Sunday, October 28, 2012


This is a response to a blog post that I tried to comment on but my phone won't let me post... I thought my .99 cent iPhone could do everything!

Comment to:
(definitely check it out!)

A friend mentioned tripping over your blog and I thought I'd check it out and this is the first that I read. My whole life I've been able to separate my outside life and my life in the ring and at the end of the rope of a horse. New horse, new day, different slate. After I lost my first horse a year ago (and my best friend) I knew I needed a break from owning another but I kept working with other horses. My grief never got in the way of that because I searched for what he had in others. When I found my new horse a few moths later I thought, 'this will be a piece of cake'. Oh how wrong I was. After working in a clinic with Brent Graef I realized how much pressure I put on myself to make this horse something he was not, my first horse. I was blind to what I was doing and let my issues get in the way of working him through his own. I resented him in a sense. No, he will never be my OTTB but he will be my AQH. :)

Cleaning and Preparing for a Hurricane

Spent today cleaning out and rearranging the tack room with Kate and some help from Mason and we husband. Plug some holes in the ceiling and pulled out all the old trashy looking nails. We'll get this barn done one piece at a time.

Went through my little tack box and found myself swimming through memories of LB and his trouble making. I miss him a lot... But Brantley will make it I know he will.

Finished the tack room... For the most part. Cleaned some nasty moldy tack, locked up the ponies and now I'm getting stared at by a very happy puppy.

It's good to feel appreciated once in a while and knowing someone sees me taking the initiative.

Now if only I could clean my room instead.

Tick Season!

I can't believe how bad the ticks are right now around here. I just pulled 6 off of my cat (Mitch)... That's adult ticks, there were tiny things moving around the hair and I realized there were like 2 tiny tiny probably deer ticks that hadn't attached yet around the other ticks. Crazy! Brantley and Pretty at the barn have been picked so far as the favorite tick hot spot of the season. Poor ponies :(

Yes, I'm a Giants fan from RI
So I had given Brantley two days off this week. I wanted to see how long it would take for him to pick up where we left off. I know there will be some review but I'm not too worried about it. It's funny to see people work with their horses for two or three days,  give them two weeks off, then get upset when they don't remember anything that they went over with them. It's like that review session the "good" teachers do when you just come back from summer vacation. How are you expected to divide when you don't even remember how to subtract. But hey, everyone has their own way of doing things.

In honor of Brantley's days off and the "holiday" coming up (I love Halloween... When I can celebrate it), my friends invited me out Friday night to a local pub's Costume Party. I've gone the last few years and it's packed and usually a fight breaks out and everyone's miserable but hey, it can't be the same ALL the time. There were probably about 30 people (maybe 35) there and I have to say, I had a lot of fun. Never been so photogenic but Jen is obsessed with taking shots (on and off camera). I was the sober one of the night **winning**

I had worked all day so thinking about a costume was last on my list. She had said she had a costume for me but I always try to be prepared so I threw stuff in a duffle bag and away I went! I got stopped on the way there by a phone call from my friend I hadn't seen in 4-5 years and I was kind of early (go figure) so I thought I'd stop and say hi at the park 'n ride. 45 minutes later, 3 phone calls from my friend, I'm late. Real question here is, when am I on time? Got to her house and she was halfway ready (complicated watermelon costume) and handed me the makings of a female Green Hornet costume. I was stoked. Problem was... No costume, just the hat, mask, stockings, and arm warmers. Not wanting to go almost stock naked I decided to pull on some paintball gear, overhaul the make up, make some bruises/paint splotches and BAM! Halloween ready.

Place was empty... But we knew the DJ so it was okay. We danced, we played games, had a Scavenger Hunt and the man dressed up as a princess won the costume contest! Ran into some old friends and finally the night was over. No fights, no drama, just pure smiles and fun.

This is a woman you should want to marry...

If only every night was like that.

Back to work with Brantley before the hurricane!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Sweetest Memory

I just eavesdropped on the sweetest little story that a man looking for a fragrance told an associate. He was looking everywhere for a specific cologne and no one had it but we have a tester bottle and he kept asking to buy the bottle full price. Problem is at this store, you can't leave with something that doesn't have a tag. He wasn't mad or upset, I can't even explain the way he reacted... Sweet I guess.

The reason he's been looking so hard for it is because he's leaving to go see a woman he hasn't seen in 16 years and that's what he used to wear. He just wanted her to smell it and remember. You'd expect that from a little old man or a woman. But this man had to be a young 40 at the most, very good looking and stocky/masculine football player kind of guy.

I just had to share: ladies, those men are still out there!

Friday, October 26, 2012

A Hero

You ever just feel like you need a hero. Even though you're strong, independent, determined... Just someone who looks at you and makes everything else seem like nothing. Not someone who drops everything because they feel like they need to. Just someone who smiles and says it'll be ok, we'll talk later, and doesn't make you say anything you don't want to. They don't try and fix your problems, they just hold your hand through them. You're not a burden, not an obligation, not a routine. Just someone who needs a hero once in while...

...don't forget that white pony

Video Clips!

In honor of Brantley's day off yesterday I thought I'd throw out a video - Trying to get my brothers to come and video/photograph him and I but I'm there too late at night so if anyone wants to volunteer! Brantley and I would surely appreciate it!

> Brantley and my first day together <

A lot of time in between... Now we're here.

> Mounting block fears are no more! <

And just for laughs!

> Shameful Puppy <

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

End to a 7 day week!

Ponies make everything better... That's all I really have to say about that. They'll try as much as you do and helping them find the answer may seem more difficult than telling them, but it's so much more effective.

I've been working Brantley with the saddle just because that's a step that he already excels at. I worked with stirrups yesterday so I substituted my hands and bumped him to move forward. It worked well and he relaxed right away.

I really tried to work on tossing the rope over his back not to desensitize him but to keep him moving forward and from shutting down with movement on his back. He jumped and yielded away from me a few times both directions but not as much as before when he popped up and bolted. Anytime he started to shut down a moved towards his shoulder and bumped him with the back of my hand like my leg would if I were on him. Timing is everything so I worked really hard to watch him and when he relaxed, pull the rope away and walk forward. He's becoming lighter and lighter on the rope which I'm really happy about.
Backing up was a huge part of the weekend and getting the horses to relax but I didn't want to overdue it. As soon as he relaxed his neck and backed with a diagonal, I released and walked him forward. He licked and chewed and yawned. You look for a release in the neck, then the diagonal, then picking up at the knees and using their back, then at last you look for straightness... I think that's the order. He follows my hand and my direction so the last part we've got. I'm still looking for more of a release in his neck. He drops his head and brings his nose in but he braces instead. It's the timing - I know I do it right when I release and he walks forward right away rather than standing there going "ummm... what?"

After walking him out again I took him over to the mounting block and rubbed him down from his shoulder and back. Brent recommended to not just using our arms and hands but our legs too. He tried to disengage and move away from the pressure but the more I did it, the better he got at standing and relaxing. He chewed while I threw the rope over his back and he didn't even raise his head. The only thing that freaked him out was my leg.

We ended on a good note and walked forward. Day off tomorrow! Interview for me... and I think 7 days deserves a day off.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A Success

Mounting block success in the indoor today! Started with some drag in the lead but actually picked up the trot by my side with some slack. We worked on using the stirrups to move him forward and he started to shut down a couple of times but came right out of it when I tried to send him forward. I introduced disengaging his hindquarters by using the stirrups too and he picked it right up. He was really touchy at first but finally got the idea.

I don't want to push it so every time he gives me the slightest try we walk forward and go back to something he knows. I love when he starts to chew and yawn because it shows that he's thinking and understanding. The swish of the tail only tells me he's confused and I need to make things more clear for him. I'm trying to read him more and really look for signs that he's comfortable rather than just taking the 'abuse'. He's getting lighter as time goes on and gives in to the halter relaxing his neck when I back him from the halter knot. He's so smart and he works so hard. His diagonals are getting better and his picking his legs up and using his knees and his hind-end more and more. I can already see a difference in his back and the way he carries himself. He's also backing a lot straighter which is great. He's thinking about where his feet are and where they need to be.

Brantley tries so hard for me when we work our circles on the ground. He tips his nose to the inside and really tries to stay in shape but starts to fall apart at the trot. I really need to work on my timing when stepping into his shoulder and asking him to bend more... Brent wanted us to work on our upward and downward transitions on the circle from different walking and trotting speeds. B seems to like this exercise... But in all honesty it makes me dizzy!

Back to work tomorrow but hoping not to fall out of routine... Number one rule... Don't rush it.

Monday, October 22, 2012

In the Beginning...

So I got the idea from my friend Kate at the barn who has been posting about her OTTB since she bought her at 3 and I wish I had done it for my thoroughbred when I had him. Sad thing to think though was that at age 15, there was no such thing as blogging to my knowledge. I didn't start blogging until 17 and even then it as my last thought because Lucky and I were just starting to get to know each other although I had had him for a few years before then.

Lucky Six Four was my best friend and everything I had ever hoped he would be. He was my hero, my confidant, a challenge. He was always there to put up a fight when I was ready for it and there for me when I needed a shoulder or a mane to cry into. LB taught me everything I know when handling people and situations I would be normally uncomfortable with and gave me the confidence to be myself and find the truth in people. He never lied, stole, or cheated me out of anything and I couldn't hide anything from him. In short, until I turned 23, Lucky was the best teacher a girl could ever have and he was there for me through thick and thin. Would never trade that experience for the world and he will always be my number 1.

I went through a time in my life after I lost my best where I did everything I could not to think about it and it got to a point where I was putting myself in danger and in a place I felt like I would never escape. I started riding a horse and working with him and it started to put me back in line but I still wasn't the same. We moved to an old barn I used to board at with a friend and it was just the two of us in a four stall barn... November came and I got the phone call... Free horse.

Yes I know, a free horse is never free but I said hey, why not? I originally went to check out a one and a half year old buckskin filly named Jessie who loved people and wouldn't stop following me and nuzzling me. Then there was the 6 year old quarter horse who couldn't get away from me fast enough. He had that same worried look LB had since the first day I laid eyes on him. His name was Tear Drop to correspond with the 'teardrop' star on his forehead. I said, "I'll take him" It took me about 20 minutes to just get a hold of this leggy just 16 hh gelding. Then I took him out to the ring and tried to see what he could do... Which was nothing. He jumped and bucked and bolted every time I even picked up the end of the rope... But I just couldn't help the way he looked at me. The owner of the barn didn't want me to take him because he had an old injury on his left hind from a barbed-wire fence accident to go with the split in his right ear. With help from a good friend, I had another ride home. He wasn't too sure about the trailer but he got on anyway and we went home.

Tear Drop is depressing... With a name like that you're just asking for trouble so obviously the first name that came to mind was Brantley... I love Brantley Gilbert and I heard him debut on the radio at work and said, "THAT'S IT!" My friend Jen just laughed. The name stuck... And it fits so well.

My first ride on Brantley was a clusterf*ck of bucks and twists and bolting... I lasted maybe 8 seconds and had a 10ft drop on my head, cracked my neck pretty good and broke my helmet. Surprise surprise... Horse wasn't broke...

As time went on we worked on the ground with the only thing I knew... Clinton Anderson. And it worked for us. We worked and worked and desensitized but he still wasn't right. Lots of push from the barn and friends and family... My new found friend Ms. Kate helped me to put him back under saddle. (Best thing I ever did helping her move in!) - We walked to an old barn, tacked him up (which he did perfectly) and on she went with me on the ground. He was scared and shaking... I couldn't understand what happened to him but I know it wasn't good. He was an angel and took the abuse, walked on a semi-loose rein and he understood her leg but I was not going to let go so we just walked. Ended on a good note.

The first time I got on him with Kate on the ground, I cried like a baby... My face red, eyes watery. I was riding my horse... I had a horse. We started riding him off the line walking, then trotting, then cantering almost every day. He was finally standing for us to get on from the mounting block and not trying to slip out from underneath us when we got off. We rode on the trails, over bridges, through fields, in the water. But something still didn't feel right.

Kate took him out on a trail ride one day and he was perfect and relaxed... But at the top of the trail head on the way home he bolted and threw her and clipped her with his leg. She flew into the trees and he took off running down the street. I got the phone call at work and met them on the road. Walking him back home by hand I knew I had missed something. I wasn't doing this right... Maybe it was just a bad day? We'll try again tomorrow. I started riding him again and he was fine. Walk, trot, canter. Circles. Diagonals. But he was heavy... It didn't matter. I was riding my horse. We'd work through it.

My friend Bre came and took pictures of us for the first time with me riding him one afternoon and we looked great. He looked great. Walk, trot, both directions. Warm up for the canter down the long side... Upward transition... He got scared, I lost balance, he bucked, I tried to calm him and he bolted frantically across the ring. I didn't want him to fall off the side of the ring so I pulled him across and off I came skidding across the ground about 4-5 ft. Road rash all down my back. He took three strides, turned, and waited for me. I couldn't breathe, I couldn't cry, I just yelled trying to catch my breath. I couldn't feel anything and I couldn't think. My friend ran over asking if she needed to call 911 and all I said was get the horse... She did, I started breathing, got up, and got back on. Took 3 steps, got off and put him away. Never rode him again...

I was there every day from the beginning feeding and caring for the all the horses day and night. That was part of the rough board... But I stopped working him. Stopped everything I was doing and kept finding excuses not to ride and not to keep going. As time went on I kept getting comments, "When are you going to get on him" "Why don't you hire someone" "Send him here" "Send him there"... It discouraged me more and more...

I received a phone call from a woman who was looking for a horse to use in a clinic recently. Thinking they needed a demo horse for a natural horseman I said Brantley was her horse. But they needed a horse to ride. Kate offered Lucy but I was heartbroken. I needed help... They offered to sponsor me in the clinic and I had to jump on it...

The first day I felt so out of place. All my methods were different and I wasn't reading the horse at all. I had completely lost my touch and my senses. The feel, the look, the breathing, even their ears. I was so lost. Saturday came and nothing changed. I was doing everything wrong and being unfair. I thought we were a lost cause when Brent saw what Brantley was really about...

Here's a blurb from my Tumblr...

So this weekend Brantley and I attended the Brent Graef clinic at Heritage Equestrian Center and it was completely different from what I’ve been working on with Him. Same concept with using your tools but applying them differently. We worked more with feel rather than moving away from pressure which makes a lot of sense looking back on it. I have to say that after the first day I wasn’t sure if I was in the right place or with the right people. Saturday afternoon Brent saw what Brantley was really about and it broke my heart…
He compared his foundation to a slice of Swiss cheese that had been left out in the sun too long. Jumping and running and bolting away from every movement… We worked hard that class and I had my eyes opened to a whole new idea of reading your horse

This weekend changed everything for me and totally started us on a new track, a road that we can both take together. By the end of the weekend not only did I have a new horse but I had a new sense of what we needed to do and where we needed to go. I already experienced our goal. I've already ridden him and I know we can do it. Now I just need to do it right this time. New found friends, new found methods, everything I need to break down my wall to get through his.
But in reality, my ultimate goal... Heal his mind so he can help me mend my heart.

Labels: , , , , , , , Tear Drop Winken: October 2012

Tear Drop Winken