A Note about Sugarbush Draft Horses

I see it over and over again, and no matter how many times it's said, it's still wrong. "Sugarbush Drafts are just an Appaloosa Draft Cross". Uh.... no. The Sugarbush Draft Horse was a breed created many years ago in Ohio. While the initial cross was made using Percherons to Appaloosas, in the many generations following, the breed has been solidified into a consistent type. Saying these horses are "just" a draft cross makes as much sense as saying that AQHA horses are "just" a Thoroughbred cross, American Cream Drafts are "just" a dilute Belgian, or that Morgans are "just" a grade.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Need Opinions! (Picture Intense!)

About advertising.  No, there are no right or wrong answers here, I'd just love to get some opinions from y'all.

See, I've been looking at ads, and thinking "Are those people NUTS?" and then I see their horse sell.  So then I wonder, "is it just me?  Do I expect strange things?".  Add to all of this, that I am in the middle of making a few ads, and well.... I have a ton of silly little questions on "what do you like" types of things.

And no, I am not looking just for people who are horse shopping.  But seriously, don't we all check out the ads to see what's out there?  A little Dream Horse here, and a bit of Craig's List there, and every once in a while you see something that makes you say "WOW!" or "Ewwww".  I would like to have people think "wow" when they see my horses, and NOT eww.

So, first up.  Do you prefer pictures with humans in them, or with out?  I don't mean that random fat guy with no shirt type of humans, but rather the horse being handled.  Here are some examples:

While not all of the humans are perfect, they are interacting with the horse, and the photo gives a basic idea of what the horse can do.  I personally would only consider the top one ad worthy (bad angles, etc on the others) but well.... my point is, do you prefer that type of image, or something that just shows the horse like this:

These show the horse DOING something (standing tied with tack, ground tieing, cantering), but no distracting people are included.  What catches your eye more, and makes you want to click on the details of the ad?

Next up, what do you prefer as the main ad image?  Most online ads will let you have a "main" or teaser picture, and then once you click on the ad you get to see multiple pictures.  So which should I use? 

Head Shots?

 Conformation shots?

Working Shots?

Or Action Shots?

And lastly (is that a real word?) how much does back ground matter to you?  Of course junk in the back ground is BAD.  But in the above image of the filly, the back ground shows a spot where many fences meet up.  It's busy, but it's not garbage.  Here are a few examples of the types of background options I have.  I'd like to know your preference.  Keep in mind, while these are all conformation style shots (or failed attempts) I can do any of the above styles with one of these backgrounds.

Solid Building/Color

Natural with Photoshopped clean up (poo be gone!)

Non Distracting normal equipment


Barn Yard (Yeah it's over exposed, sorry)

 Pasture with other horses

 Grass and Black Fence

 Neighbor's Hay Field

Open Grass
Multiple Fencelines

I'd like to know if any of those back grounds turn you off, draw your focus, make you look at, or away from the horse.  You know....what do you love and hate?  And if there is anything I didn't ask about, but you've seen in other horse ads that makes you crazy, or makes you love it, please feel free to share!  I'm sure I'm not the only one that would like to know.  Trying to guess what others like is much easier said then done!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Fear Friday: Take a Break!

No, I don't mean I'm taking a break, but rather sometimes when we're trying so hard to achieve something, we try TOO hard.  Stop, smell the roses, and enjoy the journey.

Dealing with fear issues usually means that we have to tackle big things, overcome terrifying obstacles, and do things that we might not want to do... right?  Yeah, no.  Think of it more like a vacation.  Just because yesterday you went bungee jumping (which I for one would never do!) doesn't mean that you need to sky dive today.  I think it's better to mix it all up a bit.  Do things that you are comfortable with for the most part, and then challenge yourself if and only if you think you can succeed that day.

Look at how we train our horses.  We expose them to new and scary things, and then we give them a break.  We don't ask our horses to master challenge after challenge, so why do we ask that of ourselves?

When we train our horses we usually have a goal.  Look at starting a horse under saddle:  I ask the horse to accept my weight.  When the horse can do that with out fear, I praise the horse, and stop the lesson.  The next day, I ask the horse to accept my weight again, until it's no big deal.  From there I MAY add one more thing to the list, or I may not.  I may go from laying over the horse to ground driving (something the horse should know by that point in my training program).  A step forward is rewarded with a step back, and a release of pressure... and that includes mental pressure!

 I think that I often focus too much on what I can't, or haven't yet done, and forget to take pride in what I am doing now.  Even if it's just picking a horse's feet, or feeling good enough to hug a horse from the saddle, it's still horsemanship!

Think back to when you first got into horses.  Your very first ride wasn't nearly as easy as you thought it would be, and yet you were so proud of yourself.  Most of us never got out of a walk.  We were lucky if the horse turned and stopped when we wanted, but by golly, we RODE a horse!  And probably you told every friend you knew about it, and how good you did.  You didn't worry that you hadn't cantered.  You didn't feel bad because you weren't able to do advanced things.  You were simply happy that you did something, ANYTHING, with a horse!

I think that love, that awe, and that amazement is what we've lost when we are so befuddled by fear.  Taking some time to regain that awe, even if it means you do nothing more then have a picnic in the pasture, really does something good for the soul.  I've always told people to spend time with their horses in any way that they can, and like, to help build a bond and ease tensions.  Now, I'm having to take my own advice.

I spent the afternoon recently getting a tan (because I look REALLY stupid with bronze arms and shoulders, and ivory legs).  My "cool tub" (a hot tub with the heat turned off) is in the geldings pen at this time.  Yeah, I'm redoing fencing, and while it's in a place that the horses rarely come to, they CAN come right up to it.  So while I'm soaking and tanning (tan, burn, what's the difference, right?) Poko came up to see what I was doing.  This was followed by Jaz and his pale shadow, Daltrey.  Then Doodles arrived with Boo.  Ozzy and Diesel stood further away looking at us all like, "ok, so what's the big deal, she's not handing out cookies or anything".

It was one of the happiest, and most relaxing days I've had in a while.  Want to know why?  Because I had no expectations.  Nothing but pure enjoyment of time with the boys.

But there's something about doing everyday things, and having your horse (or someone else's as the case may be) come up and just want to hang out with you.  I wasn't asking anything of them, they weren't my student or my subject that day.  They were just my friends.  From tasting my hair to sniffing the water, and the baffled look on Daltrey's face because I CHOSE to climb in that weird thing... it just brought back the love of horses to me.  Not that I've lost it, but sometimes it's all about the little things.

Think about it for a second.  Has habit overcome desire?  Do you push yourself harder then you'd ever push your horse?  Harder then you'd push a friend?  Have you become like me, and gotten so worried about the results that you forgot why you got into horses in the first place?

Or do you remember to stop and smell the roses, because the love of horses is more about the journey then the tasks we've done.  It's about the feel of it all, the emotions. Our passion for horses is rarely based in common sense.  Rather it's the highs, and even the lows, with our horses that we remember and treasure the most.

Do you take the time for the simple and maybe silly things that you always dreamed of as a girl (or boy)?  When was the last time you dressed your horse up in glitter?  Braided it's mane?  Took pictures of the herd cantering at full speed?

For me, it's the feel of their velvet muzzles that gets me.  Whether that's a hand on their nose, or giving Phoenix a kiss, I just can't get enough of it.  The smell of leather and horse, the soft feel of their hair, and gentleness of so large of an animal.... It's the little things that keep me coming back to horses, and make me want to over come my fears.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

U Spur Radio promotes the Sugarbush Draft Horse!

On Tuesday,  July 27, U Spur radio hosted an hour long program dedicated to the Sugarbush Draft Horse!  Myself, Stephanie, and the other Heather were interviewed, and did our best to answer questions about this breed, as well as get the word out.

I have to admit here, that I HATE public speaking of any kind, and was a complete and nervous wreck.  Knowing that there's a recording of my being made is enough to send me into fits.  And my poor friends who had to deal with the whining!  I have not listened to it (as I kinda lived it being a part of the broadcast) and there's a good chance I won't have the guts to listen to it.  I'm my own worst critic!

I'd like to thank Charity Jacobs for giving us another avenue to let the world know about our horses.  Check out her program at http://www.5starunplugged.com/unplugged/u-spur-radio/

So check it out, and feel free to pass along the link!

(Shameless sharing on twitter, facebook, and other social media is greatly appreciated!)

Listen to internet radio with 5 Star Unplugged on Blog Talk Radio

Monday, July 25, 2011

To My Dad

Yesterday was my father's birthday.  He's 39 again this year.  We shipped him off from the hot oppressive ranch life to spend the weekend being spoiled and pampered with my brother.  Did I mention that my brother has a pool?  Yeah, here's hoping that dad had a great time.

My parents are an important part of Iron Ridge Sport Horses.  My mom gives many of our lessons, and my father puts up with us.  No, in all seriousness Dad is one of the main reasons why this place exists.

Back when I was a child, I loved horses but lived in town.  I spent my days with a herd of Breyer horses, reading every horsey book I could get my hands on, and doing anything possible to be around horses in any way.  My parents weren't horse people, and didn't really know all that much about them, except that every other word their youngest child said was "horse".

So, to help fulfill the urge, my dad would take me to the local riding stable.  Nothing but nose to tail horse riding, for a few bucks each hour, but it was a horse!  I would save up my money all week long, and then Sunday mornings I would get in for the first ride.  No one ever booked for the first ride on Sunday mornings, so it would be me and the "wrangler".  Every weekend, like clock work, I would go.

And my darling dad would be the one to take me.  He'd get up, make a really big coffee, and drive me across town.  Then for that hour, he would sit around and wait.  I became a fixture at that place.  Over the years, I had my "own" horses.  First it was Vinny, a big brown App, and then it was Java, a cute little mustang mare that hated adults.  There were others, but those were the closest thing I had to a horse of my own.  And the college students working there learned pretty fast that I actually LIKED horses.  They taught me how to hold a lead rope, how to safely tie a horse, and I got many pointers on how to ride better.

The whole time I was learning all this, my father was the unsung hero, sitting in the car. 

The first time I fell off a horse, the poor wranglers offered to walk me back.  I looked at them as if they were crazy, and asked if my horse was lame.  When they said no, but thought that I might have been too scared to get back on, I just asked for a leg  up.  I was 7, and Vinny was 16.1 hands.  It was a simple spook and slide (and I did the sliding) and I couldn't understand why i would miss over half an hour of riding time just because I had some dirt on me.  When we got back to the barn, they told my father about it, and he looked at me and said "so, you ok?"  I was like "uh yeah.... I just slid off, it's not like it was a big deal".  Dad nodded, knowing then that I was an addict.  He kept bringing me out until the stable closed many years later.

When I got my first horse, he was thrilled for me.  Shortly after, I talked him into buying mom a horse (he wasn't as happy about that, but he went with it).  Then I bought my second horse, Ash.  Something happened then, and no one really understands it.  Ash was an evil horrible nasty tempered mare.  Dad loved her.  Even more amazing, she loved him too!  Dad started riding Ash, and she would baby sit him, allowing him to get his balance, and figure out how to steer.  She would go from a complete packer, to a hot blooded jumper in seconds, but she did her best to make sure dad never fell off.  Oh he did a time or 2, but Ash tried hard.  And at some point, my father decides that horses weren't so bad.

He got his own horse after that.  Doodles.  Dad worked hard to train that horse with the help of myself and my ex husband.  When it came time to ride him, Dad was up there on his back.  Over hill, over dale, up the street and down the pasture they rode.  While dad was never a horse lover, he always loved HIS horse.  Well, his horses... he never would let me pay off the last $5 for Ash, and demanded that she was registered in both of our names.  He said it was so that I couldn't sell her with out his permission.

In 2005 my father decided to invest in Iron Ridge.  He put down the money for our first stallion.  He helped us buy the land we're on now, and while he's not so thrilled about the joys of horse farming (mucking stalls is just not his thing) he really does love to have the horses around.  There's nothing like looking out over your back yard, and seeing a herd of pretty ponies.  Dad never really says it, but I know he has his favorites.

I never really blog about my father, because he's not the type to be out in the sun working horses.  He's not really into the whole manual labor and poop thing, but he is the first person to offer to help feed when some one is down.  He gladly will sit and watch us ride around the arena for hours, just so that we have eyes on us, in case of an accident, and he celebrates with us when a horse finds a great home.  Most of my father's work with the business though is the behind the scenes stuff.  He still invests money when it's needed, whether that's torch fuel or tractor parts, he's there for me.  He helps with reference checks, and the other boring paper work, and so often does the unsung jobs.  Things that need doing, but no one wants to do.  I can't even count the miles of fences that dad has painted!

And he knows his place!  Ash still has him wrapped around her little hoof!  Man that mare has him trained so well.

So Happy Birthday Daddy!  I hope you have a good one, and many more to follow. 

Friday, July 22, 2011

Fear Friday: Progress

It's not just about admitting our fears, but it's also about overcoming them.  Lately, I have been on what feels like a fast track for that.

A simple picture of a horse eye, right?  But look at the reflection. That's me, sitting on the mounting block, right at Boo's feet.  Between Boo and the fence, close enough to reach out and touch him.  And I wasn't bothered at all.  That, my friends, is a big step for me.

Other big things I have done lately:  Canter work, and quite a bit of it.  Working with horse feet - we do trims on a few horses in between farrier visits. It's really more like filing, but there's some trimming involved too.  With the stupidly dry conditions, my horses feet are cracking, chipping, and such, so rather then just let them go, we always try to clean them up.  Jae also does trims on many of the "easy" horses.  More easy footed then easy to handle, but I've been helping with that as well.  Not a hint of fear with them.  No visions of hooves in my teeth at all.

The one thing that seems to still just send my heart into my throat though, is watching other people.  When Amy leans over a horse for the first time, I have to sit there and tell myself to breathe.  When Chris takes Poko around the arena at the canter, I have to remind myself that our training on him is really working, and it will be fine (Poko likes to bolt for the gate).  Things like that seem to be what get to me.  Which is kinda odd, because it's not MY risk that is the basis of my fear this week.... or so it seems.  But my fear of the risk to others.

What a weird phase of my progress, wouldn't you say?

But progress it is!  And we should celebrate the little steps we take.  Look at all of you who have gone out and gotten on your horse, or picked a hoof, or done one of those things that scares the hell out of you!  If you're like me, you did it, and then want to scream to the world that you overcame your fears for that moment, but it's almost embarrassing, and you feel like no one will get why you're so excited.

But we will!

No matter how small, how silly, or how many times you've done it before, have you made some progress in your fears that you are proud of?   How did you convince yourself to try it?  Was your heart in your throat the whole time, or did it just happen, leaving you saying "Oh wow!" when it was done?  I know there are a few of you who have been making leaps and bounds away from your fears, and I think it's time that every one gets a bit of bragging space!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Nakai gets his Dream Home!

This is Nakai.  He is a 9 year old mustang, that was up for sale by a client/friend of mine.  He's a short little guy, standing around 14.2 hands, and he's been out of work for a while so needs some training.  We were open and honest about what he needs, and where he's at.  Naturally this made finding a home for him harder. 

So, along comes this lady named Olivia, and her daughter Zoe.  They came out to look at him, and for the first time ever, Nakai seemed some what interested in the humans.  He's not really a mushy gushy horse, and usually just does his own thing, so his interest had me hoping.  They look at him, and then are going to talk about it.  A few discussions pass between myself and the potential buyers, and then nothing.  Well, bummer.

So, last weekend, I got an email.  Olivia (the mom) had been running some numbers.  She decided that another horse was very do-able, and wanted to make an offer on him.  We checked her references (glowing!) and set up the deal.  Unbeknownst to me, Zoe was out of town, and her mother was being sneaky.

So, while I check references, I naturally marked him as "sale pending".  I had been getting quite a few views on his site, and had him advertised in many places, so I figured that's the most honest way to go about things.  If any one is interested, they will know that there's an offer on him.  Well!

Zoe had been checking on his page, looking at his pictures, and watching his video over and over.  She was simply in love with this horse, and all of his good aspects and problems.  In her heart, she knew he was meant to be hers.  Even while out of town, she had been sure to check up on him, and daydream about having him in her pasture at home.

So, when Olivia arrives to take him home, I naturally mark him as sold.  Uh oh!  Zoe checked on her horse, and found him no longer for sale, and her parents hadn't said a THING about it.  She did what any natural 10 year old would do at the thought of losing her dream horse.  She paniced.  (Ok, so maybe it's not just 10 year olds... I think most of us would react the same way).  She called her mother, devestated about the loss of her horse.  Because for her, Nakai was already a part of her heart and family.

Olivia calmly tells Zoe that who ever would want this horse with all these needs would have to simply be a crazy horse lover.  Zoe wanted him, right, and she was a crazy horse lover.  She never said that some one else had bought him, but left that open just enough that poor Zoe could imagine the worst possible things.

So the day comes for Zoe to arrive back home.  Olivia picks her up, and the whole drive back Zoe is talking on and on about Nakai and how it just wasn't right.  That was her horse, and why would some one want an unbroke mustang?  He's not exactly the most sellable horse out there, and it's not right that someone bought him.  She was very upset, and poor Olivia had to struggle to keep a straight face.

As they pulled into their home, all of the complaining and stress, and distress at the loss of her horse vanished.  There in the yard was a no good, 9 year old, black mustang gelding, that only a crazy horse lover would be willing to buy.  Everything her mother had said was true.... she just hadn't mentioned that the owner was now Zoe.


According to Olivia, Zoe was so excited, shocked, and awed that she couldn't make any real words come out.  As she excitedly hopped out of the car, she made those happy noises we all know, and I won't even try to type!

Nakai of course knows exactly who to suck up to in the family.  As you can see, he simply adores his new home, his new people.  Isn't that the face of a happy pony?

And Zoe is NOT the typical 10 year old.  When they came to first see Nakai, I thought to myself that she was a true horseman.  Zoe acts like she's been around horses for 30 years, and is just a natural.  She is safe but with out true fear.  She is knowledgable but willing to learn more... in other words, she's exactly the type of person that Nakai has always needed.

Nakai is going to be Zoe's next hunter.  Her first real horse (not pony) it sounds like.  For any one that knows Nakai, his movement would be perfect for hunters, and his temperment is that he's a work-a-holic.  I think he will excell, and be everything that Zoe ever hoped for.

Even better, the women of that family are not large.  A 14.2 hand horse will fit them as adults as well!  I'm so excited, and I hope that he can be everything they hope for.  He's already gotten his first saddle lesson, and it looks like he did wonderfully.

And, the deal for Zoe to get this horse?  She has to keep us updated with his progress.  I plan to attend their first show, and cheer both of them on!

I'm so happy for Nakai, I can't even put it all into words. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Ishka gets a Vacation

Ishka is a 5 year old App sport horse.  She is out of my mother's darling mare Keeley, by my stallion Spot (The Polecat ApHC).  Her dam, Keeley, is a 14.1ish hand (14.2 with shoes!) quarter type horse that is my mother's first horse.  We purchased Keeley as a "project".  She had 90 days of reining training on her, before she failed out of it.  Mom took her and made her a great packer and beginner dressage horse, and Keeley has excelled at that.

Keeley hasn't always been the sweet wonderful loving horse that she is now, but we always thought that it was due to her past life.  We know that she was road foundered - ridden too hard - and now suffers arthritis and other joint issues in her front legs.  Mom had hoped to get a foal from Keeley to be her future riding horse, and she didn't care if it was a colt, a filly, grey, solid or spotted.  She only hoped that it would have Keeley's personality.

What she got was Ishka.  Born May 5th, 2006, I thought we didn't even get that at first.  Ishka had a red bag birth, and I've always been told that red bag babies are dead babies.  Either they are still born (placenta seperates early, and many suffocate during birth) or they are soon euthanized for dummy foal problems (won't nurse due to brain damage from Oxygen deprivation).  So as Jae and I pulled the foal from Keeley that morning, I worried about the health of the mare more then the foal, knowing that Keeley is my mother's true love.

Little did I know that Jae had NO idea what we were doing.  He just shut up and followed orders, lending me his muscles.  While I checked the mare for complications, mother was calling the vet (yeah, I saw red bag and sent her in to find me a vet NOW, knowing that he'd never make it in time) Jae was rubbing the foal.  Keeley was exhausted, but showed no obvious signs of any lasting problems (my main concern was from damage from us trying to save the foal) so I was happy.  And then Jae says, "She looks a little drunk".

He was staring at the most amazing chestnut filly, sitting up, but with a bit of a weave.  "Great, a dummy foal" I thought.  But Ishka proved me wrong.  It took her over an hour to stand, probably closer to 2, but she had a suckle reflex, and Keeley was willing to let us milk her and bottle feed the baby.  Once she was up, everything started getting easier.

And this was my mother's horse.  Ishka was everything she wanted, from her pretty color to her size, and especially the fact that her personality is a carbon copy of her mother's.  Mom worked hard to train Ishka up just like she wanted, and one day it became time to start riding her.

Well, mom doesn't usually back the horses.  If they dump her, she doesn't recover as fast as she used to, and she's always had a personal fear of being thrown.  Those 2 things meant that first rides were always my job, but not for Ishka!  I made sure she showed every sign of being good, and then made my mother do the dirty work.  There's something about training your own horse that just feels good.  And Ish' made sure to be as good as we all had hoped.

After a year of walk work, one day I informed my mother that her horse was bored to tears, and that today she would trot.  Yeah, mom can ride a trot, she was just nervous about the first transition, and kept putting it off.  Ishka of course was ready and willing!  Mom asked, Ishka answered....after about 3 steps of trot, she just stopped.  And that was what they worked on for the next year.  Ishka had trouble with maintaining the pace and letting the human balance the human!  A slight wobble, and Ish put on the brakes.

So when it came time to canter, Mom asked for help from Amy.  Ishka was again bored with laps around the arena, but mom wasn't ready to take her out of the arena to ride (what if she cantered???).  So, Amy agreed, and the canter work began.

The first few attempts weren't so pretty.  Ishka heaved her rider into the canter, in something kinda like a hop, but not.  She would throw her front end into the air, shoving the person forward (Hence most of these pics have Amy holding the bucking strap) and then the shift of balance would make her hind end light.  It never seemed like she was upset about it, but it was very awkward.  Her feet though, never were more then inches off the ground.

The first day wasn't pretty.  Nor the second, nor the third.  Each time she made visible progress though.  Her main problem is that she is LAZY (just like her dam) and had to really be encouraged into it.

Then last week, she started to like it.  As Amy rode away from us up the long side, Ishka kept breaking into a trot.  Eventually we realized that she was just excited about a little speed, so Amy asked for it.  And from there, the trot to canter transition began to make HUGE leaps in smoothness!
A perfect transition right there, caught at the moment of change.  No heaving to be seen!  Now that doesn't mean that Ish still doesn't get silly at times.  She's a very uphill moving horse by nature and breeding, and so getting a bit up in front is just natural to her.
But as you can see, it's not anything BAD.  Just nice and light, and easy to work with.  Ishka also loves dressage.  The technical aspects keep her mind working, and the physical work is something she excels at.  A few good girls, and maybe even a treat, and she's a very happy mare.  This is good, as she will be mom's dressage horse.  Granted, she's a bit short for most dressage horses at only 15.1 hands.................

But she's in the middle of a growth spurt.

This means that Amy there is sitting on almost 3 inches of pads.  You can see it all in the picture above.  White saddle pad, black half pad, and white riser on top of that.  So far Ish had been handling the issues of working while downhill, but yesterday, we noticed that her rump had grown again.  We thought it wouldn't be a big deal.  The lesson started so well, Ishka worked just perfectly.  After one sprint of canter work, Amy was giving Ish her head, and headed back to where I sat intending to have me check her bit.

As they crossed the arena, both nice and relaxed and everything calm, Ishka tripped.  I'm not talking a little stubbed her hoof in the sand.  I'm talking about a fall to her knees, completely out of the blue, type of thing!  I'm not sure what happened, but suddenly Ishka was headed to her front knees, and her hind right tangled with her front left.  She had 3 knees on the ground with the hind left pulled way out behind her.  Amy was slung forward (as she was relaxed, and not braced) and that pulled Ishka even more off balance.  From where I was sitting, I was sure the horse was about to roll onto the human!

Gratuitous Donkey Picture.  Maggie Mae
Amy knew she was hitting dirt, and shoved off.  Ishka knew her rider was there, and some how managed to pull herself away using her neck.  Poor Ishka's body was twisted to the right, while she tried to heave herself away to the left using only her neck.  Amy hit the ground rolling, and got clear, while Ishka stumbled to her feet.

My heart was in my throat.  Horse falling on rider.  Rider under hooves.... my biggest fear right in front of me.  But it didn't happen.  While it wasn't pretty, it could have been so much worse.

And while all of this happened, our audience watched in silence.  (Yeah, Maggie thinks people on horses is just too good to pass up, and usually watches).

But, that put an end to our rides.  Amy hit hard, even though she only fell from about 3 feet up.  Ishka pulled every muscle from her ears to her tail.  Bute for the horse, Chiro for the human, and vacation time for both.  While Amy's vacation was planned, Ishka's was not.

Looking back, we both realized that she's been growing and growing in the rump.  For a horse that is naturally level to uphill, this is putting strain on her.  Add a rider, and it makes it even more awkward.  While she's a lovely mover, she had used so much extra effort to get the same motion, that she was just exhausted

I decided that Ishka gets at LEAST a month off.  Both to heal, and to catch up.  She won't come back into training until Amy doesn't have to brace her feet in front of her just to keep from sliding off.
But at least now, we know that she has all 3 gaits down.  A little time off won't hurt her at all, and she can spend some time thinking about how much she loved the attention.  Instead of working, Ishka will now have to deal with being groomed and loved on instead.

And Amy.... well.... I'm surprised her husband lets her keep coming back!  A freak accident, but that's what horses are all about isn't it?  I'm just so glad it wasn't worse.  They both really deserve their vacation.

While Amy is gone, I will be working with Diesel, Doodles, Boo, Poko, and Dream under saddle, and a whole slew of horses on the ground.  I'm feeling pretty confident about riding those horses now.  As they come off Amy's riding list, and onto mine, that will mean more time for Amy with others when she returns.