Marehaven Farm Horses: Kelton

Kelton’s Photo Gallery

1993 Percheron/TB mare. 16.2h

When I bought Kelton in 2003, she was my absolute once-in-a-lifetime dream horse. I couldn’t have asked for anything more. She had been successfully shown at Second Level and was wonderfully easy to ride, light on the aids and very cooperative. She still remembers all of her training and would gladly offer to do what she knows, but about nine months after I brought her home I discovered that she has an old suspensory ligament injury, which limits her quite a bit. I’ve tried having it injected and giving her stall rest with light hand-walking, but each time I’ve tried to bring her back, the old injury would show up again.

I decided to just put her out on pasture because I couldn’t bear to part with her, and about two years later I noticed that she was starting to look sound. So I’ve been slowly bringing her back into work, to see how it goes. She’s doing very well at Training Level work, although I’m not yet doing a lot of schooling at the canter. I’m hoping we can do some schooling shows this summer at Training Level Tests 3 and 4, and then who knows, maybe in another year we can try First Level! But I’ll continue to go easy. No hard-core “dressage queen” riding for the Princess! She’ll also get plenty of “mental health breaks” in the form of trail riding.

Kelton’s Blog

One day we’ll ride again!

Posted on: April 13, 2012

It’s been ages since I updated this blog, in part because it’s been ages since I had the time, energy, and inclination to ride. But the beautiful weather is starting to inspire me. Now if I could just find some new riding companions! The Princess looks awfully bored and under-appreciated, and I know she’d enjoy hitting some trails. Soon, soon…

Weird winter weather

Posted on: March 28, 2010

It hasn’t been the greatest winter for trail riding, but we got out a couple of times, mostly to Pella. The first time out Kelton completely forgot that fallen logs and park benches weren’t horse-eating monsters, but she got her memory back soon enough.

We had entirely too much snow, which will be good for the pastures come spring but isn’t so good for actually getting out on the trails!

Back in the saddle!

Posted on: June 12, 2009

After several months off to recover from shoulder surgery, I’m finally riding Kelton again! Granted, mostly in the arena, as the horses and I are all out of shape. But we hope to hit the trails soon.

Kelton goes to another schooling show

Posted on: April 28, 2008

I took Kelton to a “ride a test” schooling show on Saturday and we did pretty well, especially considering (1) we were scheduled to ride at 8:30am and 9:15am and I am NOT a morning person; and (2) we did Training Level Test 4 for the first time ever. I managed to remember it, despite having learned it just a week or so earlier, but I was confused about what was wanted on one of the movements.

Because this was a “ride a test,” each rider got 15 minutes with the judge to discuss the test and re-ride portions as needed, although the re-rides didn’t factor into the scores.For the first ride we did Training Level Test 2 and earned a score of 66.87%, with the main weakness being Kelton’s canter. She’s still a little stiff and short strided at the canter, but everyone who has seen her canter agrees that she doesn’t look like she’s in pain but rather that she needs more conditioning and encouragement to change her habits. I can relate to that!

I’ve given her bute to see if that makes a difference and it doesn’t, which is further evidence that it’s not about pain. I need to start riding her more regularly and work on exercises to encourage her to reach under herself with her hind legs.

We earned only a 60.8% on Test 4 but that was due to several mistakes, including my misunderstanding of the loops and my not adequately preparing Kelton for the left lead canter, so she picked up the right lead. After I rode the test the judge explained the loops to me and had me ride them again, and that time she said “perfect.” Oh well, now I know!

Unfortunately I have no video of this ride because I was there by myself 🙁

Thank goodness she got her brain from the Percheron side!

Posted on: April 28, 2008

Kelton’s level-headed nature continues to amaze me. When I first started leading her from the trailer to the warm up arena at the show last weekend, a train went by the south end of facility and that sent her head straight up and made her go tight with tension. So we stood there for a bit and watched it pass, and then I asked to her walk with me to the arena. She settled right down and I felt fine getting on her, and she was fine in the arena even though we were alone.

She continued to be fine even as people led horses past and riders came in and out of the arena. And she was completely relaxed in the indoor arena, which we’d never been in before. It’s easy to take those sorts of things for granted until I see other horses being goofy or remember spooky or buddy sour horses I’ve known in the past.

I certainly wouldn’t say that Kelton is “bomb proof,” nor that she’s a “dead head,” not by any means, but I really like how sensible her reactions are. I’ve learned that if I just let her look at things and sort them out on her own, without trying to “make” her doing something, she gets over them quickly and will in fact usually go closer to investigate (after having given the questionable item a good, long Thoroughbred stare). I’m sure it helps that because I’ve become familiar with her reaction process, I tend to stay pretty calm in the saddle (which is not how I react on a horse whose “fear response” I don’t know anything about, even though I know that my getting tense will just make things worse!)

The other day I wanted to ride Kelton in the afternoon by there was a tractor digging a ditch for a water line right along the driveway, and one long side of my arena is right next to the driveway. I took her out there anyway and figured if she was antsy, I would either ride only on one side or leave the arena and ride in the pasture or something. She gave the tractor a good look, but when I asked her to march on by on a long rein, she did, and never gave it another thought throughout our workout. What a good girl! Have I mentioned how much I love this horse?! 😉

Kelton goes to a dressage schooling show

Posted on: April 10, 2008

I took Kelton to the schooling show at Triple Creek Ranch today to ride Training Level Test 1 and Test 2.

She was kind of wound up in the warm up arena (it was windy and horses out on pasture were running around and being silly), and I think she used up all her energy there. She was very well behaved and responsive as we rode the tests, but I could feel that she was a little tired. Nevertheless, we had fun!

Who Knew There were Alligators in Colorado?

Posted on: February 16, 2008

I took Kelton over to Pella this afternoon for our first solo ride of 2008. It’s been a while since she’s been out on her own, and when we arrived there were some other horses being tacked up, so I moved quickly so that we could be the first to head out. I wasn’t sure how she’d react to either being left by the other horses or leaving them behind, and I figured leaving them behind was the better bet. So I got on and she motored right on out in her super fast walk and didn’t look back once at the other horses. But she walked so fast that we did a figure-eight around both ponds on the east side in about 20 minutes!

We crossed the road and started on the ponds on the west side, where everything continued to go well until we came upon a large tree that had been cut down and chopped into lots of thick, long logs. The logs were stacked on both sides of the trail, so maybe that was part of the problem, but a few of them also looked a lot like alligators, although how Kelton would know what an alligator looks like is beyond me! As far as I know she’s spent her whole life in Colorado.

At first she wanted to turn around and go the other way, but I asked her to face the logs and think it over. Her head was straight up in the air and she was trembling slightly, but every few minutes she took a tentative step towards the logs and snorted at them. I let her decide when to step forward and when to stop, and after a while she finally decided she could walk quickly through “alligator alley” without being eaten. She felt pretty “coiled up” with energy, in a way that would’ve made me get off almost any other horse, but she remained pretty attentive to my requests despite her concern, so I never got nervous.

I know that accidents can still happen, but I don’t think I’ve ever trusted a horse as much as I trust Kelton (well, maybe Jigsaw). What a good girl! Even if she can’t do “correct” dressage because of her lameness issue, I’m thrilled she can still go on trail rides, and that we can go out on our own when we want a little one-on-one time with our thoughts.

More good lessons

Posted on: February 8, 2008

I’ve now had two lessons on Kelton with the dressage instructor and what a difference that has made. We’ve obviously been doing reasonably well on our own, but there are so many little things I didn’t realize I was doing that was affecting how Kelton moves, so I’m very glad to be working on that again. I guess some of them are not so little. For example, I apparently tend to ride with my right shoulder further back than the left, so even though my hands are on the same place on the reins, I’m putting more pressure on the right rein. I have in the past felt that Belle and Ivy were hanging on my right rein, and I bet that was actually my fault.

Kelton doesn’t exactly hang on the right rein, but she does tend to fall out over the left shoulder, and that could be because she’s bending too much in response to my right rein. Oops. I also apparently tip forward in my pelvis during downward transitions in a way I wasn’t aware of. I’m very conscious of keeping most of my upper body solid and centered and upright, but I had missed the pelvis part. My pelvis is poorly behaved in other ways as well! Ah, the trials and tribulations of riding with a crooked pelvis and spine… Kelton is incredibly tolerant and forgiving of my physical flaws, but I’m glad I’m now taking lessons so I can make things easier on her by improving my position.

Ready to ride the range in search of lost calves

Posted on: February 6, 2008

A friend and I rode at Boulder Valley Ranch today, despite the serious wind. I guess we were both in bad need of a trail riding fix because the weather was rather less than ideal! At times the wind howled so loud we couldn’t even hear each other speak, and at times we walked through a mist of blowing white snow that nearly obliterated the trail. But we persisted! And the horses were awesome despite the conditions.

We were riding in weather only a cowboy would normally ride in, so we figured that since we survived that, we’re pretty much ready to ride the range and look for lost cattle. Kelton and Belle beg to differ.

Flying on the Princess

Posted on: January 26, 2008

I rode Kelton last Sunday, and at first, she was kind of stiff and slow. I had to stop a few times to let her catch her breath after some trot work. But after about half an hour of suppling work, she started to feel more forward and lively. I could tell she wanted to canter, so I let her go for a lap or two in each direction, with a break in between for her to catch her breath.

She lives in a pasture that’s about an acre and a half, but she rarely moves out on her own. She and her two buddies tend to stand by the fence line, cock a hind leg, and take a nap. So I bet it felt good to her to actually stretch her legs in the arena. She wasn’t ready to quit cantering each time, but I didn’t want her to over do it. It was so fun to fly along on such a happy forward horse!

We did the same thing today. Last Sunday it was a little cool and overcast, but today it was about 50 degrees, sunny, and just perfect. I can’t wait for spring!!

First trail ride of 2008

Posted on: January 14, 2008

We got out on the trails today, at last! I met Jane at the trail head for Pella Crossing and she rode Ivy while I rode Kelton. The weather was perfect — sunny and comfortably cool — and the trails were mostly clear, with some snow left in the shady spots. Kelton was a little high-headed but overall very well behaved considering she hasn’t been out on a trail in about two months. Ivy was a star, as usual!

I can’t wait to get out again, the next time the weather cooperates.

Winter trail ride

November 26, 2007

The weather was finally nice enough today for us to hit the trails, even though they were still a bit muddy and snowy in spots. Jane and I met Fran at the trail head for the Left Hand Valley trail, which is quite close to me but I’d never been to before. I didn’t even know it was there!

The trail goes south into Boulder Valley Ranch, which of course I’ve ridden many times.

I rode Kelton, Jane rode Ivy, and Fran rode her trusty mare while ponying her chubby gelding for some exercise. The trail has lots of gates to open, so Jane and I had some fun trying to get Ivy and Kelton to figure out how to do it, but they will clearly need some lessons. When we couldn’t get the job done, Fran stepped up to do it with the gelding in tow — pretty impressive!

It’s nice that this trail is so close, but I think I like riding out from the Eagle trail head better because then you can do a loop rather than an out and back. But it was nice to be out on a ride, regardless!

More solo trail rides on Kelton

Posted on: November 23, 2007

I’ve now taken Kelton out by herself a number of times, all to Pella, and she has been super. She walks as fast as equinely possible at first, but she remains attentive and responsive to me and doesn’t do anything silly.

After about five or ten minutes I start working on things like stretching down into contact, leg yielding, shoulder-in and so on, and she does everything I ask while remaining nicely forward. She’s cooperative and responsive in the arena, but even more so on the trails, and that makes it a fun place to do some schooling. We also sometimes just cruise along on a long rein and enjoy the scenery.

I probably won’t have the chance to trail ride much over the holidays, but I look forward to getting her out on some more solo rides after the break. And I’d like to try some new places. I think she’s my best solo riding horse, even though she’s the biggest! I guess I better teach her how to open gates, since I won’t have a friend on a short horse to get off and open them for me.

Kelton goes to the Boulder Valley Dressage Show

Posted on: September 9, 2007

After some time off to recover from an injury, I put Kelton back to work in May of 2007 and we did our first show in September. You can see that she’s not exactly on the bit or round, but she’s nice and relaxed and we ended up earning the highest score for this test!