Thursday, February 24, 2011


Ugh- I am so sick of this week already! Why is it that whenever I formulate a plan, much like I did at the end of my last post, some outside force has to come in and destroy it? No, not just 1 day of destruction that may delay my plans, but a complete and utter stomping. Thout shalt not proceed.

I haven't been to the barn since Sunday. Monday and Tuesday were taken up by familial issues. Wednesday was snow that never actually materialized. Today I have to go to Sears for an appliance emergency.

Which means the earliest possible time I could be at the barn with my horses is Friday at around 6:30pm.

So all those things I said I wanted to do? Ya, you can just flush all that down the toilet.

We'll see what Friday and this weekend brings. (so as not to disturb the Schedule-Planner Gods) I *may* get in a few rides and I *may* get to do ground work with Ben. Maybe. Just Maybe.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

2nd Ride!

Benny and I had our second ride today. I didn't think it was going to happen. First, even getting out to the barn was a challenge. But the opportunity rose, and I took it. Second, when I got there, a lesson was going on, which left me the round pen only. Which was fine, it was the place I intended to work anyway...until the big bay otsb proved to me that he was full of beans that needed to be bucked out. That was a first!

That leads me to reason #3 of why I didn't think a ride would happen today. When I brought Ben in, he was good- if a little antsy. I let him loose in the round pen, and watched him roll and roll. And then he got up, started tossing his head around, and then BUCKING!

By then the lesson ended and exited the arena. So I haltered him up and brought him to the arena- where he let loose- ohh lots of energy. Color me cautious, my initial gut reaction was "hmm, maybe this isn't the right day for riding, we can work on something else, that doesn't involve me putting myself on top of a squirrely bay gelding." At first I let him do his thing, but then I slowly started asserting myself- once he could concentrate, I turned his play into a bit of constructive free longeing. It actually worked out great. Once he seemed like he was back to earth, I brought him back to the pen, really unsure how far we'd get today. I wasn't about to set him up for failure on our second ride, and I didn't really want to bite the dust when I know better.

He was 100% focused. So I proceeded. Tacking up, he was great. No issue with the girth. Thinking back on it- the only time he had a problem was when the Prestige was set up with the point billet- which probably pinched his shoulder and didn't feel right. It has since been removed, and there is no more problem. He was a little resistant about bridling, but he was ok with a little work. With his behavior seemingly in check, I continued on, reviewing all that we did the previous days, including standing by the block and mounting.

I saw no reason to stop, so I got on.  We walked around, and worked on steering and the elusive halt. He was much better after the 3rd try- he gets it. He also understands the leg much better. He understood me asking him to walk on, and to walk faster. He even got a little trot in there. We only did 1 set of trot because I could hear the horses getting antsy outside- which meant feeding time was upon us. Again, wanting to set up for success- I ended the session before anything adverse could happen.

I'm very happy with our weekend! The weekdays are always tough to get work in- and with his age I want to make sure we take things nice and slow. But if we can get a couple of sessions in- even just the ground work stuff, I'll be happy. My goal this week is to continue to desensitize him- cones, tarps, poles, plastic bags, sharing the arena with other horses- By the end of the week it is supposed to be sunny, so i'm going to take him down to the small creek and work on water crossing, and we'll go for some nature walks on the backside of the track. The idea is to bond and work on our overall confidence.

I have my sights set on a poker ride in April- it's a fundraiser for one of the rescues I like to support. My goal is to get Ben all ready enough to go on that- whether or not we actually get to go.

Should be a fun week!

First Ride!

Benny and I had our first ride on Saturday. Thanks to our friends J & K- we were able to fit their wintec to Ben. So, for the next few rides, we'll be using that saddle.

Benny was a very good boy, as expected! We just walked around the round pen together- but it was still our first ride. We worked on moving off the seat, and halting.

Today, if i can ride again, we may work on steering and maybe trotting :)

Friday, February 18, 2011

Standing > Moving

I had a really fun session with Ben tonight. Nothing earth shattering was done, but it was a nice, bonding experience. We're really getting to know one another.

Today I tacked him up with my bareback pad and western cinch. No reaction. Hmm...maybe it is the dressage girth that is bothering him after all. I have a fluffy sheepskin cover for it, so i'll try that and see if it remedies anything.

From there I "natural horsemanship"ified him. Haha, not really- but I did play with the carrot stick and string, mostly to see how desensitized he is, and if he has any gaping holes. My observations: when Ben is nervous about something, he wants to crowd and come closer to the human he's working with. He does not try to flee- he seeks protection from the herd. A little confidence building will go a long way with this guy.

Once I was done twirling ropes on orange sticks, I thought I'd start to teach him to stand at the mounting block. I am not a fan of mounting from the ground- especially in an english saddle. So I like to teach all my horses to stand at the block until I'm ready to get on and move off.

Ben wasn't particularly worried about this at all- he just had no idea what i was asking for. So we played with it for a bit. Lots of "Good boys" and pets. If he happened to move, I'd back him up a few steps, let him think about it, then bring him forward, and re-halt him at the block. That brings me to observation #2: Ben is a minimal effort kind of guy. LOL Basically-he follows the path of least resistance and wants to do the easiest thing out there. So asking him to do something tough, like backing up, translates well for him.

Standing > moving feet backwards

Once we were reliably standing at the block, I upped the ante and started petting him all over from up on the block, and ultimately hoisting my body over his back. That of course made him move, but the correction worked again, and not too long he just stood there at the block while tossed myself around like a ragdoll. Ok maybe not that dramatic, but I did flop on him a few times.

He loved all the praise. When I brought him back to his stall- he didn't even go back right away to eating- he was just watching me intently with a "are we gonna do something else now?" kind of look.

Our session energized me- I am jazzed to keep going with him! This weekend is going to be fun!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Hair Cut!

Defeating the Tarp

So before our walk, I decided to let Ben loose in the arena for a bit to have a nice dry roll and buzz about- as right now the paddocks are so wet the horses really don't want to move around much.

Once in the arena, Ben definitely wanted to move around- he even played a bit. He had a few good rolls, too.

I set up a blue tarp at one end the arena, to see how curious Ben would be on his own. He kept his distance, and a few times came close to sniff it, then briskly walked away. He then avoided it for some time.

I took him back over, this time in the halter, and showed him how to put his hooves on the tarp, and even cross it. It was a great trust building exercise. Ben didn't offer much resistance- just a question or two and then he walked right over. Good Boy!


Ben and I got the opportunity to go for a nice long walk together, with our friend Abi and Katie. We went out for a walk on the track- which can be a bit of scary place. Good news: Ben was quite solid and never tried to walk away from me- he kept his ground manners! Was a fun, new experience for us :)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Busy Weekend!

What a weekend! Saturday was a flurry of activity. Ben had his first farrier appointment, and he was a super boy- done in about 15 minutes. Normally this is not something to comment about- but this Saturday there was A LOT going on at the barn- almost all the boarders were there doing some thing or another...and the weather was AMAZING- tons of wind gusts, whipping rain, horses gone wild and spooked...except for Ben. LOL.

Quite a bit of toe was taken back- but my farrier wanted to be conservative as well as effective- so he thinks after the next trim his hooves will look about as awesome as they can be- so we're part of the way there. Was very pleased with the overall quality- he said he's never seen a Standie with bad hooves. HOORAH!

Shortly after the farrier appointment, my saddle fitter friend came by to do some tracings of Ben's back, and to look at my saddles to find the best one for him, if possible. This is not something I should be admitting to..but here you go, my collection:

Ben may look like a boy who likes his beer, but he sure does have champagne taste! The best fitting saddle was, as I thought, my Prestige Galileo, in combination with a thinline half pad with front shims. Total outfit for him, if I had to buy it new, would be somewhere around $3700.  Lucky for him we'll use this set up for a few weeks, but we are going to look at a less expensive alternative- something we can use daily without my stomach turning at the wear and tear, LOL. Fitter Friend will be out in a few weeks with those options and if they work, he'll still be getting a custom fitted saddle to his back...but one he can grow and change in that's not expensive leather.

He was a pretty good boy for the fitting. A little bit of a fidget- but he was surrounded by a few onlookers- and was a little peeved at us for taking him away from his grain bucket that was running late- the 3 year old mind cannot comprehend such inconvienences. He was also a little girthy despite the best of care to girth nice and slow and gradual- we definitely have to work on that. Nothing outrageous- just a little bit naughty- about as much as one would expect from a green bean.

I do want to say that he really did impress the fitter- she had no idea Standies have such pretty movement. Ben has a phenomenal trot, and such a ground covering walk- she said he's going to give those warmbloods a run for their money and show them how to really get the job done! LOL

Well, yesterday must've pooped him out because today when I got to the barn the boy was snoozing in his paddock- chin resting on the dirt. I could kick myself for not having my camera on hand, he was so cute.

But we must not have done too badly in his eyes because later on when he was back up, he was very interested in being social. I spent some time scritching his favorite spots, and he showed me his amazing magical horsey-hypnotic skillz- he somehow befriended my VERY anti-social OTTB mare, Tally. Over the fence, of course- but still- not many, if any, have that ability. Most horses ellicite a nasty face, rush at the fence, spin-and-kick action. But not Ben! She was very into sniffing and kissing noses. Not so much as a squeal came out of her.  Much appreciated, Ben, Thank You!

On another note- his cut on that left hock is healing really nicely. the hair is coming in BLACK (YAY for no white scar tissue hair!), and the scab is almost all closed and healed. I've been trying to rub Vitamin E Oil on it every chance I get- so hopefully that is helping.

One last random note: his tooth finally came out! I missed it of course- but there are other loose ones in there- but still likely a week or so before coming out. Maybe I'll get one!

Hmm, that is all I can think of at the moment! This week we're going to work on this girthing stuff, and also some bridling. I haven't tried bridling yet, but I have been working on desensitizing him to the touch around his muzzle. He's doing really well- his flinch reaction is almost gone and he almost seems to enjoy all the massaging. Hopefully this week I will finally be able to get on him in our round pen and go for a wee ride- the idea being that we can start walking around the big arena, and maybe this weekend, if the weather holds out, go on for a hack. Would be nice, right?!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


Nothing really new to report other than some minor details: Prestige may in fact fit after all.He's filling out quite nicely. Still a bit too wide- but the thinline pad with shims seemed to make up for the difference.Saturday is a big day. In addition to the farrier, the saddle fitter is coming out to do tracings.

Ben and I had our first "sit" last night. In which i climbed up there and sat on him. he wiggled a bit. he stood still. i got off, and we were done. he thought the dressage saddle to be quite a funny and curious thing on his back. Definitely must feel different compared to a western saddle!

Monday, February 7, 2011


Played with Ben again. This time he had to stand in his stall, tied. He's fidgety- but he's not bad about being tied. Just moves from side to side. the thing is, he knows it to- so if i ask him to move back over, he just does it. when i walk away, he fidgets. He'll learn.

On the longe he did really well- kept his trotting going, and the canter was no problem. He cantered only a few strides each time- but he clearly understands the cue. He'll get better.

None of my tack fits him. Dangit. I thought my Prestige would fit- but it is way too wide right now.  I have to find something quick- really want to ride! I'm thinking of a wintec because it is flat- he needs flat...and it is adjustable to change as he grows and fills out. He should eventually fit into the Prestige.

Off to saddle hunt!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Loose Tooth!

Well, I've noticed some head shaking from our Ben- and he's also a little touchy around his face. I finally worked with him on it a bit and found that he's got some loose baby teeth! One of his front teeth is quite loose and bothersome.


I spent a lot of time with Ben on Saturday. He wanted to show everyone his new digs, so we made a quick video tour :)

Once that was done we went to the washrack and learned about standing still for our legs being hosed. He wasn't naughty- just a curious young horse who wanted to not stand still . I was able to see his leg injury better once his legs were hosed down. No one knows how he got this- but its older, and doesn't seem to bother him at all.

He also has a rather large popped splint on his right front- I didn't see that until his hair was sleek from the water. It doesn't appear to bother him, splints hardly ever do.

From there we went back to the arena and worked on our ground skills again. Guess what? Ben knows how to walk, trot, AND canter on the longe. On friday I was playing with him a bit to see what I could get out of him- and while he sped up at the trot, he never broke to canter at my cue. I just left it, because I knew I'd have to teach him and that moment wasn't the right time. But I tried again on Saturday and I got a few steps of canter about 4 times- 2 times in each direction. YAY Ben! Good boy. He got tons of praise and thought he was pretty hot stuff!


Trying to catch up here- I've been without internet for a few days, and my blogger app wasn't I have a lot to catch up on!

Friday we spent most of our time getting cleaned up and general bonding. Ben was a mud cake- and in some places still is! LOL But after lots of brushing, I think most of the mud is gone. We also tackled the tail- wow he has some serious hair back there! It will need to be washed, and maybe even done today, but I just untangled it. After all the tangles were out it was reaching the floor, so i banged it to keep it out o the muck.
His mane and bridlepath also got some work. Discovered 3 things: 1- Ben doesn't care about clippers- I was able to clip his bridle path with hardly any desensitizing. 2- my clippers are very, very dull and need some TLC, and 3- my solocomb is also dead. As a result, ben's mane did not get shortened- much to the pleasure of KT- but it got braided instead!

We also played in the arena a bit- mostly with longeing and basic handling. He's such a sweetheart. In terms of movement, he never once offered to pace. More to come on that front!

Friday, February 4, 2011

My New Love

Ben has a lot of things going for him- but probably the biggest thing is his personality. Oh my goodness. While Piper is sweet in that she has the maturity of a broodmare- she is definitely momma mare, and Tally is sweet sometimes in that she really needs you for stability, this guy is sweet in that he's got not a single bad bone in his body. He loves to be cuddled. He loves to get scritches. Once he sees you are an okay person, he's not about to walk away from you.

This is love.

Over the years I've ridden a lot of horses. I've owned quite a few too. And I've decided something. I don't care how pretty a horse is- if it doesn't have the right attitude, the muscle is not worth it. A pretty head, straight legs, etc- while all nice and kind of important- its those that have the personality that make good horses.

That said- Katie and I also got him moving last night in the arena. He never offered to pace- just trot. Kind of lazy, actually! LOL His trot is beautiful.

So, i'll be working with him over the next week or so to make sure all is well- but I think this one is a keeper :)

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Introducing Ben

Well, the pony has arrived. First words from my friend "wow he's bigger than I thought he'd be!" Haha, I think we are both so used to getting a 14.3 HH horse when it was advertised as 15.2. But this one really is that tall- and he's only coming 3. Methinks he'll be a big boy.

Speaking of big- he's got big bones, a big heart, and a big head. Thus, his name is Ben...for Big Ben...and for Benjamin Franklin, who, as we all know, made some amazing discoveries that helped us all realize that the world is in fact designed with some thought to it. See the connection? Ben's registered name is Conceptionbydesign...

First impressions, other than his size:

  1. He's got an old injury on his left hind leg- inside of his hock. Still scabby towards the middle- I *think* it is cosmetic...doesn't seem to impede his physical ability. Its ugly, though.
  2. He has an interesting breathing pattern. Now, this could be that he was in a new place and maybe nervous and could've been holding his breath both in and out- but i swear I heard some odd breathing. I will monitor that one over the next few days- going to ask him to work a little to see if it gets worse/better.
  3. He's got puffy hind legs. I don't think its a big deal.
  4. He is very sweet and good natured. 
  5. He really didn't want to interact yesterday- he was much more interested in his new digs, esp the salt block and the hay and the water buckets. 
  6. He's curious- in the arena he did need to walk around making several laps inspecting each and every area. He'd do "drive by's" with me- never stopping for anything, but just passing on by, closely, slowing his gait. He's got a GREAT walk.
So, that's really it for now! He is really sweet and I can see the diamond in the rough. He's going to make a very, very nice horse.

Some images from our arena time:

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Attn: Bay STB Sighting in WA!

There has been a Big Bay Standardbred spotting in Washington state!


My fun little way of saying HE'S HERE!!!! (err, almost...not quite to the barn yet!)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011