Sunday, March 30, 2008

Level 2 Support

Today, I trailered Cowboy and Z to Tammy's to help her, Chuck and Jen work on some level 2 things. We did 3 hours with a short trail ride after. We worked on 7 games with an obstacle, backing over a pole on line, moving the fore. We also played find your owner and I was surprised that Z left me right away. She was drawn by Ruby. After she came back to me, she didn't leave again. However, it was surprising that she left at all. Jen made great progress with Lynx's draw and Tammy with Ruby. Everyone made some positive changes and I was pleased and happy for them all. We worked on moving one foot at a time over an obstacle, as well.

When we mounted, we worked on moving sideways over a pole, yo-yo over a pole, snappy departs and transitions. We never did any Liberty, though. That was my plan, but my plan usually falls apart. Too many things come up that aren't working and we need to fix. Ruby backed over an obstacle today which is something Tammy's been working on and not getting. Chuck cantered on Little Foot and started to ride the canter with some harmony.

I enjoyed the hell out of myself today. Z was great and gave me whatever I needed most of the day. Fantastic!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Busy week

... with my sister and her fiance in town. I got a decent amount of horse time however, and took the two of them out a couple times. I rode Z English so I'd have enough Western saddles since they were beginners and found my English saddle to do surprisingly well for Z. I've been riding her Western for a while because my English saddle seemed to be really making her sore. She actually started to get grey hairs near her withers after a few months riding English. Perhaps I need a wide tree for her.

Anyway, we tended to go slower (to save my sanity!) and make sure Chrissy didn't get too nervous. It's tough when people don't ride much and don't know how much trouble than can quickly get into. I tried to give Kris numerous chances to canter - he liked to move out. The second ride, he rode Jen's Qtr Horse Cowboy. Cowboy is a more forward horse than Rain and Kris seemed to have more fun with him. Rain is very happy to walk or even just stand still, which can get boring. Cowboy was incredibly impressive on the trail with a beginner on his back.

Rain got some good mileage this week, a good thing. Molly said she'd like to see Rain ridden more often for better hoof growth. I'm spending most of my time with Z and Rain is my 2nd mount. Unfortunately, I'm doing all I can. I love to get on the trail and pony horses so that more get exercise, but I haven't done that for a week or so. They'll live... :-)

Today, Steve took Kendall skiing and D went to Winter Park with DU. I had the whole day with Kyle and horses. Kyle helped me with some chores, I cleaned up, exercised and got out with Z. She was a different horse today than usual. She wasn't calm like normal. I started giving her a couple flakes of alfalfa this week and I wonder if it's related. She was also in heat yesterday, so that might be the deal. She pulled back when I tied her, something she's never done. I put her in the stall to get calm again and just sat in my chair. She ran and called for 20 mins to the herd. I tried to be patient and wait for her to settle and come to me. After she did, I spent another 15 mins or so in her stall while she settled more. Then, it was time to go play.

Started on the 45' and played the floating circle game. She did well, went over what was in her way and didn't get emotional. She was pulling to the herd a little and I tried to bring her back mentally when I could. We crossed the teeter-totter many times and then went for the trailer. I sent her in at a trot from about 30'. She still turns around fairly quickly once she's in but she is happy to trot in there from a distance. Yes!

Then, we rode in the arena for quite a while. We worked on serpentines at the trot, Cloverleaf at the trot and then the canter, then cantering on 60 foot circles. I realized today I am much better at riding her canter to the left than to the right. Hmmm... We also worked on feel to the bit, getting her to flex vertically w/o moving her feet. Then we worked on light and straight sidepassing and feeling of me enough to move forward, backward and side to side all without moving her feet. We finished off with Cloverleaf patterns bridleless w/the sticks. We crossed some jumps with the sticks as well. Between Cloverleaf patterns, in the middle of the barrel setup, we also practiced isolation by moving the fore and the hind full 360's. We haven't done that in a while, but she was very good at it like always.

Throughout our session, she pulled to the herd less and less which was very rewarding. By the end, she could walk at liberty back to the barn with me like normal - not how our session started out. Worth noting - she bucked some on the 45' with her saddle. Was that the alfalfa, her heat, or do I not play with her enough with her tack? Another hmmm...

Tomorrow we have weather and Monday I travel for the week. Bummer. So glad I had today. Very happy with Z and will continue to work on the relationship as my top priority.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Bareback and Liberty

Today, I let Z be out in the front pasture. She's been separated from the herd for a few weeks now and seems to be coping fine. She's gaining more independence which is great for L3 work and riding alone. She enjoys the pasture time and it's better than keeping her in the run. After work, I went for a run and took Z with me. We went about 40 mins and she seemed to like it - passing so many different horses and checking things out with me on the ground instead of her back. When we got back, we went to the round pen and worked more on cantering and got a GREAT flying lead change!! Yes!! I worked some more on her backing straight at Liberty and sending to the right at the trot. I think we are nearly there on all Liberty tasks. Awesome.

I rode her bareback for a while and worked on mounting bareback and bridleless. I'm teaching her to handle me jumping next to her neck so I can mount and slide back from her neck. She's ok with that. I have to make sure I can do it every, single time. Sometimes I don't get it quite right. We worked on walk and trot b and b and turning to stop in the middle of the pen. Her trot is quite easy to ride bareback these days. She's so much more efficient in her movement than when I bought her. It's amazing the changes she's made. She's happy to stop or transition down with the slightest suggestion. Nirvana.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Horsey Easter!

Well, Steve took the kids skiing today and I had the day to spend with Chrissy and Chris - my sister and her fiance. I started off with a lesson at Maria's and then had the day to spend. They both were very interested in getting some riding time. Excellent! Anything horses and I'm in.

I started by giving Chris a "15-minutes to riding" lesson. :-) He did ok and wasn't very nervous. I used my ole' trusty Rain. Then Chrissy wanted a turn. She was a little nervous, but was able to get Rain to go with her some. Then Chris wanted back on - he was hooked, I could tell. He'd never been on a horse, so this was all new. After he'd had some time to get used to Rain, I took him out on a 5-mile loop on Z. Things went quite fine.

When I got back, it was Chrissy's turn. I'd had Cowboy tied for a while (he's here for a little riding/training) and I decided the 2nd ride I'd use him. I warmed him up a little with some ground work and then arena riding before we headed out. Again, things went very well! Cowboy was great - non-plussed by the barking dogs and other things we encountered. He was well behaved and on the way back, the neighbor expressed interest in buying him. He's quite a cool horse and Jen should really keep him - but that's her call.

I was hoping to get some time with Z in the round pen working on cantering, but that didn't happen. No big deal - I had a full day of horses and I'm a lucky girl.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Rollercoaster Ride!!

Had an awesome ride yesterday with Tammy. We went somewhere between 12 and 14 miles. I rode Z and she was on Ruby - her chestnut T-bred. We went to Sharptail Ridge and covered lots of trail in a fairly short period of time. We cantered a ton! It was an amazingly great ride, best I've had in a while. At one point, the trail was narrow and windy and we cantered through it all. The horses did great and Z showed her ability to cover some serious ground at a trot. She also did very little sweating - she's in pretty good shape. We will continue to work on our canter depart and the trail was a great place to do it. Loved it!!

Today, Jen brought Cowboy to me to put some miles on him. I'll ride him for a few weeks and we'll decide the best way market and sell him. I'll try sending him over lots of jumps, he might make a good jumper. He's a great looking horse and he's athletic. He has some go, which is a great thing. He prefers to not move too much, but he might feel differently if he's in better shape. I put him in a run and he escaped and caused a little raucous in the herd. I managed to get Rain out of the mix, eliminating the "mare factor". Cowboy has a few new bite marks, but Gemini seems to like him. Capaill is convinced that his job is to protect his mares - kinda cute. I may put him back in a run. I'm going to keep a watchful eye and do what I think is best.

Looking forward to riding him over the next few weeks and see how he goes. Jen took Starlet so she'd have 2 and she'll keep Starlet on her stall rest. Should be an interesting few weeks!! With my sister in town, things will be non-stop I'm sure.

I showed Jen how Z and I are doing at Liberty. Z did very well and I'm proud of what we've accomplished. Very cool. Next stop - freestyle! I'm motivated.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Time to video

Yesterday, Steve and I set out to get some L3 tasks on video. I worked way longer than I had planned and I was in a FOUL mood. I should have known better and rescheduled it. It was ok in the end, but Z and I were looking at each other cross-eyed in the round pen for Liberty. It took quite a while, but we finally got something going together in the end. Needless to say, we didn't video something I can send to the ISC and we're going to try again tomorrow. I started thinking about Freestyle and realized we're not far off from that savvy so that's where I'm going to focus next.

Gemini came home yesterday morning. Turns out he has a cyst in the bone of his left, rear hock. I'm going to get my vet out to give me a full eval and decided what to do with him next. He just keeps coming back to me. Maybe the universe is trying to tell me something?? I do really dig that horse.

Starlet's wither soreness went away after 12 hours in the stall. She's fine now and I realize I just need to keep her quiet. Tom said tendons take 4-6 weeks to heal and it's been about 2. She's got to stay in the stall some more - poor Thoroughbred!

I cantered Z to the gate and worked on shoulder-in, side pass and transitions along my driveway after the video session. Things went ok, but about 45 mins someone turned on the wind machine and dust was blowing everywhere. It was a terrible time to call it quits, but I couldn't even see! She hurried back to the barn, a bad way to end things.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Gemini sold??

The buyer picked him up today and took him to his new home. They had a vet at their barn to do a quick pre-purchase exam on him. I had no concerns at all. Turns out, he has a swollen left hock. They took x-rays and I won't know until the morning if it's serious and if they still want to buy him. Always something... He may be back.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Stall Time

I've been trying to get undemanding time with Zarah all week. My job has been sucking me dry and once the kids get home from school, it's so difficult. After parent/teacher conferences, I grabbed my laptop and went in to Z's stall to work. She was very interested in me being there and stood over me. Typical of her. She loves to be touched and scratched and she's not shy about telling me that. She doesn't let me work very much - she constantly touches my laptop with her nose and slobbers on my stuff. It occurred to me to practice bowing with her for 5 mins, but I refrained. It was better to just be with her.

Note: Regarding horseanalities, there is a great chart that outlines the 4 basic horse personalities here:

Rain looked jealous from the next stall. She stood and watched the entire hour. Kendall was with me by the end and we decided to go hang with Rain afterwards. She messed with us a bit, searched for some leftover hay for a bit and just stood with us. So great.

Starlit is hurting again - her range of motion is almost worse than where we started. Damn it.

More on 2 eyes

Yesterday, I gave the kids a lesson on Rain while I stood with Z. Then, I played a little circle game with Z and hopped on bareback/bridleless and worked on backup/stop/walk. She's so sensitive and bareback teaches me to be QUIET! Every muscle flinch I offer, mistakenly or on purpose, causes her to twitch and try to correctly respond. She wants to do the right thing so I have to be sure I'm clear. I also worked on lateral flexion using the stick. The yo-you game with 2 eyes/ears is awesome. I want to see her snappier now. I've got to get Liberty taped today - I need to move forward.

I put Z in her stall to eat hay for 45 mins, then came back out, saddled her and started walking towards the trail. Lately, she's been more hesitant than usual to leave home and she's shown introverted responses (mainly stuck feet). Teri mentioned that I try just waiting. So, I was anxious to give that a whirl. She only got about 20 feet before she got stuck. We sat. When she finally exhaled and licked and chewed, I asked for forward again. I got about 20 feet. We repeated this until we got to the gate. It took about 40 mins. It was interesting and it seemed the wait periods got shorter and shorter. I loved the possibilities of this approach. Took much less energy than circling and she was not agitated like she can get when circling for approach/retreat. Patience with the RBI is key. Z and I will keep progressing.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Liberty Yo-yo

Consistently straight backup with 2 eyes if I wiggle my finger and look down at my feet, not at her. Wow - awesome.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Z and 2 eyes

I've been noticing more that Z doesn't look at me with 2 eyes sometimes when I'm asking for yo-yo, backing or other ground tasks. Yesterday, after D and I got back from Hidden Mesa, I spent a little time with Z in the round pen. We worked on Liberty cantering and transitions at Liberty. We've got that down fairly well. We practiced coming in with confidence and giving me 2 eyes. I continued to draw backward until she gave me 2 eyes and happy ears. We did that a few times then switched to developing the bow some more. I pushed too far one of the times, but for the most part she's cooperative and getting lower each time.

Today, I played with her a little in the barn aisle after spending the day at the Horse Expo. Some conversation with Teri Sprague about her RBI behavior, I decided to try a few things before calling it a day. We just did some yo-yo game and each time she came to me with 2 eyes, she got a treat. That worked wonders. Bizarre - am I reading RBI behavior when it's really LBI? Does she switch so often that I have to get better at watching for it?

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Delaney Joins Me!

Today, for the very first time, Delaney joined me on a trail ride. We trailered to Hidden Mesa and he did the 7.5 mile loop with me. He started out on Z and I ponied them off of Rain. Then, we switched. After a while, he really wanted me to stop ponying him and I gave him a "lesson" on communicating with Rain. For some of the trail, he was on his own and did just fine. I'm super proud and soooo excited by the possibilities of he and I covering trails together. My first thought is HORSE CAMPING! If I can get kids interested, I'll have reached true nirvana. He wants lessons and wants to learn to take care of getting down the trail with the horse alone. Very cool!

This all started by selling Gemini. He cried. He didn't want to see Gemini go and he's called Gemini "his horse" for some time now. I told him he could have his own horse if he shows initiative in the way of feeding, mucking, grooming and riding. He's gung-ho! Hopefully, I wont have to buy him a horse any time soon! He can ride Rain for a long time, really.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Love That Trail!

Just had an amazing ride with my 2 mares, Rain and Z. I've had a hard work day and I'm just tired of my job at the moment. I wanted to get a ride in before I spent the evening with my teenager. So, I tacked up Rain and decided to pony Z. Rain and I practiced sidling up to me on the step stool. Went great - she's got it. Grabbed Z and off we went. After the first few miles, I decided to switch mounts. I hopped off and switched the tack to Z and off we went. Z is much more fun to ride than Rain. Rain is great for a beginner or someone who's afraid, but Z gives me the energy I love to ride. We trotted and cantered most of the trail. When I ask Rain for trot/canter, she gives it but she would much rather walk. Z would much rather trot/canter. Very fun. Her canter was the nicest, most balanced I think I've ever felt from her. She was not emotional, either. She was soft and balanced. Awesome. She was happy to walk when I asked, but if I asked for more she immediately gave it with pleasure. She'll be a great trail horse someday. I really want to do the April endurance ride with her. Need to get her more ready.

Canter, Canter, CANTER!

After being in Dallas all week, I couldn't wait to get a ride in and work on some things with my horses. The buyers for Gemini came to see him and ride him one more time before making the official offer. Then, when they left, I took Z to the round pen to work on cantering at Liberty. We did that a bit and then I tacked her up for some cantering in the arena. She had a better attitude than last time in the arena. We cantered large circles and also played Josh Lyon's game of bending. Very effective.

I finished off by giving each Delaney and Kendall a little riding lesson on her. Delaney wanted to - he's very upset about Gemini getting sold. He actually cried. :-( To finish our session, we worked on the bow some more, our 4th session with that trick. She's getting lower... It was good, but rushed - as usual. Hate that.

And some good news - Starlet seems fine now. Ahhh, relief.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Musical Horses!

Yesterday, Jen and I met at Hidden Mesa. We both had a good chunk of time to get some trail riding in. It was nice because we're usually in such a hurry.

So, I brought Rain and Z and Jen brought Cowboy. This was his first trail test with us. I rode Z for a moment while Jen got tacked and ready. She was fine and we agreed that I'd ride Cowboy. So, Jen was going to ride Z. We were just riding in the parking lot a bit and I went to grab Rain to pony her. She hated Cowboy. A lot. So I asked Jen if she could pony Rain since Z and Rain go down the trail together like that very often. That didn't work out so great. So, I thought Cowboy would be fine for her to ride, so we switched and started to go down the trail with me on Z ponying Rain and Jen on Cowboy. About 1/2 mile later, Cowboy bucked a little, Jen got off and I tried to pony him off of Z while Jen rode Rain.

At this point, we're about 3/4 mile down the trail. it's been an hour, at least. Each horse has had each saddle on their backs and we're starting to feel a little defeated. We were near the water/bridge crossing and I really wanted to work with Z on the bridge. So Jen agreed to hang out on Rain while I worked on Z's confidence and Cowboy stood tied. That went great - a huge change in my horse with bridge confidence. Time to move on...

So, Z truly hates Cowboy as well. Especially when he's that close to her. So, Jen's thinking we should hang it up. But me, I'm damn persistent and I don't like defeat. I begged her to let me try one more thing. I hopped on Cowboy and ponied Z. Finally, we could cover some ground.

We ended up having a great ride and went about 10 miles. All in all, we were there about 6 hours. It was comical, educational, fun and tiring. A great day!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Broke Neck Horse!

Starlet is broken! Her neck didn't get any better so I had the chiro out today and he said her neck was the worse he'd seen in quite a while. She had him working hard getting her neck to move normally. She was better in the end (after an hour of moving and adjusting!). She's not 100%, but she's better. I'll keep an eye on her closely. She's stuck in the stall/run alone until she's back to normal. I let her out with the herd a bit today and she got a big bite mark within a few hours. It's been a long time since she's gotten a bite mark like that. I know she's not herself when she allows that to happen.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Goodbye to Gemini?

I took him to a jumping lesson barn today and he was a perfect gentleman. I'm very proud of him. He came to me kind of kooky and worried and in pain and he's become quite a nice horse. He's still not as confident away from the herd as I'd like, but he makes an excellent jumping/arena horse today. I'm pretty sure someone from this barn will buy him - they all liked him and he did very well. I feel a little sad and I wonder if I'm letting a great horse go. I have too many, though...

I spent at least an hour with Z today - just time. I tried to work on my laptop in the stall while she ate hay in the run. She was so interested in forcing me to pet her and standing over me that I didn't get much work done. She was happy to have me around, I just know it. She got horse snot on my laptop! Still, I enjoyed her as much as she enjoyed me. No riding today... again. Tomorrow, snow... maybe Thursday or Friday.

Starlet needs a chiro visit. She's hurt herself badly and she can't stretch her neck to the ground w/o a lot of effort. Going to call Dr. Boldt and have him take a look. Poor girl.

Monday, March 3, 2008

After the snow...

Yesterday, we had a blizzard and we couldn't go anywhere really. The wind was howling, snow was blowing, a very wintry day. All the horses were stalled and feeling couped up. I let them out to eat in the evening and this morning they were all feeling pretty cold. Z was shivering. I didn't know it was going to get so cold last night. This morning, Starlet couldn't reach down to eat her grain in the bucket. I put her in a stall alone for the day until I can evaluate what's going on. She did eat all her hay from the bottom of the bucket, so not sure what is going on with her.

I worked as fast as I could, then about 2:30pm went out to get Gemini moving a bit. Someone wants to check him out tomorrow, so I wanted to see how he was feeling. I rode him a bit and he's doing just fine. The more time I spend with him, the more I like him. He's a cool horse. He's such a smooth mover and he's smart and brave. Hmmm...

I also spent some time playing squeeze game and circle game with Z over a jump. We worked on backing up straight at Liberty and also some time with the bow. She's going much lower, but she's not trusting me today. Her knee nearly touched the ground and it made her a bit worried. I'll go slower and do less next time. I didn't get to ride her, not enough time. I'm sorry, too - really wanted to ride her.

Sunday, March 2, 2008


Today Z started to walk away in the pasture after eating and I went to catch her. She does really fine with I go to catch her. She sees me coming behind her, stops and walks towards me. This is how it always is. I just don't like that she walks to the far pasture and I'll just have to keep giving her reasons to wonder WHAT I'm going to do versus assuming she should disappear. She is such an RBI and she would prefer to meld into the woodwork than be out and about. I respect that and I continue to try to harmonize with that. I'm an extrovert, so it's a challenge.

I put her in the round pen for a few hours while I ran errands. When I got back, we took a break together, then worked on cantering at Liberty. Much better!! Major improvement!! We'll keep working on that. She's got to go at least 4 canter laps at Liberty for us to get our tasks done. She can go a couple now. She's more collected and thoughtful in her liberty canter than ever before. She's carrying herself well and using herself effeciently. I'm so pleased.

We did a little circle game over obstacles on the 22 before the round pen. That was all fine. We still need to get the straight backup at Liberty more consistent.

Then, I mounted and we headed to the arena. She was all over the place. We needed a plan. I set up a cloverleaf course for us about 1/3 the size of my arena (9 paces from center to edge). At first, she was scattered but she quickly came back to me and managed the pattern well at the trot. We did some trotting around the entire course (60 ft circle, maybe?). Then we went back to the pattern in the other direction. We did a lot of resting in the middle on my lawn chair cushion, where I asked her to put her hoof on it. After about 40 mins of working the pattern in both directions, we started working on cantering. She was scattered again and I stayed with her until she got it together with me. She even did a rear end defiant buck a few times. Made me giggle a little.

I'm working on brideless riding so I generally only use the reins if I need to. I'm noticing that there are leg cues that really torque her off. I tried to listen to her and use my legs in a way that I was communicating without making her annoyed. We started to really find a balance. Of course, she became most annoyed at the side facing the gate so I'm positive all the behavior was LB. Nothing was violent or uncontrollable. It was all very calculated and deliberate. We will get better quickly, I'm sure. The weather will allow us to do more canter work and precision work which is just what we both need. I am comfortable now to gallop on her for 30 seconds - one of my tasks. She's fassssssst.

I sticked her again on flat concrete and she's definitely only 15.1hh. I thought she was taller for some reason. Honestly, I wish she was a little taller. It's fine for the L3 stuff - makes it all a little easier... bareback mounting, especially. I wonder if I'll want to continue with her after L3 or switch to one of my others.

Back to our session... we ended with about 10 minutes of training her to bow. She's going down much farther and that was only our 3rd session. I think she understands what I'm after and she just needs the time to feel confident to do it. She doesn't fight it really and I'm trying so hard not to push her to that point. The picture of the shrinking violet horse for the RBI is her most of the time. She swings between RBI and LBI.

It was a great session and I'm sorry it's snowing today. I'd love to try some more things with her and see where we are after she's had a chance to think about it.

Oh, and for fun and to get my cardio in, I took a run early in the day with Delaney on Gemini and Kendall on Rain. We only went about 30 mins (short of what I was supposed to do). We were out of time, though. Both horses did great and the kids giggled most of the time. The horses do a slow jog to stay with me and the kids get a smooth ride. Need to do that more often.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

More undemanding, enforcing the bond...

I spent about 45 mins in the pasture with the herd. Everytime Z came near, I gave her a treat and walked away. Occasionally, I would scratch her favorite spots and walk away. I'm curious to see what I'll get today of repairing our bond for a couple days. She was following me in the pasture, like she usually does. But she still decided to head for the far pasture when I first went out yesterday. Hopefully, today will be a little different.

I've also started spending time getting Gemini more confident away from the herd. He spent about 2 hours tied to the rail in front of barn, sometimes able to see the herd, sometimes not. He gets most of his confidence from the herd and I'm starting to focus some attention on building his confidence alone. I've done some reading and have some good ideas of things to do. Linda P. says your horse should be able to stand tied quietly for up to 8 hours. Gemini can not do that today. He calls and calls. Perhaps if we get better at standing tied away from the herd, he'll be more comfortable to trail ride away from them. Whoever buys him will need him to be better in this area.

Today, I want to spend time but life is getting in the way. I'm trying to buck up and roll with it, but definitely feeling frustrated.