When You’re Sure This Is NOT How It’s Supposed To Feel

But it still looks just about right…

It’s so confusing, isn’t it?

warm up walk dressage
Walk warmup

Our rides lately haven’t felt at all like I would want them to.  Way too much “stuff” going on.  Way too little “other stuff” going on.

Posting lightly, driving forward, trying not to nag, staying in balance, keeping a light bend to the inside without over bending, not fighting, thinking forward and rewarding the effort when it comes – it still doesn’t feel like it has paid off.

tense in the neck and behind the legLast show at Training Level got some really nice scores.  But the feeling during schooling rides at home is, well, less than sublime.

And then, got these pictures of a ride last week, and she looks good!  In many of them, Valiosa definitely looks like she has improved a lot.  A ton!  And there’s new muscle.  This is SO nice to see!

building muscle on the neck on dressage horse

training level mare schooling in arena

young mare schooling training level dressageI’m still not convinced about the feeling.  We still have to feel so complicated? Really?!?

So.  If you’re sitting at home, deflated and feeling like you’re working way too hard with everything around your barn time, your horse, and your riding.  You’re not alone.

grey mare in posting trot
Favorite pic this time. Go grey mare!

Complaint Diagram Just For You

How about a handy Complaint Diagram Chart?!

Spelling errors and all.  Because it’s late.

The spam here over the last few days became so inventive.  Could easily think it was for real.

Now, comment field tightened down, everything groomed, plaited, and hosed off clean.  Haters moving on to something more hate-worthy.  Like, oh I don’t know, how about Tennessee Walker Horse Soaring or Racing 2-year Olds until they break at age 4 and get resold as Eventing Projects?

Going forward, spammers are required to use this super practical diagram, below.  Just circle your issue-of-the-day with the post that offended you, and turn it in to my people.  It will be taken care of.  Enjoy!

how to handle trolls on your blog

SPAM free is the way to be! No SPAM in my jam! (OK at least it rhymes and we needed some cheering up here.) Cheers!

Next time – new pictures of Grey Mare!

THIS Hoof Pick

All you other little hoof picks should just go home.

As if they would listen…

the jackhammer jr ultimate hoofpick review

Best Dressage On A Dime Hoof Pick Tip:  The Ultimate Hoofpick!

Yes, it costs more than that little plasticky thing with a silly brush on the end, that either bends during winter or the brush wears out in less than a year.  And yes, it also costs more than that fingernumbing slim metal hoof pick that still isn’t sharp enough for deep, packed, mud in the hooves.

But you only need to buy one, once, and it’ll pick hooves easier and quicker than anything before, forever.

I never really cared too much about hoof picks.  (You know, really, how exciting can they be?…)  Until there were 24 hooves or so to pick in a row.  And it was cold. And every hoof was shod.  And it took forever to get it all out with that other little stubby joke of a hoof pick…

jackhammer hoof pick review

Best little hoof pick ever.  It’s all true – it doesn’t bend, doesn’t break, and best of all, does not have to be replaced.

My original one has now been joined by the Junior version.  Comes in blue or pink, same design, but smaller fit, for us with smaller hands.

Find it here:  UltimateHoofPick.com

Two Awesomest Little Trail Horses

Somewhere in the middle, it was just too much for Valiosa.

Like a suburb-mom OD’d on pompoms and paisley – she was done with it all.  Bolted down the hill almost killing us both among the rocks.

That was about as exciting as it got on our last trail ride with our friends Vivian and Orion.  The rest, a piece of cake, and she even went into a shallow part of Folsom lake without having a fit.

sterling point trail ride

Last week we trailered to PEC just to school, so that Orion, who is also only 5 could get a chance to see it before next month’s show.  No exciting fun pictures from that trip.  Really, how many shots of a horse tied to a trailer can you stand?

schooling rides with young horse
Valiosa, before schooling in Wilton

This trail ride was SO much better!  Thank you Vivian for a great day!!

trail riding at Folsom Lake

Sterling Point Staging area at Folsom Lake is great!

5 year old horses on trail
Awesome Orion. Because Mustang-Power!

Suspensory Ligament Injury Prevention, The Easy Way

To start, she was confused.

Like that time around 3 pm, when you don’t know if to hit up on the wine or just have another cup of coffee.

I put Valiosa in a little Trot Pole Camp for 6 weeks.  Can’t call them cavalletti when they’re constructed the way I made them.  Starting out easy, with just 2-3 poles, increasing with one pole each time and eventually making it to 3 times/week with 6 poles.

raised trot poles

Didn’t take her long to figure it out. The pictures on the lunge is from week #3, ridden is during the last week.
making cavalettis

trot poles for better trot

6 weeks of carrying poles are up – once per week or less is enough now.  Next we’ll try some walk poles.  Maybe the dreaded canter poles.

young horse over six trot poles

So why did I choose to lug trot poles in and out of the arena in the extreme heat of August with my very young horse who is not exactly loading her hind end yet?  (Which we know increases the risk of a suspensory ligament injury.)  Read on!

trot poles for suspensory ligament injury prevention

This is from Diane E. Barber, sa dressage rider from L.A with a bit of extra coolness factor because not only does she have a thing for Spanish horses, she also travels regularly to Spain to train with Olympic medalist Rafael Soto.

She’s sharing insights from Dr. Sarah le Jeune, a boarded U.C. Davis surgeon, sports-medicine specialist, certified chiropractor and acupuncturist.

The university’s research confirms that the primary reason that dressage horses are predisposed to suspensory ligament injuries is because they are constantly asked to load the hind end to be light in the front end to perform dressage movements. “That takes a lot of core strength to be able to do that. I think many horses have not been able to develop that core strength sufficiently so they are just loading the hind limbs and the suspensory apparatus, which is always under tension when the legs are weight-bearing.

It is very important to make sure that the animal is able to do the work it is being asked to do. Otherwise, if they are not able to do it by engaging certain muscle groups that help support the back and the hind end then they are loading a structure in a supraphysiological way and the suspensory apparatus will be the first to go.”

Find and download the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine’s Suspensory Ligament Injuries publication here:


Or check out these quick tips on Suspensory Ligament Injury Prevention.  (Because really, prevention is key – this ligament takes looong to heal, and usually means a stiffened tendon after healing.)

  • Work on good footing.  Doesn’t necessarily mean deep footing.  Firm is best, no slippage.  On balanced hooves.
  • Keep the horse at an ideal weight.  Too many horses are too heavy, putting unnecessary strain on the suspensory ligament.
  • Provide plenty of opportunity for working on different footings.  Trail walking in particular is very strengthening and “building” for the horse.  This was one of the main reasons I wanted to hit on the trot poles – we don’t have enough variety in our footing, trail rides are much too scarce, the property is small and doesn’t lend itself to riding, and the road is a death wish outside.
  • Build core muscles to make sure the horse can carry itself correctly before loading the hind end and working light in the front.
  • Keep short cycles with the farrier.  Heels that are not at the proper height can mean more load on the suspensory ligament, meaning the horse has to strain for several training rides toward the end of a farrier cycle.  Above 8 weeks is asking for trouble.

Phew, so informative today.  Probably missed a lot – feel free to chime in with more.!  Back to Pony Putter talk next time.

dressage over trot poles to strengthen core muscles

Got Barn Art?

Show me!

If you’ve got something interesting at the barn, something you’ve rigged up yourself, or maybe just something truly unique – I want to see it!  Small, handmade, half-broken, just a link to something found online that you like; doesn’t matter.

I always keep an eye out an any barn I ever visit.  There’s usually something special, sometimes in the most unexpected places.

To set the bar really low, I walked down to the barn I’m at and snapped some quick shots.  On a Red Theme.

stall art

rusty barn art a horse for elinor

barn sign

old barn sign

Comment with a link or make your own post – It’s all up to you what you call art!

bridles on wall

Today’s PRE Peep 3


black andalusian stallion
Jaleo just went through the Revision and is now an approved PRE stallion too. Not yet standing as he is only 3.  And still a bit distracted with the ladies in the cross ties…

Warming up with Botijo

french braid on grey andalusian

grey andalusian stallion with french braid
Checking out the new mare


Best Way To Improve Your Dressage Show Score

Head out to another show, and try it again, of course!

Valiosa did the impossible.  From taking the Show’s Low Point (yes, not kidding, a 48% something with a bolt) at the last show to winning both classes in this next one.  And yes, taking the high point of the show.

OK small show.  Details.

Showing in September is a Sweatfest, but Camelot is simply an awesome show venue!  With shade.  And prices to bring home which was so nice.

Camelot dressage show prices

Score for Training Level Test 2:  69.62

One of the trot diagonals got a 9′ which felt so rewarding.  Stretchy circle got a 5′, because that’s still how we roll at shows in the first test.

Score for Training Level Test 3:  69.78

With a 9′ on the last halt!  Couple of 8’s on the left canter transition and volte – a small wonder as it has been a huge sticking point for Valiosa and I.  (Still is.)

Take home message from this show:  focus on improving her canter.  A lot.  Before ever thinking about 1st level.  The judge didn’t write this in the Further Remarks box, but individual score comments returned to getting more jump and ground cover in the canter, so, there you go.

We took three horses this time, things got busy.  My awesome horse-who-is-fantastic-and-does-not-spook-and-did-great-at-the-show got pulled for a drug test, and I was a test reader for my friend.  So, again no pictures.

dressage show at camelot equestrian park

Just this one of all of us, which sums up the day🙂


Free Entertainment – This Sunday

We’re heading to a horse show this weekend!

Braving it again in the ring, this time at Camelot in Butte Valley.  (Butte, not butt, just had to point that out.)  Come on over on Sunday – the entertainment is on me!

Prepping miss Grey Mare before is hopeless.  Only works the morning of.  Since she sleeps in her piles.  It’s a talent.

grooming before a show

kids jumping in front of horses
He can jump all he wants – she doesn’t care

My super long legged littlest guy on Valiosa.

child on horse in shorts

It’s like a “Find 10 Things Wrong” picture.  I can find 8.  Rulebreakers!

Have a wonderful weekend!  We’re going to have some fun!

crape myrtle blooming in september