If you have been following along with my posts, you know that I have not been on Diesel since I put him into full training this past October. My last ride on him before he went to training was not a pretty one, to say the least. After being bucked off, my confidence was shot and he was quickly losing his confidence in me. That’s when I knew that weekly lessons just weren’t cutting it anymore. I have no shame about admitting when I am in over my head and this time was no exception.
Being bucked off did quite a number on my confidence, so the last few months I have been struggling with regaining all of the confidence that I have lost. It definitely hasn’t been easy. With a full college schedule, my dad being in the hospital, and Diablo struggling with soundness issues, riding was put on the back burner. It wasn’t until this past week that I was able to get back in the saddle regularly for the first time in months.
If you know Diablo, you know that he is NOT an easy ride – even when in regular work. Riding him after a long break can even insight fear in professionals. That being said, after owning him for five years, I have just learned to laugh through his little bucks and crow hopping episodes. He definitely gave me a run for my money my first time back, but it was such a confidence booster for me to just be back in the saddle again. He always knows how to make me laugh and challenge me. I really missed riding my goofy cow!
Riding this past week for the first time in a few months definitely opened my eyes to how unfit I have gotten. I am ashamed to admit that I have gained quite a bit of weight since my last time regularly in the saddle. Your girl has to get back in the saddle and the gym!
After riding Diablo last week and attending the show yesterday, I finally decided that today was the day that I was going to get back on Diesel. Even though I can confidently ride through Diablo’s antics, getting back on Diesel sparked a little fear in my heart. I couldn’t help but be a little anxious as I pulled up the barn – I am not as fit as I was and his bucks are nothing to laugh about. However, I am so glad that I got back on today.
Riding Dies today made me the happiest I have been in a long time, and I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face as I walked him around the arena. I couldn’t hold back my tears of happiness when I picked up the trot and trotted my boy around for what seemed like the first time in forever. He was such a good nugget and packed me around like a seasoned pro, which made me cry even harder.
I am just blown away by how great of a job my trainer has done with him. Even though I have watched him from the ground while my trainer has ridden, I hadn’t realized just how much he has improved and grown-up until I got in the saddle. I felt a huge difference in him both mentally and physically. It was amazing to feel how much fitter he has gotten and how much more relaxed he is under saddle. He felt like a completely different horse than the nervous baby horse I tried last April. I was so incredibly proud of my baby Dies – he has come such a long way! It makes me really wonder how I got so lucky to own such a spectacular baby horse!
Today gave me hope that he and I will be able to get back to making progress together. Now that I finally faced my fear of getting back on him after the fall, I am planning on resuming weekly lessons in an effort to get back the rest of the confidence that I have lost. I can’t wait to get back in the saddle for good and start enjoying my spectacular baby horse again.
As much as I would love to be able to sit down and write about how fantastic the baby horse was yesterday, I’m afraid I can’t say he was a complete angel the entire time this time out. However, I guess you can’t expect perfection from baby green beans 100% of the time. 😬 Bad days are bound to happen – even to the most seasoned show horse.
Yesterday we trailered Dies and three other horses to a small schooling show at Wisteria Farm in Monroe, GA to get him out and about before the “real” horse shows coming up next month. Unlike the last two shows, Dies had to spend some of the day tied to the trailer since we decided not to rent a stall for the day. After all, he has to learn patience at some point. It was all fine and dandy until he ran out of hay. Let me tell you – this did NOT sit well with him at all. He decided that learning patience was not on his list of to-dos, but little does he know that patience is a part of every horse show!
“Look mom, I can be a good boy!”
My two boys!
Most of the day was spent with him pacing, “digging to China”, pitching temper tantrums both at the trailer and on the lunge line, screaming at the top of his lungs whenever his travel buddies would leave, and angrily eating his hay. I’m really not kidding about him angrily eating his hay. One of his favorite things to do when he doesn’t get his way is to show his displeasure by angrily grazing or tearing at his hay net. It’s quite comical.
Since he spent most of the time that he was tied to the trailer acting like a fool, he ended up snapping his leather halter in half and “running” free for a few minutes. By running I mean that he walked around the trailer with a confused look on his face that seemed to say “mom, I don’t think this is what I should be doing”. If you are looking for a durable halter, definitely don’t buy Dover’s cheap triple stitch halter. This is the second one that has snapped in half on me, and I would rather not have a loose horse! Of course, I can’t expect too much from a cheap leather halter. It looks like I am going to be on the search for a new barn halter for him. If you have any good ones, let me know below in the comments!
Since the show was running a tad late due to lots of entries, we opted to just stick him into the 2′ division instead of waiting for the 2’3 due to his temper tantrums and lack of entries in the 2’3. Even though he was a brat on the ground, he performed like a rock star and put down two of his best trips to date and flatted beautifully. I was sure that he was going to explode under saddle, but to my surprise, he pulled it together for his classes and behaved like a champ – even when the horse in front of him in the warm-up arena bucked its rider off.
There was a definite improvement from the last show, which is so rewarding to see. His jumping rounds are really starting to come together and are looking smoother and smoother each time out. Of course, height is not an issue – it’s just everything in between haha! Unlike the last show, his turns to the jump were much smoother with no drifting to the left, and his pace was much more rhythmic. The only blip was that he trotted before the second jump in one of the outside lines, but I would much rather see him go slow than run at the jumps. I know he can’t wait until he gets to jump the big boy jumps – these are just speed bumps to him!
His flat work has continued to improve as well. He is continuing to build fitness and is now getting strong enough to really hold himself together rather than relying on the rider’s hand to hold him. His transitions are getting quicker and smoother as well. We are continuing to build his confidence and fitness, and it is really starting to pay off. Overall, I was very impressed with his improvement and behavior under saddle! I couldn’t have asked him to be a better nugget for my trainer. She has done an excellent job with him so far! I was beaming with pride the whole time he was in the ring. I am just so blessed to own a horse as wonderful as him – even if he was a jerk on the ground yesterday.
All in all, I would definitely consider this show a success despite the rocky start. He kept me on my toes all day and almost drove me crazy, but I was incredibly proud of him for pulling it together in the ring and giving my trainer some great rides. Since he is not usually a brat on the ground, I am just going to attribute it to having to stand at the trailer without hay for hours. I can’t blame him for getting impatient, really. On the bright side, working through his bad behavior gave me a huge confidence boost. A few months ago, I would have been a nervous wreck if I had to handle him acting like a fool. He can be quite a handful sometimes, but I guess that just comes with the young horse territory!
I also wanted to give a huge thank you to everyone who had a part in running Equifest! It definitely isn’t easy to host a horse show, but they pulled it off with great success. Everyone at the show was so friendly and made our experience a great one. If you are looking to attend a nice schooling show with friendly staff and a nice setup, definitely give Equifest at Wisteria Farm a try! Here is the link to their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/equifestatwisteriafarms/
Anyway, I can’t wait until his next show the weekend of March 10th! It will be his second “big boy” weekend show, so hopefully, he will be on his best behavior! I am really looking forward to the first full weekend show of the year!
Continuing to ride in college can be quite the challenge and not for the faint of heart. As we all know, horses have a way of consuming all of your time. But wait, doesn’t college do that too? Here is a list of 8 things that happen when you’re a college equestrian:
1. Coffee is the only reason you can still function. Let’s just face it, you could probably own Starbucks by now with the amount of money you have spent on coffee just in this past month. Between early morning rides, classes, long afternoons at the farm lessoning and feeding, and late night study sessions, you’ve probably just decided to live by the phrase “sleep is for the weak” and go ahead and chug that second coffee.
2. You make your own fashion statements. With your schedule filled to the brim, riding before class is often a necessity, and it isn’t always feasible to be able to shower and change before you have to make it to that early lecture. Rather than try and hide that slobber stained shirt or messy barn hair, you have decided to just embrace it instead. Surely nobody will care that you have hay in your hair, right?
3. Your closet is half breeches and sunshirts and half t-shirts and jeans. So much for variety! If you’re not wearing your riding clothes to class, you’ll most likely be caught wearing your favorite t-shirt and a pair of old jeans. It’s a good thing that most of your breeches can double as everyday wear because after all, who can afford nice, new clothes when you have a horse?
4. The barn becomes your classroom. Rather than just skipping out on pony time, you lug your heavy backpack out to the barn and start typing away at that essay while perched on the top of your tack trunk or the nearest bale of hay. By the time you are done with college, your horse should be able to graduate from college with you as many times as you’ve used him as a study buddy.
5. Your planner looks like a murder scene straight out of CSI: Miami. Horses take up a lot of time, so in order to continue riding in college, you’ve had to master the skill of time management. Your planner is overflowing with sticky notes, written messages, highlighter marks, and those alert stickers. Between juggling barn time, classes, work, big due dates, and a plethora of exams, it’s hard to believe that you can even make the time to breathe.
6. You never have money to go out with friends because you spend it all on your horse. At this point, it’s safe to say that your horse has a better wardrobe and eats better than you do. Plus, you’re pretty sure the only thing in your wallet right now is hay and those free peppermints you snag at every restaurant.
7. The dining hall is your new favorite treat destination. Since college and horses are bleeding your bank account dry, the dining hall has become your one-stop shop for horse treats. Why pay for an overpriced bag of treats when you can just snag a few apples and peppermints on your way out?
8. None of your college friends ever ask you for a ride. Since you are always on the move with no time to waste, your car becomes your mobile tack trunk and closet. With all of the saddles, bridles, treat bags, and saddle pads residing in your car, it’s surprising that you are even able to fit in there much less another person. The passenger seat? Yeah, it’s for my saddle. Oh, the back seat? Sorry, that’s where all of my saddle pads and horse blankets reside. Maybe you can fit in the trunk next to the bale of hay?
9. Friday night out on the town? More like Friday night in my bed. Unlike many of your college friends, you have to be at the show grounds at 5 am. Who has time for partying when you have a horse show to go to? The answer is: not you!
10. You wouldn’t have it any other way. Despite all of the hardships that come with continuing to ride in college, at the end of the day, it is completely worth it when you get to the barn and see your horse’s dopey face after a hard day or classes or that killer exam. Ponies can make anything better!
There’s nothing more I enjoy than spending some quality time with my guys. Grooming, bathing, and hand walking were on the list of to-dos today for Mr. Dies. With his third show coming up this weekend, he was in need of a good pre-show pampering session – especially since he was covered head to toe in dust and mud. His formally white socks were red from the Georgia clay, which surprisingly, is not appropriate for the show ring. 😂 Since today was Dies’s spa day, I decided I would share some of my grooming holy-grails to get those ponies gleaming – nobody likes a grungy pony!
If you know me, you know that I am the queen of personalization and monograms. Nothing makes me happier than a nice personalized grooming set! Some of my favorite brushes are the brushes that I purchased from Saucy Piaffe and the custom brushes I bought from The Artful Equine. Since my ponies are in two separate places, they each have their own set of brushes. I use the brushes I purchased from Saucy Piaffe for Diesel and my custom brushes from The Artful Equine for Diablo. I absolutely adore both sets, and they do an excellent job of leaving my ponies’ coats gleaming! These brushes, along with a little hard work, really make a difference in the health of their coats. You won’t catch me going back for generic brushes again!
I am just now trying out Healthy Hair salve, Heal Quick salve, Shine Bright Coat Spray, and Be Calm salve from The Herbal Horse. I haven’t got a chance to use it yet as it just arrived at my apartment this afternoon, but I will definitely write up a full review on their products once I get a good feel for them. Just to give y’all a run-down, I plan to use the Be Calm salve to help them to relax during long grooming sessions, and the Healthy Hair salve on their manes and tails to help encourage thicker tail growth and strong hair. Finally, I am planning on incorporating their Shine Bright Coat Spray as the final step in my grooming routine to see if it helps their coat remain healthy and nourished. I can’t wait to actually get to put my hands on them and put them to the test.
As for bath time, I am an avid fan of Lucky Braid’s shampoo to get their coat nice and clean. It smells great and leaves his coat nice and shiny. It does an excellent job of getting Diesel’s thick tail super clean as well. If I’m running low on cash, Suave’s line of cheaper shampoos works almost just as well for a fraction of the price. I like to keep some Sauve on hand to wash legs after riding when I can’t justify breaking out the expensive stuff. However, for his white legs and Diablo’s white body, I bring out the heavy duty stuff – Wisk. I know what you’re thinking, and no, it is not harmful to them whatsoever. I’ve been using it on Diablo for shows for the past five years and his coat looks amazing. Yes, it is the washing detergent that you see in the cleaning aisle at the supermarket. Let me tell you, as the owner of a paint horse, this stuff is a complete lifesaver. Unlike Quik Silver or any of the “horse” purple shampoos, you don’t have to scrub until your hands bleed. A small amount of this stuff will literally save you 30 minutes of scrubbing. Just make sure that you rinse their coat thoroughly and follow with a coat conditioner or a conditioning spray. You will have a gleaming white pony or white socks in no time.
After I gave Diesel a nice long groom and a long sudsy bath on this nice 70-degree day, I took him for a nice hand walk and hand graze to help him to dry out. I love this part of my grooming routine as I really feel that it is a great way to bond with my guys. It may not seem that significant, but taking the time to hand graze your horse really helps build a bond. Some of my best memories are hand grazing Diablo on warm spring days. Since I am not always able to see Diesel every day, I make the time to frequently take the time to just go out and hand graze him. I really enjoy just taking the time to spend some one on one time with my boys. It is quite relaxing for me and them. I always finish up their spa day with a nice coat of Farrier’s Fix hoof oil and a handful of well-deserved treats!
Don’t fear, tomorrow will be Diablo’s designated spa day. Even though he is no longer showing, the old man won’t get left out. 😉 He enjoys getting pampered too. Maybe a little more than Diesel!
Stay tuned for Diesel’s third show coming up this Saturday! I will make sure to update y’all on his progress this show – he will be moving up to the 2’3 division! He is getting closer and closer to the big boy jumps! I can’t wait to share his experience with all of you. Until then, happy riding, everyone!
Like the name of my blog suggests, ponies (well horses) and Pembroke Welsh Corgis are the two loves of my life. They help keep me sane in this crazy, busy life of mine! Now that you have been introduced to my two wonderful ponies, Diesel and Diablo, I feel that it’s time to put the spotlight on the other love of my life: my corgi, Gracie!
Gracie came into my life three years ago as a tiny eight-week-old puppy. Even though she is no longer the little puppy that I picked up from the breeder, she continues to make me smile every day with her big personality and her undying love of fetch. She absolutely adores people and would sit on your lap all day if you would let her. She is just a love bug! I could probably write an entire book about how much I love my dog. 😄
However, I have been struggling with her fear of interacting with other dogs after she was attacked and strangled by another dog at a boarding facility when she was around a year old. I trusted this boarding facility, which I will not name for privacy reasons, with taking excellent care of her while we were on our first vacation without her. In return, the social and playful dog I dropped off was returned to me with bloodshot red eyes due to strangulation, a bite wound, and fear after being cornered and attacked by another dog. The worst part is that this “facility” never even notified me that she was hurt. What a great way to be greeted when coming back off of vacation! Ever since then her fear of other dogs approaching her has continued to progress. Living in fear is no life at all.
I have been working on building back the confidence that she lost after she was attacked, but it has been a slow process. I recently decided to seek the help of a professional dog trainer to help her further as I don’t have the skills needed to help her fully. Battling fear is not an easy feat. I thought that blogging her progress might be helpful to others who are dealing with fearful dogs – it is tough to do alone! Especially, when other owners don’t take the time to properly train their dogs or work with their aggressive dogs. You can only control how your dog will react.
We had our first consultation the other afternoon with the wonderful owner of Sit Happens Dog Training, Tina Spring. In our first session, Tina sat down with me and discussed all of the options that we can try to help her overcome her fear. Some of those options included: changing her diet, using pheromone collars to help calm her mind, using training techniques that employ classical conditioning methods, and trying calming medication. We also discussed taking her to the vet office where I work and doing a blood test on her to rule out thyroid issues since they frequently occur in corgis and can cause intense anxiety and fear. I will start off by giving you a little background information to help you to follow along with my rambling.
After speaking with the Tina, I decided to go ahead and try a combination of a few of her suggestions. I will start off by saying that I am personally not a huge fan of immediately medicating dogs without trying other options first. Since I work at a vet clinic, I decided to ask my boss’s opinion and he agreed that medication should be the last option. That being said, I chose to try changing her diet, using a pheromone collar, and working with the trainer to develop a bi-weekly program to help her conquer her fears.
I currently feed Gracie Fromm Gold Holistic Adult dry dog food, which I absolutely recommend to anyone who wants to give their dog a wholesome and healthy dog food. It is not easily available where I live, so I order it through SmartPak! I have personally had great results when feeding the food such as a shiny coat and great body condition. It is a great, wholesome dog food that uses real ingredients and meat instead of all of the by-products. I will include the list of ingredients and the guaranteed analysis down below if you are interested.
Despite how much I love this food, Gracie has been slowing down on her eating. She is notorious for going off of her food when she gets tired of eating the same food for too long. She is just a picky eater! Tina suggested that I give Wellness dog food a try. After doing some research on the brand and the different food options they have, I decided to try alternating between Fromm Gold and the Wellness Core Grain-Free Original food. If you aren’t familiar with rotating foods, I definitely recommend that you go out and read some of the research supporting it – especially if you have a finicky dog. I am going to try rotating her food bi-monthly to keep her interested and provide her with different nutritional values to maintain a well-rounded diet. I will, of course, keep you updated on how well that works out for her as this will be my first time trying both the rotating schedule and the Wellness dog food. I will include the ingredients of the Wellness food down below if you are interested in seeing it’s breakdown!
I also decided to try using a pheromone collar to help control her anxiety before turning to medication. There has been some great research behind using these collars, and there is no evidence of them having any bad side-effects unlike most of the calming medications on the market. I figured that it definitely couldn’t hurt to give them a try. If you are not familiar with pheromone collars, they produce a synthetic dog appeasing pheromone similar to the pheromone that their mother produced when they were puppies. This pheromone has a calming effect on the dog, which can help them adjust to new environments and stressful situations. I decided to try out the Adaptil Calming Pheromone Collar as it is the one that has the most research behind it. You can buy it on Chewy for $17.89, which, honestly, is not too terribly expensive. She has been wearing it for about four days now, so it is a little too early to tell how it works in the long run. I do have to say that she definitely seems calmer in general while wearing it. If your dog is easily stressed, I would definitely say that it would be worth giving a try!
Before I get into it, the exercise I want to share with y’all I want to state that this exercise is the intellectual property of Tina Spring at Sit Happens Dog Training – it is not mine. Now, to round out this long post, I decided that I would share this particular exercise as it is very easy to do and is basically the foundation for dog training. It looks super simple, but it is such a great tool to use when in distracting situations where you want to teach your dog self-control and to listen to you instead of their instincts. To be honest, Gracie is extremely good at it since she was taught this exact exercise in puppy school. It is just a good thing to continue to practice nonetheless. The goal is to use this training technique during exposure exercises when we start conditioning her. I will provide a link to the video where Tina will demonstrate the exercise so that maybe you can get on the right track with your dog! Knowledge is power!
I hope that this post was helpful to all of you dog owners out there! I can’t wait to update y’all on Gracie’s progress towards living a confident and worry-free life!