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Preview: Project: Saddle Sabumi

Project: Saddle Sabumi

This is the story of training my Arabian horse, Sabumi, for endurance and dressage.

Updated: 2017-07-29T03:10:47.318-05:00


Stake Out


I copied the last 5-6 posts in one afternoon a week ago.  I can't guarantee any more updates here for a while.  I will be updating Mama Mullholland, so come visit me there!I got a phone call from our excavator on Friday asking if we were set to start digging on Monday.  I had to explain that we were still waiting on the permits.  He let me know that you don't need to wait for the permits to start digging, but you have to have them before you pour the footing.  Great news!  He asked me to stake out the house this weekend and then we agreed to meet out at the land on Monday morning!I called up home depot to see if they carried survey stakes.  The doofus who answered the phone was quite confused as to why I had asked for SURVEYING stakes.  They did carry stakes in several sizes, but he didn't know if surveyor stakes were the same thing.  I just said "thank you" and hung up.  If you will allow, I have a rant about Home Depot.  Something I learned recently that was confirmed by several different contractors in several different areas of expertise is that Home Depot is considered a 'seconds' store.  If a manufacturer has a toilet that isn't quite level at the base, they sell it to Home Depot.  They figure a DIYer will assume it was their mistake and just caulk the heck out of it until it is level.  A plumber won't shop there to begin with.  A manufacturer of a faucet will have a specific style of faucet.  For a distributor like Ferguson, the insides will be made of metal with high quality gaskets.  For home depot, the insides will be make of plastic.  With cabinets, the same thing applies.  Their brand, KraftMaid, can be purchased other places.  Home Depot gets the second quality cast offs.  In most cases, the cost savings is NOT passed on to you.  In some cases it is.  The faucets I wanted were $100 cheaper EACH from Home Depot.  That tells me that a major component is different.  The metal the faucet is made from could even be different.  So, as much as we disliked Home Depot before, we have even more reason to stay away now.  They are basically the Dollar General of building supplies.  If you need building materials, go somewhere like McCray, ProBuild, or Menards.  Get your fixtures, sinks, ect from a place like Ferguson.  Believe it or not, custom cabinets made by hand from solid wood are LESS expensive than Home Depot Cabinets.  I'll do a post on Cabinets in the future.Anyhow, this post isn't supposed to be about Home Depot.  It is about staking out the house!John, Paisley, Charley, and I arrived with stakes, a hammer, pink nylon string, and a movie box to use as a square.  Oh, we had a set of plans with us as well.We picked the front left corner of the house and drove in a stake.  We then measured off the rest of the walls with only minor difficulty.Here is the first stake and you can see the string going east.  This is the north wall of the house and will be Paisley's room, the shared bath, and the room for the twinkle in John's eye.   Here is the bay window in our bedroom.  If you look closely, you can see a cow pie right in the middle.  Some day we will be laying in bed and we will remember this day and how there was once a cow pie where we are now laying.Have a haiku:Mindless bovine poopPermanent?  Impermanent?Below where we sleep Speaking of poop.  Here is our porta pot!  John didn't think it would be quite enough to provide each crew with a spade and a roll of TP. Here is the shot of the whole house.  John is at the far left corner and the far right corner is near the right of the screen.  You may be able to see more if you can enlarge the picture.  But, this will be the front view of the house.  [...]



Check out Mama MullhollandSomething unexpected came up as we were looking at styles of houses and decor.  John and I have VERY different tastes in homes.  We were quite surprised to find this!  We are so compatible in so many ways that we were quite shocked at how passionately the other felt about some "small" details!  John likes a very clean, modern look while I prefer a more soft, cozy county look.  We tried to find balance in things we agreed on.  No clutter.  No decor for the sake of being decor.  We both like clean and simple.  I felt like his style was cold.  He felt like mine was too country.    Suddenly, we came upon something we both loved.  This discovery saved our house! Haha!  The Craftsman style.  This is a very popular style from the early 1900's that started in Northern California and Oregon.  It is described as generally being a 1 story house with a low hipped roof, large porch, and exposed beam details.  The goal of the craftsman style was to bring nature indoors by using natural materials and colors.  So, John and I are going more traditionally craftsman with the exterior and doing a clean craftsman interpretation on the interior.  The exterior colors will be green with canvas trim and ox blood accents. Here is a link to a good example of the colors we want. For the interior, we are going to stay true to the wide baseboards and header over the doors.  but we will paint them white.  For windows and walkways, we will have drywall returns (no trim) with bull nose corners (rounded).  This should give us the craftsman feel with a modern touch.  We will be going with a white kitchen.  We will have an extra set of upper cabinets with glass fronts, which is very craftsman.  A craftsman kitchen was often white as it was easier to clean.  We will be going more modern with the granite tops as well as by painting the interior of the glass front cabinets.  We will have hickory flooring throughout the main living area.  I just love the movement you get from the color variations.  I think that about sums up the style we are going for.  We will be using a more modern lighting scheme.    Traditional craftsman would call for bronze lighting, which is so dark and heavy.  So we have tried to find a style that is craftsman but in a brushed nickel.  Right now we are thinking of the Kichler Truett line from, on the exterior, we will go totally craftsman with something like this from, that about sums up our style.  Of course, all of this stuff happens in the last 4-8 weeks of the build process.  The first 4 months is all digging, concrete, and lumber!  I can't wait to post pictures as the process moves along!  [...]



The people who visit Mama Mullholland got this post like 7 days ago!

How we chose a floor plan.  We started by searching on sites that sell floor plans.  We knew that we wanted to minimize wasted space in hallways and extra rooms like formal living or dining spaces.  We wanted a large living area that was open and included the kitchen.  I wanted a laundry room that doubled as a mud room.  We wanted a luxury bath for the master.  The plan below was a start, but wasn't what we wanted, exactly.  

So, we took this idea to an architect.  Our guy was GREAT!  He took about a month and we met several times along the way.  This gives you an idea of what we ended up with!  We moved the master bath to give ourselves a bay window in the master bedroom.  We changed one master closet into a stairwell down to the basement.  We changed the laundry room around.  We changed the Jack and Jill bath to be more open.  We made the formal dining into an office and removed the walk-through into the kitchen.  

Now that our plans were finished, we make a bunch of copies of all of the sets and got pdf files of them as well.  I started sending them out to contractors for bids!  



Reposted from Mama MullhollandThe plans we originally started looking at, before we met with an architect, had a detached garage with a portico connecting the garage to the house.  After doing a lot of number crunching and thinking, we decided that a garage that matched the house wasn't practical for our wants and needs.  First off, a 2 car garage was going to run us about $30-40 THOUSAND DOLLARS!!!  Holy cow.  On top of that, we really wanted the garage to be able to house farm equipment, lawn mowers, etc. as well as serving as a shop and garage for our daily drivers.  We were thinking of something more like a 4 car garage.  Most 2 car garages are about 20x20.  We decided on 24x40 as a reasonable space for our needs.  We started looking at prefab buildings, semi-custom metal garages, and finally settled on a pole barn type garage with Cleary Buildings.  Cleary is a bit smaller and less expensive than Morton, which is the most famous brand of pole barns.  Pole barn construction is really neat.  They start with a level dirt surface, drill in where the wood/wood composite posts will go, set a pre-poured concrete block, then set the post on that.  So, basically the structure is self supporting.  That saves you the cost of having to pour a concrete footing which would have run about $3500 for our size if we had gone with a metal frame building.  So, the set the posts and start framing the building.  It has a truss roof and metal roof and siding.  Our garage will be crimson and cream.  Boomer Sooner!  We will have a double garage door in the from and an single garage door on the back for the lawn mower.  There will be a person door facing the house.  The neat thing about post frame buildings is that they build the frame inside with a 2x8 lip around the lower edge.  So, it is basically its own form for pouring concrete!  After the building is up, we will just have out concrete flatwork guys come back out and pour in the slab.  We will do a rebar reinforced 5" slab to prevent any buckling or cracking.  So, the site prep will be done by our excavator when he is already out to dig the basement.  That should cost about $1000.  Then the building will  be put up and should only take about a week. That will be $16060.  The slab will be about $3100 and will be done as soon as possible before it starts getting cold and freezing!  So, once the basement is dug and the foundation is in, we will know an exact location for the garage.  I am hoping the garage will be done while we are giving the concrete foundation some time to cure.  Hopefully the garage will be complete by the end of October.   We have decided to build the garage sooner rather than later for a few reasons.  First, we wanted a storage space where we could lock building materials up overnight.  Second, we are currently renting a storage unit in town while we try to sell our house.  I'd love to move our stuff and not have that monthly expense.  Third, if we can get our excavator and concrete guys to do the work while they are already out there, it will save us a little money and save them some time.  [...]

Building Permit


Seriously, come on over to Mama Mullholland and get updates WAY faster!What does it take to get a building permit?  2 sets of architectural plans ($1500)a site plan by a professional surveyor ($200)Deed (cost of the land-haha!)driveway application (cost of driveway ~$4000)approval from the health dept ($550)selection of master certified plumber, electrician, and mechanical (HVAC) contractorsPlus we will be paying about $1700 in fees to cover all of our inspections during the build processThe hold up for us was getting approval from the health department.  The reason we need that is for septic approval.  In order to get septic approval, your excavator has to dig test holes with the health dept there watching.  Our excavator was one of the last contracctors we selected.  So, we couldn't even start the process without chosing an excavator.  When I met with the health dept and excavator, it was a really neat process.  Back in the 1960's, the USDA went around digging test holes and categorizing the soil.  They printed copies of the maps and handed them out.  They are no longer in print and the health dept guy told me that he has 3 unopened copies in his office that are like gold to him!  The map showed that our lot had 3 kinds of soil.  We dug a test hole and the soil was just as expected.  We dug another test hole a little further east and it was a different type of soil.  It was great soil for the septic systems lateral field.  So, we dug a third hole just south of the second hole to make sure the soil would be consistant for the whole lateral field.  Luckily, our soil is great!  Which means that we can have a traditional system instead of an unsightly and expensive mound system.  So, I submitted the application Monday the 27th and hope to have a permit in hand by Friday the 7th!  [...]

Home Building


Again, I am reposting this from:Mama Mullhollandwww.mamamullholland.blogspot.comI know it has been a while.  I've been busy.  John and I have been working on the process of building our home on the 20 acres be bought this spring.  I started doing my homework on how to have a custom home built.  I learned that a General Contractor charges about 20-30% of the homes value to build a home.  Ouch.  I like transparency in bookkeeping and every angle I looked at the situation from was muddled.  There was no way for us to know exactly how much each part of our house would cost.  I wanted to know numbers down to each board and screw.  I know that that information would lead me to know EXACTLY how much the GC would pocket.  I learned pretty quickly that the only way to find out how much stuff costs was to ask.  So, I started sending out our architectural plans to different sub contractors and getting bids.  I compared costs between subs.  I had found a great website and used their percentage guideline to know how much things *should* cost for the value of house we were looking to build.  I was surprised to find that my bids were coming back VERY close!  I was acting like a GC.  I convinced John to let me continue on and try to manage the build myself.  He was hesitant at first, but when he started to see how organized I was and how serious I was about the project, he came around pretty quickly.  I had every job multi-bid and selected contractors based on how good their recommendations were and how easy they seemed to be to work with.  I didn't always pick the low bidder.  We were about to save 25% on the cost of the house, no need to cut corners now.  Building the house ourselves will allow us to have WAY more house for WAY less money.  Think solid hickory wood floors, custom tile work, granite, spa tub etc.  Currently, I am wrapping up the 5-6 week process of getting bids.  Our building permit has been submitted and is waiting on approval.  I have started scheduling contractors.  We will start digging as soon as we get approval from the county.  I am aiming for Sept 10 or before.  Now that you are up to date, I need to go call a few subs, our insurance company, and the zoning department!  [...]

Building a road


In case you were unaware, I am posting about building our farm house over here:, if you are too lazy to click over, I'll post the updates here for a while too.  Here is how we built a driveway in a weekend!First it was like this and then he used thisto do thisthen this happened and now we have 775 glorious feet of this[...]

Making our farm dreams come true!


We have always been looking for the right house on the right property in the right location.  After years of searching (and almost buying a place that was too far away) we have found the perfect solution!  We recently bought 20 acres of land on the south side of the lake near the town we live in!  Great location, only 15 minutes to town!  It is still in the school districts where we are currently.  The land is about 3/4 mile down the road from a trail head that has access to 50 MILES of equestrian trails!!!  About 3-5 acres of the land is treed, the rest is brome pasture.  We hope to build our dream home there next spring!  Until then, we plan to get busy doing whatever improvements we can with our sweat equity!  I am standing in the north central part of the land, looking West.  This is a small treed area with the 'gate' being just to the left of the trees.Here is the north tree line, looking NE.  Our fence runs along behind these trees.  Our North 'neighbors' are 60 acres of unbuildable land owned by a trust.Looking East- we have about 3-5 acres treed.Picnic Cutie!John coming out of the NW treed corner.  He had to chase off the neighbor's dog.   To the South.  Our property goes back a ways and then we have two neighbors to the south.  Hi!Proud! Happy to be on our very own land! Yay!!!Family picture time!Here we are parked along the East tree line in the NE corner of the pasture land.  We are about to start exploring the woods!Love them!Here we have the north property line- expressed by a barbed wire fence and a rock wall.Very overgrown with brush.  We will be clearing out as much as possible so that walking will be easier. Not sure yet if we will clear trails or just try to methodically clear out the whole underbrush.I just LOVE these old rock walls.  It makes me feel so connected to the past and the history of the land.  Someone, ages ago, picked up these rocks by hand, carried them behind a horse, and placed them right here.  I love it.  This one runs north/south for a while.You can see here that the land has a bit of a slope to it.  It slopes down towards a creek that runs through at least 2 neighbor's properties. Explaining to Paisley that someday, this will all be hers!I am hoping that this is a dry creek bed.  Oh, it would be so awesome to have a creek!  We are somewhere between the south property line and the middle of the land here, looking north.  Checking for ticks.  Blech.Looking NW.  We will probably build the house up on this hill in the middle of the property with the front facing the road and the back porch facing the NE corner looking into the woods.Facing West, the road runs along this way over the other side of the hill.I am so excited to share this news with you and want to thank all of our friends and family for supporting us!  [...]

Catch riding?


I am looking for people with too many horses and not enough bodies...  
I would like to catch-ride for anyone who needs their horse to get some competition time.  

Now that Paisley is no longer a nursling, I am able to leave her for longer periods and am willing to travel to do rides.  

I will ride your horse, with your equipment, and your feed setup.  I will follow your rules and ride along with you or at whatever pace you think is appropriate for the horse.  

I have a very modest, but good record with AERC.  100% completion for 7 rides with finish times ranging from 7-10 hours.  Contact me for more information on how to search for me on the AERC results page.  

Please feel free to pass my info on to your friends!  I am getting my 'horse time' in bits and pieces right now and it would be amazing to have the chance to ride some amazing horses in a few endurance rides!  

Yard Sale!!!


Not sure if anyone reads this blog anymore, but I thought I would post some items for sale. If you are interested, contact me and we can negotiate prices. I will continue to add items and pictures as I get to them. Circle Y Expedition saddle. 15" rough out seat. Lightly used, great condition, has light scuffing on right side. Includes rigging and *nice* dark green carry bag. $1300 SOLD!!! Zilco endurance bridle- dark green biothane, headstall snaps onto halter. Great bridle, brass is no longer shiny. Arab sized. $60SOLD!!!  Biothane sponge leash and natural sea sponge. Sponge is brand new in package. leash is silver. $20 for bothSOLD!!! Easycare cantle pack. Dark Green, holds 2-20oz water bottles, included. Brand new, never used. $50SOLD!!! Toklat cool back saddle pad. Round shape, 30x30. Dark green with suede wear leathers. Nice. $50Reinsman Tacky Too saddle pad. 28x33, shaped/contour pad. Fits tucker and endurance type saddles. $75SOLD!!!! Renegade Hoof Boots- barely used. dark green. Pair. Size 1. $120/pairHay bags, really nice.Fabric with 'grid' window in front, velcro closure, and wood at the top to hold shape, straps are nylon with buckles. Dark green. $20/pairBlankets/sheets/cooler- 70"-72". most are used, some are new. Price varies.  All are from Schneiders. StormShield New Briton Bellyband turnout blanket in Navy.  These are the midweight blankets and have been torn and repaired several times.  Still work, would be perfect as an indoor blanket or under a waterproof sheet.  I wouldn't rely on them to be waterproof anymore.  I have a 70 and a 72 inch.  The 70 has "Sabumi" embroidered on the bellyband.  $20 eachSOLD!!! DuraTech Tekno-Fleece Contoured Cooler- 70", black, has "Sabumi" embroidered on the bellyband.  Great condition, Great cooler.  $25Dura-Tech Viking II turnout-midweight blanket and sheet- both are 72" and green with black trim.  These were used for less than one winter season.  Were worn indoors for majority of the winter.  Very good conditions.  Practically brand new!  $40 for the sheet, $50 for the blanket.Truckbed Tent- really cool tent.  Fit our F150 6'6"bed perfectly.  $100SOLD!!! Vibram 5 fingers Bikala LS- ran in them for one mile every other day for two weeks- less than 8 miles total.  Sz 36, which is about a 6.  $752006 F150.  74k miles.  Super Cab XLT.  4x4 high and low, Tow package, B&W turnover ball, break assist in cab.  Great condition.  $15,500.  Check link for ad on [...]

Awesome Boomer Update!!!


I just checked the AERC horse records and saw a great update on Boomer! His new owners took him to NJ for a 50 mile ride in mid-November and he did AWESOME!!! Our of 34 starters, 28 horses finished and Boomer finished 12th with a ride time of 5 hours and 14 minutes!!! I knew that he could be a rock star with the right owner! I am so proud of him!

New blog!


With this new stage in my life comes a new blog!  

Join me over at Mama Mullholland to keep up to date with our life!!!

Perfect Match!


Well, friends, I am SO happy to tell you that Boomer has found the perfect home!  

I am so glad that this story has a happy ending!  

I posted Boomer on classifieds and got several replies.  The one that stood out was from a couple from Iowa.  They have several decades of arabian and endurance experience.  They have thousands of competition miles.  They do FEI rides.  They travel to Florida in the winter and do rides year round.  

They came to meet Boomer and were very happy with him.  They are aware of his behavior issues and did not seem phased by that at all.  

This is the perfect situation for Boomer and I am able to move on with a happy heart!  

Thank you all for being so understanding and supportive during this difficult time for me!  


Horses will always be important to me.  I hope to take frequent riding lessons and continue to learn and improve.  I also hope someday to own another horse.  But, for now, I am endlessly happy to spend my days with this little joy:

We Need Help


Fellow readers, you may have noticed that the blog was closed for several days. I have been in a period of deep thought while trying to cope with the situation of finding Boomer a new home.

I am at a point where I am emotionally ready to rehome him. Unfortunately, the horse market is not active right now. Especially not for a horse like Boomer who has a behavior problem (ie. pulling back and chinchyness).

I need help finding him a good home. This is not about money or making a profit off of him. He just deserves a good, understanding home.

Currently, he is starting his second month of training. He has not pulled back in over 3 weeks and is riding well. He needs someone who wants to work with him regularly to hold him accountable and have high expectations for him. He needs someone who is confident and strong on the ground.

I do not have the kind of time he needs and can't justify having a horse with his needs as a mother to a young baby.

I need him to find a good home by the end of this month. We can't just keep him in training indefinitely.

In the past, Boomer was a wonderful project for me. My perspective has changed since having a baby and Boomer and I are no longer good partners. When I was working with Boomer daily and getting him regular exercise, we were a great team. Now, with only two days a week to see him and a new baby at home, I can no longer invest the time and attention that Boomer needs to thrive.

Please, if you know a person or a rescue organization who would take Boomer, contact me. He is a wonderful riding horse if you can just work through his ground manner issues.

End of the road


I'm really sad, but not at all surprised that I am writing this post.  We have tried to help Boomer for over 3 years and he just is who he is.  Unfortunately, his bad habit is dangerous.  For those of you who have been following the blog for a while, you know we have had our ups and downs.  I have always kept trying and kept giving Boomer more chances to prove himself.  The fact is that he is an incredible athlete.  I know he could be a star.  He is totally capable of being a 100 mile horse.  He could probably do Tevis. I am amazed at his ability and strength.  Unfortunately, he is reactive.  I wouldn't even say that he is spooky.  When something happens to upset him or doesn't go his way, he reacts in a big and dangerous way.  This manifests as either pulling back while tied or throwing himself over backwards.  I have tried avoiding situations that make him flip, which does work to an extent, but makes me miserable to be walking on eggshells around him.  We have thrown countless dollars in training at him to no change.  Our trainer agrees, he isn't scared.  He gets mad.  I think that someone with more time, confidence, and knowledge could give Boomer a great home and use him to his potential.  I am just no longer able to feel safe around him.  I have spent the last few weeks thinking of what I need to feel safe with him.  I need to hear the words "He is cured, he will never pull back or blow up again".  No one can tell me that.  He went almost 2 years without pulling back.  No one can guarantee that he will never blow up again, because he does it in protest, not out of fear.  If it was fear, it would be something that sacking-out or exposure could fix.  Unfortunately, my confidence has taken a pretty big hit in this process.  I have a bit of fear and anxiety now around all horses.  I feel like I am just waiting for them to blow up and flip over in the cross ties or whatever.  I need to take a step back and just take lessons for a while to rebuild my confidence.  Maybe try a new discipline and ride a few solid horses.  I'm not looking to own another horse anytime soon.  Our next horse will be one that I can actually enjoy and is also safe for our whole family.  By all means, if you think you can help this horse and give him the home he needs, please contact me.  He is dangerous on the ground and I have no doubt that he will hurt someone someday.  He is also a dream to ride and learns quickly.  He is built for endurance and will do great things in the endurance world.  [...]

Boot Camp Breakthrough


First day at the trainers, Boomer tried to hang himself on the hitching post.  Not sure exactly what happened, but Trainer had to cut the rope to free him.  I asked if he was scared or being bad.  She said that she would understand if he was scared, but he was just mad that she was pushing and he pushed back, and she didn't relent, so he threw a tantrum.  He was even trying to kick her as she was cutting the rope.  Classy.  

John and I have both seen this in him.  When you ask him to do something and he says no.  You better drop it or else he is gunna get mad.  When he gets mad, his general response is to blow backwards as hard as possible.  Luckily, Trainer isn't a wuss and she kept pushing.  

After this, she tossed him in the round pen with a tarp.  He proceeded to run through the panels and escape.  He scraped up his front leg.  His reward was to be tied to a tree, away from the barn, in a pasture of llamas.  Apparently, he stood quietly for the remainder of the afternoon.  

Next day, he got tied up to have his leg hosed.  He stood dead still for that (!!!) and also stood dead still for the next 6 hours while a variety of tractors and 4-wheelers buzzed by all afternoon.  

We think he knows.  

I am glad that he had such big blow-ups right away.  At first, I was disappointed, but John pointed out that it is a really great sign that Trainer is pushing all of the right buttons.  She knows first hand what she is working with and can quickly set goals.

3 days down...  57(?) to go...

Boomer goes back to Boot Camp!


I think we all knew it was in the cards for Boomer.  At some point he was going to need a tune up.  As far as riding was going, he was doing great.  Better each time I rode him and we were having a blast.  However, his ground manners were shit.  Also, he knows exactly how to manipulate me.  When riding, I have stopped being afraid of him and have gained enough confidence to push him through and silliness.  So, he has pretty much stopped trying.  On the ground, he knows that all he has to do is give something the hairy eye, or twitch the wrong way and I will untie him right away and hurry up the tacking up process.  I'll give a quick synopsis of his shenanigans in the last few months.  The first time I went to ride him after 6ish months off, he was great for both tacking up and riding.  We did one easy lap around the pond.  Second time, he pulled back when I walked towards him with the saddle.  He spooked when I threw the pad over his back and raised his head so that I couldn't bridle him.  Third time I just got on bareback since I didn't want to tack him up.  When I got the new saddle, I had to saddle him up in a small paddock for the first 6-8 times because he was spooky like he had never seen a saddle before.  He would run backwards as I would approach, would skitter sideways as I tried to adjust the saddle.  It really pissed me off.  I really don't think any of this is a pain issue as he is a gem once we are riding.  Granted, I have recently discovered how crooked I am.  This surely causes him discomfort.  However, he is NOT the kind of horse who would ignore or be passive if it were so painful he didn't want to work.  He is fun and happy for our whole ride.  He doesn't move while I mount up and doesn't resist under saddle.  When my saddle fit poorly before as his topline developed, he would stand tense under me while I mounted and would shake his head and swish his tail.  The final straw was a few weeks ago, I threw the saddle over his back and he spooked into me at the cinch and stirrup falling on the other side.  He stepped on my foot, the saddle fell off, and he almost ran me over.  He had been getting SO MUCH BETTER about being saddled too.  For the last few weeks he was standing still the whole time I saddled him, like he SHOULD.  Well, it didn't end there.  The barn owner came over and held him for me so that I could resaddle.  I got him cinched up and the barn owner walked off to finish chores.  Boomer was standing with his head down and a calm expression.  I asked him to move around me in a circle, as I always do, to get him to unbloat so that I can finish tightening the cinch.  Well, instead of moving forward, he froze and flew backwards.  He fell onto his side and then hopped back up.  The lead rope never even pulled through my hand.  It was like he had pulled back, but there was never an ounce of pressure on his face.  He scratched up my brand new saddle.  He also scratched up his knees and hock.  I was ready to send him through auction at that point.  I have NO desire to have such an unpredictable animal.  None.  I don't care what his reasons are for being a fruit.  I expect him to behave like any other normal horse.  If he can not behave like a normal horse, we are done.  No excuses.  So, to boot camp he goes.  I told our trainer that I need her to find out if this is a behavioral thing that can be trained out or if it is a mental thing and[...]

My crooked horse


Boomer has always been crooked- banana left- if you will.  It takes all the strength in my right leg to get him to bend around for a circle to the right.  Or so I thought.  

I have recently realized that the problem is mine.  Big surprise.  

Since getting a new saddle that fits better and having a much more round horse, my saddle has been slipping ever so slightly to the left.  I generally have to dismount mid-ride and straighten things up and tighten the cinch.  

I was frustrated with Boomer at first.  He was bloating up and not allowing me to get the cinch tight enough until he trotted a little.  

Then I realized that the saddle was always slipping left.  Even if we only went right and even cantered to the right, which would cause me to weight my right side more (or so you would think).  

FINALLY, I realized that the saddle slipping to the left was making it uncomfortable and possibly painful for him to bend right!  He was having to bend into the spine of the saddle.  

After our 10 mile ride in the field, where we were mostly traveling straight, I did notice that my saddle was slipping a little to the left, but not enough to bother me because it had been a gradual change.  I also noticed that Boomer was getting increasingly more 'banana left' towards the end of the ride. 

*light bulb*

He is crooked BECAUSE he is uncomfortable.  He is uncomfortable because *I* am crooked.

Aw, crap.  So, what do I do?  First, I need to be more diligent about making sure my saddle is secure and comfortable for him the whole ride.  Then I need to focus on staying centered and not weighting my left stirrup more.  But, how do I do that if riding crooked feels straight?  I do notice that I feel my left foot pushing down into the stirrup when I post.  

Any suggestions?

10 mile training ride!


We, like many others, have been experiencing a heat wave.  The highs have been over 100 for about 2 weeks and we were on a heat advisory the whole time.  I went out and rode Boomer once midweek and by the time I pulled him out of the pasture, I only had enough energy to hop on a walk around the arena for 10 minutes bareback.  It was still nice to get out and DO something with him.  I also trimmed his feet that day.  

Sunday was the last day of the heat advisory and the morning started cool.  It was 80 degrees at 7:45 when I headed out the door.  There was a storm blowing in and by the time I was on my way home several hours later it was down to 78 degrees!  Of course, it DID heat up to nearly 100 by the end of the day.  

Anyhow, I was up early Sunday with the GPS watch on and we headed out ready for a few miles around the property.  Boomer was awesome!  The perimeter of the field is .8 miles with the alley back to the barn being .1 mile.  For the first 3 miles he was UP and tense.  He wanted to toss his head and fling his legs around.  Then he started listening to the bit and tried ducking his head and pulling while trotting faster.  Luckily, we were in a safe, enclosed environment and I just let him get his energy out on his own.  After the first 3 miles he really calmed down.  We continued on and changed directions every few laps and at about mile 8, it started to sprinkle.  Boomer got a second wind and was frisky for another lap.  We ended at mile 10 and then walked back .2 miles to cool out.  He was awesome!  I really have NOTHING to complain about!  We saw a lost calf on the gravel road on the south end of the property, which Boomer grew used to quickly.  I was so proud!  He did spook and spin at something BIG that jumped into the pond.  I assume it was a giant bullfrog.  It made a HUGE splash about 6 feet from the bank- quite a leap!  The ripples on the water were big.  I stayed put and was glad I wasn't in my tiny english saddle.  Those spook-spins will get you!  

After I left the barn, my friend texted me and told me that Boomer was napping, laid out, in the sun.  I felt like doing the same!  I am so proud of him for being so good and also impressed by his fitness considering how random our training has been!  

We did the 10.2 miles in 1 hour and 41 minutes, which is somewhere around 10 minute mile pace.  Not super fast, but the important part of training right now is just knowing that he can go the distance.  I don't care if our first ride takes us a full 10 hours to finish!  

Check back soon for my thoughts on having a crooked horse.  

Good and Bad


I was lucky enough to get two days with Boomer this weekend.  Though, I knew going into it that the send day riding in a row is never as good as the first.  He just doesn't do as well with back to back rides.  

Saturday was good, we just rode in the arena for 30-45 minutes and his cantering was great.  I finally figured out why he always bulges away fro the rail in one spot in the arena.  The footing is deeper and he is avoiding that.  So, now I feel even LESS sympathy for him than before!  I thought it was a physical difficulty in staying straight after a corner.  No.  He is just smart and lazy.  But we already knew that.  

I have been working on Les Vogt's 5 easy pieces with him.  This is just a good test to see if you have control of all parts of your horses body.  First you pull their head around in a small circle until they start to relax the jaw and swing their outside front leg around making larger steps.  Second, you use your leg (knee pressure) to move the across the arena- leading with the shoulder.  Third, you use leg pressure to side pass. Fourth, you do a turn on the forehand.  Fifth, you back in a circle.  

The first 4 parts are gaining control of each individual part, the 5th piece is putting it all together and seeing what isn't working.  So far, Boomer is doing well with everything except side passing and backing.  His turns on the forehand are beautiful!  Saturday was the best day we had so far.  Very proud.  We just spend the last 5 minutes of the ride doing this exercise and it seems to be getting better each day. Probably wouldn't hurt to do it at the beginning AND end of the ride.  

Sunday's ride was not as good.  He was fighting me almost the whole time, which is his usual behavior when we ride two days in a row.  We were out in the field and he decided that he had forgotten the cantering lesson we had.  So, I had to buck up and do it again.  Except this time it was 95 degrees and humid.  I finally got him to slow down and behave after cantering for close to 30 minutes straight.  By then, I was done.  Surprisingly, he was NOT TIRED after that.  He was panting and puffing, but still asked to trot after that!  We rode for a total of 2 hours- 30 minutes of walking, 45 minutes of trotting, and 45 minutes of cantering.  I would say that I am confident that he can do a 25 miler right now.  In a month, he will be ready to do a 50 miler.  

Boomer the wonder jumper!


Boomer, being the brave soul that he is, is learning to jump!  I went out to ride him on Wednesday and ended up going out around the pond and to the jump field with Julie and the barn owner, Dennis.  I trotted and cantered Boomer around and he was very good.  I had lowered the bit by one hole and it took him a little bit to get used to it and stop resisting.  I got to bragging on Boomer and how brave he was to have trotted and cantered over the flowerbox.  I then realized that he was sure to make a fool of me by acting terrified of it.  Surprisingly, he headed right towards it and hopped right over!  Julie moved the flowerbox to a new location and he was STILL fine with it!  She then set up a few cross rails for us and we went over two in a row!  I was so proud!  The most complicated and difficult thing we did (can you sense the sarcasm yet?) was canter down hill and make a U-turn to the cross rail.  I actually missed it a few times until Julie pointed out that I wasn't looking at the jump.  Once I looked around the turn for the jump, Boomer sat down and turned hard.  It was actually pretty cool to feel him sit and turn like that.  

I am so happy that Boomer seems to be enjoying himself!  He goes around the whole time with his ears perked forward like he is really having a blast!  It is a really fun change of pace from the flat work we have been focusing on.  I am actually pretty excited about it and hope that we can actually jump something someday instead of just taking bigger steps to clear the obstacles.   

He jumps!


I went out Saturday morning to ride and see if Boomer remembered his cantering lesson for earlier in the week.  Again, he was straight and even at the walk.  We trotted a little to warm up, and then I asked him to canter.  He was great!  He started off nice and easy and only rushed for about one lap before settling down into a nice even gait.  We did both directions and did several simple lead changes through the center of the ring.  I had him on a loose rein he whole time.  After a while, I decided to take him out for a little trail ride to kill some time before I had to leave for the airport to pick up my dad.  I sidepassed him to the arena gate, opened it, and sidepassed him back to close it!  Yay Boomer!

Out in the field, we trotted around the pond and into the jump field.  He was feeling very nice and I decided to see if the cantering lesson still applied out in the open.  Turns out, Boomer actually LEARNED something!  He was very good and listened well.  Going down a very slight decline, he wanted to rush, but I lifted his head and kept my legs on him and he balanced himself well.  

It was about 99 degrees out and VERY humid, so I asked him to walk and started to cool him off.  But, he kept trotting and asking to go faster.  So, we trotted and cantered some more.  Eventually, I had him walk and we went over the ground poles and flower box in the jump field.  I even had him trot over them!  He actually seemed to enjoy that!  I was so surprised!  I decided to push my luck and ask him to canter over the flower box.  I have never cantered him over anything, even a single ground pole.  He perked up his ears and cantered right over it without hesitation!  What a good boy!  

We headed back to the barn and he was hot, hot, hot.  He was panting and had some good white foam across his chest.  I took him into the washrack in the barn (which he is usually nervous about) and hosed him off.  I spent a long time hosing him and started very slowly, only hosing his legs and neck until he cooled off.  I saved his large muscle groups (rump and back) for last in an effort to keep them from getting tight.  He actually really enjoyed the bath and allowed me to gently spray his face and he even licked the water a few times!  

I was just so happy with him!  Boomer really is a good little horse, he just has his quirks.  He is very smart and capable of learning, but he learns lessons best when he is worn out and worked hard.  With Boomer, the lesson has to be drilled home really hard once, and then he gets it.  

I think he is starting to get back into shape and I am still cautiously optimistic about doing a few rides this fall.  

Fixing the canter


I went out to ride on Tuesday with the intention of fixing the canter issue we have been encountering.  My goal was to get off the 'safety circle', use the whole arena, push him through the bucking, and not let him slow down.  So, we started out walking with some light trotting and he was incredible.  I was shocked.  I had moved my saddle back about an inch further than usual and he was so even and straight!  I couldn't believe how straight he felt down the long sides of the arena!  I was amazed!  He was on the bit and connected.  He was listening.  He didn't even need our usual neck flexions to get him soft and paying attention!  On to the canter, I asked he moved right out.  I aimed him straight down the rail and he reached under and dug in to go faster.  I just let him.  I was in this for the long haul, whether he knew it or not.  Around the first turn, I lifted my inside hand and weighted my outside stirrup for balance.  Along the second long side, he arched his neck down and tried a buck.  I pulled in around into the 'oh shit' circle, aka- disengage the hind end.  I kicked his hip around a few times and asked him to walk off.  He was tossing his head and pissed off.  I asked him to canter again.  Again he took off with some speed.  I just focused on sitting back and deep.  He tried  bucking again going into a corner, so instead of disengaging his hip, I just pulled him into a small circle but kept him cantering.  We went on.  He tried one last time to buck on the long side and I pulled him into the small circle and kicked him forward, not letting him break gait. That seemed to solve the bucking issue and now I just waited for him to try to slow down.  When he did, I pushed him forward faster.  We did a total of 20 laps around the arena to the left.  I wanted enough horse left to go the other direction, so we did a lead change through the trot across the diagonal of the arena and kept going.  Again, he wanted to go fast, so I let him.  We did about 12-15 laps to the right.  By the end, he was on a totally loose rein, cantering along nicely and doing circles off of my seat!  I was in awe!  We did a circle steering with seat only, then a simple change with seat only and a circle in the other direction off of my seat only.  I asked him to halt, scratched his neck and let him cool out at the walk.  It was a really incredible ride.  I was proud of myself for bucking up, so to speak, and getting it done.  I have really gained patience and confidence with him lately.  To finish cooling out, we walked a lap around the pond with my friend Julie and Boomer's pasture-mate Ringo.  I am hoping that this lesson sticks with Boomer.  He seems to be the kind of horse who has to learn a lesson the hard way, but once he learns it- its there for good.  Thats how it went with trailer loading and being barn sour.  So, I am hoping that this was enough of a workout for him to have learned his lesson.  He seemed pretty pooped afterwards!  I was so very happy with the results though.  So, next time we ride will be the real test!  [...]

Bareback and the cow!


I went out this past weekend and it was so hot and muggy that I couldn't muster the energy to lift my saddle.  So, I just hopped on bareback and we walked around the arena.  We did lots of leg work and we mostly focused on stopping off of my seat.  He was very good and I enjoyed the ride.  

The highlight of the day was a rescued calf out at the barn!
One of the owners found him while mowing the fence line.  He couldn't have been more than 2-3 days old and was laying down, abandoned.  
They brought him in to the hay shed and set him up with a box fan and bed of hay.  They fed him a bottle of milk replacer and we loved on him for a few hours until the rancher came to pick him up.  I was really hoping they would keep him.  He weighed maybe 50 pounds and was pretty darn cute!  Sorry, no pictures.  

75 and Breezy


That is the best way to describe our ride last week.  It had been in the mid 90s and HUMID.  So humid you had to check and make sure you weren't melting.  

Then a storm blew in and it was 75 and breezy.  Boomer thought that was fun.  So, we worked on behaving and focusing on me.  He did pretty well, except that I realized that his new little habit of trying to buck at the canter was becoming an issue.  

The first time it happened, I wondered if he was uncomfortable.  We pushed through and he was fine.  The second time it happened, I got a bit nervous and clung to the 'safety circle'.  Only cantering in a circle is no fun, but much harder to buck.  When he still tried to buck on this day, even on the circle, I choked up on my reins and started getting nervous.  He tried bucking on each circle and I quit after we got one good circle in one direction.  Not very good.  

So, that gave me something to think about.  I realized that waaaay back when he was younger and we were still in Oklahoma, he had tried bucking at the canter and I realized that it was my fault for holding his face too much and he was bucking because he felt trapped.  

More to come on this issue...