Ellen & Chewy

Ellen & Chewy

Friday, September 12, 2014

Summer 2014 Update

Sheesh, a couple posts in and I'm slacking already! Okay so I have a couple things to update everyone on. The last couple months have really flown by. With all the summer heat and humidity I have been doing lots of hacking and long slow fitness for my boys, but I did also get to a couple events with Chewy.

Fugi and I have been doing lots of hacking. He is now venturing further and further beyond his old comfort zone of where the other horses were. He used to very tense and not like being out of the arena on his own, but the other day we did a mile loop around the farm's property. Fugi quietly walked up and down hills, along the road, and past a herd of cows. He even went in the creek this summer! Talk about a brave OTTB! This past week I took him for his first jump lesson with Tara Ziegler. He took in the new atmosphere like an old pro, and was completely willing and game to try jumping some of Tara's jumps that he had never seen before. Flowers, blocks, an old christmas tree, even a skinny! He approached everything with eagerness and over jumped everything as if it was all too easy. He is an extremely careful jumper and I think that in time he will make a wonderful amateur or kids horse. I could have ridden him all day, he is just a pleasure to work with! One thing that Tara said that I agree with is that you can usually find a horse that is a careful jumper or brave and game to the fences, but its hard to find one that is both.  

Chewy and I have been plugging away at building his strength in the canter. He has lots of power but I'd like him to be able to push more from his hind end in a bouncy way, lifting his back and keeping his body straight. He is still young and it's my job to help him develop the muscles he needs. To work on this, I have been using ground poles to canter over. I set some up on a circle, and on both diagonals  and on the center line so that I can keep changing direction or circle where needed while getting the distance without getting strung out and losing his impulsion. I also will length and shorten his stride between poles. For example if he canters two poles at a comfortable canter in 7 strides, I will then shorten his canter to fit in 8 strides, then lengthen to fit in 6. It is very hard work for him, so to make sure he doesn't get burned out, I have been taking him on lots of hacks also. Chewy is a well-known hacking champion, so I usually take him out for longer hacks of 30-60 mins. I make sure to take him up and down hills lots, and on our hour hack he crosses a large creek and a ditch/stream. Water has never phased him, but I like getting him lots of casual exposure to things that he could see on x-country. 

In July I took Chewy to Olde Hope Farms unrecognized horse trials and then to Fair Hill recognized horse trials. I entered him at novice (2'11") for both. Olde Hope was his second unrecognized novice level attempt. The first time I took him there he was obedient on the flat (minus bucking at horse flies) and good stadium, but had a very green xc round.  It didn't help that I missed a jump and got us eliminated(Bad Ellen!). So at our second attempt there this summer we had a much better result. He had one of the best stadium rounds yet, and was much more brave xc besides a green stop at the second fence, which was a huge solid black ramp. He jumped it easily the second time and continued happily around the rest of the course. 

Next I took Chewy to Fair Hill for his first recognized horse trials, and my first recognized in two and half years. We were in a tough division with all three and four-star riders, so I don't think our placing reflected how well Chewy really did. He was very obedient and quiet in the dressage, jumped his brains out stadium with one spooky rail going in to the two-stride combination, and was brilliant and brave XC, taking everything in stride just loping around the course. What a good baby horse! He is so talented I just adore him. I'd like to improve our dressage score so that I can get him the marks he deserves. Next stop - Marlboro HT & Flora Lea HT!

Enjoy the last bit of summer,


Monday, July 7, 2014

Dapple Greys & Dapple Bays

Normally Chewy is the front runner of my string, so I wanted to take a minute to brag about my sweet little OTTB, Fugi. He has been with me for 6 months now and he is really starting to blossom. He has near automatic changes, jumps 2' courses very confidently, and has started leg yields and shoulder ins. He is such a quick learner! I adore this sweet little sports car of a horse. In 6 months he has really come far and I'm excited to see what the future holds for him.

Now, I already own a handsome dapple grey, but what about my dapple bay? When I first bought Fugi he had some dapples across his stomach and hindquarters - in the middle of winter, with no blanket! Since then we have had a little bit of a war with worms, and finding the right diet for him without making him too hot has been a bit of an experiment. We have now gotten rid of the worms, and Fugi has definitely put back on some weight, probably not quite enough yet though(darn skinny TBs). I curry the crap out him every day, and have been adding vegetable oil to his feed, and still no dapples. How in the world do you get those suckers back? I know people say most bays don't get dapples because of their genetics. Either they have the dapple gene, or they don't. But I know Fugi has the dapple gene, I saw it!

I use Manna Pro Calm Coat Premium shampoo for his sensitive skin to bathe. I feed him Nutrena Empower Boost with his feed to keep his weight up along with the vegetable oil to help his coat. Any suggestions are welcome!

Stay cool,

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

It's Official! My First Blog Post

Yesterday was Jimmy Wofford's XC clinic at Fair Hill. Chewy was his usual whimsical self, not being able to take anything seriously but leaping over everything easily. Jimmy wanted me to get a little more of a gallop going to get him to focus and be in a better balance before going to some of the spookier jumps. Don't pull, don't kick, just correct when needed and be soft. I love lessons with Mr. Wofford and I think the exposure for Chewy is great.

There was a hunter show at Grazing Acres where I board on Sunday, and my goal was to get Fugi in a baby greens class, but unfortunately I had to leave for work before the class was called. The atmosphere was a lot for poor Fugi, who has only been off the track a little over 6 months. I thought for sure his heart was going to pound through his chest, but he behaved himself beautifully. He danced around a bit, but settled after a walk around, realizing there were only ponies galloping around, no true competition for him! :) I'm hoping to get him to another show soon where we can get over some fences and prove that he is way more than just a racetrack reject. 

Chewy schooling the baby options at the water complex at Fair Hill during the Jimmy Wofford clinic