Monday, November 25, 2013

Tess

Four years ago today...



I still miss that mare. 



From the most unlikely places, the horses we may have never before considered
We learn a lot and are changed forever.

Thanks to a wonky legged, long eared, red TB mare with a ton of personality who loved to jump big!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Berry

Almost 4 years to the day since the last time we had to put down a horse, we lost Berry. She passed away Monday afternoon at the age of 31 and true to her nature, she fought the good fight right up until the very end. She was a very strong willed horse.

Berry was one of those mares that did as she pleased for the most part. She was truly the alpha in the herd and was not afraid to make everyone take notice. For anyone who doubts that big things come in small packages? That little mare had a huge heart and never stopped or gave up unless it was her idea. When that happened, forget asking her to do anything because she was having no part of it.

Not long after we brought her home, I decided to take her out on my usual weekend ride with the neighbor. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. JR was headed off to work to check a few things and questioned my decision. I brushed him off saying "The mare had been shown so I'm sure she knows how to go, stop and turn both directions..." I lunged her a little, tacked her up, hopped on and headed down the road to meet the neighbor.

All the way there the mare was on high alert. Head up, walking fast if not jigging and dancing around and several whinnies later, we finally headed in the driveway. I may have even gotten off while M was tacking her mare up. Berry was sorta okay with the idea of standing around, but she made it clear that it really wasn't on her agenda. I remember asking my friend how old she thought the mare is and she guessed around 12 or so. She was a bit surprised when I told her the horse was 24. We both figured that since there would be another horse with her for company, she would settle down and relax and I could enjoy the ride... HA!

We headed out into the desert and for the next two and a half hours that mare did about everything she could to hustle things along. She walked incredibly fast and when I circled her back around to behind my friends horse, she jigged and jogged and danced and trotted to catch up and then tried to keep on going. She never really did anything wrong, she just never slowed down.

My body was aching and there were a few times I got off and walked. I just couldn't take it...  This was supposed to be a quiet, easygoing, enjoyable ride through the desert and with Berry as my chosen mount it was turning out to be anything but! There was a picnic table out under a large mesquite tree and we would ride out to it, sit and relax a while and talk, then mount up and mosey our way back home. I had hoped the ride back might be different from the ride out. Yeah, no so much.

Almost all the way back, it wasn't much different than the way out. Berry was walking at a pretty good clip and we circled around my friend and her mare countless times. Berry jigged and jogged, danced and pranced and again I got off and walked a ways too, to let my body recover from the torture she was dishing out. Luckily that day we did not meet up with any cattle. Who knows how that might have gone down if we had?

Berry did not settle down and just walk until we were in sight of the gate going back into the neighborhood. JR had called and was on his way to meet us and seen the mare just walking casually along. He thought that was how she had behaved for me the entire time. Only when we got closer could he see that she was covered in sweat from her antics because it was pretty warm out.  By that point I was pretty tired too and wouldn't you just know it? She walked along so casually the rest of the way home. That was just Berry and her personality. It was all or nothing with her. Point, shoot and hang on because she was going. If you were still on when she got there, good. If not, too bad because she didn't seem to care.

I can only imagine there is some cowboy in heaven that needed a good horse with the courage, determination and stamina to go all day long. We sent them the best horse we had for the job.  RIP BB Tucker (aka Berry Berry Girl)

Friday, October 11, 2013

I'm still here

I know it has been a while since I posted anything on the blogs.  Looking at both of them, the last posts sound almost depressing and like things have not gone all that well. Truth is, sometimes they just don't.  You don't have the best of rides, you don't get as much saddle time in as you'd like and things just go haywire in between.

I did get to ride with the neighbor a few weeks back. I texted my new neighbor as I passed by her house on the way out and teased her about why she wasn't out tacking up. Turned out she was called in to work, which was unusual for her on a Saturday. Maybe another time?

I finally got the farrier out to reset the shoes on Aruba, which was a bit overdue, so now maybe I can get back to getting on her and see where everything is at? I trimmed Katman and got his feet back to good and can start driving him again soon- hopefully getting enough time in so he may be ready for the show next month? Maybe!  If nothing else, there's always the Darby and Christmas party in December... We can go hell bent for crazy there like we always do.

The weather has also turned- FINALLY! and it was a chilly 46 this morning as I left for work. Wednesday night/Thursday morning it rained and so the pasture that I ride and drive in is most likley a bit slick so it should be fun.  Maybe I can get back to posting more often too.  Hope everyone has a safe and fun weekend.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

And so it goes

Riding Aruba has gotten away from me. The last time I rode her, she was in heat and there were a lot of things going against us. Overall, it didn't go so well.

I hadn't been on her in a while so I lunged her first to get all of the 'bugs' out. At one point she ripped the rope out of my hands and trotted along the fenceline towards the back of the pasture with the cows.  I grumbled and swore under my breath at her and after catching her and bringing her back up front to try again- she was running around like a maniac. Fine. Do it now, not when I get on you...

We did a bit of work and all things considered- when it came time to get on, I left the spurs off. Knowing her attitude, knowing mine and knowing how things were going already, I didn't want to get into a battle of wills and ruin what we had so far. We went to work, bending, circles, relax and walk with your head down and so far so good. When we moved on to trot work, a few times she protested and almost bounced into a canter for a stride or two as she threw her head and acted pissy.

Fine, you want to canter? Why not? So I asked her several times to pick up a canter and got a really fast trot instead. Once in a while I got a stride of canter, then back to the trot. I tried the other direction, maybe it was easier for her. Same thing and no dice. A stride or two here and there, but not much canter and heaven forbid I say anything. That was grounds for stopping altogether.  We worked at it for a while and made very little progress. Apparently she isn't ready, wasn't in the mood or both, so after another attempt with several strides, I kept my mouth shut while she did it, let her stop and started cooling her out.

Suddenly she noticed the horse eating monster laying by the fence. Surely it was ready to pounce at any given moment. Those heavy chunks of powerpole are mighty agile that way you know, and she was not going near it.  And in my mind, there were three words to answer that. Yes You Are!  Ok so another three word phrase also went through my mind before that one, and those who know me well have probably heard it or said it themselves too...

It was at times, a serious battle of wills. Aruba was not going to stand still and face off with that big log and I was not going to let her turn away from it. She did not want to face it and in her mind, certainly wasn't getting any closer to it, let alone putting her nose down to sniff it. Every time she tried moving off one way or the other, I turned her right back around to face the log. I only let up and let her stand if she was facing the log. When I asked her to move forward towards it, she tried turning away and moving off quickly, but each time I used my reins, legs or both to divert the energy and put her right back in front of the damn log.

What was supposed to have been relaxing, cooling out work had gone out the window and here we were stuck in the middle of No I won't vs. Oh yes you will! Whenever Aruba stopped fussing and stood facing the log, I let her relax a few seconds and praised her. Each time I pushed her forward towards it and she tried turning away, the work and moving around and finally facing it to stop and stand had gotten us closer to the log than she had realized.

Curiosity was setting in and getting the best of her. Now that she was closer to the damn log, she wanted to know what it was. She still didn't want to go near it, but now it peaked her interest. I would ask for a step forward, closer to the log and she would take it, but then hesitated. She didn't know whether to stick around, try to get closer or get outta there. Since getting away from the log hadn't done her any good so far, she stayed put still looking at the log. I praised her for it. She was close and it wasn't hurting her, let alone torturing her like she may have thought. It hadn't even moved. You could almost see the wheels turning in her mind.

Slowly, one step at a time, we got closer to the log. She was glad when I asked her to move and she took one step, that I asked her to stop. Slowly we crept closer and closer to the log. She still didn't trust it, didn't like being that close to it, but was also curious about it and wanted to know what it was. Finally we were within range and she dropped her head, putting her nose close to the log. I praised her to let her know she was ok, but she was on alert. She sniffed it gingerly before raising her head and trying to move away from it. I held her in place and then when I asked her to turn away from it, I allowed her to move off. We circled around and came back at it from the other direction.

Aruba hesitated, but slowly crept towards the log, dropped her head to sniff it again and decided it was still scary, but ok for now. Now we could stop working. Now I could cool her out and put her away.  Now she was probably really, really glad to have me dismount and lead her in... lol

Friday, July 12, 2013

Horse insurance

In the comments on the last post, Stacey asks about horse insurance for a new horse she's getting this weekend...

That is a good question and depends on a lot of things.

First off- If you are making payments on a horse, sometimes the seller requires a policy to cover the horse if anything should happen before the debt is settled.  If you were the seller, you would want to get paid, wouldn't you?

Depending on the price of the horse and your experience with horses, many times you would have the horse vetted through a PPE or Pre-Purchase Exam. Any issues should have been assessed, caught, discussed and settled before deciding if it is something you can live with, deal with or don't have to worry about. If anything comes up- you still have the chance to walk away and keep looking.

The type of insurance is another factor. Is it a policy to pay the replacement value of the horse should anything happen? Does it cover major medical?  Do you have to keep dilligent records of worming, hoofcare, teeth floating, psyllium treatments, etc? And he big one is how much is it going to cost you per month?

While our horses are often irreplaceable to us, invaluable to us and we love them so... to someone else- they may hold a low dollar value. The things endearing about my pony to me, may be seen as something annoying to someone else.

Would I recommend insurance to anyone? I would say that is up to you. Check into it, see what it covers, what it doesn't, what it costs and ask yourself is the horse worth it to you?

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Push through it

Sometimes things don't go right at all. Everything that can go wrong- does. The sh!t hits the fan and splatters everywhere and still, things need to happen, stuff needs to get done and so you push on. 

With horses, sometimes it is the fact they are in heat, in an unfamiliar place and any host of excuses we choose to blame it on.  But there are times that the horses and ourselves need to put on our big girl panties and push through it. There are things we don't like doing in life that we have to do. Times we don' feel like working on certain, particular projects, but the looming deadline says you better get off you ass and move it. It's not going to get done on its own, isn't going to fix itself and the longer you sit there staring at it- the more it is costing you.

Last night I was working on fly masks. For whatever reason, it just wasn't going well. I have 3 left to do and sometimes I just don't like working on these particular style masks. I figured I could hammer out at least 2 of them like the night before. So much for that! I was making mistakes I haven't made in a long time, having to go back and take it apart, fix it and move on to screw something else up. Sometimes you have to just push through it and get done. I finished 1 and got less than half way through #2 and after missing part of the mesh in a seam, fixing it and thinking to move on, I just put it down and walked away.  

I rode my mare last weekend and since she was in heat, wound up and ready to go- lunging her she ripped the rope out of my hands and went cruising around the pasture. I followed along behind her, just out of reach of the line and swearing under my breath and out loud... I worked her some more and got on without my spurs.

Since she was already a bit lit, I wasn't too thrilled with her behavior and all, I opted to ride without the spurs so that if she got screwy it wouldn't turn into a battle of wills and all go south from there. She worked well enough, we had our differences of opinion on what, why and how, but we pushed through it long enough to finally agree on something and stopped there. Sometimes you ride it out, other times you get off the horse and when it is really bad, you just stay on the ground. But once you start something, you often have to push through and do it until you get it right, mostly right or at least until the horse is trying.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Pulling manes

I didn't get to ride over the weekend so I was pretty bummed about that, but I was busy running errands and sewing so it sorta worked out that way. Life happens and it isn't always the way we want it too.

A few posts back when I had mentioned Lynn Palm doing both canter pirouttes and reining spins on her horse Rugged Lark, in looking for a video of it I ended up instead on her video about how to pull manes. I have to say I am not a fan of her on a few levels, but I do respect her for some of the things she has done.

I have never pulled a mane up until recently. I had always worked with breeds where the mane was a coveted thing and the longer the better. Imagine the shock I encountered when the Barn Owner of the Arab farm I worked at for a time realized I had roached the mane on my Arab gelding Tai. He was my horse, he had rubbed out a BIG section in the middle of his mane, so I roached it. I shaved it all off, leaving only his forelock and a small portion at the end by his withers. The rest was gone. She was stunned. I thought it looked a lot better than the ragged mess he had before that and it is hair- it will grow back.

Pulling manes (to me anyways) always seemed like it had to hurt. I know it hurts when some of the hair on my head is pulled out, so it has to be the same for the horse, right? I always whipped out the scissors or the clippers and evened it out. I would often braid the mane for the upcoming show, tie it off and snip off the ends. Afterwards when the braids were out, I would go back and even it up.  The first time I braided Tess, she had a really worried and 'on high alert' look to her when I got up on the stool so I could reach. Only after I started braiding and she realized it didn't hurt, did she begin to relax.

I found this video on You Tube about pulling manes and while it is a rather traditional approach to doing it and the horse only seems bothered at first, it is effective and gets the job done.



(I like the fast forward part at the end)

I have to add in here that there was a piece either on the website or in the newsletter from Ruthann of Lucky Braids, about pulling manes and it said to move back and forth along the mane so as not to focus on one area too long and create soreness there. This makes sense to me if you are doing it as seen in the video above.

Then there is the way LP does it. Letting the horse 'let go' of the hairs in the mane.



She has to be kidding, right? I tried it on Aruba's mane and yes, the horse just seems to release the hairs and the hairs just slip right out.  Please note she said it works better if the horse is warm, as in after being worked and the mane not so much clean so you get a better 'grip' on the hairs that need to come out.

I gave it a shot one night after our ride and Aruba was not bothered at all in the process and stood there while I worked on a small portion of her mane trying it out.  I need to pull a few manes around here and now I know a quick, easy and relatively painless way to do it.  Now if I can just find the time.... 


Saturday, June 22, 2013

Horse shows

Horse shows are still just horse shows, be it an 'A' rated or schooling show. The schooling shows are good for teaching the young horses- it doesn't all go smoothly, all the time. Crappy footing, crappy weather, crappy people, lousy judges- it's all part of the game and you will find them all either one at a time, in a combination or maybe all together in the losing lotto part of it all.

When Kat and I were at the CDE in March, it POURED on Friday during the dressage tests. One of the mini's had a loud crack of thunder overhead after a bolt of lightning lit up the sky, right in the middle of her extended walk portion of the test. One competitor had it Hail on her and her horse while they were in the ring. You have the option of 'Retiring' from the competition or withdrawing at any time without penalty, and several people did for various reasons.

One woman retired her horse from dressage and afterwards took him home. She had wanted his first time out to be a good experience for the horse. It just wasn't going to happen that weekend. Another trainer retired every one of his client horses- he did not want to risk injury to them if they should slip in the mud and do who knows what? Another entry had a decent go in dressage, but as the first one out on the marathon things went horribly south for them. She was going to retire, but went through sections A & D, found the footing to be ok so trudged on through E and the hazards thinking it was all good. Turns out it wasn't. The competitor on course right behind her- things were great up until the same point when the first horse had problems. This time, her mini and the cart, literally sank in the mud.

The barn area was buzzing with people asking if you were planning to retire or go for it. I was going to go for it. Even though the upper level people were pulling out, people who have done it longer than I have, maybe know more than I do and are likely far more experienced than Kat and I are in this game- we were there to compete.

At home, I pushed him to his limits to see how far he will take something before he blows up. A few times he has blown up. One blow up was epic and early on. Knowing his limits, how he handles things, how he doesn't handle things, is part of the game. We have trained in the pasture where the footing is not exactly good. We have shown in arenas with deep footing, pitted with hoof prints and it was beyond bumpy riding in the cart. Then there were dressage arenas with lovely footing, covered arenas without the overpowering sun, lovely breezes and dang near perfect conditions.

The judges have been a colorful spectrum of sorts as well. Showing Kat in hand, I have had judges say "Oh what a KYOOT pony, You WIN!" even though he may be acting like a complete and total jerk. Others who liked his movement, conformation and temperament and placed him well and several who look at his size and think- "He's too small, you can't ride him so Frankenhorse over there gets the prize." Yeah, whatever! You don't always get a fair or unbiased opinion.

A friend of mine took her pony mare to a recent show. She tanked in every class, even when others were saying she clearly should have won. She got to ask the judge why and what his reasons were behind the placings.  He liked her horse, liked everything about her actually, they had executed the far best reinsmanship pattern he had seen and yet still placed her last because her horse was not 'framed up' like a pleasure horse. He advised her to show the horse in driven dressage as if it were a lower standard of showing. Her mare has only recently begun driving, let alone showing and when I asked if she really wanted her 'framed up' the answer was "No. Not like that."

At the end of the day it is still just a horse show. You paid for one person’s opinion of your horse on that day. You may or may not agree with them, they may or may not hold an opinion you respect, but they placed you as they thought best on that one day.

Back when I started driving Kat, I was interested in seeing how far we will go. I would like to hit the bigger CDE's with him, I want to do well. I want people to know him and think well of him. I want people to appreciate how far we have come with little outside help as far as his training goes. But still, at the end of the day, I love him because he is a goofball, doesn't always behave and keeps me humble when I get a little ahead of myself, thinking we are better than we might be in the process. A good friend of mine told me once- "You will do well with him because through it all, you love your pony. Never lose sight of that and the rest will work itself out."

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Finding your rhythm

Saturday when I took Aruba out to the pasture to ride, we got no further in than the gate when I noticed we had a small audience. I got a few pictures before this little guy/gal scurried off.


 Best seat in the house

After I sent the pictures from before to my friend who discouraged the western tack, she came back with a whole list of things I needed to try with this mare. Some of it I thought may be beyond the mares level of training, but it's worth trying and see if it works so I gave it a shot trying to remember what I could of all of the info she spilled on me. Since my western saddle was still in the house from getting a well deserved oiling and turning the stirrups, I went with the dressage saddle.


All dressed up in her 'good clothes'

One of the things she said was to drop my stirrups altogether and work for a little bit without them. Raise your knees up off the saddle as if sitting on a chair and feel your spine and seatbones on the saddle. When you put your legs back down along the horses side, let them hang long and low. I did all of this and when I let my legs hang, I took it one further and sat up, lengthening my spine and remembering to breath. Aruba was calm and quiet for all of this. Surprising since once before I shifted my weight in the saddle and it set her off a bit. She has gotten used to it though since I keep telling her "It's not all about you, ya know."



I decided to do our lateral work without stirrups and see how it went. It felt a lot different and Aruba seemed more cooperative than usual. I was getting movement across the arena on the diagonal, almost getting turns while counterbent and things were going well. Towards the end of our ride, I droped my stirrups back to the sides where they belonged and slipped my feet into them. I decided to ask for a trot.



What I got was amazing. Aruba was light in the bridle, balanced and her movement was carrying me which made posting- effortless on my part. I remembered to sit up straight and look up not only where we were going and where I wanted her to go. I didn't have to use my spurs once. My leg was all it took and she moved off it, bent to the inside, a nice steady gait and it was really fun up there. She was relaxed and as we went around and around the arena, I set my inside rein while praising her and scratching her neck with my outside hand. And though I was talking to her, she kept on trotting.

Of course you do one direction and you have to do the other. We had been going to the right which is her better side, but not mine. We reversed and went to the left (my better side- hers not so much) only to find the same steady, slow, balanced, easy pace. It was the steady rhythm and free flowing movement that made riding- easy.   



Don't I look Fahbulous Dahling?

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Turn on the fore

I only got to ride once over the weekend and here we are on the downhill slide for the week before I am even posting about it. lol We worked on lateral movement and bending, moving the shoulder over and we are still effectively working on it or at least working on getting it every time. Sunday wasn't a great ride as we did a lot of walking and working on the laterals. We didn't get to do any cow work or play with them as it was getting dark as we finished up.

We did work on moving the hip over though, as in turns on the forehand. Right leg back and asking her to move her hips to the left, yeah we still need to work on that. Left leg back and ask for the hips to move  over to the right, Bam and Done! We all know horses tend to be left or right handed just like we are. One side is easier for them to do things than the other. Aruba is no exception to that rule.

Adding to the difficulty level of it all- she was in heat. We are slowly working on this mare cooperating while she is working during her heat cycles. It's cool though, I understand her plight and those days I try to keep things light while we gradually work towards more.

As we were finishing up and I was asking for the hip to move over to the left, she was getting irritated. At one point she stomped her right hind hoof in protest. She clearly didn't want to move off my leg on that side. At least not that day. But we walked forward a little to change things up. Moved to the right, doing a nice 180 degree pivot. Walked forward a little to change things up and asked her to move the hip to the left again. She wasn't going to budge. 

Well she was, but she was trying to walk off and moving her front feet all over the place. No, stop and stand still. Then she got a bit nervous. I could feel her bunching herself up underneath me. Not good, so I turned her to the left and let her walk off. 

When a horse bunches themselves up like that because they are confused or not wanting to cooperate- walk them forward or do something to let them relax, but make them move and then let go. Let the horse recover for a minute. If you don't, all of that energy is going to go somewhere when they go off. A still horse has the advantage here as they can go off in any direction and you may not be ready for it. They may buck, rear or both as well as a whole host of other things and bad habits are started...   When I finally got a few steps to the left, without the front end moving around, I praised her and got off. We can work on it more later on, like this weekend and next when she's not in heat anymore.  

Friday, June 7, 2013

The air up there

 
Blogger is being uncooperative about loading photos again. What a pain in the butt! 

Here are the pics from last weekends ride from on the back of my mare and when we were playing with the calves.  Not to worry, the calves are good sized as in, almost as tall as our Betsy girl already.  As always click on the photos for the larger version and complete pic.

We start our lunging with walking.  Beats having them bolt to the end of the line and race around ripping your arms out of the sockets.



Aruba cuteness as a western horse.



Reverse and trot



Riders up



Head down where it belongs



Me and my shadow... I look like the stem on top of the pumpkin in the shadow.





Le moooooo



Boo there little guy. These are both steers, once bull calves.



The herd on the other side of the fence where the calve belonged too.  Betsy is the 3rd one in from the right- the horns and little bit of white you can see.


Monday, June 3, 2013

Lateral aids

We didn't have them before, but we do now!

Ms. Mare didn't think she was supposed to listen to me. At times she still doesn't. It's ok though we're getting there and reaching more and more agreements of who says what and who does what. As we work, there is less and less of the annoying sound of her biting her tongue.

We walked and trotted, we turned left and right, but for the most part- there was some things missing in our work. She didn't so much move her shoulders this way or that, didn't so much bend or give and at times just went forward not responding to a whole lot and almost doing as she dang pleased. She did listen and stop, did respond and slow down if I said "Slow it down", but at times if I put a leg on her she ignored it. Other times we moved waaaay over away from it.

We stopped and learned to side pass. The last couple of rides have been working on laterals- half passes left and right, serpentines, some circles here and there and always changing it up. I did get some pictures last night of her on the lunge line, then from her back. She really is a good horse and wants to please. We even ended our ride with being near the neighbors cows that share the pasture. It was kinda fun and she got to test out the idea of being a cow pony. And when the cows came back out to the pasture, we walked our way back out to the front gate to leave.  She seems to be enjoying the work and stands quietly while I get on and off either side. 

Friday, May 31, 2013

Shake it off

Over on the blog Behind the Bit, she posted a video about a horse having a bad day in the ring. It happens. It happens to ALL of us. It happens to our horses. It happens in ALL levels and it happens in ALL events.  None of us are immune.

Some days in driving, for me or my pony- it all goes to total and complete crap! Hunters/jumpers or eventers- same, cutting- same, barrel racing- same, roping- same, gyhmkanna- same, trail riding- same, green horse- same, seasoned horses- same and the list goes on... It doesn't seem to matter what you are doing, what you are practicing for, what you set out to work on that day, you, your horse or both of you, just can't seem to get it right for whatever reason.

When this happens you just have to stop for a moment, shake it off, take a deep breath and let it all go. It's tough to do sometimes though. We get caught up in the moment of IT not coming together, we feel pressured at a show or event to do well, impress people and show off what we have learned or taught the horse and it all. falls. miserably. apart.

Frustrating? check
Aggravating? check
Annoying? check
Feelings of failure? check
Feel like you want to cry? check
Pissed off? check

Have I listed the range of emotions we have all gone through at one time or another? If I missed any, feel free to add them in the comments.

There are times when all we can do is swear like a sailor under our breath, fake a smile, hope nobody could read our lips and laugh it off, when we would really like to scream and knock the holy living snot out of something.  Boy have I been there! When Kat had an almost absent halt at the end of our dressage test at the CDE, got fidgety, stopped on an angle and offered to rear before asking him to back up... I wasn't happy with him at all. He is soooo not like that at home.

What could I really do though? I quietly swore at him, laughed at his bs and just sucked it up as best I could. I asked for the 3-5 steps back, walked him forward, halted and saluted the judge while smiling (thinking my pony was a rotten [insert liberal swearing] for pulling that stunt) and left the arena.

When you think it is all going horribly wrong- the horse is shying, trying to bolt, crowhopping, offering to rear or any of the zillion other things they can do, while it FEELS like it was a huge buck, feels like they bolted and ran laps around the arena or feels like they did any number of things in a big way- what it LOOKS like to spectators, the judge, your coach or trainer is often not nearly as bad as what we as a rider, driver or handler thinks.

When Aruba wasn't listening to my leg, not responding and I spurred her one to 'wake her ass up" and "get her attention", the resulting leap up and forward felt like an arched back/crowhop almost bucked and she was not happy. Hubby happened to get it on video. It was a leap up and forward, but in reality it was only a couple strides of canter before she stopped and put her head up. That was her little tantrum. When Kat had his meltdown at the horsepark, I remember him taking two nose dives in the dirt, him rearing, leaping, jumping and bucking and I swear it felt like we made at least two laps around the arena. Hubby watching said we made a lap and a half if not less.  I wish he had gotten that on video.

In our minds we tend to feel it happening so much bigger, so much worse and so different than it often does in reality. We may remember it differently too. What others see it as, may be a half step to the inside, a crowhop not a full on buck or a buck, but not a horse going NFR on us. Now I'm not saying the horse never has a total meltdown on loses it on us, because sometimes they really, really do. But a lot of times we imagine or feel it being so much worse. 

In the video, you can see a few times when the horse has a 'moment' the rider stops, reaches down and pats the horse to reassure him and they try again to move on.  The best thing we can do is stop for a second (or ten), take a deep breath, give the horse a break and try to start over. Start with something simple, something they can do without issue, let that be our happy note and quit there.  If you are in the arena, you might get ding'ed on your score, might slip a placing or two in the lineup, but if you can stop, correct things and go on with a quieter horse, sometimes you will be moved up a placing or two for how you handled it.  Instead of an all out war, you had a slight 'bobble'.  It's ok, because life will go on and you can improve on things from here.  It happens to all of us.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Pop, pop, pop

I am trying to get more pictures of this mare under saddle, but with the twins it is not always easy to have a photographer on hand. We did have some fairly good workouts over the weekend though.

Saturday morning the farrier was out and Miss Aruba is now sporting size 5's on her front feet. For anyone who hasn't seen shoes that size- hold your hand up, spread your fingers out as far as you can and imagine connecting the dots of your fingertips and you will come pretty close. She has some Huge feet! I would rather a horse have bigger feet than not.

She wasn't actually due for a trim for a couple more weeks- at least on paper, but looking at her feet as I picked them out before a ride- she was due. The farrier agreed we weren't going to get away with a trim again for a while. Although he tried to explain some things about what and why, about her shoes, he didn't really get to as we kept talking about other things and getting distracted. Lucky enough though, I get it. Without him having to explain it I understand he had to bring the shoe back some under her foot- putting it where it should go to help things get sorted out as far as balancing the hoof.  No problem here and fine by me. 

As it goes, life happens and I wasn't going to be riding Saturday night since my sisters birthday party was right in the middle of when I would be tacking up. I did manage to slip in a ride on Thursday night. She did ok considering. She started off a little fast and really responsive, but as we worked she leaned on my legs, hung on the bridle and got exceedingly lazy.

What was really funny was that one of the neighbors to the north of us was shooting off fireworks. At first it caught her off guard. She sorta startled and stopped. When she seen the sparkles in the sky in front of her, she looked up, ears pricked and was interested.  I told her they were for her because she was doing so well. That was all it took.  Every time we came around the end of the arena looking towards the fireworks, her head came up, ears forward and she looked at her fireworks. Not scared at all, interested and curious, but not afraid. 

Last night as I fed, the neighbors to the west of us were shooting off fireworks.  Aruba couldn't be bothered and as the hay was put in front of each of them, the rest of the horses became less concerned with the sparkly sky and all the popping noises.  It's nice to know that if I am out riding and get caught out in the neighborhood after dark, that my horses won't be rattled by fireworks.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

English vs Western

When my friend said she didn't want to see my mares movement wasted through western riding, I thought of this video. The first one I had seen before and sent it to a new acquaintance to show them the differences between disciplines. When looking for it to post here, I found the second one too.
 
 
 
I like the music selections. 
 
 
Watch closely as the western horse is making his way out of the arena. The rider is cueing for lead changes and getting them, but they are a bit 'bouncy'.
 
While most of the four horses performances are not letter perfect, it clearly shows that you CAN ride either English or western and pull it off either way. If you can ride and know the basic cues of moving the hip or shoulders over, balance, contact, collection and everything else that goes with it- you can do it in either saddle wearing whatever clothing you like.
 
Now when I said their performances aren't letter perfect- I am talking mostly about the spins on the western horses. Neither one plants their pivot foot worth a damn, but I digress... Also the big bay dressage horse- the hind legs in the canter piroutte seem to hop together at times and should move more independently. Granted it is one movement out of how many??? But IMO, they should work on that and do it well or not at all. Is that really too much to ask?
 
Lynn Palm proved on Rugged Lark, that you could do a canter piroutte and go into a reining spin. I'm not a fan of her riding or training, but she was the first person to take the time and inititive to train the horse in both reining and dressage and actually DO IT. Now I'm not going to try turning my mare into a reiner or think she is anywhere near doing canter pirouttes, but hopefully one of these days I can get video or at least pictures of my mare under both sets of tack, doing the basic gaits. The movement and cues are all the same, just different tack and clothes. How many western riders have you seen posting? So why the big fuss or fight over which set of tack you use or what the gait is called? I have no idea.

One thing the hubby said to me was that I need to choose what I am working on with this mare. "Is she going to be a western horse or an English horse? Pick something to FOCUS on." This is along the lines of- Do one thing and do it exceptionally well or do a little bit of everything and be just 'ok' at all of it.  Ultimately she could go either way and looks equally as good under either set of tack. Did I mention she ground ties? Could you imagine her as a rope horse? That coming out of the box after a cow would be a helluv an adrenaline RUSH!  Lol!  
 
For now we will continue to work on the basics- rhythm, relaxation, balance, forward movement and a soft, supple horse. From there- we can go any direction. Once that's established it is up to the horse as to what she excells at and Wants to do. If going slower and collected is her thing- western it is. If she does well under English tack and my hunt saddle fits- we go that route and try cross rails to see if low hunters is something that excites her... Time will tell.  

 
 
 


Thursday, May 23, 2013

Photos

Let's give this another try, shall we?

Hopefully this will work...

These first four are a touch blurry so it is not your eyesight going bad or age creeping up on us.














 
This wasn't our best ride and although she is a little strung out in some shots and being a tad evasive in others, for the most part- it is what it is. Feel free to pick out the good, the bad and the otherwise in the photos and post them in the comments. We still have plenty to work on, one thing being consistency... but we are getting there. Or trying to!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

It's only appearances

I had sent out the pictures of me riding Aruba a few weeks ago to a few people, whose opinions I respect. Although in a few of them she is not looking her best and some of them I'm not either... at least there are pictures of us working on it.

Of the pictures I sent out there were a few that were fairly decent, a few she looked like she was moving downhill, some that were a touch blurry and some that were just 'ok'. One thing I did notice in them was that of the things I worried about, what I felt going on being up there and in the moment- were not happening like I thought.

Sure my leg needed to come back under me some, but my heels were down and lower leg looking secure. My hands were low and I was not asking for a bend to the inside and refusing to give with the outside (one problem I know I have) and although it felt like I was posting a mile out of the seat at times- it didn't look like it. I was also looking UP! As in watching where I wanted to go, not looking to see if my horse was still under me, which is another big problem I have....  

So with all of this out of the way as far as thinking about it, worrying over it or whateverthefluck I do that distracts me in riding, I could move on and focus on other things. Like her rhythm, balance, bending, softness, rating and contact.... One thing I noticed in riding her with the western tack was that when I posted, I did not rely so much on my stirrups. Mainly because they are still a hole (or two) too long. Which allowed me to sink into my lower leg and heel, posting off of my knees, while relaxed and letting her motion carry me.

When I switched to my dressage saddle, although I ride with my stirrups where they belong or one hole longer, it felt like I couldn't get my legs back and under me the same way as before.  One of my friends I had sent the pictures to, had commented on trying a few things to change how the mare was working. I had sent some pictures of her working in western tack and said I would be switching back for me to fix me and in turn, also fix the horse.

I'm guessing the idea of turning Aruba into a western horse to be doing the crab walk, slog and four beating trope sprung to mind for her because I was told she would hate to see the mares suspension and lovely movement wasted in that respect, but this was the dressage rider coming out in her.  Rest assured- Not on my watch. That is about as miserable to ride as it is for me to watch. Why would I want to do that??? 

Saturday night as I tacked up, I switched to the western gear. I assured my friend that all of the work would be the same, it's just different tack and different clothes. Besides, with the western saddle I would be using boots instead of polos and the foxtails wouldn't be working their way through the wraps poking her in the legs and irritating her while we worked.

Instead what I got out of our ride, was a noodly horse that drifted and was trying to do her own thing on her own terms. Going to the left, I would tug the left rein and signal her to start turning. What I got was her head turned to the left but we started drifting off to the right. If I put my left leg back to push her hip over to complete the turn, she drifted further, faster.  I put my right leg on her with the spur and shut off that exit route. No more evading that way, although she tried it a few more times to see if she could.

She also was anything but consistent. She would quit on me or try to, speed up and act as if she should be racing as a trotter at Yonkers and just about everything in between. The rhythm, consistency, contact and softness were just not there. At a walk things went well, but move up to a jog or trot and it fell apart fast enough.  We needed to stop and start everything over again. Refocus, recenter, rebalance and redirect the energy, but our daylight was fading and her attention span was going with it... It would have to wait until the next day, so I found a good place to stop and we quit there.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Game changes

Last weekend when I rode Aruba, I moved out to the front pasture where I typically drive Kat and also where the neighbors cattle are turned out. She handled the horsepark well enough, but obviously she needs to go there more often and learn that she is still to work and listen to her rider- no matter where we are, where we go, if we are alone, other horses around, etc. 

What I didn't mention about out trip to the horsepark was that the brakes on my truck were starting to fail on me. I'm not one to drive like a maniac with a trailer behind me, be it full or empty, but I noticed my pedal was a little 'squishy'. Everything went well enough and the brakes held out for me until Monday morning. Starting out on the way to work, I kept thinking "I need to check the fluid levels" but as many of us do, I figured I would do it later.

Well later turned into "Much Sooner" as in "NOW" when I approached a light before the freeway and had n.o.t.h.i.n.g. Foot and pedal to the floor and the truck was still not stopping.  Luckily I was far enough back that I had room to work with. I got the truck stopped at the light, but it was a challenge. Turns out the master cylinder leaked into something or other and I knew it wasn't something I could fix at home so the truck got to spend another few days back in the shop. It is good to have friends!

Back to riding, Aruba worked fairly decent in the front pasture. She was alert and kept looking around, but what bothered her for the most part was the foxtails.  These are a weed that has a bloom if you can call it that, that sorta looks like wheat. Problem is, this is the seed and they stick in Everything. This year, they are everywhere and foxtails can be a chore to get rid of. Since I had wrapped her legs in polos- they were loaded. 

We worked on bending and flexing, giving and releasing, but mostly what was missing was a steady rhythm. At the trot there were places in the pasture where she sped up, places where she tried to stop and places where she though trying to crophop and get goofy on me might make me give up. No giving up and she got straightened out in that respect and a stern "Knock it off!" was all it took for her to ditch that idea before trying it again.

Our workout was less than stellar and I am finding that when this mare is in heat, it is more constructive/productive to just stick to ground work. As a former broodmare now going back to work, let alone using muscles she probably hasn't before and if so, not for a long time, I can give her that. I know where she's coming from in that respect.  

As we finished up I moved her to the one corner of the pasture and we did some hill work. There are several mounds of manure/fertilizer to be spread out over the pasture, so we went up, across and down the other side. The we zig zagged our way back and forth across the mound from one end to the other. We trotted back across, went down the side, made a U-turn, back up the hill, part way across, down the left side, trotted around the end, up the other side and back across the top... I changed things up and kept her guessing which way, where, up or down and what next?

By the time we finished our hill work, she was light in the bridle, moving off my leg and incredibly responsive. So responsive in fact that when I would ask for a turn to the right, she was rocking back on her butt and giving me some nice rollbacks and ready to go the other direction as quick as I might ask.  We walked around some to let her cool out and the cows were slowly moving in on our work space so it was time to stop.

I would have let her move the cows around, but a few of them, Layla & Red especially, are pretty large and can be uncooprative. To get to the smaller, quieter cows, I would have to get past them. If we were going to play with the cows and let Aruba track them- even if at a walk- I want it all to go smooth and well, being a positive experience for her. With Layla and Red involved, it just wasn't worth the risk. Maybe some other day.

I am still trying to load the pictures from the beginning of May, so everyone can see them, and the plan for this weekend is to put her back in the western tack, use the boots instead of polos and ride her up front again. Hopefully I can get some pictures of her out there working, hopefully still, some more pics with me ON her and things going like they should. For now we will see how it goes.

Friday, May 10, 2013

A walk in the park

Sunday we made it to the Horsepark! Aruba wasn't too sure about everything and she could hear other horses in the barns and other arena, but we couldn't see them from the public use arena area. She hauled like a champ and was well behaved as I tacked her up. She was on alert, but well behaved for the most part.

I was running a tad behind because I had forgotten a bucket for water and my step stool to mount with. Had I used the western tack, I might have done without, but the bucket for a drink was needed as it was pretty warm and late in the day. I tacked her up with the dressage saddle, grabbed my gear, put it by the gate and went back for her and my lunge line.

Aruba was on high alert for most of the day. She lunged at the walk and trot/jog while looking around for other horses or a reason/excuse to stop. She wasn't too fond of the small building with generators inside of it or the bit of trash strewn from the tipped over garbage can at the other end of the arena, but on the lunge line she got to see they were there, not moving or going to bother her and we worked both directions as she started to settle down and be at ease with things.

I put her bridle on, gloves, helmet, dropped my stirrups a hole, grabbed my mounting step and prepared to get on. I wasn't sure how this would go, but I knew what I was hoping for. As I got on, hubby mentioned her 'wary eye' that is common in broodies. Yes she sure had that going on... She was looking for something, anything to be concerned about, interested in or afraid of.

She did really well though and stood quietly while I mounted and found my other stirrup. The whole time her head was up in the air like a giraffes might be and I felt tiny up there for a change. I squeezed with my legs, tugged one rein and asked her to walk off. I started with our usual routine of softening work. Bend and give to the rein/bit, move the hip over and make some big circles.

Our circles weren't exactly round and it took a while before she relaxed enough to begin to drop her head. We went both directions and started to work our way out to the rail. Eventually we made a lap or two, near the rail, going to the left. Going to the right, she was back to being on high alert. A bunch of circles, gentle tugs on the reins, a touch of a spur to move the hip over and before long she started to relax again and actually dropped her head and walked. We made almost a lap around (I think) before another rig pulled in with a horse and up went the head again.

I was losing her attention fast so I made a few more circles and quit there. The other guy had unloaded his horse and was headed over to the hitching rail when I had gotten off and was removing the bridle. Hubby grabbed my gear and had thrown it in the truck, while I haltered Aruba and we made our exit. Everything had gone well enough for our first ride at another facility.

While neither ride over the weekend had been great or even a solid 'Good' from start to finish, they were both good enough and ended on a positive note. That's how it goes with horses. You might get a good ride here and there, a great one once in a while and a bunch of mediocrity in between along the way, but as you keep building up the training, working on improving, things come together and it gets better and better as you go along. It's a learning process for both of us, that's for sure.

***I am still trying to get the rest of the photos from last Saturdays ride and figure out how to get Blogger to post them.***

Monday, May 6, 2013

Getting back to good

Last weekend our ride went really, really well. Sunday we nailed it and of course there was nobody around with a camera. This weekend- well I had someone around who could take pictures... but, yeah.

Saturday morning I fed and pulled Aruba out to ride. I don't think she was so thrilled with being pulled away from her food to go work. Her attitude showed. Lately when I go to bring her out of the stall, as soon as I get through the gate and close it, she starts bouncing around and gettin jiggy with it. She is in a big stall, but for anyone who has ever been kicked or in a confined space with a horse bouncing around, you know how quick the walls seem to move in on you and there is little you can do about it.

I started wetting my halter before putting it on her. Weaver and some of the Hamilton nylon web halters have this bad thing about shrinkage. They fit fine the day you bring them home, then shrink after the first washing. Wet them down again and they stretch to the size of one bigger than you bought or to fitting a small elephant. *eyeroll* With the weather heating up, I think she likes the cool, wet halter, besides it fitting like it should and being comfortable on her again. It works for us both so we will go with that.

I have gotten my dress boots back for riding her English again, only to have one of my spur straps break, so with those replaced, new ones all oiled up and put on, I grabbed the dressage saddle and tacked her up. I need to get her another bit so I don't have to keep swapping that back and forth, but for now I had put it back on her English bridle. I mounted up and moved her off in a walk.

On the bottom of the training triangle is the word Rhythm. A few of the triangles may change it up from there, but for the most part they all start with Rhythm. Aruba has a good, steady and consistent rhythm to her walk. We can be doing big circles or small, but her rhythm remains consistently the same.

Last weekend we discovered that going to the left for her is not her better side. Her right side it turns out is her stronger side and she does better going that way. Funny thing is, going to the left is better from my riding standpoint, where going to the right- it all falls apart. This is why I keep telling this mare it is not all about her. I need to work on things too.

So for Saturday I leave you with two pictures that I have gotten from hubby so far. They show the sorta good and the not so much. Both can be improved upon, so feel free in the comments to point out what you see and we can discuss it. This is good for us visual folks to figure out what to look for and what not to.
 


This first pic is a bit blurry, but for the most part you can see her position and mine.



So let's hear it...

***Edit*** Blogger keeps showing and removing the pics on me. Not sure if it is just my computer or if it is that way for everyone.  If you can't see them, let me know and I can email them or something.

Monday, April 29, 2013

How many legs?


I had two really good rides on Aruba over the weekend. We are getting there and last night’s ride was probably one of the best ones so far. If you look at the pic's in the last post of the sweat on her flanks and further back, that was all she was using of her back end and otherwise 'floating along' not really exerting herself too much. Last night after I dismounted, I looked her over and found those tell tale sweat marks- ALL OVER her nice big, bay butt!

So what was different? Well I was still using my western saddle, the same simple bridle with a French link snaffle and still riding with spurs to remind her not to lean on or ignore my leg... We started off with our softening work, bending and stretching both directions, long and low at the walk, easing into it and not rushing or anticipating. Everything was going well enough or so I thought. The walk felt good and solid, the rhythm steady and consistent.

But even at a walk, Aruba was ducking the corners on the north side, trying to navigate the south east one on her own and when we trotted things weren't a whole lot better. All of my signals had been on the inside- inside rein and inside leg. Inside rein to keep her head bent in the direction of travel and inside leg back under me to move her hip over to the outside. If she started falling into our circles, dropping her shoulders, I moved my inside leg forward by the cinch and might have to spur her one to get her attention and move the shoulders over some, but there were times I would and she would hold it a stride or two and fall apart again.

I brought her back down to the walk, thinking to fix it there, then try it at a trot again. That sorta worked and I was running ideas through my mind on the mechanics, the how and why. I remembered one woman saying something about pointing her belly button where she wanted to go. This keeps your hips straight and your legs may slightly change position. In a turn, the outside leg comes forward a little. We picked up a trot and things were a little better. Less ducking corners, me trying to remember to relax into the seat and lower legs, belly button pointing the way... and it was good for a while.

We came back down to the walk because both of us needed a breather. All of the trotting and posting had me breathing just about as hard as my mare because yes, I am out of shape too. It's cool though, I can admit to that and the riding is doing wonders for both of us. Yay! As we were tootling around the arena, it came to me. I drive my corners rather deep. Straight into them as if we were going to crash into the fence or stop- one or the other. Sometimes I need to push the hip to the inside and straighten her out down the rail. What the heck. I can give it a try and see how it goes, right? If it works? Great! If it doesn't? I gave it a try and will move on to something else, no harm no foul.

When we picked up the trot this time, I squeezed with BOTH legs and felt her gather beneath me. I put my inside leg on her, but this time I also kept the outside leg on her too. I pushed her up into the bridle, she found the contact and BINGO!!! She had some serious TROT! going on out there. She was balanced and posting was pretty easy to do again since her big movement was helping it along. She dropped her head down where it belongs, rounded her back and damn if that wasn't an awesome feeling!

She was still dropping her shoulder in the turns when going to the left and we still have some things to deal with on that side, but for the most part- she was doing great. Both of us were finally "Getting IT!" and it was slowly coming together. I realized that I have two legs and I need to use them equally. I had been letting her go on the outside instead of using my leg to push her forward. Baby steps, small victories and A-HA! moments will eventually get us there. It is a learning process. Problem is, with this mare, I tend to hold my breath or at least just not say anything. When I tried to praise her- she stopped. When she stops, her head comes up, back hollows out and it all falls apart. At the walk she is fine with all of the chatter, the praise, singing and any jabbering I choose to do up there, but at a trot- say anything and she stops.

Although I was hoping to take her to the horsepark to try working her there, it didn't happen. I had to go there anyways to meet a woman and pick up some more Dynamite for Mondo, she was working at the Parelli clinic going on there, so she was in the area and it worked out for both of us. It was a good thing I hadn't taken the horse with me since there was a bunch of cars and not much parking in the arena lot. While I was there, I was also thinking to text Nuzzling Muzzles and see if she had made it since one of the people working with her horses is a Parelli student. Just as I hit 'Send', I looked up and who is standing right in front of me??? Yeah. Crazy how that happens.

 

Friday, April 26, 2013

Changes

With horses there is always things to change. Routines and not having routines. Lunging first, not lunging first, focusing on upper level work, relaxing and doing simple, basic work.  Fix one thing and something else needs work or attention.

When I started riding Aruba, she was throwing her head and looking for release as we went to the right. Now she is throwing her head and looking for contact providing her balance and support no matter which direction we are going... 

She was in heat on Saturday so I figured to do some ground driving and stay off of her. Also when I rode her Saturday I had used my close contact saddle. I didn't see any dry spots after getting off of her and untacking, found no soreness in her back when checking after our ride, but while I was on her, I did stick my fingers in under the pommel and there was not much room to be found. I'm not sure that the saddle fits her as best as it could, but it did seem ok. For now I will leave it be and when her back develops more, I will try it again. I don't want to cause her a sore back and since I have both a dressage saddle and a western to use that both fit her well- there's no reason to force the issue and screw things up.

Sunday night I mounted her for the first time in western tack- from the ground. With my stirrups still needing to go up one more hole, they were pretty high up already and dang if I didn't feel like a mountain climber. I had already gotten on her from the step stool, but then a bee kept buzzing around her off side flank. Not wanting to be on her if the bee stung and she went all NFR on me, I dismounted and led her around a little and made sure the bee was gone before climbing back on.

We did our routine of softening work and I pushed her into a jog. She is happy to oblige and is liking the idea of being a western horse, getting to relax and go slow, versus moving out and having to exert herself. But when I took a hold of the reins and rode with contact- totally different story.

She had been tugging on the reins and stopping at will, leaning on my leg to the point of wearing spurs a couple of times to put a stop to that and hubby said there was something funky going on with her back end. She had a weird sort of hop to it and it was out of control. She wasn't moving correctly and balanced as she should have been. Me? I didn't feel it. I tell this mare at least once or twice during every ride- "This is not all about you ya know. There are things I need to work on too."   

When I tool a hold of the reins and had contact- that all changed for the better and in a big way. Suddenly she had her rear end under her where it needed to be. She was pushing from behind, light in the front end, moving off my leg (with no spurs on because I hadn't really planned on riding) and  does Momma got TROT!

I am hoping to take her to the horsepark this weekend and ride her there. There is a schooling show there on the 11th and I am shooting for it. Maybe we will have a decent chance at bringing home a ribbon or two? If nothing else it will be a learning experience for her, so that in itself is a win.

Monday, April 15, 2013

It's all about the sweat

Part of making your horse look their best is having them in shape. When your horse is in condition and working, they will look a whole lot better than they do when they come in out of the pasture after having several months or longer off. They will have muscle where they previously had little to none and their body shape will change as their muscle tone is re-established. 

When your horse is working either on the lunge line, in long lines, in harness or under saddle, how do you tell when the horse is moving properly, besides being able to see it or feel it? Simple really- the muscles that are working will be the ones that sweat. If your horse is heavy on the forehand, their neck and shoulders will be sweating while their flank areas, hip/butt and between the back legs- not so much. When the horse rocks back on their hind end, using it underneath them to push off with impulsion, the muscles will sweat.  The sweat on your horse will be close to the amount of balance they use carrying themselves properly. 



Sweat marks evenly on both front and back ends show she was working in a balanced frame.



What I have found while training my pony to drive is that once he learned to rock back on the rear end, which frees up his shoulders and creates incredibly forward and bold movement- he not only moves this way when working, but it carries over to when he is loose. He runs around with that same free flowing, beautiful movement in turnout.

Since my pony is getting the summer off for the most part, I have shifted my focus to a couple of the other horses in the barn. I have started riding my WB mare Aruba and between us, we are learning a lot. First off, I had to stop leaning forward into the movement when asking her to trot. A little is good, but what I was doing was pretty much forcing her to drop everything back down on the forehand and she stopped.  I would ask her to go forward again, lean into the movement and she would stop as it all dumped onto the forehand again.

Last weekend I rode her last Saturday and the weekend before I rode both days. The main thing I focused on going in- Sit up straight and look where you want her to go. The results? We did a lot of lovely trot work and she didn't so much 'quit' on me, stopping when she felt like it. Last Saturday when I rode her, I tacked up western because the weekend before while I was riding, my right boot suddenly had a cool breeze coming in under my foot. Where the sole and the boot meet- it split along the outside.









Aruba was funny starting out in the western tack. It is bulkier and a lot more constricting in her opinion. She didn't think she could bend her body around under it. Going through the gate into the arena, she rubbed the stirrup on the gate and scooted forward because of it. On the lunge line she finally figured out that she could still stretch out and move, it wasn't the same, but she could do it. She even moved out in a bit of an extended trot for me. Riding was a little different too I have to say.

My stirrups were all the way up, but still a tad too long for me. My hole punch set will fix that, but I figured we would do a lot more walking work. Aruba got bored with that pretty quick though and we moved into trotting anyways. I could keep my stirrups, but couldn't put a whole lot of weight into them or keep my heels down. I used my legs a lot more, that was for sure and on Sunday I was feeling the effects of that. But it was all good because I need to use those muscles and get in shape myself.

This weekend, I punched the holes and raised my stirrups. Sad to say- They need to still go up a little more, but they are better. They are still a tad long, but with the length, it encourages me to relax into my leg, reach down and let the lower leg hang loosely unless I am cueing for something. For anyone who has seen me ride from long ago- western? My legs stuck waaaaay out to the sides as I braced against the stirrups.



Did I mention this mare is 16.2? With the stirrups up where they belong and where I need them to be- It is a stretch to get on her without the help of my handy mounting block. After tearing the pirifomis in my left hip back in January, it ain't happening for me yet.







After our ride...  She's really getting into the whole thing about being a western horse. She is liking just jogging along instead of having to trot with energy and enthusiasm. LOL! Now I just need to find her another French link snaffle so I am not switching it back and forth between bridles.  



Friday, April 5, 2013

Body clipping

It's that time of year again. At least for us and likely soon enough for everyone else. Spring has sprung and the horses are shedding their coats in preparation for the heat wave to come.

Berry was a willing, or maybe not so willing subject for me this time around. I swear this mare is growing longer hair in the winter and sporting more mats as it starts to fall off... I had her up under the shop and grabbed my clippers. In about 2 hours she went from a wooly yak to looking like a horse again. And for as much attitude as this mare has, for an old fart, she did really good and even let me clip her ears- inside and out- without even so much as me telling her to 'Knock it OFF' once.

She went from this on the right side-









To this on the left side in about an hour-







and then hit the wash rack for a quick rinse and she was dry again in no time.





Betsy in the background





It was a little chilly out so she got to wear a sheet that belonged to Tess for the night. She seems happier now.

And when it was all over-





I had just about enough hair to make another horse. And after I swept it all up, I was ready for a shower too. One down- no more to do for now.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Surprise!


Who is that? I know a few of these might seem a bit dark. I played with the angle I held the camera phone at, then the settings and brightness- it got better, then a few with the brightness, zoom and angle were right and, yeah.
 
Festival Fanfare or Fancy as she is known, is one of the cutest little Morgan mares I have seen with the biggest, softest sweetest doe eyes any horse is allowed to have. And is she ever HOT in Cones and Hazards!  Anyone remember hearing tales and talk on Fugly about OKC and Morgan Horse Nationals?
 
It's not quite OKC, nothing like I imagine Nationals, chilly, drizzly and breezy like her home state of Washington...
 




























But here she is with one of Many big Smiles I seen throughout the day.



And another one to end the day. I FINALLY got to meet Liz who used to post 'back in the day' on Fugly as the farmers wife. She is a blast to hang out with and since she is friends with a few other people I know in the driving club, we were sure to have fun.



Between her red hat and my red hair, we both figured we wouldn't be hard to spot. If that wasn't enough of a give-away, I have seen her horse in action before, know a few others in the same barn with her trainer... she has seen pic's of Kat in action so by the rule of nature in horses- we should be able to find each other by the horses.

Liz might not make it back for the CDE next month, but whenever she hops a plane headed south again, I look forward to meeting up with her again and maybe doing lunch, dinner or even just coffee or something.