Sunday, March 31, 2013

Pin Oak Charity Horse Show & Joust

First off, no, I'm not dead yet. Between having company in town, being super-sick for more than a week, and having my computer croak on me, blogging has been at the bottom of my to-do list. But I'm feeling better, and hubby resuscitated my laptop, so hopefully it's back to regular blog posts!

When we last left off, we were heading for the Pin Oak Charity Horse Show to do a jousting demo...

Through some People Who Know People, and the generosity of a very wonderful sponsor, A' Plaisance, LTD, which is run by a good friend of ours, was invited to put on a jousting exhibition on opening night of the Pin Oak Charity Horse Show. This is a really big deal for jousting in the U.S. - the Pin Oak show is a huuuge multi-discipline show, with over 1500 competitors and 2000 horses. Participating in the show opens up the potential for jousting to move from its niche in Renaissance Festivals, dinner shows, and extreme sports to a more accessible, mainstream sport. Of course, I doubt the folks on the six-figure A hunters are going to want to participate, but it's still awesome to be able to show off that we're real riders on real horses who just happen to be in armor instead of Ariat hunt coats.

We've been rehearsing our 30 minute "show" since the beginning of the year. Even though what we do is not choreographed, in that we never know who is going to break a lance in the joust or who is going to hit whom in the mounted combat, we wanted to make sure the horses and riders knew what was expected and that the show would run smoothly. Just like with other disciplines, there are days when the best jousting horse decides he's not into it (Oberon did this last week and had to be headed into the lane), or when the most Feerless War Pony decides he's had enough. We'd tried different horse/rider combinations, different horse/horse combinations for the jousting runs, and different lineups for riding 3 abreast for our grand entrance.  We'd polished our armor, our horses were decked out to the nines, and we had a plan.

We had a mounted combat demo Wednesday and Thursday mornings for groups of school children, and they loved us. The combat was made even more fun that usual because we did it in an arena full of jumps, and the obstacles added an extra element to the game. Red was CERTAIN we were in there to jump things, but we stuck to the script and only whacked people with swords.

The main show was Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. We had a bit of a challenge with warming up, because none of the horses at the show have ever seen a horse in a caparison with an armored rider before. But apparently freaking out other horses was not enough - Red decided to take exception to the announcer and the tractor dragging the arena, and one of our many FANTASTIC ground crew had to hold his head and pet him to keep him from losing his marbles. Of course Oberon and Taran acted like they were in big coliseum-style arenas every day, lol!

The joust went off without a hitch. Hubby and his opponent hit 5 runs out of 5, and Oberon and Taran both ran straight and true. Oberon probably did not have to be headed into the lane, but we didn't want to take any chances in front of an audience. Red was NOT PLEASED that he had to stand while his buddies jousted, so we made a lot of circles while they did their runs. The next two exhibitors also had flawless runs and hard hits, until a strap broke on a shield. The jousters retired since we could not fix the equipment on the spot, and we moved on to the next portion of the show.

One of the jousters takes lesson from Pam Fowler-Grace... yes, THAT Pam Fowler-Grace, the one whose Grand Prix dressage horse, Pay-N-Go, is a Bryer model. She graciously agreed to perform a Grand Prix freestyle - to medieval music! - aboard her (now retired) horse Stars-In-Stripes. While she was performing, the jousters had their shields and jousting faceplates removed, courtesy of our amazing ground crew, and the jousting lane came down in record time.

Once Pam was done, we did our final mounted combat exhibition. Red was his usual zoomy attack-pony self, and we had a lot of good exchanges. I was super-lucky to be riding him, since my sword work isn't terribly good - you can make up for a lot if you have a good mount! We finished with our exit parade to a good round of applause by the audience.

The horse show raises money for children's hospitals, and this year there was a special little girl named Caydee that the show was sponsoring. Through the Make-A-Wish foundation, she had asked to be a princess and have knights joust for her - well, she got to be a princess at Disney, and we were the knights jousting for her! While she was unable to actually be there for the joust, it was for a wonderful reason. Two days before the show, she got her long-awaited lung transplant! She is apparently doing very well and was excited to receive the pink scarves (favors) we all wore during the joust, as well as the big card we all signed for her. It was super-special to be able to participate in something for such a special little girl.

There aren't very many pictures of the joust because the lighting in the arena was very low and the photos were all quite blurry. The few pictures that do exist are currently in private Facebook groups, so I can't share them. However, there's a few pictures on the Pin Oak Opening Knight Facebook page.

There's also a short bit from a KTRK Houston news broadcast, beginning at 1:20 (sorry, Blogger wouldn't let me embed the video).

Now that we're done with the demo, jousting will take a back seat until fall. After April or so, it simply gets too hot here to wear all the armor that's required. Besides, I HAVE A NEW PONY who will be taking up some blogging space in the near future... ;)

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Quick first ride and lesson recap

I had my first ride in Texas on Echo last night. It was short and sweet, and he was really good! It was also his first time out of an arena, to my knowledge.

Shiny Giant Pony.

We have access to a couple of arenas, but we do not currently have one at Wyvern Oaks (it’s on the list). Unfortunately, since we had to unpack from hubby’s week-long medieval reenactment event Sunday, and re-pack for the jousting show at Pin Oak Charity Horse Show last night, we didn’t have time to haul anywhere. Since Echo has proven to have a great brain, we decided that a very short trail ride – with his new BFF and security blanket, Cash – would be OK.

Bad Pawing Pony.

And it was great! Hubby held Echo while I got on using a stepstool, and Echo was totally fine with that. He even stood quietly for a few moments after I got on! Hubby took Cash out with us, but almost immediately, Echo passed him and took the lead (Cash is a bit slow these days, and Echo also has loooong legs). Echo clearly doesn’t understand about following the trail – a wide grass track – but was happy to go where directed. He looked left and right but didn’t spook at the fallen log, rock pile, or trail sign that we went by. He had one moment where he sort of flinched in place at some monster only seen by a certain dark bay horse, but he didn’t actually go anywhere. Good boy!

After a few minutes of walking, we came to the fenceline and turned to head for home. We had to walk into the tall grass at the side of the trail to do this, and he wasn’t quite sure that this was a good idea, but he stepped off the path and let the grass brush his legs after a miniscule hesitation. The walk back was equally uneventful, and he even stopped and stood for a few moments while we waited for Cash to catch up with us. Hooray! This bodes well for future trail rides, which are just the precursor to cross-country and foxhunting rides. Next time I’m hoping to take Reddums as a buddy instead, since he’s faster and even more Feerless than Cash.

So back to my lesson on Saturday. The working student who has been riding him has installed a lovely walk-trot and trot-canter transition. I, however, wasn’t as demanding and allowed him to sort of flop into his transitions. He’s a bit on the low-energy side, so I need to be clear in my demands and really mean it, or I’m going to have a lot to fix later. I also have to NOT be afraid to go to my bat if he doesn’t respond or I feel him about to break – I really swatted him once and he didn’t bat an eye, so I need to be confident that he’s not going to blast away from me if I go for the whip.

When I’m turning him, I need to make extra sure I’m turning him with my whole body – hips, shoulders, BOTH legs (esp the outside), head, and reins. He’s not a made horse where I can be subtle and expect him to follow my weight shifts and stay upright underneath me – not that I have to steer hard, but I have to be really obvious and clear in my aids. This will be good practice for me in keeping myself correct!

There are a number of position things I need to work on too. I have a tendency to chicken-wing over fences, and I also carry my elbows away from my body on the flat, instead of just letting my arms hang relaxed from my shoulders. I realized yesterday at work that I tend to rest my forearms on my desk as I type, which pulls my elbows out. I’ve changed my position at work so hopefully that will help me re-train my body to behave better. I also need to sit softer when I post. This is something that Paige was working on me with for H/J stuff, so I need to focus on this more. Finally, I am riding backwards when the horse falls in. What I mean is that I’m opening the outside rein and shifting my weight and hips to the outside. Of course this just makes them fall in more! Instead I need a steady outside rein, weight to my INSIDE stirrup, and hips/thighs supporting on the inside. I have been given explicit instructions to find a good dressage trainer, STAT. ;)

And finally, the biggest take-away from the lesson is that I must always, ALWAYS think FORWARD. I need to ride the transitions very forward, I need to ask for a big, free, swinging, FORWARD walk at all times, especially in the corners.  We did a small X a few times and he was very good, if a bit wiggly due to pilot error (that whole turning thing again). However, I am riding up to the fence and not after it, so I need to think FORWARD after the fence. Planning to land in the canter and canter away from every fence, then partway down the long side of the arena, is a Good Thing. Echo (and I) need to believe that the answer to every problem is to go forward, and then most of our problems will solve themselves.

Cute Pony!

Unfortunately we are gone for the next two days to Pin Oak, so no Echo rides. But I’ll report from the jousting tournament and horse show, so stay tuned!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Echo's epic trip to Texas


After a trip that required the coordination of no less than a dozen people, we managed to make the trip to get Echo from Adopted Horse Parent's farm back to our house. Normal people would probably accomplish this move by hopping in the truck, driving there, loading Echo, and driving back home, but here at Wyvern Oaks we try to get as many things done in one trip as possible, and make it as complex as possible, so there was slightly more to it than that.

Last week, hubby and Kiddo #2 were at a big medieval reenactment event in Mississippi. Hubby took Oberon, since there was jousting and mounted combat competitions. Since there was an empty slot in the trailer on the drive home, and since he had to drive right past Adopted Parent's Horse farm, we figured we could just pick up Echo on the way back and save ourselves an 18 hour round-trip drive.

But even that would be too simple. My parents live near Adopted Horse Parent's, and I wanted to take a lesson on Echo before bringing him home. Plus, it's a long drive back after a long week of fighting and horse activities, so hubby was happy to have some help driving home. So, Friday night I flew out to New Orleans and Mom met me at the airport. She'd asked beforehand if I wanted a shrimp po-boy, and when I got in the car, she handed me a bag. Expecting a po-boy, I opened it... only to find two pounds of carrots for Echo! I guess I know where her priorities lay, lol! I did manage to get a po-boy once we got home, YUM!

Saturday morning I visited with the folks until my Dad went and - you guessed it - left for a sailboat race (they ended up getting first place in non-spinnaker, WOOT!). Mom and I headed over to Adopted Horse Parents, where I was reunited with Echo. I'd love to make it all cheezy, but the reality is that he doesn't know me from anyone else in the universe, and proceeded to be a bit of a brat when I brought him in from the pasture. While I groomed and tacked, he pawed, slung his head around, pinned his ears when he felt like it, chewed on the cross-ties, thought about nipping my arm... you know, all the stuff baby racehorses do. He wasn't really being naughty or mean, it's just that nobody has ever told him that those behaviors aren't acceptable. Apparently he's gotten much better about things in the last few weeks, and everybody there kept saying how sweet and wonderful he was. He did have some nice moments where he stood quietly, so we'll keep working on those.

Sorry, no ride pics, just a rolling pic!

I had a good ride. Generally, I'm being too nice and not expecting enough from him. I've also got oodles of position things that I need to work on, most of which I knew about but it's good to hear and really have them sink in. I'll have to expand on that in another post so that I can remember and work on them. Echo is not a particularly forward-thinking horse, which is something I need to concentrate on at all times. Still, we had lovely trots, biiiiig uphill canters, and we finished the lesson trotting a nice X and landing in a canter. He did much better when I rode well and decisively instead of just leaving it up to him - I have to keep remember I'm riding a baby and not a made horse!

Meanwhile, hubby and kiddo had left the site right on time and were on their way to pick me and Echo up at the farm when disaster struck. One of the trailer tires delaminated and blew on the Interstate. It took off the fender with it, leaving us with a mangled piece of metal on the highway. They managed to change out to the spare, but we hadn't checked the tire pressure on the spare before leaving, and it was dangerously low. They limped to a service station, got air, then went back to find the fender.

What's left of our fender.

In the interim, I called around to find a place with trailer tires. Luckily there was a Firestone less than 10 minutes from Adopted Parent's horse farm. Mom and I went and got lunch (another shrimp po-boy, and po-boys to go for Hubby and Kiddo), then met everyone back and the farm. We unloaded Oberon and stuffed him in a stall, then took the trailer to Firestone to get the tires replaced. We debated on getting all of them replaced, but discovered that a second tire was in the process of delaminating so that made it an easy decision.  Unfortunately, one of the bolts that holds the lug nuts on sheared off when they pulled the tire off, and another had stripped the threads, so we had to make the drive home minus two lug nuts.

Getting new tires.

After we got the new tires, we headed back to the farm to load the boys. Echo paused at the base of the ramp, no doubt wondering where the heck his 18 wheeler air-ride rig was, but got on with a bit of gentle prodding. Oberon got on no problem (I SWEAR this horse was uber-naughty about loading just weeks ago. Brat!). We finally, FINALLY got on our way at 4 p.m., instead of noon like we had planned.

Echo at a gas station somewhere in Louisiana.

BUT! If you think we simply drove straight home from there, you'd be wrong. See, we have a jousting demo this Wednesday evening at Pin Oak Charity Horse show in Houston. Fuzzypony had brought Red and Taran down during the day on Saturday, and we were dropping Oberon off to meet up with them. We finally arrived at 11 p.m., unloaded, tossed Oberon out with Red and Taran (I'm sure he was wondering WTF had happened), picked up Fuzzypony (she left her rig in Houston), and then proceeded to drive the rest of the way home to Austin. We arrived about 2 a.m., stuffed Echo in the stall and told Cash to keep him company, and went to bed.

MC left this cute note in the feed room. It says "Welcome to Wyvern Oaks, Echo. You're going to love living here. Cash." MC always does the most thoughtful things! This brought tears to my eyes.

Well, we TRIED to go to bed. Cash kept calling for Red, Taran, and Oberon (who were all in Houston), and every time Cash would go around the barn corner and Echo couldn't see him, Echo would call for Cash. One downside to having your barn 20 feet from your house is that you hear everything. And let me tell you, Echo has a LOUD whinny.

This morning I went out to feed, and Echo wouldn't eat if he couldn't see Cash. So I parked Cash right outside his stall, and finally, FINALLY, we had some peace and quiet. After breakfast (which neither of them finished), I put Cash out in the pasture, snapped a lead on Echo's halter, and took Echo for a walk around the pasture to inspect everything. As far as I know he's never seen hot tape before, so we had to check out the fenceline (I had it turned on very low). He figured out to stay away from the fence without even touching it, and proceeded to spend a good 30 minutes sniffing everything. I eventually snapped off his lead and let him explore on his own, but stood out with them for another hour. Cash was hilarious - he kept pretending to charge Echo and boss him, but it's all an act. Echo will figure out in a day or so that it's a bluff, but Cash is having fun for now.

FINALLY some peace and quiet.

Naturally I have no pictures of Cash trying to boss Echo, just this one of them being cute.

By this afternoon, they were companionably sharing a pile of hay and had tidied off the breakfast leftovers. Echo hates bugs, so I've outfitted him in all of Saga's old fly gear (sniff). It's a bit big for him now, but one he gains some weight and muscle I think it will fit him OK.


And now, it's time for me to head out for evening feed. Hopefully everyone will eat everything and tonight will be much quieter - and I'll be able to get a ride in tomorrow!


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Bad habits are hard to break

Last week, Laura Crum over at Equestrian Ink wrote a great post on Freak Accidents. She made some super good common-sense points about what not to do, both under saddle and on the ground. I found myself nodding along with most of them, but when I got to the advice on ground handling, there were a bunch of things on the list were I thought, "Ooops, I do that!"

Yeah, I know, I'm baaaad.

For example, I rarely use a lead rope when we're at home. We have a system down for morning and evening feed, everyone knows their assigned places and what's expected. Oberon in the stall, Red and Taran tied in the barn, Cash in the aisle. I just grab halters and put horses where they go. Everyone plays along, except sometimes Oberon, who pretends to spook at the gate. It's no fun hanging on a spooking horse's halter sans lead, so we've started to use one on him.

I'm the worst about using a lead rope with Cash. I often don't even put a halter on him - instead, I grab his fly mask and use that to lead him. As Oldest Horse, he also gets special privileges during feeding time, in that he doesn't get tied. For whatever reason, after losing Saga, he panics if he's tied while eating, and starts pacing, completely forgetting to eat. So he gets to be loose. Usually he stays put, maybe wanders to the water trough for a quick drink before finishing his food, but he's got free rein of the place during mealtimes. I know, I know...

I'm terrible about leading horses from the "right" side (i.e. their left). I even mount them from the wrong side, and I'll use just about anything handy as a mounting block. The trailer tire well is a favorite, since it's on the way out of the barn. As to why I get them used to leading and mounting from the wrong side - years ago I worked at a guest ranch in Colorado. I had to dismount on a very steep, narrow trail, then remount again. The only option was to do this from the wrong side. Fortunately, my horse was a saint and had no issue with this concept, but since that day I intentionally do things "wrong" so that if I have to, my horse isn't upset by it.

Another bad habit - I put their blankets on in the field. No halter, no lead, just toss them on and fasten them up.  Fortunately the field isn't very big and the boys are used to this, but someday I'm going to have a shredded blanket to show for my efforts.

I've gotten complacent around the boys. I've been treating some strange lesions on Cash's right fetlock, and when I scrub him with chlorahex, I sometimes put myself in bad positions. Tonight Cash stomped at a fly and almost caught me in the face with his knee - of course my face shouldn't have been there. I'm lucky that the reminder didn't result in a bloody nose.

It's funny, when I boarded I never would have done this stuff. It's only since I've been keeping the boys at home that I've started with my bad habits. But lest you think I am a horrible horse owner, I do have some good ones.
  • I talk to the boys constantly. "Coming behind you with the wheelbarrow, Red," or "I'm going to put your blanket on now, Oberon," or "Come here so I can take your fly mask off, Cash." It seems to make a difference, they at least understand my intent if not my words. 
  • I always, ALWAYS wear barn shoes to the barn. Paddock boots or rubber boots, but never tennies or slip-ons. I also always wear pants (usually yoga pants), even if it's 100 degrees out. The boys recently had a minor altercation as I was haltering for dinner time, and I got accidentally stepped on and knocked over. I was lucky to escape with some scrapes, but I would have had a broken foot and a mile of road rash if I hadn't been wearing boots and pants.
  • I always wear a helmet. 'nuf said. :)
Of course, with Echo's pending arrival, it has occurred to me that I'm going to have to clean up my act post-haste. He's only ever led from the left, with a chain over his nose (eek!). He's only used a (normal, plastic) mounting block three times in his whole life, and today was number three. I'm thinking that using the trailer to climb aboard - from the wrong side! - is probably not going to be an option. (Note to self, add mounting block to the shopping list). We're done with blanket season, but when the time comes, I don't think I'm going to be just tossing one over him out in the field at 10 p.m. while he munches on hay.

So, what bad habits do you have around horses? I know I can't be alone!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Why it's a good thing I have Adopted Horse Parents

This weekend, my Mom and Dad went to see Echo, since they only live about 30 minutes from Adopted Horse Parent's farm. This was actually nothing short of a miracle - my parents are die-hard sailors, and were convinced I was switched at birth with some horse-loving family's child. Don't get me wrong, they supported my riding habit, but could never understand why I'd want to get up at 5 a.m. to go to a horse show. Of course, THEY were getting up at 5 a.m. to go race their sailboat, but whatever.

Anyway, Sunday afternoon, I got a text from Mom that read:  "On way to visit Echo.... can he have some carrots?"

To which I responded: "I think he eats carrots now but you'd have to ask Adopted Horse Dad. Of course he can have lots! Love you! And send pics with you and Echo!"

Moments later, I got a text picture. I embiggened it, expecting to see a cute picture of my father feeding Echo carrots.

Instead, I got a picture of Adopted Horse Dad EATING ECHO'S CARROTS.


I quickly texted Mom back: "That's ADOPTED HORSE DAD eating a carrot! You were supposed to feed the carrots to ECHO!!! Where's the pic of ECHO eating a carrot?!?"

I have since been reassured (although I have not yet seen photographic evidence) that Echo did indeed get a few carrots, and that my parents did in fact feed them to Echo instead of to Adopted Horse Dad.

I told y'all there was a good reason I needed some adopted horsey parents!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Pics from Pine Hill HT with Red

Remember back in January when I did the HT with Red? We finally got our pro pics, yay! They were just stadium, I wore my vest instead of my coat, and my saddle pad didn't match my vest 'cause I was in an all-fired hurry to get to the warm-up arena, but other than that... we don't suck!

Cute Feerless War Pony rocks stadium!

I am super proud of my position here. I'm solid in the saddle, totally with him, and I'm not doing the Funky Chicken with my elbows. Alas, as my H/J trainer is ALWAYS telling me, I need to pull my stirrups up a hole (or three). An automatic release would be nice too, but I've never mastered that, so... something to work on!

I'm really looking forward to showing Echo this fall over some baby stuff, but if I'm honest I would love to take Red again too. He was just such a BLAST to ride, and I'm really proud that I navigated him around an entire XC course that he'd never seen or practiced before. 

We'll just ignore the dressage part, mmmkay? ;)

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Good thing I have a vet kit!

I managed to stab through my pinkie finger with a sharp knife, while cutting frozen butter to make rolls. No really, I did. Talented, eh?

After quickly grabbing a kitchen towel to avoid bleeding all over the floor, I took stock. The knife had gone through the meaty part of the tip of my finger, and the tip of the knife had come out the other side. Yeesh. Fortunately the entrance point wasn't too big, so I decided I wouldn't need stitches.

Entrance on left, exit point on right.  It takes talent to do something like this!

It's a little hard to dig through the medicine cabinet with one hand while trying to keep pressure on your bleeding finger with the other, but it didn't take long for me to realize that we didn't have any Band-aids. Or hydrogen peroxide. Or alcohol? Huh, I didn't realize we were that badly stocked for emergencies. Ooops.

Luckily, since the horses are right outside my door, I have a well-stocked vet-kit readily available. I headed to the barn and considered the options. First, I rinsed my finger gently with chlorahexadine. That's a surgical scrub and the best thing I had on hand. Next, I got out a square of non-stick sterile gauze and cut it down to something more finger-sized. I found the vetwrap and snipped off an appropriate-sized piece. I dipped my finger in Silvadine (a super-strength healing cream that they use for burn victims), wrapped it in the gauze, and covered the whole thing in a blob of vetwrap.

Classy, eh?

It even fit in my glove for evening chores! It's a little sore, and I'm not looking forward to one-handed cooking, but hopefully it will heal quickly and cleanly.

Please tell me I'm not the only one who has raided their horse's vet kit for meds before?

P.S. I found the hydrogen peroxide and the alcohol. In the vet kit. The human band-aids are still MIA.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

One week till ECHO!!!!

This time next week, I'll be taking a lesson on Echo, just before stuffing him in a trailer and bringing him home.

And not a moment too soon, either. The working student who is riding him wants to keep him. Adopted Horse Dad says he's going to find another horse with the same markings and give me THAT horse, so he can keep Echo for himself. Adopted Horse Mom is probably tired of my calls, but has nothing but good stuff to say about how smart he is, how willing, and how calm.

How I wish this were me riding him.

Hopefully he'll stay that way once I get him home, lol!

Yesterday (Friday) was his sixth ride. He's really pushing from behind in the trot, very balanced and steady. They have started him over poles on the ground, and yesterday did a tiny X. Adopted Horse Mom says he approaches everything carefully but boldly, figures it out, and then does it. He's careful with his feet and doesn't rush things. He also now eats carrots, and yesterday was his first time to use a mounting block - which he apparently did like he's done it all his life.

It's kind of like having your child come home with all A's on their report card, you know?

Love the canter!

The only thing of concern is that he doesn't have much energy. We're not sure if this is just him being really laid back (not a bad thing!), or if he needs a different feed. He's currently getting 12 lbs of TC Senior per day, which is what is most comparable to the feed he was getting at GoldMark. I contacted Triple Crown (LOVE their online chat feature) and asked for a recommendation for a higher-energy feed. When he gets here, I'll be moving him to TC Complete, which is about the same in terms of fat and protein as the Senior but has a bit more calories per pound. We'll give him a few weeks on that, along with all the hay he can eat, and if things don't change, we'll add in some ground flax.

I feel like a kid at Christmas or something. I can hardly wait till next Saturday!


Saturday, March 2, 2013

Echo progress update

Lots has happened since I posted about my whirlwind trip to Ocala to meet Echo Tango. First off, I officially bought him! I have the registration and Jockey Club transfer papers in my hot little hands, woot! Then last week he got shipped from Ocala to the New Orleans Fairgrounds, where he was picked up (at oh-dark-thirty in the morning, when apparently everything happens at the racetrack) by my Adopted Horse Dad.

Quick aside: my parents are sailors. When I was growing up, they knew nothing about horses, so I had to go find some horsey parents. My dad used to work with Adopted Horse Dad, and Adopted Horse Mom is the one who taught me to ride with an independent hand and seat (six months on the longe line, thank you very much). Adopted Horse Parents still live near New Orleans, and offered to get Echo and board him until I could come pick him up. BEST PLAN EVER!!!

Anyway, Echo is going to stay with Adopted Horse Parents at their lovely facility until I can get him in mid-March. They have a lovely working student who is going to put in a few rides on him for me.

Although I really want to call every few hours to ask how Echo is doing, I've been restraining myself admirably (earlier this week I went three whole days.) Apparently Echo has been very good so far. He's been seen by the vet and had his teeth done, and we also wormed him since he was looking rather ribby despite quite a lot of feed (fecal came back negative, but who knows what's encysted?). He's been getting as much turnout as possible, despite the monsoon rains they've been having. However, he spends most of his time staring over the back fence at the neighbor's cows. I rather doubt he's ever seen one before in his life.


I've asked Adopted Horse Mom to have a talk with him about the cows. 'Cause, you know, there are cows in Texas. A LOT of cows in Texas. And um, we have mini donks next door to us, and llamas across the street. Horse-eating llamas. I can't wait for that encounter!

Anywho, this Thursday, they took him for a bit of an in-hand walk to the arena. He spooked once, which involved planting all four feet and looooking at a cow that had stood up 300 yards away. I'm good with that kind of spook! In the arena, he was very interested in the blue barrels. Apparently he stood and looked at them for a moment, but eventually approached them and touched one with his nose. It was set between two ground poles, so when he touched it, it rocked. HORSE TOY!!!! He spent the next few minutes entertaining himself by rocking the blue barrels. After that, he didn't bat an eye at them.

He may need a snorkel and floaties if he's going to stay in Louisiana for much longer!

Yesterday was his first ride. Adopted Horse Mom said that he "didn't put a foot out of place." He continued to keep one eye on the cows, but she said his steering was quite good (considering), brakes were good, and he's already starting to reach forward and relax into the bridle. This is the kind of progress report a horse mum likes to hear!

They will continue to squeeze rides in when they can between now and the 16th, when I pick him up. Which is in 14 days, 5 hours, and 23 minutes. In case you were wondering.