Wednesday, June 25, 2014


Yes I have it. It has been so much FUN riding my TB mare. We are both 'getting it' and the progress seems to be coming in leaps and bounds. I've ridden her twice since my last post and I'm looking forward to riding her tonight. We've worked on trotting, maintaining roundness and her mental focus inside the rails, which can be difficult at times with the neighbors cow literally hiding in the bushes...

When I rode her Monday night, I asked for some side passing to start helping to enforce the lateral cues. This mare is soft, but when it comes to side passing, she wasn't sure what I was asking for. It took a little encouragement and I got a few steps in each direction, but I'm not sure she has the idea completely clear in her mind. Not a big deal, just something to work on. It will come with time, just like everything else.

She's getting more and more solid though and I would like to get her out of the round pen and into a bigger arena to work in. Sounds like we need to make a trip to the horse park and utilize their public use arena. It has light until 10pm so I'm sure there is some time to enjoy the cool weather.

Friday, June 20, 2014

This time it was me

You might be thinking from the title of this post that there was a crash, an accident or something. It almost sounds like something went horribly wrong and it was my fault. Rest assured, that is not the case at all. Actually it is quite the opposite. What happened was a good thing.

I have been lusting over the idea of getting on my TB mare again since the last time I rode her. I worked her in the long lines again Monday night and she did really well. Again. Just so powerful and bold, yet at the same time moving in a light and elegant way. It seems odd to me at times, that she can move with such strength, but yet maintain her beauty and grace. Maybe I'm just horribly barn blind or a bit prejudiced here, but that's ok. I'll go with that until someone else tells me otherwise.

Wednesday night I rode her again and it was incredible. We did some trot work and she. was. awesome! For all that she is learning, she is teaching me a lot as well. I call that a WIN! I turned her out while I cleaned her stall and then I tacked her up and lunged her before getting on. Apparently I didn't let her work all of her bugs out on her own long enough, so I stopped her, got off and let her finish.

We did a LOT of walking and later some trotting. At the walk there were plenty things to work on, and not just on her. For one, she needed to feel my legs on her sides. I can sometimes ride with my lower legs sticking way out which is something I learned or a habit I picked up, long ago at the various Arab farms I worked at. At the walk this is an easy fix for me, but sometimes at the trot it can still all fall apart.

I found myself leaning forward and into the turn, essentially slumping over as we went around to the right. I reminded myself to sit up straight, don't lean forward, bring my inside (right) shoulder back where it belongs, bring my hand to my hip and WOW did that ever clean things up. What I felt was my mare 'under' me. She was bent to the inside, stepping up under herself and still light in the bridle. She was also moving over in behind and giving me lateral movement.

I also remembered- You have two legs, not just one. Just because you're asking for something with one leg, doesn't mean the other one just hangs there and is along for the ride. The outside leg keeps the shoulders from bulging or popping out in the turns and also reminds the horse to keep moving forward.

Then it came to my hands- First of all, in the lines, I take a soft hold with the inside rein and give the mare some support. It is not there to brace against, but there is contact. The outside rein is there to help keep her straight and guide her along. It's there for light tugs as half halts when needed and there to change directions and everything is switched. As I pushed my mare forward into the trot later on- I let her go and things fell apart. She wandered, she drifted and it probably looked like crap because it sure felt like crap too. This time I had a flash in my brain that Hey Stupid. When you long line her, you keep the inside rein steady with contact.

We tried the trot again. I sat up straight, brought my shoulders back, took a deep breath to relax and pushed her up into the bridle, and then let her trot. It was a little unsteady at first, but when I quieted my hands, let the outside rein relax, kept soft steady contact on the inside, kept my inside leg on her asking for bend, added the outside leg asking her to move....

She softened right up, dropped her head and BAM! There was that movement I have been seeing in the long lines. That was the ticket right there. I got that trot a lap or two around the round pen, and let her come back down to a walk. We changed directions, got it again for a lap or two and called it good. Both of us had gotten it right, going both directions and it was a good time to quit. It was a solid, good effort on both parts. No need to push our luck, ask for one more and have it all fall apart. Sometimes it is tough quitting on top. Believe me I know! I'm slowly getting used to it though. Some things don't come so quick or easy to each of us. It's another lesson learned.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Chills in the middle of June?

I have been working my mares in the long lines a lot more lately and I have to say this. My TB mare is just blowing me away. The girl has got some e.l.e.g.a.n.t. movement. Now anybody that knows me, knows I have loved everything about this mare from the day I went to pick her up with only $20 to put towards buying her. I hadn't even seen her yet, but she was mine. And because we all know better than to ever buy a horse sight unseen.... I have never had any regrets with this one.

The other night I worked her in the lines and I got to see something in her that, in all honesty, has been there, lurking all along. Even with her enlarged knee, her movement was absolutely gorgeous. She was light in the bridle and, just, well, yeah. She may be compensating some for the reduced amount of flexion she has available in that leg, but even still. She was just gorgeous. It was almost dark, her being a dark horse and all of that considered, there were times I couldn't see the minute details because the lack of light, the dust and whatever else, but I could clearly see the outlines of her silhouette. Momma was a rockin a great look.

Let me see if I can narrow it down to a few words, to describe what I saw. Bold, forward, strong, light, airy, elegant, classy and as my daughter Vivian would say- stylish. I obviously need to put more work into her for whatever she is to become, but if she can manage the transition from race horse to driving horse... I have no doubt she would be amazing doing it. I have worked with plenty of mares over the years and owned a select bunch, but she is hands down and bar none, at the top of my list of being one of the sweetest mares ever.

I rode my mares last Friday night. Yes plural, I rode them both. Maybe not at the same time, Roman style, but I hopped on each of them for a few minutes in the round pen. I was and still am proud of the girls. While I didn't trot with my TB mare, because this was only the 2nd time I have been on her, or that anyone has been on her for that matter, in the past 10 years she has been mine. Watching her again in long lines last night? Oohh la la. Sometimes she might look like she's moving like a freight train, but she does it so gracefully. I am looking forward to throwing a leg over her again soon. If I can keep her moving under saddle like she does in the lines... I just have to stay out of her way and let her do her job.

I know. Easier said than done...

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Some days

I have recently gotten back to ground driving my mares and I'm currently focusing on my WB mare. She needs to go and it will be best if she is a productive member of society before she goes out into the world. Bottom line? She needs a job. She needs consistency and lately she's getting it. I have upped the ante and have started working her 3 days a week with the others. Everybody gets turned out while their stall is cleaned, worked before put away and the order of rotation changes all the time.

Ms. Thing was NOT enjoying boot camp! She was having a serious temper tantrum and throwing a hissy fit almost routinely. Her biggest issue? She is not comfortable with me behind her for ground driving. Part of it may be because I am short and she can't see me back there, Especially when her head is down where it belongs, rather than sky high like a giraffe. . She can't see me over or around her butt, but I am back there making her work. Part of it too is that I'm not on her back, so there is no weight, no legs, no saddle, nothing for her to 'feel' me up there or take her cues from. Instead there is a rope running along her side and around her butt to move her hip over with or to help with the laterals.

Many horses do blow up at one point or another in long lines. They just do and Ms. Thing is no exception, except that maybe she has blown up more than most. When it happens, it is sometimes difficult to avert it or shut it down. Sometimes they just have to blow, to get it out of their system. Their 'fight' mode may include running backwards, pulling on the reins, refusing to give to one side, the other or both, locking up their front end and refusing to budge in any direction or spinning around and tangling themselves up in the lines. Some horses will rear, some will buck, some will fall down, go over backwards, sideways, etc. and when it happens, it happens fast. Sometimes all you can do is stand there and watch, while trying to stay out of their way.

Aruba has tried everything she can to get out of work and when none of it does her any good- she will finally resolve and admit defeat 'this time' and then she is just as pleasant as can be, moves out like she should and is as gorgeous a mover as ever. Her tantrums are shorter, not as severe and she is getting the idea that if she just behaves from the start, we end quicker and she gets put away and fed sooner. Well DUH!

When I move her out to the end of the lines and let her move and work, she is much better. Whoa is not as solid as I would like it yet, but we are getting there. Canter almost always involves a leap forward and up as if she's launching into it. I'm not concerned with that right now, I asked her to canter and she cantered. It's the little things. I want forward, she gave me forward.

A while back, when I first wrote this, Ms. Thing had given me a wicked fight. She was an all out shrew to deal with. She wouldn't give, she wouldn't budge, she wouldn't stop when I asked and didn't want to go until she had to... I asked, she refused. I upped the ante and she blew up. I let her and when it was done, I adjusted the tack a little and asked again in a firm but very direct way. After a while she finally relented and gave up the ghost on being such a bitch. She must have finally figured out that I can be a bigger bitch right back when I need to. What I got after that was absolutely gorgeous movement. She was soft, fluid and just awesome. I was feeling a bit deflated until that, but ending on a good note like that- it was all worth it.

Since I am working the horses 3-4 days a week, after a day off when I went back at it with her again- What a difference! She was compliant, agreeable, accepting and I had bend, give, forward, stop and a lovely walk too. I told her- "THIS! This is how it is supposed to be all of the time. See how much easier, better, nicer it is when we work together?" Because she was sooo good, this workout was short. She deserved it, plenty of praise and a good rubdown. She was an altogether different horse than the last workout.

Then two days later she was sore as could be in the front end. She will be getting some time off while I get this sorted out, but it was nice to end on a good note with such wonderful movement and her having a happy attitude. The vet was out to geld Kat and although he didn't have the time (and I didn't have the money) he didn't think it was anything serious. Most likely a stone bruise, gave me some bute for both horses and said if it doesn't seem to improve, he can come back out (when I can afford it) and we can do a more in depth work up on her and see what's going on.

Meanwhile I am working my TB mare and I am excited. I rode her once several years ago for my birthday. It lasted about 10 seconds and she was awesome. After that- I just never had the desire to throw a leg over her again... Until recently. The more I work this mare, the more I want to ride her. She has always been one of the sweetest mares I have ever owned and I want to get on her. She just moves so nice and I have always liked everything about her. I'm looking forward to the day.