Thursday, November 17, 2011

I normally avoid clipping horses at all costs. For me it's in my top 3 most hated jobs, unpacking the trailer after winter being number one. Although I'm very competent (having clipped a lot of horses as a working student) I usually say that I don't know how to, that in Australia our horses don't grow winter coats and we don't even have clippers. This is a lie but again, in my top 3 hated jobs! Unfortunately for me tho one of my best horses is a little bit special in some ways (as all the good ones are!). He has tonnes of ability and along with that comes tonnes of attitude. He has an amazing extended trot, he bucks. He has a super jump, he bucks. He can score a 26 in the dressage without even trying, he also bucks! The attitude also comes out in the barn, most notably this summer by doing his level best to kill both himself and his handler. Both of them ended up in hospital! The horse required surgery and a long break. The handler with a concussion and almost severed finger! And what terrible, cruel, unusual punishment was she attempting on him at the time of the accident?! That's right, clipping him!!! So now heading into winter almost all of my horses have been clipped except this one. His coat has now grown to embarrassing lengths and the job of clipping has become unavoidable. So, given his last display, it's up to me to clip him myself. Put my body on the line. I have to say this horse and I have a very good relationship, he's one of my best friends (weird, yes). So to begin I enlisted the help of Uncle Sedative, just to take the edge off. And by edge I mean put the horse very much into a dreamlike state that he wouldn't even notice if we had another earthquake! I also had the kind and helpful assistance of Rachel Best to stand at his head and warn me if he so much as opened his eyes! Her assistance was involuntary, I just said can you hold this horse for 5 minutes.... So with extra sedative and Rachel in place, I set to work REALLY fast. It was going really well until I got to his stomach and I noticed a swish of his tail. I looked at his head and he seemed fine, his nose was fairly close to the ground. I went back to work thinking I'd imagined his tail swishing. I then got to his back legs and the tail swished again! This time the Rachel Alarm System went off alerting me to the fact that his head was way up in the air and he was very much awake! So a little more sedative and we were back on track. This time I got half way up his neck before the tail started swishing again. I tried to push on but visions of severed fingers and horse hospitals held me back a bit! So I gave him a pat (to tell him I love his fighting spirit) and put him away for the evening. Now I have a 2/3rds clipped horse and round two in the clipping ring facing me tomorrow..... Lucky he can jump!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Ronnie and I taking in the sights of Autumn.

Autumn for me is a two week period to catch up on everything that I have been putting off all year (eg my record keeping..) and to plan for winter. As winter approaches my barn grows from 20 horses in MD to 20 horses in MD AND 15 plus horses in SC. To SC I not only take the horses but obviously a couple of people (this year John and Chloe) plus a few dogs and a whole barn full of winter needs for horse and rider. And this year with my focus shifting from teaching back to my personal riding goals and sales, there are ever more horses to pack for! There's also the last couple of horses to sell that aren't moving south, Titanium and Raleigh this year. Add to this the preparations for the Irish horses and we keeping pretty busy!
This week I also upgraded my trusty old 4 horse trailer for a 6 horse one which should reduce the trips up and down highway 95 from 4 each way to 3 thereby saving about $2000 in diesel. So there is that to be washed and prepared for the winter also. Last but not least there's my wardrobe to consider. I need to make sure I have fleece lined breeches in the lastest colours!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Jeanne, myself and Lillian. Not a great shot, but the only one we took on the whole trip!
Cole's year ended well with VA Horse Trials with a top ten finish in the intemediate. I was super happy with his showjumping: of the 35 horses who started, 2 showjumped clear and 4 had one rail down each. Our hard work and experience in the showjumping (it pays to go to a couple of indoor shows) paid off with just one rail down. 10 horses alone had 5 or more rails! So Cole now gets a short break then back into to get ready for winter. He just has a couple more boxes to check (changes!) before his first advanced mid Feb. Lightning had a great test with a 29! Not bad for his second event! Unfortunately he wasn't so keen on the cross country, he just didn't understand why he had to gallop AWAY from the safety of the trailers and the other horses! Ronnie did a combined test, I thought it would be better to wait until there wasn't snow on the ground to do his first training!
Then on to Ireland for a spot of horse shopping. It was my first time there and I'm well and truly impressed with the quality of horses! Jeanne Leone (Cole's co owner, with Rege Dvorsky) came to keep me company and make sure I didn't get carried away with eating sausage rolls! I did eat 6 within the first hour but I digress... We saw some super horses, didn't crash the hire car (I was thankful to be driving on the correct side of the road again, I'm much faster!) and got to see the famous Coolmore stud in the flesh. And now the wait begins as we prepare for the new arrivals at the beginning of December! We were also able to catch up with Lillian Heard (while trialing the wonderful Fernhill horses) and see how she's settled into Irish life. Apparently quite well judging by her new found driving skills and new lilt in her accent! From Potomac to Kilkenny via West Grove, she's gathering some awesome experiences and skills. Back on the home front I want to share this message (Rege's personal blog!) from Cole's owner, Rege. Cole is one of my best horses and I was well assured he was in good hands! I'm also glad to see that the eventing terminology is entering Rege's vocabulary! Hope you enjoy as much as I did:

Rege's Blog
Well, Cole is missing his rider,Kate, while she is in Ireland looking for his replacement.Today was my first ride on Cole, being Kate has left. I immediately noticed Cole hard on the bit with little flexion on his left side.On the flats, he needed some coaxing on the counter-canter and I found it tough to get him on the proper lead.I was hoping to have my helmet cam for this historic ride, but I left it in Jeanne's Jeep and did not have the keys to open the door.Oh, to be back in Pittsburgh.Back to the ride. Cole did well over a sequence of skinny's and corner jumps. But I was surprised to be launched in the air as he bucked me off before the liverpool !!!All this said, I believe I can make him the horse he can be. I will put him on a series of neutracueticals until Kate returns.Conclusion: Cole is like an old woman with a Virginia ham under her arm crying that she has no bread!!!He has the heart, but needs the Chadderton back in his life.The grass is always greener on the other side, NOT....he's allready here.

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