Sunday, January 31, 2010

Breezy and cool horse day

Gem - great ground and liberty work. Ride for 10 mins, felt tense and tried to walk off the tension. Decided to hop off since I'm home alone. It was interesting to feel him tense. I haven't ridden him in weeks and I'm sure that's why. We just recently got back to groundwork as well. I realize I'm not quite as brave as I was before my accident. I would say I'm 85% back. A few more months and I'm sure the accident will be far behind me.

Z- more rail. She was much better to the right this time. The CSI pad slipped forward again, tried a thick and thin shim and obviously that's no good. I'm going back to just a thick. I find that when I ask for a canter depart with the lead, she interprets my leg on the outside to mean to move sideways. I'm not getting just a hind yield. We need to practice that to get the leads more crisp and correct.

Tina - We worked in the round pen with the flank rope - no bucking going left, still a good amount going right. Then we played the catching game. She so easily gets wary so I'm working hard to preserve whatever confidence I can in me and in herself. I'm trying to move her forward more slowly lately, doing things long enough for her to feel confidence in the task. The extreme friendly is much better. I'll also continue to build more draw - that will help her with confidence in me, her human.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Moonlight trail riding and other great things

Tina - Today we did more work with the flank rope. I want her to completely abandon her thoughts of self-preservation with the flank rope. I just know that she will have a break-through if she can get through this. I'm asking her for something huge; I'm asking her to forget her innate flight and self-preservation response and think about the pressure on the flank as just a request for an action. At this point, she's still very convinced that the pressure on the flank is life-threatening. I haven't had a horse be this tough to move beyond their prey instincts. We practiced COD's, which come extremely easy to her. It's surprising because she doesn't have great draw. She's willing to turn in and comfortable moving back out, though. I should also practice the 1/2 of the COD, where she only draws in to me. We also played catching game. I continue to balance the draw with all our other work. I need her to feel ok at the end of a session and not like her safety is elsewhere.

Gemini - I used Gem to show the basic 7 games while coaching a new student a little. My sister's fiance is considering learning Parelli and I was helping him understand games 1-3. We started with him using Rain and me demo-ing with Gem. After some time, I decided to let Rain wander off and just use Gem. Gem has the games down pat and he's less offended when his human isn't perfect.

Z - After watching the latest L3 Freestyle DVD, I decided to evaulate our follow the rail.. What? We can do it to the right?? Uhh, how did I miss that? Well, now I know what our next 7 day program is about. FTR and transitions. I was actually pretty shocked. Had a good session with her though. She was very accomodating and trying to please me. She was listening well. A great session. We also did some trailer loading and we've slowly built a horse that is confident to go in, have the panel closed and relax. We've got some good trailer trips ahead so this is critical.

Cowboy - Chrissy played for a bit, so happy to see that! She's still rebuilding her skills after some winter months off, but putting in the time is the critical piece.

Rain - We'd just had our brightest full moon of the year. I really wanted to ride in the moonlight. I decided at dusk to tack up Rain and pony Gem and Tina. So, 3 horses, 2 dogs and a moonlit trail. What an adventure! I didn't realize the moon was going to take so long to rise so we had about 30 minutes after dusk in pitch darkness. Oddly enough, riding in the darkness made me dizzy. I couldn't really see anything and I was following the rhythm of my horse and going up and down terrain. I decided to stop where they could graze and got to watch the most beautiful moon rise of my life. It was huge and orange and rose quickly. I thought to take a picture, but I knew a picture would never do this image justice. I had a moment of clarity - I love horses, I love the trail, and I love pushing the thresholds with my sense of adventure. So glad I did this ride.

Tina was, as usual, the perfect pony horse. Gem had a few moments of wanting to lead the group, but otherwise he did his job well, too. He never called or seemed overly concerned with the herd at home. I really think living out front alone is helping his herd sweet behavior.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Groundwork and some fun in the moonlight

Tina - did some nice groundwork with Tina today. We focused on the figure 8, sideways, all games, and extreme friendly. Extreme friendly is better all the time. I've also been getting her more confident with her ears being handled. I want to know she can have her ear hair clipped confidently. She is very sensitive about her ears and I assume she had ear mites or some other ear critter that gave her issues in the past. I'm trying to decide when it's time to get back on and continue riding development. I'd like my arm to be completely healed and I'd like to progress her groundwork to L3.

Gemini - we did some fantastic groundwork today. He was full of energy and exuberance! He started doing some rearing when we changed directions and I found it humorous. He's slow and methodical about it. The moon was rising behind us and Chrissy started snapping pictures. It seemed like a good idea to snap some shots of him rearing with the moon behind him. He's such a powerful boy. So now, I've taught him to rear and I expect there will come a time when I wish I hadn't, but hey, it's all part of the journey. I had a blast with it. Afterward ,we played some at liberty in the big arena. I was very impressed that he only left me once and we played all 7 games with energy! He's very cool. That was the best session I've had with him in a long time!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Back to groundwork with Tina!

And what a great session it was! We upped our friendly game, with vigorous spinning and swatting with my stick and string. It took some time for her to realize that was ok and to pay attention to my body and my ask, not my stick. I got some beautiful sideways from her, nice maintain gait on the circle and we played with touch it by asking her to stand on the bridge and the tire. She started out worried, she ended calm and accepting - love it. I promised Steve I wouldn't ride her before our trip to the Caribbean (tomorrow), but when I get back... She's ready to go and so am I.

Chrissy pulled Cowboy out for a bit. I was glad to see it since she's been coming and helping for a couple months but not spending much time with her boy. The weather has sucked and I understand that. Soon, the days will be warmer and longer and she'll be back at it. It was cute watching her try to remember how to get positive responses from Cowboy. Seems Kris is thinking to start playing with Parelli. It might be tough for them to both play with one horse, but I'm sure if the desire is there, they can sort it out. Maybe Cowboy will get some good development this year. I hope mostly that Chrissy and Cowboy cover some miles together - it will be so good for her to realize she can.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Lessons, Riding and New Pads

Great day today! I woke up with plans that got completely changed, but got much done with horses. I was going to ride at Saddle Up with some friends and use their indoor arena. Turned out that there were several in the indoor arena so I didn't go. It was too nice of a day for indoor arena riding anyway. :-)

I started off giving a lesson to one of my boarders on her horse. We started with a lunge line lesson, and ended with teaching a soft backup. She's got a great horse who's a fantastic learner. Rio is seeking a leader and I think I can help her be that for him. Rio was quite relaxed and easy going throughout the lesson. She also got Gem trimmed before she left. It's a good situation of trading trims for some board.

Then, I got Z and tried the new CSI pad with my english saddle. She seemed comfortable in it!! I was pleasantly surprised! It didn't slip or move at all after riding at all gaits. I could feel the shock absorbtion and cushioning when I posted and also in the canter. We rode circles and then did some canter departs focusing on getting the correct lead. I like my english saddle, so I give that pad more time. There was a little bit of hair ruffling under the mid section of her back. She's a tough horse to fit and I may try some shims.

After Z, I grabbed Gem for some groundwork. I focused on COD, transitions on line and stick to me game. He did very well! Tomorrow, I want to ride him and start focusing on our dressage work for the upcoming show season. I really want to see how he does at a show. First we need to get our movements down. He can get a little lazy with the circle so I will need to build up my seat connection and teaching him to feel the speed I'm asking for from my seat.

A great day of horse and student development. Tomorrow, Tina and more with Z.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Back on the trail

With Rain and Tina, first true trail ride in a while. We went about 5 miles and though a few spots were mucky from melting snow, most of the footing was pretty decent. Tina has come a long way as a pony horse and the trail doesn't seem to upset her at all. She's not nervous or worried on the trail - she's got her head low and she just goes along. We can trot and canter and she stays in her spot and maintains the gait we're in. Pretty impressive.

The horses have thick winter coats and the temp was nearly 60, so both horses got pretty sweaty. It was great to be back on the trail, covering some ground. I've missed it. We were out about 2 hours.

When we got back, I did a little ground work with Rio, prepping him for bareback mounting and a little ground work. I was going to ride him bareback, but he seemed not quite relaxed enough for that, so I just stayed on the ground and played. I go to the carribbean with my husband in a couple days and I don't want to take a single chance of getting hurt.

I then grabbed Miss Z and asked her to stand on the smaller tire pedestal. She's getting quite good at the pedestal. I will continue by asking her to stand on smaller and smaller objects. Then, I hopped on bareback and just rode her for 10 minutes around the trees, weaving around obstacles, etc. Just a fun little ride with my levels mare.

Lastly, I grabbed Gem and did about 15 mins of groundwork, asking him for sideways, back and a some stick to me. He was extremely responsive and he made me smile. We've got to get some good dressage practice going so we can show this year!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Riding in the CSI Pad

I finally got a chance to try my new pad. I rode Z in the arena with my Parelli saddle. I bought the sportcut pad, thinking I could maybe use it for both my english and western saddles. It's slightly small for the western saddle, though. I'm not crazy about it for the western riding and I may need to swap it for a full size western pad.

Z did ok, but I was hoping she'd feel better in the CSI pad than normal. We cantered quite a bit and she seemed fine, but still not quite what I was hoping for. Her canter strides were choppy and I believe the saddle was too tight at the withers and over her shoulders. I'll try it again with shims and lift up the front some. I was also feeling downhill and felt my weight go forward quite a bit.

I'll try some things and see if I can make it work.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Helping out a Therapeutic Riding Center

Tonight I spent about 90 mins helping a head trainer at a therapeutic riding center. The owner of the center has asked me to come work for her and it's not a great fit for me, but I said I could give some training time. I think she's interested in me riding and training the horses, but I feel pretty strongly that I'd be much more help training the people that train the horses. There's just no sense in training horses if the people riding and handling them don't follow suit. Horses are too easy to untrain.

I helped with a hippo-therapy horse. He was sometimes giving trouble by being very mouth with the handles and sometimes leading out ahead of his handler. I taught a couple of the handlers a few things that would help them manage the horse by giving the horse the choice. They were interested in this way of doing things and they seemed to really understand. I hope they will adopt the methods I showed them, but I don't know. People are habitual. If they don't have someone there helping them do things a better way, they'll resort to habit.

Kendall came with me and got to ride the horse while I did some teaching. She was pretty tickled! Good for her.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

My amazing Dog and bareback mounting Rio

A very interesting morning... I have a great dog named Deuce. He's a great learner, a great listener (most of the time) and he's just a joy to have around. Some mornings, he goes on walkabout. He's gone for a couple hours just checking things out and having a good old time. Living in the country, this isn't such a big deal. People around me all have 35 acre lots and I doubt anyone much notices him as he crosses properties. Anyway, he's done this for about 2 years with no issues.

Well, I was out bringing horses in with Deuce, when we noticed a herd of deer in the neighbors pasture. About 10 deer, relaxing and eating. Deuce saw them and went running, no charging and prepping to chase them. Well, then the craziest thing ever happened. The deer looked up, saw Deuce watched him run to them, but didn't run! He made it to them, they stood and watched, then went back to eating. Deuce stood with the deer, bounding up and down a little, obviously trying to instigate a chase or some play. The deer were not threatened and just ate their grass.

I've never seen anything like it! I imagine on all those walkabouts he's been desensitizing the deer to his playful nature and they've come to realize Deuce is harmless. He came hauling butt back to me, looking proud of himself, but for what - I don't know. I'm sure he would have preferred it if they ran and he'd had a good chase. He's a cute dog and those deer have become desensitized to his antics. Unreal.

After the dog show, I spent about 20 mins with Rio. I'm working on helping him become less sensitive to mounting. I'd like to be able to safely mount him bareback. At this point he's a little wary and will get defensive about me jumping up and down next to him. To help him, I jumped and down while asking him to bring his head just slightly around. When he brought his head around, I'd stop. He was pretty relaxed by the end - much better responses to my jumping.

Ready for the next step.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

A little trailriding

Today, I planned to take Rain and Tina on the trail. I wasn't sure about how the ground would be with the frozen ground, but I figured we'd try. I tacked up Rain and haltered Tina and off we went. This was my first ponying since my broken arm. I wanted to take it easy and keep myself out of trouble.

We made it 1/2 way down the driveway when Gem appeared. He was out in the front pasture and decided he'd like to come along with us. It was a little tough because he'd stop to munch on grass, then canter to catch up. It's always tough when you've got a horse cantering up behind you. Tina was defensive about Gem getting too close and I didn't like it much either.

When we got to the gate, I saw the ground was slick and frozen. I sat and thought, then decided it wasn't worth the risk to ride on ice. I just don't want an injury to them or to me. So, we rode the property instead. We followed the fence and then back at the barn, we did some obstacle course stuff. It was a nice break-in back to ponying.

After about 2 hours, I hopped off, put Tina and Rain back on the track and tacked up Z. Z and I just rode around the property as well. I'm trying to just get back into my regular routine of riding every single day I can. Z and I have some filming to do soon - I'd like to get that filming done asap. So we practiced our bridleless cues and riding w/o reins.

A good day back in the saddle and I started to long from spring - or at least longer days.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Trying to trail ride

Finally, a break in the cold. This is sure one hard winter. It's been frigidly cold and the snow hasn't melted. Today, it was about 30 degrees and I was determined to get out and move some horses. I tacked up Rain and grabbed Miss Tina, thinking we'd head down the trail. I figured we'd just walk and take it easy. When we got to the gate, I realized there was a good coating of ice and I was concerned that Rain or Tina would slip. I decided to stay on the property and ride through the snow on the perimeter.

Tina ponied very nicely, no pulling - just staying in her spot and paying attention. Rain was my trusty mount as always. Gemini was out on the front acreage, so he was silly running around us, stopping to eat, charging forward to catch up with us, just lots of energy. It made me laugh and it was a good test for the mares to pay attention to me and not him. A couple times they thought about running off with him when he ran past. It only took once or twice for them to realize it was about what I was asking for and not about following Gemini.

It was a nice little jog around the property and I let Tina go to hang out with Gem to play with Rain alone a little. I worked on sideways towards in the barn aisle with Rain and amazingly, she earned it in 10 minutes. We have a great relationship and she is a fantastic learner. I was so proud of her and she could tell. She must have licked for a solid 30 seconds when she really had it. We quit there.

I put her back out with the herd and brought Gem and Tina in. I want to start working on clipping confidence with Tina. As a dressage horse, she'll need to be good when the clippers get pulled out. Gem also needs more clipping confidence, so I figured I'd work with them both. Tina was very afraid and I had to take it very slow. I got her to the point where I could rub the running clippers around her neck up towards her throat latch and she was starting to relax. Good place to quit.

Then, to keep things interesting, I broke the clippers. I dropped them. When I turned them back on they were super loud and scared ALL the horses. :-) I played with the noise for a few minutes, looking for them to get used to the noise, then I called it a day. It was a great 3 hours! Between the weather and my broken arm, it's been a hard horse winter.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Keeping up with trims

A friend, who is also a barefoot trimmer, has been helping me out with trims while I recover from my arm injury. Today, we managed to get Tina, Rain, and Rio trimmed.

Tina's feet were a mess when she get here. She's now been here 3 1/2 months and they are really coming along nicely. The front left is very flat, the white line is very stretched and her quarters really want to flare. She also has a spot where the hoof wall on the left rear was very damaged. That spot has now grown to the ground and by next trim it will be gone. Her front right is nicely shaped now and in 2-3 more trims she'll have all new feet. Cool to watch her hooves transform.

Rain got complimented for her feet. She has incredible hooves with zebra stripes and they are strong! Her hooves are just a nice example of years of barefoot and proper trimming can do. She's a fantastic horse.

She trimmed her horse, Rio as well.