Friday, December 30, 2011

Jess and Rebekah ride their horse

Started in the round pen, but the footing was so bad. So we moved to the indoor. Ellie handled it all quite well. Jess and I are concerned that the change to my property has been hard on Ellie, as well as living in a stall/run. We agreed to just let her be with the herd with hopes that she doesn't get hurt. I hope this helps improve her spirits.

The footing was good enough to do any trotting in the round pen and I didn't get back on her in the indoor. I will do that next, however. She was a little worried in the indoor as it was her first time in there. I led Rebekah around on her and she was calm and good for Jess' daughter.

Just a very nice horse with a great brain.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Trimming and riding a new horse

Today was a pretty cool day. My friend Jen came up from Co. Springs so that we could talk about trimming approaches. She's advancing her skills as a natural trimmer and wanted another perspective. She got a chance to see the property and the indoor, too. We trimmed Z together and I pulled my hoof meter reader out to see how we were doing. It was fun to think about basics and test my skills against a measuring tool. We were able to give Z a nice trim. She was not very helpful for trim time and I realized I haven't done much with her in a while. She was worried about being away from the herd. Doh - time to spend more time and get our relationship back in order.

After that, I had an appointment with my dressage instructor to try out a horse. His name was Irish and he's a 7 yr old Sporthorse (WB cross of some sort). He's a gorgeous gray with lots of black points, about 16'2". He's been ridden by dressage trainers for about a year now. He needed a lot of contact as that's what he's been trained to do. He had huge movement and I really enjoyed riding him! I had to slow him down and get him in a frame before I could handle his trot. I was all over the place before that. His canter is lovely, however. He covers some serious ground with all his gaits. I imagine he'd be great all the trail as well. He was a very nice horse, guessing an LBI. He had some nice curiosity, but horses aren't really allowed to show curiosity in the world of dressage. I imagine in a world with less rules, a real personality would emerge. I was literally sweaty from riding him for about 30 minutes. What a lot of work he is, but boy would he be great for dressage. I'll be thinking about it for sure.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Another ride on Ellie

We took it slow today. The snow is melting rapidly and very slick. Even at a walk, she was losing her footing at times. So, at the walk we worked on indirect and direct rein, go and whoa and staying on the rail. I had absolutely zero head tossing today! She's losing that brace which is a great change.

Before we went into the round pen, I tacked her up and did a few minutes of ground work. While she was tied for saddling, she slipped in the barn aisle and went down. Poor girl. She got a couple scratches, but it was minor. What was most impressive was how she handled it. She was calm and easy about the whole thing. She worked to get her footing back, but she didn't freak out and she came off the adrenalin so quickly afterwards. This horse has an amazing brain!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Another ride on Ellie

Another great ride. Worked mainly on trot transitions and getting softness in the rope hack. Started with just a few minutes of ground work and got into the saddle easily. She stood still for mounting, as well. She was bracy at first and threw her head a little. We worked through that before moving in to the trot transitions. She's working through her balance as she carries me at faster speeds. There's still a lot of snow on the ground, but the air was fairly warm today.

I will move her to the big arena and work on passenger riding at the trot either in the next session or after 2 sessions.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Ellie gains balance in the trot

She's doing so great!! We started with a little ground work, then went into the round pen for riding. We started with walking and just working on softness in the hackamore. I used the rope hack today for the first time (instead of 1 rein with the 12'). She had a little trouble with the confinement, so we worked on that for a while. She got more and more relaxed with it and I worked very hard on releasing at the correct time. Then, we started to build the trot. We got some nice trot circles in both directions after she figured out how to carry me at that gait. She is doing so well!!

We had a foot of snow to trudge through for this ride today. Made it extra fun. I wish I had gotten some video of our session today.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Ellie wears a saddle!

Put a ride on Ellie and it was her first time with the saddle in the round pen. I did get a few strides of trot towards the end but we mainly worked at the walk. Worked on direct rein quite a bit. I did not work very much on indirect rein. Played with friendly game with the rope over her head.

Monday, December 19, 2011


Kris Warner came over and we took care of Rain Gemini and Ellie. Ellie had an awful lot of hoof wall but she actually has quite a good foot. Kris trimmed Rain and Ellie and I trimmed Gemini. I didn't put a great trim on Gem, I wasn't feeling well.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Coaching out the brace

I put a ride on Ellie, first time wearing a saddle. She did quite well and I made it short.
Ride and play with Oso! Jen came over and we played with her gelding. I put a ride on him so she could see how I'd handle things. I tried to soften his "go", but using an effective phase 4 after lightly applying my leg and giving him the forward feeling. He responded with a kick out a few times, but he quickly got the idea that forward was a good option and kept me quiet. I also worked on softening his neck with serpentines and snaky bends.

Jen and Oso then spent some time in the arena and she tried to apply my methods. She could already feel a good difference in her horse. She just needs to raise her expectations of him and she'll do great.

After that, Jen rode Gem for a few minutes. I wanted her to feel what I'd developed with him. He was quite dull when I first started developing him but he's become very soft and willing. I'm proud of him.

I then did a short ride on Gem to show his knowledge. The footing was sloppy and he was taking very short strides, but he felt great.

We had a fun day of growing and feeling horses. Loved it!

Jen has asked that I write about brace and I hope to get that done soon. I think I've become more skilled at removing brace over the years and I hope I can get something in black and white that may help someone else.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Kendall wants to go faster... and faster... and FASTER!

More time with Gem and Kendall on Rain. There's still a lot of snow, so we went cantering through it again today. Having so much fun with Kendall lately. Her confidence is soaring and it makes our time together so fun!

Steve got some video and pics.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Starting Elli

I went down to Yoder today to ride with Kime and Jess. I didn't take a horse, I planned to play with Ellie, Jess' TB.

Kime gave me some great coaching and we had a fantastic, stress-free first ride. I did it bareback with a 12' line as 1 rein. Things to remember: get my waist on her spine. Have her maintain the responsibility of being at the mounting block. A great first ride for Ellie and for me as well. Soft, quiet... I was a passenger for a bit, then made sure she could handle the rope going over her head for me to change reins. After that was clearly a non-issue, I played with direct and indirect rein. She was amazing.

I started the day on the ground with her. We had some great moments online. I was able to teach her to jump half way over a 2' log in just a few minutes. She's super smart. I really enjoy playing with this horse!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Riding through the snow

With Kendall on Rain, me on Z. What a blast! Cantering up the hills, trotting through the deep areas. I love it and so does Kendall.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

A little playing in the snow

Had fun with Gemini today. We played with the spanish walk and he's quite animated about it, which I appreciate. We did some zone 4and 5 driving, working on improving his try on following my focus. We played circle game in the indoor (sending with a lighter phase 1). I want him focusing more on my body and watching for my ask. Basically, trying to get him to take more responsibility for his part of the games. We also practiced rearing - which is a hoot! He gets way up there and is pretty pleased with himself.

Not seeing a left lead during the circle game on the 22', though. We'll keep working on it.

Saturday, December 3, 2011


Trimmed Nina in Kiowa. Snowy and cold, but it was nice to get her feet in a good place.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Still no left lead...

Rode Gem around the front and then around the track to the left. Then in the center around the indoor arena. Never once get a left canter. A couple times he tried but shuffled and changed leads as he departed. Do I need to buy a different dressage horse?? Ugh.

Trimmed Z. Need to do Rain and Gem this week. Z is dragging her front left (the club foot). Is her shoulder out? She's not very fit right now - maybe I need to ride her more to keep her fit and more balanced?

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Teaching with Z

Gave a lesson today with Z in the indoor. The wind was atrocious and the indoor arena was miraculous!!

Worked with Kris on circle game and sideways. Also, Rio now knows the "smile" trick - which Kris loves. Rio loves it too - he gets treats. We had some good laughs over it. Rio's sideways was beautiful. He's made some very nice changes! I played with Rio a bit on sideways and try to show Kris how soft it can be. Rio is such a nice horse - a great, willing mind.

Kris rode Z for a few circles and got to feel Z's big trot. Z was especially annoyed today with all things - maybe her cycle?

Friday, November 25, 2011

Home from vacation

No one really wanted to be caught at first. It made me giggle to see them choose to stay out as a herd rather than be caught. But, as I always do, I wanted for my horse to make the decision to be with me before we got started.

Rode Gem just a little, amazingly light backup. Some sideways, isolated ends. Then some liberty to see about the left lead canter. He can canter left now - phew! It's not consistent and we'll need to build it back up. Time to get back to work.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Cowboy trimmed

Kris came over and got Cowboy trimmed. I've trimmed Rain and Starlet is gone, so only Cowboy needed Kris' services today.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Kendall is getting addicted!

Home from school, grabbed and apple for a snack and went straight out to play with Rain. Her comment when she got home? "I've been thinking about riding my horse all day!". I was stuck at my desk, but I love to see her put energy in effortlessly. She came in after and told me how it went - the good and the bad. She's really learning now.

Later in the evening, we watched some of the Success series together. She was engaged and asked questions while we watched it. Pretty cool stuff!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Kendall and the 7 games

We worked on the 7 games today. Kendall learned these a few years ago, but she barely remembers. I really want her to spend time with this for her horsemanship. I taught Kendall teh catching game and she fell in love with the concept. She showed great timing too!! Rain was following her in no time in the large arena!! She also rode bareback in the indoor. Great fun!

I had Z with me and just goofed off a little.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Enjoying the indoor!!

A few mins with Kendall, Rain and Z. Just stayed on the ground, KK practicing bareback.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Bus Stop Pickup on Horseback

With Rain and Z, bareback. Kendall was so happy. Then practiced bareback in the arena until it was too dark. I love riding bareback!! Kendall couldn't get enough today, either.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Gemini's Hock gets injected

Well, here we go. I hope this has positive impact. He sedated Gem and tried to pull some of the fluid from the swollen tendon sheath. The fluid had viscosity and Tom was pleased to see that. It's not near the hock spur, which is bizarre. It's about 2" higher. A few days of rest and then we'll see how Gem feels.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Helping out Rio and his human

A good session with Rio and Kris! Zarah is great as my "teacher's mount", too. Kris is still working through trust issues with Rio, but it's time to push the envelope a little. We rode around the front a little bit and worked on Rio getting relaxed. We were right by the barn, but still farther than ever before. Rio was certainly on edge, but I had Kris ride patterns and the 2 of them settled in. We've got to do much more of this type of session.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Gem's hock and Doc's opinion

Spent time with Tom today figuring out the best protocol for Gem and his hock. Tom quickly saw the lameness and we talked about options. We decided to inject his hock with cortisone. If that doesn't work, I don't know what I'll do. I sure hate to stop doing dressage with him. He'll be a fine trail horse, but I had bigger plans. We'll see...

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Kendall bareback in the snow

So much fun!! Me on Z, Kendall on Rain. The snow was nice and deep and we plodded around with smiles on our faces.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Playing with Gem and Chrissy

A little ground work - zone 5 driving.

Then in the saddle for some support for Chrissy. We did figure 8's bridleless. I trust him!

Chrissy and Cowboy did well and tried to help Chrissy with the figure 8 pattern. She put in some time, but it got boring pretty quickly. As she progresses, she'll find more delight in the small changes they make. For now, practice is tough.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Sideways and cantering

Chrissy and Cowboy - thresholds, approach and retreat, sideways.

Gem - sideways, then cantering. Some time on the 45' to start.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Great day!

7.5 with kk at Hidden Mesa with all 3 horses. Gem running alongside us off lead. KK had a fantastic time, and so did I. trimmed Rain, touched up Z and Gem. Then some liberty with all 3 in the round pen. Rain is the weaker link - need to work on some liberty with her.

Hosed them off and Z and Gem went down to roll in the round pen, but not surprisingly, Rain didn't. She's never been much for a roll. not sure why.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

1 hour of mental break

Long work day and at 5:30, I still wasn't done. However, dang it, I left my desk and got to it. Chrissy had Cowboy, Kendall came out and tacked up Rain for a ride and I grabbed Gem to see how cantering on the left lead from the ground looks.

Played with left lead canter, stick to me and zone 5 driving. He was great.

Trimmed Gem.

Kendall rode around and just smiled and had fun.

Played with Cowboy, gorgeous sideways trot and a few sideways canter strides. He's so cool.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A great fall ride with some of my favorite people

Had such a great time with Jen, Jess, Chrissy today at Indian Creek. I took Rain so I could help her and bring her along some more. This was Chrissy's first ride of the year and she did beautifully (so did her horse!). Jess rode Kade on the trail for the first time and Jen and Lynx worked on more advanced concepts.

We went for a long ride - about 4.5 hours and covered about 12 miles. The fall colors were still in force and we got some great pictures. Everyone was smiling and happy! We stopped for lunch in the meadow just as the forest opens up towards Sharptail.

It was just a fantastic day. I loved this day.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Corn Maze!!

Took all 3 horses and the whole fam damily to the Hudson Corn Maze. We had a BLAST!! I brought Gem, Rain and Zarah with Kendall riding Rain, D riding Z and me on Gem. The horses were a little worried at first. The corn is dry now and makes a lot of noise! The wind kept the corn moving and making it's noise. It's also 10 feet tall easily, so there's no looking over it. It was awesome!

Kendall had a little trouble with Rain at times, as Rain knows Kendall isn't always in charge. That's ok, KK learned some things and handled herself with a lot of maturity. D didn't try to manage a horse. He navigated the map so we wouldn't get lost and I ponied him for most the time. About half way through, I decided to switch with him and let him ride Gem. This actually worked out better because then I could manage Z and her high energy. She never truly settled in the maze. Gem and Rain were cool and calm, but Z - not so much. Z also really desires to lead when she's worried and she can be a little forceful about it. I believe that's her alpha mare mentality.

It was a great time and D loved navigating us through the maze and following the map. We agreed to go next Sunday on "dog day" with Deuce and Oscar. Really a fun time!

Friday, October 14, 2011

A great lesson

rode her andy - a very forward, energetic and cool horse
no stirrups - rode the transitions through w/t/c w/o stirrups. i had no trouble with this.
longer stirrups! After riding with no stirrups, my stirrups seemed way too short. Lengthened my stirrups to match the way I held my legs w/o them. What a huge difference.
transition down from canter to sitting trot
Gem was much more round. all the riding in a frame is paying off.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A fun time with Chrissy and Kendall

Rode Gem, KK tacked up and rode Rain all by herself, and Chrissy rode Cowboy!

I was playing with leads in the trot, helping Gem stay upright and balanced and a little with the left lead canter. I was using the serpentine to help me get this done with him.

Kendall also did some serpentine, but she couldn't handle the arena for long. She left the arena and rode Rain around the property. Rain was looking pretty bracey, so I asked her to soften Rain by also doing some serpentines before calling it a day. She is becoming such a great little horse woman! Proud of her and our horse Rain.

Chrissy followed me and Gem in the trot while we did our serpentines. She's working on her fear thresholds and allowing Cowboy to move w/o holding on tightly to the reins. I'm trying to help her build some trust in herself and her horse. She said she didn't feel very fluid with him, so hopefully she'll keep riding and find more harmony in the saddle.

Fun time with horses!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Training Rain

I took some time with Rain tonight, softening her up and getting her to bend into some serpentines. Delaney also rode her and helped me by doing the same exercise in the walk.

She's such a lovely horse, but I realize how much I've left her behind in my training. I really need to bring her up to the level of my other horses. We've got to lose the brace and build straightness, balance and responsibility for gait.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Kids in the barn

I had the kids helping with manure management today. Steve is out of town this week and the snow on Saturday produced a ton of manure in the stalls. I finally got it addressed and Kendall and Delaney were quite helpful!!

After clean-up, both kids wanted to ride Rain. Rain was very bracey, but Kendall handled it ok. Delaney didn't do much riding, thankfully. Rain really needs time with me. Delaney is excited about riding in the corn maze next weekend, so he wanted to practice riding so he'd be ready. I think he'll be fine, but I love that he wants to put some time in!

I also got Z trimmed. Her hinds are doing better, but the right still has quite a bull nose. I'll keep working on it. I was hoping the chiro adjustments would have had more impact.

A fun evening with my kids, my horses and horse chores.


Fun day! Picked up Deb (in her truck and trailer) with Z and did a FAST 7.5 miles at Hidden Mesa. Then, got home and gave a lesson to Kris and Rio.

Deb and I galloped a few times and Z was stretched out and racing her heart out! Fun! I cut my finger pretty bad just before we tacked up at the trailhead, so I had a make-shift pressure bandage made of vet-wrap and an old mitten. I was not going to miss the chance to ride, darn it!

Kris and Rio worked on circle game and sideways with porcupine game. We also played with the smile trick a bit. Fun lesson in the indoor arena! This was a tough day for Kris, however. She was struggling with her trust in Rio more than usual. I'm sure the next lesson will be different as she really pushed her bubble today.

Kris also trimmed Rio.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Show day!

Snow!! We drove in a few inches of very unexpected snow. Last night, my truck died on the ride home from my dressage lesson. Perfect. I was able to call on a couple friends to help me out and borrowed a truck and trailer so we could go to the show. I'm so lucky to have great friends.

Gem was great! He loaded in this foreign trailer with no trouble. We slowly made our way to get Loma and Nina and just before we arrived, the ranch had lost power. This meant the gate didn't work. Loma called for help, but I was feeling like the universe was against me going to this show! Between the truck dying, the snow and now no way to get onto the property to get Loma and Nina... Oye.

We overcame it all. We arrived and had time to warm up and get ready and even finish braiding. Gem was cool and calm and I was so grateful for the way he handled it all. I couldn't wait to tack him up and starting warming up. We ended up riding two fairly equally scored tests. We got 57.1 and 57.8. I was so pleased with how he handled it all and I'm ready for the spring season! I think that for 4 months time, we're doing quite well and by next Spring, we'll be ready to really hit it. Exciting!

Friday, October 7, 2011

One final lesson before the show

Met with KC the day before our first show. We worked on the left lead, but I honestly don't believe we made much progress. He seems to just be practicing the counter canter. I don't think he's getting a clear understanding of what I mean when I ask him to canter to the left with the left lead. I don't know why we lost the left lead.

We worked on stretch, chewy trot and Gem is getting that with not trouble.

We played with slowing down the trot tempo and helping me understand what the trot tempo should be.

I really feel like I'm getting the pattern solid in my mind, which makes me feel much better for the show. I decided to do only Training Level 1, so I only have 1 test to memorize. This is a huge relief and we're practicing the test in sections. We start with a left lead canter in this test. Probably not the best choice for our first test, but I really just want the show experience, not a blue ribbon.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Dressage Rehearsal

With Gem and Loma at Lonesome Hill, where the show will be... I was able to get out of work a little early, pick up Loma and head to Lonesome Hill. What a beautiful ranch. It's 1300 acres and has a huge indoor and a very large outdoor. It's the kind of facility where board is $700 - $800 per month.

Gemini was fantastic. He was never worried and Loma and I agreed to split up immediately with one of us in the indoor and one in the outdoor. Gem was just fine. He wasn't worried about Nina, even though Nina was worried to be alone and she called a lot.

Gem and I ran through the test and we worked on left canter leads, which are broken entirely since last week. Who cares. We'll fix it over time.

Beautiful ranch and we are READY!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Sabrina and Starlet - a friend of a friend came to see Starlet today. She heard about her through my friend and felt like this was a great prospect for her. She was looking for a dark bay Thoroughbred mare who was quiet but had plenty of go. After a discussion on the phone, Starlet seemed like she could be a great fit. She came today to meet her and she ended up riding her for about an hour and a half. She brought her 2 yr old daughter and her parents. I hung around, riding Zarah and spending a little time with her daughter while she spent time with Starlet. I could tell pretty quickly that this would be a nice match. Bittersweet. Starlet deserves a partner and I haven't given her that. I feel bad about it and I keep thinking I'll find time, but I don't think I ever actually will. It's time to let her go. If it doesn't work out, Sabrina will bring her back to me and I will be sure she's happy and cared for. I feel very good about this match and I think this could be just what Starlet needs.

Chrissy following me on Cowboy - Before Sabrina arrived, Chrissy and I rode around in the arena. So glad to see Chrissy on her horse!! I walked around on Z and Chrissy and Cowboy followed. She was a little nervous at first, but I could see her nervousness melting away. I hope she keeps it up!

Z took it easy through it all today. It was her first ride since the 50 mile race. She was calm and easy and after riding Gem so much, I so appreciate Z's sensitivity and willingness. She's a great reminder of what I seek with Gem. I put Sabrina's daughter on her and lead her around. Sienna was so happy to ride this horse! Kendall rode her, too. I kept the lead line for Kendall because I know the horse that Z is, but Z was calm and reasonable. Such a nice mare.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Fox Run with Gem and Jen

Really nice day with my Jen! We so rarely ride together, it was nice to go out and spend some time. We took it pretty easy and Gem was slow and lazy. I tried to get some forward out of him, but he was just slow and lazy... and slow. I remembered how much I adore Z today. :-)

I helped Jen out with trot diagonals and straightness on a circle. I think she enjoyed the new concepts and felt a difference in her horse. Gem and I worked on getting a light depart. Otherwise, he just felt tired to me. I put boots on him after a while because I was wondering if his feet were sore. It helped a little, but really he just didn't have any energy.

Might need to add some supplements to his diet. I'm riding him a lot and asking him for more than usual. He did well today, regardless.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Dressage Practice and Chrissy rides!!

OK, my first show is coming up fast! I realized today that I REALLY need to get these tests memorized! I finished work and tacked up my pretty gelding for some time in the arena. We tried to ride in the indoor but he needs some more time to get used to it. I didn't want to waste daylight, so we headed to the outdoor. I worked on teaching him to stretch down in the trot, left lead canter (oh no! where'd our left lead canter go?!), and trot/canter transitions. Transitioning down is not so smooth, he wants to slam on the brakes (not a dressage move at all!). OK, Tia... breathe...

Chrissy came out with Cowboy, too. She played a little on the ground and then hopped on him. So happy to see her get on! She seemed less nervous and I believe she took some trot strides. She's mounted up only a few times this year. Hopefully, she'll find more time to get out and hang with Cowboy, maybe work through some of the riding troubles. Great to see her hop on!

Nice evening. Got to go review those tests now.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Dome Rock!!

Had a fantastic day with friends, my beautiful daughter, Gemini and Rain riding Dome Rock today. Dome Rock is one of my favorite spots in Colorado. The aspens are starting to turn and the yellows and reds were magnificent! Kendall had a rough spot about 1 hour in, but she did a great job of holding it together and then ended up having a great time. We trotted and cantered a lot and the horses got an excellent work out. Rain did it barefoot w/o a single issue. Gem wore boots on the front. Gem had a minor bucking episode (of course!) when we were cantering down a hill with a sharp turn at the bottom in sandy footing. I wanted him to slow so we could make the turn easily but he was concerned about the mares getting too far ahead. I could feel him having an opinion about my ask to slow down and he humped up for 4-5 decent bucks. Silly boy! I wonder if that will simply always be there, that response to buck when things aren't going the way he wants. It's ok, he can't get me off and he doesn't scare me anymore. Besides the occasional buck, he's become a fantastic trail horse!!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Gemini and Rain at Dawson Butte

Kendall is back on the trail!! I'm so happy. I've missed trail riding with my daughter. She's been riding Rain over the past few months but just at home. I asked her to go and she said YES. We went to Dawson Butte and I let her lead on Rain. She really liked being able to set the pace and lead us down the trail. Gem was fine behind, so I was happy to let KK lead. She took us into a trot a lot of the time and she wanted to canter a lot, so we did some. I tried to keep Kendall from doing too much cantering since I wanted her first time back on the trail to be positive. Rain did give a hefty spook at the end of our ride and Kendall not only stayed seated beautiful, she wasn't afraid at all. She's a natural.

Gem was an awesome trail horse and I practiced asking for a soft feel while we went. I want to use that in dressage so I'm trying to work on getting that soft feel without having to move his body a certain way to get it. I want to teach him to round w/a very subtle cue. We'll get there because he's so smart and willing. I just have to put in the time with him.

A fun, fun day with beautiful weather, my amazing daughter and 2 of our fantastic horses.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Rain and Starlet work up a sweat!

Rode Starlet after a few minutes of falling leaf and circle game. We rode in the front pasture and I kept it to walk/trot as I haven't ridden her in quite some time. We worked on lateral flexion, backing and maintain gait. She was nice and soft and easy-going. Next session, I'll up the ante and ask for more speed and some maneuvers to stretch her. She did quite well though.

Then, I pulled Rain out and decided to pony Starlet off of Rain and move on out. We left the property and headed down the trail. Rain left the property so easily which is impressive as I haven't ridden her off the property in months. She was full of life, too. We cantered some, which got Starlet excited - but it was fun! Starlet is so much faster than Rain, so we did more trot than canter just to keep things manageable. Coming back, the herd was anxious for their missing mares and a couple geldings called, but Rain and Starlet stayed on task - not at all concerned.

A really nice time and I was out with them until the sun went down and the sky was dark.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Practicing Dressage and Playing with Starlet

I was able to leave work early enough to play with some dressage techniques with Gem today! Love it. We played with cantering (just maintain the canter) simple lead changes (trot change on the diagonal) and left lead canter departs. He actually started to hurry, which is just amazing! I'm playing with my own way of getting him round by slightly lifting one rein. I'm hoping to refine this gesture enough that he can feel for me, get round and a judge will never see that I've lifted my rein slightly. He has become so willing and softer all the time. I am so impressed by this horse. I also look forward to our first show in a couple weeks!!

After Gem, I pulled Starlet out to play online for a bit. I asked her for some circles, some squeeze over jumps and some falling leaf, all on the 22'. She surprised me by being appreciate of the leadership and came trotting in every chance she could. She is such a nice mare. Someone is coming to look at her and may find her to be a good match, but when I play with her I feel sad at the thought of not keeping her. I know I don't need 4 horses. Three horses is really too many, but I will always have my 3 as long as they live.

The days are getting so short!! I need my arena lights in quickly.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Dressage Lesson #7

Simple lead changes on the diagonal! Harder than it should be. I focused on having more contact and trying to ask for more feel on the outside rein. This is a good thing for he and I to practice. He really started to power into the diagonal which was a cool feeling.

Left turning - leg yields to get him responsible for his balance. Going left is hard for him.

Cantering for longer - he finally started to take responsibility for cantering! I've GOT to work on this. I'm driving him forward too much. I've got to get more effective with my ask and use my phases. I should have that fixed up for lesson time.

Hard lesson and a good reminder that Gem and I need time to practice and improve.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Riding with my Kendall Girl

Gem and Rain with Kendall and me.

Some in the arena - cantering wtih Gem and Kendall playing wtih figure 8's and (of course) jumping. Kendall used the bit today, which was good.

We then went to the front and I helped Kendall get Rain to maintain her gait better. Kendall got to canter and gallop, so she was happy. That girl has the need for speed. She keeps asking about riding Z. I get nervous just considering it!

Gem felt great, responsive and willing. I'd like to get him lighter off my leg so I need to build on that.

Trimmed his hinds so he's caught up.

Friday, September 16, 2011

I have an Indoor Arena!!

And it's here. Installed. Ready for go time.

Need lights and footing next. It's going to be a great winter!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

50 Miles with Z

50 mile endurance ride at Turkey Creek in Colorado Springs.
Barefoot the whole ride!!!
25 and 25, only 1 vet hold. All A's though and good heart rate recovery.
stopped at mile 19 to fill her gut. Just felt like I needed to.
she didn't want to keep leaving camp, that was tough. Good to know for future rides.
the 2nd half, rode with a small group. I really like riding alone. I think I prefer it.
Used my Barefoot with the new wool seat. It worked great!
Z was so strong and really happy to go. She is such an awesome endurance horse. I look forward to campaigning her next season. Starting early and racing often.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Practicing Dressage Tests Training L1 and L2

Level 2 test is pretty good, straightforward
Level 1 test is a little weird, but we'll get it down.
Gem just turns on when I go into test mode.
Freewalk is both hands on reins. Both hands always on the reins.
Used the Ansur - instructor noticed freer movement from Gem w/o knowing about my saddle change! This was a great sign.
Trimmed the 2nd front hoof. Need to do hinds.
Need to develop stretch into the bit.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

A little riding with Gem

Tried my new Ansur saddle. It felt great!! It's a keeper for sure. I think I'm going to keep it.
Trimmed Gemini's front left, but felt ill from dragging the round pen and going in a circle at a fast pace. lol I couldn't get the trimming done, but I guess there's 1 left hoof to do.

Monday, September 5, 2011


Kris got Cowboy and Starlet caught up. I was planning to get Gem trimmed, but epic fail.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Parelli time with Deb

Played with Gem and Rain today. Deb came over in the afternoon and we played with sideways over obstacles, change of direction, and then trailer loading. Gem and I need to build the draw on the circle before we can get good changes as he wants to stop and turn to go the other way. I need him to maintain gait in the change. He had no trouble going sideways over the barrel both away from and towards me. We also worked on trailer loading from the fender. That was a breeze. I asked him to trot in and then canter into the trailer. Again, a breeze for Gem. Good! One more step closer to filming our L4 Online audition.

I then pulled Rain out. We did about 10 minutes of interesting ground work (interesting because I haven't done this with Rain in probably over a year), and then we tacked up and rode around the front pasture. I'd really like to get Rain in better shape and also build flexion in her neck. She's quite bracey and I want to minimize that. She was quite extroverted! I wanted her to be more responsive to me and not simply extroverted. She had her own ideas about where she wanted to go and at which speed. We have some work to do.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

1st Place in Middleweight Division 30 miler at Rushcreek

Wow, what a day. My Z-mare is amazing. We've done a few 15 mile events over the years and I've always wanted to do more. However, between Parelli, riding with less endurance-minded friends, and life in general have gotten in the way. I decided to drive to the Rushmore Reunion ride with no horse friends - only my family... and my dog Deuce. We arrived late, around 9:30pm and I know Z was stressed from the drive and the strange environment. The ride start was 6:15am with vet checking at 5:30. Yikes, that's early.

I got her settled and Steve and the kids left for their hotel. After a rough and short night's sleep, we checked in, tacked up and got ready to leave. At 6:15-ish, we were off. I decided to hang back with a nervous rider and enjoy a slow start. I figured I'd save Z and make sure we had enough to get us through the 30 miles. After the first mile or so, things were settled and I decided to let her open up and move out. Boy, she really moved out!! We passed people 1 after another and by around mile 8, we were with the lead group. I couldn't believe her. She had no interest in hanging with the horses we passed, she just wanted to move those legs in that amazing extended trot of hers. She was amazing and that ride was a thrill!!

We came in at the vet hold in the front of the pack. We did our short hold (only 40 minutes!) and we headed out again. She had the same power stride and desire to cover ground. She'd eaten well at the hold, so I felt pretty good about letting her go. We led the whole 2nd loop and came in to the finish first. I wish my family had been there to get a picture of us coming in. It was an amazing feeling to finish before everyone else!!

She didn't pulse down quickly enough and the 3 other riders that finished close behind us timed in before us. I wasn't sorry a bit, though. She wanted to be the first in. She really wanted it. She's not as conditioned as I'd like her to be, but she's got what it takes to excel in endurance. We ended up with 1st place
in our division (MW), 4th place overall and a top ten award. We were done at 9:51, which makes our 30 mile ride time 3:36 minutes which includes the 40 minute hold. I just can't believe how fast we were going. I couldn't believe how easily she passed every other rider. What's even cooler is that she was barefoot!

What a great ride! What a great horse I have! And so thankful my family came to support my horse and me.

Friday, September 2, 2011

A new boarder!

Sky moved in this week. He's a nice, quiet Paint gelding - around 13 years old. Haven't had a new boarder in the herd for a year or two, so it's neat to have things shake up a little. He'll be a nice horse to have around and his owner and I have very similar thoughts on horse care.

Dressage lesson #6 (or 7?)

Ran through the tests. Discovered a way to rhythmically maintain the canter with Gem. Felt a little sluggish today and didn't ride very well. However, the tests helped me feel more comfortable with my first show coming soon. The training tests are quite simple, just need to be sure I'm getting the best I can from Gem. He's doing his part for sure - I'm the one that needs to be clear and prepared for each transition. Really enjoying dressage!

Z and Rio back to Dr Wagner

Great follow-up visit with Dr Wagner. Z has gained some balance and her frogs are much closer to being symmetrical. I was so glad to see a positive change! She did more acupuncture and said that after a day off, she'd be ready for the 30 mile endurance ride. The trailer rides are very good for helping the adjustments hold. Z really seems to enjoy the adjustments! So interesting.

Rio still has hock lameness, unfortunately. We talked about hock fusing and now I know how to perform the Churchill test on a hock. Very educational visit with Dr. Wagner.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Some time with Z and Rain

Rode Z in the arena, ppl at the trot, some cantering, and in the front pasture. Figure 8's at the trot and canter. Ponied Rain around the front.

Then, rode Rain around and worked on her softness in the rope hack. I forgot how talented and awesome that horse is to ride. Loved riding her around. She's quite fat, so I want to start putting more miles on her.

Trimmed Z.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Playing with Gem and Deb!

Building up communication from Zone 5! That's the name of the game now and I'm ready to start focusing on Level 4. Deb and I sat down with the self-assessment checklist and decided to get started on playing with the level 4 list.

We started with stick to me and Gem was really responsive! I started in zone 3 and tried to move back to zone 5. I taught him to follow my feel and focus and turn when I turned. He really learned quickly and he seemed to enjoy the puzzle of figuring out what I was asking for. What a blast!

We then did the flank rope and Gem did lots of bucking. OK - looks like we have to work on this one. He did start to feel comfortable with the flank rope and we found a good place to quit. However, we need several more sessions of this.

We practiced with bridleless riding in the arena. The more I ride him, the more we build up the feel and prepare for bridleless. He actually felt pretty good about my body for direction and I think I could work up to freestyle L4 pretty quickly. I trust him more than ever and that's the hardest part about liberty in my opinion.

Then, rode Z with the Barefoot just around the playground. Shimmed the Barefoot (Thanks to Christy Hawes for the suggestion!). Definitely put me in a more secure spot. I like the saddle, just need to get more used to it.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Dave Ellis - 2011

Just did the advanced 2-day this year. It was the perfect amount of Parelli time for where I am in my journey. Dave Ellis has a tremendous way of remotivating me and my Parelli passion was burning strong again at the end.

I did a private lesson with Jodi and she threw a lot of nits at me to work on. Tweaks are a good thing at this point - easy to tweak things and nice to be beyond the huge changes I've needed. We worked on my seat position (hands clasped over my head), strong core and more rigid core, legs further back. We worked on my timing with the hinds (I've finally got it consistently!!). We worked on go and whoa responsiveness (surprise Gem, don't nag). Gem is quite uptight underneath his confidence demeanor. She rode him a few minutes and noticed right away. However, he was trying his heart out and did everything to his best ability.

Gem was awesome and I was very proud of him!

At one point, I caught him thinking to buck. For the first time, I recognized it as he was considering it and I was able to ask him to reconnect with me and let the bucking idea go. He responded and it was over. I actually stopped the buck before the buck. This is huge for Gem and me.

Groundwork was amazing, need to continue developing zone 5 work. He was extremely responsive all the time and gave good try every moment.

Very forward trot while riding!! Dressage work is paying off. We did 1-rein riding at all gaits was a blast. I worked on getting in time with the hind feet to bring the hind over.

Big moment for me: Never apply pressure to resistance. My BFO for this clinic.

Dressage Lesson #6

Great lesson!

20M circles
cantering, cantering cantering
trot departs at the sitting trot (for steady hands)
haunches in, shoulder in
holding the outside rein!!! for circles, form, helping him when he falls in on the opposite shoulder.
Gem had good forward - way better to the right than the left in the canter. Maybe bute before lessons?
Maybe a joint supplement?

Sunday, August 14, 2011


A fantastic ride on Z at Highline Canal for 14 miles with Melissa and Kholo! Rode in my Barefoot and I dare say I'm starting to like it. Z felt great - she's ready for the Happy Jack. Kholo has great endurance - we're going to have a blast.

Came home and hopped on Starlet briefly and helped Chrissy get through a short riding session with her horse Cowboy. She hasn't ridden him in months, so I was glad she hopped on. She didn't seem very scared at first but she had a hard time getting him to go along with her ideas at first. Starlet felt nice and we trotted a little until it started to rain.

It's really time to get Starlet going!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

On the trail with Gem

Had a great 7.5 mile trail ride on Gem with Deb at Hidden Mesa this morning. Gem was responsive and light and we got some good conditioning in with a trot pace for lots of the trail. He never once got silly or obstinate and we had some very nice canter departs. Fun ride!!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Sand Creek Adventure!

Mosquitos, bush-wacking, cars, strollers, bikes, walkers, water crossings, huge cement blocks... this is the stuff dreams are made of.

A whole lotta laughing with Melissa as we rode Sand Creek Regional Park. There was construction so we had to go "off-trail" and loop our way back. The off-trail was not really meant for horses. We had to get off a couple times, for safety's sake, and let the horses make their way w/o us.

We managed to get 8.5 miles in and got some serious obstacle training done with our horses! It wasn't the distance ride we wanted, but it was fun!

I think I have 242 mosquito bites...

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Gem in the arena

short 40 min ride

Dressage lesson #5 (I think)

Another great lesson today...

Worked on using my inside leg to help him stay balanced in the canter around turns, especially to the left where he struggles to stay balanced. I'm sure this is in large part to his left hock weakness.

Then turning, turning, turning! Turning precisely and from behind. I did lots of sitting the trot while working on turns.

We are getting longer and longer moments of natural collection without ever forcing collection. The turns and asking him to move with energy makes it easier for him to drop his nose without me asking. When he does, I take up the slack and maintain the connection.

We did lots of canter work and asking him to maintain the canter through the turn while staying balanced. Right now, I'm micro-managing in the canter. As he gains fitness and understanding, I expect that to change. The trot is also getting much more rhythmic.

I tend to lose contact when I change my leg position. I need to work on maintaining contact regardless - steadier hands.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Hitting the trail with Z and the kids!

The whole family loaded up and wen to Cherry Creek Resovoir today. We entered at the dog park, which was fun! Z is so used to dogs, she has no issue but I love the dogs reaction to my horse. The kids brought their bikes and were going to ride along with Z and me. They had fun. Z was nervous about going too far down the trail, so I played with her "go" about 2 miles in. It wasn't a great conditioning ride - more of a training ride. We haven't done a lot of trail riding alone these days, so we need to rebuild some confidence.

Only went about 4 miles, but enjoyed the time watching the kids bike and seeing the dogs.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

There's still a buck in there!

Melissa came down for a day with her horse and I coached her on seat position, improving her hands with bit communication and canter departs. We rode around the front pasture and I chose Gem to help me coach. After some time practicing some new things, we decided to go ride out a little. Gem was doing great and I was calling out transitions on the trail for us (w/t/c). After a couple hours on the horses, we were coming back to the barn and I asked for a canter transition up a hill and Gem bucked! I thought about why he would do that and I couldn't help but think it was pain related. I'd asked for so many transitions and we'd gone up and down hills for a couple hours. It was mild and we rode around a bit so that he wouldn't think he had changed my plan. However, I was perplexed.

Melissa's daughter and Kendall also rode on Rain for a bit. Kendall showed off her ability to jump Rain around and she seemed so happy. Summer rode Rain a bit, too.

Great day!!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Holistic Chiropractor Visit

First, I took a short ride on Z around the property using the Barefoot. This saddle is interesting and it's a lot like riding bareback with stirrups. It doesn't balance you or keep you on, you have to do that yourself. However, it's so comfortable! Z also seems to like it.

Then, Gem, Z and Rio loaded up to see Dr. Wagner. Gem turned out to have a nice report of balance with some tightness associated with his left hock weakness. He's perfectly sound and the dr. decided that anything she'd do would potentially impact the balance he's created for himself.

Z, on the other hand, needed help. She was out of balance and the dr. felt strongly about her poll being locked up. She also tested positive for stomach. Her frogs were very out of balance (each measured at least a qtr. inch different than the others). Apparently, when she's more balanced, her frogs will measure equally. She seemed to enjoy the acupuncture and treatment. I'll be watching to see if she improves.

Kris trimmed Rain and Cowboy. I got Kholo's hinds done. I trimmed one of Rain's fronts and Kris and I compared notes.

I also rode Kholo and practiced isolation of the ends. This seems new to him, but he was beginning to understand the ask.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

A quickie with Gem

I had only a little time after the rain and before dark, so I hopped on Gem for a quick ride in the arena. We played with leg yields on and off the rail and extended trot/medium trot transitions. He is so forward lately. Love riding him. Used the Barefoot to see how it felt with him. Much nicer to ride that saddle on a horse with less movement. I have to try it again on Z - she is just such a huge mover!

I also trimmed Gem. Need to trim Kholo's hinds and Rain.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Loving Dressage!

I had a fantastic time in our dressage lesson today!! Gem was forward and so, so willing. He gave me everything I asked for. We cantered a lot, where in the past he would fall out of the canter while we worked. He's getting the idea that when we do dressage, it's time to show off his stuff.

I'm now using spurs that are just simple knobs. With my dress boots, I can't wrap my leg around him like I used to and I needed spurs to help keep the communication. What I'm finding is that he takes no offense to them and our communication is more clear. Today, Gem felt proud. He moved like a proud horse and he was covering ground with a bigger stride.

We worked on leg yields on and off the rail in the canter and the trot. We played with big trot on the long rail and slower, sitting trot on the short. We worked on his balance and me helping him understand my ask and stay upright.

Gem is becoming more powerful and I'm learning to stay with him through each moment. I'm really loving dressage!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Conditioning at Greenland and Laurie meets the horses

Had a great ride at Greenland with Melissa and Kholo. Z was a speed demon and it took her several miles to move at a normal speed. Kholo is a tough trail partner because he doesn't trot as fast as Z and he ends up cantering an awful lot. I worry about wearing him out. We went about 12 miles and covered the miles quickly. Had a great time!!

When I got back, Laurie came over to help me play with horse therapy. I wanted Laurie to spend some time with the horses and I hoped they would help her feel better. She tried to do some liberty work with Z in the round pen and then she rode Rain with me on Z. Rain wasn't very cooperative for Laurie, but Laurie is new to horses and Rain took full advantage. Still it was fun!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

A HUGE day for Kris and Rio

... while Kholo was my "coaches mount". During the session with Kholo and while coaching Kris, I worked on bending and more vertical flexion.

With Kris and Rio, we started with saddling, in the barn aisle. Rio was quite reactive and decided to buckle his knees and go down. I had put the Barefoot treeless on him and I guess it felt more rigid than the Bob Marshall. I also may have started with the cinch too tight. I loosened it and he was able to walk off.

I played with him on the ground for a bit, then Kris did. He got used to the saddle after about 10 minutes and got his thinking brain back. He has some serious baggage with saddles, poor guy.

I had Kris do a passenger lesson at the trot and this was so good for both of them. Rio and kris both relaxed into this and I saw some great changes occur. I introduced the idea of bending Rio to get a softer feel from him (snakey bends, sort of). This helped Rio engage his back and lower his head. Afterwards, we went outside the arena and rode in the grassy area by the barn. This was Kris' first time riding Rio outside the arena and it was huge!! She and her horse have made such positive changes and I'm ecstatic to see the progression.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Taking it up a notch with Kholo

Tonight Kholo and I played with more vertical flexion. I want to make sure he understands a soft feel. This, I believe, is critical to bit work. There is a place he can hold his head and hold the bit and we can "hold hands" while I ask for nothing else. He has made an assumption that this feel means to back and although his backing is soft and light now, I don't really want that assumption in play. Amazingly, I was able to help him tell the difference in just a few tries. He's come to really understand my intentions and asks. He's a smart, pliable horse who is incredibly easy to train.

We played with canter transitions, lateral work with isolated ends, sideways, and vertical flexion. I still need to trim the hinds, but I was pressed for time due to rain and an impending date with my 12 yr old. :-)

It was a very productive session, though! He has a week left with me and I've very proud of the changes we've made in 3 weeks. He's shown his comfort with our work and he's bonded to me nicely. Tonight, I tied him in the barn aisle while I grabbed something from my trailer and even thought my sister was sitting in the barn, he called and got anxious when I left. He got calm as soon as I returned. I'm glad he finds comfort with me. It tells me I've been able to build communication AND trust. What a pleasurable horse to spend time with.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Zarah and Kholo - not an easy ride!

Zarah hated ponying Kholo! This was our first time doing this and she spent most of the ride telling him to get away. It got a little dangerous once or twice. Z is not the kind of horse to settle when things aren't going the way she wants and I try hard to respect her opinion. Poor Kholo made it through the ride unscathed, but that was mainly because I stayed on top of Z and kept her forward. She had teeth bared and ears pinned 90% of the time! She's funny and she gets so pissed off! I won't ask her to pony Kholo again. My guess is that he wasn't giving her enough respect and she had to continue to make an impression on him. I tried to pony him from 10' (I had a 12' line) and that helped. However, Kholo doesn't seem to know much about being a pony horse and if he had too much line he'd decide to drop his head and graze. Ha - this was a comical ride and I found myself giggling out loud many times.

We kept forward, though. I had Delaney, my son, along on his bike. I wanted it to be fun for him so we kept going. There were also lots of mosquitoes, so stopping or walking was a bad choice. We covered nearly 7 miles, which was ok. We avg'ed 7mph and went 11 mph at our top speed. We were moving along nicely, although probably not a picture of grace with Z's pinned ears and Kholo at the end of my 12' line. Hey, any time with horses is a good time - no complaints!

Afterwards, trimmed Kholo's fronts. He had very high bar with some bruising under the bar on left front. Also, there is some good hoof wall separation at the qtrs on all 4. I put a good mustang roll on with hopes he can get some adhesion going. I'll do the hinds tomorrow, I just got too tired to finish.

I also trimmed up Z's so that she'd be back in balance. She does best when I touch her up every 2 weeks or so. Z's body looks the most fit and balanced I've ever seen her. However, she has a hard time when I trim the hinds and I really need to have a chiro adjust her, along with some massage. Her rump muscles seem tight and I can tell she took a kick to her left. I might get on a stool and try to massage her myself until I can get someone out.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

More Dressage

Gem was very forward in our lesson today!! I believe he's really learning that I'm after an energetic trot vs the jog he does naturally (or was he taught that?). Because we've got forward momentum, my instructor was ready to start teaching us some more advanced things.

We worked the most on using the outside rein and inside leg to bend on circle. This is different than the way I ride, so I was tickled that he and I could get it done. The exercise we focused on was spiraling in from 20m circles to smaller and smaller (by 2m each time). Then, we would leg yield back out using the inside leg and outside rein. Cool exercise! We added some vertical collection after we got the hang of things. He was soft and round and forward!

Towards the end, we started working on transitioning up to the canter as we spiraled out of the circle, while holding him in a frame. We'll need to work on canter departs with collection. We fairly consistently got the correct lead though, and he departed into the canter beautifully each time. I actually think Gem is enjoying dressage.

On rein usage: get round with outside rein and maintain the speed. The inside rein is for form.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Windy evening riding

Kendall went back in a rope halter tonight. She wanted to go back to the rope hack after trying the bridle on her last ride. Apparently, it's hard on her because she's very concerned about hurting Rain's mouth. She rode Rain the whole evening while I rode a couple horses. I think by the end of the night, she was ready to go back into the bridle. :)

I started with Kholo in the arena. Then we rode the whole property. His canter was quite nice! He wasn't as willing today to flex at the pole - not sure why, but we'll work on it. We did lots of snaky bends at the trot and canter in the arena and then worked on transitions in the front pasture. He is really becoming such a soft riding partner - I'm thrilled.

Then, rode Gem and tried to build more canter gait maintenance. Really need to do ppl at the canter and see if I can teach him to canter until I ask for the next thing. He was so forward tonight as Kendall and Rain rode next to us. What a great trot he was offering! I was sure to praise him and let him know what a good job he was doing. He seems to really enjoy that and I see his ears turn back to hear my words of encouragement. I think he's had some hard training in his life and he wants to feel like he's doing the right thing.

A really nice evening and we put horses back with the herd just as the sky was turning dark. Awesome!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Conditioning Ride

Ok, it is seriously HOT! It's 80 degrees by 9am. July in Colorado - the hottest month of the year.

Trailered over to Hidden Mesa with Z and did just the 7.5 mile loop. Not a long ride or even a great conditioning ride, but I really needed to get her moving. I'll try to get some more conditioning rides this week and help her get ready for the Happy Jack in late August. I'd like to see if I can have her ready for a 50.

I booted her only on the fronts and the Gloves just kept spinning. Those boots are great and easy to put on, but they are tough to keep on and straight. I need to work on that.

I rode with a friend who brought 2 horses. We moved out some, but it was so hot we didn't push our horses too hard. I love riding that mare! She's amazing.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Kholo and Cantering

Today, Kholo and I rode for about an hour around the property. I wanted to focus on cantering and helping him transition between the gaits. I rode him around in the south pasture, which has some nice terrain to help build his strength. His transitions are getting so soft that I can do them with my seat. He could be ridden bridleless in no time at all. He's a smart horse who's very willing to learn and partner. He's just a pleasure.

We played more with isolated ends and that felt improved. He had nice energy today and he was ready to move out. We'll have to get some endurance conditioning going so he doesn't lose too much of his fitness level.

Z, Rain, Kendall and I then rode around the property. Rain was in a bridle for the first time in years. Kendall had to learn how to communicate with Rain this way vs. the rope hack that she's always ridden with. She did great with her hands and stayed soft. Z and I worked on vertical flexion while Rain and KK worked on riding with a bit.

A side note: Z's mane has been destroyed! Not sure how, though. It seems that one of the horses is eating it, but not sure why that would happen after all these years. Z has this amazing, shiny, long mane that is now looking more like a Fjord's mane. Darn, but oh well. It's just a mane. It'll grow back.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Annual Trip with Girls and Horses

Had a fantastic week in the Flat Top Wilderness near Glenwood Springs with 7 great friends and horses. I took Gem and he was absolutely wonderful. The 3rd day, I asked him to take a 2nd ride with a small group and he was clear with me that he didn't want to do it. He showed me by doing a few quirky things like leaving the trail and nearly wiping me off the saddle, backing up while leading the small group and not partnering with me while I tried to open/close a gate. This was a really good ride for us. We worked through a serious relationship hole between the two of us. Gem often thinks he has better ideas than mine and as our partnership grows, I really need him to follow my leadership more. He was not dangerous and this ride gave him plenty of opportunity to buck and take his defiance to a dangerous place, but he didn't. That was huge progress! We grew together as a result and the following ride the next day was fantastic.

The 4th day's ride was interesting. We climbed about 3 miles and when we had the chance and the trail leveled off, it was time to trot. However, Gem was lame! I didn't even bother investigating. I told the group to go without me, hopped off Gem and we walked back. The amazing part was that he left that group with me easily. This was huge. We walked the 2-3 miles back and I hung around his pen and read a book. We did some trick training, I lead him around the resort to graze on the best grass and we waited for the group to return. It was a great afternoon for me and my horse. Gem was absolutely awesome through the week and I'm so glad I chose him for this trip.

During the week, I alternated between my english saddle and my western saddle. I thought it might help if one saddle was making him sore to get a break with another saddle. We rode 10-15 miles each day on tough mountain trail and I wanted to preserve his back as much as possible. The english saddle left a dry spot on the left shoulder. It never does that during our dressage lessons, so that was very bizarre.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Melissa and Kholo

Spent several hours with Melissa and Kholo! It was great to have her feel the changes in her horse and understand some of the techniques I'm using. We spent time in the front pasture with transitions, halting, backing and trot/canter departs. I also had Melissa ride Z briefly to feel the softness I'm after with Kholo.

Afterwards, we loaded up for some trail riding at Hidden Mesa. We went 7.5 miles, but the temp was so hot, we took it slow. Both horses felt listless and drained and we didn't push them. We didn't have water either, so it was a hot and dry ride! However, she did a great job using the bridle to communicate with Kholo and I saw huge progress. We had a really fun time to boot.

Later, Kendall wanted to ride Rain by herself. I had chores to do, but I helped her get Rain safely tacked up and off Kendall went. The rode around, Kendall practiced jumping and rode Rain around the back of the property. I watched while I did chores. I'm so proud of her! She's enjoying riding so much, she just rides around smiling and getting better. Pretty cool stuff.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Dressage Show!

Took Gem today to a dressage show! I was helping a friend who was taking her horse to her first show. I didn't want to show Gem, but I thought the environment would be good for him to experience.

It was a rough day because it was super hot. Gem was fairly calm, but if Nina got too far way, he would call a bit. He called some other horses, too. He needs to go to a few more shows to get more comfortable. I rode him some in a warm-up arena and he actually did beautifully! He was forward and responsive and sensitive. Nina had a hard time and actually couldn't show. She was worried and too nervous in the the dressage arena. It's ok, she hadn't ever been in that environment and had not left her barn in over a year.

Then Kholo bridle work with KK on Rain. Kholo and I worked on lateral flexion, some vertical flexion and backing. KK wants to JUMP everything!! Rode the front pasture, then hung around the playground. She rode alone then while I did chores. She's getting more and more confident. Kholo is getting softer and nicer all the time. I'm really happy with his progress!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Kholo - Day 3

Today, we skipped the arena and rode around my 35 acres. Kendall came along on Rain and we rode the perimeter, went over jumps a little and played on the playground. Kholo and I focused on transitions, backing and isolation. His turn on the fore is pretty sticky and heavy and surprisingly his turn on the hind has some lightness. He's very tuned in to my seat, so if my seat says trot he trots and when I down transition, he does as well. His backup was much nicer today - not quite gliding and smooth yet, but much improved. I expected him to be more forward outside the arena and he really wasn't. We'll take to the trail next week and see what we've got.

Kendall and Rain looked great!! Kendall wanted to jump and jump. Rain is a gaited horse and jumping is certainly not her talent, but Kendall was having a lot of fun! As Kendall grows, she looks better and better on Rain - less like a peanut and more like a real rider on that 16hh horse.
I bought a Barefoot saddle and it arrived today. I've been wanting to get a lighter weight saddle for endurance and I pulled Z out to see if she had any issues with it. It needs a few things, but it's got a great feel for my butt and only miles will tell me if Z likes it too. It came with an interesting saddle pad, but I think I'll be using my CSI. Looking forward to trying it out!

Starlet's wound is healing so rapidly. She could really get back to training with me at this point. I'd like to bring her along as a dressage horse and transfer everything I learn on Gem to her as well. She has more elevation and energy than Gem, so it will be a nice contrast for me as a competitor.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Kholo - Day 2 in the bit

Kholo and I had a positive, successful session today! He was much more comfortable in the bit and we improved his backwards, played a very little bit with sideways, and worked on trot/walk transitions. I am gently using the bit to encourage his nose down a little at a time, while making it clear what I'm after when I halt or backup. I'm using my seat a lot and his starting to respond to my seat changes. He didn't fidget with the bit today at all, a very positive change. He doesn't hurry or get worried, which makes him a pleasure to teach. We trotted for a good period of time, transitioning to walk every 5-10 strides for just a stride or so.

Tomorrow, we'll leave the arena and build out in the pasture.

I wanted to get a little time with Gem, so I took him into the roundpen for a little liberty. The round pen hasn't gotten much use this summer and it's full of grass and weeds. I let him eat in between a few requests like change of direction and trotting left and right. Then, I left him to his eating to finish my chores. More rain was on the way, so I decided to get my work done.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Kris and Kholo

Today was Kholo's first session with me. We both had to get to know each other a little so I took things slow. My back was sore, so I didn't want to do anything overly strenuous. I also didn't want to throw him into the deep end without an understanding that he's safe.

I bridled him and he took the bit nicely. For horses starting in the bit, I follow the bit with a sweet of some type. Surprisingly, Kholo couldn't figure out how to get this treat past the bit so he fiddled with it in the front of his mouth and then gave up. This tickled me! I picked a piece up and put it behind the bit for him. He'll sort this out in time. It was pretty cute, though.

We went into the arena and I started with lateral flexion. He didn't quite understand so I helped him along. He has a great nature - he tries and doesn't over-try. He's confident and calm and he doesn't get worried while learning. I know it's going to be fairly easy to help him understand what we riders are after. We played with isolation of the ends after he started to get a feel for the bit and what to do with the sensations in his mouth. I played the most with backing from my seat combined with bit pressure. Improving his backup will make the most positive changes in his halt. His backup and slow and tentative, so I'll be working on getting his backing motion more fluid and confident.

Kris and Rio were in the arena with me and I coached them along while I played with Kholo. One of the things I've really wanted to get Rio and Kris playing with is passenger riding. Kris has been challenged by Rio's sensitivity and trust has been hard to attain. Over the past year, we've built on Kris understanding how little it takes with Rio and now she can do soft transitions on a loose rein. Rio, in turn, has become a softer horse. He's much less reactive and takes things more in stride. He's pliable and willing to learn. He's a very nice horse and he fits Kris nicely. He has a lot to teach Kris. So, this evening, I was able to get Kris riding as a passenger for the first time. This means, in my large arena, Kris asks Rio to trot. Rio's job is to maintain the trot. Kris' job is to simply ride. Rio can go wherever he pleases and if he breaks gait into walk or canter, Kris responds by bringing him back to the trot. I could tell by Kris' expression when I asked her to try this that she was unsure. I've been waiting to get her doing this type of riding until I felt they could handle it together. It's perfect for this type of scenario - lack of trust in the horse.

Well, they did it and they were great! Rio covered the entire arena after realizing there was no comfort with me and Kholo. He trotted around and seemed to keep asking Kris what he was supposed to be doing. Kris kept him trotting beautifully and a few minutes in, Rio let out a huge blow of relief. I know I had the biggest smile on my face watching this. I'd like her to start each session this way for 7 sessions. She agreed to do that and she was convinced it was a good thing to do. She and her horse have some great times ahead.

Kholo was with me through all of this - feeling of the bit, learning me and beginning to understand. He's a smart boy and tomorrow will be a nice leap off the foundation we built today.
Kris got Cowboy and Rio trimmed after the lesson.

Kholo and the Herd

I don't like to introduce horses to the herd if they aren't going to live here. The herd is a tight knit family with an established heirarchy. Newcomers don't fare well and I keep them safe by separating them from the herd. Kholo had been in the stall and run for 2 days and I wanted to let him out to explore and move. I put my herd in the middle of the track and gave Kholo the track to himself last night. Well, this morning, when I came out to feed, Kholo was with the herd. I'm guessing he jumped the fence as no fence was down. The track is only electrical ribbon on fiberglass posts, so it wouldn't be terribly difficult to get through if the horse didn't mind the electricity. I guess Kholo decided he'd rather be chastised and pushed around by the herd than be on the track alone. I don't know how long he'd been with them, but they were all (especially Rain, surprisingly) telling him to "piss off"! I haltered him out and put him back in the stall and run. He sustained a couple minor bites, but he was fine. All the bites were on the left side, which I found interesting. He also carries his tail to the left. I'll be watching and studying that.

Herd behavior is so fascinating to me. I could watch the dynamics play out all day.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Dawson Butte

Z and I met friends at Dawson Butte today. Rode 10 really fast miles! Z is such an awesome horse and she's just built for endurance. We did 10 miles in 1 hour 35 minutes, with walking and stopping on occasion. I had a great time with my girl. She loaded in the trailer with zero anxiety and unloaded the same way at the trail head. Her trailer nervousness seems to be settling. The practice we've done at home must be helping, as well.

I also brought home the first training horse I've had in a while. I decided to focus on my horses this summer and an opportunity came along for a 30 day training commitment. Kholo is a very nice Arab gelding that just needs some softness and bridle time. His owner will be riding with me once a week while her horse is here so they can develop some new skills together. This will be a very fun project and this is a really great partnership (Kholo and Melissa).

Melissa and I will be riding 30 miles together at the Happy Jack endurance ride in Wyoming next month. Really, really looking forward to that!

Kris came over and trimmed Rain and Starlet. Rain is shedding frog and had some thrush going on. I will soak her this week. We did not have time to play with Rio, unfortunately.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Focusing on good posture

I played with Z in the arena, then Z and Gem around the south pasture. Zarah and I played with improving her posture in the trot and then trot/canter transitions. She tends to want to get strung out and tip her nose up in the transitions and I believe it's time to help her power from behind and keep her back solid and round. She did make some positive changes and ended up cantering with her head a little lower than I wanted, but I encouraged the change as it will be easier to flex her a little higher. Her canter felt much nicer this way and we'll continue to play with that way of going.

After the arena time, we ponied Gem around the south pasture following the rail. I was asking Z to trot with elevation and be round and flexed vertically. This was more challenging with a pony horse but good to get them both moving.

I really wanted to ride Gem, but the rains came (as they've been doing every... single... day...). The grass is gorgeous and green!! The mosquitos are starting to appear and the track has the largest water crossing I've ever seen. No complaints - it's been neat to see my property this wet.

I also trimmed Z and really focused on the quarters on her hinds. I was a little worried she'd be sore from the change, but she felt fine. Her hinds looked better so we'll see if they function better, as well.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Left Leads and Forward Energy

Rode Gem in the arena and after a few minutes, decided to do our practice in the front pasture. We worked on the free walk, a nice forward trot and then left lead canter. Got some nice lead cantering going! That was a big deal and I could tell he was understanding that left cantering meant left lead over the course of our riding. I was really thrilled with his changes! We got a nice, energetic trot in the front pasture, too.

Fun ride, but short. More tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Dressage Lesson #4

Wow, today was hard! I can feel the instructor expecting more and more of me and Gem. It's exhilirating and challenging!


1) Keep my lower leg QUIET! I should be working from the knees up and the lower leg should only activate to make a request. This is brand new to me and very difficult.

2) Motivate him for faster gaits, but immediately go quiet. Do little bits until he understands that I want lively movement.

3) It's all about FORWARD!! Even when leading, be more particular about getting forward with the slightest request. I don't need someone to tell me how to get forward when leading, so I need to simply fix it and not waste her time with that. It's a hole in my partnership with Gem - he creates a nag in me - an ineffective one at that. I must do better to give him the responsibility.

4) KC rode him to start the lesson. She showed me how she gets forward more energetic. Gem did well with her, which was nice to see.

5) Left lead canter - we worked on this for a while. I need to make sure I keep his head turned slightly left and don't ask too much with the outside leg. Use the inside leg more.

6) I rode w/o my stirrups so she could help my find my leg position. I realize my riding style is pretty far off from what she wants to see. Riding w/o stirrups helped me be there more easily, but it was challenging!!

What a lesson!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Hidden Mesa with my sister Marla!

Had a really fun time today taking Marla to Hidden Mesa for a 7.5 mile ride. She rode Rain and I took Gem. Gem was a great horse today, albeit a little slow going out. He picks up the pace once we turn back towards the trailer, so only half the ride I try to give him a reason to have a little pep in his step. The second half, he does that by himself. :)

Rain and Marla did very well and I tried to share some of my knowledge on better riding. It was neat to see her feel the difference that a few tweaks could make.

Great ride!

Monday, July 4, 2011

July 4th - Camping Trip

no riding today. Went white water rafting and came back for a hike with the dogs before we packed and drove home. Not a ton of riding on this trip. Not what I was expecting. Still it was nice to have the horses around and be able to take care of Starlet

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Day 3 - no riding

I had a great day of hiking, hanging at the site with the family and then later in the day, some riding. I pulled out Gem and Rain and helped Chrissy work on her riding with Rain. This was interesting as she was unable to get Rain to do some things. This was eye-opening for me as Cowboy sometimes responds to Chrissy the way Rain did today. That tells me Chrissy needs to keep developing her cues so that Cowboy continues to get softer. We just stayed on the campsite, but it was fun to ride Rain and play with her before Chrissy got on. I rode Gem around the campsite a little too. It wasn't a trail ride like I planned, but it was nice to ride 2 of my horses before the sun went down.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Day 2 of Camping

Marla was sitting out the horse ride today as her headache was painful. Kendall wanted to ride, but only after she did some other things she wanted to do. So, I hopped on Z and ponied Gem out for a ride by myself. We went about 2 hours, mainly at a walk. Rain and Starlet called a lot and Gem occasionally called back (or initiated the calling!). However, he never got silly. Z was my trail horse extraordinaire, like always. The mosquitoes were very bad and we couldn't stand still for long. I tried to give them a few breaks to munch on the grass, but I needed to keep us moving so the mosquitoes would be bearable.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Day 1 of Camping

Phew - 3 dogs and 4 horses is a handful. I would have brought only 2 horses, but my vet wanted me to bring Starlet so I could care for her wound every day. I brought another horse so that she could be left behind with a buddy. I couldn't figure out any other way.

We decided to try to head out with the whole group: Kendall on Rain, Marla on Z and I was riding Gem. Starlet was our pony horse. Kendall immediately was having some trouble with Rain's energy level. All the horses wanted to hurry down the trail and everyone's adrenalin was up. About 1/2 mile in, I called it. It just felt like an accident waiting to happen. Rain was starting to get light in front and Marla was learning how to handle Z's very forward nature. My hands were overful and it seemed dangerous.

We went back and Marla and I headed out, me on Z and Marla on Rain. We had a nice ride, about 2 hours in the gorgeous mountains. Marla was struggling a bit with the altitude and I think the riding may have exacerbated the situation. I'm glad we got to ride, but the first ride of our trip was less than simple.

Later on, I pulled Gem out and just rode him around the campsite. I was trying to further develop his left and right circles. It was just 30 mins, but I enjoyed him.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Horse Camping at Beaver Meadows

We headed up to Beaver Meadows Resort for 5 days of camping with horses, kids, dogs, and family. We arrived late at night in the rain. It was a little tough as one of our sites was occupied and one of our horse pens was taken down. The horses spent the night tied to the existing pen, eating the luscious grass that grew around the area. I slept like a baby after the long haul up (about 4 hours and much of it in the rain).

Looking forward to a fun-filled trip in the mountains.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Dressage lesson #3

Today was a thrill! Gem and I did our first dressage test for the instructor. She called out the pattern and we executed. What fascinated me was that when I got serious about this pattern, Gem totally stepped up to the plate and performed! What an amazing feeling that was. He has never felt quite like that! I'm still buzzing, hours later. I loved it.

Things we need to work on:

1) canter circles - staying straight up and balanced
2) 20M circles- get that circle more round and correct
3) staying in the canter
4) faster free walk

Going to try for my first show in August. Very exciting!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Kendall rides again!!

She just wanted to. Badly. She's ready to come back and hang out with me on horses. I'm elated!

We started in the arena, then walked around the property a little. She had fun in the arena and worked on teaching Rain to halt w/o reins. Rain already knows this, but Kendall worked on finding it with Rain. She was smiling ear to ear the whole time! She trotted/gaited and cantered around happily. Oh, what a sight.

Z and I played with keeping her nose down and trot/canter transitions. She was confused at first and a little anxious, but she figured out what I was after and did it gracefully. I am now going to be more conscious of building that into her regularly. It's ok on the trail sometimes, but we need to get good at rounding up and getting efficient with movement.

Starlet hung out with us around the property and trotted with us. She's moving wonderfully and I'm so relieved. Her wound is huge and she has a lot of skin to grow, but she's feeling pretty good. Thankful.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Day 2 - David Lichman

drag on Jess/Kade - helped Gem have more forward so we could play with bending w/o him falling out of the trot.

more natural collection

llama herding - Gem had no fear! He was willing to go forward to the llamas and follow them, no problem.

cantering with collection - we worked on this for a while, but Gem is a short horse and I have to build more gait maintenance into him.

Simon - we played with the noodle horse to help find our body positions for shoulders in, counter shoulders in, haunches in and renvers

haunches/shoulder in (counter shoulder in/renvers) - Gem and I were able to get this done ok, but if I asked him to perform these maneuvers at the trot, he came down to the walk.

holistic vet - very interesting visit with a holistic vet. My first holistic vet experience. Not sure if it was money well spent. Jury is still out.

helping Tammy trailer load - helped her load Ruby and the new gelding Bentley. Bentley has little trailer experience and Ruby has some bad trailer experience. I used everything I know to get those 2 loaded in the dark. I was glad to help, anxious to start my drive home, but glad to help and play with my horsemanship on 2 different horses.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

David Lichman - 2 days of horsemanship

A great first day with David Lichman in Yoder! I woke up early and drove the 2 hours to arrive around 8:20 am. Long drive and I was pretty tired, but so enthused to be with some great people and friends learning more about horsemanship.

I indicated on my personal info sheet that I was really focused on getting more athleticism from my horse and being a better rider. I let him know that I wasn't doing much freestyle riding lately, more focused on finesse and dressage. He made a point of helping me improve and I was quite thrilled!

Gem warmed on the ground beautifully. We had a good connection and could have played at liberty as the line was always slack. Once on his back (I chose to ride western on day 1), things went just as well. David helped me understand how to ask Gem to be more naturally collected by letting him know I wanted his head lower and his back more rounded, and then helping him learn to travel that way on his own. That was incredibly cool and I had some great, great moments on Gem the first day.

I sometimes felt like I wanted more to work on under his tutelage, as this group has wide varieties of skill levels and we don't seem to do things as a big group very much. I asked David a couple of times to give me more to work on and he obliged. We played with getting more of a collected posture from the ground and I found that to be an interesting challenge.

At the end of the day, I played for about 30 minutes with Tammy's new horse Bently. A gorgeous warmblood gelding, he doesn't have great ground manners and Tammy wanted to see him improve his appreciation for his human's space. A very nice horse, he responded positively and got with the program immediately. I enjoyed playing with this horse for the first time.

Gem did an amazing job as my level-headed and responsive partner on day 1 and I got to stretch my horsemanship and riding. Loved it!

Friday, June 17, 2011

5 days with Jinita - Day 1

What an amazing start to a new perspective! We talked for a bit and then watched "If Horses Could Speak". A very eye-opening video about the anatomy of a horse and how we, as riders, can get top performance without jeopardizing the horse's physical self.

We then went out and played with some concepts such as riding more forward (to avoid weighting the back farther back where the muscles don't support weight well). We played with the web halter vs the rope halter, to avoid intense pressure on the nucal ligament. We watched how the horse moved with these changes from the ground. They naturally extended the hind legs slightly more and dropped and relaxed their head and neck. Very interesting!! Gem had a decent headset already so I didn't see much of a change when I went to the web halter. The saddle placement was definitely better, though.

We were going to ride next and I decided to start with Z. Well, when I went to the pasture to get her, I noticed Starlet was in a bad way. As I got closer, I saw that her rump had been torn open vertically just under the tail. Oh, poor girl - she was very hurt. I let Z go back to the herd and I led Starlet in to the barn.

I have no idea how she did this. There was no indication in the pasture of a struggle against fencing. We'd had a terrible hail storm and I thought maybe she sustained a kick where a hoof snagged her skin. I just don't know. Regardless, my vet couldn't come for about 5 more hours and instead of finding a different vet sooner, I decided to wait for my tried and trusted Dr. Walters. I didn't treat her besides 2 grams of bute and putting her in the stall with hay and water. I decided to do the rest of the day with Gem since he was already with me and ready to go.

We rode for a bit then and Jinita started to help us address our riding flaws. My big offense: over-riding! This was a little tough for me to understand. We took some video so that she could help me understand. After some discussing and watching the video, I think I realized that my legs are too far forward. Once I started riding with my legs more under me, she became happier with the picture.

It was a neat first day full of information that caused me to rethink my existing views on riding, saddling, and online play. I ended up meeting Tom about 9:30 to get Starlet stitched and we didn't finish until 1:30am. Day 2 was going to be a challenge with a lack of sleep.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Going Aussie, mate?

I've been doing lots of research on saddles and I really want a lighter weight saddle for endurance. I'm using my western which is about 30 lbs and covers more of her back than I'd like (traps in heat). I know I'll need to spend about $1k to get something that will work for well - you get what you pay for with saddles. Tonight, I decided to pull out some old saddles I bought years ago for endurance and see if there's any chance I could make them work.

The horse that matters is Zarah. I have an Aussie endurance saddle that is lightweight and secure so I tried it on Z. It fit ok, maybe just a slight bit tight in the shoulders. I added my CSI pad and tried it out. She has plenty of should room with the pad and she seemed comfortable in it. We rode around the property a bit and I felt positive that I could make it work. I'll need a breast collar and a seat saver, but I think we could make it work. Otherwise, maybe I could get a few hundred bucks for it and put it towards an Ortho-flex or Timberline or Desoto.

A few miles will tell the story...

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Indian Creek with Deb

Got out early this morning, picked up Deb and went to Indian Creek with Gem and Z. I decided to ride Gem and Z got to be free. She led a lot of the way which was fun because she likes to MOVE! Gem bucked for the first time in about 6 weeks when Z cantered off. I think his rear cinch was too tight and I adjusted his saddle. He did fine the remainder of the ride. We went about 12 miles in total. Gem didn't want to leave the herd when I went to get the horses, so I'm trying to decide if he should be in his own herd again. He's been with the group for about 1 week. I gave them each a touch up trim before leaving and booted all feet except Gems hinds. Gorgeous day!

Friday, June 10, 2011

KK and Rain

I had planned to condition Z tonight with a long ride, but life got in the way. Instead, KK and I went out and played with Rain. We washed and conditioned her mane, hosed her legs (she just had a heat cycle), and I trimmed her mane a bit. Then Kendall hopped on and I helped her practice her seat bareback as Rain went up and over obstacles. She had a fun time and I'm always glad when she gets on a horse. After Kendall was done, I asked Rain to go over the barrels a couple times. She's a terrible jumper! :) But, such a great horse.

She went back to the herd looking groomed and pretty. Nice to focus some attention on her for a change.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Dressage Lesson #2

Whoo - this one was physically challenging! I was sweating and breathing hard throughout the lesson.

We focused on my leg placement, Gem with contact, getting more forward if he over collects and allowing the canter if he continues to offer it. KC wants to see a faster and more productive canter. I tried to ask for more energy in the canter and often got the gallop. He did quite well, though!! He worked hard and really tried. He wants to stop and I'm trying to figure out how to keep him forward w/o "driving" him forward. However, it seems the dressage riders tend to drive forward in the seat. I'll continue to figure out the best way for me to get things done with him without damaging our relationship.

We did find a really nice place in the trot with him feeling back to me and carrying the bit. That was lovely. He also did very nicely with picking up the correct leads every time. Making my outside leg long and back really sets him up well. I lengthened my stirrups today, too.

I'm going to add spurs to help me be lighter with my leg, mainly because of where my heel hits him and how much I have to wrap my leg around him.

Great lesson. Ready for the next one!!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Gem on the trail - more progress!

Another great day on the trail with Gem. We made it our farthest yet. He was was safe and sane. He didn't do anything silly. I took my time with him. His feet were getting quite stuck as we hit his threshold and I honored that by turning him or backing him to move his feet again. Interestingly, he's happy to go south on the trail (also away from the trailer) but he doesn't want to go north (the way we normally go).

Regardless, we'll keep going! I was thinking today as I rode that it's been months since he offered a buck. Maybe that's all behind us. He's doing great.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Conditioning in the heat!

Covered a cool 14 miles in not so cool weather. It was high 80's, but with nearly still air it felt super hot. There's an interesting haze over the area due to multiple fires (over 20 at this point) in Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona. The sky isn't the normal pretty blue color and from Sharptail where we rode, Denver was in a fog.

Anyway, it was super fun riding with Christy and her friend Melissa. Z did great and there was plenty of horse left at the end of the 14 miles. I wonder if she could do a 50 soon. She's also having no back issues - which is great! Using my green gel pad and it's working beautifully. I had her wear boots on all 4 today (bares in front, gloves in back). I was glad as she seemed to move out with no reservations. We joked about her "engine" a lot of the ride.

Z did great loading in the trailer. I was prepped to spend 10 or 15 mins helping her feel ok in the trailer, but she loaded right up! Yesterday's prep work was well served.

I would have ridden other horses, but D and I had a date with the tennis court. I did a BFL run in the morning, rode the 14 miles, then played an hour of tennis. Feeling energetic and great.