Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Dawn of the Terrible Twos

I can hardly believe it's almost 2009 and that I've owned my little filly for over six months now. We weighed and measured her again over the weekend, and she's now 834 lbs at about 14 hands. Unless she's a late bloomer, I think she may stay pony-sized. I'm not too tall, so I won't feel bad if that's the case. She might make a good kids horse someday if she has the training and the temperament.

Although Halo won't technically be two until April, she'll officially be two on January 1st for showing purposes. There's an open show at the end of January that I briefly considered taking her to, but I've decided against it for now. Firstly, I would feel bad making my fuzzy mutt filly compete against horses that may or may not have been blanketed and kept under heat lamps for the winter. I don't know how serious people down here are about that sort of thing, but given that it's a quarter horse show and they're serious about quarter horses here in Texas, I don't want to take the chance. In addition to that, I think Halo looks a bit underdeveloped for a two year old. I think by April she will have come into herself a bit more.

The next round of open shows starts in June, and I think that would be a good time to start taking her out. Hopefully some other people from the barn will want to go, and we can get a group together. It'll probably be me and a bunch of preteen girls, which would be funny more than anything else. In her own way, Halo is a preteen girl herself!

As Halo has gotten bigger and stronger, she's had a couple of minor bratty episodes. I think it will be time soon for a reminder groundwork session with the dressage whip. The other day there was a huge event at the barn, and it was also insanely windy. I walked Halo around in hand to take a look at all the goings-on. She was mostly good, if a little bit spooky about the wind. But then we tried to walk past a bus belonging to the sherriff's posse, and she decided it was a vicious horse-eating bus. Fortunately I held onto her, but it did take me a bit off guard. We then practiced walking back and forth in front of the bus. She got a bit better about it, but never completely relaxed. I would have spent more time with it, but there was a picnic table full of people that she would have plowed down if she got up to any more antics.

More recently, we had a nonverbal argument about her walking through a puddle. The princess doesn't like to get her feet wet! And when I led her out of the round pen this weekend she took off trotting down the hill (thankfully stopping before pulling all the rope out of my hands). I don't think she's doing any of these things maliciously, but as she gets older and stronger I think she's testing me to make sure I'm still boss. I noticed she no longer makes the baby face at other horses she talks to over the fence.

I'll keep records of problems and progress, but I'm not too worried. I'm not a timid woman, and I expect a mannerly filly!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Winter Slacking

As one of my readers pointed out, it has been long enough since I last posted that I can barely call myself a blogger anymore. It has been a crazy couple of months through the holidays. First we moved Halo to a new barn at the beginning of November (the nice boarding stable in Manor). She has adjusted very well and seems fat and happy. I know she will be even happier when they finally open up the bigger pastures for turnout. She's made friends with a huge, gorgeous bay mare, and they are often together in the field. She's the big mare's little blonde shadow.

Later in November we made a weeklong trip to Louisiana to visit Casi's family, and my mom also flew down from Portland. It was a great trip, and a pleasant holiday. Then, right after getting back, Casi and I moved to a new rental house in Austin. We love our new place, but it was a lot of work to get things moved over, and it definitely isn't completely unpacked yet.

Promptly following the house move, my office moved to a different building as well. So it's been a crazy season of moving for us! We are hoping it is done for now. Between the beginning of the chaos and now, Miss Halo has developed two things: a robust quarter horse rear end, and FUR.

Here's the somewhat bedraggled girl enjoying her dinner after some exercise in the outdoor arena. It was difficult to get her head out of the bucket. Typical mare.

This is the "Oh no, Mom took away my foodz!" face that she made when I took away the bucket she apparently hadn't finished licking clean.

In this last picture you can see how much her neck has devloped since I got her. It used to be so scrawny, but she's definitely filled out some. It does concern me that she's starting to look rather thick through the throatlatch. I am not sure if it is something she will grow out of with the next spurt or not. I think she may remain somewhat thick, but I think she still has some balancing out to do.

I know I have said it before, but I will say it again - it shocks me that people are riding their horses at her age. She still looks like a frankenfilly to me sometimes, which tells me that she is nowhere near mature. I will continue to do lots of ground work with her, and a bit of light longeing. In the meantime, her immaturity allows me to not feel too bad about only working with her three times each week. Right now the best thing for her is to spend most of her time just being a horse.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Winter Fuzzies and First Bitting

Miss Halo has turned overnight into a downy ball of white fluff! Even in the last picture I posted, you can see how much lighter she's gotten as her winter coat has come in. I hope to get more pictures soon, but it's been a frantic November so far. Casi and I have had multiple guests from out of town, and I've been making another attempt to do National Novel Writing Month (read: exhaustion).

She is adjusting well to the new barn, and finally got turned out with the other mares for the first time yesterday. She spent one week in an isolated pen (with other horses easily in view) as quarantine since her lymph nodes were wacky. Fortunately they seemed to go down quickly after the move, which leads me to believe she does indeed have some kind of allergy. Anyway, after her week in solitude she was moved to a similar pen within the mare pasture so that she could visit with them over the fence. And after that week she was finally let out. There was a bit of ear pinning, but nothing too violent. I think she's going to fit in just fine!

In other news, she's been doing well in her training. We've been taking advantage of an indoor arena about the size of a round pen to do some work at liberty. It has translated well to the lunge line. She's become more responsive about moving out when I ask her to, as well as going the direction I ask her to. Even at liberty, her stops have remained very prompt. She's a good girl, and very smart.

Yesterday marked a momentous occasion - her first bitting! We coated some carrots in molasses and let her get used to the taste, and then I poured some on the bit and put it in her mouth. She was a little confused at first, but mouthed the bit amicably for a while and allowed me to lead her around (from the halter) without any fussing. The Arab-sized bridle I got for her off Craigslist last year is still way too big! She's also still wearing a yearling sized halter. I am wondering how much more she is going to grow...she seems so tiny to me after dealing with 16.2 hand Smot.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Halo Health Update

Well, there's good news and bad news, neither dramatic. Bad news first - the vet doesn't know exactly what is causing Halo's lymph nodes to be so swollen. The good news is that he doesn't think it is serious, and it is likely either allergies, or just a baby "cold" of some kind. She seems fine, and is alert and happy. Unless her lymph nodes get very hot and large, he says she's cleared for her move this Thursday. Phew. I should be getting a report of some kind by email that I can show to the new barn owner.

This morning the current barn owner sent me this picture of my goofy little mare:

Silly filly!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


My horse has a fat head. Well, mouth and esophagus, mostly.

Pictures first for readers with short attention spans:

Here is the worst of the swelling. This is the lymph nodes underneath her jaw, and some other lump pictured just below them. The asymmetry is what makes me especially nervous about this. The lymph nodes are soft to the touch, while the darker lump below is extremely firm.

Here I've drawn a circle around the area that concerns me most.

Although her off side was initially the most swollen, the only picture that really shows the swelling on her muzzle is the near side.
It's very difficult to see in photographs, and I also think it looks somewhat better than it did. But you can still see a peculiar notch in the middle of her upper lip where the swelling end. She's then swollen from that notch back to the corner of her mouth as outlined below.
The swelling around her mouth is extremely firm to the touch, and she also violently objects to any probing. She's usually a little bit cautious about hands around her mouth, but she has never been reactive like she's been since this swelling cropped up.

Here is the other side of her mouth for comparison. You can't tell from the picture, but it is swollen back at the corner of her mouth as well, fairly symmetrically. However, it doesn't have that funky notch in it like the other side.

Something else very noticeable in these pictures are Halo's lovely warts. She got them from the mustang filly she's out in the field with. To my knowledge, these are just regular juvenile warts and should drop off in 1-3 months.

The area she was very swollen in on Saturday that had me really alarmed was her right cheek. It looked fine to me tonight, but maybe one of my enlightened readers will see something odd that I wasn't able to distinguish. Honestly at this point I'm so paranoid I'm likely to hallucinate a hole in her head.

The picture below outlines the area that was formerly quite swollen.

She's had some or all of this swelling happening since last Wednesday. I was out of town the weekend before, so unfortunately I didn't see her then and don't know when it all started. The only thing that has changed since then is the warts. I wormed her last Wednesday with Panacur, but she was already swollen at that point. 

Her symptoms are limited:

- No temperature.
- Lymph node swelling.
- Jaw swelling.
- Muzzle swelling near the mouth.
- She's eating and drinking normally.
- No nasal discharge other than occasionally a little bit of clear (like in the wart picture).
- She did have some lymph node swelling when I first bought her, but she was put on antibiotics and nothing ever came of it.
- She's out on 24-7 turnout in a pasture that could have pretty much any sort of native central Texas plant in it. She gets 1/2 flake of alfalfa and 1/2 scoop of Equine Junior each day.

WTF is going on with my horse?!

My thoughts are:

a. Allergies.
b. A dental issue (probably would have been my first reaction if she were older).
c. Strangles or some other upper respiratory issue. (PLEASE GOD NO!)
d. Bee sting or other insect (seems like it would have gone down more by now).

 The vet is coming on Friday to take a look at her, but if anyone has thoughts or ideas, it always eases my mind to do some research. Okay, so "eases" may be the wrong word, but at least it gives me something to do with all my nervous energy!

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Move: Final Decisions

Well, it's narrowed down to two places for Halo's future home.

The first was #1 on my previous post, the nice boarding barn. I went out there again last night. It's priced VERY reasonably for what it offers. It's also a real community. They do a lot of shows, playdays, trail rides, etc just to expose the horses to various conditions. This is definitely a place I would love to have Halo once she is started under saddle. The do a wide variety of activities, accept riders of all disciplines, and are still not a "show" barn. It's a long drive from where I live now, but won't be too terrible from the area we hope to move to in December/January. The big downside is that for now it is further to drive, and it's also about $70 more expensive per month than the other place (this includes the cost of gas, assuming 3x week visits to the barn). It is also 5 or 6 miles further from where I work than from home, and traffic is usually nasty near work.

The second place is the self-care co-op. It's the same distance from work and home, and is at least $70 cheaper per month even after factoring in hay, grain, and gas (assuming 5x week visits). Seeing Halo more frequently would be a big advantage here. I also miss cleaning stalls and doing chores - as strange as it sounds, I do enjoy just spending the time around my horse. Being the food lady has perks too - it's nice to hear your horse nicker when she sees you. The quality of the hay is very good, and the other co-op members are very responsible and conscientious horse owners. The barn itself is pretty nice, and each stall has a small individual run, so even when they are in at night they still have extra room to move. What concerns me is that the fencing is a little bit questionable for a younger horse. The fences are mostly wire (not barbed) with some hotwire and one area of barbed wire (but it's in the cedars where the horses don't usually go). The pasture is rocky, and there are TONS of prickly pears. I was worried that Halo might hurt herself on the prickly pears, but the co-op members say they haven't had any injuries related to the foliage. A temporary issue is that I will be out of town a lot for the holidays. The co-op members usually adjust their schedules to cover other people's absences, but I would feel guilty having two full weeks of travel in the first two months of boarding there.

What I think some of the choice comes down to is whether I want to join a horse community and immerse myself in that lifestyle. Alternately, the co-op will offer solitude, which I have enjoyed at my current boarding barn. As Halo matures and I do more with her training, it would be nice to have others around to share ideas and thoughts. Of course there is always the other side of that - people whose thoughts and opinions I could do without! Casi has pointed out that it might be nice to just move her where she's going to go and not have to deal with moving her again. And it is likely that I will want her to be at a busier barn once I'm starting her to ride. It's good to have people around to dial 911...

I'm feeling very conflicted. If anybody is out there reading, I'd appreciate your comments.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Spa Day at the Stable

Though not as extensive as some of our bath days, Halo got a good grooming on Sunday. I have been wanting to try a trick for tail whitening that I learned from Amy of the Guns & White Roses blog. Apparently soaking in vinegar is the trick to a glowing white tail! It seemed like a good idea to me, and since it's non-toxic and bleach free, I figured it was better than trying endless rounds of products.

Before starting, I was cautioned to make sure to put a flymask on so that Halo couldn't swish the vinegar into her eyes. She was less than thrilled at first (head-tossing ensued) but once she realized there were treats to be had if she put her head down nicely for it, it was on in short order. However, I did have to laugh at her expense once it was on.

First I did the vinegar soak, and followed it with a round of rather nasty smelling purple whitening shampoo. Then she got a deep conditioning for several minutes, and this was the result:

When I got her tail clean I noticed that not only does she have a few random black hairs, she also has some chestnut ones. There aren't many, but they stand out much more with her tail nice and clean. It's not unusual for a palomino to have random colored hairs in the tail; I believe the PHBA allows horses to have up to 15% of the hair be a different color. Halo has so few you can barely see them unless you're right up close.

While waiting for her tail to dry, I also made the long-suffering filly tolerate being braided. After the completion, I realized that maybe this was beginning to get a little creepy; after all, I'm old enough now that I don't view my horse as a large My Little Pony.

I have to admit that I get a lot of satisfaction from grooming my horse, though. There's something nice about spending time with her just fussing over her, even if all the dirt winds up all over me instead.

As if I hadn't tortured her enough, I took advantage of the trailer being parked and open to see if she'd load up. None of my previous horses have been easy to load or haul, so I was completely shocked when she followed me in with absolutely not a twitch of her ear or roll of her eye. Here she is unloading herself the second time I loaded her (the first time I DID have a halter on her).

She may be a little silly and spazzy, but she does amaze me sometimes with her aplomb.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Time to Move On

The news came last week. I mentioned offhand to the barn owner where I board that Casi and I are probably moving back to downtown when our apartment lease is up in December. Part of that move would include finding a new place for Halo. I drive 13.2 miles each way to see her now, and with a move to downtown that distance would double. I am a practical person...as much as any horse owner can be, I suppose.

Last week I got an email from the barn owner the day after our discussion, and she informed me that she would like us to find a new barn. She said they had been planning to ask me to leave November 1st with 30 days notice anyway. Brilliant. While I wasn't thrilled to hear that we were being booted out, for reasons I can't quite identify, I know that it is probably in the best interest of myself and my horse. But finding a new place can be such a challenge!

Behind the Bit has a fantastic checklist for the neurotic barn owner. Fortunately, Halo's requirements are minimal at this time. The biggest problem is that she is so young that it is silly for me to a) be at a fancy riding facility and b) lock her up in a stall all day. I am not comfortable with it at all. I want her to have a foalhood and be a horse. Stacey of BtB is right...finding the right barn really is like finding a nanny for your child!

To add to the complication of finding a new barn, not only are we moving in December, but my office is moving in December. At least I know where the office is going, whereas we don't have an apartment lined up yet. So I'm trying to make this decision with a lot of variables at play. Obviously Halo's well-being comes first, but I would like to be able to see her on a regular basis as well.

My options as of now are as follows (names withheld to protect the innocent):

1. Boarding/Lesson barn in Manor, TX. This is about 19 miles from the approximate location where we will be living, and 27 miles from my work. Pasture board gets a small pasture with other horses, run-in shelter, free choice coastal hay, mineral/salt lick, and Nutrena Safe Choice. The pastures are not very big, but they seem safe. The horses are all fat and friendly, and the tack room is the cleanest, most freakishly organized tackroom I have ever seen. I really like the barn owner. I rode a horse of hers for a while last winter, and he was an absolute pleasure to ride. Definitely not push-button, but very soft and responsive. He reminded me that I once was a very good rider! Also, I know that this barn owner would find me another one of her horses to ride for free until Halo is ready. $265/month.

2. Small, private boarding barn in Manor, TX. This is 23 miles from home and 31 miles from work, but in reality it's pretty close to the other Manor barn. They have 23 acres cross-fenced into three pastures. Run-in shelter, free choice coastal, salt/minerals, Safe Choice, and daily worming. I have an appointment to see this place on Sunday. This barn only has three boarders right now, and they are in the process of building an arena and possibly another part of their barn. It doesn't matter to me since I can't ride anyway, but it might be nice in the future. The downside is that there wouldn't be any extra horses for me to ride, and it is furthest away of the barns. It will be very hard for me to get out there with any sort of daylight left in the winter months. $270/month.

3. Co-op barn in South Austin. Initially I thought this was further away, but after checking distances it is no worse than Manor. That said, going south of Austin during rush hour is NOT the same as going east. Traffic is MUCH worse. Austin is a tall, narrow city from north to south, and traffic is much worse if you're trying to take one of the two main thoroughfares in either of those directions. Anyway, this place is equidistant from work or from home at 17 miles. There is a barn, 6 acres of pasture. There are three other horses - a 27 year old mare, her 10 year old daughter, and an older gelding. I don't know how that dynamic would work for Halo since she's a very playful little thing. Luckily she wouldn't have to fight for food since the horses are brought into their stalls to eat every night and turned out every morning. The cost of hay and farrier visits is split between the boarders, and I would need to buy my own grain. The only thing that initially worried me was them saying that they "just throw the same amount of hay to every horse." Hmm. Then again, if I go out and their horses look healthy and well taken care of, there's nothing to complain about. To board here, I would have to feed and turn horses in or out probably at least 3x per week. I will find out more details tomorrow when I visit. $85/month.

4. The final option is similar to the first, but much closer than any of the others. It is a H/J and dressage barn 9 miles from work and 15 miles from home. The benefit to this is that I would be able to get there fairly quickly after work, which would be fantastic on the weekdays. The disadvantage is that there seem to be lots of kids here. It's also the most expensive of the three options. On top of that, I'm not into showing anymore, and while I would like to do so again someday (and take some lessons) it's not a concern at all right now, and won't be for a couple of years. Pasture, stall, or pen board is available. Pasture board provides free choice coastal, salt/minerals, and Safe Choice. The owner told me that the pastures are "rocky" and that any horse pasture boarded would need front shoes at least. My reaction was WTF? given that I have been taught that rocks are good for a barefoot horse with good feet. (Granted, this does not mean you should ever make a habit of tearing around on gravel or pavement). I will not put shoes on Halo unless I have a reason, especially when I can trim her feet myself. Anyway, this is a nice facility with a big jumping arena and a lighted round pen, both of which would be great to have in order to further Halo's training. The round pen would be especially useful to get her longeing nicely. $315/month.

Clearly I need to SEE these places to make a decision. I hope the answer becomes easily evident, and that it turns out to be a solution that's good for me and my horse. I may be a horse owner on a budget, but I want to do right by Halo in every way possible.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Quarter Horses Don't Do Dressage!

Some days it seems that Halo begs to differ. The angle of this photograph doesn't do her justice, but she has a big, floaty trot. I don't know if it will diminish as she gets older and bulks up in typical quarter horse fashion. Or will she even do that? I think part of what drew me to her is that she looks a little bit like a thoroughbred, albeit a minuscule one.

Halo's walk is also nice. I think I'm going to have to put bell boots on her when I start working her in earnest, because she tracks up quite far, especially at the walk. I've always heard that it's a good thing for dressage for a horse to track up well, since it means that the horse's hind end can be more easily engaged. For non-horsey people, basically that means she's rear wheel drive.

I should add here that as a photographer, I seem to have a real knack for getting animals' butts in focus better than their heads. Case in point:

Seeing this canter picture makes me look forward to riding her in a couple of years. I know it won't be the same as my old TB's gigantic canter, but I think she'll be comfortable and agile. She's already pretty good at flying lead changes out in the field. Of course not everything she does makes me excited about riding her...

But I'm sure we'll have lots of silly fun, regardless.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

1 1/2 Years Old - It's Longe Line Time!

Longing yearlings is a controversial thing. I don't want to get into a battle with the 1.5 people who read my blog, so let me clarify up front what I'm doing with Halo. Working on the longe is stressful on a horse's legs, even an older horse, and I know that. Right now I work with Halo only 15 minutes per session, once or twice per week. Usually only once. My goals for her are very simple, and we do walk-trot work only. Mostly walking.

My goals for Halo during her longe lessons right now are that she a) moves away from the whip when cued, and b) has a good whoa. Honestly she can walk or trot around me; as long as she's going the right direction and not blasting off at mach 10 while ripping my arm out, I could care less. I don't want to overload her brain.

This filly is VERY responsive! I have done some work with voice commands while leading her on the ground, and she seems to have instantly translated it to the longe line work. For the most part her whoas have been quick and solid, and she immediately turns into the circle to look at me and receive her pat for being a good girl.

She does have her moments of confusion and wanting to switch directions at random. Basically I've approached this by vigorously insisting that she go the other way by cueing her with the whip near her outside shoulder while putting pressure on the line. As soon as she turns around and travels the way I want, I put the tip of the whip back on the ground and relax. One of the best things about Halo is that while she's quite reactive at times, she's also very quick to calm down and give you her attention.

I wish we had a round pen to work in, as I'd probably just do this at liberty instead. However, using the line will have to do! And so far, it is going remarkably well. We've taken two steps forward...hopefully we can avoid going one step back!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Stormy Weather

Last week Casi and I had the pleasure of being in Louisiana over Labor Day weekend, aka when Hurricane Gustav was hitting. Fortunately we were far enough to the northeast that all we got was a ton of rain. Nevertheless, traveling did stall out blog posting for a time.

Miss Halo apparently did quite well without her moms around to keep an eye on her. Upon our return we were regaled with stories of her extensive mud rolling and general punk behavior. For the most part though, she looked good! And in other good news, the ticks in her ears mostly seem to have dropped off, and or be dead. She even lets me touch her ears again if I am gentle, and she loves a good scratch along her mane.

halo sep 7

It is probably just delusional horse-mom vision, but every time I look at her she seems to be bigger. I don't feel like she's taller, but looking at her over this past weekend she seems to be getting more substance and width. We measured her yesterday and she is weighing in close to 700lbs. She's approximately 14h at the butt, and 13.3 at the withers. She squirms a lot though, so I'm sure the accuracy of those measurements is questionable.

Halo pulled her first extremely naughty move on Saturday, much to my surprise. She's always been quite good in hand, and not even too terrible when dealing with unfamiliar situations. On Saturday one of the barn owners let her horse go running down into the pasture while I was haltering Halo down in the field. The horses all went on alert, but Halo still stood quietly for me to get the halter on. But we got halfway up the hill and she decided to make a break for it. Fortunately I managed to hang on, so that she didn't learn she could get away by being a turkey. We made it to the top of the hill with continued fussing and whinnying, but no more escape attempts. I didn't give her any food while she was tied, but by the time she was up there, she was back to her usual placid self. She didn't give me any more trouble that day, and was excellent yesterday. But damn my shoulder hurts!

Here's the princess with her shiny polished feet (hoof conditioner).

halo sep 8b

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Mud & Puddle Jumping

Last night we were greeted by a peculiarly dirty filly! She made her way across the pasture at a deliberate walk. Casi commented that the sun would probably be down by the time she got to us, which was nearly true. But it was sweet to see her on her way - she whinnied to us about halfway there, and I was a proud horse momma. Even if she wasn't in a hurry last night, I love that she comes readily, even when it means leaving the rest of the herd behind.

Anyway, when we got her up to brush her, her creamy white tail was grey and stiff. I picked it up in confusion, slowly realizing that it was stuffed with mud and silt. Our princess is usually pretty tidy, so it was strange for her to come in covered in mud. Plus, all the mud was on her hind end. Did she sit in the pond? We'll never know.

After washing the tail and giving her a good grooming, we had a brief leading lesson with the dressage whip this time. She's very calm about the whip, likely because she hasn't had any bad experiences with it (thank goodness). I worked on tapping her lightly on the hindquarters to ask her to move her rear end over, and tapping on her chest/front legs to ask her to back up. She caught on very quickly, and also gave me a good strong trot in-hand, which she is usually grudging about. We also had the opportunity to practice crossing puddles since there are a few left near the gate of the barn. She did not want to get her little feet muddy!

To get her to cross the puddle, we started with something she knew. Her immediate reaction was to fling her head up in the air and resist. So I patiently waited for her to drop her head, and then released pressure. Soon she was sniffing the puddle and standing relaxed. This is how I hope she will behave on the trail one day. I'd much rather have her do the balk-head lower-sniff than the spaz-rear-bolt when she's confronted with something scary. Once she seemed calm, I would ask her again to come forward. If the head jerked up, I held pressure until she put it back down, and then I released. Though she wasn't thrilled about it at first, she soon crossed the puddles with a minimum of fuss. It was very rewarding to see how quickly she learned when I asked her nicely and consistently, teaching her that pressure was released when she put her head down and crossed the puddle (rather than beating her with the whip until she crossed, like some idiots might).

Halo is a truly intelligent and sensitive filly. I think it would be easy to ruin her in the wrong hands. I hope now that I am an older and more conscientious horse owner than I was as a child/teenager that I will always know when to keep pushing her, and when I need to step back from things and make sure I am being reasonable in my expectations and requests. So far things are going well, and I'm also having a good time getting back in the groove. My goal is to be able to take her to some open shows next year, and show her in Halter or other in-hand classes just to give her the experience of the show environment.

It was getting dim by the time we left last night, but I did manage to snap this one good picture of Halo. She was convinced that Casi still had treats in her pockets.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Beginners, Trust, and Bonding

Last night I finally made it to the barn with Casi in tow. I'm still a little sick, and Casi had her shorts with the "treat pockets," so she got to do a lot of the work.

When we got the filly up to brush her and take care of her, Casi asked a question that took me by surprise.

"Can I pick out her feet?"

I quickly weighed the options, shocked by the question. Casi is a hoof-picking novice, having only done it a time or two on a couple of the barn owners well-trained horses. Both those times she seemed nervous and unsure, and I certainly wouldn't have called hoof-picking one of her preferred activities. Now Halo, well, she's a hoof-picking novice, too. It was just over a month ago that she wouldn't even let us touch her legs, much less pick up her feet.

"Uh, okay," I said hesitantly, as a series of potential disasters flashed through my head. Halo stood there nonchalantly, resting one of her back legs. I gave her a fervent look.

Casi grabbed the hoof pick and went to work like it was no big deal at all. Meanwhile, I stood restlessly near Halo's head, trying to refrain from fussing with the filly in my anxiousness. Casi held Halo's off front leg probably longer than I ever have, awkwardly working away at the hoof. As the seconds ticked on, I waited for the inevitable jerk-and-stomp move from Halo. The filly blinked a blonde-lashed eye at me, standing peacefully until her foot was released.

Then it was time for a back hoof, which made my heart begin to race. What if she kicks? I thought. What if she jerks away or hurts Casi? A thousand paranoid scenarios were running through my head. By the time I shuffled through them, Casi was already done with the hoof and had moved on to the other hind leg.

As Casi made her way to the final front hoof, I could swear Halo had a smug expression on her big blazed face. But she'd earned it - I'm not sure I've ever been so proud of her as I was in that moment. And I was incredibly proud of Casi too - for taking on an activity that usually makes her nervous, and doing it like a rock star. I don't think she had any idea how on edge I was about it until afterwards.

As hard as it is to admit, especially as a paranoid re-rider, sometimes you have to trust your horse. And trust that the bond between people and horses is the best measure of what a horse is willing to do for you.

Casi explained that she felt safer doing Halo's feet because Halo is so much smaller than the other horses she's done. Also, she knows Halo and has worked with her more than the others. Of course in my mind, I had been thinking "oh-my-god-psycho-barely-trained-yearling-could-explode-at-any-second!!!" Sometimes trust trumps age or training. I am glad that my paranoia was proved wrong.

There's been a lot of talk lately about trust on a couple of blogs I read. Mugwump wrote a great post about the ability of horses to overcome our silliest errors - as long as we trust them. She told the story with the simple eloquence she always does, illustrating it with the example of her daughter's horse. The Zambito Oaks Farm blog also had a similar post called, "Young, Dumb but Havin' Fun" that was a similar reminiscence.

Thank you bloggers, and thank you Casi, for reminding me that it's not just training that makes a good horse. It's also trust in equal measure.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Water Baby

I'm sick! Summer colds are the worst, especially in Texas since it's so stupidly hot outside. Thanks to the mucous rampage occurring in my head I haven't been out to the barn since before the "Bad Boarder" post, but I'm headed out tomorrow.

The big problem at our barn right now is TICKS. Coming from Oregon, I'm not used to bugs as big as small rats being everywhere. Poor Halo has a double earful of ticks right now. Today is going to be a progress check for her since last week I treated her with Ivermectin. She even let me spray some fly spray into her ears, which I could hardly believe. I ordered some spot-treatment to help kill and repel the ticks, so hopefully with that combination arsenal in action she will once again be a happy baby.

One thing that has surprised me about Halo is her affinity for water. The first time I sprayed her, she acted like it was the apocalypse. Every time thereafter, she has seemed to mostly enjoy it. Even when she gets little bumps and scrapes, she stands quietly to be cold-hosed, especially if feed is involved. She likes to drink out of the hose, and play with the water with her lips.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Bad Self-Care Boarder

I need some advice.

I've always considered myself a responsible person, and I do my best to be a conscientious boarder. My horse lives at a private barn on 80 acres. All the horses are on 100% turnout with run-in shelter. I am the only boarder. How much trouble could I cause? Plenty, it seems.

This morning the barn owner called me at 7:30 to let me know that the horses were all in the top pasture, and she was very upset about it. She knew I'd been there because I'd replenished Halo's feed bin last night. And of course this morning the gate was wide open between the run-in for the lower pasture and the upper pasture. I am a natural suspect. There have been at least two or three extra times that I've done something wrong with a gate - usually because I've had to move some horses out of the barn area so I'd have somewhere to groom and work with Halo.

The funny thing is, this time it wasn't me. Last night as we were leaving, I told Casi to wait a minute - that I had to go back to make sure all the gates were latched. And I did, and they were. This morning....loose horses all together in the top pasture.

If I were the barn owner, I would be damn pissed too. There are very good reasons she doesn't want all the horses in together yet. There are three babies still unweaned, and her gelding (recent ex-stallion) is extremely protective of "his" mare and her baby. They are usually kept up top together, and don't go in with everyone else. So this morning, she found them all in together, and one of the other babies had an injury.

Obviously I need to do something to improve this situation. While last night wasn't my fault, plenty of times the mismanaged gates have been my fault. How hard is it to make sure all the horses are in the right places with latched gates before I leave? You wouldn't think it would be. Lately I've tried to minimize moving any of the horses, just to give me less chance to screw up. But I think I need another system.

Do I make a checklist and tape it to the dash of my car? Do I offer to pay the barn owner $5 every time a gate is closed or open that shouldn't be? These things shouldn't be hard to remember. And I would never intentionally put horses in the wrong place. My barn owner is a great person. The horses have a good life. She takes wonderful care of them and is generally just a smart, good person. Why do I keep making myself look like an idiot?

Even though last night wasn't my fault, I've still been walking around today feeling awful about it. Maybe because I am the perfect culprit for having left the gate open. If I were the barn owner, I would have placed the blame in exactly the same place. How did I become such a scattered person that I can't even latch and unlatch the right gates consistently? I could really use some advice about how to deal with this situation. It will be a while before I can leave, even if that turns out to be the best thing. As much as I like where my horse is boarded now, I would rather leave there than be the idiot who endangers the barn owner's horses by leaving the wrong gate open or closed.

Is full care a better option for me, even if it's tougher on my pocketbook? I would love to hear what advice anyone has for how to manage my own idiocy. Right now I feel so awful that I don't even want to go out there to see my horse for fear that I'll make another stupid mistake.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Owww....It Hurts So Good!

It's probably too much information for you three people out there who read this, but today my shoulders are so sore that it hurts to wear a bra! My back is a lovely tapestry of knots tied by an amazingly well-trained reining mare. As these knots were being tied, I alternately felt like a complete idiot, and a not-so-bad rider who was actually doing well fumbling her way through something completely new and different.  

I had a blast.

For the 0.02 individuals out there who stumble across this blog by accident and don't know me personally, my background is in dressage. There's a little bit of show jumping thrown in there, along with the random gamut of events that come from being part of 4-H. I am honestly not sure what kind of rider I would call myself. These days I mostly ride bareback, with adherence to the basic principles I learned in dressage. The point is, I ride english...except for one very silly venture into Western on my thoroughbred. I'm sure I looked like a complete moron, and probably have the pictures to prove it. But I digress.

So yesterday was my very first western lesson, and a reining lesson to boot. For those who don't know what reining is, I am probably the wrong person to explain it. From what I understand, it actually has some aspects in common with dressage. Each move in a dressage test earns you a score between 1 and 10, and your final score is a percentage. In reining, you enter the ring with 70 points and can gain or lose points depending on whether you screw up. Emphasis is placed on showing the horse so that his or her movements seem effortless on the part of the rider. Much of the guidance of the horse is done with seat and leg rather than reins. Both reining and dressage have freestyles, which are patterns performed to music. Beyond those basic similarities, however, they're about as alike as cell phones and crack babies.

I say that not because the fundamentals of early training are different; in fact, they are probably much alike. But the way you ride a reining horse and the way you ride a dressage horse feel completely different to me.  The biggest difference for me is that reining horses are ridden off the contact, and dressage horses are ridden on the contact. (For non-horsey people, that means in reining you have slack in the reins, and in dressage the reins should feel like supple elastic making a direct line between your hands and the bit. There is no slack, but you aren't hanging on the horse's face, either).

For my lesson I was fitted up with gigantic spurs (which I nearly tripped and killed myself on every five seconds when I was off the horse). We rode in a big shanked bit, and after some issues with the first saddle, Kyle found a midget saddle that actually fit me. We warmed up at the walk, trot, and lope. The warmup was a great confidence boost, because I found that my dressage training served me well. The reining mare was just as sensitive to my seat and leg movement as any dressage horse would be. Getting three beautiful gaits out of her was effortless. I should also mention that this was by far the most well-trained push button horse I have ever ridden. That mare knew her job, and knew it well. When it came time to get down to business, the first move we attempted was the spin.

Spinning is a transcendent experience all its own. The mare is cued with the rein across her neck, and a tap from the outside spur to push her into the spin. Then, you take your outside leg off the mare and let her do the rest of the work. Bear down into the center of the saddle when you're ready to stop. It may look unusual to a spectator, but sitting on the back of a spinning horse is an amazing experience. I was awed by the athleticism of my mount, as well as by the strange feeling of being lifted off the saddle as she spun faster and faster. It made me feel as though I were levitating. And of course, there's the intoxication dizziness always brings! Here is a video of a horse spinning in each direction:

Sliding stops were the other main feature of my lesson, and incidentally also what I had the most trouble with. I've never been much of a speed junkie, so the thought of tearing across the arena (with no walls, mind you) at mach 10 and then skidding 15 feet to a dead halt seemed a bit intimidating. I thought my stomach was going to try and exit through my feet before we did the first rundown. Also, my friend Tara warned me that I'd better sit back, or be prepared to fly over the saddle horn. Yikes! Anyway, we loped down the center of the arena, and pushed out into a slow gallop, and then I sat back. I'm sure I looked like a sack of potatoes. Poor mare! It took a few times, but I finally began to get the hang of it by the end of the lesson. Our last stop was a big old slide. Kyle whooped for us and said, "if you're going to stop like that, I guess I don't need to school that mare today!" I was happy to end on a good note and to feel like I was getting the hang of things after all.
Here is a video of a sliding stop:

And now so you don't all fear that I've gone completely to the dark side and become a true Texan, here is a very cool dressage freestyle that has gained some internet popularity of late. This is a stunning ride from Andreas Helgstrand on the mare Blue Hors Matine.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Trying Something Different

So tomorrow is my first reining lesson. I am excited and a bit nervous. Not only is it my first lesson in almost 10 years, it's also my first western lesson. I'm not sure what to expect, though I've been reading a lot lately trying to figure out what this reined cowhorse business is all about.

Mugwump gives some good advice on her blog about taking lessons. She says to listen, and ask questions. So that's what I'm going to try to do. It makes good sense, especially since I'll be in such an unfamiliar branch of equestrian sports. Surely if I can do dressage and show jumping I can do this, right? We'll see.

In other news, I got some new conformation pictures of Halo last Sunday. She's getting a lot better about being tied up, although she did have an argument or two with the tree. (The tree won). I think she's looking a lot more muscular, and seems to be growing like a weed. Of course, the growth may be purely horizontal, thus providing an optical illusion...

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Rough Weekend

I'll let the barn owner say it since she said it best:

Rest In Peace Henry Ray Magillicutty, awfully sweet and kinda smutty....my beautiful buckskin boy.

I am a heartbroken wreck.
On Wednesday, August 6th, Henry Ray went to the vet for elective cryptorchid surgery (gelding with a retained testicle~neuter for you non horsey folks)

Henry had to be put down this morning due to complications from this surgery. Williams opened him up, and the found a hole in the large bowel. He doesn't think he cut him with a scalpel, but thinks he had stitched the large intestine when closing him up. Henry suffered massive peritonitis. I am beyond grief. Williams was so sorry and felt bad. He didn't charge me for putting him down or for the final ride, and I know he didn't mean to do it. I know God has a reason, but today all I can think of is that I hauled him to his death, and that he had to suffer the last day of his life due to my choice. I had planned to take him to A&M and just didn't have the extra resources.

Henry can never be replaced, and nothing will bring him back. He was the affectionate one. The baby forever. The one who would run to me for protection, and would play the days away with anyone who would join him.

I searched for him for so many years. My buckskin boy with no white markings at all... just what I always wanted. So perfect. So kind. So loving. I will miss him more than words can express.

I can't help but feel cheated and angry, and I am struggling with acceptance today.

RIP my beautiful boy. Not a day will pass that I don't regret my choice. I hope you will forgive me in my ignorance. I will listen closer to my heart from here on out. It was a great privilege to have you in my life. I will call for you at the bridge. Please come running.

Henry was 4 yrs and 4 days old this morning. RIP Raymond. You will be missed.

I got this email on Friday morning, though a personal message from Steph preceded it by half an hour or so. It was a rough entry into the weekend. While Henry wasn't my horse, I had worked with him several times and looked forward to continuing that work after he was gelded. While cryptorchid surgery is certainly more complex than a regular gelding, it is not uncommon. There wasn't a good reason for him to die, and it certainly wasn't a likelihood.

It was a sad weekend at the barn. I went out on Friday evening, upset about Henry and about something that happened at work, and Halo whinnied and came running. She doesn't do that every day - I don't know if she just knew momma had treats or if she somehow knew I needed her. Good filly.

I remember Steph telling me about the night that Little Momma had her foal by Henry Raymond. She said even though Little Momma was up at the barn, it was like Raymond knew that it was his baby. He stayed by the gate of the lower pasture, his head raised and ears pricked toward the barn as the night wore on and the foal was born.

I wish he could have lived to see his babies grow up.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Fly Spray & Other Instruments of Torture and Death

So far I've been impressed with Halo's ability to learn and adjust to all the new things I ask her to do. Of course it probably doesn't hurt that she spends most of her days running with her other yearling buddies, AND we tend to feed her while we are working with her tied up.

The one thing she can't seem to tolerate is fly spray. While she's gotten over the sound of the sprayer for the most part, she spazzes out when the mist actually hits her skin. Silly sensitive filly. We've done a lot of work with a spray bottle filled with water, and slowly but surely she is making progress. However, her first reaction is always to back up at Mach 10 with her eyes bugged out like a frog.

Fortunately not all instruments of torture have been received with the alarm and disdain she reserves for fly spray. She had her first hoof trim last Saturday for which she stood remarkably still. She doesn't yet understand having her legs pulled forward to go on the hoof stand, but she's already learning fast. The rasp doesn't bother her at all, and she was minimally fidgety. This is the same horse who didn't even know how to have her feet picked up three weeks ago. Her toes are still a bit long in front, and she's tilted back onto her heels a little bit from lack of previous hoofcare. However, Steph is very confident that it will only take a few trims to get her sorted out, especially since she seems to have nice shapely feet to begin with. Lucky her, since her pasterns are crazy!

Out of curiosity I weighed her on Tuesday to see how she is doing on that front. She's already up to 615 if the weight tape is reading correctly. Although her ribs are still slightly visible, she is getting quite a belly! I hope it means her height is going to shoot up soon, especially in the front. She's got some catching up to do with that butt. Steph has started turning the yearlings out in the big 40 acre pasture at night, shutting them away from the round bale. I'm glad she's doing so - it is a good chance for the yearlings to do more real foraging, and get some good running in while it is nice and cool outside.

Henry and Lizzie are coming to visit Halo this weekend, so I will try to get some pictures of her and her admirers.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Baby's Got...Booty?

Quarter horses are supposed to have big butts, right? Plus there's that whole awkward yearling stage most horses go through where they're gawky and butt-high...right? These are the things I tell myself as I look at my cute one-year-three-months old filly. Yesterday we gave the little punk her first real bath, followed by her first weighing and measuring.

Look at that butt! Dear God. Although the scariest things are those spindly little pasterns of hers. I hope she grows into herself some, even if she doesn't have the best of bone on those legs. The pasterns are just so looooooong.

So now for the weights and measures; our girl is 13 hands at the withers, and 13.3 hands at the butt. According to the weight tape, she's just shy of 600 lbs. No wonder her butt looks so much bigger! I'm sure she'll even out some with time. My last baby was enormously butt-high as a yearling as well, and he grew up to be 16.2 hands. I know she won't get anywhere near that, but hopefully she'll at least catch up with her butt! That, or in the meantime I will get used to having a quarter horse.

Another way (besides chasing goats) that she's showing her cow blood is with her quick agility. One thing she came to me with was some good in-hand training. She's quite responsive on the lead rope, and pretty darn good without it as well. Here she is showing how daintily she can cross her legs over in a turn:

Try to ignore the terrible clothes. Halo probably has her head craned around to give the fisheye to the heinous outfit I'm wearing. It wouldn't be a stretch to say the little mare has better fashion sense than I do...but I digress.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Settling In

Miss Halo is quickly learning to love her new home. I get the impression that she relishes being out in the pasture all day snacking to her heart's content. I bring her up for dinner on the nights I go out, and while she eats I brush her and work with her feet. I've already picked out her feet twice now, and from now on it will be part of our daily routine. She's a smart filly.

Seeing how quick Halo is to learn makes me wonder if that is what my old horse Callie was like when he was a baby. He was a purebred but unregistered Morgan, and I got him when he was 4, green as grass...or so I thought. Later in his life he picked up on showmanship so quickly that I wasn't surprised to find out from his breeder that he had extensive halter training as a baby. What happened in the three years between then and when I got him, who knows - but none of it was good. He was smart, but spirited, and made a point of reminding you at every opportunity that he was merely allowing you to come along for the ride and that he could abort the mission at any time. Frequently he did, and I would wind up on my butt in the dirt, on a rocky trail, or embedded in a blackberry bush. But he taught me how to ride, even if he tried my patience at every turn.

I wish I knew where he is today. He'd be 19 years old this year. With how many horses go to slaughter, I worry for him now. I imagine he's still sound and as spirited as ever, but he was always difficult to keep weight on. When I sold him I wish I'd been a more aware horse person, aware of the lack of dignity with which horses are sent to slaughter every day. I wish I'd planned better for his future, and made sure to stay in touch with his new owners. At the time, I was just happy to move on to my new two year old Thoroughbred, who was a much better personality match for me. Even so, I have more respect now for that spunky little horse than I ever did at the time. Callie taught me most of what I know, and even if it can't be said that he was sweet, he was canny, athletic, and put his whole heart into every obstacle...whether it was an enormous jump in the arena or figuring out how to get a pesky girl out of the saddle so he could run free.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Homecoming and Troublemaking

Good filly! I thought as the stock trailer pulled into the driveway. Halo stood within, whinnying to the other horses, but otherwise calm and curious about her new surroundings.

We got her out, and after some high-headed looks around the property, she immediately started cropping away at the short grass . Steph and I introduced her to Chisel, the yearling mustang filly who will be her pasture buddy, and then we walked them around the perimeter of the pasture. All was well until a car went speeding past - Halo has never been near a busy road before! She spooked and plunged in a circle around me, but luckily stopped quickly and didn't escape. Good filly.

Once we let her loose, Halo made a beeline for one of the goats! I have never owned a horse bred for working cows, and as I saw her take off after that goat I started to wonder if I might be in a little over my head. It reminded me of a post I read recently about another cowhorse finding her talent. However, I hope Halo is easier to work with than that woman's horse! After deciding the goats weren't so interesting, Halo and Chisel made for the round bale. At one point when I glanced over, Halo was up to her chest in the middle of the thing, devouring it with great enthusiasm. Sadly I didn't have my camera handy at that moment.

Here are the girls, making friends:

Trying to take good pictures proved difficult, as Halo was mostly interested in eating, and Chisel was mostly interested in masticating the camera. They are both friendly fillies, and kept coming up to me while I was trying to get a good shot.

And here is a picture of Jasper, one of the new babies. Everyone is disappointed because he came out solid chestnut when a paint was the hope, but I think he is just adorable.

Anyway, it was a great night at the barn....until 5:45 am this morning when Steph called me to tell me that Halo jumped the fence during the night. Luckily she is fine, but a bit scratched up.

Bad filly!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Almost Time!

Halo comes home tomorrow! Although Casi is out of town and will miss the big day, I will surely plan to photographically document the experience. Halo's current guardians have been incredibly generous with their time, and have put in hours of work this past week on her tying and trailer loading skills. Look at the good girl now!

I am so proud of her for learning quickly, especially knowing how skittish she can sometimes be when confronted with a new situation. Steph, one of the awesome women with whom we are going to board, has assured me that ALL horses chill out after about 30 days at her place. I think she may be right, because Halo is about to have 80 acres to roam and a new best friend in the form of Chisel, Steph & Paige's mustang filly. And of course two doting moms who plan to spend hours grooming, training, and giving her lots of attention!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Swellings and Spazzes

So, the saga of bringing Halo home has been a bit...complicated. She has mysteriously swollen lymph nodes, which the vet said could indicate that she was getting or recovering from a respiratory infection. So far she shows no signs of a runny nose or any other indication of infection.

Also, the awesome people with whom we plan to pasture board Halo have been having foal drama for a couple of weeks now. Starbuck, their Quarab baby, had a rough birth and isn't nursing. Now, apparently he's also come down with some kind of sickness, which is undoubtedly attributable to missing out on mom's milk during the first 24 hours. Poor little thing.

Also, Miss Halo has insisted on setting back when tied at least once every time I come out. She's very sensitive and giving to the leadrope in hand, and most of the time when she's tied. But every now and again she'll reach the end of the leadrope and decide her halter is going to eat her head. The resulting spaz is not good for her neck or her back, and she could severely injure herself. Sigh.

So in the meantime before she comes home we've been doing what we can by visiting her once a week. During each visit she gets treats, a good brushing, and work on hoof handling. This week she even got her first (front half only) bath, which she was less than thrilled about at first. Strangely she could have cared less when I stuck her tail in a bucket to wash it. Halo's mode of operation seems to be "ZOMG it's going to eat me!!!!!!!!!!!" whenever she is faced with a new experience. Backing up very quickly and hopping around on the end of her leadrope ensues. Then when she realizes it isn't in fact going to eat her, she stands quietly flicking her ears back and forth. Silly spastic filly.

When we visit her, we like to give her some time to play at liberty in the arena. She's at the bottom of the pecking order in a very small, crowded pasture, so she probably doesn't get much opportunity to run unless she's being chased by a crabby old pony. Her favorite game to play in the arena is, Arabian Princess. Apparently nobody has informed her that Quarter Horses should not run around with their tails straight up in the air.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Evolution of a Filly

To begin, here are the earliest pictures of the Spastic Yellow Filly, now dubbed Halo.

I posted her on the message boards at Fugly Horse of the Day to get some feedback on her conformation. From these pictures, I got the following:

"She has a cute head, not typey, just cute. Throatlatch seems a little thick, but only have one pic to go on. Her neck is short and she has a false ewe neck (you will be able to work w/this when you start to ride her). Her shoulder is an ok angle, a little steep. Back is short/strong, stands downhill like most QHs and has a steep croup (again a QH thing). I would like to see her stifle placed more forward, and she needs more angulation through the gaskin area = somewhat post legged but not too too bad. She does have upright pasterns in the rear, but she is a stock breed...that's just how they come. From the side, her lower legs look clean and straight. Would have to see a head on and rear shot to confirm.

She will not be a big, long moving, slinky horse. She will be a compact mover w/shorter strides. Any horse can do english, she will just look like a QH doing it."

After that I added the pictures that were on her Craigslist ad. She is almost exactly one year old in these pictures, with much less hair.

The reactions to these pictures were somewhat less positive, especially in regard to how spindly and small her legs are.

"The ewe neck is far more pronounced in these photos. It is interesting how she looks a lot more like her brother in these pictures.

Her tiny little feet and long weak pasterns are also more evident. Her shoulder is quite upright and is closed.

Her legs are just so damn fine. Was she all winter fluff in the first photos?

I think she is really lucky she has a pretty face and is a pretty colour."

"I'm okay with her "torso"- shoulder, back, hip, barrel. She lost the pot belly and got more hip on her since the earlier pics. Beyond that... I'm not a fan of her ewe neck, loooong cannons, loooong pasterns, tiny feet/bone (echoing someone else here!), locked-looking stifles, and not terribly attractive face (but hey, her and I have that in common!). I don't think her shoulder is too upright- in the more recent pic, the shadow of where her neck meets her shoulder is much more upright than her actual slope (point of shoulder, which is very obvious, to highest part of her withers).

I'm glad you got her- she looks a lot better already, and it isn't her fault that she shouldn't have been bred. I'm just a little concerned about the long-term soundness of those pasterns, and if anything funny is going on in her stifles."

"I actually love her face... its curious and sweet. She looks like she really appreciates her upgrade in life!
Her pasterns have me concerned also. They look weak and quite long. Her hind end is funny but with regular exersise and feed she should look alot better. As for the ewe neck thats present, I've seen alot of horses compete and do quite well with one. Its alot harder to achieve roundness and collection but it can be done and once they have the muscle developed on their topline its alot easier also.
Good luck with her! I think she's well suited to her new life as a trail horse/pleasure horse! I wouldn't recommend ever jumping her but take it slow and she should be fine for what you want to do."

I agree with some of what they noticed, but I think the way she moves makes up for some of her smaller flaws. The spindly legs are of concern for me as well, but we'll see how she grows into herself. Either way, I see her making a nice pleasure, open show, or 4-H horse someday.