Sunday, April 28, 2013

Everything Equine Expo - VT

I really want to babble all night about this but I just got home from Vermont and I want to curl up with my little lab and pass out.

I had an amazing weekend with D & G and seeing Cherry Croft was great. CB was excellent in all of his demos and it was a honest privilege to be like, "Hey, I know that guy and he's training my horse!" Brantley was featured in his slideshow during his lecture which I thought was pretty cool. On Saturday was his trailer loading demo which I was very sad that I missed but today he did "Halter to Bridle" and a handling feet demo today. Everyone really enjoyed him and had great things to say. Congrats to Cherry Croft & Arrowhead Horsemanship!

Today I was also introduced to a trainer that a few people I know have been raving about saying "Oh! Dan James is being featured at the expo!" Of course me living under a rock in the horse world I was like, "COOL!" but secretly saying, "Who the hell is that?" Let me just say... Oh my god. It's bedtime now but I will try to post some pictures tomorrow. Hope everyone had a wonderful weekend - I can't wait to see my pony and no... I don't know when he's coming home but last time I checked, he was doing great... I'm too invested to pull him away now but unfortunately I will be paying this off for... Ever... Just keep telling me that it will all be worth it in the end.

P.S. I've decided that when Brantley DOES come home... I will be committing to a 100-day ride challenge. Self-explanatory? Who's with me?

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Leave Early to See My Pony?

My boy & all his gear!
You ask a girl whose horse is in training if she wants to leave early from work and expect to hear no? Psh. I was out before they said goodbye. Things at my new job are going great, which is great because how the hell else would I be able to pay for this situation I'm in.

I have to start by saying that every adventure I go on with Ms. Kate is always a good one. Whether it's a trip to a xcountry show (or whatever you call it) and I get to play groom or a photographer at a clinic who plays trailer guru and almost loses a finger, or finally getting to see the Equine Facility at Tufts. From Pinkberry, to Taco Bell, to shot glasses of lemonade that we paid way too much for... I can never complain. No matter how bad/good the situation, K and I always end on a good note and I wouldn't trade it for anything. I went with her to get Lu from Tufts yesterday and was amazed at the different people who worked there. Tacked up the Princess and headed out to their round pen (jealousy struck - not that I'd be able to do any real work in it, it's still a round pen). Lu did some of her famous dance moves and sometimes looked great. I got to sneak a peak at the bone scans and I actually followed along surprisingly well. Then I got to watch her ultrasound which was even cooler. The best part was that there were students there so the vet taking the ultrasound explained everything which made it easier to understand for me. After figuring out a diagnosis it was trailer loading time. It may have taken 40 minutes but not once did this horse throw herself backwards again the line and freak out with pressure on her face. I sent her up on the trailer a few times to mommy holding a grain bucket and she'd settle in, but not long enough for me to put the butt-bar up. The vet that had been working with K came out with a lunge whip and I had to try and be nice saying, "Please don't." Lu's nose flared and she got a little worked up on the line but she came back down. I couldn't figure out what the issue was with her staying on the trailer. I walked her to the round pen and did some slow sending and backing exercises - she dropped her head and let me rub her face and ears, lowered her eyes past my belt which made me feel more relaxed. She didn't step on me and placed her feet where I asked. I walked back out towards the trailer and she started to dance again and step on me. About 10 minutes went by and I walked her back to the round pen and she relaxed again and stepped off my hand. Pavement? Bad. Dirt? Good. Finally we backed a trailer into an area with dirt and after 40 minutes on the pavement, she backed up and walked right on the trailer... I wanted to smack myself...

Today K came with me to go see CB work with Brantley. They let me out of work early so I got to go home and change first then stopped to clean stalls. Picked K up at her house and lucky me she brought her camera (I have to depend on Dad to load pictures from his camera I took and he's been working like crazy so I haven't wanted to bother him about it). She witnessed CB laying Brantley down which he did almost like a pro (even with a bit in his mouth). Then was introduced to his pack-mule outfit. After sending him around for 10 minutes or so, CB hooked up his long-lines. This was the first time B had his outfit on while being long-lined and it went better than expected (as CB always says). He had a few freak-outs but came down from them and back into work.

I was really impressed with B and his lack of shaking. When he gets worked up and either freezes or comes to a halt, this horse's body looks like he has hypothermia. The poor guy more than quivers, he convulses in fear and just stands there waiting for the next "punishment". I don't think I saw him once shake. When CB was sending him around and he picked up a lope, any time he stepped in front of him to send out his shoulders, usually B would bolt over and take off (especially with all his gear). Instead, he slowed, thought, crossed over his front, then trotted off back into a lope. It was great to see my horse thinking and having a friend there to share it with. I have a really hard time explaining to people what's going on if they don't see it. I don't ask CB a lot of questions because he explains what he is doing and why he is doing it so well. It also makes a lot of sense too if you really watch the horse. He's not too far from his first ride but he's not close either. I want to bring him home next week but I'm already this invested... May as well just keep it going while I still can!

K sent me some pictures of today - Hope you Enjoy! Check out her pictures from Tufts! 

Preparing for a lay down.
A little pressure here, a little pressure there.
Down he goes.
Rock a foot back and forth.
Good pony.
CB gave B a chance to sit up and think then asked him to lay back down.
Brantley obliged.
Take two.
Other side.
This is usually his good side.
Tried to get up again, CB gave a little pressure but not enough to start a fight.
Easy down again.
Take a breather. 
Brantley in his pack-mule outfit.
Long-lining with gear.
Wasn't a huge fan!
But he did well in the end.

Thanks Kate for the pictures!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Maddy? Vacation?

Me? Away? For a whole day and a half? No way! Vermont? HERE I COME! The Equine Expo is calling me. B's trainer, CB, is headed up for a demo and I was invited by Kid's owners D & G to spend the night. Let's hope I've got some money come to me because B has racked up a hell of a bill... I'm afraid to know the total, I keep handing CB checks and hoping one day he won't take them from me. It will all be worth it in the end when I bring Brantley home next week and I can climb up and take him for a ride. I miss his blinky eyes every morning that I feed.

Lucy comes home tomorrow. The barn was really quiet this AM with just Pretty and Ben, no nickers or snorts... I miss the babies of the barn! She loaded really well yesterday when I went to help Kate. We took it slow, sent her around in a circle a few times getting her to relax and walk. She bolted backwards once and planted herself but we worked through it. Step up on the trailer, back her off and walk away. We did some easy backing up and every time she rushed the trailer I'd take her a step back and get her to drop down to 1st gear again. 15 minutes it took and she self-loaded with mom coaxing her with yummy goodness at the head of the trailer. It felt good to get back in horse mode. I can't wait till my boy comes back and I get start our journey again.

After helping S paint her kitchen on Sunday... Again... I journeyed to Cherry Croft to see my boy. I walked aaaaaallll the way up to the back field, no pony. Walked back down, he was right there on the other side of the round pen. Da fuck... Nice walk though! Brushed him up and started planning his spa day for when he comes home. Man I can't wait. I sat in the grass and started a new book while he worked on a good patch on the hill by the barn. I don't know how long it was but CB walked over and woke me out of my day dream. Another horse busted out the side of the round pen so we worked in the indoor which was great to see. Brantley went down pretty easily and CB rubbed a grain bag over him, then started putting pressure on him with his boot. Next thing I know, crazy cowboy is standing on my horse and B just looked up at him as if to say, "What the hell are you doing now?" After getting him up, they worked there way to the center of the ring (B really liked the walls). Of course, CB got him down, stood on him again, then asked me to grab the grain bag... I scared the shit out of my horse and walked away feeling like an idiot. CB got him down again - success. 1st ride coming up? I think so. Can't wait...

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The 1st Lay Down

I got to visit Brantley this morning and after an hour long grooming session we enjoyed watching Ben work with a mini pony - cutest thing ever. Afterwards I tacked up B in the round pen while the tools for a lay down were collected from the barn. SmartCinch? Weird... Felt like an idiot trying to tack up and then saying, "Oh so hey... I don't know how to use this" After he showed me I was like, WTF?! It's that easy? Anyway, B... We'll call him CB for "cowboy"... So CB said he was planning on only preparing him for a lay down but because B was being so good about giving up his leg, he went for the gold. An hour later and lots of shutting down and small arguments, this was our result:

(Won't find my YouTube video)

I've been giddy all day about the whole thing. Tomorrow he's back to playing pack mule, and then on Thursday we'll switch sides. I'm excited about seeing how he does, I have the day off so more time and more grooming.

C - farm owner - and I talked about him today and what was going on. She couldn't believe that K and I ever got on him and lived to tell about it. I told her it was because we were an awesome team! But obviously, there were steps skipped and I was a little over excited and definitely pushed it. It was time for professionals and I told her how thankful I was for working out a plan with B and I.

Some people get really nervous/worried about the whole "laying down a horse" thing. Okay, it looks scary, but the confidence it can build in a horse, especially a horse that is uncomfortable with someone over them, is huge. As everyone in the pony world knows, horses sleep 90% of the time standing up (naps in the sun laying down). We like to see our horses lay down here and there because it shows that they trust it, that is when they are most vulnerable. For a horse to allow you to lay it down and then sit by it is a big deal. B's issue is his fear and shut-down habits. We're not tying him up and making him lay there, you see CB release as soon as he's down. We're telling him if you lay down and relax, it's easier and better for everyone than fighting and panicking. It's making him use his brain and think about things. You finally see B give in and lay down and the light bulb goes on. He didn't want to get back up! Yes it was because he was tired, but CB walked away from him for a moment, then walked back and pet him again to see if he'd panic and run off with his approach. B flicked an ear, looked up, then laid his head back down to allow CB to pat him again. AWESOME! Finally he got up and shook it off, didn't jump up and bolt, just relaxed, chewed, and dropped his head. EVEN MORE AWESOME!

We're getting closer...

Ew! I'm clean!
Is that a dog? Cow?
Preparing for the lay down.
Let's try a little more!
Finally down.
Looks pretty relaxed to me. Thanks CB!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Pictures n Videos

Fun videos of Ben & Brantley!
2nd run at Cherry Croft

I still have a bunch of pictures on my Dad's camera that I have to upload and go through. I promise I will get them up. Here are some pictures of my weekend! Fencing project included. Never ending work. I'm so behind on reading up on my fellow bloggers but Brantley is doing great. I received and text message from a barrel racing friend today about him and Ben. He was covered in stuff! Jugs with rocks, tarp, garbage bags, noodles, the whole shebang! Walked around quietly and calmly. Maybe a lay down tomorrow. I'm really excited to see him. I hate not seeing him every day. Bringing Brantley to Ben was the best decision I made. I've worked with horses with baggage but he had just a little more than I could handle alone, especially with everything going on. Plus, new friends are always a plus!

Kid's first time riding double. Getting on was the interesting part.
Brantley's Superman Cape!
Raking out the paddock.
Proof of hard work. Only way to drive a 4x4.
B and his saddle of stuff.
Finally relaxing.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Lil Update

Things are going really well with Brantley at Cherry Croft. Ben has a plan and I'm with him. For the last week he's been tying stuff to the saddle and letting it bounce around. The first time he took off like a bat out of hell, so Ben took a step back. He started with just the noodles. Then noodles and a garbage bag. Then noodles, garbage bag, buckets of rocks. Yesterday he tied the tarp to the saddle and told me how well B took it and how impressed he was. Yippeee! Today and tomorrow he's going to tie everything on him at once. He stands all day strapped down like Inspector Gadget and then eats dinner, then gets untacked, then stands for a while. I'm hoping to get pictures and videos up really soon. I just haven't had time between working and running between both barns. It'll happen I promise!

Sunday, April 7, 2013


Saturday was a crazy day at the hospital. 3 emergencies wrapped up with 10-12 problem exams which are always extensive. I offered to stay but we kept up and things slowed down so I took care of the pup and headed towards Cherry Croft to visit my boy.

As always I was welcomed by the farm dogs and smiles from strangers. Always a good feeling and an odd occurrence at horse barns. Usually I get the, "Who the f$#% are you?" look. I walked out to the back pasture and right away spotted his brand. I whistled and both B and Kid looked up. He didn't walk over right away so I sat at the edge of the field and visited with one of his pasture mates. He looked up again and saw me playing with the chestnut's muzzle and made his way over. The chestnut looked over at the sauntering bay and touched noses with him.

I sat with the two of them for a few minutes before Brantley gave the other a quick ear-pin glance and moved them away. Guess he wanted me all to himself. We sat together for a while before he decided he was done with empty hands and pockets and walked back over to the others. Ben was just finishing up with his lesson and said hey as I walked to get my camera. He grabbed a breast collar and saddle and had me walk out and halter B. I payed Kid a quick visit and then grabbed my boy and headed to the round pen.

Cindy walked over to say hi and check his back so she could monitor it while he was there. They mentioned how his whole demeanor and look in his was different and more relaxed. We also mentioned that he was growing, height and width. Oh yippee! He was good to take up and took pressure really well. It was all around a good afternoon.

I'm still working on getting pictures up that I took. Deb sent me some of him out in the pasture and today's adventure. He spent a majority of the day today strapped up and saddled in the round pen. With a catch! They tied lots of fun things to him! Brantley was not thrilled and it was a little more than he wanted to handle at that time. Ben kept throwing things into the ring to slow him down. I didn't hear about the result yet but I will learn more tomorrow when I go visit. I got a message today from Ben talking about his shut down habits. When he shuts down, he really shuts down. I explained to him that way my main problem. When he shuts down it's like a little abused kid who hides in his own mind until it's over. When he wakes up he expects everything to be gone. When it's not, then he goes into flight mode. Until then he just goes with flow thinking, "if I just do what I think they want the pressure will stop". That's his fight mode. He said we'll take it down a notch tomorrow. I'm still really optimistic and trying not to think about the bill I will have to pay after this... It's just money right?

Friday, April 5, 2013

Back to Cherry Croft

Brantley had his spring shots round 1 on Tuesday and was off to Cherry Croft Wednesday night. Thanks to K and her husband we made excellent timing. Ben welcomed us with a smile and a couple buckets of water as I put Brantley in the outdoor. He spent he night there. I said my goodbyes even though B ran across the ring to say hello to old friends. His tail was up and he pranced throwing his head as we pulled out of the driveway Nd made our way back home. I took the Taylor's out to dinner and went home to sleep.

After a crazy dream of owning a fluffy camel and running in the tough mudder with my Girl Scout troop... By the way, I was never a Girl Scout... I went to the barn, fed the girls, and got ready for my noon shift at work. I texted Ben in the afternoon making sure B was behaving himself and all was well! Can't wait to see him tomorrow!!! Tear Drop Winken: April 2013

Tear Drop Winken