Wednesday, December 30, 2009


The horse dentist paid a visit to the quarters today. Gwen went first. She didn't do too bad. She did need a little sedation and the vet couldn't get the speculum in her mouth, but other than that she was a good girl. Her teeth weren't that bad, though we don't really know what it looks like in the back of her mouth due to the speculum problem. She didn't have her wolf teeth pulled (she has 3), and it looks like she's going to sprout some canines. She's got some kind of crazy, throw-back mouth, I swear. The vet doesn't like to remove wolf teeth (self described heretic), so what she did do was smooth off those wolf teeth so they weren't as sharp. She wants me to try putting a bit in Gwen's mouth and see if it's really going to bother those teeth before we take drastic action.

Poor Coriander's mouth was really a mess. He had massive hooks on his teeth that were tearing up the inside of his mouth something awful, especially on the right side. He also had a pretty big overbite in the front and his teeth didn't match up at all. He had to get extra sedation so the vet could get the speculum in there and really get down to business. He actually took to the speculum pretty well, he didn't raise much of a fuss about it, of course he was sedated so that probably helped. I betcha he's going to feel lots better in a day or two when his mouth heals up.

Here's a picture of a mouth speculum. It looks like a medieval torture device, doesn't it?
The vet wants to come back out in April/May to try to get a speculum in Gwen's mouth and see how the bit fits with those wolf teeth. She's also going to evaluate how fast Coriander's teeth grow and see what kind of float schedule we're going to need for him. The quarters did very well for their first float!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Lounging Around

When did lunging become lounging? I know what lounging is, it's what I do when I flop on the couch and put my feet up - that's completely different from lunging. But for some reason everyone on the web writes lounging for lunging, drives me nutty.

Anyway, I lunged the quarters today. Coriander's session was compromised by my barn owner's boxer puppy. It's pretty hard to lunge a horse with a dog hanging off the end of your whip. I should have just left it in the barn, he doesn't need it anyway. Oh well, next time.

Fortunately the puppy was in the house by the time I brought Gwen out (I left the whip in the barn anyway). My crazy, baby girl is learning! She was going around all haphazard until finally something clicked. Right in a row, I got one good walk to trot, trot to walk, and walk to whoa transition. I called it a day after that. The most important rule of horse training is to not get greedy. End on a good note, let the horse think about what they've learned and they'll improve much faster than if you push.

Remember that Santa hat from Christmas that Gwen was wearing? Well here's a little picture that I think really portrays her opinion of it.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

A new game plan

Well I thought it would work...

Since the stall switch, Gwen has gotten as completely attached to Annie as she is to Coriander. Gah, that's not too helpful, I was trying to get her over her attachment issues. So I wondered if a few hours in the indoor all by herself would make a difference. I was thinking that since I have a week off from work we could do this for a couple days. Well, maybe if I took a mini cooler and a toilet in with me it would work, because 3 hours after I brought her in there she was still pacing the walls and trying to force the doors. I did think to bring a book with me, but after a few hours you get cold sitting there reading, so I started amusing myself by putting ground poles down in her path. All by herself Gwen trotted over 3 ground poles in a row today.

After I got really cold and hungry, I brought her in and decided to make another change. I switched her stall with Coriander's. Now Coriander is next to Annie and Gwen is next to Bill. She'll probably just get horribly attached to him and I'll finally just have to stick her in a stall by herself at the back of the barn for a while.

I took Coriander out for his first bareback ride today. We went into the indoor and walked over ground poles and worked on circles. He was very good for not having been ridden in about 3 weeks. Lousy, freezing weather.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Monday, December 21, 2009

Winter Solstice

Finally! I'm so excited that the days are now going to get longer instead of shorter.

Tonight the temperature was in the high 20s, so I took the opportunity to work with the quarters. I lunged Coriander, who was fantastic as usual. I was paying closer attention today and noticed that it's not just the canter to the right that's difficult for him, he's stiff going in that direction in all his gaits. We're going to have to do some suppling work to loosen up that left side. If anyone reading this has any suggestions, let me know.

Then I decided to lunge Gwen for real, not just circle around me a little on the lead rope like we have been. The first thing I did when I brought her into the indoor was let her loose so she could check out the jump standards that were put up since she was last in there. She then decided that she wasn't going to let me catch her, no way, no how. She would run right by me when I approached her with her head and tail in the air. Just giving me the finger. So I picked up my lunge whip and went all Chris Irwin on her behind. Every time she ran past me she got tapped, every time she ran off after standing still while I approached she got tapped. She's definitely the kind of horse that needs to respect me completely, she's so flighty and nervous that she'll hurt me otherwise. After I finally caught her, we lunged. She stepped out away from me fairly well and I think towards the end she was finally figuring out what "walk" meant. Gwen got two good lessons in today.

Saturday, December 19, 2009


It's still pretty darn cold out, so other than turning the quarters out I haven't been doing much with them.

I have a pretty cute picture planned for Christmas if the quarters will cooperate. Here's a preview:

Here are some more just because they're cute.

She always has something stuck in her forelock, silly girl.

Friday, December 18, 2009

5 Degrees

That was the temperature when I drove in to work this morning. Freakin' brrrrrrrrrrr!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Psycho Gwen

My mare has alter-ego, I call her Psycho Gwen (yeah, I know, that's not very original, too bad). Every once in a while Gwen inexplicably decides that everything she was okay with before is no longer hunky-dory.

Last time I met Psycho Gwen I was taking pictures of her injured leg sometime in September or October. She decided that the camera shutter sound that she had previously been just fine with was going to kill her. I took her outside after she broke the cross-ties to try to convince her that it would not. Two hours of circling and clicking later she was still just as convinced it was going to kill her. A couple days later when I brought the camera out again she didn't even twitch an ear at it.

So tonight when I brought her out of the barn to go into the mini-indoor and she wouldn't stay next to me I had an inkling that Psycho Gwen was there. Then when it took a few minutes of snorting and shying for her to go into the indoor, that inkling was a spark. When she finally got into the indoor and then tried to jump on top of me, when she refused to step over the ground poles she was happily trotting over the day before, I knew for sure she was full-fledged Psycho Gwen.

I've learned that Psycho Gwen cannot be reasoned with. If something bothers Psycho Gwen no amount of desensitizing her to it will convince her it's okay. I've also learned that Psycho Gwen is temporary. Hopefully tomorrow I'll have my regular Gwenevere back. Could Psycho Gwen have come out because she's been cooped up in the barn for a couple days? Could it be hormonal? I have no clue. I'll keep track of her appearances and see if I can figure out where the crazy comes from. One thing I do know for sure - I certainly don't want to try riding Psycho Gwen!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Quarter Horse Rodeo

Ugh, winter.

Sunday there was freezing rain all day long so I didn't do anything with the horses. Monday was a nice day but I had a project I had to work on last night so I couldn't do much with them again. I turned them out, that's it. Though Gwen did try to give me a heart attack. Apparently I wasn't getting her haltered fast enough to bring her in so she pawed at the gate... and her foot went between the bars. She thrashed around long enough for "oh sh-" to go through my head before she got it free, and then I passed out from fear. Not really, but it sure felt like it. Silly horse.

Anyway, tonight we worked in the mini-indoor. Coriander got some lunge work. He went over a ground pole at walk and trot and did well. He's been over a pole before but only at the walk. We also worked on cantering. When I first started lunging him I only asked him for the walk and trot, letting him build some muscle before we started cantering. Now he's ready. I also want to start him cantering under saddle sometime soon and I'm hoping that knowing the voice command for it will make it easier. He jumps right into it going to the left, to the right it takes a while, so we'll work on that.

Then I took Gwen out, and I decided to take my lunging surcingle out with us. After she got to trot around loose for a bit, I had her do a little bit of lunging at the walk. Then I put the surcingle on her. She actually stood still while I was cinching it up, that shocked the heck out of me - it being her first time and all. Then I unclipped the lead rope and BOOM!!! She took off across the ring like she was strapped onto a rocket, racing around bucking and twisting. That lasted for about 3 minutes and then she was done. I walked up to her, tightened it up a little more and backed off in case she wanted to jump around again. She trotted off a bit but that was it. Good girl!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Injury update

Look at that, by golly!  She might be healed up by Christmas.  It's amazing what happens when you just leave things alone and let them do their thing.

After being stuck inside yesterday due to nasty cold, blustery weather, the quarters went out today and enjoyed a most unusual wintertime visitor: the sun.  Here in the middle of the finger lakes we typically don't get sunshine between November and April - we just get gray.  Stupid lake effect weather.  So today was a special treat.

I even went on a short little ride on Coriander.  The ring is too frozen to ride on, but we went around the farm a bit and had a nice time.  Then we went and practiced setting up for a halter class.  He's getting a lot better at it.  It helps that he was probably taught how to square up about 8 years ago, so all I have to do is refresh his memory.  Now I have to work on getting him to trot in hand.  We'll take it one step at a time.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Baby it's cold outside

They were predicting a cold winter this year and so far that's working out to be true.  The quarters are in today because of the wicked cold and wind (temps were in the low teens this morning).  I did manage to get them out for a few hours yesterday morning before it got too bad.

I'm pretty sure Gwen is standing there wondering where the heck she went so wrong in her life that she had to leave the warmth of Florida for the frigid wastes of upstate New York.  I am thankful that they have a nice barn to keep them warm for their first winter.  Much as I'd like to have my own place, they're in the best place for them right now. 

Operation stall swap is going well.  I will admit that I was relieved when I heard Gwen's morning neigh after getting out of my car yesterday morning.  My overactive imagination was at work again Wednesday night, imagining ways that she could hurt herself.  Stupid overactive imagination.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Operation stall swap

Now that Gwen's leg is almost healed, it's time to do something about how herd-bound my two quarters are.  My barn owner has a mare (Annie) that is stalled right next to Bill and they have fallen in love with each other, making it difficult to turn them out and bring them in without silliness.  When I asked my barn owner if I could switch Coriander with Annie she agreed immediately.  So tonight I made the switch.  Coriander is now between two geldings, Camden and Bill, and Gwenevere is next to Annie.

Coriander was fine with the switch.  He walked in the stall, said, "Ooh hay," and started eating.  He touched noses with Camden and Bill and generally didn't seem to care much.

Gwen seemed fine at first.  She ran over to Annie's side and introduced herself right away saying, "I'm Gwen, who are you?"  Then maybe it occurred to her that her brother wasn't coming back.  She alternated between running to the door of her stall and craning her neck over to peer at her brother across the aisle and then running over to crane her neck around the wall to see Annie.  But she was better than I was expecting.  I was expecting full on screaming and crazy, mad circling around her stall but she didn't really do that.  At least she wasn't when I left.  I left her blanket off tonight for safety's sake but I'll have to put it on her tomorrow morning (supposed to be nasty cold tomorrow), hopefully in the morning she'll be adjusted to the new arrangement.

I have super good news though... I PICKED OUT GWEN'S RIGHT HIND HOOF TODAY!  WHOOHOO!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Winter Blanket

Here's sort of a crappy picture of the quarters this morning.  Gwen's out wearing her blanket today because it's cold, she's skinny, and she doesn't have much of a winter coat.  Coriander's coat is much thicker and he tends to roll every time he goes out, so he's not going out with his blanket on if he doesn't need it.  I only have heavyweight blankets right now so I really have to watch the temperature, if it's much above 30 degrees they sweat in them. 

This is Gwen's first blanket ever and she hated it at first sight.  Well first sound actually, it crinkles - Gwen hates crinkling.  The first time I put her blanket on she gave it a full-fledged hairy eyeball while jumping around like a nut.  It was a very slow process.  When I finally got it on her and buckled on, the second wave kicked in after she found out that every time she moved it crinkled.  I got her in her stall and she alternated between standing rock still and spooking.  It would have been really funny if I wasn't completely paranoid about her hurting herself.  I think I slept for about 1 hour that night just thinking about all the awful things she could do to herself being silly about that blanket.  I was in the barn at 6 a.m. the next morning to take it off.

That was in October, she has improved so much since then that last night I was able to just walk into her stall and throw her blanket on without even tying her up.  I am mucho impressed.  Hopefully this will bode well when it comes time to put a saddle on her back.  We shall see.

Sunday, December 6, 2009


Today I took a tape measure with me to the barn.  I've been wondering just how big/little my quarters are.  Coriander measures 63" at the withers and Gwen 60".  That makes Coriander 15.3 and Gwen 15 hands even.  I'm kind of surprised, I thought she was shorter than that.

I managed to climb on Coriander today and take a spin around the ring.  He seems to be relaxing at the trot now.  I think his true trot is coming out and it is SLOW.  So maybe I will try my hand at western pleasure, we'll have to see.  He does like to stop trotting whenever he wants to though, I'm debating taking a crop into the ring with me to remind him to trot until I tell him to walk.  I haven't used one yet because I wanted him to stay as relaxed as possible but he's taking advantage of me now.  He certainly doesn't work any harder than he has to.

Gwen had more leading work today.  She will walk with me really well and stop right next to me if we're facing the barn.  If we're going away from it and stop, she'll turn a circle around me until she's facing it again.  We have to work on that and it's going to be hard for her little herd-bound brain to take.

We also worked on picking up hind feet.  I started out with the rope until she seemed pretty relaxed about it, then I started moving my hand lower and lower until I was finally holding her foot with my hand.  Hopefully soon I'll be able to just pick her foot up without warming her up with the rope.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

It's snowing!

So when I turned the quarters out this morning it was supposed to be sunny and almost 40 degrees all day.

He's such a ham.

Here is Coriander herding Gwen away from Bill.  Bill is a famous hunter derby horse, he was on the cover of a Dover catalogue.  I asked for his autograph but he just turned his nose up at me.  Jerk.

So the plan was to turn the quarters out, have a lesson in the early afternoon, and then ride Coriander around 3 p.m.  But my lesson got pushed back, it started snowing, and the temperature kept dropping. 

 I literally had an inch of snow on me after my lesson, it was late, and I was frozen, so I didn't ride Coriander.

Not to mention the ring looked like this and the footing stunk:

So that plan didn't work out, but tomorrow is another day and riding him is at the top of my list.  Here's some good news - I took Gwen out last night and did some more work on the leading exercises.  As I expected, she was a ton better than the day before.  She also let me pick up and hold one of her hind legs for a bit, maybe she was just awake enough from the farrier visit to figure out it was okay. 

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Leading Exercises

Today we worked on leading exercises.  The idea behind the exercises is for the horse to walk when you walk, stop when you stop and keep its shoulder next to yours.  Coriander really gets it.  If I lean forward a bit before I walk he'll step off with me, then if I shuffle a bit before I stop he stops right next to me.  He's got that part down.

Gwen... not so much.  She's good at stepping off with me but stopping is an issue for her.  I stop and she circles around me.  So I ended up just walking up to the fence and stopping there so she couldn't walk ahead of me.  I kept this up until she started to get it and then I put her up for the night.  She's a smart little cookie, I think she'll have it down before long.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Farrier day!

My ever patient farrier was out today and I had him trim Gwen's feet for the first time.  I believe this is the second time ever she's had her front feet trimmed and the first time ever she's had her back feet trimmed.  So for the sake of safety and lowering the traumatic factor, I called the vet out and had her sedated.  She wasn't too bad.  He did the right hind first and after some initial leg jerks she calmed down and let him work.  Then she needed another dose for the left hind, but calmed down again and then was really good about those front feet. 

Here are her feet before:

And here they are after:

Coriander was basically a good boy today too.  Today makes his 6th trim.  He stood pretty well for most of his feet, but that right hind is still being an issue.  He tried to fall down on it again today (he knocked the farrier over the first time I had him trimmed, gave me a heart attack), but the farrier knows it's coming now and deals with it really well.  Hopefully my boy will learn sooner than later that little trick doesn't work.

So while I had the vet out I had her look at Gwen's teeth to see if they could be contributing to her weight.  Found out some interesting things.  A) I need to get her teeth floated; B) she has 3 wolf teeth that need to come out before I even think about getting her started with a bit; and C) she's going on 6 not 5. I don't doubt that Coriander needs his teeth floated too, so that will be our next adventure.