Monday, October 27, 2014

Good news and bad news

Bad news first- I have tried many ways on many days to get the pic's to load in a way that everyone can see them. It doesn't seem like blogger wants to cooperate. I have tried uploading them, copy and pasting them from email and just about every other thing I can think of and it's not happening. Blogger shows them being saved in the folder on this blog, but getting them to show up? Doesn't seem to work. If I have my email open and the blog open at the same time? Waa-laa. I have pic's in the post, pic's in the preview and as soon as I close one or the other- POOF! *sigh*

In the good news- My WB mare is doing wonderfully. Even when working her loose, she is striding out, overstepping at the walk and when we are done- her butt is sweaty, just like everything else. Remember, the muscles that work are the ones that will sweat. So she's still making progress on her own, even without me up there. She is also rolling into a canter now instead of popping her front end up and leaping into it. She has learned to relax and ease into it, maintaining a comfortable gait, rather than charging forward with the boldness of a bull in a china shop. One of these days we will get there and try it under saddle. I'm betting it will be an adventure for both of us.

Another thing I noticed though is that her right hind doesn't come as far up under her as the left hind does. They should be moving equal or close to it, yet no matter which direction she travels, there's a bit of a shortness in her stride on that side. I have worked on her using some of the bodywork techniques I know of and she does have a few knots in her backend and it is part of the issue. I know my neck, shoulders, back and glutes have been knotted up for some time and when I finally found someone who could actually get everything to release- AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.... It's amazing not having to deal with the tenseness, stiffness and pain on a daily basis. I am going to have to call in someone I know and have her work on my mare to bring her some relief as well.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Pic's as promised

As always click on the pic's to enlarge.

Quite the blurry mess, but the lines are clear enough to get a good idea of how she's moving.

Although she has the bridle on and the reins are tied up over the saddle, there is plenty of room for her to move her head up, down, right, left or put it where she wants.  They are simple split reins and not tight enough to be restricting her in any way.

She is relaxing a little more and dropping her head, but overall she is moving in a more balanced frame, apparent by the angles of her legs being very close to parallel.

Dropping her head a little more, moving off the backend with more engagement. Pretty well balanced overall and starting to lighten up and lift the front end. this is where we will start to see more reach in her movement and stride.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Room to move

I managed to get the girls down to Cindy's again for some work in the arena and give them some actual s-p-a-c-e to do their jobs. Oh happy joy what a difference it makes...

The TB mare wasn't too sure about things last time. Holding her attention was not easy to do. She was looking around, cutting her corners and cheating her circles on me. Bad, just bad. This time I decided to work her in the lines so she could sort out her own inner demons and get it right on her own. Well, that was not a bad option. She started out pretty good. Still looking around but with the lines I could keep her out on her circles and keep them more rounded in shape. Still looking around and a little high strung, but manageable and not too bad.

Her trot was light, forward and springy again, just like it has been at home. Cindy agreed she would make a gorgeous driving horse when and if we ever get to that point. Right now it's saddle work, because that's what I have the tack to do. Several laps around and since the mare was doing well both directions it was time to quit. She had worked up a decent sweat so I would end it with a walk as her cool down. Problem was, she just would not settle down. My mare got so worked up about not walking that she was soon wet & sweaty all over. I wasn't letting her stop there. We don't end like that so she pranced and jigged, walked a few strides and pranced and jigged some more. She stopped staying straight in the lines and began to swing her butt in towards me as her mind focused on things outside the arena. Eventually we ended up in one corner and she did settle down some or at least enough to cool off and stop, but I know where the holes are now and what she needs to work on.

The TB mare got tied up to the fence while I rode the WB mare. Aruba is starting to move so much nicer even when I'm not on her as a result of learning how to carry herself properly. She is beginning to overstep at the walk, although I notice she is not quite there on the right side as much as the left. She is striding out and really developing what my friend refers to as 'the storm trooper walk'. It is where the horse is walking so bold and forward it becomes almost like a march. In dressage the walk is usually worth double points and can really make a difference in your scores.

Another thing I disputed with my friend is this mare reaching out and down, as in long and low work. She just never did it, not even loose or when lunging. Well guess what? Aruba found her niche and relaxed into long and low work, reaching out and down while at the trot no less. We made several laps that way going both directions. Although I praised her a lot the whole time I was also arguing with myself in my thoughts with each stride.

On one hand I was thinking- She's doing it, any time would be okay to stop. You got what you wanted, you got what you were asking for, now reward her by letting her stop. Don't push her too long, too hard or too far or it's going to turn to crap at some point and you will lose what you've gained so far. Quit while you're ahead.

Then there was the other side of my brain saying- She's doing it! LET HER! Let her do it as long as she can. The way to build up those muscles is to do this and push for a little more, a little longer each time. Take what she is giving you and accept it. Just go with it.

I was also thinking- Keep your hands wide, give her somewhere to go.... Aruba did awesome and I did end up stopping her while she was going around. She did well enough, why push it too far? That was another thing I have changed- the way I ask her for a stop. My friend had suggested some things, ways to let the horse know something is coming, then ask. Don't just fire off with a 'Whoa' and expect an abrupt halt. Sure my pony Kat does it, but that's a whole different story. He's also a lot shorter and more compact- apples & oranges.

Aruba is getting there. The more we work at things, the better things will get. Although there were no pictures from Saturday nights ride, my friend is still excited for me and glad she could help. I did send some to her the other day with Aruba under saddle. Unfortunately, I am not ON her in them. I can't be on both sides of the camera. Although they are not clear, the details don't distract from the overall and she could see that the horse is moving differently already. If I can get them posted, I will.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014


Friday night I decided to do some long line work again with Aruba instead of riding her. The last couple of times I rode, after she felt she had done enough, Aruba kept popping up her front end in protest of having to move forward in our upward transitions to the trot. She was also throwing her head and grinding her teeth. She would trot, but obviously she wasn't happy about doing it and kept trying to make it clear. It was clear all right and since there was nothing amiss in the tack, no soreness in her back before or after our ride and eventually she gave up the fight and performed awesomely, it was one of her displays of "I don't want to and you can't make me. Humph!" Insert image of pouting child that doesn't get their way here...

Aruba wasn't exactly thrilled with still being required to work, but she did so much better in the lines. I figured she would, since there would be no weight for her to carry and no confusion coming from me while riding. I admit that sometimes I get thinking about what I AM doing- right or wrong, what I'm NOT doing- right or wrong, what I should or shouldn't be doing.... and it becomes a giant mess for both of us. I'm trying to control my own body and in turn it is also controlling her body and sometimes things get out of hand for one of us and the problems start. Anybody else do this? I know I'm not alone here.

I started Aruba out with the lines through the rings up on top, close to her withers. She did ok and was still a bit reluctant to go forward without the drama, but soon she relaxed and moved out, almost overstepping each stride at the walk. Yay! She was doing pretty well at the trot also when it hit me. I moved my hands out, wider apart to give her more space in a 'channel' between them. Wouldn't this same idea also apply in the lines? DUH!?!?!?

I stopped her and moved the lines down a ring on each side. What happened next was awesome. Aruba really started to work like she should and was absolutely gorgeous doing it. She also acted as if she was Happy about it. Then of course we also worked on our stops. She became soft in the bridle and stopped with her feet squared up under her almost every time. Changes were being made and things are definitely turning around for the better.

I had asked my friend in one of the first emails how much I owed her for the lesson? Since I was seeing some definitive changes in the way things were going, it's only fair, right? She called me silly, said she is still grinning from the voicemail and was actually surprised that I had jumped right in to TRY what she had told me to do. Well if she had the time to type it all out, why shouldn't I at least give it a shot? What did I have to lose? Actually, hers was the email response I was waiting for the most.

Friday, October 3, 2014


After riding my mare Wednesday night and being so totally stoked about the changes that came from a few small things, I called my friend and got her voicemail. The message I left went something like this:

"OMG Girlfriend! I rode my mare tonight and I really have to say- Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!!!!!!!

I rode tonight and tried to remember everything you said to do and apply it. Keep my hands wide and up, use my leg to ask her to step under herself. I not only NAILED the diagonals going to the left which has always been a problem for me but also Miss Thing responded as if she were happy someone was finally taking control. She was not happy about having to actually work, but she did it. Keeping my hands wide and giving her a channel to go thru and forward? DUH! She's a BIG horse, she needs somewhere to GO! I'm so used to riding the smaller, dinky breeds and keeping my hands low and together. And since I took a hold of her and was using the half halts, she has responded well and is light, quiet and soft in the bridle. So again, THANK YOU! for all of your help and support and telling me what to do. You Rock!"

I slipped in another ride on Friday night and got the same results. Aruba was all kinds of Awesome! This time her walk was much more FORWARD and I hardly had to use my spurs at all to get it. She was even more forward like that just leading her around. BIG change from having to drag her everywhere. Also my friend had said she needs to track up and start to overstep in her stride. "Bah!" I said. "This mare may never overstep in her stride. She is as long as a city bus!" This mare wears a size 90 sheet/blanket to give everyone an idea of her size. Well guess what??? Aruba is either coming close or overstepping herself at the walk, loose in the round pen when warming up. City bus length and all.

I was all set to haul the girls down to Cindy's place again for some arena time on Saturday. Mother Nature didn't like that idea all too well I guess. I had gone up to my moms and was hanging out there, doing some sewing and finishing up a few projects I had half started, some were almost done and was dying to wear everything... About the time I should have headed out, it started to POUR! HARD! I figured I would wait it out and see how long before it blows over. It didn't take long, but then came round 2 and 3, with not much signs of letting up so I cancelled. Then came round 4 and although it was sprinkling when I threw everything in the truck to leave, by the time I got on the road- it had begun pouring down rain again. Riding over the weekend was a wash.

I rode Aruba again on Monday and Wednesday nights. Although it had gone well before, I think she realized she actually has to work and is becoming a bit resistant about it. She has started grinding her teeth when I ask her to trot and throws her head, offers to bounce into the next upward gait and was getting a bit pissy with me. Bringing it back to a walk, she relaxed and lost the attitude. I tried asking for the trot again and before long she was going into it willingly. As my friend had said, her movement will carry you and lift you into the posting trot and you won't be coming as far up out of the saddle as you are in the video. I think one thing that is annoying to Aruba is going around the round pen. It gets boring for both of us, but for now it's about the only place we have to work with decent footing.

Another thing that I noticed in all of this, was that I was able to bring my feet back and under me where they belong. My friend had told me not to worry about it for now. Fix the other things first, the rest will follow. Well it's all falling into place and coming together quite nicely. Now if I can just find the time to drag the girls to Cindy's again and use her arena to try things there. One step at a time. Bit by bit, we'll get there sooner or later...