Wednesday, June 24, 2015


Aruba has been not only learning the very basics of jumping, but I have also satrted taking her out and around the block in the neighborhood. She's learning she can go places, see strange things and not only get thru it, but live to tell about it. I survived it too! :-)

She has been doing well enough, but a few weeks ago I thought I would revisit ground driving and long line work with her. It's always a good way to see what the horse is doing when you're going it alone, don't have anyone to take pic's/video or have that other pair of eyes on the ground to coach you and help you out.

The last few times we have done ground work, it has not been anywhere near great, let alone anything really noteworthy. I hoped to change that and get her moving like she should at the trot. This time around started out much like before, but eventually something clicked in my mares brain, something clicked between us and SWEET MAMA!!! she was moving like never before.

Aruba picked up a lose, swinging easy going trot and framed up nicely. I heaped on the praise and let her keep going as long as she could maintain it. She held her position and seemed to find it easier to work like she should. Eventually I would have to ask her to stop and reverse direction. When she did, again Aruba picked up the same easy going, lose, swinging trot and kept trucking around like it was nothing.

The next few times I've worked her in the lines, it has ben the same thing. Aruba has picked up the loose, swinging trot quicker and easier, holding it longer each time. She is balanced, correct and fun to watch. It's nice seeing her work like his, she's developing beautifully and yet I find myself almost dreading getting on her again. Why? Because I don't want to get in her way or otherwise screw her up. Which seems to be something a lot of us struggle with.

A couple of weeks ago I was able to get some video of her working in the lines. I had worked her then grabbed my cell phone for the camera. I had to hold the phone and the right line while I hopefully got good footage. It's ok, could always be better and I'm looking at alternatives to get good solid video of her moving. Because she is just awesome that way and really coming along nicely.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Baby X's

Aruba started working really, really well with the new saddle and it seems my riding has improved also too. The saddle was a good choice and I have zero buyers remorse. Things were going so well that I decided to throw out some ground poles and give it a shot, geting Aruba used to watching where her feet are, stretching out and down, using the poles to help teach her to lengthen or shorten her stride, depending on where/how we go thru them....

She soooo rocked it!!! I led her over the poles first, both directions, letting her stop and look at them. I wanted no surprises and certainly don't need to be taking a header off her when she's taller than I am. She looked at them, sniffed them and then could care less. I lunged her and let her walk and trot over them. Again both directions and she had no issue with them whatsoever. She was interested, but not freaked out or woried in the least so I got on.

We warmed up around the poles and finally started walking thru them, going between the poles. Again it was steady as she goes. This time we walked to the poles and I stopped her in front of them. She looked down, sniffed at them and let out a sigh. We stepped over the first one and stopped. No big deal. Stepped over the next one and stopped. Next one, stop, next one, stop and she acted like she was so impressed with her badass self. We started walking thru the poles, both direcions, between them, stopping, sometimes not stopping... She was awesome.

So we kicked it up a notch. We started trotting the poles. Meh, eyeroll, nothing spectacular there either. Aruba handled it like she's been doing it her whole life. She perked her ears up and went thru them interested and careful not to step on them, but no fuss, no muss. So what the hell... Let's push it a little further. I pulled a feed tub in and set up a small crossrail. As in--> small enough we walked over it with no problems.

So we went over the crossrail several times from both directions at a walk. I always made sure she was set up, before we got to the X, and if need be, I would ask her to stop, stand for a second or two before going over it. There was no reason to rush. After going over it several times from both directions at a walk, why not try it at a trot? Okay. This is when it got fun.

Aruba went over it at a trot a couple of times and never once tried to stop, refuse or duck out on me. Instead she perked her ears up as we made the corner coming into it. She looked up, almost lined herself up for it on her own and a few times she jumped it like it was something bigger than it was. Then after she jumped it, she scooted off in a canter for a few strides, doing the happy dance! She also threw in a few jiggy steps as if trying to crowhop on me. Yes she was certainly enjoying herself and showing off some too. All it took was a stern Hey! and she got herself under control again, but then we were around the pen and coming into the cossrail again... lol

The baby X was not big or intimidating in any way and it gave her the confidence to go over it and know she would be ok. We've done a few more 'courses' with a couple or a few baby X's set up and she really seems to enjoy herself. A few times she's gotten a little clumsy or maybe lazy and brought poles down, but she doesn't freak out over it because she knows it's not the end of the world. It's just annoying and when there's enough rails down, I will get off to reset things before we try again.

It's been a lot of fun getting her started with poles and baby X's. She's got a lot of jumpers in her pedigree so it's no wonder that it comes naturally for her. We do need to slow down and focus on the flat work before doing too much more, but this is a great start. Who knows how far we will go with it???

Monday, June 15, 2015

Back to what I know

Another thing I did to hopefully make progress speed things up a little? I bought a saddle. Happy Mothers Day to me! It's a close contact that I got a wicked, wicked good deal on (always!) including shipping (even better!) and although it isn't the same buttery soft leather of my Crosby? I love, Love, LOVE it just the same.

The new saddle has a narrow tree and I bought it for my TB mare. The Crosby is just too wide for her. It looks good on her, but it sits a bit too low over the withers. When I get on, there is no room for margin in there and will only cause problems. It's also a tad too wide for Aruba and *may* work with a wedge pad. When she builds up her muscles, it may fit her still, but that's not going to happen ovenite. Regardless, it isn't going to fit my TB mare, not now, not then, not ever.... So I figured I would take a chance on the new one and see where we're at. If it didn't fit, I could always flip it (easy-peasy) and keep looking.

I will still need a wedge pad for the TB mare, to use either the new close contact saddle or the dressage saddle. At least until she builds up her shoulders & back (which means being worked...) That's just the reality of it. BUT! It fits Aruba just fine. I switched the leathers and irons off of the Crosby to the new saddle and had to get on and try it out to see how it fit me. Oooohhhh let me tell you....

It's been a long time since I have sat on a horse in a close contact. HEAVEN!!! At first I felt 'perched' up there on my seemingly flat seated (pancake, postage stamp, potato chip) saddle, but after we started working a little and feeling things out, I was right at home. It felt good to be there and I was comfortable feeling my horse underneath me as it should be.

I had no problems leting Aruba have a loose rein to walk and trot on. She even seemed to move out a bit differently, as if she was showing off the new saddle herself. I also noticed I rode differently as well. I sat up more, maybe somewhat in two point. I was back to the saddle and style I know and am comfortable with the most. The photos I posted of both mares, they are wearing the new saddle.

Now it comes to the point of selling the Crosby. It's 17.5" Sovereign, stamped RW on the flaps so I'm guessing it is a regular wide tree? I've honestly never measured the tree on it, but I can. I could use the money. Heck, we can all use money!?!?! But I love that saddle too and won't be heartbroken if it stays. It's buttery soft, leather scented, heaven on a horse. I guess if the right offer comes up?

Wednesday, June 10, 2015


Luckily, some of the bad habits starting were all closely related and 'fixing' one, led into fixing the others at the same time. Some of them (okay most of them) were me. It was me reacting to her and everything escalating from there. Our stops sucked. When she stopped, she might try walking off making it more like a pause. Her head was still popping up and sometimes we almost got into a tug-o-war when she was looking for release and I was expecting her to soften.

The answers were in trusting my horse. I must trust her on some level because I was getting on her. Hello??? Now I had to open those lines of trust and build on them. In trusting her, I had to show her that I could also be trusted. This had everything to do with my head and my hands. I had to stop expecting so much and let go. I had to stop letting her get to me and to let it go. I had to let her know something was coming *before* I asked for a stop. Once I began doing that, our stops improved immensely. Stopping didn't consist of pulling back on the reins, saying whoa and expecting her to just slam on the brakes. Kat did that and I'm kind of spoiled that way. But she's not Kat and she's not exactly built like a little sports car, so she doesn't handle like one. I can't expect her to because it's just not fair.

If she starts walking off, I just ask for the stop again. And again, and again, as many times as it takes until she stops and just stands there. No getting mad, no fustration, just stop. Stop. After having to ask repeatedly once or twice, she's finally getting it. She may creep a step or two now and then, but not like before. It's progress, we'll take it. I also had to turn my thinking around a little and ask her- "Where are you going?" This keeps my mood light and helps hers too since they sense these things off of us.

If she's pulling it's because I'm pulling. Let go and don't give her anything to pull against. I started our one ride with doing some long trotting on a loose rein. If she sped up, we stopped and started over. No big deal. Before long she was keeping a more steady and even pace. I was learning how to slow myself down and slowing her down came with it. I tend to overthink things and riding is no exception. I need to simplify and streamline things. Make them easy for the horse to understand what I'm asking for. It's sort of how Mondo got his name, but that's a story for another day.

So when I stopped pulling and hanging onto my mare via the reins, she started to trust that I wouldn't be 'beating her up' in the face. She started to drop her head, she started to 'listen' to my body movements and things were shifting in a better direction. If she started to pull on me, I asked for a stop, backed her up a few steps and then asked to go forward again, with little to no rein action going on. It was like hitting the 'reset' button for both of us.

Another thing my friend told me, and she wasn't sure how else to put it, wasn't going to sugar coat it or try to play nice about it---> STOP worrying about where her head is at! I had sent her photos of Aruba working on the lunge line and although the mare has nice movement, I keep hoping she would drop her head, use her butt up under her, round her back and look like a 'proper dressaahhhge horse'.

Yeah, she's not there yet.... We're working on it. It takes time. She's building up muscles and that doesn't happen overnight. Sometimes I get a bit impatient and want things NOW. But we're making progress and I see it, so I can wait. What else can I do? lol

Saturday, June 6, 2015


As everyone knows, I have been riding the WB mare a lot more lately. I've been putting the miles and work into her in hopes of moving her along and giving her a great shot at a new home. And lately she has been giving me some seriously AWESOME workouts.

With the help of my friend from afar, as in lessons via email, things have changed. Then something 'clicked' in this mares head and HOLY MAMA! We now have a very forward walk and recently have been getting and expanding on work at the trot. Last night she was absolutely amazing. Funny how I'm making pogress in leaps and bounds, getting lessons thru email, compared to how little progress we made when I had access to a trainer 24/7 as my husband....

But what has caused these changes?
Where do I start?

First I was told to bring my hands up a little and straighten the line between my elbow and the bit. Widen my hands and create a 'channel' for the horse's energy to flow thru. This made sense because this is a big horse and she needed somewhere to go. When I opened up my hands, it opened up what she could do and gave her room to actully move. For a change I could feel the difference in her movement. It was great and I was excited.

Then I was also told to use my legs and ask her to step out, reach further up under herself from behind and start using her whole body. This is to read, as the left hind leg comes up, use my left leg to ask for her to bring it further forward, as the right hind comes up, use my right leg to ask for forward. It basically feels almost like you're the one walking because you are using your legs to push the horse forward with each step. My friend refers to this with her mare as her 'stormtrooper walk'. The horse is going forward with determinaion, confidence and really striding out.

We got this part with no problem. When I got the forward walk under saddle, something switched on in Aruba's head and now? We have that same forward walk A.L.L. of the time. Always. No more dragging her along on the lead, no more plodding along on the lunge line, nope. She moves with purpose, on purpose. I love the idea of not pulling, tugging, dragging her around on the lead. That shit gets old.

But a lot of us may think working on the walk is and can be boring work. **raises hand, that was me!** In my friends words, paraphrasing Xenophon, "If you don't have time to work on and properly develop the walk from the beginning, how will you have time to properly develop anything else?" A few more questions to consider along these lines- WHEN will you have time to come back and fix the walk, if you don't have 'time' to do it right from the beginning? The walk is the basic foundation, if it's not solid and right from the beginning, how do you expect anything else to be?

So we had the walk in the process of being fixed, she's striding out at the walk all the time, maybe it would carry over to the trot??? Ummmmm, no. Aruba would start trotting and it would all fall apart. There was a few other problems popping up as well and they needed to be fixed before it went too far. No need to let little things turn into big things later on. Better to put a stop to it now, than let it go and get worse, sometimes becoming a bad habit that's hard to break.