Monday, April 17, 2017

Walking along

As we made progress going down the driveway and back, a few others at the barn had noticed what was going on and how I have been working with my mare in getting this accomplished. They have seen that while I am not letting her get away with anything, I'm also not asking for anything more than my horse can handle either.

The other night after working her in long lines, I hopped on her to walk her around and cool her out. Since blogger L. Williams has been having lunge line lessons and learning a lot, I figured I would work on me a little in the round pen since I don't have anyone to keep my mare on a line or anywhere to really do it otherwise. I dropped my reins on my mare's neck and put my hands on my waist. It was kind of weird not having reins in at least one hand. A few laps around the round pen without the reins, moving her on and off the rail using only my legs, I figured why not go down the driveway?

We now go thru the gates without me having to dismount so we did that and headed down the driveway. Mostly I was planning to leave my mare alone and not pick at her, as long as we were moving and she kept it at a walk. She did really well and walked all the way down the driveway. Coming back, she kept it at a walk almost all the way. It was a quick walk, but it was still a walk. I kept my hand on the buckle of the reins, my legs hanging close to her sides and enjoyed the walk back to the barn.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Simple things

It's funny how we take the simple things in life for granted sometimes. Like walking down the driveway. My mare had a big issue with this. First we were walking away from the barn and all. the. other. horses. Then I expectd her to walk back. Without all the tenseness, anxiety or anticipation, let alone speed. Was I crazy for asking her to do this? Apparently I am.

My mare lacks confidence in herself and her work. She hasn't really learned that I will help her get her thru things yet or that she will be ok on her own (for real), but we're getting there. Walking down the driveway has been a big deal for her. Something we finally accomplished.

A while back even just taking her to the local arena and not just getting on her but being able to really work her and get some solid accomplishments laid out was a big deal. If any of you remember me taking her along with my WB mare over to Cindy's place (in AZ), she was mostly along for the ride to get used to working and listening , somewhere other than at 'home'. Her first time there, she was all about taking in the sights and riding her was probably not the best idea, which I decided only After I was on her back. Yeah, smart...

The second time I took her, I figured I would do some long line work with her. Get her to moving around the arena sort of on her own and let her figure things out without me on her back and both of us staying reasonably safe. She worked okay for the most part, but walking her around to cool off afterwards was a different story. She wouldn't settle down and ended up sweating nervously more than she had from actually working. This is why being able to ride her at the arena was such a big deal. Not just walking her around, but getting some actual trot and canter work in too without her losing her shit and walking around afterwards to cool her out too- monumental in her case.

My friend and I decided to take our horses out one day, just a short ride down the street. Out and back in 15-20 minutes or so. Nothing major, just a quick trip out and back. Her horse was fine for th most part. My mare got anxiuous and jittery going down the driveway. To the point that my friend's horse was slowly putting distance between us, which added to my mares building excitement level. The other day we tried riding just ut the diveway. Pretty much the same results for my mare. She got herself all wound up and worked up over nothing.

A few weeks ago I decided that this driveway work would best be sorted out on the ground at first. I worked her in the round pen and to cool her off, put her halter on and led her down the driveway. There was excitement and nervousness and she thought she would ignore me, walk over me and do her own thing. She also figured out pretty quickly that I wasn't buying it, not playing her game, letting her ignore me or walk on top of me either. If she turned her head away from me, I brought it back to where she had an ear on me. If she tried going in front of me and looking back, I put her back in her place beside me. If she tried 'leaning into me' and getting in my space, a well placed elbow reminded her it was not appreciated, allowed and not happening. If she took her attention Off me, I just insited she focus on and worry about me, rather than whatever got her attention over there. The first time was pretty bad, but the next time it got better.

Then I rode her down the driveway. She got all kinds of nervous and high strung. What was I thinking, insisting she focus on me instead of her pony whinnying in the barn behind us, the cows-> 3 fields over, the sky being above us, the ground below us, and the tree next to the drivway on the neighbors property? Going out was one thing, coming back was another.

She tried to turn her head back towards the barn, but did keep moving away fom it. Sometimes we inched along, other times we moved a bit more quickly. There was no even-ness in her stride. No rythem in her movement. Coming back she wanted to prance and jig because I wouldn't let her go and let her just take off. No, mean ol' me kept insisting that she walk instead. What a grump I am for that, I know.

The next few times she did increasingly better. She started to relax more and while there were 'rough spots' along the driveway where she would tense up and start losing focus, she started to piece together the idea that when she wasn't paying attention I would ask for her to focus and listen to me. Focusing and listening meant remembering I was up there and wasn't putting up with her misbehaving. Bummer! Slowly things were getting better. There was improvement. Her walking down the driveway was starting to happen more and more. Coming back, she still tried to jig and prance, but that was also going away. Jigging and pancing meant we had to do circles and sometimes ended up walking away from the barn again.

She also got fussy in the face. Leaning on one rein or the other- whichever one was keeping her from the barn. baring her teeth in frustration, opening her mouth with the western bridle in hope of evading the bit and just trying everything she could think of to let me know she didn't like the idea of cooperating and going so damn s.l.o.w. when she could just run back and be there already.

The circles and walking away from the barn became less and less. The initial 'leaving' to go down the driveway became less of an issue. She began to relax a little more each time, both going out and coming back. We were making progess. Slowly, but we were making progress nonetheless.


Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Sheesh!

In the last post I wrote about clipping the pony and said I would elaborate a little more on things here.

Ms. S had taken video of me clipping the pony and was going to post it to FB but her boyfriend had told her not to. He felt it would be stirring the pot as the girl who had brought the pony and horse to the sale had already caught flack from the previous owner of the horse. The P/O wanted to know WHY she ran the horse thru the sale at all when she had only bought him 3 months ago? The hose was super cute, quiet and sane and the girl was trying to prove her point of being a good trainer because some guy had said she wasn't.

Let's review a little here people. This isn't exactly some high dollar sale and as a result, it doesn't attract high dollar buyers. This also means the sale doesn't exactly attract 'high quality' sellers either. The girl ran the horse thru and although he is a good horse, worth every penny, she held a reserve on him for $4,000. A bit out of the market for that crowd/ venue to say the least.

So knowing your level of clientele and the reason she ran the horse thru the sale was to prove her point to somebody, it leaves me asking WHY? *If I were her*, why would I care what some jackass at a dink sale thinks about me? If she is a trainer, the only 'proof' she needs of her talents or abilities would be her horses. If they are quiet, calm, sane, pretty, in shape and nice movers, they would be well worth the money and she would be moving them for a lot more than what she is.

Claiming you trained the horse when you've only had it 3 months, is not exactly a true statement. You can work a horse and accomplish a lot in 3 months, but you're not going to completely train the horse in 3 months. That would be one of thosse 90 day wonders and I'm sure we've all seen the results. They might come out the other side and pull off a win in the ring, but when you go back and look for holes in the training, you're likely to find many.

Another thing that I have always questioned about people like this girl, is why they would run a horse thru a sale if they had no intentions of selling them? You're wasting the time of the sale barn, buyers and everybody involved, plus the pass out fee. Now I will admit to going to a pony/mini sale in the past, seeing what was going thru, what people were paying and wondering what they would think seeing a pony like mine (Pi at the time) and although I'm sure there would've been a lot of bidding on her I just wouldn't risk losing my pony to a bid I wasn't willing to accept.

There was also another horse at the sale barn, a big bay gelding about 16h, looked like a jumper and the girl had supposedly gone in as partners on the horse with the seller. The seller was the guy saying the girl is not a trainer. According to her- *he rides really good*, but he needs stifle injections to keep him sound. She was planning to be on the rail when the horse went thru and was going to spew her verbal personal garbage and what she knew about the horse. To me that just screams immaturity. Again, why would I care what some jackass at a dink said said about me? The part about the horse riding really well, that's a common statement around here. Not something I would say, but okay, whatever. To me, this would describe a person, not the horse. Maybe- he's doing well under saddle? But if he was a jumper before they got a hold of him, he was obviously going well enough on the flat that they put him over fences. But that would make sense, right? *insert massive eyeroll*

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Artistry and ignorance

I went to the local horse sale a few weeks ago. To call it interesting was an understatement in the least. What was there was a whole new level of ignorance. As if nobody knew or expected that?

There was of course the horses in the stalls that were rescues waiting to happen and one of them was a BIG draft cross of some kind. Sweet horse but man was he in r.o.u.g.h. shape. He had overgrown hooves and coat and was skinny as hell. Another thing he had was scabbed over cuts across the front of both pasterns on his front legs. From what others said, they were infected and his legs were swollen from the knee down, which I could see without having to touch as some were doing. His left front pastern was in worse shape and rather than having a nice straight angle to it from the fetlock thru the hoof, it looked sort of 'broken' in the middle. He was around 15 y/o and probably the kindest thing would be to put him down, but man oh man the bleeding heart ignorance was rank around him. I heard one woman say that all he needed was a trim. Another girl had spoken to her farrier and he said he could fix the horse (without even seeing him mind you) and from there I had to walk away. I couldn't take it. I honestly don't know what happened with or to him. I hope he finally found some peace.

Then there was the girl with the two animals (a horse & small pony) she had attempted to body clip. Lines. all. over. the damn place on both poor critters. Maybe I'm spoiled, but for me it is so easy to do a great job, I can't imagine doing such a shitty one. Being a rather creative and artistic person, clipping just comes sort of naturally for me. I picked it up quickly, learned from someone who did a good but not great job and perfected my craft over the years. Yes I still charge $150 per horse, can do them in 2-3 hours and in the process I teach the horse to relax and that there is nothing to fear. The one horse I was doing for another trainer/blogger a few years ago, had learned the few times I did him, that being clipped was ok. Nobody was there to hurt him or torture him. The better he behaved the quicker it went and before long we were done so he could go back to his stall.

One of the girls I went to the sale with, ended up buying the pony and after seeing him with lines and patches of hair still left on, I couldn't take it and grabbed my clippers. The girl at the sale barn had said the pony was a rescue case and clipping him was hell. If she meant she did a "hell" of a job on him, I guess she was right in that sense. The pony was okay until I turned on the clippers. Whatever trumatic events he had been thru before, he was making it clear he didn't want to be around for it again and wasn't going to willingly submit to any type of torture to get things done.

What happened was the pony would back off away from me and the clippers. When that was no longer an option, he tried pushing his way past me. That didn't work so he tried going Up. One of the women at the barn Ms. D, asked if I wanted to tie him up. Now she is a nice person, but from getting to know her, her scope of information is limited in some areas. I'm not saying she's dumb, but rather she just doesn't know. She has a very kind heart and hand for the horses, but I don't think she's ever dealt with difficult horses and just doesn't know how to help them get past their fears. No big deal.

What ended up happening with the pony was that he was in my mares stall and I placed him in a corner where he couldn't go backwards because of a wall and going forward I could aim him into the wall too. There's a large window on the wall I used to block the forward motion, but it has a strong wire mesh over it and is high enough the pony could look out, but not get out. With the pony looking out I turned the clippers on and ended up just putting them on his side. I was talking to him the whole time and he quickly relaxed. I moved them around a bit and slid the clippers over his body. The pony was tense, but he tolerated it. so as I was moving the clippers, I moved them to a postion where I could start clipping him and the hair started to come off. He was beginning to learn it wasn't going to hurt.

Before long, the pony had relaxed enough that I had the rope just draped over my shoulder, one hand up on his neck and my clippers buzzing away in my other hand taking the hair off with each stroke. When I got into tickly spots or the pony started to tense up when I clipped certain areas, I talked to him, rubbed him with my free hand and he soon relaxed again. When it came time to do the othe side, he started off a little rough again, but he relaxed pretty quickly and I was able to clean him up pretty fast. My friend Ms. S had been watching over the door and before long, her camera phone was out and she was taking pictures & video. I will cover that flustercluck in my next post.

In all honesty, I was not able to completely finish the pony. I wish I could have, but I'm also not disappointed with how much I was able to do either. Sometimes you just have to do the horse in stages. You work with them and help the horse expand their comfort zone. A little at a time, you start working into areas where the horse may be tense, unsure and possibly even scared, but if you remain calm, take it slow, back off a little and ease back into the problem area, before you and the horse know it, the problem area is done and not such a problem anymore. After doing them once and helping the horse move past their anxiety, the next time around often goes much easier. By the third and fourth time, they know you're not going to hurt them and while you recognize their tension and fears, you will also help them to get past it.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Common Sense

How many of us have seen or even bought, the newest, latest, greatest tack item or training device, thinking *THIS*, this thing will *FIX* whatever issue it is marketed at us all for. Has anyone ever read the stuff in a catalog and found themselves asking WTF? Who believes this load of crap?

I remember seeing a bit one time marketed towards starting colts (not fillies, mares or geldings mind you, lol) and being a rather harsh bit it was "Good for getting their attention and making them respond." This bit was also supposed to be perfect for "fine tuning the seasoned horse". Really??? If the "seasoned horse" needs a rather harsh bit for "fine tuning" it seems like something is wrong there. Also, if you need to go straight to a harsh bit right out of the gate with a young horse, again it tells me something is wrong with your program.

Another place I question things is saddle pads. With all the new technology in closed cell foam, neoprene, gel and other techno stuff being used, sometimes the information states that the material doesn't allow every bump or bounce to get thru it, but only allows the "good" pressure to transfer to the horse, I always wonder How does the pad KNOW when you're leaning one way to signal the horse or if you're accidentally leaning because you're actually off balance? The pad will only displace the impact over it's entire surface, whether it's a hard bounce in the saddle, a rider sitting unevenly or whatever else.

The "techno" materials are also sometimes marketed as being able to help make up for bad saddle fit. Let's face it, if your saddle doesn't fit for whatever reason, it doesn't fit and a magical pad isn't likely going to fix it. It may make things seem better for a while, but in the long run it may be masking the problem and actually making things worse. And before anyone thinks that I'm saying "All pads are bad!" I'M NOT! Pads have their purpose. I use pads under all of my saddles and until my mare is working and building up her different muscles, she needs a Wither Relief Pad like the one in the clicky link. I don't expect it to absorb impact, I expect it to pad up her shoulders and keep the saddle up off her spine, which it does. It also makes tenting the pad tough since the relief pad pretty much takes up all available space for tenting, but it ends up being one of those things where you can't have both. Knowing this, I check my mare's back often, before rides, after rides and before putting her away in case I missed something earlier. Maybe I check too much, but again, it's only fair to make sure my horse is comfortable in her work since she's carrying me around up there.

Another thing I'm not so fond of with this pad is that the foam doesn't breathe. It just doesn't. So I worry about my mares back getting hot while working her. I have noticed that with her fleece pad under the surcingle, she gets hot. As in a foamy sweat under the pad hot. I've seen this with synthetic fabrics. Not a fan.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Honesty and in all fairness

For everyone who remembers me from the days of FHotD, you all know I can be rather outspoken at times and have no problem saying what I think. I can also be about as subtle as a brick thru a window at times, blunt and as one of my friends told me one time- "I know you'll be honest with me, even if it is brutally." He knew he could ask me anything and get a straight up, honest answer without all the gooey sugar coating or outright lying some people will do to spare the feelings of others. If someone is truly your friend, you *should* be able to tell them that something they are doing concerns you and they should hope that you *would* step up and say something if you see things going south for them.

So what does all of this have to do with the horses?

Well over the years and on the different blogs, I know there have been times that my comments or replies have rubbed people the wrong way, been taken the wrong way, been misunderstood or come across as rude, insensitive and maybe even downright mean. Most often that was not my intent. I have not "gone after" anyone in email- sending them "hate mail" nor have I blocked or deleted anyone's comments on my blog for pointing things out where I may have misspoken or contradicted myself, because honestly, I try not to do that to begin with.

I have noticed however, different things that have disppointed me in what I may have thought about someone and make me question my personal knowledge of and perception of them as well as other things about them.

We all know that posting online is opening ourselves up for critiscism. Good or bad, people are going to say something and respond. If we post photos or video, there is always good and bad to be found, and with the bad, there is room for improvement. If there is an issue with something, I try to offer a solution or ask- "Have you considered trying this?" unless there is an obvious solution to the problem, then I will come right out and say what it is.

Sometimes people have issues with their horses at home, sometimes it is at competitions. Some bloggers it seems like they never quite 'get there' because their horse(s) seem to come up lame, injured or otherwise taken out of the running in some way, shape or form. I feel bad for people that this happens to, but I also question what's going on that their horses all seem to be 'falling apart', breaking down and things just keep going to Hell on them.

I have also noticed a few people who have claimed- If *THIS* ever happens to MY horse, I will no longer do *THAT* with them. *That* being compete with them in whatever their chosen sport is- Jumping, barrel racing, endurance, or __________ fill in the blank. I picked jumping, barrel racing and endurance because those seem to be things that are A) popular with bloggers and B) tough jobs for our horses. But then even after proclaiming they will stop competing their horse in their chosen event, a few months down the road and guess what? They talk about taking their horse to the comepetitions and entering them to compete.

Now most of you who have seen pictures my OTTB mare or know of her, know she has a huge knee. It was injured at the track, long before I got her and it is why she no longer races. I knew this before bringing her home. It will forever be an issue to deal with. I also swore I will never expect her to jump and I never will. I have seen her bouncing around out in the pasture, going airborne and coming down on that leg and racing around without any problems, but still, I'm not going to put her over fences no matter how small they are or how much she may actually enjoy it. Taking her to the arena and going thru the barrel pattern a couple of times was all in fun. She had never done barrels before in her life and although she wasn't half bad at it, I'm not going to start patterning her and expect her to run and win money at it. For one thing, it doesn't happen overnight even for very talented horses, riders or both and more importantly, it's not fair to her.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Field trip!

The barn I'm boarding at has no arena so one of the girls and I decided to take the horses on a field trip and go to one of the local, public use arenas and work horses. Originally I was going to take both of mine and she was going to take two as well. There was supposed to be another girl with her two horses going along. Things slowly got whittled down to me and the one other girl, one horse each.

She left one horse home because she's had issues with him and wants to resolve them doing something else before getting hurt. I decided not to take the pony because he's been hauled, shown and knows the drill. My mare has been hauled to a few different arenas to work, when we lived in hellizona and she didn't handle it well. She didn't handle the move well either and is finally learning to cope and deal with things. I wanted to focus on her, so leaving the pony at home was the best option.

Her horse is for sale and she was hoping to get some photos of him in action. Apparently he has also never been in a 2 horse straight load trailer. Well it didn't take long to get him in and we were on the road.

We had a good time. My horse was a little wound up when we got there, as I expected. I got her legs wrapped, saddled up and lunged her a bit before deciding to get on. On the lunge line, she didn't exactly go around in nice round circles, but she did go around. She looked at everything, but she never spooked or got stupid so I put her bridle on, dropped my stirrups and climbed on.



Although she looked around a lot at first, she kept her head together and settled right down to work. We had a really good ride. I got some of our best canter work to date and she was light in the bridle, loose and felt really good. We had some incredible trot work and a few lovely canter departures in each direction. Then my friend set up some barrels to try her horse on the pattern. He did pretty good and I thought WTH? Why not give it a whirl? So we did.

I trotted her up to the first barrel on the right. Going around it she was a little wonky. We trotted to the 2nd barrel and around it a little wide. I pushed her into a lope and we made our way around the 3rd barrel, not so elegantly. My friend was laughing and quite impressed. She thought my mare looked pretty good on barrels. Mind you I was riding her in dressage tack. We did a couple more "runs" and the last time thru, I pushed for a little more, guided my mare around the barrel and let her go a little to bring it home. She enjoyed that.

Barrels are not something I will be trying to compete her with. My mare can run and may possibly be good at it, but this was all in fun. I wouldn't expect my mare at 18 years old to really be competitive in barrels and more importantly I doubt her knee would hold up. I really love this mare, why would I want to set her up for injury or a total fail?

After untacking and giving her a chance to roll- she didn't.



Love that face....



Monday, February 6, 2017

Photos don't lie

As riders, we strive to improve. We try to fix things we think we are doing wrong. We don't focus on things we think we're doing right. And then someone comes along and says something and depending on our mood, their words, the tone of their voice and our own opinion of them.....

Yeah. Things change. I used to worry about my lower leg and my hands, a Lot. My hands were no longer an issue after a friend of mine was standing next to the trainer I had started working for about a month before. Watching me ride the trainer told my friend, "She's got the nicest hands I have seen in a long, long time." Booyah! But my lower leg was still an issue in the back of my mind. Until the day I seen pics of me riding one of my mares and I seen for myself that no matter how she was moving, my legs were always where they belonged. Seeing pics of me on another horse and yep. There's my lower leg locked on where it belonged. Riding my WB mare forced me to keep my lower leg back under me in position or she puttered out. I no lnger worry about my lower leg anymore.

Tonight discussing riding and proper position with one of the girls at the barn, she asked me if pic's can help your riding. Absolutely! Pic's don't lie. You're either doing it right, kind of close or you're not. There may be a few pic's when it all comes together and that's great, but when there's only a few out of 20-30 or so, showing things not right or needing work, well now you know what you need to work on and fix.

The same girl has been dying to ride my mare. Since she's finally up to weight and I've been on her, I let her climb on and take my horse for a spin. It's working out well since she's getting to ride a bigger horse, try out a variety of tack, learn new things and I get to see my horse move. Win!