Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Lunging Finally Pays Off

I'll be the first to admit that I rarely lunge horses. It's really just laziness on my part, by the time I've got them kitted up to lunge I could have saddled and bridled them and, honestly, a good lunge session is just as much work for me as riding. So, I usually ride. But, I'll also be the first to admit that it has it's practical applications. A good foundation of groundwork translates not only to work under saddle, but also to everyday handling. As they say "Respect begins on the ground."

Spider and I spent most of last week working on lunging. He's still a little to say it nicely.......confused with the the voice commands, so I'm trying to get those down before we go back to the long lines. He also doesn't really "whoa" very well on the lunge line, so we've been practicing that a lot, too. Being a Thoroughbred, "Whoa" has never really been one of Spider's strong points. Not that he's dangerous, just exuberant. He's like the Energizer Bunny. My usual "Whoa" routine goes: I stop walking (I walk around while I lunge), apply a bit of pressure on the line and say "Whoa". Spider usually just keeps walking. So I repeat the command until he stops and turns in to face me. It can sometimes take several laps before he "gets it". If he still doesn't get it, I reel him in on the line until he stops. One time, I even stuck the lunge whip out in front of him to get him to stop walking. He walked into it. *Facepalm* Well, at least he isn't scared of the lunge whip anymore. It is getting better, though. Slowly, but surely. Today it actually worked quite well, and he wasn't even on the lunge!

Spider eats slower than the other horses, and the others figured out that he won't stop them from stealing his food. So, he gets separated for meals now. I put him in a different paddock, a paddock that was recently seeded. Since it was recently seeded, I've been keeping them off of it. I rotate my pastures so that none of them get grazed down too far. And as we all know, the grass is always greener in the "forbidden zone". This morning, when it was time for Spider to go back in the pasture they're supposed to be in, he decided to play a little game. He walked away from me instead of going through the gate like he was supposed to. Naughty boy. I went to go retrieve him. He kept walking away, purposely avoiding me. Very naughty boy. So I made him run. Well, trot anyway. If he's going to play keep away, it's going to be on my terms.

To my surprise, he immediately started trotting in a circle around me, as though I were lunging him. After a few times around, I called out "Whoa". I was even more surprised when he stopped and turned in to face me. What do you know, he has been paying attention during our lunging sessions! I walked up to him and led him through the gate with no problems.

One of the things that I find so endearing about Spider is that he always surprises me. Just when I think he's never going to get something, he pulls it out as though he's been doing it his whole life. It keeps me on my toes.

This rest of this week promises nice weather. We'll continue our work on voice commands and hopefully get in a long lining session.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

What We Make Of Them

There is no such thing as a "good horse", just like there's no such thing as a "bad horse". A horse is just a horse, he depends on us to mold him into what we want him to be. "Good horse" and "Bad horse" are subjective words that humans have invented to describe how well we have accomplished this.

I was reminded of this concept today by the smallest of my equines. Miss Matilda The Bald decided to have a "bad horse" day.

Yesterday, while I was roaching her mane, I noticed her feet needed a trim. I trim Matilda myself, since she's not a riding horse and I'd feel really bad making my poor farrier stoop down to trim her. It's uncomfortable for me to do, and I'm short. My poor farrier would have a rough time of it, I think.

Since I had already spent an hour cutting her mane, I decided I would put off trimming her feet until today.

Today arrived, and I went out to get Matilda for her trim. To be fair, I really haven't done much with Matilda since the last time I trimmed her feet. And by "haven't really done much", I actually mean "haven't done anything". Which is bad. Especially since, in the last two days, I have chased Matilda around and made her stand tied for an hour while I stripped her of her mane. She was just about sick of me and decided to make it known.

First she didn't want to walk up to be tied. This was easily solved. Matilda is small, all I have to do is loop the rope around her haunches and pull her forward. This made her mad, but it got the job accomplished. Then I started trimming. I got the front feet done with no problem, but when I came to the back, she was just done. After not being handled for weeks, then chased around, robbed of her mane, and finally roped up to be tied, Matilda decided to pitch a royal fit. Anyone familiar with miniature horses and ponies knows that they can pitch fits like nobody's business. Matilda is no exception.

She got it in her head that there was no way, no how that I was going to pick up her back feet. She sat down on her haunches. When I made her get up, she reared up and tried to break free. When she realized she couldn't break free, she sat back down. We went on like this for some time. Had she been a full sized horse, it would have been scary. But she's tiny, so it was mostly just annoying. And I wasn't getting the job accomplished.

During one of her more extravagant tantrums, I stepped back to think about the problem. While I waited for her to calm down, I realized something. Matilda is small and easy for me to push around, but what was that really accomplishing? Nothing. I wouldn't treat a full sized horse like that because I couldn't treat a full sized horse like that. With a full sized horse I would be gentle and patient, but I was just using brute force on Matilda. By being a bully, I was able to pick her feet up, but I couldn't get her to stay still enough to trim them. As soon as I reached for the nippers she would try to get away. I had to change my plan.

So I treated her just like I would any other horse. I scratched her withers until she settled down, then reached down and picked up her foot. When she tried to pull it away I let her, but then I picked it right back up again. I didn't force her to keep it up, but every time she pulled away I picked the foot right back up again. If she sat down or struggled, I calmly waited for her to stop, then picked the foot right back up. Eventually she realized that I wasn't going to fight her, but she wasn't going to get her way either. And so she let me trim her back feet.

A valuable lesson was learned: just because you can push a horse around, doesn't mean you should. Matilda may be little, but she deserves the same respect as the big boys. And from now on I'll make sure to set aside time in my day to work with Matilda on her manners. I wouldn't expect any horse to remember their manners if I don't work with them. Horses are what we make of them, good, bad or nothing. In this case, I have been making nothing of Matilda and I got exactly that.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Matilda Gets A New 'Do

Murphy's law always applies to horses. I suspect Murphy may have been a horseman, himself. No sooner had we taken down the chicken run, Matilda escaped the fence. And this time she meant business. I spent the better part of an hour chasing her around the property. And the neighbors' property (sorry, neighbors). I probably would have gotten her rounded up quicker if Spider hadn't decided to "help". Spider, you see, was very upset by the fact that Matilda was loose, so he decided to run the fence, crying and carrying on in a truly spectacular fashion. Which just egged Matilda on. I have no idea what Vinny was doing, I was far too busy trying to herd Matilda back into the pasture and yelling at Spider to shut up and stop running to pay attention. I suspect he was sitting back and enjoying the spectacle. I'm sure it was quite the show.

Once I had her back in the pasture, I had to figure out how she got out. The fence was working properly, I measured the voltage at 5,000v. Plenty hot enough. All five strands were up. So, how had she gotten out. I suppose she just sucked it up and walked right through. Pretty impressive, I wouldn't want to walk through 5,000 volts!

Then I had a thought. Matilda has a very thick mane and forelock. It covers her whole neck, face and even her ears. Could that be insulating her? If she sticks her head through and doesn't get shocked, it stands to reason that the rest of her body should slide through quite easily after that. Even if she does get shocked after that, she's already half-way's just as easy to go forwards through the fence as it is to go back.

Well, I fixed that problem! Matilda is now sporting a snazzy new hairdo. I call it "The Naughty Pony". There's no more hair to protect her head and neck now, if she gets near that fence she's getting zapped.

It actually turned out better than I thought it would. Matilda has a lovely head and neck, so she looks quite nice bald. It remains to be seen whether or not this keeps her in the fence, but hopefully this strategy works. We'll be building her an escape proof pony pasture this weekend.

In the meantime, if you hear any stories about a bald pony terrorizing the citizens of Pittsgrove Township....I don't know anything about it.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Demolition Begins

We're finally beginning the last renovation to make this property a real horse farm....the arena! When we bought the property it was a hay farm. The only structures were the house, garage and chicken run. We put up the barn and fences first, but the arena had to wait. We had a nice flat area behind the barn that was fine for riding, although a little small, so I was content to just use that for the time being. In order to put in a dressage arena, we needed to move the chickens. Which then became a real problem when Matilda had to start living in the chicken run. We had to move Matilda before we could move the chickens, we had to fix the fence before we could move Matilda, and then it snowed. And snowed and snowed and snowed. But now the snow has melted, the fence is fixed, Matilda is back living with the boys and we are starting The Final Project.

Stage 1: Demolition.
I am very impressed with how quickly a fence can be taken down, especially considering how long it takes to put a fence up. It only took about 20 minutes to take the fence down around the chicken run, then we had the job of dragging the coop (actually a large garden shed) to its new home behind the barn. We put some pretty good ruts in the old turf riding arena in the process, but considering it's going to be graded and re-surfaced anyway, the ruts don't really matter. I'm still not 100% sure what we're going to go with as the new surface. Once we've got the topsoil pulled off I'll have a better idea of what needs to get done. Hopefully, the soil back there is as sandy as the soil on the rest of the property and won't need to much work to make good footing. If that's the case, we'll probably just add some rubber and call it done. If not, then I guess we'll be ordering sand or stone dust. At least we shouldn't have to worry too much about the base: our entire property has a layer of packed gravel about 5 inches below the topsoil. It's what keeps the property so dry and should provide an excellent base for the arena. Here's a picture of the results of Stage 1:

I was going to draw in the plans for the arena and surrounding area on the picture. Then I discovered that I'm not that good with photo editing software. So I'll just describe it. The plan, as of now, is to put the arena on the far side and then a small patio and play area for the kids next to the arena, which would be the near side of the picture. That way, the kids can play in their area while Mommy plays in hers. As an added bonus, having kids playing next to the arena will pretty much guarantee that any show horse of mine will be bomb-proof.

The next stage will be Excavation, but that has to wait for this weather system to blow through. No hurry, it will be June before I really need an arena again. I can do ground work in the pastures for now.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Signs of Spring

I found this little daffodil blooming in the woods along side our farm. It's very early for daffodils to be blooming, but I guess this one was fooled by the warm weather.

This week has been unseasonably warm. Which is nice for me, but not quite as nice for the horses. They still have their thick winter coats. While 70 degrees seems perfect to me, the horses are too hot. Especially poor little Matilda. She grew a winter coat that would make an Arctic Reindeer jealous and now she is truly suffering in the heat. They're just beginning to shed, so I've been going out daily to help the process along.

I've been lungeing Spider for 25-30 minutes nearly every day. I need to get him back to an acceptable fitness level before we can even think about working on anything. Right now he can't work more than 30 minutes without getting tired and sweaty. Although, it's hard to tell when he's tired. Thoroughbreds don't really wear out the way Warmbloods do. As Spider gets tired the quality of his work declines, but not his level of enthusiasm. I have to pay very close attention to keep from overworking him.

He still needs some work on basic obedience on the lunge, anyway. As I said before, I don't use voice commands much and he isn't used to them. So I'm trying to be very consistent with using a voice command when I ask for an upward or downward transition. He'll get it eventually. Then, hopefully, I'll be able to transfer that idea to long-reining. And then we can really get some work done.

Until then, we're just going around in circles. Long, boring circles.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Catching Up

I've been a bit MIA lately. It's nearly spring and I wanted to get a few things done before the rain started this week. Mainly, get the the pastures picked and get the cool season veggies planted. Both of which I succeeded in doing. I did not get the pastures seeded, but the grass appears to be coming in nicely anyway. I didn't get the fence fixed either, but Matilda is still nice and cozy in the chicken coop. I've actually managed to get Spider out and working pretty consistently, too. A successful week, all in all.

Thursday I had a surprise visit from the farrier, Chris. He wanted to get his work done before the storms blew in for the weekend. His business is primarily show horses, I suppose it's no fun trying to shoe those types of horses in windy weather. My boys, on the other hand, were perfect angels. Chris even commented that he's never seen Spider so calm and relaxed. I'm always pleased with that sort of comment. Spider can be a bit of a spaz sometimes. He has trouble adjusting to situations that aren't "the norm", like a visit from the farrier or vet. I've worked hard to give him the consistency, environment and training he needs to handle new situations, it's nice to have that progress recognized.

I've also decided that I've passed the point in my pregnancy where riding is a good idea, so it will be just groundwork from here on out. My belly is just a bit too big to fit in a saddle comfortably. And, in all honesty, Courtney King- Dye's situation has weighed heavily on my mind also. I won't get into a helmet debate, she is not the only person guilty of not wearing one all the time and does not deserve to be beat up anymore than she already has. My thoughts are more on the fact that it was a freak accident that could happen to anyone at any time. The horse simply slipped and fell. It can happen any time and we all know it. I think many times we only think about the horse being naughty and not the freak accidents that can occur. I know that's true for me, anyway. I know what to do when a horse is naughty and I can handle that situation, but no one can ever really be prepared for a simple accident.

So I'll be grounded until I've ditched my passenger, sometime in June. Spider's progressing nicely on his groundwork now, so I'll be able to get him fit and maybe even work on a few things without riding. Hopefully my riding withdrawal won't be too bad between now and then. I guess I'll just have to live vicariously through everyone else. *G*

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Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Lovely Weather Continues

Yesterday evening I took Spider out for an impromptu long-lining session. Since it wasn't really planned, I didn't have much of a clue as to what I wanted to work on. So, I winged it. Hilarity ensued.

So far, Spider and I haven't really done anything complicated on the long lines. We're both beginners at this, so we just do walk, stop, turn right, turn left. Sometimes I have him walk around the yard or down the driveway and back. Baby steps. Yesterday I decided to up the ante......that's right folks, we were going to trot. On the long lines.

So we started out with the usual novice stuff. Steering was good, brakes were good. We warmed up for a bit, we both needed to be loose for what was coming up. First things first, I decided to come up alongside of him instead of directly behind. I didn't really want to be behind him if things went horribly wrong. I ran the outside line behind his rump, right above his hocks, and walked beside him for a bit to get him used to the new configuration. Then I had to figure out how the heck to get him to trot.

You see, I don't really teach my horses voice commands. They learn "whoa" and "no" and I'll sing or talk softly to them if they're nervous, but other than that I don't direct them with my voice. In dressage, you're not allowed to talk during competition, so using voice commands is a bad habit to get into. One slip of the tongue in the show ring can get you disqualified. So there's my first problem.

Second problem: I have reins in both hands and no whip. Flapping the reins against his sides gets him to walk faster, but doesn't have the oomph necessary to get him to trot. Saying "trot" just makes him look at me. I knew I needed to get clever about this.

I'm a real stickler for ground manners, especially when it comes to leading a horse. I expect the horse to remain quietly by my side. If I slow down, he should slow down. If I speed up, so should he. So, I figured I would apply this same concept to trotting on longlines. Remember when I said "hilarity ensued"? This is where it comes in.

I was already walking alongside Spider, so I sped up to a jog and said "trot". He did not trot. As I sped up, it put pressure on the outside line, which is attached to the bit, and he stopped. I hadn't thought of this scenario, poor Spider! So we tried again. This time I jogged, said "trot", and flapped the reins. I could see the wheels turning in Spider's head. I believe he was thinking "What is wrong with her?" He tentatively trotted a few steps, but it was too late, I had already gotten ahead of him and yanked the outside line. I praised him anyway, hoping that maybe the seed was planted. We tried again. I jogged, said "trot" and flapped the reins like a madman. Third times a charm: he trotted! And so we went around the arena. Hopefully none of the neighbors were watching this spectacle: the obviously pregnant lunatic running around next to a horse yelling "Good Boy! Trot! Good Boy!" while flapping her arms like a crazed goose.

Today I decided to leave the long lining alone and just do regular lunge work. I wanted him to do some real work at the trot and canter, which is not going to happen with me waddling after him. We began with a little warmup with no side reins. Spider tried to pretend that he didn't know how to lunge at first, but I didn't buy it. With a few reminders he decided to just cooperate. Once he was loose I hooked up the side reins for some real work. Since he hasn't worked in some time, I had them fairly loose, putting him in a training/first level sort of frame. We started right, since it's his better direction. He wanted to suck back and get behind the vertical so I had to keep after him with the whip. Until I had him canter, that is. As soon as I asked for the canter he was off to the races! I had to laugh, he's really silly looking when he tries to gallop. It's just legs everywhere. Normally I don't let horses careen around on the lunge line, but I figured after not working for so long it felt good. I'm glad I allowed it, when he came back to a normal gait all the stiffness was gone and he was unstuck. We trotted a bit more to the right, then switched directions. The left was good from the start, I had him walk, trot and canter and called it a day. I probably should have had him go right again, just since he was so sticky in that direction, but what we did was a lot of work for him being out of shape. We can fix things later, but first he needs to get fit again.

Perhaps tomorrow I'll saddle up and see if I still fit in the saddle.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Busy, Busy, Busy...

The weather has been beautiful. Spring is right around the corner now. Which means there are preparations to be made. In the fall I put a layer of used bedding and manure over the gardens and now it needs to be turned in. The cool season veggies need to be started as soon as I've got the beds turned. Pastures need to be seeded, manure needs picking and I still need to finish Matilda-proofing the fence. The little devil escaped again, so she's back in the chicken coop. This time it was my fault, we had reset a post and accidentally cemented the ground pole for the fence, so the fence wasn't actually hot. It's just a matter of putting in new ground poles.

We got so much snow this winter that there are still patches of it lingering. Mostly they seem to be lingering in my arena, of course. The arena is bordered by the barn on one side, the garage on the other and woods on the remaining two sides, which caused snow to collect in drifts in it. It takes some time to melt all that. I've been raking it a bit, which seems to be helping.

In the meantime, I've been taking everyone out to groom and graze in the lawn a bit every day. It helps them get in the habit of doing something again. Well, really Spider is the only one who needs to get back into the swing of work, but I can't take him out to graze and not everyone else. So, everybody gets to come out.

So that's what I've been up to. It's not the most exciting stuff, but satisfying nonetheless.

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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Very Large Toddlers

Well, it isn't snowing! But it's raining and cold and pretty miserable. "Raw" would be a good word to describe the climate right now. There's still patches of snow out there, too. Enough snow to keep me from actually getting the horse out to work, but not enough to keep me from wanting to get him out. But at least it isn't snowing.

In light of the fact that I'm getting next to nothing done training wise, I hope you will indulge me my ramblings. I have nothing interesting to write about my actual progress, so I'll just fill my empty days with philosophy.

One of my pet peeves has always been people who treat their horses like children. You know who I'm talking about: the boarder whose horse is pawing and thrashing on the crossties while his owner crams treats in his mouth because "Hims just wuvs hims tweats, doesn't hims?" Or the owner who panics and puts the horse away at the slightest misbehavior or resistance from the horse because "he's just too hot, cold, stiff, off, playful, mad, excuse of choice today". These owners never realize the great disservice they are doing their horse, nor do they realize the disservice they are doing the barn staff by allowing the horse to behave this way. Those types of owners always drove me nuts, mostly because I was a member of the barn staff who had to deal with the spoiled rotten mess when the owner wasn't around. I often tried to rationalize with these owners, to explain to them that their horse is too big to be treated like a baby, but generally they just accused me of being mean and heartless. So I would walk away, shaking my head and thinking to myself "Wake up! It's a horse, not a child!"

Now that I have a child of my own, I'm struck by exactly how much horses are like children. So perhaps I should modify my pet peeve. My pet peeve is people who treat their horses like spoiled children. A spoiled horse is just as cute as a spoiled child.......which is to say not at all.

My daughter is nearly two, an age that is both fun and frustrating. She is beginning to be self-aware and develop her own personality, but can't always communicate well enough to tell anyone what she wants. I often fail to interpret her babble and gestures correctly, resulting in a full on temper tantrum (sometimes for both of us). Horses are in the same boat. They know what they need or want, but don't know how to speak our language. How many of us have been faced with a horse having a temper tantrum because we failed to read their body language correctly or failed to communicate with them effectively? I know it's happened to me a time or two (or twenty). And what do you do in that situation? Should you give in, cram a few treats in the horses mouth to distract him and put him away? Of course not! You ignore the tantrum, set the animal back on the right path and move on from there. I've found that strategy works well for toddlers, also.

My daughter, like my horse, is often apprehensive in new situations. She doesn't like strangers or new places much. I could hover over her or keep her away from new people, but that would only reinforce her idea that strange people and places are bad. After all, if I'm nervous, shouldn't she be nervous, too? Instead, I apply the lessons I learned from showing horses. Show grounds are scary places for a horse, full of new people, sights and sounds. If I let myself become nervous worrying about how my horse is going to react that fear will translate to the horse and we'll be a big mess. Likewise, if I stay calm the horse is more likely to stay calm. And if he doesn't, I'll be better prepared to react.

And sometimes my daughter is just feeling sulky and cranky or just wants to test her boundaries. Horses do the same thing. Fortunately, I've consistently established the fact that I'm not going to put up with any nonsense from children or animals and they all know it. Misbehavior will not be rewarded, no matter how much whining, pouting or thrashing occurs. Because I'm consistent and firm with my reactions, attempted mutinies are quickly thwarted. And once the offender stops throwing a tantrum, all is forgiven and we move on.

I remember very well the reactions I got from many acquaintances when they found out I was pregnant with my first. I was told many times "You know it's not a horse right?", "You can't treat babies the way you treat your horses" and, my personal favorite, "So, you're giving up riding now, right?" I did not give up riding and I do treat my daughter like I treat my horses. I treat her with respect, with love and with consistent discipline. And I never give her treats to shut her up when she misbehaves.

I don't know why so many people think that horses and children are incompatible. My horses have taught me a lot about being a parent. They have taught me to be gentle and kind. They have taught me to be understanding and consistent. They have taught me to react quickly and forgive immediately. I would not have learned those lessons without them.

They say it takes a village to raise a child. I think a herd is good enough.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

I Got An Award!

Kate, of the blog A Year With Horses, and Nina, of Adventures with Super Sam, have both bestowed on me the Beautiful Blogger Award. So now I get to pass it on. I'm fairly new to this blogging thing, so finding 15 blogs to pass it on to was a bit of a challenge! But I had a lot of fun exploring the blogging world and finding new blogs to follow so now I'll pass them on to my readers. But first I'm supposed to list seven interesting things about myself. Which was a lot harder than finding 15 interesting blogs, by the way.

1. I have a neurologic abnormality called synesthesia. It occurs when, at sometime during development, the brain's wiring becomes crossed and two aspects of its function that should be separate are combined. For me, language and vision are combined. I "see" words, numbers and letters as single colors or patterns of color. Even more odd, I had no clue that I had this condition until I learned about it in my undergraduate neurobiology class. I remember sitting in class thinking, "Wait, that's not normal?" Ha! I thought everyone thought in colors.

2. I'm allergic to monkeys. I get very odd looks from medical personnel the first time they read my chart. Then they always ask, "Does this say monkeys?". It's apparently not a common allergy. So, if you're allergic to monkeys give me a shout out in the comments. We can start a support group or something.

3. I have a bit of ADD when it comes to my career. I have, at various times in my life, been a veterinary technician, a horse trainer, an instructor at a university, the director of a research facility and I'm currently a stay at home mom. I'm still not sure what I want to be when I grow up, but since I don't plan on ever growing up, I'm not too worried about it.

4. I crochet. A lot. But I don't usually ever finish a project. The only things I've ever finished are baby blankets and little stuffed animals. My sewing room is filled with the carnage of my unfinished projects.

5. My family have been horsemen for as many generations as we can remember. There have been cavalry officers, real cowboys on the range, show jumpers, rodeo queens, ropers, endurance riders, dressage riders and trick riders. We're a very diverse bunch of yahoos.

6. According to Google, I'm the only person in the world with my name. Well, the only person on the internet, anyway. So I always use my name when I create domains and email addresses because it's pretty much guaranteed that no one else has it yet. Plus, I'm not really that clever when it comes to thinking up names. I suppose it's an identity hazard or something, but I don't have anything to hide and no one wants my credit anyway.

7. I minored in Russian language in college. It's pretty much the most useless thing you could minor in. But if my life ever depended on being able to make small-talk in Russian, I wouldn't die. So long as the person I was speaking to doesn't talk too fast, my Russian is a little rusty.

And now, on to the Blogs! These are all blogs that I enjoy immensely. Not all are horse related, but most are. So here they are, in no particular order:

Horses of Follywoods- Jean is a great equestrienne with years of experience under her belt. She has a gentle, no-nonsense approach to training a horse that I really admire. And she's a great story-teller, too!

Mandy's Life After 30- This one's not horse related, but Mandy is a great friend of mine (and a fellow Louisiana transplant). She's chronicling her adventures with a toddler, turning 30 and and just general family life. And she's doing it with more wit and grace than I could ever muster!

Sprinkler Bandit- Details the training of a young Oldenburg mare and the trials and tribulations that go along with training any young horse. Sprinkler Bandit handles it all and manages to keep a great sense of humor!

Riding Instructor's Diary- The diary of a riding instructor with a horse in rehab. A great read all around.

All Around Horses- A fun blog about farm life and horses. And some great tips on how to make stuff for your horse, too!

Deserts and Beyond- This one is fairly new to me, I just discovered it thanks to the Beautiful Blogger Award that's being passed around. The photos are stunning and the writing is excellent.

Beautiful Mustang- Another new one to me, but also with great pictures and stories. She's chronicling the gentling of a mustang named Beautiful- a fascinating journey to be sure!

Tango Dressage Blog- Featuring Suzanne King, a professional trainer based out of Georgia. A great read, Suzanne has loads of no-nonsense, practical advice to impart and she's very interactive with her audience, too!

Confessions of a Struggling Dressage Rider- A blog by an adult amateur who discovered dressage later in life. Full of humor and well written.

Once Upon a Dressage Dream- Full of insights and great quotes from the masters!

A Year With Horses- Kate is a kind, thoughtful horseperson and a great photographer and writer, too. She also has loads of other blogs on such varied topics as cooking and finance, too. All great to read and informative!

Adventures With Super Sam- A great blog from Down Under. Nina writes about her journey with Super Sam and her search for a Schoolmaster.

Mrs. Jen Peters- A great food blog and a good friend of mine, too. Jen has awesome recipes and is a huge promoter of local farmers and responsible, sustainable living.

My Four Legged Friends- A 16 year old aspiring trainer with three horses. She's doing a great job with young horses.

Buckskin and Bay- A really good journal of an adult rider with two horses. Very well written and thoughtful.

Whew, all that linking was tiring...I think I need a nap.


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