A Blog About My Journey Riding and Training Sora, My Soulmate

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

It May Not Be Davinci,.....

I mentioned previously that I do a little sculpting and I posted a few pictures of some of my sculptures but I wanted to show what they look like painted.

The reason I'm doing this now is that I just got one back from the painter that I sent out about a year ago. It was really exciting to get him. These are very bad pictures because the lighting is terrible today but this is what he looks like. That is a nickel :P
This is the picture the painter took for me.
Finally this is another one that was painted quite a while ago.

I'm mostly proud because of the fact that since I've been casting them I've actually sold a nice number and recently I sold one to a woman in the Czech Republic. It's just so cool to think that something I created is desired by someone so far away!

If you are interested in my work there is more information on the link to Grain of Sand Studios in the bar on the right.

The painter of the first one is Katrina Michaels
The second was painted by Cassie Black

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Happy Traaaaails, To Youuuuu,,......

I've been doing a lot of trail training lately and I've been wanting to write about why.

A couple of weeks ago Sora underwent a MAJOR personality change. As in my sweet horse that always tries her hardest for me and has no real behavior problems, other than being a little forward about demanding treats :D, changed into this naughty, pushy, animal who was interested in running into me, kicking out on the longe etc. I really couldn't believe it! I bought Sora for her personality and ability to learn quickly before anything else and I selected her very carefully as a horse/Arabian I felt I could train and live with and all of a sudden it was like a had a different horse.

With the extreme and disappointing change I posted a question on COTH asking for ideas. A few people hassled me but I expected it and really don't care (I'm a big girl :D) and there were some people who were very helpful and suggested a change in diet. Sora was getting Safechoice as recommended by my vet but, after talking to a few others who also suggested a change, I decided to switch to just hay with a vitamin supplement and I GOT MY HORSE BACK!!!

The real point of this is that when I posted on COTH I put my question on the Dressage forum because she will be at some point and I didn't really know where else to post it but when people started posting training questions I kind of had an epiphany.

I realized that I bought Sora as a FUN training project and I never thought we would go straight into Dressage. I planned on starting her really slowly and then spending a year or two just on trails and bumming around. I knew I had no business buying an unstarted horse and starting right off with Dressage but I also knew that I was capable of turning a horse into a good citizen and not teaching her any habits that would bad for Dressage. Some people were scolding me for not longing her in a bride, which I understand, but I realized that right now I don't want/need a horse that has to be longed in a bridle, nor do I feel capable currently of longing Sora in a bridle without ruining her mouth, balance etc. My plan has always been to get a trainer before I do any real Dressage. That was my plan all the way until this summer when I started to stray from that path lol!

The problem was that I started reading more forums, blogs, books and magazines about Dressage and was falling more and more in love with it. I was starting to feel incapable of training horses because I was comparing myself to those people who have Dressage experiance and are training their horses.

When I came to the above realization I started spending more time on trail, endurance forums and boy do I fit in there better right now lol! I feel like I actually have something to contribute and when I started working with Sora on trails we both started having fun together again. Before she wasn't really capable of getting out on the trails because steering and stopping were still an issue but now she is really good at those things and perfectly capable of trail riding.

It's funny how a little bit of a new perspective can change your outlook :D Afterall, trailriding was my first love :D

Monday, October 26, 2009

Trail Training, or Why Sora Should Be a Member of MENSA

Just one more example of Sora's brilliance :D

Yesterday we were doing trail training, I'll explain why we were doing trail training in a later post, and Sora was acting scared of the cars again. I swear we've ridden and walked past the same cars in the same place dozens of times but Sora wants to stop and look every time. This time, however, I had just read a very appropriate post about trail training on COTH where someone had trained their horse to target and then used it on the trail to get the horse to touch things it was scared of.

Because if that I decided to see if Sora remembered her fifteen minute targeting lesson from last year. She certainly did! All I had to do was march up to the car, point to it and say "touch it Sora". It took her a second but then she happily touched it and got a treat. I had her do it a few more times just to make sure it was really solid and then we moved on. On the way back from her walk I was mildly surprised and pleased when she led me straight over to the same car to touch it and get a treat again. That'll be fun when we're riding along a road lol!!

Today I took her out again and as soon as we started down the driveway she marched straight towards the car. I laughed and let her touch it once and gave her one treat figuring that I'd probably not continue with that car since she was no longer scared of it so I lead her forward and without any prodding on my part she led me straight up to a car we had never targeted before!

Of course she got a treat and then we went on our walk. I was ready for her to lead me to both those cars when we got back and I led her right past them. On our way back out into the pasture she tried it again and once again I led her right past but then Sora came up with an idea :D

She came right with me but instead of staying back and trying to touch the cars like I thought she might she marched right up to our ancient tractor (that looks nothing like a car) and slammed her nose into it. She then stood and looked very proud while I fished out a treat and gave it to her laughing. Little bugger sure knows how to work the system :P

And here is what our tractor looks like. Not much like a car, huh.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

We're Still Alive!

Hi guys, I am actually still alive even though the weather and school are trying to change that :D

School has been CRAZY for the last three weeks and will be through the rest of this week. Our teachers to be "nice" spread our midterms through three weeks which was necessary but also means that it feels like we haven't had a break for a really long time. Currently I'm part-way through a 15 page paper that half of my grade in a class depends on, studying for a staffing midterm, writing a bio for myself :P, and working on a group project that is due on Thursday. I did get a few pictures, from online, of the building that I have school at so here, for your viewing pleasure!^This is actually the room I have two of my classes in. Those chairs are wickedly uncomfortable.

Weather has been crazy as well. Ugh, we had steady rain for two days which turned into heavy snow on the morning of the third day and continued through the night. This is what it looked like partway through the snow that day.If you look really closely you'll see that two horses are sharing hay in the right side and Sora is by herself in the left side. The two on the right are kind of in love which is cute because they are both in their late teens or early twenties and it's like they finally found true love :D

At any rate with all of this weather stuff going on it's been hard to work with Sora but I've been doing some thinking about our plans for the future. That will be a post for later.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


This is just a random short post to say how much I love my girl.

I got home from school and was feeling really stressed and down and she was there for me. I went out to our barn, turned the lights on and pulled her in just to eat hay. I sat next to her while she searched for the best pieces of alfalfa and made me laugh by making funny faces at the cat.

It's amazing how much better that can make me feel.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

What's in MY bucket :-)

This post was inspired by a recent post of Dressage Pony. It's something I wanted to show for a while but I've been trying to gain the courage lol! So here goes.

One of my favorite things to buy for horses are brushes because there are so many different ones available, they are affordable and they are something that the horse actually enjoys (vs. a girth or something :D) When I first got Sora I started collecting brushes and one of my favorite purchases for her was the pink tote and stickers which turned into >
This really makes me feel like a dork lol! These are the brushes that I curently have. I've picked them up everywhere from our small local tack shop, the state fair, Minnesota horse expo etc.
With Sora's long, fine mane the cowboy magic, brush and rubber bands are essential. The brushes are all a different stiffness with the one with the brown heart being the softest. The yellow one I only use during winter when she has a thick hair coat and she's muddy because it's quite stiff.
Yes, those are Hello Kitty stickers and yes, Sora is a HUGE fan :D
Finally a picture of Sora after the brushes were in use. You'll have to excuse the mouthful of hay and the grumpy expression. It is quite cold here and I feel about the same lol :P

I'm also happy to welcome Andrea from Eventing-A-Gogo! as my first follower. I love her horse and her sport and wish I knew even a quarter of what she does about horses!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Big Change :P

Wow, what a difference a day makes.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

A Tour and a Ride

I went on a ride today. Looking ahead at the forecast it looks like it will be colder and either snowy or rainy so I took advantage of our relatively nice day and had a really nice ride. I started just for a little in the arena then went out to our ditch pasture for a trail ride. I was trying to think of how to explain the ditch pasture when I realized that with the sad lack of pictures in recent posts I could do a farm tour that would take care of both :-)

So without further ado!
^This is outside the non horse side of the barn. We usually tie up along this fence line for grooming and tacking up. That is the arena straight ahead where we have our mounting block and where I usually start out on Sora.

This is looking along the arena fenceline with my back to the barn. Our house is to the left.
In this pictures the barn is to my left and the house is right behind me. These are our two main dry lots. Our waterer is in the middle of the two lots and they both have access to the run in shed. We have it arranged so that the dry lots are like the center of a wheel and they are surrounded by pastures all of which can be accessed from the dry lots. One of the dry lots is for one horse, smaller portion of shed and only two pastures. The other is for two horses, bigger portion of shed, has access to three pastures and an extra small lot for dividing horses when feeding.
This is the one horse lot which has Sora in it right now. To the left is a gate to the upper pasture and straight ahead is the gait to the middle pasture.
This is the other lot which has Khepri (right in front of me :-) and Jackson. That gate to the right leads into the small lot we use for dividing horses while feeding. The grainery is to my right.
This is the upper pasture that leads from Sora's lot. The barn is over my left shoulder. I didn't get a good picture of the middle pasture but it is off to my right.
This is the first pen that splits off of the two horse dry lot. We call it the ram's pen because when my parents used to raise sheep for whool this is where they kept the rams. We WEREN'T allowed in here as kids :-)
This is standing in the small dividing lot. The grainery is to my right, you can see the house and garage, the well is right ahead and the driveway is to my left. The dry lots are to the right.
This is turned 180*. This is our newest pen which we set up just after we sold off part of the farm. There is a drainage ditch to the right which is why we call this the ditch pasture. the Ram's pen is to the left. Straight ahead is where our new neighbors are building their house.
This is turned to the right about 90*, looking down into the tree lot pasture. This used to be a corn field until my parrents planted it full of trees. We just recently turned it into pasture and it is my favorite. Straight ahead is the drainage ditch. The cat that you can just see has a mouse in her mouth :D
This picture is straight ahead still looking down the tree field pasture. The ditch is to my left, the driveway is to the right, you see a path to the south and your sword is glowing blue :P
This is much further down the pen looking at our prettiest tree across our driveway towards the ditch.
Back to our barn, newly full of hay. It smells incredible!!!!
This is looking into my just organized tack room. That saddle is my new one.

Standing in my tack room. That's my new saddle again :-)
Looking at the other corner of my tack room. Feeding stuff to the left, and a bunch of other storage. Sora's grooming gear is in the cute pink tote.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

More Shtuff

Brrrrr! This morning when I woke up we had snow and the temp was 28*. Poor Sora was shivering because I never thought it would sneak up on us that fast and hadn't put her sheet on her the night before. It was quickly remedied and I tried to make up for it with a few treats and a grooming in our nice warm barn while she ate hay and grain and stopped shivering.

Just a few minutes ago I got back in from rasping all of her hooves. She was really good especially since I had let them get a little long :P I also remembered that I didn't really report much on her last trimming and so I'll add some of that now.

Erika was out a few weeks ago and trimmed Sora's hooves. I had also asked her to help me try on some hoof boots because I was worried that Sora had hurt herself on all of the gravel and had subsequently abcessed. First, Sora was wonderful about all of her hooves (I think even Erika was really impressed *grinz*). Second, she didn't think that it was the gravel that had caused the abcess and after asking me a few questions, and trying on about five pairs of boots :D, said that she didn't think Sora would ever really need hoof boots since she has such great feet!!! I was really happy because if she doesn't need them I certainly don't want to have to deal with them. Finally, and most exciting, when I asked when she wanted to have me set up an appointment again she said, "well, if you keep doing what you are you won't really need me out again. Just call me if you get behind and she needs a trim or if you have a question. You can also just email me pictures of her hooves if you have any questions and I can email you back suggestions. This way, maybe by the time you move you'll be doing it completely by you self and you won't need to worry about finding another bare foot trimmer."

I was STUNNED, and soooo excited. I have been honestly concerned about trying to find another good barefoot trimmer that will trim her hooves as nicely as Erika so now that is one more weight off my mind.

I'm also excited because I put in an order with State Line Tack for a bunch of stuff and it shipped yesterday. I ordered a chest sleazy thing, because last year Sora was getting fairly bad rubs, a pair of bell boots, they actually had a pair of white ones in small *shocked*, a cooler, because they had one in her size that was $9.99! and I couldn't resist, a bit, because the copper one I have made her drool like she had rabbies and it's NEVER going back in her mouth and her happy mouth is all chewed up after only about three uses *rolls eyes*, and finally my favorite! a pair of boots!!!, because I've been riding in tennis shoes :X. With economy shipping it should get here sometime late next week or the week after. I feel like I've been on some kind of buying spree but that entire order was really cheap (because its from SLT :P) and I've really needed some of it for a while. Don't tell the college loan people lol!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Feeling Better :-)

Well, first, it's the weekend!
Second, I got home early enough to work with Sora. I lunged her and she was doing well. Her saddle has been sliding forward just a little so I put her fake "wool" saddle pad under it and magically there was no more slipping :-)
Third, because she was doing so well I rode!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! She was really good. I think this weekend it's time for me to get a little more serious about forward movement. I think I'm going to take a crop with me and when she doesn't move after I start with a small squeeze and escalate a little I'll just touch her behind the saddle. This has proven to be a very affective method for getting her to move forward so I think it's time to use it again. There will be updates. Maybe I'll even get my sister to take pictures.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Feeling Down :-(

I'm already having problems with the riding schedule I wrote about in the previous post.

We had about five days of constant rain and cold wind. It literally went from about 70*-45* overnight, add rain and you've got a wonderful recipe for mud and rainrot. I've been keeping Sora dry in the "best blanket ever" which is one I bought for about $25 dollars on sale from State Line Tack. It has kept her ABSOLUTELY dry. I really can't believe it but I'm really happy with my purchase :-)

At any rate it has been impossible to ride and then yesterday (Wednesday) on my day off it was beautiful. In the sixties, sunny, just a little windy. I couldn't believe it and after doing some much needed barn chores I scooped my saddle up from my bedroom, brought it out to the barn and got Sora.

Since it was warm and sunny she was sleepy and loving in the pen and I was really thinking we'd have a great ride. She was nuts! I don't know what was going on, she's not in heat, but she was really nervous, whinnying, jumping all over. I knew I didn't want to get right on her so I took her out to lunge her and all hell broke loose.

When I first taught her to lunge if I asked her to canter so would FREAK out and start galloping around in a circle, breathing hard with a wild look in her eyes. Usually I would do what I could to stop her, get her calmed down and then end our lunging session. She just looked so terrified that I hated to continue pushing her and hurt her or have her slip. One time she even went so nuts that she fell :X (in a deep snow bank) This summer I started calming her down and then continuing and it worked but as soon as it got hot she stopped doing it completely. I thought that was the end of it but apparently not.

Now, I'm not proud of myself but on Wednesday I lost my patience a little. It was obvious to me that she is no longer terrified of me or the lunge so instead of trying to bring her in and let her stand and calm down I just kept insisting on a trot. I wasn't beating her or anything, as if I could ever do that to her, but I would jerk hard once on the line while giving her a voice command. Sora would just keep galloping, I would jerk again a little hard this time, Sora would keep galloping, I would pull really hard a third time and Sora would slam on the breaks and look at me like "hey mom you don't have to pull!" (insert winy voice here). I would push her back up to a trot and the galloping and heavy breathing would continue. Rinse and repeat :X.

We did this about five times going to the left before she finally was trotting nicely. After having her trot around me (mom I'm so tired when do I get to stop?) about five times. I turned her and had her go to the right. Same scenario except she was already tired.

I really don't believe in spending much time on the lunge and I was frustrated after. I just don't know any other way to deal with it and since kindness has gotten me nowhere with this problem I think it's time to try a little stricter approach.

I wasn't frustrated until she started galloping so I really don't think she was picking up on me and I was happy and relaxed when I took her out so I don't think she was getting that from me either. I hope dearly that I won't have the same situation on my hands again next time I take her out. On Wednesday I didn't end up riding because although she probably would have been great (she was MUCH calmer when we finished :D) I just hated to put any more stress on her body and I REALLY wanted to ride. I know it's not all about riding it's just that I feel like I'm doing continuous ground work and she really needs some good hours under saddle. Yesterday she fell apart again when I went to put the saddle on from the right side. She never used to have a problem with it and I've been doing equal desensitization on both sides since she started being nervous about it a few weeks ago.

Gaaaa, I am really happy that I'm training her myself but sometimes I want to pull my hair out!!! (By the way, she wasn't even sweaty after our work out on Wednesday. I wish I had that kind of stamina :D)