Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Prep for Dressage

Tomorrow is my first dressage lesson with a new instructor (to me). So, tonight I decided to make sure my english saddle and pad situation works for Gem. The wind was horrendous, so we didn't stay out long. I asked him to just move around in all 3 gaits. He did quite well and was checked in for business right away.

Can't wait to see how we do tomorrow! And I'm ready to learn some new things.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Gem reaches a new height!

He's made it to the title of trail horse! We had an amazing ride yesterday and I hopped on Gem and ponied Z at Hidden Mesa. We went for 7.5 miles and he handled being my main mount beautifully. I was just so proud of him and how he's developed.

We didn't ride too fast, which was good. I met Deb and her 2 horses and she wasn't up for riding crazy fast, either. Also got to see my great friends Lynn and Nancy.

Before we left for the trail, I gave Z and Gem each a quick trim.

When I got back, Kris was here ready for a quick lesson. First she trimmed Starlet and Rain.

Then, I taught Kris the catching game. Rio caught on so quickly to that game, as did Kris. Afterwards, we went into the arena for some sideways and then some mounted work on transitions. Rio is so smart and he's learning to relax very nicely. Pretty impressive.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Sharptail with Kyle

Took off with Kyle and my 2 mares for a great day on the trail! The weather was absolutely perfect and the trail was all ours. We got started and Sharptail's tough climbing was tough for Rain right away. Rain isn't in great shape right now, so Sharptail was challenging. Kyle and I switched horses for a bit so I could feel Rain and see what she needed. I think she was seeking a way to stop and Kyle wasn't sure how to handle it. This was the very first time I've let anyone ride Z on the trail. Once in a while, I'll let someone mount her to understand a feel or to lead them around. But never have I let someone ride her on their own like this. Still, Kyle has a great seat and I thought he'd be ok.

And at first, he was. We walked and trotted along and he was find with my mare. He wanted to canter, so we talked about how to transition her up and back down. He was ready to give it a try. Well, Z wouldn't stop for him. And they cantered off. And Kyle had to just hang on and ride it out. Shoot!

I stayed slow with Rain, hoping that Z would realize she'd left us. She eventually stopped and Kyle hopped off. They probably went about 1/2 mile! He was a little shaken, but handled it quite well. We laughed it off and I apologized profusely. I never expected Z to do that. He definitely gained a new appreciation for my endurance horse.

We went about 10 miles in total and it was (all-in-all) a fantastic ride. We sang, we moved out, we talked about life. I love riding with my kids.

Afterwards, we stopped for ice cream. It doesn't get better! :-)

I met Kris at home after for a session with Rio. The family wanted to play some tennis, so I was feeling pressure to hurry the session along. However, it worked out perfectly! It was windy, but I really was hoping to get Kris to hop on her horse. I taught her yo-yo from the ground, sideways and when she seemed ready, she hopped on bareback for some time to play with transitions. Rio was awesome. He was sensitive and yet relaxed. She was able to work on transition down and up with only her seat. We started with her just riding him as I asked him to play circle game with me and it evolved into her leading the game and adding transitions. Nice to see them develop!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

12 miles solo

I loved my time with Gem and Z today. I hauled them over to Indian Creek and we rode for 4 hours. I did about 2 hours on each horse. Because the trail is so lightly used right now (weekday, equine virus outbreak, following heavy rains), I didn't use a lead to pony the other horse. It's really fun just letting the other horse follow along. I started on Z and we moved out pretty well, covering about 6 miles. Then, I switched to Gem and we went further down the trail. He was a little worried at first, which was so interesting because we'd been trail riding for 2 hours already. The change from following along to having a rider was quite a transition for him. I really think this is the baggage he and I are constantly working through - someone pushed him too hard before he came to me. At first, he was afraid to go forward, so I backed him up. Then I'd ask for forward. I took my time and backed him every time he was unable to go forward. Amazingly, he slowly let the concern fade and he was just fine in about 20 minutes. I ended up riding him for about 2 hours with Z following behind.

A great conditioning ride for Z and a good stretch for Gem as a trail horse. We went about 12 miles with a lot of climbing and descending - mountain riding at it's finest. Loved it and doing it alone was especially nice.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Breaking through barriers with Gem

Best ride with gem on the trail yet! Took him alone to Hidden Mesa and made it to the bridge. I believe this was #5 for solo riding with Gem at Hidden Mesa. It was the furthest we've gone and he was such a good boy!

Rode him at home first and it seemed like it wasn't going to be a great day. He went to bucking in the arena just before I rode. He had energy and wasn't very compliant in the beginning. I decided after playing around the property a bit that I was bored of riding at home and since I was on my staycation, decided to just load him up and drive away. He was saddled already, why the heck not!? I was so glad I did.

When we returned, I rode Starlet a bit and coached Chrissy. Today we worked on simply backing up. She was more tense today for some reason. So, again, I felt like knowing that she can stop him and back him would make her feel more confident. I decided to teach her to stop him and back him bridleless. It seemed like a good time to open her eyes to the power of her seat. I think she was quite surprised that she could do it and she had some great, soft moments with her horse. She didn't stay on as long today. I hope it's not because she did too much the previous session.

Starlet and I just played with Chrissy, practiced more lateral flexion and worked on bridleless backing. She got a little agitated at one point and needed to move forward. I obliged and trotted her around a bit. She settled again and we got back to helping Chrissy out. I'm really enjoying Starlet!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Riding the country roads

Deb came over again and we decided to do some mileage in my neighborhood. We did a nice long ride, about 8 miles on country roads. Z didn't have a sore back at the end - great to see. I'm working on getting her a chiro adjustment and hopefully that will help.

Fun time! We've gotten so much rain and the grass is really coming in. It's so pretty when things green up in Colorado.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Another active day!

I started on Gem today. We did trot and canter ppl around obstacles on the property. I have only done trot ppl outside the arena on Gem, so it was a good step to move to the canter. He loves to jump, so that makes canter ppl especially interesting. He'll decide last minute to go over instead of around the obstacles. We rode in the front pasture, around the playground and around the arena. Then, we rode off with no issues around the east of the kreitzers and up the road. No threshold issues whatsoever. I was so glad I didn't push him yesterday - I'm sure we would have had threshold issues if I'd not honored them the session before.

Deb came over and rode her 2 horses again today, as well.

Starlet - I brought her into the arena and we did ppl at the trot. We started to build more lateral flexion in the rope halter. She felt so nice!! I'm ready to work her more into my riding routine. She's ready and acclimated to her changed lifestyle here with my herd. She looks amazing - muscled, shiny coat, good weight... she's ready for something more.

Z - we did some arena riding today. FTR at the trot, snaky bends at trot, some ppl at canter. She was moving quick today at first, but seemed to settle and get more even impulsion quickly.

Chrissy rode Cowboy 3 different times! Throughout the day, I'd coach her and we built on yo-yo, then some circling around obstacles or me, then a little passenger at the walk. Huge steps, Cowboy was great for her. I tried to find the right times to ask her to quit. She'd quit, but then want to do more a while later. So she pulled him out 3 different times and really made great progress. Good for her!

Kendall also got some more time riding. This time, she wanted to ride Z over the obstacles like she did yesterday on Rain. I explained that Z is a much different horse - faster and more spirited. I think Kendall really understood what I meant after we got started. She did well and she was in a saddle this time. She got scared once or twice, but we ended on a very high note. Z jumped unexpectedly at one point which surprised both me and Kendall! Kendall did great though, her seat is solid and she just needs to let her desire grow. She talks about riding some, but I think the desire isn't really very strong right now. Still, it's great time with my daughter and horses.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

great day

An active day on the ranch!!

The focus was Chrissy, but a whole lot of other things happened, too. Deb came over to use my property, which was fun to watch. Kendall wanted to ride today, too!

So, started off thinking to ride Gem and support Chrissy from Gem's back. Gem had been off for about a week due to my travel and I was surprised that he was a little silly. He didn't want to partner up, so we needed warm-up time. He didn't buck or anything, I think that's behind us. But he definitely had some other ideas about following my leadership at first. We started off on the 45' and he did ok, but once I mounted I felt some brace. Interestingly, we couldn't leave the property today. Later in the day, Deb and I thought to ride out some and Gem immediately hit a big wall. I bagged out of the ride and decided to rebuild Gem instead of pushing him through his threshold. It was hard, but it was the right thing to do.

Kendall wanted to ride Rain, so I decided to set up some challenging things with her to help her develop her seat. I asked her to go over some of the obstacles, with me leading and her riding bareback. She went over a 1 ft jump repeatedly, until it was easy. I just kept sending Rain over until I saw Kendall relax. I can tell she's relaxing because she starts talking a lot. :) Then we moved to the tractor tire pedestal. That was pretty scary for her at first, but again, we kept it up until she felt confident again. She wanted to keep going, which ensured me that she was in a good spot. Then, I said - OK, that's enough! She felt proud of herself and marched off happily. It was a great spot to quit.

I set Rain up for a hoof soak and moved on to the next task. I did a little frog maintenance, but didn't really trim her.

I rode Cowboy for Chrissy. He definitely felt softer and he definitely is understanding that it's easier to loosen up and let go of some of the brace. He's such a nice horse and when he starts to loosen up I imagine him being quite a performance horse. He's got looks, confirmation and great try. I think it helps for Chrissy to see him do so well and makes it easier for her to mount up. She also can feel the difference in his responses to her if I warm him up first. He's softer in the bit and that makes it easier for her to relax. We did more yo-yo and she started to talk a little on him. I talked her into getting off of him today when she seemed fairly confident. I hope it was the right time.

I also dewormed Cowboy, Starlet, Rain and Rio. They had positive fecal results this time. I'll retest in 4 months. Gem and Z were negative - interesting that only 2 horses would be negative. Maybe because I ride them more and their systems fight the worms better due to the high activity? I'll continue to monitor. Z and Gem haven't been dewormed in 2 years. This was Rain's and Cowboy's first time in 2 years. Rio was dewormed last fall after a high fecal count. His count was half what it was last year, but still just high enough to need a deworming. Starlet has been on daily dewormer a lot of her life, so I imagine she's still adjusting. She's been off the daily treatment since last August.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Gem and Cowboy

With Chrissy in the arena, we played with Cowboy and Gemini. Chrissy wanted to start riding her horse again so I coached her for about 90 minutes. We warmed him up on the ground and then I rode him for her. Afterwards, she hopped on and started to play with 2-step yo-yo's. It was her first ride on him in many months, so a great first step.

Rode Gem a bit after Chrissy mounted. I helped her from Gemini's back, then rode him around a little in the arena when she was done.

I had Chrissy and Cowboy doing yo-yo, 2 steps, then 3. I wanted her to feel more control of him and yo-yo seemed like a good place to start. The softer she can get his backup, the more comfortable I think she'll be. She can get pretty tight when she rides him, so I was hoping just a few steps each way would help her loosen up. She seemed to relax some and wanted to do more. I talked her out of it, though. I'm trying to encourage her to respect her thresholds and reward herself when she relaxes by getting off and patting herself on the back.

Great to see her back on her horse!

Dr Phil

Had the equine dentist out to take care of the herds teeth. He did dental corrections on Z, Rio and Starlet. Gem, Rain and Cowboy held their balance from the previous work.

Z was so anxious she had to be sedated. Yep, she's a Thoroughbred-Arab cross. Her teeth had held some of the balance he put in place last time, but he still needed to do a decent amount of work.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Short but sweet

Gem, mounted sideways improving! Just sort of rode around and played with isolation of the ends. Had a nice and short warmup on the ground and got some very responsive actions from him. Worked on bridleless riding and only picked up the reins for phase 4. He was quite soft and willing.

Z and I started with the trailer and building her confidence standing in the stall. I did not close the panel but asked her to be where she would need to be for the panel. She's very concerned about getting trapped in the trailer so I've got to help her understand that I appreciate her worries and she can trust me.

Then, I tried a new pad and just did passenger lesson around the barn and playground. She started off wanting to canter, but she quickly settled into a nice trot and we rode around for about 25 minutes. Not the conditioning ride I wanted, but better than nothing. The new pad seemed to do well, so I'll be spending some more time with it to see how it goes.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

A Mother's Day Ride!

Deb and I headed to Greenland early in the morning. I woke up at 6:30am to get to Deb by 7:30-8am. I decided I really wanted to take Z alone so I was going to just load her into the trailer w/o the use of the panels. She loaded with ease and I played with it a little before closing the trailer door. She did not like me closing the trailer door, but I made the decision to get going. I thought about that decision the rest of the day. I hope I didn't do damage to our relationship.

The ride was fantastic!! I rode her in the rope hack and realized that she's not respectful enough of it when she wants to move out. She was more spirited than I've ridden in a while!! She wanted to gallop the first 4 miles, so I worked with bending her, but she was rigid and determined. I had to laugh, but I didn't like the disconnected feeling. I found a spot to just let her go. We cantered until she just needed to slow down.

It was a fantastic ride and I love my Anglo-Arab mare! She's so fun, so fast, she just wants to move long and hard. We rode about 13 miles and the last 3 miles or so, she still wanted to gallop! I hopped off and walked the last 1/2 mile, just to reward her and move my body a bit.

Deb and I decided to do the Mountain Mettle, a 30 mile endurance ride in June. I'll need to get a few more long rides on her to build her up, but she felt great today. If we're controlled, she should be fine for that ride.

She's still showing signs of frequent urination upon exertion. Today, it didn't happen until much later in the ride, but it did still happen. I have a feeling I need to keep building her endurance and try different saddle pads for her comfort. Her back did not seem sore, though. It's so bizarre.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

The journey with Starlet begins...

I had only a little time but decided to spend it with Starlet. I haven't done much with her since she got here and I really need to get her higher up on my priority list.

The ground work started nicely. She was extroverted at first and a bit over-reactive, super sensitive. But it took very little time for her to calm and get with me. I was pleasantly surprised.

I was a little concerned about having her in the western saddle, mainly because I'm not sure how comfortable she is with the rear cinch. I found myself wanted to take a little caution, as she has gone a year without being ridden.

I took her into the round pen and had Steve stand watch just in case. She was just fine. We walked and trotted and got to know each other a little. I didn't ride long, just enough to get a feel for where she is about going back to work. It felt nice to do something with this wonderful, athletic mare. I plan to do more with her over the summer.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Back to Hidden Mesa - Session 3

Not bad!

5-6 other riders caused a big distraction. But we went our farthest ever. Went about 100 yards past the trail sign. No silliness, definitely he was trying to do everything I asked. He was quick to come back to me, which was great. Stopped at farthest point to let him graze.

Nice progress! He's getting very fit and handsome looking, too. All good stuff.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Just toolin' around

With Gem today... some light ground work, some easy riding, walked around the front acreage, just some hang-out time. I had a rough travel week and I wasn't up for anything too challenging.

He was feeling my lack of energy and he tuned in to that. He stumbled a couple times, which tells me he was lazy and not picking up his feet. He almost fell once. I asked him for a little more energy the rest of the time as he has a serious shuffling skill and I didn't want him falling on his face.

Anyway, easy and enjoyable. Good for the relationship.

Monday, May 2, 2011

We've made it!!

Gem and I go down the road w/o a single issue. No looking back, no tension, nothing. Did a little ground work first. Sideways towards is lovely. Then a short session in the round pen after going down the road. Low stress, just hang time.

Really felt a bond growing today!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

First Indian Creek ride of 2011

What a great, great day!! Took Gem and Z, picked up Deb and Lexy, and headed west to Indian Creek. It was a cold day (about 40 degrees), but the wind was calm and the overcast skies weren't supposed to cause snow or rain. It was an easy haul over and we unloaded and got started.

I decided to start on Z and had plans to switch to Gem at the turn-around point. Gem was excited at first and really wanted to lead the trail! I thought maybe our confidence building sessions had really worked! I was proud of his attitude about the trail ride - he seemed genuinely happy to be out.

We went somewhere between 6-8 miles. I forgot my GPS, so I'm not exactly sure, but we did walk/trot and rode about 3 hours. The forest was so lovely, with snow on the ground and gray skies. The footing was good - no mud, generally, throughout the ride. I let Gem off the lead line some of the time and he made Deb and I laugh so hard with his antics. He wanted to lead the trail! He was so excited - it was taking a dog for hike. He'd trot ahead, then wait for us. He sometimes chose the middle of the two horses, but he was showing some aggression towards Lexy, so I had to clip him back to the lead line a few times.

I ended up just staying on Z the whole time, mainly because I didn't feel like moving the tack. Lazy, but I was also enjoying my Zarah mare so much. She's a pleasure to ride. Gem was having a fun time being sorta free and I decided to just keep things as they were. I was happy to get both horses exercised and could have spent hours more out in the woods.

It was a great spring ride and I look forward to many more nice, long trail rides with Gem and Z! Next time, Gem gets the saddle.