play day with horse in arena
Ground work

Cross Training

It didn’t go exactly as planned.

Thought she’d have a blast with this toddler tunnel.

play day with horse in arena

Instead it became the weirdest walking exercise.

walking horse over obstacles

Even the dogs at the barn thought it was a strange and nothing to play with.

We have a show planned for next month so maybe we should buckle down and focus on that.  Stop clowning around and wasting time 🙂 .  This time, she’ll go First Level Test 2.  Counter canter doesn’t sneak in until Test 3, so we should survive.

horse jumping over tunnel obstacle

It’s not necessary for the handler to jump too.  Who does that?!

Seriously, we’re going to practice All The Things for this showfocused.  (But first I have to get rid of this flu that has kept me on the couch for 4 days now!) With no distractions, so she can come in with the right mindset, settle in to work quickly, and pull it all off as easily as an Intro Level test.  (Right.)

No goofing off.

Just maybe some Horse-Jogging.  Yes, it’s a thing!

running with horses

jumping horse on lunge line
Ground work

Something different today.

This is not going to be super exciting.

90% of average readers just clicked away.  Good.  You are not average.

Everyday barn pictures.  Just because I never really take time to take any.  Or post them.  So come along for a few!

Dark rainy day in the barn.

barn with high ceiling

Valiosa, disdaining the short cross ties.

sky lights in barn ceiling


hanging wet horse blankets to dry

Barn laundry.  If you were to confess, how many of you have ruined your laundry machine at home with horse blankets?  I may have.  Not admitting it.  Just, maybe it happened.

tumble drying horse blankets

Youngest new stallion in the barn, Jaleo DA with Alexis.

horse explosive on lunge line

young stallion saddle breaking

I built a quick jump for Valiosa.  It’s been a long time.  Just to see if she still thought it was fun…

building jumps in arena

She did!

jumping horse on lunge line

free jumping with young horse

dressage horse jumping small bounce

keeping dressage fun for the horse

The giant bounce jump:

variety in dressage work

It’s the weekend!  Go out and enjoy!

morning light in tack room
Ground work

Nasty Friday The 13th

With gory picture.

Gorgeous start on the day.  Rain had stopped.  Silver Fog, my favorite, mostly because we’re above the fog-line and it’s so rare.

morning light in tack room

Tack room, early winter morning.

Valiosa did some pole work, and had a “winter cleanup” before getting a clean blanket.  It’s easy to do, even with cold water – just a bucket with some tea tree oil and a good splash of cheap liniment (it’s mostly rubbing alcohol which is good for cutting through grease) in the water.

Great for after a workout when they’re warmed throughout, to remove winter funk without having to bathe and dry.

Then Friday The 13th kicked in.

Lunged a horse with a history of pulling away.  He still lunged really beautifully, and calmly.  Until he didn’t.

Gory pick warning!



broken finger from lunge line

Now, it’s way more purple than this. And large.  Yes, broken.

Just a little dent, that’ll buff right out!

Yesterday I got the wedding ring cut.  😦  X-ray says a good size crack, with luck there’ll be a visit to an Orthopedic Surgeon this week.  (Or how about NOW, please?)


You’re in luck!  It’ll finally be a quiet period from me.

Although I’m hoping to announce something special later this week!

Until then, wanna help me put shoes on?

Ground work

Starting To Look A Lot Like…

What, Easter?

We’ve got several days to go.  No stress here!

Play morning.  I know there’s been posts about jumping.  Seriously, she doesn’t do a lot of jumping.  At all. Sure, cleared 3.2 a few times, just to show her she could.

For now, occasional fun mornings with low gymnastics on the lunge.

Like this morning.

low gymnastics with dressage horse

She’ll jump with plenty of air anyway.


A bit of fun.  So the hooves don’t root themselves into the arena ground like doldrums trees.


After, rare for us, a walk outside the gate.


My favorite time in California.  Blink, and it’ll be over.


horse jumping from trot
Ground work

I said something about this horse not knowing how to jump…?

Rambled about it some time ago.

How she’d just plow straight through even a half-foot tall single pole.  No kidding.  (Find it here:  Grey Mare don’t jump.)

Well.  No one showed up to teach it to her.  So we did it on our own.  🙂

Told her she wasn’t allowed to jump high.  She did it anyway.  Sassy.  Where’d she get that from?

horse next to barrel

– OMG! A barrel! I’m going to jump it!

Nope, no.  No you’re not.  It’s not what we do.  You don’t have the skills to do it, it could be harmful, and besides, it could confuse your training.

horse talk

– Oh yeah?! Just watch me! I go!

No, we do dressage, you’re a bit lazy, and some say you’re simply not built for it.  Besides, you don’t look the part.  And I’m not entirely convinced you know how to canter correctly.  Just stick to some circles and low-level stuff.

confused horse

– Um, what? It’s not for me?  But I thought I could do anything?

Hate to break it to you, but it’s not in your cards.  Besides, it builds all the wrong muscles.  And that harsh landing, argh, pounding straight down on the forehand!  It looks painful, and it twists the sacroiliac, and do it enough you’ll have an ugly Hunter’s Bump.

horse looking confused

– But… I want to be something too.  We can’t just have a little fun?  Besides, just WHO gets to make up all the rules?

Simple facts.  Accept your path, don’t monkey around.

horse learning to jump

– I don’t CARE. Look! I’m doing it!

Smokes, Wow you did it!  Wish you’d feel the same about, well, just trotting straight forward…

horse trotting on lunge line

– I told you so!!

OK, I think we should do some suppling work.  Or think classical.  Or walk slowly in a small circle while I limp backwards and almost topple over every fourth step.

horse speeding on lunge line when jumping

– Hey, I’ve been thinking about something by the way…

Doesn’t look like much thinking.

Horse rearing on lunge line

– I thought that maybe now, when you’re in a cast and feeling vulnerable and all….


horse bucking on lunge line

– I thought you should whip out the bareback pad and we’ll do some work together. What do you say?

I say you’ve lost it and need to move on, and this is a very awkward blog post.

horse galloping on lunge line

– Fine, whatevers. Now I go Faaaaast!

horse jumping from trot

– Weeeeh! Check me out, I did this from trot.

Happy Thanksgiving, friends!
working horse with tarp
Ground work

Soon Finishing Up 2 Weeks of Recovery

Valiosa, healthy and spry as ever.

I’m the slower one, dragging us both down.  But it’s OK, we’re both really happy and things are going well.  Going to be a long month with no riding, but we’re doing our best to have some fun.

It’s absolutely wonderful that you keep checking in on us at the blog – thank you!

A day of tarp work.  Really wasn’t necessary.

lunging with a tarp

horse faking a spook

Fake spooking at the tarp. Just an excuse because we had roof workers on their 1st day out there.

introducing tarp to horse

working horse with tarp

horse not afraid of tarp

This tarp work is seriously overrated. Next, please.

On another note – I finally get to make a special post soon, probably the best one for the rest of this year.

Wrapping up Valiosa’s 1st Year in late November in 2015 was really fun.  Almost time for a new Before & After post to wrap up the 2nd Year…  Coming up next week!

dressage over trot poles to strengthen core muscles
Ground work

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