Monday, November 21, 2011


Thanks to the world of smart phone technology - Ben has been on a regimen. I downloaded an interval timer app that allows me to build workouts and play them - so it takes the guess work out of timing each workout. 

It has been amazing for Ben - his trot has gotten much more rhythmic and balanced, and his muscling and shine is astounding.

The other day I worked a wee bit on having him walk over poles, so he'd have to bend his knees a few times. 

All in all, he's been doing very well. Work is light, but regular, which seems to be really benefiting him.

Monday, November 14, 2011


Ben - "Always use protekshun"

Lack of updates, I know! Ben has been off of work- the week after his first lesson, he came up quite lame and blew a fairly large abscess, which needed time to heal. Closely following that episode, he then came down with some viral/cold that swept through the barn and got every horse under 5 sick.

He's doing much better now, and this weekend we'll have another lesson *knock on wood*

I do have a bit of a fun post that has been delayed for some time now...hopefully within the week I can post it and ya'll can have a great laugh!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

That Makes Two

Well, Ben has been off for almost a week due to a huge abscess that took hold of his left front hoof. On Saturday he came in from turnout practically 3 legged lame, and his pastern, fetlock and bottom half of cannon was completely swollen. The next day it blew out his heel.

He is pretty much back to normal, just keeping the exit wound clean and letting him move around naturally. Friday I will work with him and see if he might be ready for a lesson on Sunday.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Videos- Don't Laugh!

Ben and I had a dressage lesson yesterday. It was very good- we basically worked on some very basic concepts at both the walk, and then some trot. We were both quite tired at the end of it. Right now it is a lot of work to keep Mr. Ben going!

As I said in one of the videos below- I hope that one day I can look back at these and laugh. This is one horse that makes me feel like I Cannot. Ride.At.All. He's a really big mover, and is behind the leg and has very little stability - which makes me feel like I am thrown all over the place even though I am supposed to be the centered one for us both right now. I will say, watching these videos, it feels much worse than it looks, which gives me hope!

Isn't he the cutest lil Standardbred ever??

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Guest Blogger

Hi Folks. Ben here. Mom said she didn't have time to write updates on me. I told her I'd take care uf it being as I'm not doing much this week. See, the humans here think we horses don't like mud, so they are keeping us inside while they hide it under bunch of roks. I tries to tell them that mud is the very best thing ah-round, but no one listens to a 3 year old. I already has plans to dig it back up when I can get outs there.

Mom said to be sure to tell you alls that she's start giving me stuff to help with my colicks. I dont really know what that is. She says she gots it for a good price, which is important because I am always hungry so I eats a lot of monies.

But back to the more important things. I's doing okay. We have lots of treats and foods stocked up. Last weekend Mom rubbed my butt with this thing she said cost 4 dollars, which at first I thought hey - lets buy more important things like foods...but then she used it on my butt and I said to her - hey go buy 2 more. Best scratches ever, you should buys them for your horses too.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

All is Well Update

Ben seems to have recovered from his recent colic episode. Last night I got talking to a new boarder who offered to try some cranial-sacral work on Ben, to see if it will help him NOT have future colic episodes.  She mentioned that at the very least, it could benefit him given the recent growth spurt he's had over the last 8 months. I am so grateful for the offer, and I think it will do him a world of good.

ETA: The Ouchie Leg ended up being an abscess. Go figure.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Mild Colic

On Friday morning, Ben colicked. It was mild, and luckily (if there is such a thing) the onset happened while the vet was already en route to our barn for our annual fall visit. So within 30 minutes of detection, Ben was palp'd, sedated, and tubed. He seemed to come out of it fine, and within an hour or so he was his spunky self.

I did mention to the vet that he colicked earlier in the year just before he came stateside- and he said that was was a little concerning- 2 colics in one year is not good, and to definitely keep an eye on him.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Ouchie Leg

Hey Lady, are you back there to scratch my butt or not?

Paid a visit to Ben yesterday. When grooming him I noticed his left hind fetlock looked a little large. So I took him out to the arena, and he seemed fine at a walk, but definitely lame at the trot.


Vet comes out on Friday anyway for our fall visit so I guess his timing is perfect.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Vroom Vroom!

I must be in some nostaligic/reflective period right now, because I keep going back to read my old posts on Ben. I'm amazed at how much he's changed in such a short time.

One thing, I noticed in my old posts, were my comments regarding his sensitivity to loud noises. Looking back, this was a big issue for Ben.

And just now it dawned on me, the last time I rode Ben, I believe it was last week or the week before, we rode together in the arena with 2 others while our neighbors took their dirt bikes and raced them up and down their property. There were 2 bikes at least - they were loud, noisy, vibrating and zooming up and down their long driveway - out of sight behind the trees, but very, very loud only about ~30 feet away. Ben definitely noticed as I did feel him tense and speed up once or twice, but he wasn't really reactive or spooky- not like he was during his first few months at the barn. If anything, seemed more concerned with trying to get close to his 2 horsey friends in the arena than with the noise.

It is very interesting how things have changed. I haven't focused on desensitizing Ben to random noises. I think over time, he has gotten used to the neighbor's shenanigans, so in a way, they did all the work for me. Thanks, guys! LOL.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Misconceptions of Standardbreds - 8 Month Check In

I've been meaning to do this for quite some time. Part of my goal with adopting Ben was to disprove the common misconceptions regarding standardbreds as a companion/riding horse. I had forgotten about it, but last night I had the pleasure of talking to a very nice gal who asked me what kind of horses I owned. When I said I had a Standardbred...she said "Oh, are they even rideable? What is THAT like? They can't canter, right?"

So...I thought I'd go back to my original post and the original misconceptions and go through them, now 8 months into my relationship with my very special guy.

  • Standardbreds are only pacers - Ben is naturally gaited, but he can walk, trot, and canter. In fact, his trot is HUGE.
  • Standardbred pacers never trot - see above.
  • Standardbreds can not canter or lope. - See above (and blog profile photo)...doesn't canter, eh?
  • You can't ride a Standardbred - I've ridden Ben about 15 times in the past 8 months. He wears the same saddle as my mare, and just got his own bridle because he's a touch bigger than my other horses.
  • If you ride a Standardbred, all it will do is pace at 40 mph. - Ben only paces when he's presented with something new, or if his tack doesn't fit him properly.
  • Standardbreds are ugly- To each his own...but really?
  • Standardbreds are "cheap" horses - Ben cost me $500 to adopt...but his original yearling sale fees were well into the 5 digit sum, rivaling that of your average warmblood that has some training.
  • All Standardbreds coming off the track will have bad legs. - Ben does have old splints on his front legs, but they are cosmetic only. He is as sound as a whistle.
  • Standardbreds are "hot" - Ben is the quietest horse in the barn. He eats 6 lbs of grain a day, plus beet pulp, hay pellets and his normal hay ration. Does this look like a hot horse to you?
  •  Standardbreds are crazy - Crazy attention hogs! Ben loves when you give him attention, he hates to be ignored.
  • Standardbreds cannot bend - When Ben first started his training, he was very tough to bend to the right. Some suggested he was trained with a head pole, but supple correct training has eliminated that, and now he bends just fine both left to right. He is as normal as any green developing horse.
  • Standardbreds won't give to the bit - Ben loves his bit. He gets foamy and soft and relaxes his jaw. He is still building strength over his hind and back to support this, but he's no different than any other breed of horse learning to do this too.
  • Standardbreds make bad dressage horses - Ben is too young to compete, but next year, I will prove it to ya!

So I guess you can make the call...does this look like an ugly, hot, pacing,non-cantering, cheap horse?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Light Work

Ben has had most of the summer off. The other day, though, I was watching him and saw that his gawky, lanky 3 year old self has now evened out (for now) into a well balanced 3 and 1/2 yr old self. So I decided to put Ben back into light work a few days a week to see what he's got.

So, a few longe sessions and 2 rides later, Ben is in a much better place physically than he was earlier in the year. He is still very bouncy thus very hard to ride, but he's finding his rhythm a bit easier which makes the bounce more predictable.

Last night he was able to find his rhythm enough to seek the bit out...yay!

I'm going to keep the work light as he's only 3.5 yrs old. He'll likely have spurts of time off here and there depending on how he grows and develops. But I like what I see so for now, the boy is back in the game :)

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Bad Blogger!

I have been a really bad blog owner. All I can say is that I simply havent had the time to blog. And to be honest, nothing has been going on.

Except for one thing.

Ben has been growing. Remember when I declared him just a smidge under 16.0 hands? Now he's a smidge over- by 1/8 inch.

He's been hanging out all summer, just growing up. No training has been taking place- every now and then I groom him up, do some ground work or longe him, and put him back out.

Eventually, probably in late September early October when he's officially 3 1/2, I will start him lightly again and see where we're at.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Not Much Happening in Ben's World

Sorry this blog has been a bit quiet. Ben is going through (another) growing phase - so I've been letting him be a horse out in the pasture with my girls. He does get occasional ground work and longeing session. Nothing really new to announce. He's doing well. He's sound. He's big. He's shiny. He's a total love bug.

Yesterday I took him out because he was giving me the "Laser Eyes" as I took each horse out and worked them. Ok Fine, Ben, you can have a session too. He proudly stood in the grooming bay, got all prettied up including getting his ears and bridle path clipped again, then I took him out on the longe. I was surprised to see his canter developed since the last time we tried, which was a few weeks ago, I think.  Its still not pretty- but he will pick it up, and keep it, and not get all nervous about it. His balance is improving. Good boy.

I don't have any new plans for him as it stands- just letting him grow up and physically mature. I will take him for rides here and there, but nothing strenuous or serious.We'll leave all of that for when his body has finally evened out.

Sunday, June 19, 2011


 Why do horses end up at the auction?

Here is a little hint for you- it is not because they are broken, useless, no-good/crazy animals. Simply put, it is because their owners do not do the right thing by these horses.

A little story for you:

As a general course, I frequent Chronicle of the Horse Forums. There has been an ongoing thread about retired Standardbreds and where they go once their racing days are over. I posted about Ben, and found out some really shocking details.

I found out that Ben sold for a fairly high dollar at the yearling sale - so much so that the lady who was interested in him thought he was way out of her price range (I don't know the final $, but we're researching that).

I found out that Ben was expected to have HUGE potential.

I found out that in BC last year, there was some kerfuffel regarding standardbred racing, and a bunch of old-boys in that scene sold out and left for greener pastures, or just retired from racing entirely. Ben's owner also has a bunch of horses in Cali, and was headed down that way with a bunch of his stock. Ben did not make the cut, apparently, and was dumped.

<insert angry face>

I can only assume why Ben found himself at the auction. He had/has 2 old popped splints that are up high near his knee- one of which was freeze fired. Who knows how he got them- worked too hard too soon, perhaps? maybe he wacked himself with his opposite leg? who knows. Was injury the reason he didn't make it on the Cali-bound roster? Or maybe the owner didn't have the money to get him to Cali with the others? Its all speculation - but one thing we know for sure, Ben got a one-way ticket to the auction house.

But a little time off, tlc, and a chance to grow up - and he could've been given another go. Or he could've found a home. But instead, he went to auction, where he was damn lucky to get purchased by J & M Acres Rescue.

Ultimately he did find a home with me, and I found out that I got an amazing naturally talented gelding out of the deal. But what if J & M hadn't chosen him? What if they hadn't been there? 

Ben is a clear example that perfectly fine, even VALUABLE horses can land in the auction pen.

Lucky for Ben, he has a bright, shiny future ahead of him. He's the minority. So many of these horses don't get that chance.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Ooo Ooo Pick Me! Pick Meeeee!!

When I got to the barn last night, the horses had already been turned in. I went down the aisle intended to get to the tack room to gather my things for Piper so I could tack up and take my lesson. Ben, though, put on a show! He was so intent on my picking him- doing everything in his power to get my attention in his direction.

If he had a voice, I'm sure it would've sounded something like this!

Ultimately I did not pick him, much to his dismay. My hip still needs Piper. But never fear, dear Ben, Saturday is all you and me.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Official Measure

One thing is quite constant with Ben- his ability to hoover down food like he hasn't eaten in years. I know this is not true- but knowing how much he eats, you'd think he has a problem.

Well yesterday, I found that "problem".... Ben, as I suspected, is growing. He goes through these really awkward stages of looking lanky and young, then bulks up and begins to look like a mature horse. Well, we've been in one of those lanky stages. He's been getting so much food- I only had to assume he's using it some how.

Yesterday I brought out my measuring stick...and boy has been grown. When Ben came home, he was 15.2 hh(the 62" mark on the stick). Now, as you can see, he is just under 16- only 1/2" to go. 11/2 inches in height is pretty significant for a 3 year old.

In addition, I found someone on a local message board who knows standardbreds, particularly Ben's line, and was told they are late to mature and usually stop at around 5 or 6.

Ben is 3. We have a few years to go :)

Friday, June 10, 2011

Onward We Go!

Deep breath- huge sigh of relief.

I've been blogging almost constantly about my achy hip and the fact that Ben's shape seems to oppose mine, thus causing great pain. This pain also causes me to ride like a complete greenhorn- no balance, no ability to actually move with the horse. Ugh, so frustrating.

And Alarming. Last week I discovered that the pain was 200 million times worse on Ben and virtually non existent when riding my mare. I thought that perhaps he and I just weren't a good match in body type. I decided to give us a little break, focus on just hanging out and doing light ground work in conjunction with me getting to my massage therapist to see what could be done.

Let me tell you first off- true massage therapy is really painful. Like it makes you want to puke and die kind of painful. Or maybe that is just me because my body is so out of whack.

The good news is that with pain, comes healing. After 2 sessions, I was able to ride my horses yesterday, including Ben. And the best part, is that he hardly hurt. I was able to trot. I could rise. I could sit, I could move. And all the while, Ben was a great sport.

It renewed my hopes that he and I will be good partners for life. I almost cried up there - just out of relief. I have my body back, and i can enjoy my horse. I have a long way to go in terms of healing, but I am now hopeful that it can and will happen.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Naughty Boy!

When the cat is away the mice will play, so they say.


Hubby and I went on a 4 day trip to Canada this weekend. Upon my return, I was told that Ben was naughty!

How so, you might ask?

Why...pawing at the fencing and ripping the tape down, and cutting his leg in the process.

Naughty Ben!

The cut isnt bad- very minor thing. But what a naughty boy!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Reality Check

So, as you all know from my more recent posts- I've been struggling with my left hip joint. It has been getting progressively worse. The past few rides have been nothing more than walking around the arena, no stirrups, hanging my leg trying to stretch it out, using Ben's movement to gently push the stretch.

I also bought a neck strap, actually, a racing yoke, to use on Ben, for the time being. Basically, his trot is very jarring. With my hip in so much pain, i can't hardly follow him. So I bought this tool so i have something to steady my hands on while i try to sort my leg out.

So last night, I tried using this - and boy what a difference it made for me. It also gave my hip an opportunity to pop - something popped during one of our trot sets, and WOW, did my hip feel much better after that!

I was able to ride a bit more, and it was really relieving. I could still feel pain, but it wasn't debilitating.

When I was done with Ben, I got on my mare, Piper. I've had Piper for just under a year- and I remember when riding her I thought she was incredibly bouncy and hard to ride- and was confirmed by other riders. Let me tell you, Ben makes Piper feel like a Cadillac! Not only that, I had no pain in my hip when riding her.

Of course, this served as a huge reality check for me. Ben is young, his stride is huge, and he's still quite unbalanced. I think my body cannot flow with his really well yet. So I am going to change my plan for his training to focus on balancing him out first. Because there is really no point in trying to trot around when we can't do it right.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Hangin' Out

Ben has been hangin out - just doing light work on the ground. Our saddle came today - so I'm all excited to ride...gah, stupid injuries!!!!

Anyway, here are some new pics of the boy. Looking rather good (err, aside from the muddy legs!)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Made Ya Look

Ben's Simple Guide to Giving Your Owner a Quick Heart Attack.

Step 1: mid-dinner, when you hear your owner coming, abandon hay and lay flat on your side with your legs stretched out, groaning.

 Step 2: sit up before they take you for a seriously sick or dead horse- cuz ya really don't want 'em calling the vet.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Mysteries of Saddle Fit

As you know, we are getting a new saddle, as I've fallen completely out of love with my Prestige Galileo.

So while we wait for said new saddle to arrive from 6,000 miles away, Ben and I had been using a trial saddle. This one was slightly different, being the cob model and also made of partly synthetic bits.

At first I thought "oh my this looks like it fits him better than the other" which was fine, if even a bit exciting because then I could get 2 saddles! But  in the midst of all this joy, Ben started PACING under saddle. He hasn't paced since the day I met him. I had a suspicion that it was the saddle, perhaps it looked a bit too narrow after all. Or maybe it could be me, who is having extreme pain in my hip and groin. Maybe my body is interfering and sending an unintended cue.

Nevertheless, I changed the gullet to the MW and rode again. I got pacing, again. Of course, my own pain has not gotten much better.

So now I'm undecided because this particular model looks like it fits better, but he certainly didn't move as well in it. I am anxious now to get my saddle and see if he is more comfortable in that. Which would be strange, as it is by looks, not the better fitting of the two.

While we wait, I am taking a wee break from riding to address my very apparent medical issue. I have a massage therapy appointment next week, and in the mean time, am trying to learn some gentle stretches that will hopefully loosen up my lower limbs in the areas that matter.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Spring...I has it

Just a couple of photos from today after our ride.

Spring...I has it.

That's the biggest damn bucket I've ever seen!

I am really excited over how Ben is turning out. He's been quite solid and reliable- and really fun, too! I appreciate this as I have been struggling with my left hip, and it has basically made me forget how to ride. Probably not the best idea to go on training a young horse, but oh well. I'm trying to stretch it out, take supplements, do what i can- but it is still very much locked. I may have to break down and go see a professional- boo. Through all of this, though, Ben has been a rock star, despite having to deal with me.

Saturday, May 14, 2011


Wee Ben and I rode in a new saddle today, thanks to the saddle fitter coming out with a bunch of saddles. And OMG - the lushness that is the Kent & Masters dressage saddle. It is love.

Turns out its a pretty good fit for Ben, and very adjustable to accomodate his devloping body.

Turns out, my checkbook is a little lighter right now, cuz I just had to get one.

In 2 weeks we shall have our very own.

Back to the lesson- did some trot- took awhile to get the saddle, girth, irons right. But we did our trots, and started to teach him how to turn so we can begin to do big circles. My mantra-outside leg, outside rein, step inside. 1.2.3. I can do this. And once I got myself sorted- Ben figured it out.

And once I figured out how to sort my upper body out- Ben gave THE.BIGGEST.TROT.EVER. Said trot is completely suspended in air- it was so lofty I stopped him at first because I thought he was being naughty and doing something to evade the work. LOL

The funny part was- the more praise he got from our trainer- the bigger he went. LOL

I can tell you what- his stride is huge and thank goodness I have until 2nd level to post the trot! HAHAH

Needless to say- impressive, REALLY impressive.

Friday, May 13, 2011


Finally- a barn mate was able to snap a photo of Ben and I.

Yesterday's ride was PAINFUL! Oh my hips. I had to keep it short.

That said- I'm going on the attack. Weapons: Joint supplement. Advil. Tiger Balm. Sore No More. Heat packs. Back on Track long johns.

Coupled with as much stretching as I can do.

This has got to get resolved asap!!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

The Now

My plan is to one day look back on this blog and have an OMG before-and-after type reaction. And hopefully, our "after" picture is much better than our "before" picture. That said, I feel like I should at least document where we're at now.

Anyone who ever starts a horse knows what I'm talking about. Generally speaking, they are usually stiff, usually don't have the greatest movements- all of which is developed over a long stretch of time according to the training scale.

No better way to document than by pictures.

Currently - Ben is very stiff. While we have now established the "go" button - we have not yet gotten any sort of real rhythm, nor have we gotten any kind of softness.Which is ok. We'll get there- that takes time. Due to his shape and level of training- Ben is like riding a warped 2x4. In fact, at any given moment he looks and feels like any one of these, mainly the first one:

One great thing about Ben is that he canters. However, its not the greatest, most fluid thing in the world. In fact, he reminds me much of my favorite cartoon skunk friend, PepeLePew. While ground covering, we're not exactly the most fluid, beautiful movement in the world. More like a hop from place to place. Le Meow. Le Purr.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

More trotting and First Hack in Big Scary World

Poor Ben - well that is what he'd want you to believe!

Yesterday marked 4 days in a row he was expected to do work in some capacity. Mind you, 2 days ago, we went for a long walk- so the word "work" is being used to cover a rather broad spectrum.

Yesterday, work was defined as: longeing and riding in the arena. Lots of walk on the longe, then just enough circles for him to get a rhythm at the trot, and to make sure he didn't have any funny business lurking underneath that cute little bay coat of his.

I got on, and we trotted around - a lot. Luckily, our friends Cindy and Max were in the arena too- and i was able to follow them at a careful distance which was great in keeping Ben going. We also got to practice our ability to withstand horses passing us from all directions. Oh and moving AWAY from our new BFF, Max, and maybe even trot a realllllly big circle or two.

We worked up a healthy little sweat. Ben was very well behaved, and tried really hard. I was very happy with where we ended.

But - then we had the opportunity to go ride in the Big Scary World with our friends. Some of you may chuckle when you read this- I mean- outside- what's the big deal? Well because we live in the wettest, grossest land of all- Ben and I have been stuck in the indoor arena since he's gotten to the farm. We do not have an outdoor arena - so its either small indoor, or  Big Scary World. Big Scary World= our race track. Pretty controlled environment- but still big and scary- lots of horse eating mongers hiding in the bushes, for sure. There are houses build on the infield, horses pastured, dogs barking. A nursery flanks one side- so there are always people in there, tarps a flapping, you name it- its Big. AND Scary. Also- to even get to Big Scary World- there is a wooden bridge that must be crossed. Its like another planet over there.

So as our cool off walk- we went out there. Ben was great! It was so nice to ride into the sunset, literally. We had 1 spook- but he just sort of jumped in place. Not a big deal at all.

One nice lap around the track, and we were finished for the night.


Ben has a much deserved 2 days off. We resume on Friday.

PS- THANK YOU to Cindy and Max for escorting us - we appreciate it!

Sunday, May 8, 2011


I think Ben finally gets it- trotting means, well, trotting, but just keep going until the rider tells you to stop.
YAY go Ben!

And finally, today, i felt like I could actually do more then just hang the heck on. LOL I even posted with some rhythm, and was able to help him sorta balance. I didn't feel like either one of us was going to bite the dust.


I do, however, thing we'd greatly benefit from the use of a neck strap. I dont have any old stirrup leathers. Off to find something.

In other news- someone got his record-breaking-ear hair clipped today. Oh yes, and his front feathers. He was, as always, a good boy. He also stood completely still in the wash rack as I hosed his legs off.

Look Ma, No ear hair!


Methinks hes getting it!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Lesson #2 and This Weeks Challenge

Ben and I had our second lesson today. We worked on much of the same, but he was much, much more responsive, even after having a week off. I hadnt ridden him all week. So while it wasnt this amazing wonderful OMG experience, it was nice to see that the dude can learn and retain what is taught.

We did get homework: trotting for a few laps, and go across the diagonal while still trotting.

LOL lets see if we can do it by next saturday!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

1st Lesson: Success!

I'm a Big Boy now

As scheduled, Ben and I had our first lesson today with our dressage trainer.

Our focus: FORWARD

Ben, being so green, just didn't quite get the whole leg on --> go forward concept. While he'd respond to my leg, he kind of felt shy to it- or just unknowing.

So with eyes on the ground, my trainer and I focused on getting him moving, for longer than 10 steps at a time.

It was really tough at first. Ben was like ???? He was also wearing me out.

So we decided to use a riding bat - the short little crop, that I could use to tap him, on his shoulder, when he didn't respond to my leg.


I was able to keep my position, and send him forward in a non aggressive kind of way. If he didn't respond to my calf, then i tapped him, literally tapped him on his shoulder, kind of like how someone might tap you on your shoulder to get your attention. That was all he needed to figure it out, so it seems.

So once we had a working cue, we used it to keep him going. First few times we made it 1/2 way around.  Then soon enough we made a lap. Then a couple. Then a few. I was so happy when we got to the point where I was asking for the downward transition, and not just stopping because he stopped.

We also had some canter- which was funny because that wasn't what we were asking for at all. I just wanted him to go forward- and he did, but he did so at a canter, not the trot. Trainer coached me through- just get forward, don't worry about which gait it is right now.

YAY first canter! LOL

We ended on a really good note- trotted about 3 laps to the right, and *I* asked for the walk. You should've seen Mister Ben- so proud of himself. He hardly sweated, it wasn't tough work, but he sure was proud of himself.

Bonus: Trainer thinks he's cute! I'd have to agree.

Enjoying some post-lesson grazing

Friday, April 29, 2011

New Game?

You know, I've had some quirky horses...but really, Ben takes the cake in so many ways. I'm not sure what he's trying to do half the time he's doing it. And really, I should learn to keep a real camera on me at all times because ya never know when he might pull one of his stunts.

He had a new one today, called: Back-Over-The-Mounting-Block (And stand there with it between your legs).

Doin' great!

Hmm lets try this side

I really don't know what he was doing, but he sure had me in stitches laughing at him.

When I was done laughing and trying to document the moment with my crappy cell phone camera, I took him to the grooming bay, and ended up tacking him up too. I figured we should prepare for our lesson tomorrow.

Into the arena to free longe a bit. Then I decided, what the heck, let me get on and ride. So we rode around. We encountered scary sound number 5,384: the churn of the hot walker. He was actually really good- he wanted to tune in to listen, but he didn't lose it. Instead we kept working.

Lots of walk/halt and some trot. Tomorrow I'd like help in keeping him going at the trot- right now I get like 5 steps and then he peters out, and we do it all over again. He hasn't quite figured out I want him trotting allll the time. So our trainer will help us with that, likely by helping me keep him going from the ground.

Ben also got his tail washed - wasn't too impressed with the washrack, but he tolerated it, though was fidgety. He got lots of extra grooming and we even clipped the bridle path and all the long goat hairs on the underside of his face left over from winter, which were making him look more like some kind of prehistoric yak and not a cute lil standardbred. Ben clips REALLY well. He's obviously had it done before, and could care less.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Lesson On Saturday? Totally Possible!

Rest up, Ben- you've got an exciting Saturday planned! Dressage Trainer/Therapist is coming for a lesson- and if I can get our crap together, Ben is going to be the equine participant.


Saturday, April 23, 2011

Spring Day with the Mares

Ben got a much deserved day off and spent it with my 2 mares.

Mares? What Mares? ROLLING!

Mares? What Mares? GRASS!

OHH, Those mares

Heirarchy...Ben officially low man on totem pole

Walk On!

Yesterday Ben had another 1st- being ridden in the arena with other horses.

I wanted to get him going under saddle, but with a distraction, such as following horses, after our saddle incident. I didn't want it to become a "thing" for him. I don't think it did- but I will say he had to re-learn standing still for the mounting block. Could've been that there were other things to look at, or remembering our last experience...or it could've been that he just didnt want to stand there, LOL.

Once I got on and off a bunch of times, I then got on, stayed on, and we played follow the leader with the other horses.

We practiced halting and going forward, speeding up the walk, and keeping our distance from other horse butts.

It was a really nice experience!

Friday, April 22, 2011

More Fun

I don't know why I feel so compelled to write about my every interaction with Ben. I think I do it mostly because I enjoy looking back months or a year later, to see where we were. So onward I type.

Ben and I got to play a bit again today. He was VERY quiet on the ties- no ants in the pants. He was quiet for polowraps. Quiet for grooming.

He was pretty good for bridling too. We're still not 100% there, but he is MUCH better about it. It will just take more practice over time.

Longeing- he had energy- trot trot trot and he wanted to canter a bit. When he wants to canter, I let him canter, and I praise him for it, and we work on it- trot to canter transitions, keeping the canter once he has it, etc. However, if I get the feeling that it won't be a good canter day, I dont even bother asking. His canter is of no concern to me right now, its more just the commands, and the balance, at the trot, that I am looking for.

He did get pretty dang sweaty- he was overhearing a round penning session- the whip cracking in there got him amped up a bit. He continued to listen to me, but he'd get distracted by that- snorting the whole time.

By the end his friends came in the arena too- so we got to cool out with them.

I think this weekend I'm going to try riding him again, if I can find the saddle/girth combo that will work. I have some ideas, and I'm itching to try those. But no promises, because I generallly dont ride horses with ill fitting tack- just not worth it.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Farrier Visit!

Ben's 2nd trim happened today. Has it really been 8 weeks already?!

All in all, things are looking great- though we did find an old abscess track in the left hind heel, and a bruise on the frog in the right front.

Keeping on trying to catch those runaway toes, but the new hoof coming in at such a better angle- when it grows out (uhh 1+ years) he's going to have great shape to his hooves!


I worked Ben last night. He was super fidgety on the ties- mostly because people were coming in and out and well, THAT is exciting, right?! He just had to keep his eyes on that.

He got wrapped up with polos and off to longe we went. He was really good, albeit a bit energetic! He petered out pretty quickly though, just in time to share the arena with his friends.

We hung out watching other horses longe and be ridden, and then stood him in a line, as if he were at a show. He was fidgety at first- mostly wanting to go say "hi" to the others, but he settled after a couple of corrections. Then he decided he wanted to roll, which also required corrections, LOL. Finally he got the idea that he needed to just stand there.

Probably the funniest moment of the night was asking him to walk over poles laying on the ground. Did you know trotting poles eat tall, bay standardbred geldings? Neither did I. The best part was that after he had his first snort at the poles, he did not hesitate to go over them- though he did SAIL over them from a dead stop. Like a deer. LOL. Turned around and did the same exact thing the other direction. Oh Ben. After I got over my laughter, we actually worked on it, and by the 4th time he realized that the poles won't take off his legs or chomp his belly- so he was able to walk over them quietly.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Total Change of Attitude

Yesterday was the first time I got to see Ben after our vet visit- which was on Thursday. I noticed a dramatic change- and even those around me did too.

Ben has always been fairly quiet, and easy. No one has had any major problems wit him, and in general he's been a joy. But I had been starting to notice some little things come up- the head tossing being one of them, being spookish here and there, a little nervous in his stall, etc. He was also doing this thing where he couldn't make up his mind- he'd put his head down as if he wanted you to pet him, but then he'd quickly take it away before you have the chance to touch him.

I attributed most of that to his age, feed, lack of work, and lack of movement when he's turned out, the combination of things that could make a horse a little bit extra spicy this time of year. But now, I'm thinking differently.

Yesterday, I got my sweet, loving gelding back. Ben was so calm and cuddly- he WANTED to be pet all over his face, he really wanted to be groomed, and he was very quiet for it all. The barn staff mentioned that the last couple of days he's been chewing better too. Overall, he seemed much more comfortable in his skin, and around people. Very confident, happy, and solid- just like your typical standardbred. I feel like I got my horse back, a horse I didn't fully recognize that was gone.

He's never been naughty while working, or even just particularly naughty in general. He has shown some signs of discomfort or even just stress about things- like bridling, and then the whole girth/saddle issue I posted about a few days ago. All these things we've worked through as training issues, and while in the back of my mind I suspected some discomfort at the root of it, never full attributed the behavior to that. In truth, his dental issues were likely causing him pain and stress, and as a result I was seeing small behaviors come out that were his way of coping/responding to it, behaviors that were completely opposite of his general nature. So the result was that I had a nice, quiet horse that was acting out here and there. Working through it reminded him of his manners, but never really solved the problem.

Its like we didn't even realize what was missing until it was there.

So, once again folks, listen to your horse.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Early Birthday Present

Uhh, so Ben's Birthday is actually tomorrow, LOL. I swear I'll get it right next year.

That said, he got his birthday present early: vaccinations, 2 wolf tooth extractions and a float. I'm sure he's not thrilled-  but he was actually very good for the whole ordeal. A few hours later he was definitely seeking comfort in the form of me holding his head in my chest. So I stood there, stroking his neck and telling him what a good boy he is.

Maybe next year I'll get him something he might actually want!

Happy Birthday Ben!

You are officially 3 years old today!

Friday, April 8, 2011


Yesterday I had a bit of a scare with Ben. Nothing bad happened- we're both fine. But something bad could've happened. And Ben saved us.

Our play time started as usual- grooming and tacking up. Ben was great for all that. Side note: he's finally shedding a bit more! YAY

I grabbed a girth I do not usually use because the one I most often use was still wet from the previous use. It is a nice girth, and fit Ben, and he didn't object at all.

So we went on with our business- rather than use the sliding side reins, I tried the normal side reins with donuts. I had a sneaking suspicion that the sliding reins were confusing. I think I was right, because Ben responded really well to the regular ones- and even gave me the most fantastic lifted, floaty trot- I was in awe of it.

Then came riding time. Ben stood very still for me to get on, but when I got on, he started to get very fussy. I started to feel like I was sitting on an awkward ball. Ben wasn't happy about something, he was frustrated, maybe even being naughty, and I could feel the situation was going escalate to something bad.

So I managed to get him to halt, he was fussy even for that, and I hopped off. I immediately started doing in hand schooling- to see if he needed to vent some sort of frustration. he didn't. Hmm. So I brought him back to the mounting block and he started fussing again.

I put my leg in the stirrup iron, and went to mount up, and it happened: my saddle slid completely around on him. He didn't budge- no spooking or anything. I've had that happen 1 time before and it did not end well, for me.

Needless to say, I was a little shocked. I undid the girth, re-positioned the saddle, and girthed up again. I did the girth up slowly, and got to the point where it was in theory tightened enough- and i physically could not tighten it anymore anyway.

 I went to get on, Ben fidgeted, and it slipped again.

Ben was trying to tell me something was wrong. And something was wrong- that saddle was unstable, and unsafe. It was worrying him, rightly so.

So, the moral of the story: Listen to your horse.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Bridle Day

What a disgusting day in Western Washington. Ben was a muddy, wet, gross mess- even after being inside for a couple of hours. He dried as much as he was going to, so i pulled him out and decided to work on a few little things, rather than ride.

First thing: cross tying. He's been very, very good at this. Today, however, there were horses being ridden in the arena, behind him, and I know how he gets insecure about those noises he cannot see. Today, though, he was great!

Second thing: Polo wraps on all 4 legs. Now that we've practiced with boots all around, today was polo-wrap day. Good boy for standing and letting that happen.

Third thing: spray from the bottle. LOL. He was ok for that until about his rump. Then he got nervous. But he's such a people pleaser he just stood there, kind of shocked still, and let me do it- holding his breath. Note to self: do this regularly from now on.

Fourth thing: Bridle work. Read Below.

While Ben seems to love his star scratched and his ears massaged- he isn't very fond of the rest of his face being touched. He just avoids it, and moves away when you try to touch him. One can imagine this might be a bit of a problem when trying to bridle him....he's a very tall horse with a high neck set and can put his head up much higher than I can reach.

So, I thought today I'd dedicate as HEAD DOWN day. I've already laid the foundation of this in the halter, but I hadn't yet introduced the concept while dangling the bridle near his face. So- thats what we did. Head down, massage, lots of good boys- I think he actually started to like it, because he was putting his head down faster and faster at each try, and leaving it longer and longer, even when I released him. He also loves verbal praise. It was actually quite endearing, my heart is all squishy with love just thinking of his cuteness.

When we got that far, I introduced handling the bridle near his face in a gentle, respectable, quiet way. He totally figured it out. So I praised him a bunch of times, and after he was reliable with that, keeping his head down letting me rub my hands and bridle on his face, i bridled him. He was great. Lots more praise.

From there we did some longeing- Ben had lots of energy tonight! He wanted to show me he has been working on his canter in his spare time- boy has he gotten better at that, lol.

Lots of cool down walking- he did not get nearly as sweaty as he has in the past, so I think he's getting in shape, finally!

I then did some in hand work in the bridle- bending and flexing. I think I got him to understand my request to the right- it is difficult for him to do, but he did try.

Once done we practiced with the bridle on/off/on/off and then called it good.

More spray bottle action, more nervousness- but he took it like a champ. He's got tomorrow and likely Wednesday off. Thursday thru Sunday will be more fun for us.

Sunday, April 3, 2011


Ben and I graduated today. Gone are our round pen days- hello big wide arena!

He was really great. We walked, trotted, did halts, changes of direction. At first he didn't quite understand that leg on= move to the next gait. So I started small- I would put my leg on and the second he moved out, I'd praise him. Soon he tried the trot. He got tons of praise. So we did that a few times, just enough for him to really understand leg= go forward. Then we tried the other direction, to the right. He is much stiffer to the right, so we worked on bending a bit, but I could feel it was very tough for him. So note to self- more in hand work to go with under saddle work. He understood the leg cue to the right, but it was tougher for him. One time he did try to kick out. I growled at him, and I could feel him tense and then release. He never tried it again after that.

We ended on a nice relaxed walk. He got tons of praise, and then I untacked him and let him loose to roll.

Here is Ben's guide to rolling, in 3 easy steps.

Step 1: Find your perfect spot:

Step 2: Lay down and grind dirt into coat

Step 3: Get up and repeat on opposite side :)


Ahh I love Duct tape!  Our barn is relatively small- we have only  a handful of boarders- but we use different trainers, go to different events, hold different events, etc. So I decided to make a calendar today on the whiteboard just outside my tack room. I even color-coded it by event- green for lessons/arena use, pink for haul-outs, purple for misc barn events. YAY for being organized!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

We Won!

Ben won a raffle yesterday at our local tack store. Of course, I had to enter us- I thought he'd like to win either Back on Track wraps or new boots. We got the call this morning- we won gift basket number 17- the Nunn Finer boot package!

Thx Gift Horse Saddlery, and Nunn Finer!

P.S - LOVE that they included a can of sticky spray- I was just complaining about my saddle's leather being too slick even with full seats- LOL!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

And Away We Go!

I rode Ben today!

Today was his second day in our cross ties. For those who wonder, the ties are set on the tie-blocker rings- with longer lead ropes (14 footers)- so they are perfect for teaching green horses how to cross tie since they give. IF the horse happens to freak out, nothing will break- the rope slides through.

Ben, for the record, stood in the ties like he has known how his whole life. Who knows, maybe he has! Also, his manners are better in the ties than in his stall.

So, we groomed and tacked, then went into the round pen. We worked on lowering our head for the bridle- not his favorite task. But patience and persistence, peppered with lots of "good boys" reassurance, he did it.

I attached the sliding reins loosely again- the second he feels even just a little weight on the rein he stops fussing with his head- which he does even when he's on his own in his stall or turned out. I find it interesting- its as if the contact is a distraction from that- it certainly isn't force because he can still helicopter his head if he wanted to- they are that loose.

So, we did some longeing- the shortest session ever. At one point Ben stopped paying attention because he heard hooves walking outside- he did slip and he did fall on his side. He just layed there for a second, sort of stunned. He got up, shook off, and we pretended nothing happened- physically, he was unharmed. Funny enough, he concentrated for the duration of our session. *wink*

When done with that, I hopped on him after 2 short mounting exercises- reminding him to stand still at the block. I could almost see the light bulb go off in his head "ohh yea I'm supposed to stand here and wait" LOL

I got on, sat there for a bit, and then asked him to move forward- he was very good. We walked around a lot, changed direction, did some steering, and halting, and did some trot.

I think we're ready for the arena. I think it will be easier for Ben anyway, since the space is a bit bigger - our round pen does feel a bit too constrained to continue to work in there. So my new short term goal is to get out and ride in our arena over the next 3 days.... and of course, find someone to snap a few photos of us in action!


Generally speaking, Ben is a pretty easy going guy. I have noticed that there are things that do bother him, and yesterday, one of those things happened.

I have seen Ben react to loud sounds that he cannot see. His reaction is usually to spook in place, or get antsy, and start helicoptering his head around and around. I have yet to see him fully blow up.

Yesterday, someone was power washing their trailer at dinnertime.It was loud, and it was coming from behind Ben, and it was something he could not see. So the nervous antsies came out.

After awhile, most of the horses calmed down, but I could see Ben was still a bit agitated. I figured I may as well try to work with him, at least to get his mind off it.

This proved to be a really GREAT idea. As soon as I tied him up in his stall, he still was a bit antsy, but it was to like 5 mph antsy vs 40mph. The more I interacted with him, the better he got.

So, I tacked him up in his surcingle, bridle, and boots- and took him to the round pen. He dropped to about 2mph- a little jumpy/out of his skin, but no blow ups or anything like that.  Let him longe a bit and then put the side reins on loosely. He was all focused then, 1 mph. He chewed on the bit a little bit more than he had in previous sessions- so i'm thinking it was a combination of having changed the bit (bridle issue- LOL i NEED more tack!), and still being a bit nervous about the sounds going on around him. Today I am going to put him back in the original bridle- I think he likes that one more.

All in all, I was very happy with how he focused right back to the human in the midst of having a minor, green -equine meltdown. It is very nice to know that he seeks comfort in people, and can focus even though something scary is going on. He thrives on that interaction.

Hopefully today or Saturday I can ride him.The round pen area and arena was over-watered the other day- so 1 day they were useless, and yesterday with his nerves, and not knowing how he would react, I decided ground work was the better option. But today, the footing should be fine, and now I know how he will be- so I plan to work him under saddle. After a ride or two we'll graduate to the arena and start riding in there.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Its Nice to Share

Ben had a 2 step session today. Step 1 was a quick walk in the round pen tacked up in his bridle, surcingle and loose side reins. He was very good for that. I was going to tack up and ride, but another opportunity struck and I had to take it.

Normally, I am in the arena or round pen alone. So Ben hasnt had the opportunity to share the arena with multiple horses. But as the riding season kicks into gear, more boarders are out, which means more traffic. So, being able to share the arena is an essential skill.

Today I got to walk ben around the busy arena while 3 other horses walked, trotted, and cantered around us. At times we were passed by horses on both sides, different directions. Ben was nervous at first, as they typically can be. His idea of showing his nerves was to raise his head, and maybe take a step or two sideways to look. He was very controlled and took it all in stride.

I really like how he reacted to that stimuli, and I am glad I had the chance to give him that experience on our home turf. There will always be another day for riding!
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Sunday, March 27, 2011

Totally Unprepared for Today

This weekend was so much fun! On Saturday, I went up to Vancouver, BC to see Cavalia for the 2nd time- first time was about 5-6 years ago. It was awesome- even hubby loved it. Definitely reinspired me to get on the ball with my horses- they are (and I am) capable of doing much more than we are currently doing.

With that thought in mind, today, I got to the barn early, helped clean stalls (love doing barn chores!) and made up grain bags for the week. Note to self: must go to the feed store on Saturday!

From there I hand-walked my mare, Piper, for about 45 minutes.

That, unfortunately, re-triggered my hip problem. I thought it was healed, or close to it. Dang it. So I took 1 tylenol and that seemed to numb the pain enough for me to continue on my way. I think I am going to splurge on a joint supplement or something to see if that works- I ought to try, I'm going to get an ulcer with all the ibuprophen i've been taking.

Next up was Ben. I set him up in the round pen as a lesson was going on in the arena. He got to do his thing while I gathered my tack, boots, helmet, longe line, brushes, etc. I got in there and after a quick groom got him saddled up and sent him off on the longe. He got sweaty really quickly- very out of shape and very, very hairy. The air is mildish, so its just not a good combination for the poor guy right now.

It soon dawned on me that i took the wrong bridle, and I forgot my stirrups for my saddle. So I had a sweaty horse and missing tack and an aching hip...I took that as a sign to call it a day. We went for a long, slow (for my sake) cool-down walk in the arena and outside.

Through all this Ben was a good sport. I appreciate it, bud!

I hope to continue on tomorrow- I really need to get this guy going, in some capacity. The good news is that I found my stirrups and bridle in the tack room, so I'm ready for the week. LOL

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Special Visitor

Ben had a special visitor today! My friend Nancy has family in town from Tennessee. Her young nephew (4?) from the moment he could communicate, expressed his deep love an interest for animals, especially horses.

Today was the first day he got to meet one up close- and that very first horse was Ben!

Fearless, this little half pint walked right up to Big Ben and proclaimed "His Nose is HUGE!!!" He touched his legs, and hooves and was amazed. I found the mounting block and let him get closer up to Ben that way- he laid his head on Ben's side, stretched out his arms and gave him a big hug while saying  "he's so warm and nice!"

This little guy is a horseman in the making. And thanks to Ben & the other horses at our barn, he had a fantastic first outing. Thanks, Ben!!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sunday Fun

Ben and I had another great day. A friend of mine who boards at the barn came up and saw Ben for the first time since he came to the barn. She was amazed at how different he looks.

Ben, of course, put on a huge show. Rolling, flipping his nose in the air, doing some bucking and playing,  pushing the jolly ball around, and even pawing the mountain block, testing its sturdiness. He mixed all that play with being a total sweetheart, stopping by our end of the arena for some cuddle time.

Shortly after my friend left, we got down to business. First thing was to put on leg protection. I was short on time, so I opted for our Woof boots and bell boots. The little white flecks you see in the picture are the brand stamps- not scar or anything. Ben stood great for his boots- even the backs.

From there, we did a short longeing session. Ben was as good in the big arena as he was in the round pen Friday night. He did great transitions, and moved nicely.

I hope to be able to climb on for a couple of rides this week, but I'm not sure that will happen. I seem to have some sort of hip injury which is really cutting into my running and riding. While I *think* I could possibly climb on the horse- i'm not sure if I can actually sit on him, or get off, LOL. Since I have to take it easy, we'll likely be focusing on ground work this week, unless some miracle cure for my hip happens.