Thursday, December 31, 2009

A New Years Eve ride with my levels partner

I managed to steal away on Z for some saddle time. She and I left the property, thinking to ride the trail. We went up the road, about 1/2 mile from home and I was watching the sun drop in the sky and the temps drop and darn it, decided to hang out there for a bit before turning for home.

It was nice to ride her though and I was so pleased that she was willing to leave the herd and barn with me w/o no argument after the little bit of time I've spent with her over the last 2 months.

I'm longing for warmer days and longer sunlight.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

More fun in the snow!

Well, it's cold for sure. And there's plenty of snow on the ground. But, I'm getting my butt out there anyway!

I started with Z. More trailer loading confidence, then to the arena for some bridleless practice. We did the question box and after a little warming up with corners and FTR, we did canter to back up transitions with the question box. I did about 5 in each direction, with 3 canter - backup transitions on each circle. She was awesome! She had spunk and life and responsiveness. I think she finds that quick work to be fun. She's so fast and when she comes out of the halt straight to the canter, she feels like a cannonball shooting out of a cannon. It's very cool.

Then, I played with Miss Tina. I'm doing more driving and asked Chrissy to assist with more obstacle stimulation. First, we further developed her willingness to bridle. I am searching for a horse that seeks the bridle, not avoids it. I want her to accept the bit like she accepts the halter. I put it on, take it off, repeatedly and all the while use the halter to keep her head low and in a partnership position. She's doing very well.

Then, we warmed up and went to work on more tarp fun. She proved that she's ready to move on from the tarp. Chrissy shook it around forward, walked toward Tina with it held high, then I put the tarp all over her and covered her up. She's passed this test with flying colors - next stop, the umbrella!

I also started trotting in zone 5. Up until now, it's been a lot of walking. I think it's time to remove the surcingle. My arm is strong enough and she's got the idea of what I'm asking. Next time, we'll go w/o it.

Before the barn time was over, I checked Nina's hind foot for progress with her scratches. It's actually much better after just 2 days! I'm very pleased. I applied a topical solution of White Lightening and we'll see how it looks tomorrow.

I'm also itching to get back on Tina. It's time - she's ready. Maybe after the next ski trip - we leave Saturday for 4 days.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Riding Z, driving Tina and back to trimming myself!

My day started off with Gemini. He was in the neighbors pasture. He'd gone down the driveway (1/4 mile) through the gate and down the road. All in all, about a 1/2 mile walk but looping around our property. I threw out the hay for the others, then Deuce and I headed out to bring Gem home. Gem was happy to see me - I think he was trying to figure out a way into the pasture with the others. I think I need to put another horse out with him. He seems to be getting lonely. I want to play with him more, but he has to take the back burner with the horses I have here in training.

Then, I got Steve to give me a hand with a trim. Nina was pretty overdue and I also needed to get her hind soaked as she's developed scratches. I've never had a horse with scratches and I don't understand why one horse would get it and not the others. I have a clean property, but I know they can get it from the dirt. Is her immune system low? Anyway, Steve used the nippers where I placed them for me and I did the rest. I was able to rasp with my broken arm ok, not great - but I got the job done. I got her soaked too. Hopefully, her skin will start to heal rapidly now.

I did some chores while the horses got their fill of hay, then I decided to ride Z. I started by taking her in and out of the trailer. She'll get in fine, but I want her confident inside. Actually, she knows the difference between being in a stationary trailer and one attached to a truck and likely to take her somewhere. For the latter, her anxiety goes way up. I need to attach the trailer - or at least back the truck up to that position to fool her and help get her more confident.

After that, I hopped on and she and I just went around the property. We practiced nice, light sideways, up on the pedestal, then bridleless weaving around a little patch of trees I have. We practiced backwards a bunch and halting bridleless. Her responses are good, but they can always be better. I'm noticing that when I ask her backwards bridleless, it works better if I move my hips back in rhythm with hers versus being in rhythm with the foreleg movement. I think naturally, I moved with the fore. As I practice and play with it, it works better with the hind. Of course that makes sense, but I was just following my gut with the fore movement. Her bridleless back and halt are very good. We really need to get our freestyle film done. I've been saying that for months... Sigh. Just need to do it.

Then, I got Miss Tina out for move driving. I wanted Chrissy to help out by causing some commotion with a tarp. Tina is driving nicely and we'll continue to practice. But, she needs lots more confidence building too. Gem was hanging around when we got started and he finds tarps to be quite fun. He grabbed it with his mouth and shook it up and down for 15 seconds or so. Tina wasn't quite sure what to make of that!! Of course, if Gem isn't afraid, maybe she needn't be either. Soon enough, Tina was also mouthing it and moving it and lifting it.

Chrissy went around and I drove Tina behind the tarp. I wanted her to feel like she was "chasing" the tarp - a great confidence builder for horses. Then, I had Chrissy walk a circle around us. Tina was concerned when the tarp was in zone 5, but otherwise she was fine. We then followed the dragging tarp some more, but I wanted Tina to step on it. I also had Chrissy shaking it and doing more than simply dragging it.

We found a good place to stop and Tina was calm and in a very good frame of mind. It was a great session!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Driving Tina and getting lightness

Spent some good time with Tina today. We are developing her ability to drive and getting her used to a bit. I continue to make her happy to wear the bridle, eventually having her seek the bit and be helpful during bridling. She is calm in a comfortable wearing the bit now, a nice thing to see.

I'm still using the surcingle as my arm isn't as strong as it needs to be yet. But we're getting a lot done and now she's much lighter in the bridle and responding with light gestures. She's much quieter when I'm asking for turns and stops with the bit, too.

I'm spending a lot of time with the figure 8 pattern, which is perfect for developing the turning responses and the stop. The pattern has helped so much with developing my horses in general.

I wanted to do more with horses, but the day got away from me. I had chores to get done after the snow storm. The sun sets too soon.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

More driving and riding

The weather is so mild and the old arm is coming around. Things are lookin' up! I started with Miss Tina today and spent most of my day with her. I had tacked up Rio for KK to ride, but then a friend came over and she forgot all about that. I used the surcingle yet with Tina and the confidence snaffle to get her going. We practiced the soft feel first for about 30 mins. I just turned her each way and helped her get the feel of the ask. Then we went forward. It's a different feel with me in zone 5 and thankfully the surcingle helps me keep the ropes where I want them. I think another few days and I won't have to use them.

She was resistant at first, but slowly she got softer and softer until we were able to walk nice figure 8's. I also started working on backing her up, which got much better by the end of the session. I took her out to the front pasture and let her graze for a while, just wanted her to get some quiet time wearing the bit and being with me away from the herd.

When we went back to the barn, she was a whole different horse. Soft in the bridle, turning on my asks with ease and halting and backing with a slight suggestion. She's a smart horse and she learns quickly. Now, it's time to get her on the trail and exposing her to more "scary" stuff.

I then popped a saddle on Z for a quick ride before the sun went down. I decided my goal is to finish L3 Freestyle by the end of Jan. I want to mess with Z as many times a week as possible to reach this goal. I think it's a very realistic goal, too. We have to make sure her canter depart is happy and responsive, as if she puts her ears back that will show a poor relationship and an unhappy horse. I'm going to work on asking her to canter with the lightest cue I can think of to make her more attentive. Otherwise, we can do everything else pretty well. It's time to shut L3 down!! :-)

Great day. Tomorrow, Gem, Rain, Tina and Z. Need to soak Nina too.

Saturday, December 19, 2009


After 7 weeks, I got on a horse today. My lovely Zarah. Oh, wow. How I love horses and seeking partnership with them. Oh, oh, oh... My passion is alive and well. I was slightly worried that I'd have some fear after the bad wreck, but not at all. Not the slightest bit. So, tomorrow, I'll focus on Tina and Gem and I'm getting my L3 Freestyle done. My goal is the end of January. I shouldn't need that long, but who knows what the weather will do and the days are so short.

Z left the property with me w/o any fuss after some warm up in the play area. My arm is still crippled and it's tough to do good groundwork. But she was just like I left her 7 weeks ago. What a fantastic thing! I rode to the gate, then around the 20 acres in front. We took it slow, a nice walk with lots of halt and back transitions. We can't practice those enough.

I got some barn things done and had hay delivered. Tomorrow I need to do more manure management and drag the round pen with the new rascal spikes. The work is never done, but I'm just thrilled to be back.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Groundworking 3

Gem - played at liberty and got some nice stuff!! Transitions on the circle and flying lead changes are looking great. He doesn't maintain gait in the canter well yet. Had a fun session!

Zarah - just worked a little online - mainly trailer loading and being in the trailer with confidence. She loads great. She doesn't want to stay in there though. Worked on her being very confident about the panel closing on her and staying facing forward.

Tina - driving from zone 5! Played using a surcingle since my arm is unable to be very effective. I used a rope halter and really need to use a bridle and snaffle. She tried very hard, but the halter knot was too far back to give her a clear idea of what I wanted. It was a a good session regardless. Before the driving, got some very nice figure 8's on the 22. She just needs me to have two working arms to do much more.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Tracking trims...

Nothing too interesting here - just tracking the trims... :)

Kris did Cowboy, Gemini and Zarah today.