Tuesday, December 30, 2008

January: Outline, and Week 1

Did a little more clicker work last night. The light bulb's flickering, but it's not on yet. I think I will go back to target work with her in her stall, which is open across most of the top half. That way she can reach over easily to target and receive treats, but she can't get distracted or crowd me. When I tried it the other day it seemed to work very well to keep her focused. Lack of light bulb aside, she's still intrigued by the concept.

Here's my outline for January: as I mentioned, this is Dressage month.

January goal: Develop a steady and relaxed w/t/c with some degree of push from behind. Also establish and maintain smooth bend, shoulder-in, and correct leg yields.

I've mapped out the month and designated riding days and so on, to hopefully keep me on track (I am awful about actually getting my butt in the saddle in the winter). So here's Week 1:

Today 12/30
Free longe. I've a friend coming over, so not much time for riding.

Wednesday 12/31
Ride. Keep her off the forehand by keeping my upper body back and legs beneath me, and be firm with the outside rein. Don't rely too much on inside rein. INSIDE LEG TO OUTSIDE REIN. INSIDE LEG TO OUTSIDE REIN. Alternate between carrying and stretching, do plenty of circles.

Thursday 1/1
Clicker work (10 - 15 mins of target work in stall), then ride. Much of the same: stay off the forehand. Lots of circles and serpentines.

Friday 1/2
PC lesson. She'll focus mostly on flatwork with some light jumping at the end, which is perfect. AVOID THE CHAIR SEAT. Keep shoulders up and back.

Saturday 1/3
Ellen lesson! This will be flatwork at our own barn. Get more evaluation and assessment to figure out what to work on, though it will probably be much of the same: relax, stay off the forehand.

Sunday 1/4
Either a light, short ride or just a longeing session. Probably the latter, since I'll have to be preparing for school to start the next day - boo.

So there we have it! I'll check in with a lesson report later, then report back at the end of the week for a review and an outline of Week 2.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

2009 Goals

Time to plan some things out for 2009. I do things best by working backwards -- deciding where I want to be at the end of my time with Pandora and then figuring out what I need to do to get there. So I just mapped out a basic calendar for 2009 with a couple key eventing stops along the way, though it'll get filled in more as I find out when shows and things are.

Dressage to the max! January will be the month of flatwork, flatwork, flatwork. Time to get the girl up off her forehand and really working from behind.

This will be a month of working intensively on things at home. I'll haul out for a couple lessons, but the focus will be on making lots of progress in our own arena. I also plan to spend a lot of time exploring clicker work and seeing how I can use it to resolve issues we come up against.

However, the main focus will always be dressage this month.

There's a Pony Club show on the 31st that we will attend.

The month to ramp up our jumping skills. I have several books that are full of grids, patterns, and exercises, so it's time to start using them. We'll do some free-jumping, do lots of gridwork, and practice smooth courses.

I plan to take her to one or two PC jumping lessons. I would like to haul her somewhere to practice some jumping schooling on my own, but there are several PC clinics this month, so that may not be feasible.

There is also another PC dressage lesson which we'll go to, just to make sure our flatwork is still up to par.

A return to flatwork! There's a PC dressage lesson on the 1st and another PC show midmonth, which will be a good place to check progress. This month I will be focusing on flatwork as it specifically applies to jumping: smooth balanced turns, rating at all three gaits, obedience to the leg. In general, I want to spend this month truly sharpening her response to the aids -- clicker work may come in very handy here.

There's also a Showjumping Rally late in the month - definitely a possibility, but we'll see how things are going.

Time to start thinking about XC, as soon as the weather turns and courses are open for schooling. This will be the month for putting miles on Pandora: lots and lots of riding down quiet roads in the area, trailering to places for real trail rides, and just getting out of the arena.

Since May is when things start heating up, we might relax a little more this month, too. This would be a good time to really shore up weak areas in Pandora's training and behavior if she has any, especially with clicker work. April would be a good month for playing with obstacle courses and similar things, as well.

I plan to ride in a Combined Test at Inavale. Things should be going smoothly by this point. This month will probably have an emphasis on lessons -- I'll take advantage of the weekly PC jumping lessons offered. Can't forget the flatwork, of course.

It's a bit hard to know exactly what I'll do this month since it's so far out! Since June is such a big month, we'll probably just work on whatever it is that needs an extra boost.

June is competition month! Inavale will have Eventing Derbies on the 6th and 7th, though I may not make it to them because this is right around the end of school and I remember being very busy around this time last year.

However, Inavale's annual Horse Trials is the 26th through the 28th. This is my major focus point for the year. It's most likely that we'll run Beginner Novice, but if we blaze through the year and I manage to put a ton of riding time in, it's possible that we could go Novice.

According to my Pony Club's website, there's an Eventing camp from the 17th through the 20th. Dunno anything about it, but if it's local and not too expensive, that would be an excellent way to prepare for the Recognized HT.

So basically, June will be focused around these things!

It's likely that sometime in June it will be time to start preparing to sell Pandora. Therefore, I'm pretty unsure what July will hold. Taking her to a show or two, if I can find them. Advertising, advertising, advertising. It really all depends on how the rest of the year goes.

Ideally, Pandora will be happy and competing in a new home by this time!

The later it gets in this calendar, the less sure I am of things, of course. These are more like guidelines -- and they're pretty ambitious guidelines -- but it gives me something to work off of.

To finish, here's a few non-time-specific goals for the year:
  • Get Pandora accustomed to many different riders, so that after a brief adjustment period she is comfortable under a strange rider. This should be pretty easy to accomplish in Pony Club, since catch riding is an important part of things anyway.
  • Use clicker work to establish a wicked solid "come" command. I mean, really. Who doesn't want a horse that gallops up and stops politely in front of you from a whistle??
  • Develop an "old hat" personality about shows -- I think that without too much work, Pandora can easily become a "been there, done that" relaxed type of horse.
So there we have it. Let's see how things turn out.

Dressage Lesson 12/28

Took Pandora to a PC dressage lesson today. She was anxious at first but settled down pretty well, no major spooks or anything. The lesson gave me some very solid ideas of areas to work on with her -- so far I've just been kind of puttering around, trying to figure her out and help her figure me out.

The trainer wants me to work on getting her off her forehand. Since she tucked behind the vertical so much when I first got her, I'd been encouraging leaning forward into my hands. Which helped get rid of her anxious tucking....but led to leaning and running on the forehand!

So we worked a lot on bringing my upper body back so I don't add my weight to her forehand. I also need to stop letting her take the reins and lean on them; she told me to really be steady and solid with my outside rein to keep her from leaning on the forehand, then ask her to bend with my inside rein but then relax so she doesn't curl her nose, all while using my inside leg to support.

It certainly made her anxious and a little frustrated -- she's a bit of a perfectionist and tends to get nervous when she's not sure what we're doing -- but we made some progress and I could feel her starting to understand what I was asking.

I liked that the trainer had plenty of balance between asking for her to come up off her forehand and allowing her to stretch in a free walk or trot. As she pointed out, it's the "carry, relax, carry, relax" that will help Pandora to become supple and strong.

I felt like it was a very constructive lesson.

Pandora's been having a little loose stool lately - not every pile is loose, but some are. I think it's because she accidentally got some alfalfa yesterday, so I'll keep an eye on her, but she seems to be feeling fine.

Haven't had a chance to play with the clicker again yet. I'm going to go make a new and improved target now (we have a dog ball-throwing stick that got pretty beat up, so I'm going to duct tape a dead tennis ball to the end) and do another 20-minute session with her tomorrow. She responded so well the first time that I think we'll be able to take this pretty far.

Friday, December 26, 2008


Started doing some clicker work today -- I've been meaning to do it forever.

I'm interested to see how this goes, because I feel like she's the perfect horse to do this work with. Very intelligent, eager to please, but sometimes gets a bit anxious about doing the right thing. I really feel that the positive reinforcement and mental engagement will work well with her.

I started with targeting, as is pretty typical for doing this with horses. Worked for maybe 20 minutes total, split up into 3 or 4 sessions. For lack of a more convenient object I used an orange traffic cone, but I've got plans for a less unwieldy target next time.

By the end of the whole session she knew exactly what she was doing and would stretch high or low to touch the cone for her reward. I left her hungry for more! Next time we'll spend more time targeting and start increasing the time she must touch it before getting a click/treat.

No pictures with the cone, unfortunately, but I'll get some tomorrow.

I'm going to take this as far as she tells me she wants to go. She really enjoyed it today (she got loads of treats for touching a big orange cone, who wouldn't enjoy it?!) and I think clicker work will provide a fun break from schooling under saddle.

Brief outline of the main areas I want to address with the clicker as we go along.

The first one is to help her develop a solid understanding of what it is that we're doing by picking easy and relaxed behaviors to reinforce.
  • Targeting
  • Relaxing while hooves are handled (she's still a little tense about the hind legs)
  • Head Down
  • Carrot stretches
Then we'll move to ground manners. After doing in-hand obstacle relay with McKinna, I will never underestimate the value of a supremely obedient horse. Pandora leads well, but I want to really fine-tune her ground work.
Ground Work
  • Leading on the off side (she leads, but not confidently)
  • Turn on the forehand (already does pretty well)
  • Turn on the haunches (knows, but not well)
  • Sidepass
  • Backing (she is slow and slightly resistant to backing up)
Then we'll move to playing with spooky things just for the fun of it.
Spooky Things
  • Tarps
  • Plastic bags, plus cans inside later
  • Balloons
  • Costume (I have my Batman horse/rider costume still!)
  • Ropes/restraint (staying calm about ropes around legs, etc)
Then, if we get through all of that and it's still going well, I'd like to add in clicker work under saddle, probably beginning with sharpening transitions and gait quality.

These are more like ideas I've set down for myself -- just areas of interest to explore with her. To me, clicker training is just another tool to have in the toolbox, and I want to try it on Pandora.

I'm taking Pandora to a Pony Club dressage lesson on Sunday, which should be fun. It's at the same place as the very first schooling show we went to, so I'm not worried about spookiness at all. She's much more fit these days, thanks partly to frequent free-longing in the arena (not much turnout lately, sigh) so we should be able to get a lot out of the lesson.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Update 12/16

I know, I know - it's been ages. College does that to a girl.

Talked about the chiro work over on my main blog.

It really worked wonders for her. She's smoother, more relaxed, doesn't clamp her tail whenever you touch her hind end. Her canter has improved massively as well. It's actually about time to have him out again, I'm starting to see a little stiffness in her hind end again -- she's just not reaching under herself as far as she has been. Doesn't concern me much, as she still had so many issues last time that I figured it would take another session or two until she's 100% on track.

Her weight is excellent. She's getting six [big] flakes of hay per day (I really need to weigh one to get an idea of how much they weigh), Ultium, vitamins, and a little beet pulp. She's shiny, soft, and happy.

Awhile back I bought a 5" D-ring Happy Mouth Mullen Mouth bit. (Say that five times fast.) She really seems to prefer it over the double-jointed french link I used earlier. Her head fussing has faded a lot with me, to where she gives me a lovely contact most of the time. She fusses when she gets nervous, but it's far less pronounced, and to be fair I've only ridden her maybe ten or twelve times in the past couple months. When my mom got on her the other day, the mouthing was more pronounced, which tells me that I need to get more riders on her so she's comfortable with more than just me.

Weather permitting, I should be taking a lesson on her tomorrow evening. I feel like she's fit enough that a lesson won't be asking too much, and I feel like she's ready to try a little low-level jumping just so we can see what we have to work with.

In short, all is going well. Weight is excellent, temperament is mind-bogglingly good considering she's been stuck inside for more than a week, under-saddle work is improving. Hooves are great, stiffness fades as I work her more consistently but I think I'll aim for a chiro visit sometime next month. She's been a pleasure to work with, and I'm really impressed that she's stayed so calm while being cooped up. You can tell she wants so badly to get out and run (and she does, when we let them loose in the arena) but she is never pushy. Definite plus.

I'm going to try some clicker work with her tonight, probably on backing up since she dislikes backing. I'm curious to see her reaction when she catches on.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Updates 10/26

Here's an update copied from my main blog:

"Pandora is still doing very well. Her weight-gain has kind of stalled a bit -- grr -- but I think it's because the barn owner ran out of orchard grass and switched to (not the nicest) grass hay. It's a constant battle - that horse could probably put down 3x as much hay as she's getting, and she's getting like 8 flakes a day. I realize the barn owner can't afford to feed her as much as she can eat, which would probably amount to a bale of hay per day. So we added some beet pulp to get some more fiber into her.

At this point I'm considering just buying some of our own hay. Unfortunately that would add up really fast. But if I have to do it, I have to do it. What would be nice is if we could arrange for her and McKinna to be in a paddock (there's a big one out front that's got jumps in it now) with round bales that we pay for, but unfortunately McKinna would probably become a big fatty on that much hay. Not to mention that I think most of the paddocked horses come in during the winter anyway.


I know we can put more weight on by adding more concentrates like grain, or adding alfalfa or oil. But it's very very hard for me to do that when I know that she needs more hay and would put more weight on if she had as much as she could eat.

I should figure out if it would be more cost-effective to feed her lots of beet pulp, or to just buy hay. Is beet pulp comparable to hay in terms of fiber benefits? I know a lot of people feed it as main fiber source to older horses without much in the way of teeth. I could go to hay cubes, but I imagine that would be more expensive than hay itself.

Argh. Okay, maybe I will just talk to the barn owner. I know she will suggest adding more beet pulp, but Pandora finishes her hay within a couple hours of feeding time, and that's just not good enough for me. When she was getting 3 flakes of orchard grass, they were BIG flakes and they took her a long time to work through. Plus it was super nice green stuff."

That's basically all I've been up to with her. I haven't been riding much because I want the chiropractor to come out first -- he's going to be out on Tuesday, so it's not that much longer to wait. In the interim we've been round-penning her quite a lot, which has been very good for her. This way we can do a lot of canter work, which she needs. As she warms up she really moves out nicely, and it seems like she can canter forever without getting sweaty. Typical TB blood, I suppose.

After she's adjusted, I'm going to start riding her fairly intensively -- we need to get a lot of training and schooling done over the winter so we can hit spring and summer shows with a bang. Once she's built up a little more fitness I'll start taking her to the Friday lessons for Pony Club. She's just not fit enough for a 2-hour lesson right now, but once she's adjusted I will feel comfortable asking her to work harder and longer to improve her fitness.

She's still as polite and sweet-natured as ever. Pokes her head out her stall window whenever you walk by, always happy to come out of her stall or out of the pasture or wherever you want to go. I've noticed that she doesn't take a sore step on gravel at all anymore, so her trim seems to be holding up super well. She's still a little tender riding over gravel but judging by her improvement in walking over it, I think that may go away with time.

Overall things are going well, if a little slowly. But we have all winter to work hard, so another few days won't hurt anything.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Schooling Show II

Pandora did awesome today. Two trot-a-pole hunter classes. 6th in the first class, 1st in the second. First class was nervous, champing at the bit, reverting a bit to the head-tucking behavior (to be expected since pretty much all horses have a 'fallback behavior' that they go to when they're stressed out), rushing, pushing against my leg. Second class was way better - steady, smooth, calm. I was quite pleased!

Overall she behaved herself very well. Once her turn was done and I was riding McKinna, Pandora just stood quietly at the trailer and chowed through her flakes of hay, then proceeded to eat almost all of McKinna's too! She was quite calm.

She has put on a lot of weight and is looking SO much better. She's all shiny and wonderful, you can hardly see a shadow of her ribs, and her topline/hip area has way filled out. I will do a picture-only post of her soon, I have a bunch of pictures saved that I need to upload.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


I know, it's been quite awhile since an update. It's been pretty hard to muster up the energy to do homework after a full day of school and barn, let alone post!

All is well in Pandora-land. The head-fussing nonsense is almost completely gone at all three gaits, which pleases me very much.

She had a vet checkup yesterday --- kind of the vet-check-we-didn't-get-before-we-bought-her. I'm happy to say that she passed with flying colors!

All vitals normal (HR 28 RR 10 GI normal). "Excellent feet. No abnormalities of limbs noted." (Except a small old splint on her left hind, which she said could be years old and neither bothers her nor will bother her). "Moves stiff on RH in round pen - not lame, just stiff." She also said that she thinks the stiffness would probably go away with more fitness across her back and butt muscles, especially since the stiffness goes almost all the way away after warming up.

Negative flexions (woohoo!). Very good thing.

Has had recent, good quality dentistry.

She recommended some chiropractic work (which I was already going to do) and highly approved of the guy I'm going to call. Going along Pandora with her fingers, she showed me how she's got a lot of pain up in her neck/head area -- hardly surprising considering her history -- especially right behind her poll and in her upper neck. She has one spot on her back that's a little sore. Oh, and she pointed out to me how Pandora's jaw seems slightly out of alignment: her teeth, instead of meeting up straight, are a little off sideways (top jaw closes slightly to the right of straight-on). In addition, the muscle on her right forehead is slightly bigger than on her left. She said this also indicates a misalignment that could be fixed with chiropractic work.

I noted her hind-end tenseness to the vet. She just tends to travel like she's got her butt tucked, and she's always got her tail clamped. The vet said that it could simply be the way she travels but that too would probably resolve with chiropractic work.

Eyes were fine, feet great, everything good, and Pandora was wonderfully polite all throughout the process (even through mouth inspection and tongue-grabbing!). She got a booster for her spring shots and was good to go!

Oh, and the vet also endorsed the farrier we were thinking about calling (we're out of our old farrier's range now, sad face) and said he does very nicely with feet.

So everything is all set! I'm going to make the chiro appointment today, call the farrier this evening, and all should be well. After the chiropractic work, I will feel just fine about really asking Pandora to ramp up the workload - I have issues with asking horses to work hard when I KNOW that they're in pain, you know? I know she'll do it, and it's not like I'll stop working her, but I have a hard time convincing myself to truly work on her fitness when the whole thing would be a lot more pleasant for her after an adjustment. Not to mention that if she's compensating for something, she might not build fitness correctly.

That's all for this update!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

First Jumps

Took Pandora over a couple fences last night. Nothing big -- very low-key, just hopped on her at the end of my schooling session with McKinna since we were out in the front paddock with fences.

To be honest, hopping over three fences in a relatively small paddock with small rocks here and there in the footing is not the most accurate way to assess a horse's jumping ability!

She was fine, though. Hopped over the first time, kinda dodged out the second but it was my fault for dumping the reins. She jumps smoothly. Really rounds her back as she goes over. Her canter WILL be smooth once she is more fit, but I can definitely tell that she needs some canter fitness.

Pandora has settled in nicely to her day-turnout, night-stall situation. I think she enjoys having her food all to herself in her stall! I am hoping to see some noticeable weight gain by the end of the week.

Not much else to report. Going to do a schooling ride tonight.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Updates 10/7

Everything is going super well!

Starting last night, Pandora is staying in overnight and going back out to pasture in the morning. She is also getting an extra flake of orchard grass AM and PM, bumping up the total to 6 (big) flakes per day. Will add another 2 if necessary. Since she's getting grain in two feedings now instead of one, she's also getting 6 scoops/day instead of 4. REALLY need to weigh out the grain to figure out exact poundage.

All of that combined should help her gain some weight.

Took her to the dressage schooling show on Sunday as detailed over on my regular blog. She was fantastic! Totally relaxed, very easygoing, moseyed through our Intro A test for a respectable 62.5%, blue ribbon, hi-point Intro level, hi-point Junior. Not bad :)

Her and McK got along great at the show. A few nasty faces made here and there when they were sharing each other's hay bags (don't ask me why the OTHER hay bag always tastes better) but no true badness.

She is looking a little off to me - Mom thinks it is footsoreness. I can't tell if it's her hooves or maybe a stiffness in the shoulders. Either way it's pretty minor and you probably wouldn't notice it if you didn't think about the fact that she should move out more willingly and freely. Have a call in to a new farrier (since we are now outside of our old one's range), so perhaps we will go to shoes next trim. Argh. Also going to call a chiro soon and set up an appt to make sure all is still going well with her physically, so between those two we should have it covered.

I figured out the behind the vertical thing!

Since it's a lengthy topic I think I will write about it on my main blog -- will link to it once it's posted. To summarize, I was reading and thinking about being quiet and responding to the slightest try when riding. I was extra steady and quiet with my hands, looked up instead of at her head, and rewarded the slightest try (e.g. forward response when I squeeze) by cessation of the aids. The head-fussing was gone and remained gone. She's still prone to tucking, of course, and it will take lots of work before it's gone completely, but we have reached a new stage of communication.

Friday, October 3, 2008


Eurgh, frustrating ride tonight. Due to a lot of factors, I suppose.

Weather was cold and rainy, so all the horses were very on edge, even McKinna who is usually pretty mellow. I longed Pandora a little just to settle her down, so after some trotting and cantering she chilled out a little. Tacked her up and rode.

Nothing horrible, just more bit-mouthing and chin-tucking nonsense. Just needs patient, forward riding with steady hands, that's all. But it does get frustrating when I constantly see that little arch in the top of her neck where she's tucking her jaw and dropping her poll below the whatever vertebrae they are.

Sigh. Time and patience, time and patience.

On the plus side, her bending is nice and I got some nice cantering. We'll work through the BTV silliness eventually, I know. She just needs to learn what I want.

She's going to start staying in overnight starting Monday. Her hay will increase 2 flakes/day so that she gets 3 flakes (and they are big flakes) AM and PM, and her grain will get split up into two feedings. Hopefully this will kickstart some weight gain, otherwise it's increased grain and/or added fat to the diet. We will see!

Thursday, October 2, 2008


Rode Pandora last night. I can feel my ankle getting stronger but I still can't handle much flexion in it -- thus I ride with really long stirrups, which certainly isn't doing any wonders for my leg position. Nevertheless, I can actually feel my right calf muscle when I poke it and I can ride somewhat effectively.

Pandora was quite good. It was our first real schooling ride, lasted about 20 minutes. Her walk is coming along very nicely, she's taking up a light contact without overbending, her poll is at the highest point, etc. She's willing to move off the leg in leg yields but sometimes resists on turns and circles if I'm not paying attention.

At the trot is where we get most of the behind-the-vertical nonsense. I'm very patient with her, because it's incredibly clear that this is what she thinks I want. Therefore, I just keep her moving forward, bend through serpentines and circles, and ride her steadily. I don't think fussing with my hands is going to do much good, so other than pushing my hands forward when she really tucks back, I'm not fiddling with the reins much.

I rode her canter for the first time. She is definitely more fit than when we went to look at her -- that day, she took a lot of convincing (at a very quick trot) to pick up a canter, and it was hard for her to hold it. Last night, she picked up each lead the instant I asked, and didn't seem to have any issues holding the gait. She's got a really nice forward canter, very smooth, which will be nice for jumping. Definitely a sense of power. Will obviously need to work on getting her together, because she's quite strung out, especially to the left. Stiffer to the right as could be expected.

Nonetheless it's great raw material from which to work. She will have a beautiful canter in no time. I love it when they make my job easy!

Will continue with the light schooling rides for awhile as I build up my strength and position. Also need to continue longeing her over cavaletti and possibly start some free jumping.

She's still looking skinnier than I'd like. Nothing too bad, but still needs some more over her ribs and topline. The mares in the pasture are on orchardgrass hay as of last night, so that may help. Don't want to increase her grain until she's in for the night and gets 2 feedings. We're pondering what to do. We could buy a bale of alfalfa and feed her some when she's in for her grain, or add a little oil to the Ultium. I have a feeling that by the end of the month they'll be staying in overnight, and then it won't be such an issue.

She's getting the night off tonight, or I may longe her over cavaletti if we have time.

Schooling show on Sunday (not Saturday, my bad!) so I'm excited for that. I have a feeling she will be pretty looky and possibly do a really good giraffe imitation, but other than that I think she will probably put in a pretty good ride for me. The only way to know is to find out, I suppose!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008


Some updates -- I've been busy lately, starting college and whatnot of course.

Went on a trail ride Saturday. Our friend took us on a longer ride than I'd like; it was about an hour and a half, but there were some pretty big hills and Pandora's just not in that kind of shape. She was completely willing, though, and never seemed tired or sore. A little touchy riding over gravel. She was perfectly comfortable with hills, trotting up and walking down. Fine with pretty rough terrain. Fine on the road. A little freaked out by a nearby donkey when he came running up to the fenceline braying! There was no naughty behavior though, just a very tense horse with body language screaming Get Me Out Of Here. I just asked her to walk away onto the road and she did so -- she seems to get more nervous when forced to stand still, but when provided with an outlet (walking forward) she relaxes instantly. Good pony.

She wasn't sore or anything the next day, so no harm done I suppose. Still cheerful as ever to come in and get her Ultium.

Farrier came out today and gave her a much-needed trim. I'll take pictures tomorrow. She was a dream for him, stood very nicely still, patient on the hoof stand, very polite (except for drooling a little on his back when he trimmed her fronts!). Walked off sound and straight, and appears to have more of a heel-first landing now that she's been trimmed. Her feet look good.

Her mane is being unruly again, drat it. I'll need to do more pulling on the floppiest section and then I may have to braid that piece down again. Ah well.

Haven't ridden her since Saturday. Will probably ride tomorrow.

I like working with this horse. She's always looking for the right answer. I think as we progress further in my riding with her, the experience will offer a very interesting dialogue between us. Her personality truly invites thoughtful, subtle interaction.

Our vet is coming out on the 15th to give her a general checkup and float her teeth if necessary. She dribbles some grain when she eats, but I'm not sure if she needs floating or is just a little sloppy. Previous owner said she was floated recently, so we'll see.

Off to do the calculus homework.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Longeing Over Cavaletti

Didn't have much time tonight (went straight from work to barn then home to change and go to a high school football game. I wanted to see the band play, and it was very cool, although rather strange to be in the stands instead of on the field or the podium!). Longed her over one low cavaletto.

I liked the way she focused on it as soon as she came into the arena. Warmed up without it, then did some walk and trot over it. Don't know if she's ever been asked to do cavaletti before? She seems to want to jump it, especially at the trot. On the plus side, when she did jump it from the trot, she looked very elegant and graceful, can't wait until we start jumping her.

After a few passes she figured it out, walked and trotted over it just fine. Didn't canter her over it because Mom rode her too. She's doing wonderfully at the walk, but the tucking-behind-vertical/leaning on the bit is still there at the trot. Seems to respond well to pushing her forward into a steady outside rein, lots of loops/serpentines/circles to keep her body moving, and simply ignoring the head-fussing and steadily resisting the pulling when there is some.

Ugh, can't wait until I can get on and do some serious schooling at the trot!

Spent some time with a little groundwork, working with feet, and a little massage. She seemed to enjoy it. Considering doing a little clicker work with her back feet. Practiced pulling her forelegs out forward and holding them, like a hoof stand would -- she was totally fine with it. She should be fine for that part of her trim, then, which is nice.

Then brought her in to longe over a cavaletto again. Walk and trot was much better over it, so after a bit I cantered her over it both directions. Beautiful, she was really just lovely. Nailed the distance every single time -- she is going to be a dream to canter fences. She just looked elegant, it was really nice.

I like this horse :)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


All has been going well in Pandora-land. We tried the flat, no-copper-lozenge french link and she didn't seem to prefer it any more or less than the copper lozenge one, so we just left it on the bridle.

Longeing has improved exponentially. She understands that I am asking for deceleration (or negative acceleration, ugh physics) when I send a ripple through the line. She can halt, facing either direction, without turning in, or walking for two full circles first! It's wonderful. Still a little touch-and-go with the halting, sometimes she gets it better than others, but she improves every time. It's becoming much easier to have her hold the canter, as well. Also I can adjust her trot speed with my body language: very cool. By moving her out and then backing her off, it's helping her adjustability, and I notice a definite difference in stride length and smoothness after I bring her forward and back a few times.

Since longeing is going so well, I think it will be time to start introducing cavaletti on the longe. Will probably do that tomorrow.

I think she's gaining weight. It's hard to tell when we've only had her for a couple weeks.

Consistently moving up the pecking order in the herd. She is definitely in the upper half of the mares now. Chases off ponies, Delilah (young draft X mare), McKinna (who is displeased about that situation), Bree (who ranks above McKinna), and maybe one other. So she's, I don't know, in the top 5 maybe? I don't really care where she is -- she is high enough up that she will never have to worry about getting the last hay pile or always being chased off, which is all I care about.

Need to talk to barn owner about possibly buying hay a la carte (ha!). Boarding contract provides for 4 flakes of hay per day (very nice hay), but I think I want to give her more over the winter, so I want to see if she'd be willing to charge me a little extra for an extra flake or two of hay per day. We'll see.

Need to start working a little more intensively with the hooves. I want her to be 100% solid when the farrier comes in a couple weeks. She pickes up each foot well, but takes some time to relax with the hind legs, and I have no idea how patient she is on the hoof stand.

Mom's been riding her once or twice a week and it is going well. She wants to tuck back behind the vertical still. At the walk, much of that has gone away. At the trot, she alternates between wanting to suck behind the vertical, and wanting to lean very hard on your hands -- Mom is having a bit of a hard time dealing with all of that while still pushing Pandora forward/not tensing her upper body/holding her balance and everything. I think most of the trot-fixing-work will have to happen once I'm in the saddle. I'll be lacking the leg strength (obviously) but I've dealt with a lot of stuff, so I'm comfortable multi-tasking that much.

It really does seem to be an anxiety issue rather than a stubbornness one. She's such a fast learner that I'm not worried about it at all, I just want to get riding right now to fix it! Oh well -- only about a week more (!!!!) and I get my walking boot off. I'll be back riding again ASAP :)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


Mom rode Pandora again last night. Went very well -- she gets some really nice forward walks out of her, with nose firmly in front of the vertical. Every once in awhile, usually when she gets anxious, Pandora starts tucking her nose and chewing nervously. I'm not sure exactly what to do to fix it, I think only time and relaxed riding will really take care of it, the same as horses that go above the bit. I've just been having Mom push her into a forward walk and don't worry about the reins.

Since we've only ridden her twice, it's too soon to tell how deep of a habit it is. I still want to try our other french link; I was thinking that since she usually has such a wet mouth (tends to have wet, slightly foamy lips even after just eating grain or some hay), perhaps the copper centerpiece is too much for her in the bit we're using now. I need to remember to change it out for the next time she's ridden.

We've decided to take her to the dressage schooling show on October 5th. I'll be riding by then, but I won't ride her in a test. We're taking both horses. I'm just going to hack Pandora around and ride in the warmup ring while Mom's doing her test on McKinna, and then if Pandora is doing well and nice and relaxed, then Mom will just ride her in an Intro test. It should be a fun, low-key first outing, as the barn it's at is very well-run and has a nice big outdoor warmup arena.

Two weeks and a day until I get my walking boot off!

Monday, September 8, 2008


I finally got to longe Pandora today -- till now, Mom's been doing it, but I'm walking well enough on my boot that I decided to do it.

She was great. With a bit of work, I think I got her to better understand the concept of halting, out at the end of the longe line, even facing to the right! It's very strange, and sometimes the halt is hit-or-miss. I find it odd. Sometimes she'll walk a circle or two without stopping, despite repeated commands and jerks on the line. Stepping in front of her path does nothing but confuse her and make her nervous.

It will take time and time only, I think. With most horses, I would get after them and either drive them forward or back them up when they went so long without executing the command, but I really feel like that's counterproductive with her. I'll have to experiment. For the most part, she seems to get very upset and nervous when you respond with quick discipline, such as driving her into a canter for not halting. She doesn't mind a swish of the whip. What seems to work best for discipline is when you only need to do it once to illustrate your point -- for example, she didn't pick up a trot right away when I asked, so I stepped at her aggressively and flicked the whip at her haunches. She scooted right forward into the trot, and every time thereafter she was prompt in her response.

Will definitely have to work on it more, but she is still improving. The halt will drive me crazy until it's fixed, but I think it's an understanding issue, not a stubbornness one.

Her stiffness is all but gone. Her walk starts out with a nice overstride, even before she's warmed up. She doesn't track up all the way in the trot at the beginning, but I wasn't paying much attention to how it was after a warmup. I think I'll start her over some walk cavaletti to help build some strength.

Started giving her and McKinna SandClear (psyllium) yesterday, just because they eat off the ground so much in the pasture. We'll do the recommended one-week-per-month dosage, though next time we may check her manure to see if it actually has any sand in it.

Trying to pick her hooves while she was eating her grain was a pain. She was fine for the fronts, but couldn't be bothered to pick up the backs. Eventually I got her to give each hind leg to me several times, but it took quite a bit of convincing on my part. I think she just didn't want to be bothered with it while she was eating, since she doesn't have an issue in the cross ties. Note to self - pick her feet before you put her in the stall to eat!

We've decided to take her to a dressage schooling show on October 5th. I won't have been riding for long, so Mom is going to ride her in one Intro test and I'll just hack her around and warm her up beforehand.

Still no signs of the killer-rearing-horse. Sweet as a pie, willing to please as a Golden Retriever, and getting better every day. So far, signs indicate that she's a remarkably quick learner, though it'll take more time to really determine.

That's all for the night. I'm pleased with her longeing progress.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Bath Time

Today was a fussy grooming day.

Pandora got washed all over, her mane rebraided, and her tail braided and bagged.

Did I mention that I like this mare more and more every day?

Started hosing her legs carefully because I remembered her dancing around the first day we got her when my parents hosed her scrape. She raised her head high, snorted, wanted to move around but Mom held her.

Within five minutes, she was standing still and relaxed as I ran the hose full-blast across her whole body. We got the shampoo where you attach the bottle to the hose and it just goes through, EQSolutions I think it's called. It's awesome and way less work than we're used to. With McKinna we'll still have to use QuikSilver to get her super white, but for a dirt-colored bay? MAN baths are gonna be so easy.

Did her whole body, washed her mane really well, cleaned her udder since it was rather nasty (she was totally fine with this too), washed her tail very very well, and cleaned the dock area as well. Other than tucking her butt way under when I washed her tail (poor girl, the water was probably a little cold for those parts even though it was a good 85 degrees outside), she stood totally still and was an absolute rock star.

I was very impressed.

Brushed her tail out to braid and bag it. It's actually pretty nice, rather long, a little scraggly at the end. Mom redid her mane as well, I think this is the last time we'll braid it over because it seems to be staying on one side nicely.

She dried so nice and soft!

Let her eat some hay for awhile as she dried off and put her back out in the pasture. She's settled in much better now, by the way. It's often hard to tell which one she is until I get out in the pasture, because there's so many bays and now I can't pick her out because she doesn't stand all by herself ;)

She's getting better and better about her feet, too. Just run your hand down her front legs and she'll pick it up and hold it for you; the hinds she's still a little jumpy, but if you start up on her butt and ask politely, she'll pick it up and relax quickly as you hold her hoof. I'm pleased she's calmed down about it so quickly.

Honestly, if Pandora has good athletic ability (hard to tell as I haven't ridden her much/jumped her/anything) and she's not spooky at shows, she is going to be one KILLER horse. She's very very intelligent and always ready to please, and it's amazing how fast she learns. I can't wait to see how she turns out.

Friday, September 5, 2008


Here's the picture post, with pictures from my day of riding.

Didn't go out to the barn tonight -- my dad took me and the boy out to the rifle range to learn how to shoot. Or, in better terms, we Went Shootin'. It was an interesting experience and actually pretty fun.

Anyway -- pictures! Do give me a break, I'm riding without stirrups (you can see the boot on my right leg!) and just trying to evaluate the mare, not win any contests for pretty riding ;)

A nice, relaxed walk.

More nice walk. I was experimenting with rein length, trying to see what prompted the headsetting and what didn't.

Mom riding! She got on first, and she's the only one that did any trotting as I'd rather not flop around like a dead fish on Pandora's back. Balance? Not so much. Strength in my thighs? Lord I can't wait until that comes back. No stirrup-less trotting for me.

A little close-up. See how her mane's all on the other side now?

In that last picture you can see what I'm talking about with the headset. I wasn't even touching the reins and she was wanting to tuck. I do have a picture where I asked for a little contact and she took her nose way back behind the vertical, but I decided not to post it!

An issue that will be fixed with time, patience, and forward riding, as so many issues are. She's a good horse with a willing, sensitive mind -- the biggest obstacles will be getting her to chill out a little and stop worrying, not getting her to listen! I'm really looking forward to training her in earnest once I'm out of my boot. She's a very intelligent mare and she thinks a lot, you can tell.

I have a feeling it will be a very intellectually challenging training project.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

First Ride!

Things with Pandora have been going absolutely swimmingly. Tonight my mom rode her for the first time since we went to look at her, and she threatened to steal her from me ;)

Still has that worried expression a lot of the time. Never spooks, just often looks askance at things and blows a little. It's almost cute, actually. Nevertheless, it seems to be duly fading as she settles in. I have to keep reminding myself that we haven't even had her for a week.

Getting much better about hoof-picking, though today as I was picking a front hoof she started to do that sink-back-ready-to-go-down thing, and managed to yank the leg away. I hollered at her that no, I did not appreciate having to hold her up. I picked up the foot again and she started to do it again, but I yelled and she stopped. Didn't have any trouble with any of the other feet and she stopped after the second try. On the plus side, she's almost 100% calm with picking up forelegs now, and her hind legs are getting there.

Her mane is all trained nice and pretty to one side now, except for a little chunk at the bottom that we were too lazy to do. This weekend we will probably take everything out, pull a little, and rebraid to make sure it stays on one side. I do so love primping my horses! She'll also get her tail washed. She seems to rub it, not sure if she still does or if it was in the past, but a good washing should help if she does still rub. Then we'll braid and bag the tail.

Continues to understand longeing better. Still, for whatever reason, only halts to the left. If she's walking to the right and is asked to halt, she'll turn in and face left, then halt. Bizarre. Oh well, we'll get her to understand it.

Perfect gentlewoman for tacking up. Mom rode first, declared that she has a wonderful smooth walk. Compared to McKinna the short-backed almost-pony, it's...well, not much of a comparison! But she did walking and some trotting, and Pandora was just great.

I hopped on for a little walking. She's definitely a very sensitive horse, and is thoroughly concerned about what I want her to do. You know the kind of dog whose eyes never leave you, because it wants to do exactly what you want it to, the instant you say so? That's kinda what riding her feels like. Very anxious to understand what I wanted. I kept it nice and low-key.

Moves off the leg nicely, definitely looks for the support of outside aids which is nice. Tends to mouth the bit a lot when she gets anxious, will have to see if that fades. Will try the plain french-link next, instead of the one we're using now with a copper center lozenge -- just to see if she likes the plain link better. Doubt it, but it's worth a shot. Don't think it's a bit issue.

The biggest thing is that I can feel her wanting to tuck her nose behind the vertical. Suspect that, at some point in the past, she was asked for a headset instead of working into the bit. She'll take contact, but it's too floaty and tucked-back for my taste. There were, however, some steps of nice contact without head-ducking -- perhaps the tucking is a reaction when she's feeling nervous? In any case, we'll definitely start out focusing on forward and relaxed and very much In Front Of The Vertical. She's quite happy to stretch down when you give her the reins, which is good. I have a feeling that trail rides will be very, very good for her peace of mind.

Her walk is, well, pleasant. She's much more forward than I was expecting (as I keep mentioning, her stiffness fades by the day). It's got a nice forward-back motion and almost a side-to-side sway with each step, not sure how to describe it. Nothing particularly weird, just a different walk than McKinna I suppose.

Speaking of walk, I've been watching her carefully and I am undecided. When she's walking in from the pasture with me, it often seems that she has a toe-first landing, but I'm also walking in short halting steps and she may be just going with me. On the longe I don't see quite the toe-first stabbing landing, and certainly not at the trot. So perhaps I'm just being overly concerned.

She was trimmed right before we got her, but it seems to me that she needs a trim soon anyway. Her hooves are a bit pancaked-out. I think.

Argh, I wish I was better educated about hooves. I know what looks good for the most part, and I know what looks bad for the most part, but I also can't tell exactly what is bad, or what is good. Does that make sense? I am also always worried that their hooves aren't good enough. I wonder, for example, if Pandora has a mild case of thrush. I see some black in the collateral grooves, but it doesn't smell bad, and it's not all mushy. A little soft. I don't know.

Clearly it's too late. This is a training log, not a reflection on how I feel about horse hooves!

Will post a picture-only post tomorrow from us riding today.

I'm out for the night.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

More Updates

I round-penned Pandora briefly yesterday to celebrate my discovery that I can walk on the boot without crutches. It's a limping awful gait and I can't move quickly, but I can do it well enough to turn in a circle in the middle of a sand pen. She did pretty well, though I can tell the concept of reversing is mostly lost on her. She'll do it, but only if I'm almost directly in her path. Ah, well -- something to work on.

She did pick up a nice canter for me in each direction in the round pen, a good sign. It's not terribly small, but it's small enough that it makes horses work hard to keep up a nice canter, and she was reaching under herself very well with her inside hind. Stiffness continues to fade.

She's a little wary of fly spray but doesn't mind it. She is also getting better about her hooves by the day, especially her fronts. I'm not worried about having her rock-solid by the time the farrier comes on the 30th, I think she'll be totally fine.

Today she gets the night off, and tomorrow Mom is going to ride her.

We've braided her mane all over to one side, and so far the braids are staying. Her mane will be an easy one to keep tame, I think. Sometime soon we'll wash her, if not her whole body then at least her tail. We're going to braid it and keep it bagged. If there's one thing we're good at, it's at helping the horses grow nice pretty full tails ;)

That's all I've got for the night. She continues to be light and responsive. Nervous, but not spooky, and she never reacts irrationally to whatever makes her nervous. I think it may just take her some time to settle in -- really, we've only had her for about 5 days, so I think it's to be expected.

Oh, and the blanket and boots I bought at the tack sale fit her perfectly, as does Bailey's old winter blanket, which means all I need to buy is a lightweight blanket. Score!

Monday, September 1, 2008


Past two days we've worked quite a bit on longeing Pandora. From what it appears, she was longed in the past, but not particularly well. She can walk trot and canter, but she often forgets to stay out on a large circle, and her concept of halt is sorely lacking. She'll stop, sometimes, going to the left, after several jerks on the longe line. On the plus side, she learns very very fast, and shows improvement daily. I'm not worried about it at all -- she's already learned to stay out on the circle, and it won't be long before she figures out 'ho' too.

Much to my happiness, her stiffness appears to be fading more each day. Whether it's the fact that she's being worked daily, her 24/7 turnout with horses that are only too happy to make her move her butt around, or some other reason, I'm pleased. She tracks up better at the beginning of her workouts and still improves as she warms up. Here's hoping that it continues to go away!

She's learning to love her Ultium when she comes in each day. Today she was in the cross-ties, which are directly across from her stall, when Mom put her meal in her grain bucket -- she got the wide-eyed, nickery, "I AM STARVING!" look and fidgeted until she was allowed to go in. Cute.

I think we may encounter some separation anxiety issues, will have to be very careful about that. She doesn't mind being alone, but if she is in the cross-tie area with McKinna and we take McKinna away, she gets nervous, dances around a little, and sometimes will call for her. Definitely not a huge issue, but I will be keeping a close eye on it. Horses that can't stand to be by themselves drive me crazy. Especially at shows.

She's settling in more and more every day in the mare pasture. Still gets run off by just about anybody when they decide to run her off, but she won't leave until they pin their ears and really get after her. She's comfortable wandering into the herd to eat instead of hanging at the outskirts.

Found a little thing up on the inside of her thigh which I'm pretty sure is a sarcoid. Doesn't seem to bother her at all -- will have the vet check it out when she comes out for a general checkup.

Pleased with her progress so far, and her attitude continues to be pleasant and willing. Will probably give her a break tomorrow, just a little trot around the round pen. I think Mom will hop on her for a ride sometime this week.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

She's home!

We actually ended up bringing Pandora home yesterday -- my dad wanted to go golfing today, apparently, so he suggested that we go get her a day early. I wasn't going to argue!

She is wonderful to catch. My dad wandered out into the pasture she was in and she came walking right up, then hung out with him while he gave her some love. She loads just fine; a little nervous unloading when we asked her to back out, I think turning around may be what she's used to. Nicked her right hind leg on the trailer somehow, not sure where, but she gave herself a little scrape.

Very very polite and patient. She was nervous in the barn aisle (new place, ya?) but even when Dad turned her towards him to go the other direction, she was careful to not run him over. Introduced her and McKinna and all was fine, no squealing or anything. Pandora seemed more interested in making friends than McKinna.

Put them out in the mare pasture where Pandora seemed quite timid. She sort of wandered out to the outskirts and kept her distance, got chased off by everyone a few times but we talked to the barn owner this morning and apparently she was chasing off the ponies earlier today -- a good sign, so hopefully the timidity will fade as she settles in.

Today Rose wanted to ride her. Pandora was great coming in from the pasture -- we put her in a stall to eat some hay while we got stuff out and she was a little nervous but settled down quickly to eat. We longed her and while she was a bit confused at the start, by the end she'd figured it out. Was wonderful for tacking up, the dressage saddle fits her nearly perfectly (which means, of course, that once she gains weight it won't). Rose took her to the arena and they stood for awhile while she waited for a release form to sign.

Again I was struck by how patient she is. She stood next to the mounting block for probably almost 5 minutes, totally relaxed (in an arena she's never been in before), just chilling. Didn't fidget, didn't try to walk around in circles. Just stood there. Very cool.

She was equally as good for the ride. At first she was sticking her tongue all the way out of her mouth and lolling it around -- I'm going oh awesome, she's a tongue-sticker-outer, dressage judges love that SO much -- but then I realized that when they had put the bridle on, they hadn't adjusted the fit, and the bit was hanging down wayyyy low in her mouth. After shortening it a few holes until it just touched the corners of her mouth, no more tongue lolling, thank goodness.

Still a little stiff at walk and trot. Will definitely have to start massage and stretching. On the other hand, by the end of the ride, Rose got her to do some really nice trot and walk where she was tracking up and moving pretty nicely.

Throughout the whole ride she was quiet and willing. No resistance, no rushing, just a little reluctance to move forward which I suspect is related to the stiffness. Very much hoping this is muscle related and not joint related, but she's only six, so I think it's more likely to be muscle. There's also a chance that she's footsore, as she's barefoot and her heels look awfully low to me. Will discuss with the farrier when he comes out at the end of the month.

Barn owners spread a round bale out in the mare pasture today -- YAY! Having free choice hay (for the four days that it takes the mares to chow through one, anyway) will certainly help Pandora gain some weight. We've started her on a little Ultium, and will gradually increase it till she's where she needs to be, but I'd always rather have her eat as much hay as possible.

She is a good pony :)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Getting Organized!

Bringing Pandora home in two (!!!) days.

Have started to get organized. After discussing with Mom, here's the feeding arrangements: start with small scoop (~1/4 lb) of Ultium + vitamins + raspberry leaf (we buy in bulk, so it's cheap and it sure works on McKinna). Will gradually increase the Ultium until she's at an ideal weight, then hold it there.

Last night, we started to put together a binder for each horse for their records. It's a requirement of Pony Club later in the ratings, but we already kept a calendar for McKinna, so we decided to get organized and keep detailed books for each horse. It will have a calendar for noting vet/farrier/vaccinations/clinics/shows/whatever, a folder for keeping receipts or other important data, and note paper with dividers for different sections. There will most definitely be a training/clinic notes section, which will probably get typed straight into this blog for training notes! It will also have places for detailed notes on vet or farrier visits, condition/ feeding program, exercise schedule, and whatnot.

As a person that can easily get messy but absolutely loves being ridiculously organized, I'm very excited for this.

Thankfully Pandora rides in a 5" bit, which means we don't have to go out and buy new bits - McKinna has a few extras we can use. Bailey's old dressage bridle should fit her, and from our quick test, our dressage saddle fits her (hopefully the jumping saddle will too). It would be nice to have a brown schooling bridle, but those are fairly easy to find inexpensively. Other than that, the only thing I should need to buy for her are a few blankets for the winter.

Two more days, can't wait :)

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Getting Started

Just a place to keep training logs and notes for the new girl, Pandora.

Initial assessment:

6 year old 15.2ish bay Appendix mare (unregistered, unfortunately).

Soft eye, intelligent and sensitive. Nicely muscled through shoulder and butt, but needs some weight on ribs and topline. A little nervous, but not spooky. Perfectly calm for grooming and tacking. A little squiggly in the cross ties, jumpy about hind feet but I bet that'll improve with consistent handling. Looks kinda funny right in front of the point of her croup -- have a feeling that has to do with musculature being underdeveloped because of the chiropractic issues.

Was worked by chiropractor approximately 1 month ago. Was severely out through hip, pulling spine off all up through withers. Jaw was out about 3/4 inch.

Went in a 5" single-jointed eggbutt snaffle, will switch her to a french link when she's home.

Stiff in the hind end, improves with warming up. Will work on slow conditioning, stretching & massage, and steady warmups to help her with this.

Currently on just grass hay, will start her on a little Strategy when she's home.

With previous owner (PO), story is that she randomly freaked out and reared up while hacking out at a horse trials. Subsequently she began rearing when PO attempted to mount. PO says unpredictable, puts her up on Dreamhorse; free to a good home (I believe) or she goes to OSU vet school for animal research for a term and then euthanasia. Seller says no no, I will take her, goes and picks her up; has chiropractic work done, teeth floated, feet trimmed; no issues for the 1 month Seller owns her.

Pandora was Eventing at Novice level. No idea how solidly, but she readily takes contact and stretches down on the flat. When she was shown to us, she was very calm to the fence, working out her own distances at the canter without panicking even from a long or short spot. No idea how much scope she has.

She wiggled around quite a bit for mounting when Seller mounted from the ground, but held quite still when Mom got a leg up from Dad -- suspect that mounting from the ground pulls on her back and hurts. Since we usually mount from a mounting block, shouldn't be a problem. Nevertheless, will be sure to establish politeness for mounting.

The Plan:

Bring her home, put in arena with McKinna for brief introductions, then put the two out with the Mare Herd. Put her on a pound or so of Strategy per day. Spend plenty of time grooming, fussing, and generally bonding; also take plenty of time to establish really solid ground manners now so it's not an issue later.

Start with short longeing sessions with lots of walk, a little trot, and maybe a bit of canter. Gradually build those up. Each day, spend at least 10 minutes massaging and stretching. Check tying ability; if impatient, tie her to the tie ring in the arena while McKinna is being worked and let her figure things out for herself.

Call chiropractor and find out when she'll need more work. Call farrier to let him know we have a second horse; check patience for standing and having hooves messed with. Slowly introduce riding work, short walks at first.

Work on desensitizing on the ground to build trust. Check calmness for bath, clippers, fly spray, rope swinging, tarps, ground driving. Round-pen to further establish bond and respect. Establish all in-hand skills: turns on forehand and haunches, back up, stop, trot, lead from off side, sidepass.

Train mane over to correct side and pull. Braid and bag tail.

And away we go :)