Sunday, November 6, 2011

Bad News

Well... although I thought the worst was over financially for my hubby and I, I guessed wrong. A few weeks ago, we got some bad news. No, not a layoff, but a pay cut substantial enough to make owning a horse a totally bad idea right now. I have been so sad, and hopeful that things would change, that I've put off writing this post for several weeks. But I guess it's time to tell you all that the wonderful lady who was boarding/training Penny for me has decided to keep her. I am indescribably heartbroken, but also so thankful that she agreed to do so. I know that she will make sure that Penny NEVER ends up at the auction again. I in NO WAY regret saving Penny... this has been an amazing, if short journey... but I guess it was too good to be true for me right now. Please send some good thoughts to Penny, now re-named "Bree," as she starts her new life in earnest.

I will leave this blog up as a record of our all too brief time together :-P... but I want y'all to know that I am not giving up on my dream of having a horse again. Things look promising for better financial times ahead in 2012... so I will probably start a new blog chronicling my continued adventures of getting back into horses. As much as I want to... I just can't stay away ;)

Thank you all for your support. If you want to keep following my adventures with my dogs, check out my dog blog Cedes of Change. I will be back soon!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

RIP Gogo Fatale

This has been a week full of crazy ups and downs, but mostly downs. Among other things (which I'll talk about later), I heard the news that one of my favorite "blogger" horses, Gogo, was given rest today after several years fighting against compounding injuries. I know how hard it is to have to make that decision for someone/something you love so much, and my heart aches for Andrea at Eventing-A-Gogo. Although we have never met, I have been reading her blog for several years and have become very much invested in the saga of Andrea and Gogo.

It is definitely a somber night here. Please send some good thoughts to Andrea (and Gogo). I don't quite know what else to say.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Waiting... and Planning :-P

Because Penny currently lives 8 hours away, and I won't really get to work with her on the daily until December (gasp), I've had a lot of time to think about what I want to do with her and how to accomplish those goals.

After all, she's very smart and very sassy :-P

Here's what I've come up with so far as a general guideline of what I'd like to accomplish with her before next summer:

This fall (October-End of November):
- Let her decompress and get used to her new barn
- Help her to continue to gain weight and condition
- Get her feet in better condition with at least two more good barefoot trims
- Start her on BioFlax
- Work on groundwork, continue the work April (her current trainer) has been doing with her (loading, tying, clipping, feet, desensitizing, etc)
- Hand walk her around (and possibly off) the property to build confidence and condition.
- Introduce her to the clicker and aim to shape at least one behavior (however small) per session. Start with stretches and stuff (the clicker is great for that kind of thing!)

This Winter (December-February... once I'm back in town and can see her often):
- Teach her how to lunge, with the goal of having her be able to W/T/C and halt obediently on voice commands, both directions.
- Possibly teach her to ground drive (I may be taking some ground driving lessons soon... I'll keep y'all posted!)
- Introduce her to the bridle, work up to being able to use it while lunging and ground driving ;)
- Introduce her to the saddle (possibly both English and Western), get her to the point where it doesn't bother her at all. I want all this stuff to be really boring for her!
- Continue with ground work and desensitization to scary stuff (tarps flapping, tupperware, umbrellas, etc).
- Continue with clicker training, maybe work on some tricks!

This Spring (March-May... we should be having fun by now!)
- Keep up with the lunging and ground work. If I haven't already, introduce side reins and ground poles/cavaletti
- Do some in-hand trail stuff
- Trailer out someplace, have a positive experience.
- Bathe her for the first time (if I don't get to it this fall).
- If everything is going well, start riding her! Establish basic manners under saddle, start us both on the path to getting in "riding shape."
- Start teaching her the basics of how to carry herself properly, bending, contact, etc.
- Get "out of the arena" fairly quickly and start doing short rides around the property (and possibly off, depending on how quiet she is and if we can find a buddy).

So.... how does this look? It's been a long time since I did any kind of horse training project, especially one of this magnitude. How does the pacing look? I am aiming for a plan that pushes us, but that isn't impossible (or too easy). Is there anything I should add or take out? Any skills I'm missing that she really should know in this time frame?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Monday, October 17th the day Penny will be making the move to Kennewick.

I can't WAIT, even though I'll still be stuck in Boise until the first week of December, and will only get to see her on the weekends until then. But 4 1/2 hours away is a lot closer than 8 1/2 hours! :D

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


I've said this quite a few times, but it seems like things just keep coming together for The Pennymare and I. It's kinda creepy, really. Awkward timing and money issues aside, this whole experience has been far less traumatic than I thought it would be so far ;) Knock on wood, of course.

For example, the owners of Barn B, after several phone calls/messages, never responded. So we decided to go with Barn A. Come October 17th (give or take), Penny will be living here:

Another thing I was worried about was arranging for her to be transported from where she currently lives to where I live, about a 3-4 hour drive. I ended up finding someone who seems responsible and is willing to haul her for me, for much less than I had anticipated. Fingers crossed that this works out as well...

Because I have a lot of pony-less time to fill, I've been thinking a lot about a training plan for Miss Pen. As far as we know, she has never been ridden or anything like that and hasn't had a whole lot of training other than basic ground manners stuff (and she could still use some work in this area).

Personally, I think that she needs quite a bit of conditioning before I start training her under saddle. Plus, it'll be winter pretty soon so I won't be able to do much riding anyways. My plan for the winter includes a lot of ground work, lunging, desensitizing, etc. to improve her body condition and teach her how to work respectfully with people.

While I'm thinking about this, I do have a question for y'all:

What are some good ways to build your horse's condition from the ground? I'm talking specifics here... not just "lunging" or "hand walking," but actual exercises or things to do.

As we slide closer to winter (and less-than-ideal riding conditions), I think it's good to think about this stuff anyways. What do you do to maintain your horse's condition when you can't ride as long, often or at all?

Monday, September 26, 2011

USDF Region 6 Championships

Yesterday, Aimee and I went to the USDF Region 6 Championship dressage show to watch and cheer on our former/current/whatever riding instructor and friend, Cathy, who qualified to go with her mare, Sasha. I rode with Cathy from the ages of about ten to eighteen (with a few years away with different instructors in between). In fact, that’s where I first met Aimee.

Cathy and Sasha are a very flashy, elegant team:

On Friday, they won the 2nd Level Championship. They were fifth in 3rd Level on Saturday. Sasha was a bit naughty, but gorgeous as always… and wonderful to photograph.

I just love her face:

Doesn’t she look like a bridle model?

We also watched all of the musical freestyle competition, from first level all the way through Grand Prix. Freestyle is AWESOME. I’ve watched hours of it on YouTube, but never seen it in person. When done right, it’s breathtaking.

Apparently I have a thing for chestnuts…

I LOVED this guy. Perfect markings, beautiful gaits, sweet expression. I’d take him home. I think he was an Oldenburg or Hanovarian… but I can’t remember. :)

Flying change!


One of the coolest things we saw was this Haflinger…. Doing GRAND PRIX. Yes, you heard that right. A Grand Prix pony!!!! What a cool little guy he was, too.

Canter pirouette…

Extended trot :)

Piaffe, I think.

And hey, if a Haffie can make it to Grand Prix, why not a scrappy chestnut QH mare with a lot of heart? :) Man, I can’t wait until I can see her every day.

I *think* I might have transport arranged for her for the middle of October... cross your fingers it works out! But so far, everything has been falling into place for me and the Pennymare. Let's just hope it continues!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Barn Shopping!

Since Penny will hopefully be coming to Kennewick sometime in mid-October, this week I started the super fun process of barn shopping--long distance, LOL

Only the best for my Penny Lane!

With Joe as my barn shopping liason, we've looked at one barn so far this week, and he is going to look at another one tonight or tomorrow, hopefully.

Here are the details on Barn A:

Description: This facility offers full care with orchard grass hay, 12 x 12 enclosed shed with 34 x 40 dry lot pen, daily turnout on a gorgeous pasture that is STILL green this far in the year (a big deal in this area), use of an 85 x 200 groomed arena, and access to miles and miles of trails from the property. It is about 22-30 minutes from my house, depending on traffic.

- They will feed grain/supplements provided by owner
- Good quality hay fed twice daily
- They will blanket and unblanket
- They will hold your horse for the vet/farrier if needed
- Clean facility in good condition, all the horses look happy.
- Small number of boarders (8 horses), all adult owners.
- Joe got a really good "vibe" from the place and, despite not being a horse person, was really enthusiastic about it.
- He talked to one boarder, who was out there riding, had been there two years, and said it was her favorite place she'd ever boarded her horse. This lady sent me an email that night asking if I had any questions. Color me impressed.

- Expensive (towards the high end of what I am willing to pay)
- Limited winter turnout
- Mostly a western barn, so I might be the only english rider there.
-No round pen

I really like the sounds of this place. I am interested to see the next barn, but I have a good feeling about this one. I think the pros far outweigh the cons... and I'm worried someone else will snatch up my spot, so Joe had better hurry and visit Barn B :)


Thoughts? Any tips for things I should look for or ask that I might not have thought about? Any advice would be GREATLY appreciated, as it's been a really long time since I've done this.... :)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Auction Whisperer

So anyways... I haven't finished telling y'all about all the adventures Aimee and I had this past weekend, or as I like to call it, PennyFest2011.

Aimee and I started out driving fairly early on Friday morning, with the goal of visiting Penny that afternoon/evening. We were driving from Boise, ID to Buckley, WA (where Penny is)... and then from Buckley to Federal Way, WA where we would be staying with one of Aimee's friends. The distance from Boise to Buckley is 511.46 miles, and then it's about another 24 miles between Buckley and Federal Way. So we definitely had a full day of driving ahead of us.

It was cool watching the scenery change from this....

To this, in just a matter of hours:

Finally, after some GPS mishaps and a few wrong turns, we found our way to Buckley. I could hardly sit still... partially because I really needed to pee, but mostly because I couldn't wait to meet my new horse for the first time ;)

I was pleasantly surprised by how pretty the facility was, especially considering that April (the gal that is taking care of Penny for me right now) has only lived there a very short time (like a week or two!) Penny has her own stall and little run inside the red barn here:

It's a very peaceful and serene place, perfect for Penny to decompress, relax, and get healthy.

But this post isn't totally about her. We *did* have another very important reason for making the trip... the fall tack sale at Olson's in Bellevue. Olson's is a super swanky tack shop, clearly catering to the wealthy riders in the area. But they were having an awesome sale and Aimee and I couldn't wait to check it out. We planned in advance to get there early to get one of the free swag bags they were giving away to the first 25 people in the door. We were afraid that we would be, like, #26 and 27... but we lucked out and got goodie bags full of neat free stuff, like a pair of Kerrits socks, a Pikeur water bottle, and an amazingly-bright LED hat. Totally cool.

Aside from everything inside the store on sale, they also had a tent outside where everything was an additional 10% off if you bought it before 10 AM. I found a pair of Kerrits gloves for 50% off (plus the 10%), a pair of Kerrits Cargo tights for 40% off (plus 10%), and a cool pair of Kerrits "Storm Shelter" coverall pants for a sizeable discount as well. Score! I also found a cute cream and gold Eskadron Fly Bonnet for FOUR dollars. They are normally around 50 bucks... so I just had to buy it ;)

I also bought a Nunn Finer Figure 8 Bridle for 20% off, and an Eggbutt snaffle to go with it. The bridle and bit together was still $30 less than the retail price of the bridle. Score! It is a gorgeous bridle and I can't wait to try it on Penny. Don't you think she'll look adorable in this?

Aimee bought a bunch of stuff, too, which I'm sure she'll talk about sometime on her own blog. Here's a photo of all our loot in the back of my car:

I would highly recommend attending this sale if you are in the Seattle area when it's going on. AMAZING stuff. I was drooling over all the pretty saddles and found the softest stirrup leathers I've ever felt. But I couldn't afford another $100 or so. Guess we'll just have to come back next year :-P

After the sale, we went and visited Penny again for a few hours, took some pictures, and tried on some of the stuff we bought. She looked adorable in the fly bonnet, as to be expected, and was pretty good about letting me put it on her. However, I don't think she's ever seen a bridle before... so we need to work on that ;)

After visiting with Penny on Saturday, I had the bright idea to drive to Enumclaw (about 10 minutes away) and visit the Enumclaw Sales Pavilion, where Penny was sent to auction and sat in the kill pen for a few weeks. It was getting dark and raining at this point, so Aimee turned on the headlights. Remember this later.

We got out and I snapped a few photos of the building and sales yard. I gotta tell you... it's a pretty grim, depressing place with a weird vibe. The footing is terrible (broken up concrete) and the waterers were straight-up disgusting and full of algae. Not a place I'd want to spend any time in.

Unfortunately, that's just what Aimee and I got to do, because my car battery died. Oh Joy. After unsuccessfully asking people around us for a jump (again with the creepy, weird vibes), Aimee called her friend and they drove out to help us. It ended up being okay, but we spent just a little bit too long stranded in a creepy town in bad weather for it to be much fun ;) We joked that we were just trying to really "experience" what Penny went through in order to understand her better. LOL.

Some pix of the auction yard:

We were so happy to finally be rescued and GTFO of there!

After that debacle, we went to the Washington State Fair with Aimee's friend, her friend's boyfriend, and his daughter. WOW-- I was totally impressed with the number and quality of the horses in the 4H barns. In Idaho, our 4H program is small and pretty crappy, with lots of bad riding, dirty kids and scrub horses. Not in the state of WA, apparently! Every third horse was a Thoroughbred or Warmblood, and with a few exceptions, all were healthy and in good condition. And they have dressage as a 4H event! Color me impressed.

We also visited the draft horse/carriage horse barn. My favorites were this giant, 18hh+ Percheron (one of my fave breeds):

And this adorable Shetland Pony team. How cute are they??

Unfortunately, my car battery proved to be pretty much fatally dead. With another jump, we were able to get back to Federal Way, but I had to go buy a really expensive battery (ugh, of course!) in the morning. Figures this would happen right after I bought a horse. Oh well.

On Sunday, after getting and installing my new car battery, we went by to visit Penny one more time on our way back to Boise. She definitely recognized me from earlier visits and was quite a bit sassier and more affectionate.

I can't wait to see her again.

All in all, it was a super fun and eventful trip with great company, killer shopping, lots of pizza, and a wonderful new pony to top it all off.

It was good to be home, though.