Monday, May 31, 2010

It´s a wrap!

The years most hectic weekend has come to a close, and now I´m left with a couple of thousand pics to sort through, name and file! Gonna take awhile....

"Tarzan" and Iceland

Iceland winning the Elitlopp
The international participants in the Elitlopp came away with silch as the home team dominated the finals and the winner, after the dust had settled; Iceland with driver Johnny Takter and trainer Stefan "Tarzan" Melander. More or less grown upp at Solvalla racetrack it was a childhood dream to own and train the winner in one of the worlds greatest harness race. Infront of a frantic, chanting home crowd of more than 30.000 people, Tarzan took his time making his way back from the winners circle.

Peppy will be back at the clinic Tuesday to be bred

Snapped a few pics of the mares and Polly this morning. You can see for yourself, she´s growing and looking better and better. The camo outfit she currently wares will be replaced by some bluereddish roan I think. What I do put as colour on the reg.application is still up in the air though...

Also including a pic of the freeloading seagulls traveling back and forth on our ferry all day long!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Today´s action

Chimal T.T. heading for home

Spent the day getting cold and wet at the track today. The Elitlopp weekend is underway and I had to work. Lots of great horses and 21.000 racing fans in the stands despite the weather!

Tomorrow will see about 30-35.000 if the conditions are favorable. Some pics from today:

Norways Yarrah Boko winning Harper Hanovers Lopp

Tintomara Hornline was supposed to be a broodmare in 2009. She didn´t take though and have won more than 300.000:- ($45.000) this year alone!

Italys Irving Rivarco and driver Pietro Gubellini winning todays headliner, Sweden Cup.

Irving Rivarco

Friday, May 28, 2010

Yes Show!

Got word last night the RHA changed it´s initial pollicy regarding the cowhorse class on Sunday. It´s going to be an Any bit-Any age class thus making an appearance by me and Brady possible. After crying about the few opportunitys for people like us to show, I couldn´t very well back down and hide at home, could I? Now it´s up to me to get us as ready as can be and go down there and perform!

Brady´s first time on cows, fall 2008

Wish I hadn´t let him out to pasture after the Todd Fitch clinic though. I swear, the horse expanded his girth width by two holes in just 2 day´s!! Now people gonna think he´s a broodmare or something!

Yeah, you look good!
We´ll do the best we can and it´s probably gonna be a sissy reining run to keep him with me and let it fly abit more during the cowwork. As of now we´re gunning for that last place and anything beyond that is a victory!

Theese next two weeks before the show is unfortunately pretty hectic. We´ve got the Elitlopp weekend starting today, Saturday and Sunday with all that comes with that. Next week is usually a mess with thousands of pics to sort through from the races and probably a bunch of trips to the breeding facility with Peppy. Some cows arriving Monday too. The weekend after that we´re hopefully looking at a new ranch and if that goes well we´ve got to have an inspector out and check everything, meeting the bank etc.

The Elitlopp on Sunday

Phew!, might be good to keep busy though and not get too nervous for the show and all...Would like some more time though, to work out some kinks in the horse´s and my performance. On the other hand, I don´t think I´ll ever feel ready, probably alway´s something you wish you could do better...

Thursday, May 27, 2010


Off to get some new (used actually) panels. We´ve got some cows arriving Monday and kind of a busy weekend coming up with the Elitlopp and all. Will be nice to have some regular cows to help with the grazing (and for "daddy"to play with!) The Highlands I´ve been using are a bit on the wild side to say the least.

Will let them graze ahead of the horses to help with pest and parasite control. Will set up the panels in the arena to get the whole thing enclosed. Only have 3/4 of it fenced now and somewhat of a liability working the cows there:-)

Just to let you know...

Justa Bita Pep

Had Peppy checked at the clinic this morning, not ready yet. Monday is the new date to check her and see if she´s ready to be bred. She´s not really showing heat this year so it´s abit harder than last year when she was like clockwork. She will be bred to Peeka Pep again and will hopefully give us another beautiful foal next year.

Peeka Pep

Polly is starting to shed her foalcoat and she´ll probably be brownishblueroanandmaybebay, chrystal clear right? Seriously, she looks like a painters palette right now so it´s really hard to tell. She´ll be darker than her mom and siblings though, just not real sure about colour yet.

Athena Bac
Our friend Annelies mare, Athena Bac is changing owners and will be leaving us tonight. Our farrier is the new owner and this is one horse I won´t be missing!! (Sorry Annelie, couldn´t help myself.) She´s pretty ok to handle and be around, a bit skittish and full of nerves though. What irks me most about her is that she´s a real terror out in the pasture. She wont be caught, and when you have all the other mares lined up, just wanting to be caught, she comes crashing in to `em chasing them all away! Once she´s by herself she walks right up to the gate and wants to come! When your alone getting four or five horses in from the pasture and it´s away´s to the barn, you really don´t want to run back and forth all evening, so let´s just say she´s spent a few hours by her lonesome out in the pasture!

Me and Ida had a nice ride last night. We took Brady and Elton out for a spin to check fences and stuff in the summer pasture before letting the mares out there this weekend. It was a really beautiful evening with a setting sun and a warm reddish light stroking the green grass. It doesn´t get much better than that!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Newbie Rookie Leppie Cowhorse Association

I might aswell start the above association to get my point accross. A show with Herd Work classes, Limited classes and Any Bit-Any Age classes ONLY. Hold two or three shows a year. One in the spring before the regular show season starts, one during summer a week or two before the seasons main event (Nationals?) and finish the season off with a show during the fall to scoop up all the people that got hooked watching the regular shows and wants to get their feet wet.

Instruct the judges to share and explain the scorecard and educate the contestants on what they did right and wrong. You could hold a one day event, say Saturday, use the cattle that hasn´t been over worked on Sunday for a clinic held by the judge or a "prominent" trainer, or flip it with the clinic on Saturday and the show on Sunday, even though that will mean used cattle for the show...

The NCHA of Scandinavia held a similar event two weeks ago and it was very well recieved by the people in attendance.

Now all that´s needed is an arena and a cow or two.......

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

No Show...

Well, the Ranch Horse Association has decided to strictly use the AQHA rulebook for all it´s Cowhorse classes (5 in all) during the Cow & Ranch Nationals, effectively ruling out any participation for me and Brady. He´s 7 years old so he can only compete in bridle classes in AQHA. He´s not close to beeing straight up in the bridle, not even picking the bit up properly yet.

Sure, I could put him in a correctionbit for awhile or some halfbreed with lever action, might even have him ready in time, who knows? But that´s not the way I want to go about it. He might never be a true bridlehorse, but I´m not going to deny him the opportunity to be as good a horse as he can possibly be by going against my convictions. I want him in the two rein until he´s comfortable pickin up that bridle, working of as little preassure as possible.

I honestly think it´s a shame the RHA don´t take the opportunity to get more people involved. There´s not to many shows arround that has the potential to be as great as the Cow & Ranch Nationals. Great for the contestants, great for the spectators and a great way to get people introduced to the cowhorse and what he can do. The setting at Axevalla racetrack, it doesn´t get any better than that! Everything in place. Guest stalls, showers, indoor-outdoor bleechers, restaurants, tv-monitors...Everything´s right there. The track is a natural meeting place for people, with the races held there every week.

But you also need a starting point for people with an interest to go show. You can´t just leave them hanging, wishing they could participate, and not give them a venue to do so. Forget about me and Brady for a minute, our ship has sailed and that´s not what´s important here. You need classes where people with less experience can compete at the same venue as "the real deal". As things stand now we have what, 6-7 shows total with cattle? TOTAL, Nation wide!! Correct me if I´m wrong, but that´s not a whole lot, is it? The same handful of people competing on more or less the same horses in all of them. The SRCHA have the rookie and limited classes to get people involved, and that´s great, but in how many shows this year? Three? As I said in a previous post, not having a herd work or a "freeforall, any bit(legal)-any age type" class is almost criminal, if you want the sport to grow. Now, maybe the people in charge don´t want people to get involved, maybe they want a little club of "Us"? I don´t know but I think they´re heading down a dead end street....

Monday, May 24, 2010

Todd & Brody Fitch


Got back from Styrbjörn and Monas last night. Spent the weekend there attending a clinic with accomplished Idaho Cowhorse trainer Todd Fitch and his son Brody.

Got a lot done and even got some homework, stuff to work on at home. Todd and Brody were a real pleasure to ride for and get to know. You couldn´t find more humble and agreeable people! Cast in the same mold as my friend Jeremy Dunn, they are softspoken, thoughtful and very good at communicating and relating to both horses and people.

Brady did pretty well also. He´s not been hauled a whole lot and really doesn´t care much for covered arenas or crowds. Once he got over that we started working on some reining exercises like spins, backing with a little more life, moving the hips to get him to plant better.

Me & Brady.(Photo courtesy of Quarterhill Ranch)
The cowwork went really well. He rated good turned better and showed that he´ll watch a cow. Wanted to work on cirkling and Todd and I picked out a slow one, or so we thought. Turned out to be the fastest one in the bunch! Got Brady up on her hip, were we usually park for rating and before easing up there to turn. But that´s as far as he wanted to go. Had a real problem getting him up even with that cow. He sped up when the cow did and slowed when she did, but I couldn´t for the life of me get him up paralell to her. After that session I was exhausted, more so than both the horse and the cow!

Sunday morning we started with the cowwork and picked up where we left off on Saturday. The boxing, fencing and turning went like a charm but cirkling was the same as the day before. You could get him up to her hip but no further. Todd advised me to use another horse and rider to play cow and have Brady learn to get in possition to cirkle that way. So, Annelie and Avenir, get ready!!

The afternoon session we just took it easy, worked some more on spins and getting that hip and plantleg up under him. Asked Todd to check our stop, draw and turn on the flag as finale. No problem there and he´s a lot more comfortable and consistent working the cow now.

A big thank you to Styrbjörn and Mona for getting Todd and Brody to come over, share and work with us poor, dumb Sweedes!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Laritz Arnie

We´re back to horses that has come and gone here over the years. This one we got from owner/breeder friends of ours. He was a brother to Laritz Fighter who we had here for a couple of years. This guy started his career at one of our most prominent trainers, Stig H Johansson, where Annelie worked when we met way back in the day....

Arnie with his buddy Farinelli
He was one of the most talented and gifted trotters in the crop of 1998. Unfortunatelly his mind and nerves didn´t really match his physique. As a lot of horses sired by champion Super Arnie, he was a bit of a hothead to say the least...lets just call it for what it was, he was a total criminal! Stig H new that he was capable enough, and spent countless hours devicing new training regimens, trying different way´s to get him to function on the track. After some inicial racing success, Stig H eventually gave up on him and he was moved to accomplished trainer Hans-Owe Sundberg. There the story continued. They had a special bar construction mounted on the seat of the sulky in front of him during training, to keep him from running off. Didn´t help matters that he got hurt in a ligament and had to rest for a couple of months. They finally had reached the end of the road with him and the trainer called me as a last resort. The old injury remained a problem and it was far from certain he would hold up.

We gave him a try, and I broke him to ride and started working with him. At first he was about the same in the saddle as he had been in the sulky. He innicially had only one speed and that was STAMPEEDE!! Broke him to a hackamore and started working him out in the open, riding the pastures, checking on the other horses, fixing fences that sorta thing, combined with a lot of bending and flexing exercises. He eventually calmed down enough for us to start consider training him more rationally for a comeback on the track, but his old injury flared back up. As this wasn´t a horse we felt we could trust to just anybody, we consulted the previous owners and decided to have him humanely put down. Both for the sake of the horse and piece of mind that he wouldn´t hurt himself or somebody else...

trainer Hans-Owe having his hands full

All in all he earned 190.000 sek($25.000) on the track and won 3 out of 29 races. He was disqualified in a couple of races and taken out of a few others due to him beeing unmanageable.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Brady and Norsten

Brady cut

Well, the horse felt pretty darn good for the most part yesterday. Had some issues turning right at times, got caught out of possition and turned a bit late maybe. Might be his left frontleg acting up on him. He has had some issues with it in the past so we´ll have to check him up more thorough as he doesn´t really show any lamenes...

Brady "down the fence"

He was in the two rein and worked "Norsten the Pro-Cutter" for a bit. Not much checking needed and he pretty much worked on his own. He´s never gonna be a horse that dazzles you or anything, but he felt really solid. I had some worries going down the fence, but he listened and waited for me to let him "go fetch". He was pretty calm and relaxed the whole time and it´s going to be fun to see what he can do at Styrbjörns this weekend. We´re attending a Todd Fitch cowhorse clinic over there and see if we can get any pointers...

Peppy & Polly
The pastures are really turning green! Gotta get the rest of the fences up and running and let the horses out to pasture next week probably. Polly is starting to shed her foalcoat, might be some blue there...or dark bay...or a combination...or..?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Bradys progress...

Had Brady back in the two rein again yesterday. He did really good. I woke him up alittle bit and asked more of him but at the same time made sure I wasn´t correcting him constantly and messing with him too much. I still don´t use the bridle reins much on him. Especially when things are going a bit faster. He´s just not there, and doesn´t carry the bit properly yet. I might use them some when cooling him off or when doing things at a walk or trot, but he needs to hold the bit by himself before I shorten up the bridle reins further. Will try him on the pro-cutter today and see if the control is there.

I´m not sure we´ll be able to show this year after all as the only shows we´re eligeble and some what ready for are the NRCHA two rein class. And finding one of thoose have proven to be quite difficult. Seems none of the scheduled shows we were aiming for offer a two rein class or a class Free for All, using the NRCHA rulebook...

Doesn´t really matter, as long as we´re making progress at home we´re good.

Besides, "hay siempre mañana ...."

Monday, May 17, 2010

Thoughts on showing...

A good friend of mine is in a bit of a slump as of late. He has been showing in cowhorse classes for a couple of years. He has done pretty well sometimes and , according to him, not so well at other times.

This last weekend he was at the first show of the season. Entered a bunch of classes, schooled in some of them and tried to compete in others. The result? A very frustrated friend, ready to pack it in and call it quits on showing, period!

So, the results wasn´t nearly as good as he anticipated and he now kicks himself and every foolish dream he´s ever nurtured.

I really don´t know how to respond to this, but I think something of a reallity check is in order.

Horses are living, breathing animals. They sense just about everything. Pick up on the smallest of changes in their surroundings. You might think everything is normal. You´re feeling good, pretty calm, relaxed, some butterflies ofcourse as your class is about to start, but nothing major. Everything up to this point has been ok as far as you can tell. Horse has been warmed up, he felt great, pretty much like home you think. No reason why he shouldn´t perform, right?

Well, maybe not. Here´s an educated guess, after hangin´ around this pretty special spieces for more than 35 years.

In the horses view, pretty much nothing resembles home! Some horses, like people, handle it differently.

He´s been hauled to a new location, nothing strange in itself, been hauled before. PLENTY of new horses and people around, seen that before too. New stall, geeez, who´s that in the stall next door? Fed maybe later than on weekday´s when master´s off to work, might happen at home too on sunday´s. What? not let out in my paddock after breakfast! Just maybe led around the grounds for 30 minutes, or ridden for awhile. Uhuh, somethings up! Ok, we´re going for a ride, cool! Warmups, pretty much the way we do it at home. Flex alittle, bend alittle, move shoulders, here we go, rundown, yippie!!! Now watch this left spinn, guy! What? correction I thought I did good? Just like home, can´t go as I please, gotta slow down and do it his way or he´ll reach down one rein and correct me, bummer...Unsaddle, rubb down, done are we? Box stall wait, wait, wait. The darn musik´s too loud! Turn it down!!

Master comes again. Master has the cowboyhat on, usually just wares the ballcap?..Oh well, we´ll see what he want´s...Saddling, some more warmups. Hey, this isn´t the bit we used earlier! Oh, well I know wich one it is, I kinda like this one too. Enters Arena...Wow, were did all the people come from? Masters feeling funny up there, rigid sorta...a bit stiff like...Getting old there are we, master? walking for a spell. Ok, here we go cirkling left, doing good no correction, just a little faster, is that ok? Checking? what happened to reaching down the rein and correcting? What´s with him? allright, this part I know, leadchange coming up, leadchange coming up, and...wait....wait leadchange! What, Checking again, no change? Ok have it your way then, killjoy! Oh, you wanted a slow, small cirkle. Could have told me ya´know! Leadchange,, fast, slow,, I know this routine. Change ok, wasn´t it? Rundown, rundown, rundown!!! Checking, checking, checking? how do you expect me to slide when you keep checking me the whole rundown? Man, you got two hands mister... use `em!! Spin, finally something we agree, two, thr...stop? Hey, I was just getting in the flow here! Ok, here I am. End of the arena. Nose pointed down there. Watch me burn some rubber! This is gonna be good! And we´re off!!!! no? what´s with the sissy speed? I´ve seen three legged foals walk faster than this! Check, check, check! Enough already! I´ve got it, back off! You let me run for two strides and expect me to stop?! Come on! Allrigh, spin again. This time I´ll wait for your lead. One..........two.......stop. Was that what you had in mind? Didn´t exactly bringing tears to my eyes now did it? Ok, another rundown, slow and easy, just like you li.....stop! Here? In the middle of the arena? Are you sure? ok. Backup ok, check the rearview mirrors...beeep, beeep, beep and halt, perfect!

Sorry if I got carried away there in my accounts of what might be going through a horses mind during a show. But again: Horses are living, breathing animals. They sense just about everything. Pick up on the smallest changes. The most comon problem associated with showing is that You rarely, if ever, ride your horse at a show the way you do at home. Mostly because the rules don´t let you. When your horse needs correction at home, you simply correct him. Most people I know school their mounts at home, or during warmups, riding two-handed. Even in the bridle! With all the new impressions at a show, I´d say most horses that need help staying focused on the task at hand don´t get the same support as you give them back home. You simply don´t use the same language as you do at home, hence most horses don´t respond the way they do at home.

So, back to the original problem. Keeping my friends spirit up!

Remind yorself why you´re there. Are you doing it just to place well in every class you enter? Are you there to show of your skills as a rider and trainer?

I suggest you have the mindset to use every showing as a checkup on what you and your horse need to work on. The way I see it, you should focus on the small stuff. Things you can more or less control. I would suggest you compete against yourself and yourself only. Did we nail the leadchanges better than last time? Did he read the cow better, turn better? Focus on the little things just the way you do at home. At home you break every reining manouver down in small parts and work on them, right? well, when you analyze your reining pattern for instance, you gotta evaluate it in it´s little parts aswell. But most importantly, you gotta realize you´re not giving your horse the same guidance and help at a show that you do at home. That´s often why the results do differ...

Sunday, May 16, 2010

They´re still on the island!!!

The cows summer pasture by the bay.

The moving of the critters went pretty well actually! Peoples gardens still intact, fences ok and the same number of cows at the finish as we had from the start! Just one jailbreak, the black cow "Idun" leading the charge out towards the peninsula and the pier. Me and Brady cutting through the woods and scooping them up from the other side.

Annelie had her hands full with Avenir today! Now, this is a 23-yearold going on 3!! He was as broncy as they come, bucking and jumping all over the place! He really loves life and doing stuff! This is the same horse I used the other day as a pony for the disabled kids! He just knows who´s straddling him and acts acordingly. So when Annelie mounts him and steers towards the cows he just can´t help himself.

Had grampa and the cousins out today too and he got to ride Brady for a bit. He just loves to play cowboy for awhile and lights up like a kid on christmas!

Moving the Highlands...

Time to move the neighbours Highland cattle to their summer pasture. Should be interesting to say the least! They don´t always comply and really don´t take orders very well. We´ll see how it goes. Brady and I will have our work cut out for us though....Will see if we can get Annelie aboard Avenir and help out.

Got back from Dannero in the northen parts of Sweden late last night. A little trip of some 800miles(120 sw.miles) Didn´t help me beeing sick as a dog. temp, cough and sore throat. Got the job done though, and there was some pretty good races at the track up there.

Will check back in and let you all know how it went with the Highlands, if they´re still on the island...

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Yup, more Polly

Did I tell you all how proud we are of this little filly? Well you can hear it again....

The newbie...

Super Man

This guy arrived sunday with his mama. He´s 10 day´s old and all legs. Walks like a crab with a wobbly rush every now and then. He´s a standardbred trotter by Super Photo Kosmos-Sessan CD.

Sessan CD

Also got some new pics of the girls today.

Ida & Cat


Kick The Cat

Kick The Cat
Frisky fillies

Ida & Fiffilina

one way to dismount I guess