Sunday, June 29, 2008

Gemini Gets Stitches

OYE!! I finally had a little time to get some horse time and decided to take Rain and Gemini out on the trail. I planned to get my own exercise, too. I had about 2 hours of daylight left. Things were good. Then, Gemini stepped in a culvert and ripped a bunch of skin off his leg. DOH!!

Luckily, I had vet wrap. I looked down and saw his flap of skin hanging off and hopped off Rain to cover it up. Blood immediately started flowing fast and I wanted to save the flap of skin. I had my vet wrap and started to cover when he lifted his leg and kneed me right in the eye. Damn it. I lost my favorite sunglasses at that point. They fell off and I forgot to grab them when we left. Double damn it.

Anyway, I got the skin covered up and held back together. It was bleeding pretty good through the wrap so I was wanting to get him home fast and call the vet. He needed stitches. I walked them home and Gemini was upset. I had to work to keep him behind me. He was anxious to go home and going the pace HE wanted instead of the pace I wanted. It got better and I got him home. I called the vet and he was at my place within 45 mins. Great! He got about 8 stitches and some staples. The vet isn't sure if the skin flap will live or not. If so, it should heal fine and quickly. If not, it will be a longer healing process as new skin will have to grow over. We'll know in about a week.

I don't know what I could have done differently. When I was ponying him, he just decided last minute that he wanted to go over the culvert instead of around. Maybe I could have held him closer, but it seemed like he was going with Rain and I around the culvert. Shit just happens.

Ride with Marcy

I had a fellow student from the L&HB course at the Parelli Ranch come stay with me before catching her plane back to Norway. We spent the day looking at pictures of her 6 week stay at the ranch and then getting her to the airport. When I got back, I had a short window of opportunity to ride before heading out to a party with friends. I talked to Marcy about taking a ride on Cowboy quickly since he was going to be her mount for the mountain trip the following week.

It didn't go so well. Cowboy wanted to eat grass and Marcy was struggling with it. She couldn't figure out how to get effective with keeping him from dropping his head for grass. She was able to get him to stop and move on, but he would drop whenever he wanted for more. It was obvious that she was getting pretty frustrated. I was wondering what to do to help, but I thought it was better for her to handle the challenge. I try really hard to let people find their own way when I can. My tendency is to take over and fix things, but that doesn't help my friends get better at their own horsemanship.

As we went down the trail, giving Marcy different things to try to manage his grass eating, we talked and tried to find a way to enjoy it. Well, when we turned to go back, Z got a little too close to Cowboy and in his defensiveness, he double kicked back at her. Now, Z and Cowboy covered a lot of miles together and this was a first for him. It surprised us all. He came up and gave a buck to Marcy. Marcy went right over his shoulder and landed hard on her shoulder and head. She was shaken up, but not terribly hurt. After brushing off the dirt, she managed to get back on him. I was glad she wasn't broken anywhere, but I knew her confidence would take a hit. Who's wouldn't?

Cowboy won't be going to the mountains with us now. Marcy is thinking she and Dave will just take turns on Jeffrey. She wants to trust her mount and I understand that perfectly. Darn it! Horses! It's just a risky deal.

Z was great and at the end, I tried to help Marcy get better at talking to Cowboy with her hands. She couldn't get him to back up. He was pretty hard mouthed for her and I'm sure a trail ride of fighting him against the bit didn't help things at all. We switched and she rode Z for a moment in my front pasture, while I worked on softening Cowboy. He got soft quickly once I got on him. He needs a good hand on his back for a while. He could really benefit from someone who knows how to help him be a good partner. He's not great for filling in someone else's holes right now. He's not the horse he was when he was at my place and training for the endurance race.

Video some tasks?

Maybe not... I wanted to get some video taping done of some more tasks and get them sent in. I had some issues, like the video camera battery being dead, working too late and then, my horse was unable to back up straight. So, I played with her a bit while the video camera was running finally and realized it just wasn't the day for it. She couldn't back up straight, so I couldn't send her at a trot to the right. Then, she's recently started swinging her butt to me and with some good momentum. Certainly don't want THAT on video! So, I asked Steve to turn off the camera and we just played and tried to get things going better. I rode her for a bit too and she was just not in a great mood. Maybe it's time for a heat cycle? Our canter departs are better all the time, which is great.

I'm feeling like I need to focus on an area. I'm a little all over the map right now. We left it in a good spot, so I'm happy.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Rain, Gemini and Tia off to Teach

Today, I was scheduled to help someone with their horse. Since she's in the neighborhood, I decided to ride Rain over and pony Gemini. It's always great to get those two on the trail. Gemini is becoming a better pony horse all the time and he understands his responsibility to stay quiet and in his "spot". Rain is - as always - an awesome horse on the trail and does whatever I ask of her. She makes me so happy. We are a great team.

I didn't get time with Z today, but I think that's quite ok. I've been pushing hard on the L3 stuff and I have to be cautious to keep our relationship intact.

Of course, I did not get enough horse time today with my own horses. I will try to soak up a bunch this weekend and also beg someone to do some videotaping of Z and I and more tasks.

3 days with Zarah

I haven't blogged much in the last few days, but I've ridden Z every day. On Saturday, we practiced canter departs (which are getting pretty good!) and canter yo-yo's. We do a lot of what Terry taught me and get better and softer each time.

Sunday, we practiced some ground work on the 45'. It was odd - she forgot how to send out on the circle. Either I was asking her wrong, or she's sick and tired of doing it. Then, I took her on the trail bareback while Kyle walked next to us. It was quality time with horse and son and Z did very well. I continue to get better at riding her bareback and we practice bareback cantering every time. I'm getting better, but at the trot it's so easy for me to lose my seat. Her trot is big and lofty and she extends and it's hard to sit it. We're working on a more collected trot and that will be what I need from her when bareback.

Sunday was also the Parelli tour stop Savvy Club day. So, I was there for a few hours and was happy to see many Parelli friends. I even saw some students for the L&HB course that I took. That was such a pleasant surprise! I saw Christy, who sold Z to me - always a treat. They were selling courses in Pagosa for half price, so I bought the finesse course. After a talk with John Barr, I decided that was the best one to take. I also had a chance to briefly chat with Kathy about my Liberty submission. One of the comments puzzled me a bit so it was great to get that cleared up face-to-face. It was a great visit, but I was anxious to get home and ride! So, I left early and had plenty of time to practice with Z.

On Monday, we were in teh arena, but didn't do a whole lot. She was annoyed and I believe something is up with how I fitted the saddle on her. I tried a different shimming pattern and honestly, her back looks better when we're done (no ruffled hairs, even sweat pattern) but I feel a little too forward. Today, I'll try to add a shim and see if I can get my position correct while still fitting her back correctly. I'm also using a wool pad under the Theraflex. I like this system for now.

Today, I have to ride a different horse! Z doesn't do well when I push her too hard and I have to acknowledge that and use someone else. Maybe it's a good day for an 8 mile ride with Rain and Gemini. They need to move! They've been out on pasture for a few days and all the horses look fat! :-)

Friday, June 20, 2008

Beaver Meadows Resort

Spent a few days in the mountains with my riding group at Beaver Meadows Resort. I took Rain and really enjoyed riding her. The first day, we rode off alone. She had her druthers and was gaiting so beautifully. The next day we went about 11 miles, riding all day long. Rain was in front boots and again, her running walk was in pure form. She's excited with the group and amazingly, wanted to lead the trail a lot! She's become a confident trail horse and does a great job leading and staying in front of the pack. I was so glad I took her and spent the time with her. She's an amazing horse and I will always have a home for her. I look forward to working through building cool demo routines with her.

The resort was amazing and I can imagine running a facility like that. Everything was green, lakes and rivers everywhere, amazing trails that literally went for hundreds of miles. Awesome!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Cantering down the trail!

Had a great ride with Rain and Gemini today. We went about 9 miles and it was a nice, calm, warm evening. Gemini is getting so much better about staying in the proper area while he's ponied. I am staying specific with him about where his position is and he's getting clear messages from me and doing what he's supposed to do. Both of them are a little overweight. I have GOT to get them moving more. I'm so damn busy! Grrr...

Rain was so responsive today. I cherish that horse. She aims to please and we've built such a great language together. I decided today that she's the horse going to the mountains with me next week. I have 3 days with the riding group near Vail and I couldn't decide which horse to bring. Rain is the horse. She's got a little extra weight, she's great to ride and I can continue to work on building our skills together. Z can have a break. It'll be good for her. Right? Hmmm...

After our ride, I washed both horses and conditioned their manes and tails. Rain especially had worked up quite a sweat on the ride. We rode pretty hard. I am paying attention to her thresholds on the trail while also asking her to let me be the leader. When we got home, I asked Steve to get some video of us cantering. I need to go watch it!

After I put Rain and Gemini in the far pasture, Z came and found me. I was so surprised and honored. She stayed with me for about 30 mins. All the horses were far away on the track in various places and Z chose to stay with me. Yep, things are better all the time with us. So cool.

Chasing Kendall!

Had a very fun time with Kendall today! She rode her bike and Z and I followed her. I'm working on getting very confident riding Z bareback and this is just the sort of thing to get me there. We cantered bareback some and did LOTS of trotting. Kendall picked where we went and Z and I tracked her. In the meantime, practiced bridleless stopping and soft trotting. I am so sure that Z likes me better than ever. I can tell by the way she feels about being caught. Our bond is better than it's ever been.

I got Rain and let Kendall ride her bareback some. Kendall is afraid lately, so just some slow small circles and teaching her to sing while she rides is about it for now. She rode for about 15 mins and made a big improvement so we were done with that.

Cantering bareback is much easier than trotting bareback. However, my next building block is to get the canter in the bareback pad softer. Moving into the canter bareback is still a little rough for Z and I. I know it's partly my trepidation and partly Z not getting a clear ask. Still, we're making huge progress and I'm nothing but proud of us both.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Finesse Riding with Z

This was the first day I could go and practice all the great things I learned from Terry. We practiced riding collected and teaching Z to use her hind end. We practiced point to point and maintaining straightness (sometimes, right into the fence). We worked on soft canter departs - they are getting so much better and softer! We practiced circles and serpentines. Then, we rode with 2 sticks and practiced making the barrel sweeter and sweeter. If she could circle without correction, she got to rest and eat a treat. Big changes there. We played with riding the rail and maintaining gate. Then, I took off her saddle and we rode bareback a bit. I can sit the trot better and better. I honestly think she moves differently when I'm bareback.

I asked for her to move collected quite a bit at first and I felt her really change. I know she's the kind of horse that likes her hand held and I honestly think she prefers to be ridden that way. No ear pinning, no bad vibes, no snarly attitude. She's learning to give to the bit and feel of me. Her lateral-vertical-lateral is very nice! Big changes in the last 4-6 weeks. I'm amazed at the leap in skill and partnership we've done. I called her from across the arena and she came. She has more respect for me lately and my leadership has improved. She tells me so.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Z in the Round Pen

Work has kicked my butt this week and having Steve out of town hasn't helped. I'm not getting the horse time I need to give me peace so I feel doubly pushed to my limit. Kids are home all day for summer break and they need me more than usual as the only parent. Today, in spite of it all, I managed to find a quick 30 mins to play with Z. I took her straight to the round pen to see about cantering 10-20 laps. My plan was to ask her to canter until her head came below the top rail, however, she did that right away. So I changed the game to don't make me pick up my stick. She gave me 10-12 straight canter laps, twice in each direction. We practiced the down transition a bit as well. Then, I scratched her all over and just enjoyed her standing close for about 15 mins. That's her favorite thing with me. I noticed today that she very quickly swings her butt to me and I realize she really likes me petting and scratching her hind end. She stuck to me so well and I think our relationship is stronger and she's appreciating me as her leader more than previously.

Once I was sure she was happy to be in the round pen with me, we left and she got to be back with her herd. A quickie, but a goodie.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Private with Terry

What a nice man! He was easy to work with and gave me a plethora of golden nuggets of knowledge. I enjoyed him immensely. I have a long list here of things I learned about where I need to focus and ways to keep it interesting on work on parts:

1) Monkey Riding- wha?? Yep, monkey riding. So, you pull your reins to extreme concentration, you stand in your stirrups and ask your horse to find the release on the bit themselves. It's a way to get vertical flexion while moving. Start at the walk, work to trot and canter. The idea is to get them to move from behind and use their backs. It's called monkey riding because you tuck your hands so your nuckles face forward and rest them right up against the front of your saddle. The reins don't move that way and it's up to the horse to find the release - which they find by flexing vertically. Genius! Z didn't want to move that way at first so I gave her just an inch or so more reins and she got the idea.

2) Canter Yo-Yo's - the stop should be as if I don't want her to drop off a cliff! I'm not being firm enough in the stop. It's up to my horse to get off the bit and if I ask for a steady, firm stop and she hits the bit, it's her own fault. It's also my responsibility to stop my riding before I ask her to stop in the bit. This will get my bridleless riding even more crisp. Also, STRAIGHT, STRAIGHT, STRAIGHT! Let the fence stop her if necessary or to practice stopping from my seat but hold her straight to it.

"The only reason to put a bit in the mouth is to create a wall." - Tom Dorrance

3) Counter-arching- use a stick to push the hind while asking for her to move the hind with my leg AND while asking her to hold her vertical flexion with her head slightly in the direction of travel. This is the same as haunches in, but without a rail or trail. Z understood this fairly quickly.

4) Canter in - She has to be better about the poll pressure from the halter. She has to be able to canter into me with poll pressure. This was the one time I handed my horse to Terry for a demo. He got her to move towards him at the canter by applying poll pressure and causing commotion as long as she was holding against it. Once she yielded, he would stop and reward. I think did it with her and it made perfect sense. Z learns fast, so she was already getting the idea. This is important for building impulsion on the ground and flying lead changes on the 45'.

5) Circle barrels bridleless with sticks until it's a formed pattern. Once she can do one with a correction, stop and treat/reward. Build on it. Make the barrels a sweet spot.

6) Vertical-Lateral-Vertical - she understood this well, but asking for a soft feel with a concentrated rein. She looked pretty. :-)

7) Make jumps from the ground more "matter of fact". Get to vs Got to. Let her make the choice. I'm being too soft about asking her to go over when she's unconfident. Step up my leadership. Expect a lot, accept a little, reward often.

8) Sideways on the 45' - use 2 barrels as targets and go between them!! Cool idea. Put a treat on the barrel or some other way to reward her for sidepassing to it. Give her a reason to cover the distance. We'll be trying that for sure.

9) Cantering - She should be able to give me 20 canter laps. Build to it and stop putting it off. It's too important.

10) Efficient cantering - ask her to canter in the round pen until her head drops below the top rail. Once it does, let her rest. Then start again. She should get better at recognizing I let her stop when she drops her head and then build that in as a way of going in the canter. It could take 30+ laps, so stick with it until she makes the change.

11) Bareback/Bridleless - use 2 sticks more often. 1 stick doesn't help build in the body cues as well. Also, when riding with 1 stick, ALWAYS give the cue from that side, don't cross over the mane line. Only cross the stick over when asking her to disengage. Important - I can't pass tasks if I misuse the stick.

12) Jumping - If she can see through the jump (a rail vs a barrel), she might feel more confident. She has to jump 3' for L3 tasks so get her feeling like it's no big thing. She has the athleticism.

13) Collection - walk downhill with very concentrated reins and get her using her back and haunches better. He felt that better use of the hind will help her hoof dragging. Interesting and I want to see if she changes shapes. He said slow and easy and build to trot or canter downhill while asking for collection. She's got to get way underneath herself.

14). Monkey riding on uneven ground - this will help her a lot. Traversing uneven ground in very tight concentrated reins will help her use her body better all the time.

15) Walk/Trot/Canter YO-YO's - do this way more and lots of point to point, especially in the canter. Get her traversing straight in the canter. We've developed a bad habit of cantering out in an arch. We made some great changes here.

16) Hip Pointing - a great exercise for making sideways more supple. Play touch your hip on it, instead of touch your nose. Great idea - another solid nugget!

17) Sideways towards - TEACH THIS LAST! He's seen too many horses get confused with this one and he stressed to teach it as the last thing so it doesn't cause trouble with everything else I'm building with Z.

18) Specifically for us: Bareback riding position looks good, need to spend at least 5-10 mins a day doing it and get brave at the canter. We cantered bareback a bit so he could see what I'm doing. He was satisfied with how I was asking and riding. In the saddle, I should try to sit a little closer to the pommel and not push against the cantle as much. This seemed to help me be less stiff in my lower leg. I need to ask for the canter as lightly as possible. Differentiate the canter depart from the trot depart in my body language.

19) Practice butterfly reins as a friendly game!

20) Bareback riding and balancing- put your knees up at the withers so your lower leg hangs over the shoulders. It makes you feel very stable and you can go back to that position to get your balance. The position of your butt at that point is the way you want to ride bareback all the time. Lower your legs slowly and then raise them when you get off balance.

He was an optimistic and positive person to learn from. I walked away elated and so pleasantly surprised. Awesome. I'll be watching for him to come back to town. Terry Wilson -

Weekend with Z

Worked on more floating on the 45 in the front pasture
walk forward when she's moving in that direction

worked a little more on sideways
backup is much straighter

squeeze over jumps is great!
Work more on teeter totter - that will help her

bareback riding... both days
riding on saturday in arena

liberty with Rain - just stick to me. sooooo much better! she gets that i'm changed.

started to teach Z sideways towards me. screwed that up. :-)
worked a little more on trot sideways.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

On the trail with Rain and Gemini

At the ISC, I had the opportunity to discuss how to better pony a horse with Avery. We've done ok, but I knew there were things I could do better to get my horses to do their parts when ponying. Essentially, I wasn't being a strong enough leader and that's why Z would get defensive with her ponied horse and Gemini would get playful and annoying. So, today I rode Rain and ponied Gemini and rode with my carrot stick. I set some strict ground rules and made sure everyone followed them for the entire ride. I persistently asked Gemini to stay in a specific spot, no matter our speed. The first couple miles were quite a rude awakening for him. He's used to goofing off and doing his own thing when we pony. However, the last couple miles he figured out where to be and how to be and we had the best couple ponied trail miles in history. Having my carrot stick proved to be absolutely essential to being effective and I was able to give quick directions to him and correct an unwanted behavior immediately. I also focused on Rain maintaining gait - which she did quite well.

We went about 8 miles and did lots of trotting and cantering. At the canter, Gemini would get a little excited and I'd have to remind him of his responsibility. However, he did very well and I honestly think at the end he appreciated knowing what his job was and partnered up nicely. I realized I've just let him get away with a bit much at times and if he's annoying or frustrating, it's because I'm not leading him properly.

We stopped for grass a few times as it's so abundant on the trail and they deserved the reward. They are both just awesome horses and I can't wait to focus on each of them for L3.

It was a warm summer night, the air was fairly calm, my horses were shiny and pretty and I enjoyed myself thoroughly. Deuce followed behind us and behaved himself. My idea of time very well spent. More horse time today!!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Gemini and the 45

Tuesday, June 3, 2008: Ok, my gelding has gotten FAT! So, I'm trying to make sure he gets a good amount of playtime and movement at least 3 times/week. Yesterday, I took him on the 45 out to the front pasture to circle up and down hills and work on some other things. His sideways w/o a rail has gotten better. His circle game is ok, but on the 45 he got a little ahead of me and himself a couple times. At one point, Kahli was standing next to me and got in the way. Gemini was starting to move too fast and I couldn't hold on with Kahli there. Darn it! I went and got him and we started again. I learned some things in my session with Dennis today that would have been very useful yesterday. Tomorrow, and moving forward, things will be slightly different.

I took G into the round pen, too. He's learned the catching game very well and now we're starting to play all 7 games at liberty. He's a very cool horse. I'm very glad I kept him. Dennis reminded me today of what a cool horse he is, also. He'll be my 2nd horse through the program. Right now, I'm doing just fine with Z.

Gemini needs a diet and more movement. Tomorrow I'll take he and Rain onto the trail and get them both some movement.

4 Hours with Dennis

I had an amazing lesson with Dennis today. Wow. We went for nearly 4 hours and it felt like 1. I'm blown away.

We started on the 45 playing in the front pasture over the varying terrain. Dennis helped me a lot with my body language and asking Z to move faster and stay on the circle when I needed her to. I realized many things I'm falling short on with her. She's looking for direction and I'm not always giving it.

Notes for myself...

the way i hold my stick
the way i ask her to transition down
getting more particular
asking her to maintain gait on the 45
looking where I'm sending!!! Arrrgghhh!!
rope handling

at liberty, being more fluid
looking where i want her to go

riding - canter departs
moving my arm to ask for the correct lead
getting more particular
slowing her down by bringing my life up and shoulders up
moving my arms in a bike pedaling motion either forward or backward
straight lines at the walk, trot and canter

blog about Gemini play day with 45 yesterday

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Playing with Z, after the class...

So, now my challenge is to remember it all and utilize what I learned in Pagosa. I played with Z for the first time since the trip and it was interesting. We worked on trotting into the trailer on the 45', the squeeze game incorporating more of "the wait", circle game with obstacles at the trot and canter, driving from zone 5 with one rope, then riding in a circle asking her to drop her chin (more contact), supple bending (snakey bends), bridleless riding for a while and a little cantering in the arena.

Then, I took off the tack and we played at liberty a bit. It was getting dark, but I was glad the air was cooler. Not crazy about the summer heat! I started teaching the spin for the first time. It was clutzy and uncoordinated. We did a few and I decided to stop until I could see better another day. We practiced maintaining gate on the circle and I counted trot laps. She gave between 3-6. Not great - not terrible.

I felt a little rushed today with her and watching the sun go down. I had planned for a trail ride, but with my first day back at work and putting in 11 hours, my plan fell apart. She is still sometimes getting bracey in the neck when she doesn't want to do something and I have to continue to not fight the brace and rhythmically break it down. She's also turning around in the trailer, so I have to isolate that movement and get her to stay facing into the trailer when she's on a longer line.

Gemini is fat! He's eating more than his share and I'm now putting him in a run at night with less hay. I also need to get him moving. Today, I plan to take Rain and G on a trail ride. They both need the exercise. The filly looks fantastic and I had a great time with her yesterday just goofing off while talking to her owner. What a nice filly she is. The new mare is a pig like Capaill (bummer), but she'll go out on the track today so we'll see how that goes. Capaill looks more fit since the track installation and his owner is very pleased. I'm now working to figure out how to arrange horses to minimize my workload. I'm thinking to put G and Rain in the west pasture since they are both such easy keepers and don't really need grain. That will leave 4 on the track, a good number for keeping the peace.

Anyway, lots to work out on the horse-keeping front and time to think about minimizing my work for winter. We'll see...

Hopefully, Dennis tomorrow!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Day Ten, L&HB

Today was sad. We had remuda with John and Tara and talked about saddling. Turns out that my pad is NOT the right pad with my english saddle. That was what I suspected. I maybe should have bought one while I was there to save shipping costs. The pad is too small and a talk with Avery revealed that I should just get the biggest size available. Bummer. I'll try to sell my current one on eBay or Savvy forum.

The saddling demo was good, but a lot of things I'm already familiar with. I did like watching John teach the horse to keep slack in the line facing him and using the 12'. He did a cutting game and taught the horse to follow the feel. Bravo, John. When he sent the horse on a circle at a trot, he did a good buck. I'm sure Darla appreciated knowing that was in there - supposedly that horse is new to her.

The closing session was very touching and Pat's niece came in and sang "One Day in your Shoes". Very nice. John recited a great poem - "Man in the Glass". He had it memorized and it was very well done. They had us come up individually and receive a certificate of completion. We also watched a few inspirational videos such as Silke, the synchronized feeding demo video and a German man named Michael (I think) and another man with his horse Red Sun. All good for giving me ideas of things to build into my horse. We also rewatched a couple videos on prey/predator relationships. We discussed our goals and we were asked to share with another student one very important thing we learned. I shared about giving up on pegging Z's horseanality - important for me.

A lot of us went out dancing Friday night and it was pretty fun. There were probably 20-30 of us, including faculty. It was Sam's (ranch hand) b-day so that made it extra special.

Corrinn had a hard day learning her colt was pretty sick and then when she moved him to quarantine, he got scared and trampled her. She had a black eye and several scrapes and bruises. Poor woman! Kara and Corrinn were forced to stay longer so he can have a chance for antibiotics to kick in before the long haul home.