3 1/2 months and I worked on my own during that time. The good news, is we made progress in that time, but we are not as far along as we would have been if I had been taking lessons. I've had two lessons now since she returned and today she pronounced her canter better than it was when she left. I have been riding her more in the snaffle. Although the collected work and flying changes are easier with the double bridle, it can become a crutch. What she really needed was to become more collected and more obedient to my half-halts and to _stay_ more in self-carriage after each half halt. I also was reminded again how it is the _letting go_ part of the half halt that is the most important. When you are trying to get a horse 'more collected' it's really easy to get in a habit of just _pulling_ and not giving the horse the _chance_ to carry itself. 

So, the canter is much better -- and she is much lighter to the bridle and much more 'up' in front -- and although we have not worked on them much - I know the flying changes will be better, too. Her trot work is really good now. The only thing I am having trouble with is my right half pass, and my right turn on the haunches. There's definitely a connection there - and in a large part it's a 'mental' thing with _me_  -- no surprise there. I just assume any problem we are having is _my_ fault. ;)  She still _loves_ to do medium and extended trot - who knew that a 15H horse could have such a big medium and extended trot! 

March 1, 2009

Hooray! I have finally found a bit that fits Fling and she likes.... the Herm Sprenger bit works!  The port is rather square, and it's tilted forward 45 degrees - putting less pressure on the tongue. I've ridden in it twice and it's a keeper. Now if I can just find a saddle for Faeryn that also fits ME!

February 24, 2009

I really don't want to jinx myself and say Fling's flying changes are 'confirmed.' Everytime I do that, it seems they then subsequently go AWOL. Plus, like many things in dressage, I suspect flying changes are something we are going to working on the whole rest of her career - getting them straighter, more expressive, etc. 

The "problem du jour' now is trying to find a weymouth bit to fit her. She has a tiny little muzzle, huge teeth and a huge tongue and really funky mouth architecture, according to my equine dentist. She needs a 4-3/4 wide bit, which almost no one carries (5" being the standard) and on top of that, she needs a mouthpiece to accommodate her big tongue and teeth, so the standard low port won't work. I have literally searched the world over for a suitable bit. I ordered one from England that looked promising, but when I actually got it, it was readily apparent that the mouthpiece was way too thick in diameter to fit her comfortably, and her performance when I tried it out confirmed my hunch. I finally broke down and shelled out $200 for a Herm Sprenger with a square port, angled at 45 degrees.... that was on backorder and should arrive any day. I am beginning to feel a bit like Goldilocks and the three bears....too large....too smalll... waiting for 'just right.'  And, again, don't want to jinx myself, but I think Fling is just about ready to go to a recognized show and try to get those last two scores for our Bronze Medal.

November 16, 2008

Fling continues to improve. I have finally learned that the hard part of dressage is not the 'tricks ' -- the flying change, half pass, etc. etc.  The difficulty - and the key to it all - is achieving the basic, correct work. Once that work is good, the other stuff should be fairly easy. I have found that if I am having trouble with one of the 'tricks' - the problem is not to try and work on the 'trick',' per se, but to go back and look at the basic quality of the work and make improvements there. It's like the foundation of your house. If your foundation is bad, and you get cracks in your walls, you can try and cover up those cracks all you want - but if you do not fix the foundation first, the cracks will keep giving you trouble! ;)   For now, the 'foundation' we are working on is Fling's canter. It's good - but it's not consistently collected enough to achieve good, clean flying changes.  On good days, we can achieve the 'pirouette' canter. Meaning that, it's a super collected canter - the exact canter you need to do a canter pirouette, which some people claim is the single hardest movement called for in the FEI tests. On good days, Fling is schooling large 1/4 to 1/2 pirouettes - and, again, it's not about the pirouette itself, but in developing the CANTER that is required to do the pirouette correctly. When she's got it, wow, what a feeling. It is like the canter suddenly becomes a totally different gait - one in which each stride is a separate movement unto itself, and they just seem to sort of 'hover' in slow motion between strides. This is what my former trainer, Brooke and I used to call "dressage crack.' -- those small triumphs that are so exhilarating, that even tho they are tons of work - they make you want more of the same, and make all your hard work seem oh-so-worth it.

October 26, 2008

Fling made her Third level debut today. I took her to a local schooling show and we did Third One and Third Three. Third Three is the highest test of the level since there are only three tests in Third level, and it's also the one we'll have to do to qualify for regional championships - when we get to that point! We'd had a SUPER ride Friday  -  everything was just spot on and so easy. Her collection was super and the canter half pass and trot half passes were incredible. Flying changes have gotten hard again - that happens. Every time I think she's finally nailed it, we have a set back. But, that's horse training.  Actually, with the flying changes, it's much more a mental problem on my part than any training problem on Fling's part! ;)  During Friday's lesson I also felt a true trot extension for the first time - it's almost like that moment when you're on an airplane during takeoff, when it's revved up and going SO fast, and then finally, you feel that moment of 'liftoff.'  The extended trot feels like that - I could feel her front end achieve' liftoff.' Fasten your seat belts! ;)  

It has been more than a year since I've shown, and you definitely get out of the 'groove.'  I was quite frazzled by the time I got her to the show and got on and had to be ready to ride. First, it was chilly and she'd been standing in a stall all night. Didn't think about that - normally when I ride her, it's in the evening and she's been out all day walking around. So, I did not calculate starting with a horse with a really tight back, and I didn't leave enough time in our pre-test warm-up to adequately address that. Secondly, I never ride with gloves at home. I just hate them. I learned today that I cannot hold the double reins securely with the gloves that I have. So I had to stop during our warm up and take them off and ditch them by the arena.  And last, I've learned that at this level, you've got to know the test backwards and forwards because you have to be preparing for the next movement by the end of the movement you're riding....for example, you go from medium canter to collected canter, then around the corner and down the center line to do a half pass. You only have that short little corner to prepare - so you've got to KNOW to prepare as you are finishing the medium canter. I would say that none of her half pass was nearly the quality she shows at home, because of me not mentally being quick enough to start preparing her for it. Oh, to end the suspense, she got a 63.8 on Third 1 and a 65.something on Third 3. I actually like Third 3 best - it just seems to ride really well.  I think the scores were generous - she had many small mistakes - actually the mistakes were more mine than hers!. She had some good work, too -- she got 2 of her flying changes clean and got good scores on those, and her medium and extended work was very good. But the half pass especially did not approach what she can do at home - lacked bend. Same problem in shoulder in which she usually does very well. And the walk probably suffered the most for her tight back, along with the turn on the haunches.  but she was very obedient and a good girl as always. The mistakes were very fixable - I am going to make myself ride throught the tests all the way at home on a regular basis. For some reason I really hate doing that - I ride through parts of them all the time. But I can see that I must do it at this level so I can learn how to 'think ahead' better to maximize my scores. But a great day - she got lots of treats. I am so totally in love with this horse. I have had and loved many horses, but she is truly special. She has such a generous nature when it comes to working - she loves to please and she enjoys her work. And that makes her such a joy to ride. Oh yes, and we won both our classes. I was the only one. ;)

October 16, 2008

I can’t believe I haven’t updated this since July. Well, “life happens” and a lot of that was called IKE. Fling continues to be just fun, fun, fun to ride. The flying changes are still a work in progress, but in some situations they are approaching 100% reliable. Doing a figure eight, either direction, she nails the changes. Doing them across the short diagonal, she gets them just about 100% from right to left, and probably 80% left to right. The biggest bugaboo right now is the movement from Third level test three, where you do canter half pass from centerline to wall, then do about 15 meters of counter canter, then do a flying change. We just started working on this around the beginning of October.

Of course, the very first time I tried this move, she did it PERFECTLY, both directions, and I was feeling QUITE smug! Then the next time I rode her and tried it,  Fling started thinking ‘flying change’ at around the third half pass stride, and then started bouncing up and down, going “Change? – change now?  Now change?? Huh, huh, now? Huh?”  “No, no, no, no,”  I kept answering, but it didn’t get much better. I couldn’t even WORK on the canter half pass without getting the boingy boingy boingy canter. So, to “fix Ms. Fling’s wagon” I took her out in the field, where there are NO fences to mark a ‘rail’ of any sort and did canter half pass a few strides…then straight, then a few strides of HP, etc. etc. 

 I think the ‘last frontier” as far as flying changes will be, is doing it along the wall, or in a straight line. We have a long way to go toward the flying change being boring (as opposed to Very Exciting!) when doing it there. Of course, all of this is continually a Work In Progress.

 The really good thing is her basic gaits are SO much more improved, her self-carriage is really good, as is her collection. I am very  happy with the trot work – her mediums and even extended,  and the trot half passes – she can already do the ‘counter change’ where I ask her to half pass from wall to x, change direction, and half pass back to the other wall. That’s easy for her – and it shows up in fourth level. I can even ‘see’ canter pirouettes from “here” on days when her canter is very good.  What I am having a tougher time envisioning is perfectly straight flying changes on center line, or even multiple flying changes like the ones that appear in fourth level. Mostly, those issues are with ME as a rider, not her. She is, as always, an eager and willing student. I am the one who is really muddling along at this! ;)

 Oh, I’ve also started riding her in the double bridle. She has SUCH a tiny mouth; it is really tough for me, mentally, to stuff All That Metal into it. She accepts it well, but she is not a lot different to ride in the double than the snaffle. Other horses I’ve had, the double made a HUGE difference in the collection. I think that says a lot about how well Fling is going in the snaffle, and especially since I switched her to a Happy Mouth mullen mouth. I plan to show her in the snaffle as long as I can, and will only go to the double when we absolutely have to. I will continue to school in it, just so she stays accustomed to it. Personally, I would like to see the rules changed so that you can ride in a snaffle all the way to Grand Prix. Frankly, I can’t see anything controversial about that option!

July 21, 2008

The phrase "make haste slowly" is perhaps more appropos in the training of a dressage horse than anything else. And at no time is it more apparent to me than when I think I have 'lost time' due to an injury or a problem. Fling was 'off' for almost two months and I bemoaned the fact of how much time we had wasted and how long it was going to take me to get her back up to speed. Granted, she was not standing in a stall during that time, but at the most I hacked her for 15-20 minutes to 'test' whether the latest 'fix' had, indeed, 'fixed' her. The rest of the time she was roaming around in the pasture as she always does. So, she lost some condition - but what she lost in condition she more than made up in the 'mental breakthrough' that came during that enforced 'time off' from flying changes. To explain: before her 'down time' our biggest problem in mastering the flying change was Fling's total exuberance over doing them - I could not work on them but for short periods of time, she got so excited about the prospect of doing them. She anticipated them each time, doing her 'boing boing boing' best impression of Pepe LePew at the canter, while asking 'now?? flying change now?  now? now?".....and occasionally throwing in a gleeful buck. She understood the concept of the flying change - perhaps too well! What she lacked was calmness of mind to wait for me to ask for them, and the patience to work on them without getting overexcited. So, she goes back to work, pronounced 'cured' of her odd little problem and guess what happend between her ears during those eight weeks off? (I am convinced she 'thinks' about her job when I am not riding her - she is scary smart and very, very keen on her job.)  Now flying changes are not exciting at all to her. She will wait and change when, and only when, I ask her to!  The 'boing boing boing' canter is gone - and she is getting the changes clean almost all the time, both directions. Now, they are far from 'finished.'  She needs a lot of work on straightness, especially from left to right. But, the key is, NOW I can actually WORK on flying changes for medium chunks of time, whereas before, we had one or two chances to try changes before she was so overexcited about it, it became counterproductive.

So, instead of having to 'make up for lost time' I now, happily, and ironically, find out we've made progress - when we weren't even working on it.

June 26, 2008

Fling is BACK!  Her odd behavior under saddle continued for about ten days post-dental work. I rode her in a clinic last weekend, and she did it a few times but otherwise was super. Everyone watching said they could see no problems and thought it was just 'learned behavior."  She was just super on Sunday - got really good turn on the forehand, and an incredible collected canter. Richard Howard, the clinician, said it was the best he'd ever seen her.  And tonight I rode her, and for the first time, she did not curl up even once. It is so good to have my wonderful little horse back. I have noticed since her major mouth 'reorganization' that she takes much steadier contact with the bit and is much, much quieter with her mouth. Poor girl. I feel badly that it took so long for her to let me know she was having a problem. She'll go see Dr. Davis for her dental work from now on.

June 19

So, Fling had her last chiro adjustment June 7. We showed the vet/chiro video of Fling doing her weird thing before she started and she suggested it might be her teeth. She found very little to adjust in her poll, and she used this new gizmo she'd gotten that supposedly measures pain via activity in the vega nerve. Fling registered a +2, which means low level pain, which could be consistent with teeth. I was lucky in getting an appointment the following Wednesday with our local equine dental expert, a vet in Pearland. In short, Fling's mouth was a mess. (Despite being floated annually for the last six years or so by my regular vet.) She still had a wolf tooth, she was chewing on only one side of her mouth, and her bite was completely 'off.' Plus, he said Fling had "warmblood teeth in an Arab mouth." Because of that, the molars along the jawbone could not align straight like they are supposed to. Plus, she had developed a 'wave' in her bite. Fling really liked him, and she was a model patient. Also, despite the major work he had to do on her, there was no blood - except for a small amount when he pulled the wolf tooth which was totally to be expected. When I have taken my horses to my regular vet, sometimes there's been a lot of blood. Can you see where this is heading? Mine will be going to an equine dentist from now on. And I feel crummy that my poor, uncomplaining horse has suffered for so long. But since she didn't complain, I figured everything was ok. Never again. Now Faxx and Faeryn will be going to see the equine dentist in the next few weeks, even tho they were seen by my regular vet just a few months ago. However, having said all that, I still do not know if we have solved Fling's mysterious behavior. The equine dentist did say it may take awhile for the behavior to disappear, even if we have solved the problem. She was able to eat hay and grain just fine afterwards, but it has taken her an entire week to be able to eat her alfalfa, which is stemmier than the hay.  I can tell that her new bite feels funny to her - she is moving her jaw around a lot, both loose and under saddle. I have ridden her four times now - and although she is still 'curling up' occasionally,  last night she did not curl up until 20 minutes into the ride, and she only did it once. That is definitely the longest it's taken her to do it, and the least amount of time she's done it. I am cautiously optimistic. However, even if the behavior does not disappear, I am going to keep riding her. Everyone I have talked to has agreed with this plan since she looks so happy and relaxed under saddle otherwise. It will either go away - or it will get worse, and hopefully become easier to diagnose.  The vet chiro is pretty convinced there's nothing else chiropractically wrong with her. So, if it persists, I think my next step would be to have her scoped. But hopefully this is the last chapter in this saga!

Last night I rode for 30 minutes, which is the longest I've ridden in nearly two months. I feel like I have to learn to ride all over again. And it will probably take me two months to get Fling back to where she was before all this started. Oh, but it was wonderful to be riding my little sportscar again.  ANd of course, Richard Howard is coming this weekend - a clinic I always look forward to, but it always seems when he comes we are having some issue! We will definitely be working on very basic stuff and no flying changes for awhile that's for sure.

June 5, 2008

Day 36 of the medical mystery. Fling's strange 'ouchy' symptoms when being ridden persist despite two trips to the vet chiropractor, two adjustments and one acupuncture treatment. Her symptoms are odd. At first, she would stop, drop her neck and curl her chin to her chest. If I tried to push her forward, she would stop and paw furiously. However, she did not do this at the trot or the canter - only the walk. She's been off the entire last month except for occasional 'test rides' of 5-10 minutes to see if she's still doing it. She has quit stopping and pawing and is now only lowerin her neck and curling her chin to her chest. I rode her Sunday after the last treatment and like clockwork, 5 minutes into our walk warmup she started curling up. The next day I had Mike film me while I rode her so we could show the vet exactly what she is doing under saddle the next time we bring her (this Saturday). On Mike's suggestion, I just closed my legs and pushed her forward when she tried to curl up, and she would come back up to contact and march along. I trotted her and got none of the 'curling' behavior, and also cantered, again, with no odd behavior. I rode her for 20 minutes (more than half at the walk) and when I came back inside and watched the DVD, all I saw was a  happy horse with floppy ears. Even when she was trying to curl up, she did not look tense or uncomfortable, her tail was not swishing, and in virtually all the trot work her ears were floppy and relaxed. So, I have ridden her every evening since then, on the theory that she will either get better or she will get worse. If she gets better - great! Maybe she was in pain and she started anticipating the pain - who knows. If she gets worse, hopefully her problem will become easier to diagnose. At this point I've ridden her in every saddle I own (even tho the chiro confirmed my theory that her saddle fit her fine), I've ridden her without a bit thinking maybe it was teeth (apparently not) and also changed saddle pads. None of it made a difference. Last night I had the least 'curling' attempts thus far. This evening, she did it more often, but again, did not seem particularly distressed. I thought maybe it was an evasion, but to what? She happily goes into the bit at trot and canter, and doesn't do it at either of those gaits, which are definitely more work than walking. I'm stumped, the vet/chiro is stumped. I have one more day to ride her before I take her back Saturday. I hope we finally find some answers. I am thinking our next step will be going to A&M for full work up and possibly a bone scan.  But at this point, none of us know whether we're dealing with a muscular problem or a skeletal problem.

May 29, 2008

My husband, Mike, has been racking up 'good husband' points by taking Fling to the chiropractor so I don't have to take off work to do it. Mike took her for her second trip yesterday and Dr. R found very sore spots in her back and ribs. I think she had a rib or two 'out' which makes sense. This all started when we were working on trying to get her to really bend during haunches in. She is quite short coupled and and tends to be a little 'tight' behind her back. We're trying to get her more supple. Fling, in her usual Type A overachiever fashion bent so much she hurt herself. That, or she did it during one of her exuberant leaps in the air while we were trying to school flying changes. She still gets very excited about those - especially to the left, which we've just started. Mike said when the vet actually adjusted her, Fling moaned and groaned. Poor baby! Dr. R also sent her home with some herbal medicine to help with residual pain. Sunday I will give her a short test drive to see if she is better. Dr. R feels like we've finally gotten to the root of her problem. She may need another adjustment, but hopefully not.

May 25, 2008

If I've learned anything about having horses in 30 or so years, it's that you can plan all you want, but there are plenty of things that can come along and upset your apple cart - things you can't control. Progress always seems to be a matter of two steps forward, one step back - and sometimes two steps forward and THREE steps back.  Fling is 'out' somewhere in her neck and withers and has been off for four weeks now. It's subtle - she's not rearing straight up in the air when asked to go forward like a horse I once had who injured his withers. She's been to the chiropractor once and got adjusted and got acupuncture, I waited the prescribed three days before riding her and unfortunately, the symptoms were still there. I can't get her back in to sese the chiro until _next_ Wednesday and so then it will be the following Saturday before I can take her for a 'test drive' to see if she is 'fixed.'  We are both going crazy - me with nothing to ride but Faeryn, who can only be ridden once or twice a week, for 15 minutes or so - and Fling, who is very much a "Type A" personality and thrives on work.  I figure once I get her straighted out (maybe quite literally, in this case!) it will take me another 5 weeks just to get back to where we were before she was injured. Where is that 'beating your head against a wall' emoticon when I need it??? 

April  6, 2008

I am having SUCH fun riding Fling. Having dinked around in the lower levels for so many years, on so many horses, I never knew just how much fun it is to ride a horse that is connected, light on the forehand and truly collected and so solidly on my aids. I am really spoiled and it is going to seem like 'work' to ride Faeryn and Faxx after riding Fling.  Fling has so much power coming from her engine now, and all I have to do is to 'think' forward and she shifts gears. She is in really good self-carriage these days and it's not like work at all to ride her. That is another thing I never understood - I always thought second level and up was really hard work. It is, but if the horse has been correctly brought along and the basics are solid, it is challenging - but it is way more fun than work. I am not having to 'make' her do anything. I think she is having as much fun as I am! Her trot half passes have gotten worlds better in the past few weeks. Luckily, we've had a good long stretch of good weather and I've finally - for the first time this year - been able to put in a good solid month of riding her regularly and it's showing in the quality of her work. She's getting the half pass - listening to my half halts and not just falling on her shoulder and trying to run sideways - the half pass has become a series of single lateral strides (with a half halt each stride!) that are seamlessly 'knit' together and she's waiting for me, and maintaining the bend. I've started working on canter half pass, but Fling is so smart, she just KNOWS there's going to be a flying change at the wall, so I have to do a stride or two of canter half pass, and then go straight, then do a stride or two of half pass and then trot or halt so I can get 'flying change' off her brain! LOL!  She is getting the flying change clean almost 100% using the method Pam taught me - and she can do it both directions. It is really all in how clear my aids are - learning the flying change is definitely NOT a "Fling problem" but a "Cyndi" problem. ;) I am sure Fling is wondering how long it is going to take me to learn them. ;)  I think she is about ready for a schooling show - even if the changes are not ready for 'prime time' I want to go and ride through the test and see how the other stuff goes.

March 30, 2008
Had super good rides this weekend with two different clinicians. Pam Fowler Grace came to a farm near me. I have known Pam for probably 15 years but have not had a lot of chances to ride with her.  She really helped me with my half passes - which have improved a lot in the last month. She watched me do them both ways and gave me tips on how to make them better each direction. We have different 'challenges' in the different directions. And she also gave me some good exercises to help. And, for the first time, I got a flying change somewhere other than home! Pam has a teaching style that is good for me - she explains the exercises beforehand, even drawing them in the sand if need be..we talk through the exercise until I understand it, and then I go ride it. I explained how the flying changes can be great sometimes, not so great others, told her the different ways I was trying to get them. She had me do it a different way - by coming straight across the center of the arena on the short side, leg yield one step away from the direction you're going to change TO, then turn your shoulders and your hip to the new direction,  and ask for the change with the outside leg. Voila! Super change the first time out of the box. It was totally clean, really 'up' and straight. We quit on that!  All in all a good weekend and I had SO much fun riding my little 'sportscar' of a horse.

March 22, 2008

Well, so much for some good, long,  uninterrupted training time. Fling was slightly off last Friday when I got on her, so she spent several days in a stall with her leg wrapped. By midweek she was good to go and although I did not think her canter was really 'collected' enough to do flying changes.  I could get Fling to change in the back consistently, but she would not change in front, but would change as soon as I asked her when I realized she hadn't changed cleanly...I think  I was 'holding' her too much in front. Heck yea, I was...Fling gets so excited about flying changes, she often throws in a nice buck and boy, can she ever buck. ;)  So I donned my helmet (always a good idea anyway) and I made a conscious effort to give the rein when I asked for the new bend and change. Voila!  Clean changes. Smooth, quiet, clean changes after Fling's initial "Oh boy, we're doing flying changes!!!! Yippee!!" wore off. ;)  So I got three clean ones one evening, in a row, and got three clean ones in a row the next day...so I think we are on our way. Not only were they clean, she WAITED for me to tell her to do them, and actually did each change exactly where I wanted it. So, I started working the other direction...and after a few false starts, eventually got one clean change the 'hard' direction. Now, the next step is to ask for changes all over the place...which I sort of already have been doing. I am doing counter canter along the wall - actuallyl picking up the canter IN counter canter, maintaining it halfway down the wall, and then asking for a change. I don't get clean changes there as reliably as I do going across the diagonal, but she is getting the idea. I have an inkling that once she is completely clear on the concept, Fling is going to be a little change machine! ;)  Already, she has the idea that when I just change the bend in her neck and change my shoulders and seat, she is to change leads. I don't have to use much leg at all anymore. Half pass is coming along better, as is turn on the haunches. We are not going to be ready for the spring shows....but hopefully by Fran's recognized show in July, we'll have gone to a few schooling shows and will be ready to go try for one of the two 60% scores we need to finish up our Bronze medal.

March 9, 2008

Well, the first two months of the year were definitely not conducive to riding. Fling had a minor lameness in January - she was lame last January too. I think it is her way of getting herself a little vacation after the show season is over. ;)  Then it rained nonstop the first two weeks of February, then _I_ got Labrythintitis which is a virus of the inner ear, and I was staggering around like a drunk for two weeks. Finally we had a good solid week of riding last week and by the end of the week I'd 'found' our canter/walk transition and even got a few clean flying changes. Now I can get clean flying changes in several ways - on the figure 8 circle, from counter canter along the wall and across the short diagonal. I have not been able to work on it much this year, tho, so she still gets VERY excited when we do work on them. She wants to change the minute she figures out that is what we were going to do and I have to tell her "no, no, no, no, no ... OK, NOW" and then she does a huge, usually clean change. The good thing is, she changes in back first 99% of the time if she does not change clean. We're working on half pass. We had it before Christmas, but lost it during our 'enforced' break. I am still aiming for Third level by July. HOPEFULLY it will quit raining soon (it is raining as I write this!) and I can have some good, long, uninterupted training time.

December 30, 2007

We're still working on flying changes. I think I will probably be saying that for the next  year. ;)  But, Fling has had another milestone - she's getting used to the double bridle. The first time I put it on her and just hacked around, she was not happy with the curb bit. She did not fuss with it, but I could not even _touch_ the curb rein without an unhappy reaction from her. That was about three weeks ago. I tried again yesterday but left the curb chain very loose. She was super. She acted like she'd been wearing it her whole life. I was able to use the curb rein in tandom with the snaffle rein and actually put some pressure on it with no negative reaction from her at all. I have no intention of using the double on her very often,  or even showing in it at this point. It is legal for third level, but she does not  need it. I think these days, doing third level in a snaffle is the exception, rather than the norm. I know many judges hate to see people using the double bridle at third level. So maybe we'll get some 'atta girl' points from some judges for using the snaffle.  Unlike Lisa, or even Nanja, who both really needed the double to achieve the kind of collection that's required for third - Fling's self-carriage is very good and there's not much difference between riding her with the double and the snaffle. I could not have ridden Lisa or Nanja at third in just the snaffle.  I am not sure when I will show her third level. I'm not going to wait until the changes are clean - whenever I feel all the other work is really solid, I'll start showing her. Her half pass is quite good already; the other new movements are the extended gaits. This year, my only goal is to get my Bronze medal. I need two scores of 60% at Third level from two judges to finish the requirements. 

November 1, 2007

The flying changes  are coming along well. Fling is getting them clean almost 100% doing it from the right lead to the left lead, which is generally the easiest direction. Brooke says to confirm them one direction before starting on the other direction. It's like they can't process that it is the same movement just in 'reverse' when you start doing it the other direction and almost have to learn it all over again.  Fling is such an overachiever she gets SO excited when she knows we're going to work on flying changes!  We've been doing them across the short diagonal, and as soon as I canter around the short side her canter gets very "up" and bouncy, she gets so eager to do it! We also worked on half pass on our own for a few weeks. I thought it was going fairly well one direction, but the other direction didn't feel quite right but I couldn't figure out why. During our last lesson Brooke told me to look straight ahead when I do the half pass, not in the direction that I'm going. That helped because it kept _me_ straighter and kept me from twisting my hips. That small correction made a big difference in our 'bad' direction - to the right. Brooke pronounced our half pass "competition ready!!: Woo hoo!

October 15, 2007
Flying changes! The first lesson I had with Fling after the Windy Knoll show, we started on flying changes. I really want to show her third level next year and finish the Bronze Medal so I can collect it at the USDF Convention, which will be held in Austin next year. I could not get her to change for anything just doing the standard figure eight. It does not help that _I_ have never learned how to ride flying changes, much less train them. Fling is so balanced, you can't 'throw her off balance' to get her to change. She could do a 10 meter circle in counter canter! So Brooke had me canter her over a pole and that got her airborne long enough to get a few. But once the 'novelty' of the pole wore off, I could not get her to change. So, our next lesson, I had Brooke ride her and after a few false starts, she got three perfectly clean ones! I could get a few where she would change in back, then change in front. I tinkered around on my own for a few weeks and finally last weekend got consistent changes, although they were not clean.  That's ok- it's a work in progress! The hardest thing is to just get them to understand the _concept_ of doing a flying changes. They can ALL do flying changes - they do them in the pasture naturally. It's getting them to do them on command, and straight, and with enough "jump" that is the trick. (Or so I am told!)  Anyway, tonight I had another lesson and I got several changes and the last one was _almost_ clean. I am thrilled. I never expected to make this much progress so quickly. I know there will be setbacks, but I feel much more confident about being able to show third level next year. Fling is very clever and very eager to please, so I know she will do her part!

September 30, 2007
Fling definitely redeemed herself from her 55% last weekend. We still can't seem to find the lovely medium trots we were clocking out in July, but she got a 63% at Second Level Test 1 at Windy Knoll I on Saturday and won her class and had the highest second level score of the entire day, making her Second Level champion!  In our Second 4 class, we forgot how to do turn on the forehand and blew a simple change and got a 60% which still earned us second place. Sunday, we rode Second 1 and she was a bit behind my leg and not as forward and energetic as usual and got a 62. I can tell when she's a bit tired (plus the footing was VERY deep in the arena) and I had to 'help' her a lot. We got a 62.something and we won our class! Ok, there were only two other people in the class, but we did win. ;) . All in all a very successful weekend. My trainer, Brooke Cramton won a LARGE FEI test of choice class Saturday with a stunning 66% at I2!! Her horse, Ducati CH, is just 8 and Brooke has only been riding him four years! I think her median score at I2 is almost a 65% which will most definitely earn her a well-deserved USDF Horse of the Year placing!!

As for Fling, we are done with second level. I'm not taking her to the championships. It's a lot of money and I'd rather start working toward third level. We'll work on polishing our half pass and turn on the haunches and start training flying changes, with the goal of showing third level next spring or summer, and earning my Bronze Medal by this time next year. The 2008 USDF Convention is in Austin, TX and I always said, after trying for 20 years to earn my bronze medal, if I ever actually DID it, I'd pick the dang thing up in person. Austin would be mighty convenient!  So, that's the goal. 

On a side note, I took Mike's huge living quarters horse trailer to the show. It was the first time I'd ever pulled anything that big and I was more nervous about THAT than the show itself! I had to get someone to back it into the RV hookups between two trailers that were already there, but otherwise, smooth sailing! I think am almost as proud of THAT accomplishment as the show results! LOL!

September 23, 2007
A little departure from my usual "training diary" here.  I'm really not sure _who_ reads this, but someone does, based on the number of hits this gets. ;) I've been thinking way too much lately, and had even more time to think on the way back from a show in College Station today. One of the topics of today's post is: show nerves. Now, if you've looked at this site at all, you have to know I show a lot. And have for years.  You might even think that I am an old hand at it and so I never get nervous. And you'd be quite wrong. That is why I say I have a "love/hate" relationship with showing. I think it's really necessary for me to show to get an accurate assessment of how my training is really going. And it also helps motivate me to ride when sometimes I might not - if I know I have a goal to work toward - the goal being a show. The fear of public humiliation is a very good motivator. ;) At a show, one of the toughest things for me is trying to decide how much time to allow myself to get ready. It always seems I have too much time and have to 'hurry up and wait' which really makes me nervous, or, once I get on my horse, realize I either allowed too much time to warm her up, and we both get bored and tired, or I did not allow enough time and she's still just not really supple and listening when the time comes for me to enter the show ring. See, you never quite know how your horse IS that day until you actually get ON.  Now, once I am ON my horse, I am better, and not so nervous. I also tend to hold my breathe when I am actually riding my test, which isn't really the best plan. ;) The other place I get really nervous --  like-I'm-gonna-hurl nervous -- is waiting for the results to be posted. Walking up to the score sheets to see how I did, the way I feel, you'd think I was going to my own hanging.  I don't think any of that will ever change. And going to a show always seems like a good idea when I am filling out the entry forms that have to be sent in a month before the actual show. But I don't think I've _ever_ woken up the morning of a show saying "Yipee! We're showing today!!!!" ;)  But I keep doing it. Because forcing myself to 'perform under pressure' makes me a better rider, in the long run.

So, dressage is HARD. It's a sport that requires more than one lifetime to really learn to do well. If you don't know anything about dressage, let me try and put it in perspective. You ride a 'pattern' but you aren't really judged on the pattern itself - the 'pattern' (or movements) are designed more to show if your horse is correctly TRAINED. I have been told by people who do them both that dressage is what people who think golf is too simple would do. ;) Dressage is _really_mental, as well as physical.  So, at a show, (and always, really) you need to actively ride every single stride that your horse takes. (I've really had to ramp up my own personal fitness level to be able to ride my horse well at second level.) There are a million little details going on at once with your mind and body - a horse can feel a fly land on him, so even shifting your weight means something to the horse. So, you have two legs, two arms, your seat, and even just your weight - those can all be aids to a horse and where they are, and how much pressure or tension you are applying regulates that the horse does. Even if you lean forward a bit, that has an effect on the horse. So, you're riding every stride and thinking about all those aids - and applying them all as needed -  but at the same time, you have to think about the big picture, which is, where you are going, and what movement is coming up next. Showing is hard because you have to produce the movement at a specific point in the arena whether you're really quite ready or not and there are no 'do-overs.'  During each movement, you also need to be thinking about the movement that's coming up so you can prepare your horse in time.  I am showing second level now, and there are probably 20-something movements in most of the tests.   A second level test takes about 7 minutes to ride.  For every minute I am showing, I've probably spent dozens of  hours riding and training at home.

Not only is dressage hard, but I am not a naturally good rider. For one thing, I have lousy "conformation" for it - short arms and short legs. Secondly, I have a really hard time feeling what the horse is doing underneath me - ie, is her body straight? Is her shoulder popping out? Are her haunches to the inside? Those are the kinds of things I do not feel naturally. I have gotten better with lots of practice, and good coaching,  but I have very little natural talent.  However, all that said - when I do "get" it and we have an 'ah hah" moment - it's exhilarating. Brooke calls it "dressage crack" - it's what keeps me, and others like me, plugging along. Because, when you and your horse finally get it - it is like dancing. Or, it's like the horse's legs are your legs and you are one entity and all you have to do is _think_ what you want the horse to do, and it does it. The good thing about dressage is, even if you do not have a horse that's really competitive in the recognized show division, you can ENJOY the journey. And that's what I was thinking about today at the show. We got a 63 in our first test - a good score, especially at second level. Our second test, which we rode almost back to back with our first one, she just lost steam and got flat and we got a 55. The lowest score she's gotten at any recognized show in her entire career. But you know what? Who cares? I love my horse. She tries her heart out. I love riding her. Every single day. She is a joy and she makes me smile. I love it when she hears me come home and whinnies at me. I love it when I'm leading her in from the pasture and I feel her warm breath tickling the back of my neck as she "snuffles" me with her nose.... I love how she begs for sugar cubes. I love how much enjoyment she gets out of a little round peppermint - she crinkles up her lips and her eyes almost roll back in her head as she makes this loud slurping sound and then one big CRUNCH. ;) I love how she sticks her soft little nose through the bars of her stall for me to kiss. I love that she loves her job and is so eager and enthusiastic every time I ride her. Seven minutes in a dressage arena and a 55% doesn't change that. 

August 25, 2007

It's the dog days of summer and it's hard to stay motivated to ride the horses! I just keep telling myself another 45 days and the temps will cool down just enough to make a big difference. ;) Fling is working well. We will go to a schooling show in early September and ride through Second Level Test 1 and 4 before going to recognized shows in College Station and Magnolia later in the month. The renvers, while still hard, is getting better. Her self-carriage is better, as is the canter/walk transition. The half-pass is getting less mechanical and more like dancing. It's all good! 

August 5, 2007

Well, one thing about dressage - there's not much time to bask in your glory. ;)  Even when you've had a GOOD show, when you watch those videos of your rides, you see a million things that need improvement. I had not seen video of Fling (or myself on her) under saddle since last fall and overall, I was very pleased. She has more suspension than she did last year. Her canter has improved a lot. But she still lacks suppleness and _I_ need to learn to quit hanging on the inside rein and use my inside leg more. And, of course, there's the dreaded renvers. But, this week, I think we've had a 'breakthrough' in the renvers, so hopefully, soon, it will be "no big deal."  Looking toward third level, the main things she'll need to learn to do a good test: flying changes - haven't even started those yet. Soon, though.  More suppleness, more self carriage, more collection. I think we'll be working on those three for the rest of our days. And, half pass. She's doing passable ones (hahahah get it, passable half pass?) but they need to 'dance' more - right now, she's getting from letter to letter, and it's a correct half pass, but there's no "flow" to it. I am sure that will come. Oh, and even though I got decent scores on my turn on the haunches (6s and 7s) she could get 8s if we can just get them smaller, and get her moving more actively without occasionally 'sticking' one leg during the turn.  Poor Fling. Renvers is the first thing in her four years under saddle that has been tough for her. She does not know what to think!  It will become easier. It already _is_ becoming easier. A big part of it is just getting her to understand what it is we want of her, and then getting her physically more able to do it, by getting her more flexible through her ribcage..

July 26, 2007

FINALLY - after many delays, Fling made her Second level recognized show debut this weekend at Windy Knoll in Magnolia. The show venue was a muddy mess since it had poured several days before the show. Fortunately we showed in the covered arena.

We did Second 4 first and had some mistakes - got the wrong lead in one of our simple changes and our Shoulder In to Renvers was a real struggle. But her mediums were good and she was really on my aids and the simple changes through the serpentine were quite good and I thought her turn on the haunches was passable - so lots of room for improvement, but some good work, too.

We got a 63.3 and were second, despite the fact we got THREE 4s - two for the despised Renvers, which is a double co-efficient, even, and one for blowing the canter lead on the simple change. So we did a lot of other stuff right!! Our next ride was 2/1 which is a much easier test for us since it does not have the dreaded Shoulder In to Renvers - just shoulder in which she does pretty well. I had a good clean ride and we got a 66.5%! Another second, but that didn't bother me a bit! I was so chuffed! We got one of the qualifying scores we needed for the USDF GAIC championships AND I got BOTH the second level scores I need toward my bronze medal! On our first try! Woo woo! 

Sunday we were both "over it" due to the mud, mud everywhere and then it started raining during our warmup. She broke to canter during the first medium trot, and then slipped badly on some wet footing around the perimeter during our canter tour which made me give a little SHRIEK right by the judge! Not our best work. We both really only have one good day of showing in us. By the time we finished our test, it started raining in earnest and there was lightening spotted so the show was held until it passed. I decided that was a good time to call it a day so I scratched our afternoon ride, we threw everything in the trailer in the pouring rain and headed for home. I still don't know what i scored - results haven't been posted and I left before the class was over, scored and posted.  But who cares. Fling is definitely ready for Second level, momentary lapses aside. ;)

It's been a great few weeks of horse showing for me! Most of the credit has to go to my trainer, Brooke Cramton. I have been training with her for four years now -she started Fling under saddle and although she has not ridden her for several years now, her super coaching has made me a MUCH better rider than I was before. And the rest of the credit has to go to my super little horse - 15 hands of boundless energy, enthusiasm and heart!  And Brooke did fabulously at the show herself. She showed Ducati CH, her own horse she trained from "ZERO to I-2" over the past three years. He made his I-2 debut and scored a 61.7 the first day, even with a huge spook and stop and some trouble in the one tempies, and then came back the next day to score an incredible 66% in an almost flawless test. The judge told her he had some of the best piaffe/passage she'd seen in the entire country! And, she won her class and was FEI champion. Wow!

Now, for Fling and I - on to flying changes and confirming those half passes - oh, yea, and getting that darn S/I to Renvers thing licked once and for all!

Postmark: I found out the score on my last test today - 60.4. Better than I thought - and darn, just .6 shy of a qualifying score. Oh well. I was quite happy with that, all things considered - especially for our first attempt!


July 2, 2007

Fling was supposed to go to the HDS show in June but I was sick with a rotten cold/upper respiratory infection. Ten years ago I probably would have dragged my butt there, but not anymore. ;) There will be other shows and it's a lot of _work_ even when you feel good. So Fling is just training, training, training for now. It is good to keep a diary because that's where you realize - "oh, we really have progressed."  A few months ago, the canter/walk was really tough and I couldn't seem to get rid of that one trot step. That's easy now (except down centerline - that is still a challenge!) and the shoulder-ins are getting better too.  Fling is going to be 7 in August  - how is that POSSIBLE - it seems like last week she popped out of Lisa and I was holding her in my lap! As an early 'birthday present" she got a new saddle. Well, new to her anyway.  It's a barely used Albion and it fits us both very well. I figured it was about time she got a 'real' saddle other than the Wintec Pro she's been wearing since she was started under saddle.  So I am already looking at the Third Level tests and they actually look fun! The biggest hurdle - for me and most all other amateurs - will be the flying changes. I don't dare start schooling the changes until we show Second a few times and get the two 60% I need for my USDF Bronze medal.  That is my goal.  Well, it's been my goal for about 20 years now, but now I have the horse and the trainer to do it, if I just have a little luck!  I think I've started, trained and competed seven horses at training level, about 4 at first level and Fling is my third  to train to Second, but the first one that's really correct.  So I am trying to incorporate some third level stuff into our daily schooling now. I don't think half pass will be a problem for her. We're doing "baby" ones now.  Fling continues to love the work and thrive on the challenge. She is very clever  - easily the smartest horse I've ever owned - and really needs something to 'think about' to keep her out of trouble! LOL!

May 6, 2007

Fling is getting positively 'buff' from the last two months of good, solid work. Her walk/canter and canter/walk is improving, as is her lateral work.  Her frame is getting shorter, her back is coming up and she's staying 'on my seat' very reliably. She loves to do canter mediums - when I 'release' her to go to medium, she really goes for it. I call it her "zero to 60" maneuver. There's a good reason I call her my 'little sports car!' At our last show, the judge called our canter medium "quite bold" and we got 7s for all of them. Fling loves it! At home, it's almost a game to make her wait for me to ask her to come back to collected canter, or to go to medium canter again - she knows it's coming  - but I vary the routine so she HAS to wait for me to ask. It's that 'accordian' work  - collected to medium and medium to collected - that really gets them up and develops the strength and rideability for the harder work.  I've started doing a little half pass at walk and trot to already start preparing for third level. Hopefully her canter will have developed enough by this winter to start flying changes. I know we won't be ready to show third level by next year, but I'd at least like to be schooling most or all of it by next year. I have owned, ridden and loved many horses over the years, but I am really quite smitten by this little horse. She has a huge heart and works so hard to please. And she's SO serious about her job. She's light and self propelled and so easy and uncomplicated to ride. I thought it was a tragedy of immense proportions when Lisa injured her tendon so badly back in 1999, but if she hadn't, I would never have bred her and would not have Fling.  Faeryn has some huge hoofprints to fill!

April 23
Fling has gone to a total of three schooling shows and shown eight Second Level tests now. I am not sure she is ready for recognized shows yet, but she is improving. We've scored in the 60s in all but two of the tests. Our high score was 62.7 last weekend and our low score was a 58.7 for our first attempt at 2/4, which is the hardest test of the level and introduces turn on the haunches. Her collection is still not 100% consistent in the canter and her mediums, especially at the trot, are sometimes more like lengthenings. But she is getting there and more importantly, she still is a cheerful little worker bee.  Riding her is so much easier than any other horse I've ever had - both mentally and physically. I can ride a second level test and barely be winded afterwards because she is so light and maneuverable! My little spotted sportscar! Oh, and it's lonely at second level in schooling shows - I've been the only one in my class every single test!

March 24, 2007
Fling finally made her second level debut today. I wanted to do it at a schooling show in December and she had an abscess and another blood blister/abscess kept her from going to schooling shows in Feb. and earlier this month. Due to abscesses and rain, she had the better part of the last three months off. She started back to work March 2, so this was perhaps a bit premature. She definitely needs to work on strength and fitness - especially at the canter. It needs more collection yet and part of that is plain old strength training. She had not been to a show since November - but even the same I was a little surprised when she was very inattentive and unsteady in the bridle when I first got on her. I guess it was a good thing they ran REALLY late in our ring - I ended up riding almost an hour past my original ride time. By the time we entered the arena to do our test, I had my good old steady-eddy gal back. She was super connected but labored a little in some of the movements. I think she was just tired - not fit enough and especially how long our warmup went due to them getting behind. We got lots of 7s and 5s that brought the scores down. We showed under an "r" judge, so it was a good indication of how we would fare at a recognized show. Not that I think she is ready to go to a recognized show just yet! But, she did OK for her first outing, especially considering how much time she's had off. She got a
60.759 on 2/1 and a 59.759 on 2/2. She won both her classes but I was the only amateur in the class. There were only three people in the class and two were juniors. I beat one and tied with one and ended up Second Level Reserve Champ after the judge broke the tie. Since they changed the tests this year, they are infinitely more rideable than they were before. We'll go to more  schooling shows April 15 and another one April 22 and then we _might_ go to a really low key recognized show the end of April. If I think we can go and get in the 60s, I'll take her. More than anything, my goal for this year is to get my two 60% I need at second level toward my bronze.

March 3, 2007
My "dance partner" is finally back. Fling got her shoes on Thursday and I've had two short rides on her since then. She's been off the better part of three months, so it's going to take awhile for everything to come together , but it feels great to ride her again. Took her through her 'repertoire' this a.m. and her canter/walk is, amazingly, better than it was before. Shoulder-in, halfpass, leg yields feel pretty good. Turn on haunches are large, but correctly stepping through. I'm thrilled. She's graduated from stall confinement to the small paddock for probably the next week. Probably next weekend she can go back out in the pasture with her buddies. I just want to make sure it is as much a 'non-event' as possible with minimal galloping around.  When I ride this horse, we feel like one. She suits me - size-wise and temperament-wise - better than any horse I have ever owned. She is so easy and fun to ride. I sure hope her full sister, Faeryn, is very similar under saddle.

February 25, 2007
Fling is still confined to a stall.  She is sound - that is the good news. That, and I think we are nearing the end of this ordeal. It turns out she bruised her coffin bone so badly that a small bit of the bone died, and sloughed off, which is what caused the blood blister. It is not an uncommon thing and should not cause her any lasting problems, and  was probably caused by our unbelievably long spell of very wet weather. Their feet get soft and things that normally step on and don't hurt them, do, since their feet are so soft. There was a chance she would have to have the coffin bone surgically 'debrided' of dead bone splinters, but since she has not had another abscess/blood blister, we're hoping that's not the case.  On the last trip to the vet, the x-rays did not show anything. So, Thursday my shoer comes and puts front shoes and pads on Fling and THEN I can start riding her. Turnout is going to be a cautious gradual thing. I have been riding her at a walk - it was really necessary to keep her sane. She is a very high energy, intelligent horse and when she's bored she gets in trouble very easily. ;) Riding her at a walk, I can at least do a lot of lateral work to keep her mind busy. And, hopefully, that has also kept her just a tad fitter than if she'd just been hand walked the last 30 days. Of course, that's a double edged sword with a stall-bound horse. ;)  I can honestly say Fling is looking forward to being ridden again as much as _I_ am looking forward to riding her. She loves her work. She is just such a joy to ride - I've really missed it. I am sure as soon as that last nail is set Thursday, she'll be getting tacked up! ;)

February 4, 2007
Ok, make that the last three months have been frustrating. In January we had rain 24 days. Fling got a bad bruise which turned into a blood blister so we're back to soaking, wrapping and being confined to a stall. Our place - as almost everyone's in our area, has been almost a sea of mud due to the unrelenting rain. Since she can't get her wrapped foot wet I have to put a rubber poultice boot on her every time I need to hand walk her. We're all getting very cranky. I have not ridden with any regularlity since before Christmas. The arena is finally dry enough to ride, but with caring for four horses, and one time-consuming stall-bound horse that requires soaking, rewrapping and hand-walking every day I haven't even had time to ride Lisa. Things are looking up though - the tiny area in front of the barn is finally dry enough to put Fling in for 30 minutes at a time unsupervised and I can finally get her to our 'paddock' barn for daytime confinement, where she is much happier and does not require a buddy to be locked up with her. I will not complain no matter HOW hot it gets this summer as long as it is dry. And that's another thing - ENOUGH with the cold weather. Now that it's stopped raining (for now) things are not drying up very quickly because it's still COLD. Well, cold to a native Houstonian, anyway. And so much for that second level debut. Again.

January 10, 2007
The last two months have been frustrating, with Fling's abscess and the continued very wet weather. I have a good outdoor arena, but even it is no match for what Mother Nature can send our way sometimes.  I normally ride every day and when I can't, there is a void that just can't be filled by anything else. It's like my whole 'life rhythm' is thrown out of whack. Today  I took a small step in restoring order to my world - I got a lesson on Fling - the first one in probably a month. Fling was just super. Totally "on" and while, yes, of course we have things to work on - she really felt like a second level horse tonight. She was totally on my seat, her shoulder-ins were super and her mediums - while a little quick (more my fault for rushing the rhythm than hers) - she came RIGHT back just from a small 'check' with my core. She is very attuned to my body language. So, we're going to show Second 1 and 2 at a schooling show in February. The upcoming show season is one I very much cannot plan for once. She'll definitely do all the schooling shows and do second level - as far as recognized show, I don't know  yet whether we'll do First again, or jump right in at Second. Fling will make those decisions.

2006 Show Highlights:

Fling's Training Diary
See photos of Fling being started under saddle and read about her journey from "green bean" to Champion!
 
 
  • More photos of Fling:
  • At birth
  • At 3 months
  • At 6 months
  • At 10 months

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