Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Baby photos

Bodhi is almost 5 years old. Who could believe it! It seems like only yesterday he was hopping of the trailer as a big headed, apple bottomed 2 year old.

I am on my husbands computer and looking through the photos he has taken of Bodhi and I. Here are some pictures I found as Bodhi as a 2 and 3 year old.

Here is the kid a few days after I got him. Look at that shiny new halter...

At least he has grown into his head (a little bit!)

Look at that butt! It was the same size then as it is now. He was 13 hands back then!

As a three year old... Getting better!

Halter is not so shiny anymore...

He still has a big butt...

Here is what we did a lot of when he was too young to ride or really work on the lunge for any significant amount of time... we played soccer, went on walks, wore tack etc. I was so hungry to spend time with him and he was such a fun baby to be around. Here he is wearing his tack and learning to kick his ball

What a good boy.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Saying goodbye is never easy

We lost Tie on Wednesday morning.

On Tuesday evening/night he was fine: running around and begging for more dinner as usual. Early the next morning the barn manager found him lying down. She was able to get him up but he was obviously in severe amounts of pain. She called me out, and we called the vet. The vet's prognosis was that he had ruptured his GI tract and that there was nothing we could do. The good news was he did not suffer long. The bad news was it felt like the rug had been pulled out from under my feet. Here one minute gone the next. What a terrible reminder of how fragile these creatures really can be.

The vet said that he looked great for a horse his age and would not bat an eye if he saw him in a pasture now. *sigh* I wish he had more time to spend healthy and well cared fo!. We only had him 5 months!
He really meant a lot to me. He was the first horse I have actually rehabilitated. I also lost what I thought was a good friend at the time over his rescue.

He was a horse I knew and rode as a child. He was the only horse I knew who could run backwards. He was also the only horse I have seen buck so hard he broke his cinch. He has jumped out of a round pen and he broke a girl's nose by rearing up and hitting her in the face. He once took off with me and jumped a two lane road.

He was the most wild, independent, and amazing horse I have ever known. Savage and strong until the day he died. Saved from the brink of starvation only to pass on by a unfortuitous circumstance mere months later.

I am really gonna miss the funny man. He was an amazing horse.

So... before

And Last Week...

He was 35(ish)

I miss you Titelist

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

This is my righteous face

So I went to a dressage clinic this weekend that was also a tack sale. "Horses helping Horses" was set up as a benefit for our wonderful local horse rescue the Horse Protection Association of Florida.

Considering the title of the event I was surprised to see something I was not too pleased with in the first ring I stopped at. To be fair it was not what I saw that turned my day sour. The horse and rider pair were doing OK. The horse was green green green and the rider was unbalanced and out of shape but the clinician was giving great advise for the two to improve the experience for both of them. It is what I heard from the rider/owner after the lesson that turned my stomach. The horse was only 2.5 years old. She was also a Percheron/Curly cross. That horse belongs in a field somewhere not in a dressage ring! One of the reasons I chose dressage is for the sport's respect for the aging process of the horse. When I see this kind of stuff it makes me just sick.

I don't know what you guys think of FHOTD. Sometimes it is entertaining and sometimes it has the opposite affect for me--too depressing to want to think about. I read it sometimes. One point I really have taken to heart from that blog is that if you think something is wrong you should say something.

I checked with the associations website and they are associated with USDF. I checked the USDF/USEF guidelines on age of ridden dressage horses and it says the following:
"No horse may compete in any under saddle class if it is under thirty-six months of age (of foaling date) at the time of competition. horses competing at the Grand Prix level must be at least 7 years of age and horses competing above Fourth Level must be at least 6 years of age, the horse's age is to be counted from January 1 of the year of birth to January 1 of the current competition year."

So that is pretty black and white. It is included in the bylaws along with the banded drugs and equipment.

So I decided to write Arredondo Dressage Society a letter and this is what I said...
To whom this may concern,
I wanted to write a quick email in thanks for putting on such a great event. My friend and I had a nice time and I am always happy to come out and support a great cause like HPAF. Events like this are so great for the horse community, and so much fun! Thank you for all of your hard work.

That being said I did leave the grounds with one sour note that brought the day down for me and I wanted to write you and express my opinion. Around 1:30 or so I stopped to watch a Clinician who was mentoring a rider with a young paint horse. I think it was Shelley Van Den Neste but I may be mistaken
. I watched the session thinking "My! that is an immature looking horse". At the end of the clinic I heard the owner/rider talking with the clinician and she was saying the horse was only 2 and 1/2. To make matters worse the horse in question was a draft cross. I was appalled. A horse of that age should be in a pasture somewhere allowing her bones to grow and her growth plates to fuse not participating in a dressage clinic! I know this association is filled with well educated experienced horse people so we all know the health risks and long term damage associated with working an immature horse. One of the reasons I enjoy dressage as a sport is that most riders and trainers respect the horse and allow ample time for maturity and do not start working until 3 or hopefully 4.

I am also aware that you can not control other people's actions with their own horses. However, I think something you could do to promote equine welfare is have a mandatory age for participation in any of your events. This may not keep people from engaging in riding babies at home but at least your organization would not be condoning it! Also it would be a great educational opportunity to make people aware of the implications of riding young horses when they ask for your reasoning behind the restriction.
Thank you,

And They responded with this--

Thank-you for your kind words about our event.
I would like to let you know that we did not ask the age of the horses participating in the clinic - we did not recruit riders and horses as would be done for a demonstration, but allowed participants the opportunity to bid on available rides. It is not typical to ask the age of participating horses, and although I agree with you that I would hestitate to ride a horse of this age, I am not sure what it is that you would like us (as a group) to do. I don't believe that it is our perogative to mandate what individuals do with their horses unless clear abuse is indicated. It may be that this individual had x-rays performed that showed that the growth plates were fused - I do not know. Additionally, I am not certain that an individual wishing to participate would be prevented from doing so by our providing an age limit - we are not likely to be in a position to show proof of age - we simply to not have the manpower to police people's actions to that degree.
What our club does do is provide educational lectures each month based on promoting the health and welfare of horses as it relates to all aspects of their care and development.
I was the main organizer of this event - if you have a person to hold accountable, it is me. I will make certain that your concerns are lodged with our board at our next meeting. We would welcome you as a member of our organization and you could assure that your voice and your concerns would be heard.

To me it was a bit of a cop out. I saw her point but I responded with--

Thank you for your prompt response. To answer your question what I expected of a dressage event hosted by a dressage organization is for it to follow USDF/USEF standards. Proper equipment, proper etiquette and horse welfare are all part of the sport of dressage as illustrated by the 2010 USEF rule book quotation below. A minimum age is just as part of the dressage standard as soundness of the competing horse is.

"No horse may compete in any under saddle class if it is under thirty-six months of age (of foaling date) at the time
of competition."
(Taken from the 2010 USEF Dressage Division)

I understand the issue of man power. This however is not a good enough reason to not have an official statement on the matter of the proper competing age. I am sure you do not have a way to test for illegal drugs but does that mean it is officially allowed at your events? Same goes for lameness evaluations. I would like to believe that only sound horses are welcome in your events as well correct? Even if it is just stated that it is not appropriate to the participants at time of entry and not enforced or tested that would be so much better than your silence on this issue.

I would love to join your organization and I am very happy that you provide public outreach and education. That is important work. I will not however participate in an organization that does not follow basic USEF guidelines especially when it comes to an issue of animal welfare.

Thank you again, and I hope you consider my thoughts,

Which in turn earned me this--


Your comments are noted and although this was not a competition, we will consider your request.

Respectfully Yours,


So what do you guys think? Am I fighting wind mills here? To me riding a 2 year old horse is just as bad as riding an unsound horse almost. I am not normally so righteous but I really felt that this little filly needed a voice. Watching her whinny and fret through the entire clinic did not help either. She was so small and obviously over faced. I really do hope that they are considering my request but I fear the worst.

Any of you guys gotten the righteous bug? What did it? Were you pleased with the result?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Pony Rehab

Bodhi is doing well in his rehab. We have progressed to some trot work along with the walk and he is doing better with several things like releasing tension at the poll than he was prior to the injury. He has had a bunch of energy (for him) and has offered up the canter during ground work (which he NEVER does) and he has been correct on his leads in both directions. We have also had a few bad days because he is a bit fresh and easy to distract and I fear I expect too much of him. He is such a great little worker I get so flummoxed when he has an off day. I need to relax!

The long suffering husband took some pictures yesterday of our ground work and riding. He had a really hard time capturing the right moment for the leg lift work but he took a really cute video.

I chose to use my leg lifting as a cue for his leg lifting because I was hoping to use my own body language for more ground work. If I can get him to cue into my legs I could work on extending and collection etc etc. Besides it's cute. Watch out Rockettes!

Here are some photos of liberty lunging. My dressage whip is also a target stick and lunge whip. Multi-purpose tool! We are working in a fairly large pasture now I would say it is maybe an acre maybe not quite. I am working on getting him to mirror my gate. When I extend he extends

warm up!

Good stretch Bodhi!

Playing the "matching" game!

His trace clip is almost gone!
As for the riding...
My equitation is horrible! I picked the not so painful looking ones so you guys could keep your breakfast. This is why riding without lessons is bad. The last lesson I had my instructor told me I was too far forward. I have obviously took a swing in the opposite direction. Now I am WAY too far back. Something to work on. Also my ankles are always crazy and pointing out like a duck. It is a conformation fault I have. Any one else have this issue? It is infuriating!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Oh Canada!

Well we had a great trip to Winnipeg. I think I am really going to like living there (minus the snow of course) We found a place to live and board Bodhi. Actually the places are one in the same. There is a guest house at the boarding facility and it just so happens to be going up for rent at a perfect time!

So I am going to finally have a house. No more apartment living! This could mean a garden (in the summer). Stella will have a yard and Bodhi will be just feet from my doorstep. Here are some photos of our future home for the duration of my graduate degree.

The Barn

The house (this was the only photo that did not have someone's car or something in it for courtesy I thought I should not post them)

Cupcake the pig

Big indoor (sorry for the blur)

Nice outdoor!

I am so excited! I still need to arrange transport for Bodhi.... Any advise?

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Crazy Busy!

I have been so busy getting ready for my trip to Manitoba. I am so excited to tour some barns up there and talk to some folks about boarding. I am also super excited about seeing my future campus for my masters studies of course. I hope everyone has a great week and wish me luck!

Here is a great video from Alexandra Kurland.

It is a good introduction on the Clicker training movement for anyone still confused about what clicker training is all about. It showcases all the uses of clicker training ranging from tricks to manners, to ground work under saddle work and even guide work. Yes pony guide for the blind! That is the perfect example of the power of positive reinforcement. I would like to see the popular horse trainers out there train a successful guide horse.

Oh and I stumbled on the fish version of my wonderful pony today at work!
The Genus Bodianus of course! I guess scientists did not know Bodhi is spelled with a "P"
I forgive them.