Sunday, July 29, 2012

Parade Pony!

I think nearly every woman out there was once a  horse-crazed little girl.  For several of us that crazy stuck and we are now happy horse owners/caretakers. 

As a horse-crazed girl I'm willing to bet most of you shared the same dream I did when I went to a parade and saw people riding horses through, I want to be one of those girls one day riding my horse in the parade!!  My parents have photo after photo, year after year of me standing up and away from my seat as I crane my neck looking at the upcoming horses and riders in our town's big grand feature parade for the biggest festival in the state.

It took 23 years, but that dream I'd been fostering deep in my head came to fruition yesterday:

Little girl has toned up in the past month of training.  I'm really thrilled with where she is.

Not perfect, but I had NO IDEA what I was doing!

Q and her hunter/jumper braids
Bringing English to this little community

I love this horse.

Q fell in love very quickly with Mr. Eli

She was seriously sound asleep, one leg cocked as the firetrucks and sirens blared in front of us during parade line up.

We all look so serious! Three very different breeds in this photo.

Our faces!! We were so smug at this point that we were FINALLY doing this and our horses were so well behaved.

The horse group.  QH, TWH, MFT, mini, Freisian sporthorse, Arab, and a mule

Iz that whut we waz traineen fur?!  No, Q, you have 30 miles to do next weekend.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Happy Birthday, Griffin!

You're TWO!

In the minds of many this would make you the perfect age to start work under saddle, but I can see that you are still too awkward in your growth to handle the stresses of my weight in addition to your exercises.  You're still so clumsy!  But we will work on things and see how you are on a month by month basis.  Perhaps you will be sat upon (okay, seriously, I really just wanted an excuse to say "sat upon") sometime before Christmas...

You've come a LONG way from that super awkward little guy I rescue-adopted at the end of January.  You've gained hundreds of pounds and have grown a hand or two.  Your feet are in much better shape - literally they were clover-esque before!  Your feet are also hard, hard, hard; very well-developed growth going on down there!  Your heels are a little bit higher than I would like, but we will bring them down, no worries.

Taken on his birthday; chunker.

I'm just happy you're a healthy horse with lots of friends and space to run.  No more being locked in a dark barn without food or water and only getting hand-walked to eat once a day for an hour or two!  You've come a long way, little horse.  And if I have it my way you're only going to get better - we've got some LD and endurance in our futures!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Interupting WW...

To send you to this link to read N's blog post instead:

This girl is one of two I will be sponsoring to ride in the endurance race.  I love her to death.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


  • I'm sort of obsessed with taking photos on my phone of Q lately....

  • Mostly, I'm just rather obsessed with taking photos on my phone period.  After the wedding and hours upon hours of editing those photos I don't even feel like picking up my DSLR.  But I'm sure I will soon...  I really need to think about conning someone into being my personal photographer for the race.  Pity I don't have many friends who are competent with a DSLR...
  • My hoof stand came in....

  • This baby helped me to do all of Griffin's feet in < 20 minutes!  Aaaahh my back is so thankful!  Q is up next, I doubt she will be as complacent as Griffin, she's more fiery, but not a dragon.
  • I got out of the shower the other night (ran to get my phone and come back to take this) to find Kenai guarding me while I was showering....  Silly puppy.

  • Q did 21 miles (10 Saturday, 11 Sunday) this weekend.  I believe our average pace for all of this was 5.89 mph.  So far this month with the Endomondo app we have logged 60.88 miles.  
  • Ariana rode Q while I rode Mayer on our Saturday ride; Q got to jump some fun logs:

  • Saturday I rode with N, one of two local 4-H girls I will be sponsoring for the second half of the endurance ride.  Head vet said that it would be sufficient for these girls to "try out endurance" and just do one loop - the second, a 12 mile loop.  This way I can focus on Q and myself on the first loop (18 miles) and get settled so we can be right and ready for the girls and their horses on the second loop.  This arrangement also allows for me to make sure I have ample time to make certain that we don't go over time during the second loop!  Looking forward to spending time with the girls and riding.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Scavenger Hunt Sunday

1. Wrapped - These bands are now wrapped around the fingers of two of my good friends from high school whose wedding I was lucky enough to capture a few weeks back.

©Liz Stout

2. Time Together - The bride and her father the night before the wedding.

©Liz Stout

3. Tell Me A Story - So, the story behind this photo goes back to sophomore year of band when we all went to Disney World together to play.  During one of the sleep-deprived nights on the bus home the bride spilled a bunch of Cheez-Its all over the bus.  In agitation, and sleep deprivation, she cried angrily aloud, "AGH!  Now I have to pick all of these up ONE BY ONE!" To which the Maid of Honor (on the far left) said aloud, "Hannah, this is a HAND FULL."  And to this day it has been a joke amongst us.

©Liz Stout

4. Love - Chris is living in Colorado just outside Boulder now.  I'm pretty sad he's gone, but perhaps I'll be able to make my way out there?  Until that day, I have fun memories like this to think back on....

5. Duplicated - The bridal party had a photo like this from HS and during college, I was happy to duplicate it for them on Hannah's wedding day.  Next up to be married is the girl on the left!  =)

©Liz Stout

Monday, July 16, 2012

Q and trimming

Q is headed back into yet ANOTHER heat cycle.  Oh joy.  Its mild right now, but I reckon by the weekend/next week she’ll be full blown, “Heeeeyyyyyyyy” to all creatures great and small.  I’m hopeful that this means she *won’t* be in any semblance of heat for the endurance ride on the 4th – but I’m prepared to eat my words on that.  We’ll see.

I'm really slacking with taking my DSLR to the barn...

Black truly is "slimming" in photos...her stocking that goes above the knee convinced me of this! lol

She’s holding her conditioning really well, and, I think.  She is a lot stronger than I anticipated she would be.  Girl loves to boogie!  She really needs more hill work, as they make her huff more than the flat work on the rail trail does, but she’s doing really well apart from the whole super-social-mare-in-heat thing.

She’s still not mean or dragon-esque while in heat.  She’s just beyond distracted.  I have to get really creative with things to keep her mind on the job at hand.  I think I’m going to start playing around with barrels and racing patterns to do this some.  She can turn on a dime and her walk to canter/gallop transitions aren’t too shabby.  Just another thing to add to the list of activities.

(Video: I was lunging Q in the round pen [a good bit bigger than having her on this lead] and was really impressed with her movement and wanted to document it with video.  Stepped outside for better lighting.  You can see her get distracted and look for her friends.  Her boyfrann was yellin' for her, too.)

I woke at 5:30a this morning with intentions to go out and ride.  However, this was the first morning in awhile that I woke up and was just not feeling the whole riding thing.  I really wanted to sleep more.  Bad.  But I still got up and went out.  I trimmed all four of her feet; photographed a Renegade on her one foot for some analysis; and we practiced our trot outs.   She stood very well for all feet and let me trim them to my little heart’s content.  Within moments she seemed to understand what I expected with the trot out nonsense, but this was only one session.  We’ll see if it was a fluke or if she truly understood come tomorrow night and other days soon!

The morning started and ended with positive notes.  The whole session was positive really.  And that’s all I really wanted.

I SWEAR she was standing "normally" prior to this photo.  She feels the need
to turn and face me and thereby slam her rear into the wall/door and tuck her back
end under herself.  Makes it hard to get a good photo...

Could they stand any more similarly or look more similarin markings?  These were
adjacent photos on my cameraand it really made me chuckle flipping back and
forth and back and forth.  Hehehe.  Griffin is BEYOND awkward rightnow.  Even with
his eyes not being lit up by the flash. 

I trimmed two of Griffin’s feet, too, before my arms gave out.  I’ve let him go a bit and they needed more work.  But I really notice a difference in my personal endurance with feet trimming.  That shit is hard.  But muscles and skill are fast-developing.  I’ve ordered a stand though.  I can’t wait for it to come!  The worst part is holding the leg up while rasping!  But I’ve gotten very adept with my rasp handling to the point where I can even toss it in a manner to catch it in reverse direction.  Booya.  I’m loving this whole trimming thing.  =) 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Zoom zoom!

Q is so much better when her feet are moving and her mind is active.  On the trail, its moving faster; with flat work, its incorporating turns, patterns, ground poles, and jumps.

When we started the flat work I noticed the more complex the activity the more interest I got from her.  I wondered for a few days how to get this interest on the trail, and I think I've figured it out - moving those feet more.

She's a thinker this one.  You can practically hear her mind whirring as she notices and ponders everything we encounter on the trail.  If she gets to slow down she thinks too much about things and freaks herself out, if her feet are moving she doesn't have time enough to second guess her gut and freak about something.  She and I are quite similar in that aspect - if I let myself think about things I tend to get worked up when I really shouldn't.

Before I left for my week at NCTC, I pushed Q into her first "speed" workout on the trail.  According to my phone app, we tracked 6 miles in 1h:3m averaging 5.7 mph with a high speed of 11 mph.  Upon my return yesterday I worked her (and Griffin) in the round pen for awhile - it was raining and I wasn't up for the dim evening light + rain on the trail after being gone 4 days.  Q's workout was - obviously - a little more lengthy and harder.  She had an obstacle to consider and we worked through her issues with it.  Turned into a good little workout.

Today I decided to get on the trail and test her on another speed workout - I didn't realize how far we'd gone precisely until I'd returned.  I THOUGHT I was doing another 6 miles, but it was a different trail.  Turns out we did 8 miles in 1h:8m.  I'd intended to boost her speed some and see how she handled it - never did I ever expect that!  We averaged 7 mph with a high speed of 16.5 mph.  This trail is wide open and relatively flat.  It was entirely new to her with lots of new objects and things to see - she did PHENOMENALLY.

To top it off, she pulsed down again like a champ.  We walked the last 1-2 miles home with a little bit of intermittent trotting when she wouldn't cooperate upon seeing her pasture mates.  Upon arrival at the barn, I removed her tack and took her pulse.  69 bpm.  Took 3-5 minutes to pour some water on her and scrape it off.  Took her pulse again.  57 bpm. 

We cantered ~3.5 miles of this ride and I fully expected her to be huffing a bit more than she did.  Like, a lot more.  She wasn't blowing very hard at all when I stopped to turn back home so we did some more.  She really fell into a great pace with it.  She was alert and noticed things, but things I expected her to be really spooky around she wasn't at all.  She broke into a trot around a couple things, but mostly just noted them, gave some a wide berth, and kept on her merry way.  Good mare. 

Tomorrow we will do flat work and more jumping.  I'm so psyched with her fitness level, crossing my fingers that she keeps going in a positive direction!  Above all though, I'm having a blast and I think she is, too.

Side note:  Griffin has not been forgotten about!  I'm working him and spending time with him and trimming his tootsies and everything, too.  I'm just not focusing as intensely on him currently.  He'll get his due in 4 weeks ;-)

Monday, July 9, 2012

Q's workin' on her fitness

Well, I suppose she's BEEN working on her fitness.  Just like Fergie.

I'm more partial to my outdoors gym...even if the weather lately (until this week) has sucked major with high heat and humidity.  Suck-o.

Q's a champ though.

I'm learning that she is the most sociable horse I've ever met.  Ever.  Especially when she's in heat.  Which makes doing work nigh impossible because she's super concerned with being with her friends.  In order to get her focus I've really got to make her work and move her feet and give her a LOT to concentrate on.  Bring that need-to-be-with-friends drive to a must-focus-on-work drive.

Additionally, when she's in heat she's spookier than normal.  Hence more flat and jump work around the barnyard.  Its hard because her friends are near, but I'd rather deal with that than her decide the normal log we pass on the trail every day is now a bear that she should run from, dislodging me from her back in the process.

We're getting to know each other better, but I still don't want to take any silly chances.

: : : : :

Friday morning Q and I went on a 6 mile walk ride with D and Oliver.  After that A came over and jumped her and gave me a flat lesson and then I put her over the little jumps 3 or 4 times.  It was a nice long workout for her.  Some slow (not necessarily long) distance and then some fitness work.  It was her longest workout to date.  (First video is A riding Q on one of her best sets; second  video is A working Oliver [a 3 year old Kentucky Mtn. Horse])

She got Saturday off since I was participating in this thing we call wedding season, and then Sunday morning it was ON (like donkey kong!).  It was our first solo trail ride in awhile, and the longest one to date - and to top that off, I planned to really push her for the first time.

She does SO much better when she's pushed and having to move out on the trail.  Ohmygoodness.

I gave her three solid walking breaks, but the rest of the ride we pushed through at a solid trot with a few sections of cantering.  She was wary of a lot of logs and dead leaves, but she pushed past them and I praised her every time.  One deer, and one mystery animal spooked her into a 3-4 stride bolting canter, but that was it.

It was in the 90s and the humidity was absurdly high.  Conditions very similar to last year's endurance ride here - so I was very curious to see how quickly she could pulse down after that workout.

She got to walk the last 1/5 of a mile to the barn - I was curious to see how quickly she could bring her heart rate down without a perfect riding cool down.  My thinking, I may not remember exactly where I need to start walking in a ride because of new territory, memory malfunctions, or a combo of the two with some yucky heat to befuddle me because I'm tired.

We got into the barn, Chris took her and got the fly mask/bridle off while I quickly doused my head in water.  I then took off her tack and then checked her heart rate w/ my stethoscope.  I thought it was absurdly high, like >130, but I'm nearly positive I was counting breaths not heart beats  - I'm new at this and not quite perfect at hearing what I should.

I walked her in the round pen for ~7 minutes and then let her stand for a few minutes more.  I then listened to her pulse again.  This time I heard a very distinct boom instead of a questionable rhythm of something or other.  57 bpm.  Down to that in no greater than 15 minutes.  Not too shabby!

Hosed off and watching her friends longingly

My vet encouraged me to bump up our workouts if she's coming down that quickly in that kind of weather.  (I'm glad she's keeping track of my Facebook posts!)

Our 6 mile ride had an average speed of 5.7 mph according to my Endomondo app.  We will have a little over 7 hours to complete our 30 mile ride in August.  My goal is to finish before that time is over and finish with a happy, healthy horse.  I have no other great speed or time expectations.  Hopefully with training going the way it is, we'll be right on track!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Scavenger Hunt Sunday

1. Sunset - My favorite Max Patch sunset shot from my visit to the Smokies.

2. Sweet - Cake!  Cake is sweet!  And this is quite the blast from the past - 2007 4-H (just our club) seniors.  Ooohh good times.

3. Hanging Around - Back in the day - my first New River Rendezvous, my second summer of climbing.

4. Funny Face - I'm an expert at these.  Just ask me about the face game...

5. Space - Ignore the awful dance moves to observe my space freshman year at WVU.  What an incredible year.  I miss that little room sometimes.  Mostly I miss seeing such wonderful people every day.  This photo is a friend from home and I between classes one afternoon.  He'd always come up and hang out with us and we would watch Maury and make fun of people before heading downstairs to the dining hall.