Donerail Farm
Dressage and Sport Horses
Sonnys Mona Lisa+/
1989 Half Arabian Pinto Mare
Sonnys Sizzler X Bint Hallyma
November 12, 2006
I don't know who's more tired - me or Lisa!
Wednesday Lisa, Brooke and I  went to Glen Rose for the North Texas Arabian Shootout to compete in the Sporthorse section of the show, which was Thursday and Friday. It took us almost six hours to get there. Glen Rose truly IS in the middle of nowhere -- there wasn't even a Wal-Mart! ;)   The goal was to get the points necessary to qualify to compete in the Region 9 Arabian/Half Arabian Sporthorse Championships next July. We showed First Level Test 1 and Second Level Test 1 on Thursday. I was looking forward to cool weather up there in North Texas, but unfortunately we brought our own hot weather with us. We had a so-so ride in 1/1 but got a 63.7 and won the class. We were 9 percentage points ahead of the second place horse!  In Second 1, we were both really tired but scored a respectable 58.9 and again won the class. This was the first time I had ever shown Lisa at a recognized show at Second Level. I knew she really wasn't ready - the medium gaits just aren't quite there - but I thought we would place well enough to get the qualifying points we needed, and we did.  Friday I had signed up to show in Sport Horse under saddle and Show Hack, which is a dressage-y rail class that calls for collected and extended versions of walk/trot/canter. I scratched Sport Horse to save Lisa for Show Hack, where I thought we would have a better chance. It was an Open class and we placed 4th out of 6, so got the point we needed to qualify. Mission accomplished!  

So, we both had a day to rest up and then today Lisa and I went to a local schooling show and did First 1, 2 and 3. We were both pooped and the scores reflected that - 60 and 61.3 and 61.7 but we won all our classes. Now Lisa gets about four days off and she is DONE for the show year.

For the next six months we'll work on developing her medium gaits, improving her lateral flexibility and we'll show second level at schooling shows next year in preparation for competing at the Arabian Regional Championships next summer.

November 3, 2006
Lisa and I went to a "Halloween" schooling show last weekend and I am happy to report our rides were not scary at all! ;) I showed her First Level Test 1 and 2 and got a 64.44 and a 65.3%, won both our classes and were First Level Champion. Next week, we venture northward to show in dressage at an Arabian show up near Dallas (about five hours from here). I am showing her First and Second level with the goal of qualifying her for the Arabian/Half Arabian Sporthorse Regionals next July. I want to get it 'over with' before the start of the next show season because I know I'll be busy with Fling. There aren't that many recognized dressage shows in our area anymore, and it always seems to be a struggle to get to enough of them to qualify for year end awards.  Lisa continues to work well and her flexibility just gets better and better. I think she feels like she really ought to be retired by now, but I tell her she has not earned her Social Security just yet! It will be another year before the two yearlings can do much under saddle, so Lisa is going to have to keep working at least until then. I would really like to get her to third level before she retires. And really, as long as she is sound and healthy I don't want to retire her at all. But unless I win the lottery I don't think I will be able to ride four horses on a regular basis! And in a year and a half, that's how many I'll have under saddle! And selling horses is not something I am very good at...... ;)

September 10, 2006
It's been more than two months since the Pinto show, but Lisa hasn't been just standing around basking in her success! She's been working hard on strength, flexibility and  things she'll need to
continue to move up the levels. She really still isn't quite back to where she was in 2002, which was the last year I campaigned her before this year. She stood around for a few years while I focused on Nanja, and then she was busy being pregnant with Faeryn and being a mom.  She's 17 now, and it sure takes longer to get them back in shape when they're older. That's why, as long as she stays sound and happy in her work, she's not going to have any more extended vacations!   I would love to get her to third level. But she'll really have to work at it. As obedient and wonderful as she is, dressage is not easy for her. She's not built uphill and she doesn't have a lot of "scope" for trot and canter lengenthings. Those issues will be things we will have to work on every single day, along with suppleness, bending, etc. etc. etc.  A few months ago I started giving her monthly "joint juice" injections and I've definitely seen the improvement that's made in her suppleness and flexibility.

Today we went to a local schooling show and did First 1, 2 and 3. She did well. I got there later than I intended and didn't really have the long, slow warmup that I like to have with her. I felt slightly rushed, but we went in and got a 65.926 for second place. Our next test, First 2, felt much better to me, and Brooke agreed, but we got a slightly lower score of 64.412 and won the class. Test 3 was, I thought, our best yet except for a stupid mistake on my part - getting a wrong lead. At home I sit up and ask and get these wonderful canter departs. At shows, I tend to panic and don't prepare her at all and just flail around and kick her into it. Yes, I am a doofus. We got a 64.857 despite my stupid mistake. And won the class. All in all a very good day. Now if I can just learn to ask for canter departs at shows like I do at home.

Hopefully by the end of the year she'll be ready to show Second Level. The trot work is very good, but we've got to work more on our medium gaits at trot and canter. And the canter needs to be a more collected before we can really do our best. And Lisa's "best" is not going to be terrifically competitive at recognized shows. But I can live with that. It's more about the 'journey' and our partnership -  I know she always tries her darndest and that's good enough for me. In 16 years of owning her, and 13 of riding her, she's not let me down yet. I sure hope she feels the same way about me! ;)

June 28, 2006
Lisa is a world champion! We went to the Pinto World Championships held in Tulsa, June 14-17. It was a long trip and the wildest, craziest, busiest showgrounds I've ever seen in my life. When I get a chance I'll put the whole story somewhere on the website.  I was so proud of my girl - she's 17, was off for about two years, had a foal in June of 2006 (Faeryn was just a year old June 26!), and was only exactly 6 months back in work on the day we showed. She also stood in a trailer for 11 hours, stood in a stall for two more days (my horses are used to being out 24/7 weather permitting) and didn't bat an eye at anything that went on in the warm up arena. She just went out and worked her little heart out like she's done every day of the 16 years I've owned her. She went Champion in one Training Level class, was Reserve Champion in another and third in her remaining class. Her scores were 69.5, 68.8 and 64.something. She got a 9 for one of her walk movements. Of course, none of the professional photos from the show turned out very well, but Brooke took a short digital camera videoclip of her warming up before our first class. See it here. And, read my whole show report here.

May 14, 2006

Went to a schooling show today - our first since April 1, when Lisa was 'run to ground' in the pasture by Thor. At the time, I thought she could possibly be seriously injured - she was definitely hurting, with lameness all around (muscle soreness), a bone chip in one ankle and more than 25 bites and kicks. But she recovered amazingly quickly.  We did First 1, 2 and 3. I have not ridden three tests in one day in a long time. But I wanted to see how 1/3 'rode' since I am riding Fling in it at the Pinto World Champs in June.  Lisa  warmed up ok but when I got in the ring to do my test suddenly her "power steering" got pretty loose - she was way more 'wiggly' than usual.  Not crooked, exactly (no mention of crookedness on my remarks) but I had to really 'micromanage' her straightness, which is not normal. Her basic gaits/throughness and impulsion felt really good - just a little wobbly.We got a 64. and first out of four. In 1/2, we had a major meltdown at one canter depart, although the 'wiggliness' had disappeared. I asked for canter and nothing happened and of course then I started flailing around to make it even worse. I think we finally got organized and cantered halfway through the circle - and then of course the lengthening was fairly nonexistent since there was little prep. So that was a 59.8 for 3rd out of 4. I debated about scratching the last test but really wanted one more chance to actually ride an ORGANIZED test. It was our best yet. I actually sat up and got a decent canter depart and prepared ahead better for transitions, etc. and got a 65.  I've been going to the gym and I can tell because even tho it was hot and I'd ridden two other tests and 1/3 is fairly long - physically, I got through it just fine and was not particularly winded or tired at the end.  Lisa is a real trooper. I can tell she's fitter too, since at our last show I had to really WORK to keep her going through the canter work.

April 19, 2005
I had my first lesson on Lisa since 'the attack.'  Brooke says she looks better than ever. I suspect the joint injections are the reason - she probably really benefited from them - and could have used them without Thor's "help."  So maybe I'll need to repeat them in six months or so down the road. We'll see how it goes. She worked so well, Brooke went and got the double bridle so we could work her in it. I tried her in it once and she was not impressed - really resistant. However, when it comes to Lisa, often it is hard for me to be 'tough' on her and insist she work through something she finds difficult. I think about how she's just coming back, she's 17, she's had a baby....yada yada yada. Brooke tells me I am her "personal trainer" and I need to tell her to "suck it up and do those crunches!" LOL! So, that's what I did tonight - pushed her through and forward when she wanted to resist the curb and suddenly - WOW  - what a difference! Her trot got loftier and she really got more suspension. Her shoulders were UP and she really felt like a second/third level horse. Too cool! She got lots of cookies and "good girl"s.

April 16, 2006
It's been two weeks today since Thor beat Lisa up in the pasture.
I had Brooke watch her on the lunge line Thursday and she could not detect any lameness or short-stridedness.
So I rode her yesterday and today. We did a lot of walking and maybe 10 minutes of trotting Saturday. On Sunday I took her out in our 10-acre field and rode the fenceline and did lots of 20M trot circles.. I tried to keep her really round and up through her back to stretch her topline. She felt great. Hopefully the joint injections helped.  Lisa thinks as part of the "victim's restitution  program" Thor should give her 1/3 of his feed every day for the next year. ;)  I have to send in our entry for the Pinto World Champs in two weeks. It's certainly looking a lot more hopeful than it did a week ago. I'm going to try and ride her a lot the next two weeks to make sure she's okay. It's hard to belive I've owned Lisa for 16 years. And yet, it's difficult to remember NOT having her.  I've owned her longer than any other horse and it's hard to imagine not having her in my life someday. She's never been my only horse, but whenever she was not pregnant or lame (serious tendon injury in '99) she's always been my 'go to' horse - the one I chose to take somewhere when I wanted a stress-free, totally reliable mount - whether for a mounted drill team, a trail ride, etc.  She is also the one who gets to give 'pony rides' at Christmas when the cousins' kids come. And for all that, she's also been one of my most dependable horses in the show ring.  As long as I ride her correctly - she rises to the occasion. Fortunately, her daughter, Flying Colorz, is just like her in that respect.

April 8, 2006

Lisa got dropped off at Dr. Knape's Friday morning and the plan was for him to examine her when he had a chance between appointments. Unfortunately he was so busy he got no further than just flexing her ankles by the time I talked to him late Friday afternoon.
He said she was so sore she wouldn't even put them down on the ground for several minutes after he flexed them. The plan was to then take x-rays of them both and inject them.
She had to stay at Dr. Knape's overnight sbecause he could not get to x-raying her until after office hours on Friday. I was pretty bummed about STILL not knowing anything - but as fate would have it, I ran into the good doctor at Joe's, the local BBQ joint, when Mike and I were having dinner later that night. He'd x-rayed her back ankles and said she had a small bone chip, but he did not think that would cause her any problems due to its location. He did not think there were any tendon injuries - which was my biggest concern. Tendon injuries are a bi*ch to rehab. He injected both ankles and also gave her RVI which, as I understand it, is a vaccine that stimulates the immune sytem. I picked up Lisa this morning - her 17th birthday -- and she started hollering as soon as she saw me. She wanted to come HOME - mostly she wanted OUT of the stall. She's out 24/7 most of the time at home. I got to look at the x-rays and other than the bone chip they look pretty good for a gal of her age. Her main problem was most likely just being extremely sore from being chased within an inch of her life for god-only-knows how long.  Hopefully within a week I'll know if there are any other problems. She was so lame on the back she could still actually be lame in front but we just could not see it. I do know she definitely feels better already. That is to be expected with injecting the joint. It's not without risk, but the improvement is immediate.  She actually took off trotting and threw in a little canter circle when I got her home and turned her out.
She still looks a little wonky, but
she was barely hobbling along Tuesday and Wednesday. The vet bill was $$$. I'll tell Mike to take it out of Thor's all

April 6, 2006
Lisa was extremely lame last night when I trotted her out. In fact, I couldn't even call it lame because she was lurching around at the trot so badly I could not even tell which leg(s) were affected. "Crippled" was more the word that came to mind watching her.  I am hoping she is just very muscle sore from being run to the ground by Thor on Saturday. Of course these things always happen when I am so busy at work there's no way I can take time off for a vet visit. I called the vet on Wednesday and Friday is the earliest they can get her in. So Mike will take her and drop her off before he goes to work and they'll look at her when they can.  Our trip to the Pinto World Championships in June is pretty iffy right now. :(

April 2, 2006
We went to our second show since her 'comeback' yesterday and showed First Level Test 1 and First Level Test 2. No whinnying this time! She knew exactly why she was there,  Our rides, although still not 'up to speed' improved from last week, along with the scores. She scored a 64. on 1/1 and a 62 on 1/2 for second place in both classes.  She needs to be fitter, still. I had to really get after her, especially during the canter work. Unfortunately, sometime late yesterday afternoon, Mike's horse Thor beat her up pretty badly out in the pasture. She has bites all over her and apparently got kicked in the cannon bone - there's a nice lump there. And she's lame.   Thor is in 'solitary confinement' and will not be turned back out with my horses again. He's always sort of picked on Lisa, but usually it consisted of just herding her around or guarding the water trough. It's definitely escalated. We're contemplating new fencing. :(  Hopefully there's nothing major wrong and she'll be back to work in a week or so. I'm giving her bute twice daily and hosing the leg. I'm not even going to trot her out to see how she looks for a few days. Frankly I can't even stand to think about it.

March 26, 2006
Lisa went to her first show since November, 2002! The funny thing is, she just whinnied and whinnied like it was the first time she'd ever been to a show! It was the most horses she'd seen in one place in a very long time. I think she was happy to get out in the world again and see some new faces! She warmed up pretty well. However, it's shows like these that tell you just how far you have yet to go. Schooling around at home and having to put everything together in a test are two very different things. Our first test (First 1) was very rough - especially the canter. We forgot how to do a canter depart to the left! She was a bit stiff and sluggish in the test and I ended thinking we'd be lucky to get a 60. Our actual score was 61 and some change. The second test, I thought was much better than the first - she was rounder and softer and her back felt up and
swinging a lot of the time. I also thought her lengthenings were pretty good. The judge thought otherwise. ;) This was a different judge than the first test, and we got a 58.something. There was only one other person in my class; we were 2nd in the first test and 1st in the second test. So, this gives me a good starting point and shows just how far we have to go.
February 28, 2006
Lisa continues to improve at a pretty good clip. I had a lesson tonight and we worked on simple changes and Brooke was fairly stunned to see how much the quality of the canter has improved in the last two weeks. Lisa's getting stronger and rounder and she's just a blast to ride. Brooke really thinks we should be able to show Third level by the end of the year...I'm afraid to think about it.. I've only been trying to get my bronze medal for years! It would mean so very much to be able to get it on Lisa...I've owned her for 16 years and she's just one of those 'once in a lifetime' horses. She's not the most talented horse in the world but she's so honest and she just suits me so well. Brooke shot a little mini clip of some of her trot work. She looked better late in the lesson, but you just would have had to seen her right after she had Faeryn to understand just how much better it is now! I frankly never thought she'd ever look this good again...and I know in the coming months she'll get better yet.  View the video clip here

February 16, 2006
Lisa continues to improve. I am really hoping she will be ready to show Second level recognized by the end of the year. We did trot half pass for the first time last night.  It wasn't "competition quality" but it wasn't a bad first effort at all!   Brooke told me to get Nanja's double bridle and put it on Lisa and start riding her in it just to get her used to it. So I put it on her tonight and just tinkered. She was NOT too fond of it. Nanja worked great in the double, right off the bat. I am not sure if Lisa just really hates the curb, or maybe it's the bridoon. I just used Nanja's, which is a regular thin snaffle. I normally ride Lisa  in a KK snaffle with a large oval 'peanut' in the middle. I have a bridoon made more like the KK and maybe she'll like that. I'll try that next time. In the meantime, I'm going to show her first level at some schooling shows just to get a barometer of where she is before I take her to a recognized show to try and get our qualifying scores for Arab regionals.

January 14, 2006
Lisa's going great. Her topline is vastly improved from two months ago. And amazingly enough, she's looking pretty svelte - the milk has long since dried up and her stomach muscles have tightened up more than I ever imagined they could after two foals. She's regaining the muscle she lost over her topline and hindquarters.  We started out doing 'power walking" for 20 minutes at a time...then added trot. Now I'm starting to do some canter work - which has always been her best gait. Today was amazing. I got this super round canter and she was just SO in my I did the canter serpentine from Second Level Test 4...not a bad effort...the first loop was a little large, but it was cadenced and balanced. I would like to show her at the Arabian Sporthorse Regionals in July but we have to qualify first - and I 'm not sure at what level we'll do so - we'll just have to play it by ear. I have to get two qualifying scores under two different judges at open recognized shows for each level I want to show - and have it done by around May 1 in time to enter the Championships.  

December 2, 2005
I weaned Faeryn about two weeks ago and am riding Lisa about three times a week now. We've got a long way before we're ready to show , but it's mainly a matter of rebuilding her strength and increasing her suppleness. She hasn't forgotten anything. I was shocked the first time I asked for a canter had been two  years since I last asked for one - yet I just weighted my seatbone and BOOM - immediate canter depart, and it wasn't too bad either!  She's already come a LONG way. Watching her trot on the lunge at first was painful - her strides were so short and choppy. (Ok, well, that huge udder probably had something to do with that at first!)  Her topline is looking much better, she's gained some much-needed weight and muscle and her belly _almost_ looks normal sized now. Not sure she will ever truly regain her 'girlish figure' after having two 'kids' but she no longer looks pregnant, and I can tell the difference when riding her, too.  Lisa is delighted with the "treat pouch" phenomenon that blossomed since I was riding her last - I have a treat pouch on all my saddles and reward good efforts with these tiny Manna Pro 'cookies.' They come in apple, peppermint and butterscotch and they're only about $5 a 5-lb. bag at our local Wal-Mart. My girls love them. . Lisa's saying "Hey, where were those for the last 12 years I've been under saddle, huh? Where's my back pay???!!!"  Anyway, Lisa says the on-board treat pouches are a Very Good Thing. She appreciates the more enlightened training methods. ;)

October 25, 2005
Maternity leave's over! Even tho Faeryn is not quite ready to wean, I've been riding Lisa very lightly the last few weeks. It is just amazing how sharp she is - it's been close to two years since she's been ridden regularly, yet "all the buttons" still work. She was showing Second Level when I decided to breed her again. Getting on her felt like slipping into my favorite pair of well worn jeans. She just fits me that well. We're taking it easy - she's 16 and it is going to take months and months to get her back in shape. Our goal is to show at the Pinto World Championships in OK next June and Arab regionals next July. As for whether we'll show First or Second level - Lisa will determine that. Just depends on how fit I can have her by then. I had Brooke just watch her a bit tonight and give me some pointers because honestly, she feels GREAT. She felt very 'through' and connected from the get-go - even at the walk. Brooke confirmed my feelings and said she looked even better than she did when I was riding her regularly last time. I think a lot of it is that I am a better rider now than I was then. Lisa made faces at the saddle - she's done that for years - but I really think she's happy to get back to work. I've always felt she was a 'career' kind of gal. She loves her babies, but she is not obsessed with them like some mares. The goal now is to get her in shape and see how it goes.