Friday, February 29, 2008

I'm Not So Bad...

,I've been battling some sort of stomach flu so I haven't ridden in two days (GASP!). There is a slight twitch in my left eye, but I'm sure it will go away today when I ride one of my horses. Yesterday, I spent time convincing Z that I'm not so bad. I walked out, haltered her, treated her, then unhaltered her and walked away. She stared at me like, "Uhhh, where you goin?". I waited 30 mins then did it again. I never have any trouble catching Z, but lately I've noticed her watching the way I approach the pasture and deciding if she should stick around or not. She can tell the difference between my "I'm coming to feed you" walk and my "I'm coming to catch you" walk. So, obviously, I need to shake things up and confuse her a little. She can also tell when I'm doing my "I've just hooked on the trailer" walk. She sees me futzing with the trailer and she takes a nice liesurely stroll to the farthest spot in the pasture away from me. Cute? A little. I usually then take a deep breath with a long exhale and promise myself to do more quiet time with her.

I also spent some time with Rain. She wants to be with me more than any other horse. She loves to just hang around and will often choose me over the herd. I put Kendall on her and led her around a bit and just spent time.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Easy Does It

Today, I played with Z in the round pen. I'm really focusing on pampering her RBI ways and give her LOTS of time to respond to me. We need to develop our cantering at Liberty - she doesn't stay at a canter very well. I can't decide if it's a footing issue in my pen, which is graded downhill and excessively soft sanded on the down hill side, or if she just says "Ugh, this is dumb". I was glad to get a full lap of cantering and we will continue to develop on that.

I also started playing with getting her to do a full-turn on the rail at liberty. Once she was facing the rail in the turn, she was sure I intended for her to go sideways. It took a few times, but she started to figure out I was asking her to continue turning on the haunches until we were faced the same way again. She licked and chewed each time. I waited for it. Yay for us!

I really need to video tape some tasks and send them. Maybe I can get Steve to help me this weekend with that. Good stuff! Having fun.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Barn Aisle, Feb 25th

Did a little bit with Rain and Zarah in the barn aisle last night. Didn't spend any horse time all day and decided to take a few mins and work on something. Rain and I worked on a lighter and lighter response to me on the stool and her swinging over for me to mount. We're getting better - no tail swishing and a very easy and close swing to me. Zarah and I worked on the bow in the stall with hay all over the ground (it was soft enough). She didn't like being in that stall and it was a little hard to get her to relax. She has the leg cue completely down and now we're working on trust as she backs on 3 legs. Very cool.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Springtime with Horses!

It's not really Spring, but what a nice weekend it was! The nicest we've had in months. I got to spend lots of time with horses.

Saturday, I showed Gemini to a young lady named Krista. He did great for her and I think she really liked him. That's the first person to come see him. Jen and Amy also came over with Cowboy and Jefe to play in my arena and I was going to ride Cowboy while we trail rode. It turned out to be windy and cold and the trail ride didn't happen. I also had Marcy on Jeffrey and I was trying to get something going with Holly. Holly had a hard time coming off of adrenaline and I spent so much time that I never rode Cowboy. I'm going to try to ride Cowboy this week - that horse is very cool.

Dave came over and we put Jeffrey in the round pen. I showed Marcy and Dave how to play the Stick to Me game and they seemed to really understand it. Jefffrey knows nothing about sticking to his human. He only knows how to do a specific job that he was taught by his previous owner. He's a nice horse - an LBI - and he's going to do the bare minimum. He tolerates Dave's riding pretty well, but he's going to get less and less patient with Dave's hands. He's in one of the most severe bits you can put on horse, with a chain chin piece to boot. Jen and Amy joked that the headgear shouldn't be allowed on my property. Maybe they're right.

Then, Marcy, Dave and I hit the trail. The wind had settled and the sun was out. We did the 8 mile loop at a pretty good pace. Zarah did not want to leave home and I need to work on that with her. I am worried about pushing her past her threshold and ruining her trust in me. That will make some of the L3 stuff very difficult.

I stood on Zarah's back bareback and bridleless! Yeah! Another task bites the dust.

Sunday, Jen and Amy came about 10:30am and we rode about 5 miles on the trail. Amy was more nervous than I expected her to be. I was a little surprised. She handled it well and she's not letting it stop her! About 1pm, Tammy and Chuck showed up and we did a 4 hour group lesson focusing on L2. It's a lot to cover and I thought we'd get to more tasks than we did. I had a great time with it. I'm happiest when I'm messing with horses and teaching others how to get things going. It's my place to be.

Zarah needs some undemanding time from me this week. I'm pushing her too hard. She's a fragile flower, a true RBI now that I'm paying attention and figuring things out. She can be LBI, but RBI is where most her characteristics lie. She's great.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Cowboy and a Broken Rib

Kirk went off of Cowboy today. It sounds like it was innocent spook and Kirk didn't sit it. It happens. He must have gone down hard to break a rib, though. Ugh - I'm so sorry for him and Jen. Jen is pretty sure Cowboy has too much energy for them. I really think he's a great horse and I'd like Marcy to meet him. He's a better horse for Marcy than Holly. Then again, Marcy needs to find a well-broke horse and that may not be Cowboy. Still, I'm sorry to see that much excitement at the Davis house. Bummer.

Green Trail Horse

Today, I decided to ride with Lynn and Nancy with Gemini. We met at Sharptail Ridge and it turned out to be quite muddy. It was too hard to get a good ride in, so we reloaded horses to try another trail nearby. Lynn decided to bail, so Nancy and I rode at Chatfield for a couple of hours.

Gemini was worried and he called out quite a bit. After a couple of hours riding at Chatfield, he was finally settled and walking like a decent trail horse. He never bucked or acted out, he just did a lot of calling. I know if I'd had one of my mares with us, he would have been fine. I have to take him more on the trail. He will make a great trail horse after more rides like today. Today was very successful! I like that horse a lot. He can go in any direction, really.

Angels in the pasture

Spring is coming. We can all feel it, especially the horses. Today is fairly warm (45 degrees), the air is calm and the Colorado sun is shining bright. My horses are happy. I feed hay in 1-2 flake piles about 10 feet apart along the fence line. I walked out today to see 4 out of 5 horses laying down in a row and 3 of them laying on their chosen pile of hay, eating while they rest. They look especially peaceful and lazy! I love it.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Stop it, Pony!!

Today, it was supposed to snow. I looked outside and it was sunny. Spring fever took over me like a warm summer breeze and I became determined to get a ride on my L3 mare and pony another. I called my neighbor to see if she wanted to join and Voila! The ride was on.

I barely did an ounce of groundwork before hopping on Zarah and grabbing Gemini. Not like me, but I was in a hurry to cover the most miles possible and get back to work at a decent time. I trotted and cantered my steeds up to pick up Marcy and we were off down the trail in no time. Here's where things got interesting...

Zarah does not much like being used to pony other horses. She doesn't like other horses that close to her. Gemini is easily bored and likes to punk around and cause trouble. It was a bad combo. Zarah has become accustomed to Rain being the pony-horse and we do well with that combo. We'd never tried the Zarah/Gemini deal and it was quite a deal.

Gemini likes to rub his head on my leg, the saddle, the reins, Zarah's neck... Zarah doesn't know why Gemini keeps following her and keeps giving him the mare-glare to get him out of her space. She'll even bear her teeth at him and reach over with the threat to bite. Repeatedly. So, here we are - Gemini rubs his face, Zarah reaches over to bite him, I remind Zarah that I'm in charge by moving her to the side, Gemini tries to rub his face on us again, Zarah reaches to bite him, and so on and so on. At times, she would get especially pissed and go to kick him. I think she got him once. He's the leader in her herd and he really didn't care - he wanted his faced rubbed. My wrists both hurt after 8 miles of THAT!

Zarah also did not want to walk today. She's feeling good and wanted to move out. We cantered a little, but mainly trotted the whole way. We finished 8 miles in 90 mins. Not bad time at all. Tomorrow, Z gets the day off and I'm taking Rain to ride with Lynn and Nancy. Just like old times.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Tuesday, Feb 19th - Hitting the Trail!

Today I picked up my Nancy :-) and we went to Hidden Mesa. We decided to head south and see just how far the trail went. Neither one of us had ever done that. It was actually quite a nice ride. The ground is still spongy and sometimes downright sloppy, but we still managed to get in some trotting and a little cantering.

I took Rain and Zarah and started off on Zarah. She still has quite an issue with bridges and I had to dismount and lead her across all the bridges going "out". On the way back, she crossed willingly while I was mounted. We need more bridge experience. She also has an issue with being overly "mare-ish" to the other horses. I discouraged it mildly, but I need to step it up and get the behavior gone.

We rode for about 3 hours in total and I switched to Rain at about the 2:15 mark. Rain felt great and energized! Zarah did quite will as my mount for the majority of the ride and her long trot stride could easily get us leading the endurance trail. She was all business as we trotted along and I tried to keep my cues soft and subtle. She was very interested in charging down the trail, but she still stayed in synch with me - slowing when I asked and generally listening well. Her canter felt great and very balanced.

She needs work also being the ponied horse. Her mar-ish behavior was a little much as she took her turn being the ponied horse. Rain was a perfect pony horse and great when she took her turn as my mount. She is a good horse to help me work with Zarah on her attitude with the trail horses around her. Rain is tolerant and easy-going.

I imagine we covered between 8-11 miles, but I wish I had my GPS so I'd know for sure. From now on, it goes with me every time.

Tomorrow, Gemini and Starlet hit the trail with me. Maybe I'll go back to the same place and try to find a home for this dog that followed us (and then managed to get a ride home to my house with me). Does the back of my shirt say "Sucker for Animals"?

She started following us in Franktown, so I've named her Frankie. And Frankie can't stay. ;-)

Monday, February 18, 2008

Sunday, Feb 17 - Damn Snow!

Well, I stared outside a lot of the day watching the wind blow and the snow dance and feeling a little pissed at mother nature. I had big horse plans for the day thinking the weather wasn't going to be quite so bad. About 4pm, I decided to just get dressed up and go play with horses anyway. It's not so bad once you get out there, really. The snow pelting your face only bothers you for so long. After a while, your face goes numb.

So, I grabbed Gemini. He's always happy to play with me. We worked on moving the fore, then the hind, then sending on the circle. He's a dominant horse, a pretty straight-forward LBE, and he immediately gets exhuberant. The ground is not good for energetic horses and he figures that out quickly. So he's carefully showing his energetic side (pretty funny) and at the same time telling me I'm not the boss. He tickles me. So we have a little discussion, I keep my cool and he quickly comes around and decides cooperating is the easier way to go. He's the coolest horse. We didn't stay out in my front pasture long - maybe 25 mins. Towards the end, I started working on teaching him to bow by developing the cannon bone tapping cue. Sixty seconds later, he's got it. Smart boy. Then, I drove him back to the barn from zone 3.

In the barn, I stood on the step-ladder and taught him to swing his body to me for mounting. He's never done this before and he was a little befuddled at first. Then, in perfect Gemini form, he gets it and swings carefully up to me for mounting. We practiced this a few times and I hopped on bareback a few times in the barn aisle. We worked on lateral flexion and backing. The barn aisle can be good for doing things slowly and precisely since the floor is concrete and the horse doesn't want to lose his footing.

He was dying to eat hay and I could tell. It was well past "hay" time for him and I decided we'd done enough.

I then grabbed Rain and brought her into the aisle. I started teaching her to swing her body to me for mounting from a step-stool about a month ago. We hadn't done it since that one session. I wanted to see if it had stuck and how she'd feel about it. I love that horse. She was a little miffed at first, but I persisted in tapping her rump, pushing her hind end towards me and after a little tail-swishing, she moved closer and got the release she was after. Ahhhhh... Then, it was like butter. She was much happier if I didn't actually touch her rump, but just rythmically push the air against her rump. She could swing over without showing her annoyance with a tail swish. She is really good at telling me I'm talking to loudly and I'm getting better at listening.

That's it - Kendall shows up and I've been in horsey land for about 90 minutes. I could live in the barn, really.