Valley Miss 3/7/1988 - 10/14/2011

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Well over the last few weeks I've had a lot of stuff keeping me busy and distracted.  Dressage shows, the new boy and playing with baby Titus, all gave my a chance to put something out of my mind.  But it's time to face to reality.  A couple weeks ago Bonnie and I really talked about Miss.  She's just not been doing well lately.  She's losing weight and she's not herself.  Her breathing is getting really bad again.  We agreed the best thing for her would be to let her go before winter got here.  She doesn't need to go through another cold winter.  And I don't want to wait too long.  It's not fair to Miss to keep her around just so I feel better.

Still even after making the decision we couldn't quite make the call yet.  A couple weeks passed and we still didn't call the vet.  But then Miss told us it was time.  Her breathing was steadily getting worse and she kept losing weight no matter how much grain we gave her.  When we saw her almost lose her hindquarters just walking out to the arena we knew it was time.

I went out and spent a couple of hours with her this week.  I groomed her and gave her as many peppermints as she would eat.  I cried into her mane for the last time.  It was a good evening and I got a chance to say my goodbyes to her.

Dr. Maro came out Friday and Miss was put to sleep out behind the arena.  She buried out back with her friends.  She was reunited with Vinny, Tru, Jade and all the others that we've lost.  I know she happy to finally be able to run free without any pain or discomfort. 

Thank you baby girl for taking care of me as I was learning to event.  Thank you for showing me how much fun this sport is and what a terrific partner can be found in a thoroughbred mare.  Thank you for trusting me to take care of you.  I'm glad I was able to keep you happy and comfortable these last few years.  I'll never forget you baby girl.

One of my favorite Miss photos.  Her and Maura at Virginia

Bonnie with Miss in Kentucky

Maura and Miss at Pony Club Champs in Kentucky

 In Loving Memory

Valley Miss
March 7, 1988 to October 14, 2011


What's In My Tack Trunk: Leg Protection

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

We're starting a new segment here on X-Tra Pony, reviews and recommendations of the products that I use.  I've had some requests asking what boots, or feed I use and I figured why not make it part of the blog.  And since my one horse owns enough gear to outfit the entire US equestrian team, it's a good way to take stock of what I do have.

So up first:  leg protection.  I have used a lot of different options for leg protection over the years.  Different boots, wraps and so forth.  So I've got a lot of options in my trunk.  But only a few that I really still use.  I have several pairs of the generic neoprene splint boots, you know the ones you can pick up from your local tack store for $20 or so.  

Adequate protection but when I started riding X and with the way he brushes behind, I wanted something with a little more protection for the fetlock.  In come the Sports Medicine Boots.
I really liked the SMBs for X, they offered him the protection he needed, and I liked the extra support for the fetlocks.  But I found out that X's brushing was actually wearing away at the boots.  So it was time to find something else.
Love, love, love these boots.  They are the Weatherbeeta molded galloping boots.  And at about $25 a pair, pretty inexpensive.  They hold up well to X's brushing and they are super easy to clean up, just turn the hose on them.  X gets the hind boots every ride.  And these are also my go to boots for cross country.  

Now for the front legs, I do like a little more support for X.  So he gets a set of Saratogas.
The Saratoga wraps provide a lot of support but are still lightweight and the horses seem to like them.  As with any wrap, you need to be very careful when using them.

The ponies also occasionally use bell boots.  Usually just for cross country or when trail riding.  I'm not picky about the bell boots.  I usually just pick up a cheap velcro pair from my local tack shop.  That way I'm not too upset if I lose one in the water. 

Then Kaye, well she's a special case.  She allergic to the neoprene in most boots so we had to find a fleecy option for her.  I found this pair of open fronts and they work well for her.
They were fairly inexpensive and seem to hold up well to the occasional beating.  Kaye will interfere a bit in front when she's not balanced, so with the kids all riding her boots are a must!
Whew!  And that's what's in my tack trunk!


Gogo Fatale

The equestrian community and the blogging community never cease to amaze me.  Close to 2 years ago I stumbled upon Andrea's blog and started to read all about her adventures with the amazingly talented and quirky Gogo.  I went back to the beginning and read everything.  I was inspired by Andrea's devotion to her horse.  Unfortunately I hadn't 'met' Andrea and Gogo until after her injury at the AECs so I never got to tag along on their eventing adventures.  But as I followed along through all the ups and downs of rehabbing the mare, it was obvious that Andrea would do anything for her. 

Yesterday, Andrea gave Gogo her final gift, a peaceful passing.  They had a beautiful last day together and in the end, it was quick and peaceful.  Andrea stayed by her sweet mare's side and truly did a selfless thing. 

Andrea, we share in your sorrow.  Thank you for taking us along for the Gogo ride.  She will be very much missed and remembered fondly by many.  Although not nearly as much as by you.  We are all here for you, we love you.  We look forward to being a part of your next adventure.


NWPAHA Summer Classic Dressage Show

Monday, October 3, 2011

Yup that's right, Bugsy and I went over to the dark side and went to a dressage show.  And I loved it!

Our win at Erie means we are halfway qualified for the 2012 AECs and I want to go.  Bugsy will probably be my best bet to do well there.  And let's face it, although Bugs is nowhere near ready to retire, he is getting older and realistically, he can't keep doing this forever.  So this is it, this is my chance.  And I know the lower levels at the AECs are extremely competitive.  It's not like the upper levels where you can usually bank on moving up a few placings if you jump clean.  At beginner novice you have to have a good dressage score.  And although Bugs and I can muddle through the dressage well enough for here at home, I want to be good.  So I need ring experience, and lots of it.  Luckily last weekend I had a dressage show practically right in my backyard.

Saturday morning, Courtney and I loaded up Kiwi and Bugs for the short drive to Harlansburg for the Open Dressage Show that is held in conjunction with the NWPAHA Summer Classic Arabian Show.  Being so close, Courtney thought it would be a good opportunity for Kiwi to get her feet wet.  And of course we had all our minions along, Astrid, Victoria, and Ari.

First up was Training Test 2, Bugsy warmed up great, he was listening and soft and really just working well for me.  I ended up not needing much warm up at all on him.  We just did some trot work and then our canter departs.  So then I just kept him walking to keep his muscles loose and warm.  Of course when we headed into the ring for the test I got nervous.  And as a result the first half of our test was a little bit tense.  But as we moved through the test I relaxed and things got a lot better!  And apparently the judge didn't see the tension because I walked away with a 73.214!  In a recognized dressage show!  I was shocked.

Then it was back to the trailer and Bugsy got to chill and eat hay for a couple hours before we headed back to the ring for Training Test 1.  Again Bugs warmed up great.  And then this time when we headed into the ring I wasn't nervous at all.  It was a much better test right from the start.  Bugsy was supple and tracking up, working off his hocks.  He felt great in the canter work and he gave me this great long and low stretchy circle.  To me this test felt 100% better.  Enough so that I got the high score of the day with an even 75.000!  So pleased and proud of my Buggers!

Look at that stretch!

And then it was a break for a couple more hours till we rode our last test.  I'll be honest.  By the time we headed over to the ring for Training Test 3 I was tired.  And so was Bugsy.  Dressage is hard work!  We kept the warm up very short.  Just a little bit of trot work and then a quick canter depart on each lead.  Even so we were both tired when we headed into the ring and it showed.  Plus this was the one test I never had a chance to ride at home in it's entirety.  We still had a fairly decent test.  Just not as great as the first two.  We still came away with a 62.400 and lots of things to work on for the next time.

At the end of the day we went home with blue ribbons for Training Tests 1 and 2 and a red for Training Test 3.  Pretty good accomplishment for my first recognized dressage show.  So now we are thinking about heading to Chagrin on October 15th for the NODA Schooling Show.  And we might tackle First Level Test 1.  Stay tuned!