Wednesday, February 29, 2012

92 days

I was grabbing coffee with two friends yesterday and the subject of boys came up. We were talking about how often when distance occurs for a long period of time it can be hard to keep the spark. Even more than the spark, often, we all found, you begin to see flaws you didn't see in that person, you begin to remember moments differently - you begin, to almost, dislike them. Which is ironic and awful and terrible because in the beginning, you had true feelings for them. Such is life.

Then, today, I was being nostalgic and thinking about you, my boy. As always. If my plan goes through I would like to "lease" you once you are home from winter pasture. You are home in 92 days. Distance has not made me think any less of you. In fact, it makes me miss all your quirks and issues even more. Distance has caused me to spend endless hours on forums, and reading articles, and looking up training tools and techniques that may aid in you becoming the horse I dream of you being. Distance has caused me to buy you things, things you don't really need, and plan to buy you more things, again - items that are probably much too expensive, and realistically very silly, and the fact is I don't even own you.

But I love you. So, I rationalize.

If anything, distance has made me entirely crazy, but it has also made me love you more.

& with all this distance, and planning, and thinking of you, I come to really worry about my plans. I worry in an almost obsessive manner, and it has made me tired. Distance has been very hard indeed, but I don't love you any less than I did the last day I saw you.

Riding Diary: 8

Horse: Quiz

Time: 1 hr.

Ride: Oh, the lovely Quiz. This horse amazes me, we get into the arena which is full of jumps and flower boxes and a managery of general craziness and you can tell she's not always 100% comfortable. (Coloured cut-out squares and flowers are here nemesis) Then you add like 4 other riders, sometimes more, most of them jumping, and she's basically like, "meh, whatever, we can handle this." & she's just coming up 4!! I love it. It really helps me because while she's being Miss cool-as-a-cucumber, I'm like... christ, this is hectic, I might die.
Anyways, started with a posting trot warm up... why do I have such a hard time picking up the right diagonal?! (as in the correct diagonal, not the right diagonal.. hardeeharhar) I really need to work on this, it annoys me greatly that I can't immediately pick it up. Then we moved onto the jog, Quiz & I have the jog down, I feel so much more comfortable at the jog than I did in my first lesson. I guess all my life people told me, "if you want to post, post, or you can sit the trot, it doesn't matter", I was also told that sitting a trot is "very advanced", something you need to work on and basically not to do it... it is times like these where I'd like to go back in the past and whack certain people upside the head. So, all my life i've been posting the trot... incorrectly... ugh... and the first time my trainer told me to sit the trot I felt like a big 'ol sack of potatoes/a mexican jumping bean because it just felt so.. foreign to me I suppose. Now I pretend I'm a western pleasure riding in a jacket so sparkly I blind you whilst I jog on by. :) (I hope that image is as wonderful for all of you as it is for me)

On to some loping and the beginning of some rollbacks! I definitely need to work on my rollbacks, but they are new to my lesson regime so I will forgive myself. My trainer has me stopping completely, and then moving my rein over before adding my leg. I add my leg too fast, with not enough rein to begin with, so it always ends up a little sloppier than I'd like. We worked rollbacks at a trot first, then at a lope, overall I was comfortable but would like them to grow more and more precise.. practice practice practice. I also have a tendency when picking up speed from a stop to lean forward and lose my heel, I need to focus on sitting back and tall while asking for speed from a stop or walk.

Finally we worked on loping the rail, Quiz has a tendancy to jump the gun and then when I attempt to check her back she'll fall into a trot. I'm not pulling on the reins very sharply, but I think she just doesn't really care to slow lope. So that's something that I definitely need to work on with her. I just need to reinforce my leg if she goes down to the trot and try and try again until we get this slow lope thing down. (Again, i'm picturing myself as a WP queen)

Next Time: I kind of addressed all of these things above, but, perfect diagonals every single time, more precise rollbacks and a calmer slower lope.

Saturday, February 25, 2012


 I don't think my mommy dearest reads this blog, so these next lines should not be seen as me sucking 

I have the best mother....
in the entire world....

Mama is not a horse person, I think she rode a couple times as a kid/teenager, but nothing more than a trail ride or two. I really want to get my shit together and take her out on a ride in the spring/summer. She thinks a horse named Wizard at our barn is very pretty, and his other name is "Red" (fitting, because my mom is a big 'ol ginger), so I think it'd be super cute to pair those two together. Also, I'd like my mom to officially meet Jingle (she's met him once before briefly), so that she can fully appreciate her grand-horse-baby.

Anyways, I'm rambling about nothing, the point of this blog post is how rad my mom is. I don't think she completely gets the horse thing - but she totally gets clothes. My mom and I share a mutual appreciation for pretty things (read-expensive), and shoes, and apparel in general. So this Christmas she wanted to get me something horse related and of course she gravitated toward the big ticket items. Her first thought was a saddle, but she contacted a family friend who steered her away from the saddle idea (... she was pretty shocked a "cheap" saddle in my books is $900) and steered her towards chaps.

My current chaps are stolen borrowed from a friend, they are a good 4 sizes too big, drag on the ground, and water seeps in through the crotch... but they are damn warm. So, my mom decided to get me chaps... and on Christmas morning I opened up an... email... from a lady who makes CUSTOM chaps.

So I got to design my own!!!

This is why my mom is the best mom.

Here they are, created by Joan Girletz of Girletz Gear Custom Saddlery out of Airdrie Alberta, her husband makes saddles, bridles, etc. and she makes chaps - specializing in some damn beautiful show chaps. Check them out if you are in the area and want to work with some really honest, stand-up kinda people, who make absolutely beautiful products.

I, however, was looking for work chaps, nothing with rhinestones (but there's nothing wrong with some sparkly silver or stainless..)

A friend of mine had shotguns made with full buckle legs, and I liked that idea, but Joan did not. She steered me towards traditional chinks, so happy with that decision.

Here they are...

I really wanted a darker leg with a lighter fringe, I LOVE how they came out.

Here's me standing a little awkwardly in them, haha. They should be a titch higher on my hips.

Saddle leather with yuma berry conchos <3

My initials are lazered into the backs of both hips.

So, mom if you ever read this, you are honestly the best. Thank you for supporting something you don't completely understand and often think I'm crazy for. I love ya.

Friday, February 24, 2012

How many cows would a cutter cut if a cutter could cut cows?

Buster Welch on Bet Hesa Cat... hot damn I love this horse.
One day Buster, i'm going to be just like you!

I was awoken to a phone call from a cutting horse trainer I had emailed a month ago. Same story, they didn't have "lesson horses" around and lessons on my own horse would be pricey too. However, we did have a nice talk (... isn't that nice? someone calls you out of the blue you've never met and you can just have a nice chat with them). He told me that with the drought years, and the fact the states are in a major cattle slump, cutting horse lessons are going to continue to become more and more expensive as barns fight to keep stock cattle to practice on. Makes sense, just sucks.

A lot of the trainers I've contacted have said the same story but offered up "finished cutting horses" that I could purchase and take lessons with. I'm a student, around here a finished, proven cutter can range anywhere from $10,000 (usually more around $15,000) - $30,000, and that's for me, a complete beginner to cutting. (what kind of freakin' beginner has $20,000 for a horse?! Show me your ways if you do!) It's pretty disheartening, this man however (a very respected trainer in these parts), told me that for a beginner I could easily get a ranch type horse that would be able to work a cow decently but may need to be helped along, pay between $5-7,000 for something pretty good, and from there would be able to learn. He said that a lot of people try to push finished cutters on beginners but it's not always necessary, especially if your taking lessons under someone. From there, once you get the hang of things, you can move up into the more "finished" world of quarter horses. He also said that he'd keep me in mind if anything comes along... which was really nice.

So, I'm a bit stuck, I talked to another trainer whose willing to put me on a couple cutters he has, but they don't start up until spring.. and then I'm gone for the summer. I'm really hoping that works out, I'm really interested in this damn sport, but I've never actually worked live cattle! It's time, no ifs ands or buts.

So, maybe the new plan is to continue with normal western lessons until I'm done University next year than in two years work my absolute ass off and buy myself a horse that can get my foot in the door, and move up from there.. that seems to be the easiest way to go about this goddamn dream. Life is so expensive ya'll!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Riding Diary: 7

Horse: Quiz!

Time: 1 hr.

Ride: This lesson went really well! My trainer kept commenting on how much better I had gotten since last lesson. I'd been out to ride two times since my first lesson and really focused on what we had done.. clearly it helped, and it feels good!

So, similar to last time we worked on the jog, this time with and without stirrups... ugh. & then we worked on loping, and that was about it. It was a good lesson though and I was definitely more calm and confident in myself.

The only thing that messed me up was the amount of people in the arena at the time... Definitely need to get used to my surroundings a little more.

For Next Time: No-Stirrup work! Toes up, heels down, don't bump her, or tense up.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

A Sweaty Quiz & A Muddy Moose

Some photo's from today...

Little Miss Quiz! Quite sweaty after a beautiful ride today. =)

My "White" dog, Moose, after 2 hours of somehow finding EVERY puddle in off-leash, as well as mud-wrestling a black lab...

Clearly, the common denomination in today's pictures is that it took me quite some time to cool down/groom/mop up after two animals today.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Riding Diary: 6

I guess this episode of Riding Diary deserves a bit of an explanation before we go into the nitty gritty of my latest lesson. I like blogging, no matter how silly I sometimes feel rambling into space I've enjoyed blogging about all things horsie and enjoy being able to look back on certain posts.

For example, I like keeping the same format for all of my "Riding Diaries" and I always open up my last one as I write my latest... In my sidebar it showed all the posts since I wrote #5, and clearly I was unhappy. For me, I have a hard time looking back on the last 4 months, I guess I had this overarching dream of finally being somewhere where I would excel and become great. I didn't excel, I didn't become great, I was stagnant.. and it sucked. BUT, moving on is a good thing, and moving on from my last barn led me to the barn I took my latest lesson at!

I have a dear friend (who reads my blog... slightly embarassing that she now becomes a character in all of this) who, along with a young warmblood jumper she also owns, recently purchased a young quarter horse with a reining trained foundation. Her name is Quiz, she is adorable. After hearing about what had gone on at my last barn she offered me the chance to take lessons with her trainer on Quiz. (Which, after calling every trainer on my "wish-list" in the freakin' area solved the number one problem of not having my own horse) Obviously, I jumped on the offer, and appreciate it more than she will ever fully know. So, let's get too it!

Horse: Quiz :)

Bit: Loose Ring Snaffle

Time: 1 hr.

Ride: Adjusting to trainers is kind of like adjusting to a new horse, it takes just as much time for you to be able to breathe and relax with your butt in a saddle as it does when you are in a new trainers presence. (For me, atleast). I started out the ride basically just saying, teach me from the beginning. My foundation is so shakey at best, my riding is basically tips and tricks from hundreds of different people, all slammed into my poor body, and I just crave consistency with someone. Proper, consistent knowledge and attention.

So, we started the warm-up at a posting trot, aint no thang (I thought), she asked me about diagonals.. yeah I know about diagonals... realization: I rarely know what my horses legs are doing when I am riding. Square one: Louisa, you don't even know how to freakin' trot properly, focus more on gait. This is the most embarassing moment to type out on this blog, but now it is over. Then we moved into a proper western jog. My trainer has shown high level western pleasure... she knows what a proper western jog is, I don't. All of a sudden i'm being yelled at everytime I post as it is "counter-productive to the jog"... hmm, this is all very new. No one has ever told me this before? Last I heard I can post whenever the hell I want... wrong. Then we worked on loping, focusing on keeping my heels planted, and my body calm, legs still, all of that. Overall, I really enjoyed the way my trainer works with me, she's stern but I never felt like she was being vindictive or mean. She was coaching, and it was all helpful and constructive and I left with things to work on, and improve on.

I'm not here to bash the other person I was taking lessons with, but I will say a few things. Different training styles aside I feel as if in one day I have done more, and done so more comfortably with this new trainer, than I did in the last 4 months (granted, that is all of 4 lessons, but still). I went into my old trainers with loose reins, calm and relaxed and came out feeling like I always had to have extreme contact for collection, that my hands had to be rigid, that my body had to be rigid, that my legs had to be so tense and pushed against my horse that I felt like my legs were going to fall completely off.. basically, that everything had to be tense. The first thing my new trainer said was.. "what are you doing with your stops?", whereas he had me completely throwing my body back, she has me calm, relaxed, asking for a stop in a similiar manner, it all just feels more calm. He may not have wanted the level of stress that was happening, but that's what was occuring in our relationship - tense, stressed, etc. None of this was contributing to my riding, it was contributing to giving me an ulcer.

So, hopefully now that I can feel a little more relaxed, I can work toward a better beginning in my new phase of riding. I hope this all works out better than the last.

Next Time: Heels down!
[this has never been a problem for me before, unacceptable]

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Warm Fuzzies on the Day of Looooveee

So, I hope anyone reading this is currently feeling loved on this, the day of love, no less.

My Valentine is less of this type of situation...

More of a fuzzy ball of dreads and kisses...
It's Moose! The only Valentine I need. =)

My "Warm Fuzzies" of today is...

wait, wait, wait.. back it up... some of you might not know what "warm fuzzies" are. WELL, at the camp I work at we often get the girls in our dorms (girls are split into young/middle/older age-wise) to write out "warm fuzzies" aka compliments, good moments, whatever, after a specific person, or everyone. It's always one of those "awwww" moments, and makes everyone feel way better about themselves! - Sounds pretty fitting for Valentines day, hey?

Today, I was lurking one of the local trading sites online. I've developed an obsession of checking the market, seeing what horses are on sale, seeing what horse-related stuff is for sale, etc. In my travels I came across an ad posted by a mother of a teenage girl. It was quite lengthy but she talked about how her daughter adored horses, and was very "book learned", but neither had horse experience, and they had just recently been "gifted" a 7 year old, untrained arab that had a LOT of issues - i.e. wasn't picking up it's feet, wasn't able to be caught, wouldn't accept a bit, pulled back, etc. etc.

Now, to me, that does not seem like a gift.
You really have to question people's motives sometimes, don't you? ugh.

Anyways, the story goes they were at a barn where the arab was receiving training and she was coming along really well, but then it fell through for various reasons (including the gifter not agreeing with the trainers methods.. uh what?) and in the dead of night they had to re-locate to another stable, also nice but without a trainer on site. The mom's conundrum was that she couldn't afford training + board, just one, or the other. She didn't know what to do and kind of just put the ad up for advice.

My heart went out to her, so I responded with:
Hi, I saw your ad and my heart went out to you. My mom was never able to afford me a horse due to the financials, and I spent my adolescence riding at a horseback camp for kids and reading quite a bit aswell. 
... However, now that I am attempting to get into the show ring, small rides and book learning is not going to get her anywhere. I honestly recommend selling the horse, and taking whatever small amount you can get for her and putting it towards lessons for your daughter. If i had, had lessons growing up I would be much farther in my riding than I am now. 
That way, she can become more comfortable and learn 10 x quicker than she ever could on a green horse (and you will feel so much better about her safety). She might not thank you in the moment, but she will eventually when she is able to take a green horse and finish it herself. 
the old saying is green + green = black & blue. 
I hope this helped, and I wish you all the luck in the world. You are a good mom for doing this.

I usually wouldn't have replied, but today I was compelled too, so I sent it without thinking much about it. However, I got a beautiful response back, I wont re-post it because I don't have her permission, but she told me she was so thankful for the response, and added some very kind words.

I hope she ends up getting her daughter lessons, or atleast figuring out a better situation with their mare. The horse world is such a tough world sometimes, and you have to feel sorry for people who end up with horses that are just too much for them, and they are too inexperienced to really understand the complications that arise from these situations.

Clearly that mother loved her daughter, and isn't that what Valentines day is all about?
Hope you all have a wonderful day filled with Warm Fuzzies everywhere you turn. =)

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Spruce Meadows Lunch & Learn with Albert Kley

Today I went down to the always beautiful Spruce Meadows for an informative hour & a half lunch and learn with their Riding Master Albert Kley. Not only was it free (super bonus for someone as poor as me) but they fed us delicious chili and everything! Spruce Meadows, you rule.

Albert Kley is the recipient of the German Equestrian Federation Gold Medal for Riding Achievement, and the focus on the Lunch & Learn was the steps of starting a horse that's future sits in the dressage or jumping ring.

To begin, Albert had a rider lunge a horse to exhibit the very first steps of training. All 3 horses they used in the demonstration were around 3 1/2 years old and all from the same sire, For Jump out of For Pleasure, this was interesting as you could physically see the differences in their stages of training which had to do with their dispositions.

Kley spoke about always keeping a light contact on the lunge line, and reminded us that the line is the same as a riders reins, and the whip is the leg of a rider. Thus, a horse should be taught to lunge with both line and whip, and they should respect the whip, but not fear it, as it is the exact same as a leg cue while riding. He also had the horse being lunged in a simple loose ring snaffle, and always lunges in his horses in a bridle.

From the basic lunge, he went into a surcingle with side reins, and after the horse had mastered that step he moved into the double lunge. He emphasized how dangerous the double lunge can be if the rider is inexperienced, and that someone should always be there when double lunging, to a) aid the person with the lines b) use a whip as an additional cue.

He added that lunging in all these different forms is so important because it doesn't put as much stress on a young horse as a rider physically being on them, and that it teaches them the importance and intricacies of movement from the very beginning. It is important to teach and guide the dressage, show-jumping, etc. horse the different styles of movements they will need to know for the future show ring, and if these types of movement are second nature by the time they reach the ring - it is all for the better. 

From lunging, Kley moved on to a rider mounting the horse. At first he had a more experienced rider who has started many young horses just mount while he stood with a lunge line, he repeatedly bumped their mouths and got them to refocus on other elements while the rider mounted and shifted his weight to one side and then to the other. Kley does everything from the left, and doesn't back a horse from the right. Once a horse has accepted this, the rider can fully mount. Obviously in real time this was all happening within minutes of each other to a horse that had already gone through these processes, but Kley emphasized taking the time to do each step, and the patience that one should exhibit while working a horse through this momentous steps in it's early life.

Once a horse has gotten used to a riders weight Kley makes sure his horses are calm and comfortable, signs of this are ears, relaxed neck and he pointed out that one of their legs will usually be cocked, showing they are not ready to flee at any moment. He wants his horses to keep their mind off of the rider getting on. Then, once calm, he moves into the horse being ridden, but being controlled through the lunge line of someone on the ground. At this stage, everything must be done quietly and calmly, the rider must keep contact and due to the use of side reins, the horse already understands this concept, the rider should have a deep seat and legs on. These big 3; hands, seat, leg, CALM a horse, and Kley stated that a rider that doesn't understand this and keeps his seat light and legs off a horse doesn't understand riding... oh burn. 

Once the horse is comfortable at being lunged with a rider on, and the lunger being in control and then is also comfortable with a rider being in control, without the lunge line, the horse may graduate to the big, bad outside world.. aka an arena. Kley has an older horse come and accompany the young horse, the young horse can follow the older horse at a walk and a trot and will feel more comfortable through these stages.

The 3 came in mid November and were worked everyday from their arrival, however, their workouts were sometimes as small as 10 minutes. They are now strong enough to be worked harder and longer like they were today, over an hour each. However, Kley has yet to canter these horses, and once again really tried to impart the patience and time one must take with a horse, especially in the early stages of their lives.

Kley also discussed how show jumping breeding is now changing, and horses with better, calmer minds are being chosen rather than high strung, jumpy, freakshow type horses. These 3, all the same ages, were all very calm, but were still in different phases of their training, only 1 was able to be lunged and ridden in the open alone.

Overall, it was a very enjoyable experience. Ron Southern came out and said that if there was enough interest they may do a couple more series with Albert, such as a focus more on the rider, and then starting a young horse over jumps. I would absolutely love that, even though I don't jump, or practice dressage, there is ALWAYS something to take out of high level trainers, no matter your discipline.

Friday, February 10, 2012


This is probably one of the most famous horse video's of all time, within and outside of the horse community. Of course, it is Stacy Westfall and Roxy (Whizards Baby Doll), performing to Tim McGraw's "Live Like You Were Dying". The two performed this at Congress in the 2006 reining freestyle, completely tack-less. The performance also came shortly after Westfall's father passed away, which, I think, makes the communication and bond between rider and horse mean so much more. 

As horse people, we've all had those moments where words are just either not enough, or too much, and we turn to our equine partners to give us that unconditional silence we so need. To see someone having gone through such a tragedy and then triumphantly emerge and have such a fluid bond with an animal is a work of art unto itself.

Roxy was a champion, and gave the world a glimpse of the exceptional bond between rider and horse. She was also a pretty major celebrity - Ellen DeGeneres got the chance to ride her when Westfall was on her show. She will be missed, and like Hickstead who passed earlier this year, she was magnificent.

Definitely, another great has been taken from the horse world.
"Heaven's remuda improved with one fine mare"
& what a remuda it must be.

For more information; go to