Thursday, February 23, 2012

Just got the call -he is coming home!

Go Moosey, it's your birthday, We gonna party like it's your birthday

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Sick Boy

It started on Sunday.

I went out to the barn Sunday morning in my PJs, bleary-eyed yet ready to do morning chores.
Moose mouthed his feed, let it dribble out and then turned away. 

Let me stop here –Moose is a P I G. If it is not nailed down, he will eat it. If the nails can be pried loose by pony lips then it is not nailed down. And he will eat it.

What is a savvy horse person to do?

Check gut sounds, color & capillary refill, take a temperature & respiration, check for injury or swelling? Did I do any of these things? Nooooo. I sprinted for the house to retrieve my phone. 
The call went something like this:


Doc: What’s going on?

Me: Moose is dying! DYING! 

Doc: So what’s going on?

Me: He looked at me funny. I think he might have colic. or Foundering. OMG he is going to die!

Doc: Did you take his temp? with the underlying  Did you actually look at him?

Me:  No.  Do you know where my thermometer is? Shit! What is a thermometer? Hold on.  I’ll do that and call you back.

Ring ring.

Me: He is DYING! 104.6!

Doc : OK…asked a few questions about color, gut sounds, etc (none of which I could answer). 

Me:  waaaaaaaaaaaaaah! HELP ME!

Doc:  Ok. Do you want to give some banamine and call me back in a few hours? 
What will make you most comfortable (Note-what will make me -not Moose comfortable...yup, I was pretty hysterical)

Me: I am most comfortable with taking him to a hospital and having at least 10 experts look at him immediately. Do you think Dean Richardson is available?

Doc: I am on my way.

(Huge shout out to Dr. Miller / Prairie River Equine for wading through my hysteria)

My poor boy
Moose was properly evaluated and given banamine with instructions for me to monitor temperature and silly things like color, gut sounds, etc.

Throughout the day and night, his temperature ping ponged. More banamine was given, tasty treats soaked in water offered (all to no avail).

And I think I gained 5lbs (at least).

Temp 103. So I ate a cinnamon roll.

Temp 104. I ate two cinnamon rolls.

Temp was down. I called everyone I knew. “Hi! Moose is 98.7!!!!! “  um yeah….

Temp 105 so I ate a pizza. A whole one.

You get the idea.

So Sunday the decision was made to take him to hospital so he could get intensive care and I could stop with the eating already.

Please keep him in your thoughts-he is getting many gold stars for being a model patient. I love my kind, generous boy. He always makes me so proud. Even when sick.

Getting Fluids
Fancy Ice Boots!

My Moose

Monday, February 13, 2012

Parting Thoughts on the Atkins Adventure

“Ask often, expect little, reward often”

Upon reflection on my experience in Ocala, I think that sums it up best.

The training horses are asked to work and more importantly *try* hard. They are rewarded lavishly.

The training session begins the moment Peter has mounted. The horse is asked to be attentive and on the aids immediately. There is no lollygagging around in the guise of a warm-up (I am very guilty of this).

The session proceeds with the horse constantly being asked questions. Can you move your haunches here? Shoulders here? There is bending, leg yields, and every variation of lateral work. The horse is truly being “gymnasticized”. I don’t think I saw Peter ride a plain old 20m circle once –not even on the babies. And everyone did counter-canter –the advanced horses and the green beans.

I can’t stress enough how much the horses were working constantly –backs swinging and legs crossing. It really made me evaluate how I ride Moose. No more boring arena circuits or 20m circles for us.

These sessions are often short as the horses are constantly asked to think and work.  You can see the horses Peter has fully trained asking, “You want this?” “Is this good?” They are all triers and pleasers…it almost seems as if they think they are training him…”if I do this I can make him get off and give me a treat!” And this is what I want Moose to be.

The Horse -Its Always About the Horse

Everything was about the horse.

All the horses at Atkins Eventing live out 24/7, only coming in to eat meals.
Yes, Even Henry. 
As tempting as it might be to bubble wrap this famous gelding, Henry (is treated just like a horse) lives out with a group.

The dentist as well as chiropractor made visits while I was there. Peter does his own farrier work and afternoons often found him tinkering with shoes.

A variety of therapies are employed –from  lasers to “Vitafloor” (a vibrational therapy), each horse had a therapeutic treatment daily.

And treats. Lots of treats and kind words are part of each horse’s daily regime.

On Being a "Working" Student

Ok. So I was not a “real” working student. I was (very sadly) not there long due to work commitments. But I got a small taste. And it was a gift.

Sorry folks, but there is truly no way a trainer gets back what they give when they take on a working student. There has been lots of discussion on the forums about working students and working student positions. And my take is this-when you account for the trainer’s overhead and time there are not enough hours in the day to work off what you gain. In a few days time I was lucky enough to get lessons but I also learned buckets watching everything around me.

There is a wealth of knowledge to be gained just from watching. 
And not near enough stalls to clean or jumps to paint to compensate for this sharing of knowledge.

Live Each Day...

I left my dream trip on Thursday…and Friday morning I was back riding a desk. As is my custom, I scanned Eventing Nation as I drank my coffee. And my heart fell. The news of the explosion at KESMARC caused me to think of all my new friends –human and equine. Peter and Amy both use KESMARC for swimming and therapy – this was devastating news and my heart goes out to all that are affected by the loss of life.

Hug your people. Hug your ponies (and as Peter says never miss an opportunity to give them treats).

Here is his ride from last weekend on the very special Firedrake (this is going to be a big-time horse – you have my word). It is dedicated to the KESMARC family.

In closing, this was indeed a very special trip. There now are some checks on my buckets list –go to Ocala, get private lessons with a special mentor and above all continue to live the dream and take every opportunity offered.

Thank you Atkins Eventing.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Photo Essay -Atkins Eventing

This will be a short photo essay.

I am known for filling an SD card in 2 hours. But this time I was so busy being underfoot watching I only managed a few photos.

Jump Field

The Fatties. I LOVE them.
Shedrow -featuring superstars Baby Drake & Henry
Jumps -I painted them! And me! Paint everywhere!

Goofy -Enjoying his Vitafloor therapy

Drakey (Firedrake)


Friday, February 10, 2012

In which after 24 years + ~$200,000 and in 1 Trip to Florida I Finally Learn to POST the Canter and How NOT to See a Distance

I’m back! 

Yes for the last few days, I have been in Ocala, FL at Atkins Eventing. What an amazing adventure –I’m not sure where to even start but here goes!

The School Masters

The Atkins stable boasts several beautifully trained horses. And on my first day I was allowed to lesson on 3 school masters…honestly Peter need not have been present that first day as the horses in their kind, cheerful manner sorted me out. I can only imagine their conversations that night in the pasture...

“Man, we have a live one –she likes to go for the long ones so I added all the way to the base and let her ride my neck a bit.”

“Good plan. Her canter cues stink. I did my best impression of a Hambletonian winner. I think she got the message"

Lovely boys all –they not only improved my riding but managed to put up with me as I fumbled.

The Lessons

After being sorted out by the boys I started to learn in earnest. 

Peter: “POST the canter”

Voice in my head: “ WTF? What diagonal so I post the canter on?”

Peter: "Not that! Canter BACKWARDS with your body!"

Voice in my head: "Crikey. I think he wants me to turn around backwards. Might as well.That could actually improve my riding at this point."

But after watching Peter as well as his students ride the light bulb dawned…and as instructed I replayed it my mind that night over and over…and yes Peter – I actually DID dream about posting the canter.

Which leads to learning to NOT seeing a distance.

My typical MO in approaching fence:

75% of the time, I see nothing. So, I half-halt...
I still see nothing. Half-halt again...
Nothing. Nadda. Nope. Still don't see a thing. Shit.…so I PULL!
And we are either buried at the base or I kick for the long one. Yee-haw!

Mentally I know I should ride the rhythm and let the horse jump for me…physically I either pull to the base or throw my head and shoulder forward for a long one. 

At the end of my stay, it finally started happening in my head. Improve the canter and jump out of rhythm. 

As I rode to my last fence on Thursday I saw nothing…I immediately went to pull…but I stopped myself…posted the canter, kicked up the back and softened my hand…the distance was a bit deep but the horse bounded over easily! What a great feeling and a great way to end what has proven to be the experience of a lifetime for an amateur rider.

I feel I have SO MUCH to share still. ..but it is all still a bit of a jumble in my head. 

I know I have a new work plan for Moose –shorter duration, higher quality work. I want to learn more about the therapeutics used –from a vibrating, moving floor to laser therapy. I also saw a wonderful dentist at work as well as an equally gifted chiropractor. 

And before you ask –Yes, I did get to meet the famous “Henny”.  :)

More soon.

Friday, February 3, 2012

My Secret Sloppy Self & Other Fashion Faux Pas

I was always told you might be poor but you can be clean. This was translated to taking what I had and being as presentable as possible (in regards to riding). I poured over George Morris’s jumping clinic taking his criticism as gospel. When riding in public I was never without shiny tack, my stirrup leathers tucked in, outfitted in a collared shirt, belt and hairnet.

Speaking of hairnets. Buy one. Please. The last few years at competitions and clinics, I have been horrified by the lack of hairnets. It makes me twitch.

Hairnets. Just do it.
I still believe this should be the standard outfit anytime riding “in public” (i.e. lessons –yes even with your local-yocal trainer, xc schools, clinics and schooling shows).

George is excused from the hairnet rule. But Gloves? Where are the Gloves?
  • Clean, well-fitted tack
  • Clean horse
  • White pad
  • Helmet
  • Hairnet (for the love of god remember the hairnet!)        
  • Belt
  • Collared shirt tucked-in
  • Breeches
  • Shined tall boots –maybe if uber casual half chaps
  • Gloves
    I have this Outfit!

    As I started keeping my horse at home my dress code of sorts has been relaxed.Very relaxed.

    My husband accuses me of dressing like Napoleon Dynamite.

    My revelation that I will soon be riding with Peter Atkins at his farm in Florida also brought out  turnout worries –what does one wear when training with a member of the Australian Eventing Team, World Games competitor and all around awesome coach? I mean I had the riding outfit down but what about chore clothes? Certainly Peter would not want a Napoleon Dynamite doppelganger representing his farm!?

    So I sent him an email to ease my mind –would a polo tucked into jeans be OK for chores?

    And his response was to shoot back a picture as he was setting out to ride.

    Peter -please don't kill me for sharing this

    I think I am going to fit in just fine.

    Riding at, pink and red match. Right?

    As I pack for next week, I am leaving the breeches, tall boots and new polos at home. In go  t-shirts, jeans and half chaps.

    I have not decided about the hairnet yet.