The blog is about our continued journey together as I attempt to make him my dream all around horse who can do anything from dressage, competitive trail riding, driving, mounted archery, working equitation and anything else we want to try.
A friend of mine gave me her old Canon EOS 20D when she upgraded her camera. I finally got everything I needed to start using it (cards, battery, etc.) and I'm so excited to start practicing with it. This is my first DSLR. I learned the basics several years ago, but haven't had any practice since. I've been reading and watching videos to refresh my memory, but keep in mind I am going to need a LOT more practice. I'm still so excited to have an actual camera again because I hate cell phone photos. I went out to practice with it outside for the first time today and just snapped some pictures of my mudball pony. Gray horses are SO hard to take pictures of. I was cheating and using the auto mode (because I was taking pictures of fast moving baby goats - see my other blog HERE for pictures of them), but I will eventually start using the manual mode. I want to practice on still objects and landscapes first. I'm afraid I'll get frustrated if I try to practice on uncooperative animals lol.
He is SO icky, but so handsome.
I have a 50mm lens and I have very, very little experience with lenses (years ago and only a couple of times), so getting the focus right is very difficult for me. I'm still learning and need so much more practice. When I get it right, it's incredible.
Napping while I take pictures of baby goats.
The white balance or exposure is off on this one. He's so cute napping though.
Woken from his nap. I like the back lighting. Wish he weren't so gross though.
Can't leave Led Zeppelin out. I LOVE these pictures even though the lighting is awful.
He was so fascinated with the kids.
Chrome was fascinate with them as well, but I was too busy making sure he didn't bite them to take pictures. He was a good boy I'm happy to report. Once things dry up and we aren't drowning in mud I'll hopefully be able to get some more pictures for you guys. I hope you enjoyed them.
One last picture before I leave. I wanted to share one of Jackal to show you how amazing this camera is when I get my you know what together.
It's so much easier to take pictures of him because of his amazingly wonderful sit/stay hehe. :D
We dressed up as the headless horseman for Halloween.
I've never been a huge fan of Halloween or wearing costumes, but everyone at work dresses up for Halloween so I joined in and dressed as a Dementor from Harry Potter (costume was cheap). Halfway though the work day I got to thinking how cool it would be to get rid of the mask and accessories and wear the cape as the headless horseman on Chrome! So much more fun than dressing up at work hehe.
For the record I blacked out my face in most of these pictures to make it creepy, but I left one with my face. Also I did not wear a helmet because the hood wouldn't fit over it. I know how stupid that is, but it's my decision to make so please respect that.
I was lucky we happened to have a bunch of pumpkins sitting around because hubby gets them from the local grocery store for free once they've gone past their prime and won't sell. We feed them to the goats. Goats LOVE pumpkin! It worked out great for the costume.
So creepy right?? I wish it had been overcast and at dusk, but the pictures turned out better in the sun than they would have on a rainy day, so it's okay that the atmosphere isn't quite right.
One with my face so you can see I didn't really lose my head lol.
Chrome is so handsome! He outshines my costume hehe.
For those who can't see videos I have some screenshots below.
My first time cantering Chrome with no hands (that I remember).
First time in a costume on Chrome too.
I wish I could have kept the hood up, but it blew back in the wind.
He did so awesome!!
I was so happy and excited I leaned forward and started patting him on both sides of his neck. His ears immediately popped up. I wish they'd been forward for the canter, but I think he was watching the fabric whipping in the wind behind him. Oh well. He still did so awesome and he wasn't spooky at all. When I first brought the costume out I waved it all around him and snapped it in the air around his head and he didn't react at all except to want to sniff it. I love how nothing I do bothers him because of all of the training we did when he was young.
I'm so proud of Chrome. How many horses can go six months without being ridden, get taken out of the pasture on a cold day with the wind blowing and a neighbor zipping around on a four wheeler next door, have their rider dress up in a costume they've never seen and canter with fabric snapping in the wind and be totally cool with it? Chrome can!!
P.S. I have stuff to share. I've just been too busy to blog. I do want to reassure you that nothing was wrong with Chrome over the summer other than his sweet itch. I've just decided to give him summers off because it's not fair to ask him to concentrate when he itches and we are both pouring sweat just standing around in the shade. Now that the bugs are gone and it's cooling off I'm going to try to ride more (if I can stop spraining my ankles that is!). I'll catch you guys up on some other stuff as soon as I can. For now I have to go.
Did you all get emails from email@example.com asking if you want to maintain your subscription to each of your blogs? Are these legit emails? Is this the "fix" for us not getting notifications of comments?? I'm too chicken to click on the subscribe button in the emails so I wanted to see if anyone else has gotten them. Thanks in advance for any help!
We went for a fun, short ride around the property today as our way of celebrating the holiday. The ride was shorter than I intended at twenty-twenty five minutes because someone showed up and interrupted the ride. I was irritated, but it was probably for the best since Chrome is so out of shape.
I was going to work on walk/trot transitions, but Chrome's right stifle gave out with every downward transition. After the ride I looked at his hooves and his toe on that side is getting too long so it's time for me to rasp them again. I'll do that before the next ride and see if it makes a difference. It usually does.
Chrome gets excited about having neighbor horses across the street again.
After a ten plus walking warm up and a few failed walk/trot transitions I trotted him the entire length of the driveway. On that downward transition his stifle didn't give out so I did it again and cantered him for a few strides. After that his stifle never gave out again no matter what we did. We trotted, cantered, backed up, turned circles, etc. It's so weird how he seems to warm up out of it. I just need to do his ground work again with backing, stepping over things, etc. to strengthen his stifles back up. Time off just does not treat this horse well at all physically. Mentally it's like we never took a day off. He's such a good boy.
Look at how fleabitten his cheeck is!
Other than the stifle issues, the one random fly and getting interrupted it was a good ride.
Look how flexible my boy is! his tail is touching the ground!!
The dark spots on his shoulder is where his hair grew back in dark after he rubbed it out...
he actually doesn't have any open sweet itch sores on his shoulders this year so far.
Happy birthday Chrome! Can you believe he's nine years old? Where did the time go?? I spent a long time brushing him before these pictures, but I didn't bathe him until after our ride because he would have gotten sweaty and gross, making the bath pointless. I rode for about thirty minutes, just casually around the yard. Mostly walking with a little bit of trotting and cantering. Please ignore my eq... I'm very out of practice.
LeeAnn standing on the fence cracked me up when I was looking at the pictures. I was using a branch full of leaves to try to get Chrome's ears forward. I was waving it around in my right hand and LeeAnn was standing on the fence watching longingly lol. I wish I'd noticed her and I would have fed it to her after the pictures, but we were being attacked by buffalo gnats and I just wanted to run away.
He's going so gray!!
He would not stand square in any of these photos! Grr!
You'll notice he has a bonnet in some pictures and not others... he decided he didn't want to wear it and shook his head until it came off...
The neighbor across the street had removed his horses for a month or so.... and of course chose this day to turn them loose in the field again....
His ears were touching the clouds!
He was surprisingly calm even though they were galloping around right across the street.
No clue why I was leaning forward so far... his enthusiasm caught me off guard lol.
After the ride he got his bath.
Then I completely forgot to get pictures of him once he was clean! Fail!! Just trust me that he looked very handsome and white lol. Sorry there aren't a whole lot of photos and that we didn't dress up fancy. It was over ninety degrees and I was tired from lack of sleep. I also shaved my goats and did a bunch of other chores. I hope you enjoyed what few there are. I'm still blown away that Chrome is nine. It makes me sad that he's basically a pasture puff and that we never learned dressage or competitive trail riding together like I wanted to, but things outside of my control have prevented it. Hopefully someday we can still do those things. I'm choosing to focus on the positives instead. Chrome is happy and healthy and I love him with all my heart and I get to see him everyday for hugs and scratches, so that's what is important.
I couldn't pass up the chance to ride today since it was the first time in sixty years that Easter and April Fool's Day landed on the same day (I do still have a goal to ride on every holiday hehe). This is supposed to happen again in eleven years if I remember right, but why wait that long?
Sorry I only got one picture, it was starting to rain so I just snapped a quick one and got on with my ride. I rode bareback, only for fifteen minutes. I wanted to see if he felt sore from the ride yesterday. He started out a bit stiff, but worked out of it quickly (we only walked with two very short trots). I worked on some backing up and I could hear and feel him dragging his right hind leg back instead of picking it up. That makes sense because that's the side his stifle is weaker on. I'll get back into his stifle exercises during the week when I feed since it only take a few minutes in hand to get him strengthened back up for riding.
He felt really good and was happy to mess around in the yard again. I hope you all had a wonderful Easter and April Fool's Day!!!!!
Finally! A weekend without rain! It was a gorgeous day and I was so excited to get back in the saddle. Chrome seemed happy to be doing something different too. I actually forgot to get his sugar cube until he started trying to grab the bit out of the air! I completely forgot about the training we did with taking the bit. So I ran inside, grabbed a piece of sugar and then held the bit up for him. He took it without hesitation and I gave him his sugar. So funny that he remembered and I didn't.
I spent a bunch of time grooming him. There was snowy fur flying everywhere. He is shedding like crazy. He enjoyed the full grooming immensely.
This is a view I missed!
It's funny because the days leading up to this weekend I was actually nervous. It had been over a year since I had last been on Chrome and I was worried he would be stupid or I would just suck at riding or something. Once I had him groomed, tacked and I got on I wasn't nervous at all!
We goofed around in the yard for thirty minutes. I had him do several short trots and even a few canters, just to see if he could still do it and to see if his canter scared me again. None of it did at all. Even when he ducked his head and felt like he wanted to crowhop the first time. I corrected him and he didn't try it again. He was very eager to canter and we had fun. I haven't felt that carefree cantering him probably ever. It felt so effortless and easy. His stifles gave out a couple of times and he was doing the whole slow walk away from the house and fast walk toward it, but overall he was great. We also worked on some backing and learning how to yield his hindquarters from the saddle without a ground cue (needs work lol).
He sweated a little, but never even got his heart rate up. I was worried I could hurt him even though that makes no sense. I was relieved to see him galloping around and bucking in the pasture when I turned him loose later (I trimmed and soaked his hooves after the ride). He was so wound up and obviously felt good.
He was a total butt during his hoof soaks (but fine during the trim that we did beforehand) and I think it's because hubby left and he couldn't see where he was, but he could hear him feeding the goats. He was such a brat that I didn't feed him when I put him back in the pasture. I can't stand when horses act up in anticipation of food. It put a damper on my mood after such a fabulous ride, but I'm not going to let it get to me. He was just feeling good and being a turd.
It was a wonderful ride to get back into things and I can't wait to ride again. Also I really want to thank you all for your comments on my last post. I don't know why weekend warriors have such a negative association in my area, but you're all right. If I'm smart about it and take things slow, he will be totally fine. So thank you all so much. Also thank you for sticking around. I know I've been very absent. I appreciate my loyal friends.
I wanted to give you an update on the hay net and ask you a question (if anyone even still reads my blog since I'm so absent). The hay net is doing great. I can't tell for sure if it's actually slowing them down at all, but it definitely helps with boredom and prevents a lot of waste. Rocky also seems to chase Chrome off less because he's distracted with pulling hay through the net instead of being a brat.
Now, my question. What do you guys think of weekend warriors? Growing up I was always told it's really bad to only ride your horses on the weekends. Of course the people they were talking about were people that would take horses who've sat all week in the pasture and then ride them ten miles with no prior conditioning, so that is definitely bad and I know that.
What I need to know is if it's done right (start with short rides, gradually build distance and duration, proper warm ups and cool downs, etc.) is it still a bad idea? Is it even possible to build a horse's fitness level if you only ride once or twice on the weekends? I have to always keep his locking stifles in mind and I'm terrified of having another tendon injury (although I have no idea what caused the previous one.... probably him being overweight, but his weight is really good now that we have the hay net). I can't longe him because circles are bad for his stifles and our ground is really messed up right now from all the rain and flooding.
The reason I'm asking is because I work anywhere from 7:30-8:00am to 6:00-7:00pm every weekday. I have to do chores after work, then take a shower and eat supper. By then it's late. We rarely get inside or eat supper before 8pm. I also have to keep a very strict sleeping schedule or I have insomnia, so I can't just stay up late a couple of nights a week. I barely fit in all of the chores I need to do after work, so fitting in a ride is almost impossible. Now that the time has changed, if the weather is decent, I could probably just throw on a helmet and a bridle and toodle around the house for fifteen minutes but really it seems pointless because we can't really do anything productive and walking circles in the yard by myself gets really boring, especially in the dark.
So what are your thoughts? I was looking back through my blog and realized it's been over a year since I've ridden my horse. I've only ridden him 16 times in the last two years since I started working at this extremely stressful, fast paced, mentally exhausting job. I have time to ride on the weekends (when the weather is okay), but I keep talking myself out of it because I don't want to be a weekend warrior.
So if you work full time and/or a lot of overtime, do you ride only on the weekends? Is being a weekend warrior as bad as a lot of people make it sound? I miss riding and I know Chrome needs the exercise for his stifles, but I'm terrified of hurting him.
I'll stop rambling. Please share your thoughts! I would really appreciate any advice. Also because I know someone will mention it, having someone half lease him or come over to exercise him when I'm at work is not an option. Thanks in advance!
The slow feed hay net finally arrived!! It's only been a few days, but so far I think this thing is going to be worth the money. The horses figured out how to use it in a single night. I was very impressed. When they eat from it, it really is just like grazing. Here is a short video showing them eating from it. Sorry for the horrid quality... stupid cell phones...
This next one looks like my hubby has a horse head lol.
He was tightening the net because I wasn't able to tie it completely closed when we first put it on (I'm a wimp). It's going to be so much easier to put on when the tractor is fixed and we can put it on while it's in the air.
The reason Rocky has so much hay in his mouth in the second picture is because hubby pulled some out and gave it to him.
Here is a further out picture so you can see the net. It looks like they've eaten a ton of hay in a short period of time, but it's just because they pulled on it so it fell down on the sides making it look wide and flat. I'm curious to see how long a bale lasts with the net.
Look at how filthy my horse still is. I'm glad for the rain because we've been in a bit of a drought (we were under a burn ban) but I'm so tired of the mud.... Anyway I'll update more after we've fed a bale or two out of it.