Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Endurance Conditioning!

Did a great 8 mile fast ride with Tammy on Rain and we are going to do the Kenlyn Endurance ride on Saturday morning. I'm excited! I've done that one every year for 3 years, this will be my 4th. It's close by, flat and sandy, easy and fast. And I get a t-shirt! Whoo-hooo! :-)

I was going to use Z, but I decided I didn't want to mess up our Freestyle riding with a fast and potentially bracey endurance ride.

Looking forward to Saturday!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Trailriding with Kendall!

Great day! I slept in, the weather was gorgeous, and I had Kendall to myself all day. To top it all off, when I asked Kendall if she wanted to ride, she smiled and gave me an emphatic YES! Ohhhhh, going to be a great day.

After putting air in my truck tires (ugh!), I loaded up the mares and down the road we went. It was 'girl's day out' all the way around. April rainstorms were on the way, but the sky was blue and the weather man said rain wouldn't start until 6pm. We left the house about 12:30. Plenty of time, right?

Things were going just great. Well, Z was a little nutty and lacking in confidence. She really wanted to go back to the trailer. With Rain leading and us moving at a walk, I was surprised that she was so tense. She stopped many times and I waited with her. When she'd give a good exhale or look back at me, I'd ask her forward again. She would move willingly again. I tried so hard to be super patient with her. Kendall was even more patient with both of us.

However, now I'm wondering if she was looking for more leadership from me. If she maybe needed me to take charge instead of waiting. If I think about it, she was acting more like a RBE, wanting go home and fast. I probably would have had better luck taking complete and total charge of her feet. I have to give that a try next time and see what I get. She's just worried on the trail and I think I need to try some different tactics.

I actually got off and walked a bit of it because she was really getting extroverted as we turned to go home and I just can't have a misbehaving horse when my little girl is with me. Having Kendall with me puts me a little on edge - not like riding with a grown-up. I'll be working on getting Z more comfortable with the trail... the time she's had off is just no good. It doesn't help her at all.

The storm started to move in, the wind picked up and it started to drizzle. We hurried back, loaded up and went on our way. Kendall and I had a great time together and I'm so glad we got to do it. We talked about some horse camping, too. I'll try to take her very soon.

Kids and Horses!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Horse Play on a Cold, Wet Day!

It was cloudy and foggy and misty! It was not warm, either. However, I had extended an invitation to the Parker Parelli group to come over for some Parelli playtime. I tried to straighten up the play area, I dragged my arena and spread the manure. Only a couple showed up, which was just fine with me.

Tammy, Amy and I had a fun session! Tammy didn't have much time, which was a bummer. Amy brought red ballons! The theme was supposed to be obstacles and desensitizing. I brought out the ball and we just started getting something going. We started with the CAN YOU game.

I actually love that game because I try to be creative and sometimes I can get it done, sometimes we can't. I love that someone else throws an idea out and I can try it with my partner. Tammy's was figure 8 at Liberty. I've NEVER done figure 8 at Liberty! Z and I were just fine with that. Wow!

Amy's was put your hoof on a tire. I tried to do it from the end of the 22 to make it more challenging. We were pretty good with that too. Mine was to yo-yo over cavaletti's from zone 3. That was tough and Z and I couldn't really get it done. The back from zone 3 was not good enough with the obstacle. There! Something to go work on!

We also played find your owner and Z's stick to me was truly awesome. She didn't leave me once. We trotted, we cantered, we chased off other horses and she was always right there. Another Wow! moment for me. I brought the ball into the arena and we kicked it to eachother. Tammy's horse wasn't so sure about that ball, but Molly and Z were fine with it.

Then, Tammy had to go and Amy and I worked with the ballons. I decided to play with Cowboy. I warmed him on first, since we haven't played in at least 2 weeks. He was a little high but he eventually came back to the ground.

When we started approaching the balloons, he wanted no part of it. That was ok, we did a ton of approach and retreat and after about 20 minutes, he was letting the balloons bounce off his nose and actually playing with them!

We then went for the water on my track. Amy's horse has confidence issues with the water and I thought Cowboy was ok with it, but he could certainly use the time partnering up with me. I tried to give Amy some coaching and her horse was eventually getting her front feet into the water. I would have liked to be more effective with her, but we were constrained on the track by the temp fencing. Also, the mud got the savvy string heavy and slow so fast.

All in all, a great day of growth for me, Cowboy and Zarah! I loved it!

At the end, my boarder came back with Gemini. She's leasing Gemini and it was his first show today. It did not go well with Gemini not acting like a partner at all. He bucked madly at the entrance to the dressage arena and Krissy packed him up and brought him home. We talked and I offerred to help her through this, she just has to decide if she wants to do it with him or not. I'm fine either way. I worry about the black marbles getting dropped into his jar from his experience with Krissy, but I like the opportunity for him to try things. We'll see...

Before I wrapped it up, I played with the head shake trick with Z. By George, I think she's got it! She's darn cute about it, too! She did not learn it quickly, but I already see the amazing effect it's having on her desire to be with me. I'll think about the next trick to teach her. She knows the hug, but that's so easy - just porcupine game on her neck. Maybe the nod or counting is next. Eventually, want to teach the bow and lay down.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Hitting the trail with my girls

Had a great 8 mile ride on Rain and ponying Z. First time riding the trail in a month or so (at least a nice long ride like that). Rain was feeling full of life and wanted to canter the whole way. I love when she's "up"! At one point, we were galloping full speed and Z started full-on bucking! Kind of like, "Yeeee-hawwww! This is fun!". It made me laugh.

It got a little cold at the end and my hands were freezing. It was a great ride though. Love my mares!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Quick session with Z

Had a really great, short session with Z. I had about 90 minutes to grain, feed, muck and play. With 6 horses needing care, 90 mins is not much time. I ran through the graining process, mucked the important areas and invited Z into the barn. She's been very happy to see me lately! We are in a great place with our partnership and I'm focusing on the L3 freestyle riding.

I had about 30 minutes to tack her up and take her out. She was super accomodating as I tacked her up with no line on and then backed her out of the barn. I then led her to the front door of the house because Kendall needed me to help her pick the dress to wear to dinner with her uncle. She stepped out on the porch with her two dresses and tried them both on and I gave my opinion.

25 minutes left...

We practiced bridleless isolation of the ends, then we did some wtc up and down the hills, we stopped at 2 obstacles for some bridleless figure 8 and then some follow the rail with trot/walk transitions. It was fantastic and we ended a positive and happy note!

Maybe all our sessions should be that short! She was happy to leave the barn with me and didn't have her mind on the herd behind her.

Great little session! I've got to get some time with Cowboy tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Riding Miss Z - 2nd day in a row!

I took some good time with Z today. We started on the ground by leading in Z3 and asking her to shadow me and some other games. Then, I hopped on by asking her to sidle up to a jump I was standing on. We had a nice ride and focused on transitions and figure 8 patterns. There are 2 trees outside of my arena that are just perfect for figure 8 patterns. We practiced bridleless figure 8's there and everytime she offered a soft figure 8 w/o my intervention other than asking for the turns, we stopped in the middle and she could eat grass.

We stopped and I let her eat and eat. My boarder drove up during one of our rest sessions and I thought to myself, she must think I'm crazy. I'm sitting on my horse between 2 trees and she's eating grass. She's in a rope halter, I'm sitting in my western saddle, the sun is low in the sky and my horse and I are at peace with each other. It was a great moment.

My boarder unloaded Gemini, my horse that she's leasing who'd been off with her to prepare for a show, and Z was so calm and comfortable she didn't even respond to his arrival. I knew we were at a great place.

We rode a while longer, working on bridleless transitions and me working on my backwards cue w/o the reins.

I'm just feeling so positive about what we're building.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Back on Z after a long break

Work has just kicked my butt lately! Between travel and my job, horse time has been scarce. So frustrating.

I wanted to get back on Z w/o being too intense or intent on a certain thing. I wanted to use the break as an opportunity to start fresh and give Z a reason to think I'm better. I'm better for the time off and time to think and soak. I hope that she is too.

We started off with a little groundwork and then I mounted for some bridleless riding. We circled the round pen working on transitions with just my seat between walk and canter. She was great! Then, my boarder, who was riding Gemini at the time, was finishing up in the arena and talked about some of the stuff she's working through with Gem. He's having anxiety when he leaves home or the herd. I offered to ride up the road with her and so we did.

It was very cool to see him being used and how he handled the situation. He was calm and cool, but apparently that's not the way he is when she normally leaves the property with him. She's not a natural horsewoman, so I'm sure she's often pushing him through his thresholds. It was interesting leaving the property because it was my first day back on Z in about 2 weeks and here I was asking her to leave the property! I had reservations, but I was just going to have to make the best of it and be the best human for her that I could.

I felt her tugging for home slightly and I responded by following her lead, then asking her to follow mine. That was quite effective and getting her mind off the barn. Then, I asked for some half-passes, some side-passes, we did a few small circles, whatever I could think of to get her thinking with me and not about home.

We hit a point, just outside the gate, where she seemed much better. She had sighed and was partnering up with me. We played around on the neighbors cross-country course, then in the jumping arena. Z was super calm by now and it was neat watching Gem jump the big ones with my boarder. Z and I played with jumping a little but mainly, I was keeping her calm. At one point, there was a pole on the ground and Z literally leaped over it! Made me giggle.

We walked back nice and calm and I was super proud of my mare. Back at my place, in the front acreage, there was some sloppy, puddled areas and Gem wanted to fly through it upset and worried. My boarder didn't react in a way that I would have, but I offered to help she and Gem do better. Z was thinking that flying through the water was a great idea, too - so it was perfect for us as well. We did a lot of approach and retreat and then slowly walking through it, 1 step at a time. Then Z and I stood in it while Gem went through calmly. That was very helpful so she and Gem did the same for Z and me.

We slowly walked back to the barn and it was a great, calm ending. Z was comfortable and happy and I was super pleased.

After I took the tack off her, we tried to see how her head-shake trick is coming along. I point to her ear and she shakes her head. She's had a hard time learning this trick - it's her first one. I was ecstatic to see that she was finally getting it! She gave the slightest head shake to earn her treat and I laughed so hard! She hasn't gotten it until today! Once this trick looks good, we'll move on. Tricks could really help our relationship.

A great day!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

More trimming...

Got Z, Cowboy and Nina done. Nina gave me a little trouble, but only when I try to put her hoof between my legs. Cowboy was actually a gem for me and Z was easy, as always. Rain needed some frog mgmt, but otherwise, felt good to get horses back to zero.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Trimming Gemini

Whooo! He gave me a hard time today! I was trying to get it done and started with a front. He was so uncooperative, constantly trying to get his foot back. The wind was majorly obnoxious and I know he was concerned. The barn was rattling, he couldn't see the other horses, and he was tied to a stall. I knew he was just barely hanging on when I walked out of the barn and left him alone and he called and pooped.

It took like 90 mins to get his 4 feet done. That was all the horse time I had for the whole weekend due to Easter. Ugh! Not a great time for me and horses.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Soft and quick with Z

I'm just not getting much time in lately and it's super frustrating. My job is kicking my butt and my parenting guilt is hard core. I'm trying to exercise daily and that takes time, too. Just a challenging period in my life.

Anyway, I'm getting such a nice, softer eye from Z and the time off is obviously good for us. I'm much less intense and she's appreciating it. We played with driving from Z3 and transitions - amazingly nice trot/walk transitions!! She's so watching me and doing what I do! Then, a little hindquarters disengagement, a little loading into the 2 horse - she's nearly in and not emotional! She didn't poop once in the trailer loading session. She tried to brace against me a couple times and I managed to go with her and ask her to move her hind so we never braced against each other. I'm really, really getting much better about managing the brace!

Then, I hopped on bareback with the 12' and tied the string around her neck for some neck rope riding. We worked on 1 step over, 1 back, 1 over, 1 back - moving the fore. She doesn't do too many of those before she needs to go forward, pawing the ground. As soon as I sense that, we move forward and do something else. Our down transition and backup bridleless are really coming along nicely. I'm very pleased!!

I hopped off, asked her into the trailer a few more times, stood in there with her and scratched and rubbed, watched her get even more relaxed, then took her back to the barn. It was a nice, relaxing and calm session. I loved it.

Oh, and I'm always backing her out of the barn now. It's a good thing.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Mourning the death of a good blanket

Today I was reminded that 1) horses are prey animals, 2) if the horse isn't confident about something, don't just get by... FIX IT UP RIGHT! and 3) respect and honor the horse.

It was darn chilly this morning and I've been protecting the filly I board more lately as she's growing and has a tendency lately to drop weight easily. I want to keep her warm and fat and happy. So, I wanted to put a blanket on her - something I've been doing more with her. It protects her from the herd bites, too.

I've known she's not 100% confident about the blanket, but it's always felt like something we manage. Today, she called me a damned fool who should know better. I had it half on, she lost her confidence and started to move her feet. The more she moved, the more the blanket worried her. Next thing I knew, she was full speed ahead and the blanket was getting caught-up in her legs.

I stayed calm, hoping she'd come running to me - which she normally does. She was so worried though, that she was completely running on adrenalin. She would run for the herd, they would run the opposite direction as they wanted no part of her frenzy and couldn't figure out what was attacking her. It was interesting watching that part and seeing the Cowboy was the one who would turn and run back to her to figure out what on earth the deal was.

She ran to me a few times, asking for help, but wasn't calm enough to stop and get that help. Finally, after what seemed like 30 minutes but was probably more like 90 seconds, she stopped and waited for me. I put the halter and lead on her, took off the blanket (which was now complete confetti with pieces and part laying all over the place), and checked her out for injuries. She had a little skin scrape on her hip and another on her muzzle. Otherwise, she was a little tired and sweaty and starting to settle down.

I walked her around, calmed her down more, and put her into a stall and run for the rest of the morning. Now, I have to get her to understand that the blanket isn't going to eat her. We'll have to get past this slowly and right.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Kendall gets back on a Horse!

It's been a while since my daughter wanted to ride with me. The last ride she went on had some scary moments for her and it's taken her months to want to ride again. I was so glad when I asked today and she said, finally, "YES". Of course, my mind immediately looks to the sky to see how far the sun has gotten and how much time is left. I have hooves to trim, blizzard manure clean-up to manage, and need some time practicing freestyle riding with my mare.

I stopped myself and Kendall and I walked to the barn together. It was a very nice, warm day and the horses were laying down. Kendall walked up to Cowboy and Nina, who were laying next to each other and she spent a moment with them. Oh, I so wish I had my camera handy! She was having a nice Cowboy bonding moment and asked to ride him. He's too bracey for a child at this point so she asked if I would ride him. I wanted to, but time was short and I felt I could actually accomplish something with Z in a short period vs the time I'd want to spend prepping Cowboy.

We tacked up Rain and Z, Kendall even went to the trailer to fetch the saddle she uses, and we headed down the driveway. We stopped at a jump and she wanted to jump Rain a few times. We hung out and practiced jumping a bit, but Rain needs motivation and Kendall doesn't have the patience to motivate Rain. We played with the idea a bit and she got a couple hops over the jump and she was ready to move on. We left our property and headed out.

Pretty quickly, her ears were cold! :-) The sun was getting low and the air cools off dramatically in Colorado when the sun goes down. She was pretty sure she had frostbite on her ears (it was about 50 degrees), so we headed back. Z has such a fast walk and Rain just couldn't keep up! Z has some amazing skills - like that fast walk! When we turned to go home, Kendall asked if I'd pony her. I was happy to do it, but she immediately said, "No, I'm ok". I know she's dealing with some fear and I want to support her by giving her opportunities to grow while supporting her whenever she needs it. I hope I'm striking a balance - it's hard to know for sure.

When we got back, she wanted to close the trailer door from Rain's back! Wow - I love to see her thinking of getting things done while mounted! The sun was nearly down, so I told her we'd try that later. I spent just a few mins working with Z on isolating the ends and backing up 1 step, alternating with each step. So, we'd move the fore 1 step, then back up 1 step, then the fore, then back... This is all bridleless and helps us both understand what the seat is saying. I have to be consistent with the my body language and she has to be consistent about listening. She got annoyed with me once or twice and I tried to get quieter and softer and give her time. I was in a hurry and we were out of time. Dag gone it!!

But everyone away and hoping to get more time tomorrow. Need to play with Nina!