Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Win a Flip camera from Purina

Purina is running a program called "60 Day Challenge" where they say "Try Purina® feed for 60 days and you'll see the difference in your animals or we'll buy back the feed. " They'll send you feed coupons and there is a place on the web site for you to upload photos and share your story about how Purina feed has made a difference in your horse (or other animal, the program is open to the many species of animals that they manufacture food for).

Purina has sent me a Flip video camera and a coupon for a free bag of feed to give away to my readers.

Here is how to enter my contest -

1) Add a comment to this post.

2) In the comment, give the name and address of a horse blog that you like. It can be your favorite, or a new one that you've discovered, just so it's a horse blog.

3) It's okay to list the same blog as somebody else, but I'd like the comments section to be full of new blogs for people to read. Oh, and don't name this blog - I already know about this one. ;)

4) When the contest period ends I'll randomly select one commenter to receive the free video camera and feed coupons!

5) Contest will end at midnight on July 13. That's two weeks to comment.

Even if you don't want to comment, you should sign up for the challenge anyway. Purina will send you coupons for feed - all you have to do is sign up. Even if you board your horse I'm sure you can work out an arrangement to have the value of the coupons taken off of your board bill. I know that I've been able to do that. Or, give the coupons away to someone who has their horses at home. We all know someone like that. Or donate your coupons to a local shelter or rescue. Either way, it's money off of feed and everyone can use that!

So go find a horse blog, comment, sign up for the challenge, and maybe you can win a Flip camera courtesy of Purina!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Back in the saddle

It's strange to take a week off from riding, but I did it.

Not because something was wrong, but because our whole family went on vacation to Turks and Caicos (small islands in the Caribbean) to a Beaches resort for a week to celebrate my parents 50th wedding anniversary. It was a fantastic time! All inclusive (yes, booze too), plenty of sun and sand, and lots of activities for the kids.

Back home now, and I'm heading out to the barn today. I hope my rides don't make me sore! Ack!

Can't wait to see Kaswyn!. I'll most likely get the cold shoulder since I left him for a week. I hope carrots will get me some forgiveness.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

ShowSheen Contest Winners!

I got pictures of some very dirty horses for the ShowSheen contest! Each of the winners will get a free bottle of the new ShowSheen! (Click here to see a quick video of the new ShowSheen).

And the winners are -

Mary Coleman
Valerie Conforti
Jennifer Crowe
Lisa McClarren Sintic
Lexi Passaro

Please email your mailing addresses to so I can get your prizes to you. Thanks for playing!

And a big thanks to Absorbine for supplying the prizes!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Topics of interest, in three parts. Part 3.

One more day to send me your dirty horse picture to win a can of the new ShowSheen ! Go here for details.

Part 3 - The road before us, as I see it now.

Craig has talked to me before about my horse, obviously. But last time I had a big ol' crisis he gave it a lot of thought and has this epiphany. This time, be must have known my breakdown was coming, because he approached it not with anger or frustration, but with compassion and understanding.

He sat down with me on the couch where I was moping and weeping and said "I know you're hurting, and I'm really sorry that Kaswyn isn't back where you want him to be. But try and think of it this way. I'm 42, and most days something on me hurts. You're 42 and I know you hurt every day. Kaswyn is middle aged, just like we are. I'll bet he hurts every day too, but you don't know that it's from his leg or his injury or whatever. He might just hurt from being old, like we are.

"Our aches and pains don't keep us from doing the things we want to do. You hurt, and you ride. He wants to be ridden, so on the days you think he hurts, just walk him around and put him away. On his good days, do whatever you want. Hurting doesn't mean it's over."

Of course, I cried some more, but less from thinking about my horse but more from the warm fuzzies I got from Craig. I composed myself, went out to the barn, and made sure I paid attention to Kaswyn's non-verbal signals.

He whinnied to me three times as I was getting his halter, and played the "I'm going to grab the halter in my mouth so you can't get it on!" game. Took me three tries to get it on his face. That's always a good sign. When he hurts he just stands there like a statue when I halter him. I'm the only one he plays that halter game with, by the way. Stinker.

When I groomed him he was trying to bite the crossties, grabbing my shirt, whacking me with his tail. Again, all good signs. When he hurts he's really rather stoic and quiet. So I tacked him up and rode him. I did about ten minutes of the biomechanical workout stuff, but then since he was feeling good I did some easy upper level stuff that he likes. One line of leg yield at the trot, each way. One line each direction of trot and canter half passes. And one line of flying changes, every third stride (every one was prompt, clean, and through).

Then we took a walk around the property outside. I untacked him, did his stretching exercises, and gave him one gram of bute (plus a few pony cookies). Then he had the next day off. The day after that I went to ride him he was also feeling good so we repeated the whole thing.

Last night I had another session with the biomechanical lady. She said that he's the most sound that she's ever seen him, and that his back is really starting to muscle up and he's getting his topline back. This is all good news to me. I'm not going to ride him in a training ride today, but I want to take him on another walk around the property and give him an easy day. We'll go bareback in a halter and just enjoy each other.

So the plan is this. Observe his mood, and ride accordingly. If he gives me the green light, ride him, do some training, have a little fun at the end (without overly taxing him), stretch him, love him, give him one gram of bute, and put him away. Then give him the next day off, no bute, but turnout time with his buddy. This plan might eventually get us back into real training, but if not I think I might be okay with that. If he feels bad, walk him, groom him, stretch him, love him, and put him away. Tomorrow might be a better day.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Topics of interest, in three parts. Part 2.

First - send me your dirty horse pictures to win a can of the new ShowSheen ! Go here for details. Contest ends June 18.

Now, Part 2. The emotions of last week's dressage show.

I went to a dressage show this past weekend. I've been to lots of dressage shows, mostly with Kaswyn, but I have gone to other shows without my horse and have ridden other horses. For a variety of reasons, this last show was different.

Kaswyn has been "not quite right" for six years now. I've done just about everything I could to return him to work. I did actually show him in 2009, at this exact show, but I only rode one test and scratched the other two because he wasn't right. He scored a 62% (I think) at Fourth Level Test 3, but I knew he didn't feel right.

We've been doing biomechanical and chiropractic therapy on him, and for a few weeks he seemed to improve. Then he went right back to being off. He was taking a short stride on that left front again, and I could tell by the way he acted that he was in pain before we even started. I can tell by the way he greets me, how he acts when I put his halter on, how is is when I groom him. He's usually very social and mouthy with me, and it drives me nuts sometimes but when he does that I know he's feeling good. When he's quiet and withdrawn, I worry. He'd been like that for two weeks prior to the show.

I was signed up to show Lee at the show. His trainer showed him on Friday, so I would get two rides on Saturday. I love showing Lee, cause he's fantastic. But I showed Kaswyn a lot at this show, and at different shows at this particular facility. The horse I love to show the most is Kaswyn. And he was not quite right. Again.

I cried on the way to the show. Naturally I saw a lot of people at the show that I knew. Almost all of them said "Hi! Is your boy here?" or "Hey, how is Kaswyn?" or something like that. They just wanted to know how he's doing, but each time it was like a little stab in the chest.

"No, Kaswyn's not here. He's still not quite right. So what tests are you showing?"

"Kaswyn's not in full work right now, we're struggling with an injury... How were your rides?"

"Kaswyn's okay... wow I hope it doesn't rain, look at those dark clouds..."

I held it together until a gal from my barn was asking about Kaswyn. She doesn't know the whole absurd history of his lameness issues, and wanted to know did I ever show him, was I going to show him, did I think he was going to get better, stuff like that. She's just getting into dressage, so she's interested. I started to try and explain what our current treatments are and I blurted out "I just don't know if he's ever going to get better..." and then I burst into tears.

I had to walk away and compose myself. Why did this have to be so hard? I really needed to focus on the job at hand - showing Lee. But that was getting very difficult. I was distracted by my horse and all of his issues.

When I got on Lee, I started thinking "I have to do well. I need to get good scores so that he can be sold and get a good home. I want to prove to myself that I don't NEED to show Kaswyn to be happy."


I didn't make any HUGE mistakes or anything, but I certainly didn't ride as well as I could have. Lee was great, but I wasn't on my game. I usually don't ride for "big scores" or ribbons. I ride for improvement. Riding with something to prove is not the way to go. I got a 65% and a 63%, so not terrible, but he broke from the canter to the trot in both tests. I should have felt it coming, or been more prepared, or something. But I wasn't. Shame on me. There were other things too that I didn't like. I could have ridden better but I didn't.

I cried the whole way home. Then, that night after I put the girls to bed I cried some more.

The next day I didn't want to go to the barn. Craig knew something was up, and I told him I was feeling pretty down. He asked if it was about my horse, and I started to cry - again! Then we had a conversation that, like last time my husband and I had a serious talk about my horse, has completely changed my way of thinking about Kaswyn.

Part 3 - The road before us, as I see it now

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Topics of interest, in three parts. Part 1.

I have three things to talk about. I'll start with the easy one - some things that I have learned from Lee.

During my last lesson on Lee with my trainer, she pointed out that I was riding crooked. That I was up off of my right seatbone, my right shoulder was up and forward, and that I was raising my right hand.

Since then I'm been concentrating on trying to fix this issue. I found that I'm much better at the trot - it's the canter that gets me twisted and not centered. I had to finally get a mental picture in my head of what I wanted to try and accomplish.

Lee is stiff side is to the right, which means he is less apt to bend around my right leg, and he is more likely to blow off my right leg if it's not doing it's job. When he was going to the right, on the right lead, I need to make sure my right leg is down and steady and that my right seatbone and leg are there to help drive him forward on the inside and keep his right hind active. To work on this I just kept thinking "your right seat bone and inside leg are the gas pedal, keep them down so you can use them to keep his impulsion". With some practice this seemed to work very well.

To the left is Lee's hollow side, which means that he wants to curl around my left leg and shove his right shoulder out to the right. This direction I need to make sure my right seatbone and leg are there to control the shoulder and create a barrier for him. If I'm up off my right seatbone and my right leg is not effective, that causes me to work too hard and my right hand comes up. Then I've totally lost control of his entire right side. To fix this, I had to keep repeating to myself "Right seat and leg need to be there to give him someplace to go, be there for him, provide support, and then use that support to keep him from drifting right". This also seems to have worked quite well.

I've also talked before about how I've had to make sure I follow Lee's head/mouth with my hands to keep a constant contact. He's such a big mover, especially at the canter, that if I keep my hands static the reins will go slack-tight-slack-tight and he gets upset about coming against my hand. I really have to let my hands go forward and back, keeping my elbows loose and flexible and the contact the same. This makes him so much happier and keeps the contact much more consistent.

The last few times I've ridden Kaswyn I started to use this following technique. I never realized just how static my hands were on my own horse until I started to let them follow the motion of the horse. This is such a huge piece of the puzzle that I really didn't totally understand until reading an article in Dressage Today. Courtney King-Dye wrote a sidebar about it in a recent issue (April 2011).

I'll try and get a link to the article, since of course I can't find that particular issue anymore so I can't even quote the parts that I'm referring to. It's a great article and I think everyone should read it. Actually, if you don't get Dressage Today you really should subscribe. It's got fantastic information for all dressage riders.

Part 2 - The emotions of last weekend's dressage show

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

ShowSheen for you, too!

The good folks at Absorbine want you to try ShowSheen 2.0 too! So, they have agreed to give free bottles to five lucky Dressage Mom readers. Here is all you have to do -

Send me a picture of your horse at it's dirtiest. Caked with mud, dust, poop, whatever. Rinse those babies off and then let them roll in the dirt! Turn them out in that muddy paddock! Do whatever you have to do, but get them nice and dirty and get a picture. The top five dirtiest horse pictures will get a free bottle of the new ShowSheen! (Click here to see a quick video of the new ShowSheen)

You can post the pictures to my Facebook page - (send a friend request if you're not a friend already) or you can email them to me at if you don't have a Facebook account (but you should get one, cause you could be missing out on some good stuff).

Contest ends June 18th. So, go get down and dirty!

More giveaways coming - stay tuned!

Monday, June 06, 2011

ShowSheen 2.0

Absorbine contacted me and asked me if I'd like to try some of their new products. Of course I said "Sure!", cause I love Absorbine stuff.

The first thing I tried is the new ShowSheen.

First of all, the sprayer is not a pump, but a continuous mist. It will spray at any angle, even upside-down, and doesn't make any noise when you push the button on top to spray it. It smells a little different, but it's not unpleasant. I used it on Kaswyn's tail, which I keep braided up. I hadn't taken his tail down in probably two months and it was pretty tangled. The new ShowSheen was still great at helping to brush out the tangles.

One thing I did notice is that it's not as slippery feeling as the old formula, but it still gives a great shine. When I was doing Arabian shows as a kid I remember using ShowSheen on halter horses in the morning, and then having them be slippery under the saddle for their performance classes later that day. While I didn't saddle Kaswyn after I sprayed him, I imagine that he would have been less slippery - but still shiny!

One thing that I still need to "test" is how well the new formula works for tail rubbing. I don't know why, but the old formula was great to stop horses from rubbing their tails. If we saw a horse whose tail had the "bed head" look at the top, we'd saturate the top of the tail (all the way through the hair to the dock) with ShowSheen and then rub it in well and brush it. That would stop the tail rubbing. These were horses who had clean tails, and didn't need to be wormed or anything. I tend to see it with my horse in the summer when he's getting rinsed a lot after being ridden. I don't know if the water is drying his tail skin out and the ShowSheen is soothing the dryness and irritation. I just know that it works.

So I love the new ShowSheen. I would recommend it!

Next up - Natural Spray Hooflex!

Header Image from Bangbouh @ Flickr