Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Watching Horses Isn't Half as Fun as Riding Them

So on Sunday I sat in my parents' house for 3 hours watching our 5 geldings stuff their faces with hay for my "social behaviour during feeding ethogram" for my animal behaviour course. I love my horse and I enjoy watching him, but after about 20 minutes I started to get stir crazy. There's only so long you can sit on chair, staring out the window and occasionally writing notes such as "4 approaches 5, 5 moves away" or "5 walks past 1, 1 pins ears" without starting to wonder how people can possibly do this for a living. I just had to keep remembering the people going even more boring things, like resting behaviour in dairy cattle.

On the bright side, after watching the horses eat all morning, my dad and I then trailered over to our neighbour's indoor arena to go for a ride. Scarface was fairly good, but he is out of shape from all the time off. He was pretty good while we worked on serpentines and figure 8s. The biggest problem we had was that he was being very dead-sided when I was asking for sidepasses or turns on the forehand. I think next time I will put on my spurs so that he can understand the aid better. I used to always ride with spurs, but since last summer I've been trying to stop using them, since they cause me to bring my heels up quite a bit, but I think he will recognize the aids more clearly with them, so we can establish what I want before going back to asking without spurs.

Once again, Scarfie was pretty good about being in the indoor arena, although we did have one little incident. I was too hot, so I was trying to go to the end of the arena near the viewing area to hang my coat on the fence. Scarface was being scared of the manure tub, so I was letting him have a look at it before asking him to go closer to the fence. While he was looking at the tub trying to decide if a goblin lived in it or not, the arena owner's wife walked into the viewing area and let the door slam closed behind her. This was too much for poor Scarfie and he did one of the fastest 180s of his life! I think he tries to be a reiner when he is scared, either doing a fast spin or backing up halfway across the arena. The arena owner then proceeded to call him "Scare-face" for the rest of the afternoon.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Sometimes I Love University...

Despite the piles of exams and assignments and the overwhelming stress to be good enough to get those grades I need for vet school, there are days I love university.

Case in point, my plans for Sunday are to sit outside and observe horses for about four hours. For credit! I'm doing an ethogram on agonistic behaviour in horses. Which means I have to sit and write down all aggressive interactions between the horses and then write up a paper on it. I know some of you will be offended because this is for my food animal behaviour class, but none of the horses I'm studying will ever be used for food. I'm just using it as an excuse to watch my horses. I'm pretty sure you could study your hamster, as long as people somewhere use hamsters for food!

Come on Scarfie, help me get that A!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Reading Week Plans

Reading week is coming up forme in less than a month and I'm already booked up! The first weekend, I'll be going to an NRCHA (national reined cow horse associate) judge's clinic. I don't plan on judging or even showing reined cow horse, but my parents are pretty into it and my dad is on the provincial board of directors. I think it would be awesome to be a judge some day, maybe through AQHA, maybe through whatever association I'm a part of at the time. Beside, I just love to learn stuff!

Then, during my week off, I will be volunteering with one of my parents' vets. While she's not a horse specialist, she does work with all kind of animals and I'm sure I will learn a ton!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Horse Physiology Video

This video documentary is absolutely amazing! If you are interesting at all in horse physiology, it is definitely worth watching. Not for squeamish people though!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Video Time!

I realized I'm never posted a video of me riding on my blog. So here you go! This is from Scarface and my very first dressage schooling show last summer. I wish my hands were quieter in this video, but that's why we took it, so we can improve!

Please keep in mind that we are just transitioning into trying out dressage and over-fences, so we still look like we belong in a AQHA hunter under saddle class with the low poll and lacking forward movement (seriously, that was forward for Scarface!). Also, please excuse the clucking (I know, a no-no in dressage) and very enthusiastic posting, we were working on going forward.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Pictures from the Farm

When I was out doing chores for my parents while they were on holidays last week, I took a few pictures with my "good camera." I thought I would share them. I had fun playing with the portrait setting!

This is Chic, who I will hopefully be riding a bit this spring and summer (she is getting bred this year though, so it won't be a long-term thing). PS: Do you think someone is in heat? :)

This is Cass, our little survivor. My parents bought her mom at an auction down in Billings in February. The man who hauled her (she came from Texas) didn't know when the mare was due and was supposed to get back to my mom when the mare decided to foal in the middle of a giant snowstorm at the end of February. Cass froze off part of both her ears and froze her one hoof really bad (it was touch and go for a while), but now she is happy and healthy and very sassy!

This is Clara. She's a half-sister to my coming three-year-old Lily.
Cass (right) and the third filly, Kylee, who is super cute! It's funny because my nieces all wanted to name the babies after themselves and my parents' had three fillies, one for each girl!

Scarface, looking handsome (and young)


More Pepper

Teto - the nosy one

Hootie, who was not impressed I made him stop eating to take his picture
Scarface and Pepper sharing their dinner

Monday, January 9, 2012

An very excellent Christmas present

Now, I know we should all be done with our Christmas present posts (heck, we're done with New Years), but I have one more. My wonderful boyfriend didn't know what to get me for Christmas because I guess I am a little on the picky side (ok, I like everything to be absolutely perfect before I buy it). So he decided he would take me shopping for whatever I wanted. Naturally, we went to my favourite tack store (Yay Greenhawk!), where he bought me these for my vet kit: a stethoscope and a veterinary thermometer.
Ready for vet school someday?

And he talked me into letting him buy me a new Charles Owen JR8 helmet, even though it was more than I wanted him to spend. But it's just so pretty and it was his favourite that I tried on. I haven't ridden in it yet (I think I'm going riding on Thursday), but I've been wearing it around my apartment like a complete horse-nut/dork. My excuse is that I have to break in the memory foam, but really I'm just excited.

Loving my new helmet!!

The sale girl at the tack shop informed me that Charles Owens are super popular right now and that I looked ready to win! What do you think?

Friday, January 6, 2012

Another Spook and Pretty Pictures

Scarface and I had another notable spook yesterday, but this time it was entirely my fault. I was at the farm alone doing chores for my parents and spent the afternoon playing around with the horses. I dicided I was going to hop on Scarface bareback and walk around a little bit. Well, I forgot (seriously, I think my brain is on holidays) that I've never ridden Scarfie bareback before. So I lead him up to my make-shift mounting block (an overturned water tub) and everything is fine. I climb up on top of the block and everything is fine. Scarface is wondering what on earth I'm doing up there, but he's fine. I go to get on, get one leg halfway over his back and gets spooked and takes off at a trot. Since I wasn't even close to being on, I slide my leg back over and landed on my feet, still holding the reins (yay me!). Now Scarfie is completely freaked out and worried. I imagine him saying "WTF Megan, you forgot the saddle and you could have killed me!" if he spoke English. The next half hour was spent with me convincing him it's ok to stand next to things with me standing on them, then convincing him I can touch him from up there and it isn't scary. In the spirit of safety, I decided to postpone actually getting on him bareback until someone (aka my dad) is around to hold him while I mount and drive me to the hospital if things go horribly wrong. My silly, spooky horse.

Oh, and here are some pictures of Scarface looking especially handsome in the bridle. I should really take some pictures in his good bridle so the reins and headstall actually match, but I still think he looks very handsome!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A Little Spook that Worried Everyone Else Way More Than Me

First of all, everyone should check of Equine Guelph's Lameness Lab! It's very cool.

I've had Scarface since he was three, making it a total of about 8.5 years (he is officially 12 now) and in that time we've definitely gotten to know each other fairly well. He still surprises me sometimes (like how much he loves being my niece's walk-trot horse or when he is abnormally calm), but all-in-all, I usually know what to expect.

My dad and I trailered over to the neighbour's arena the night before New Year's to go for a little ride (Friday night). Another family was riding as well, so altogether there were 4 riders and 1 man lunging a young horse (I think it was a 2009 baby). The arena owner was sitting in the viewing area at the end of the arena watching. I was warming Scarface up and just working on getting him back into shape after his time off. I didn't notice, but while I was at the far end of the arena, the owner let in a dog and was playing with it quietly in the viewing area. Apparently Scarface didn't notice either because when as we came cantering down the long wall toward the viewing area, he saw the dog that wasn't there before and came to a dead stop. He stared at it for a minute and then I thought he was fine and asked him forward again. Instead, he started motoring backwards at high speed, convinced that there was some kind of monster in the viewing area. I let him look for another moment, then asked him forward again, but he was having no part of it. By this time, everyone was watching us and the man lunging (also one of the dog's owners) was asking if everything was ok and called the dog over so Scarface could see it and see that it was in fact a dog and not a monster. That helped and a bit later Scarface didn't mind going to that end of the arena.

But the moral of the story is that everyone made a bit of a big deal about it and I was kind of embarrassed. Everyone at home and at and barns I've boarded at have known Scarface well enough to not be the least surprised when he spooks, but I don't know the people around this arena that well, so they aren't used to it yet, even though I'm sure I've told everyone how big of a chicken Scarface is.

Do your horses have any weird quirks that other people don't quite know how to react to?

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year!!

Happy New Year everyone! I hope everyone had a good night and didn't party too hard! I though this would be a good day to post my goals for 2012 and a mini review of 2011.

So 2011... The biggest highlight for me was my return to the show pen after 4 years without showing. Not only that, but in a new discipline! It may have only been a small dressage schooling show, but it was a great stepping stone and has reminded me just how much I enjoy competing. 2011 also saw me return to university to pursue a degree in Animal Health, which will hopefull transition me into vet school. Definitely better than working (except that I'm always broke).

2012 Goals
-Dressage: -Attend another dressage schooling show
                 -Score about 55% in training level (bonus)
-Hunters: - Take Scarface through his first combination
               - Jump Scarface at 2 feet
               -Attend a hunter schooling show
-Other: - Attend a minimum of one clinic
            -Take a jumping lesson with Scarface

Happy New Year from Megan and Scarface!
I think these goals are all very do-able and I'm excited for the year ahead!