Sunday, October 11, 2009

Cheyenne – 10/11/09

Cheyenne has been doing pretty well.  She was a lot like Apache when I first got on her – she didn’t care and couldn’t be bothered to react to the extra weight on her back.  I had ridden her twice before last weekend, and both times she was incredibly lazy and it was difficult to get her moving forward.  So last weekend when Jamie came out to do some work, I put her on Cheyenne while I supplemented her leg with the lunge whip.  We worked with her in the round pen for about 20 minutes, then I hopped on Willow to pony her around the pasture for a bit.   She has no problem with Whoa, in fact that seems to be her favorite part.  Oh, I can stop working?  Cool!

Picture 003

I’ve ridden her twice since, and she’s gotten a bit better about reacting to leg.  I wanted to get her out on the trails this weekend with someone else in the lead, but there were too many other things going on and it just never happened.  She’s pretty good about mud puddles, so I’m hoping a trail ride that takes us through a small stream will just be a simple extension of our pasture ride.  Maybe next weekend?  Hopefully!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

General – 09/19/09

I must apologize profusely for the lack of updates to the training blog.  I guess I feel woefully inadequate next to the great training bloggers, like Mugwump, that I’ve just been quietly doing my thing and hoping no one asks for details.  :)

To catch everyone up, here’s a summary of what little training has been going on this summer.  I’m hoping to get a lot more done now that I’ve got a round pen for ground work.  I can’t wait to get going with Miles and Jasmine, but Jasmine’s training has to wait until Sky is weaned in a couple of weeks.

Miles is the unhandled 9yo BLM mustang that arrived with Beauty and TMan.  I have done no work with him yet, and he still only allows me within 10 feet of him before he gets nervous and moves away.  Once Jasmine and Jewel are going well under saddle, I’ll start with getting Miles lured into the round pen for dinner and get him comfortable in there, then get him halter broke and go from there.  That should be fun!

Cheyenne is just about ready to go to her new home.  I spent a few weeks just ground driving her and getting her used to the rubber full cheek snaffle, and understanding whoa.  I’ve gotten on her twice this week and she’s done very well.  I’ve stayed in the round pen since I was alone at the time, but hopefully one of my volunteers will come out tomorrow and I can get her out for a short trail ride.  I’d like to get her out at least a few times with success before I give the adopters a call to come and get her.  She’s such a sweet mare, and so willing to please, that I doubt I’ll have much trouble with her out on trail.  Especially if she has the wise and unspookable Willow to follow!

Kisses has been doing really well!  Her only problem is that she’s incredibly lazy in the round pen.  She just doesn’t see the need to do any work, when snuggling up with me and being scratched behind the ears is way more fun.  I just started doing ground work with her last weekend and would like to put a bit in her mouth and start ground driving her tomorrow.  I should be on her next weekend and headed out on trail with her shortly after. 

Jewel and Classy have been put on the back burner this year due to all the new unhandled horses coming in and needing work.  I’m hoping with my new volunteer that comes out weekly, we can start taking Classy out on trail rides and get more mileage on her and teach her that the bit is not something to fear.  Oh, how I would love to train all these greenies with a bitless bridle, but how many adopters do I really think will buy and use a bitless?  So I have to be realistic and train them all to a snaffle, whether we like it or not.

Maverick… oh how I love that pony.  He’s going to be three years old soon, so I guess it’s time I started his training.  He’ll be learning to drive first, so it looks like I need to start shopping around for a training cart!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Cheyenne –- 07/20/09

I worked mostly with tacking and untacking Cheyenne tonight.  She’s not afraid of the saddle, but she was nervous about the whole situation and wasn’t very tickled about the idea of having something on her back.  She danced around a bit the first time, even though I barely had the girth tight enough for her to feel it.  Once she was standing quietly with the saddle on, I’d take it off and walk her around a bit.  Back to the saddle, put it on again and if she stood quietly I’d tighten it up a little more than the last time.  Walk her around, take the saddle off.  We kept doing this until the girth was as tight as it needed to be and she was still accepting it graciously and without tap dancing on my toes.  I just walked her around the pasture with the saddle on the last time, then back to our starting place to untack and end the session.  I didn’t want her to associate the saddle with work just yet, since she had such a hard time accepting it in the first place.  We’ll see how she is next time!

Apache –- 07/20/09

Since I saddled Apache last time without problem, I went ahead and longed him with the saddle tonight.  I only longed him for a few minutes, just to make sure he still remembered WHOA.  Then I put a bridle with a full cheek snaffle bit on him, got a second longe line, ran both longe lines thru the D-rings on the front of the synthetic western saddle and did some ground driving with him.  He chewed on the bit for a few minutes, then settled down into his job.  He quickly learned that a light tug on the bit along with a spoken WHOA meant for him to come to a stop.  He didn’t move off again until I asked with a “Walk on!” and a cluck. 

It took him a few tries to understand what I wanted when I asked him to turn, but picked that up pretty quickly.  I like using a full cheek snaffle on youngsters because when you pull on one side, the full cheek part of the bit presses against their face on the other side, helping them to move their head away from the pressure, which usually means their feet follow their head and you have a successful turn.  We did circles and figure eights at the walk, with lots of stopping and standing patiently until asked to move on again.  He was quite the student!

I think one more ground driving session and he’ll be ready to be ridden.  I’d like to find someone smaller than me that knows how to ride to get on him first, but it’s not looking like that’s going to be an option any time soon.  I have smaller people lined up to ride him once he’s got a few rides under him, so at least he’ll only have to put up with me for a little while. :)

Ellie –- 07/20/09

What a smart pony!  I hate to admit it, but I’m afraid this mare is smarter than me.  It was obvious from the start that she had never been longed before.  I have a feeling her previous “training” was being dressed in a harness, hooked to something heavy, and whipped till she pulled it.  She was terrified of the longe whip in the beginning, so I spent some time just rubbing her all over with it and talking quietly to her.  Within a few minutes she was standing quietly with lids drooping while I was rubbing the whip all over her back, rump, and legs.  Gee, that was easy.

She didn’t understand at first what I wanted when I asked her to walk off without me, but picked it up very quickly!  I made sure to keep my body in line with her hip and the whip behind her when I wanted forward motion and she had the idea in no time.  Once I had her out on the circle and walking calmly, I moved my body to put it in line with her shoulder, moved the whip to my other hand and put it in front of her line of sight, but not in front of her body.  I accompanied that with a WHOA and the little mare stopped.  In her tracks.   And stood there.  Quietly.   I praised her up and down, then changed directions and did the same thing.  She performed flawlessly. 

I stopped there since she did so well.  Next time we’ll work on trotting on the longe and doing walk/trot transitions.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Ellie – 07/18/09

Ellie was used as a “pulling pony” before she came here, but I’d like to turn her into a kid’s pony for at least trail riding, maybe more.  I can just picture her popping over little jumps with her wild mane braided with red ribbons. :)

Ellie had a heart murmur when she got here, but it was unclear at the time if it was just because she was emaciated or if it were a more permanent problem.  I completely forgot to have Doc check for it the last time he was out, but will have him check the next time.  For now, I’m just going to keep things slow with her and stick to longing, voice commands, ground driving, and sacking out so that she’s ready for whatever a little kid will throw at her.  I hope to get started with her training this coming week so check back soon!


Thursday, July 16, 2009

Apache -– 07/16/09

Apache has turned out to be a very friendly little mustang!  It’s obvious that his previous owner cared for him and spent a lot of time with him.  He’s great about picking up his feet, stands tied, and longes fairly well.  He did so well today that I put a saddle on him and cinched him up.  I stood on my mounting log so I’d be above him, put weight in the stirrup, laid across his back and patted him all over, and shifted the saddle around and made a bunch of noise over him.  He really couldn’t have cared less about any of it. 

Next time I’ll put a bridle and snaffle bit on him and line drive to make sure he understands the bit.  After that, it’s just a matter of hopping on and getting his under saddle training going.  He’s going to make some little kid a heck of a good horse!

Cheyenne –- 07/16/09

When Cheyenne and Apache first got here they were skittish and jumpy and didn’t let me come very close.  Now that they’ve had a chance to settle in and make some friends, their personalities are starting to show and they’re both sweet little pocket ponies!

I was told by their previous owner that they had both had ground work done already.  Cheyenne is very good about picking up her feet, leading, and standing tied.  However, I put her on the longe line and she acted like she’d never walked a circle before.  So I spent most my 20 minutes with her just teaching her to WALK and WHOA on command, and to not stop on the gate side of the circle.  She was doing pretty well by the end of the session so hopefully we can do some trotting and transitions next time.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Genesis – 07/06/09

Since the last post, Genesis has been a fairly busy girl.  It was a big surprise to her to get the idea that she was being asked to work.  WORK???  What is that?  She thinks her job is to be adored and petted.

She learned the rudiments of lunging.  I think she was very interested in it once we got her to quit eating long enough to lunge. 

She got towel training with the help of Morgan, my riding student.  If you are interested in a description of this, you can look back at Hunter's posts for it.  By the time we were done, she had the towel flying through the air landing on her head and she never spooked.  Granted, she was curious and thought we were nuts, but not spooked.  We tightened the towel around her to simulate girths and she was not sure if we were asking her to go forward or what, but she got the swing of this too.

Last year, I bought a tiny saddle for tiny cowboys and cowgirls. It is very light.  Genesis got to examine this and had it all over her.  She easily adapted to the saddle being swung around and being saddled.  That little saddle is well worth the money.

Bit training got worked in. The nice rescue lady had a rubber one for me to use.  I used the trick of smearing apricot jam on the bit.  After Genesis sucked the jam off, she mouthed the bit, which I had tied to her halter.  She got used to that right away, too and stopped mouthing.  I hope the young lady that has adopted her has a bridle that fits her that she can be trained in.  Genesis has such a tiny head, I have nothing that fits her.

I decided that as cute as she is, Genesis has a few flaws (as do we all)  that could be camouflaged with a clever haircut and she has some nice features that can be emphasized as well. She may end up being shown by the adopter, so why not teach her to clip? Scissors were used as I don't have electric clippers at this time. Bridle path was a decision.  Western, English or what?  I finally decide to cut back to show the delicacy of her throat, but not the thinness of her neck.  We hope her neck will fill out as she muscles up.  The bridle path now displays a darling white marking that crosses the mane.  I pulled out her 'eye whiskers' to minimize some extra folds around the lids.  That cutened her up a lot.  Ears got a show pony cut.  She has really pretty ears.  She did object a little to the ears, but did fine for what I am sure was her first cut.  I will have to try the legs another time. 

Then the big news.  She got ridden by my great nephews.  Ok, she was sat on by the little cowboys, not ridden.  But they were up.  She was great.  I had  bbq in the horse pasture for the 4th and she stayed tied down by the party for a long time when not being ridden or fawned over.  A couple of balks while she was being led, but I think that was because a niece of mine was turning to face Genesis and inadvertently cued her to stop.  Genesis was quite the party girl!  There are pics and they will be coming soon.

-- Anastasia

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Genesis – 06/29/09

Since the last post, Genisis has pretty much been on an eating-themed vacation.  She likes to eat with her muzzle right up to Joma or Joe.  Even Keisha tolerates her, and Keisha hates everyone.  Genisis is looking good and life on the farm is agreeing with her.

I mess with her in the field, but there is no need to teach her how to be petted, fed treats and generally loved up.  She halters well, she leads well, she handles well.  She allows me to grab her mane and jump up and down like I might mount.  She lets me work with her tail, play with her mouth, clean between her teats; all the while, she casts her dreamy look at me.  She doesn't care about the weedeater, the truck, the tractor, the gun.  Nothing seems to faze her. 

She has skipped an entire grade or two, here! I will have to start lunging her to see how she does.  After that I just have to saddle her up and teach her to pony, but I will bet that will be a cinch as well.  I have talked to my nephew to bring out his two tiny little cowboys soon for her. 

-- Anastasia

Friday, June 26, 2009

Genesis – 06/22/09

Genesis arrived Saturday. The nice rescue lady showed me how nicely she does on getting her feet cared for. She did great. She met Joma, our Thoroughbred gelding and flashed him doe eyes. Come to think of it, she flashes everyone doe eyes. It is endearing. But apparently you have to be up close enough to Joma for him to see those eyes, because he chased her away from the little herd the rest of the evening.

The next day, they were grazing nose to nose. No surprise there. And they stayed that way all day. I decided to let her have the day to settle...although she did not seem to have any trouble at it. Joe, the old Appaloosa, is suspicious of her and keeps himself between Genesis and Keisha, the Evil Boss Mare.

Monday morning, Joe and Genesis are grazing nose to nose. I guess the only one who doesn't succumb to that doe-eyed gaze is Keisha.

Since everyone is apparently OK with everyone else, I decide to start up her training. I noticed she had a little diarrhea - probably stress and strange pasture. Sometimes this will happen to a horse and then they are just fine within a day or two. She seems fine and frisky and I am sure it goes away with no ill effects. We tied her to a post and left her to observe if she was trained for this. She pulled some, but gave up soon. Then on to bath time. She was jerking her head when she heard the hose sputter, but no freak-outs. We started by wet hooves and moved up by stages, ensuring no acrobatics got started. All in all she did OK.

Later that day, we took her out again and lead her up to a little wagon. She caught on quickly that I wanted her to stay close to it. After draping my arms over her back, it was clear she actually liked that. Then Donnie, my weedeating kid who is taking lessons, stood in the wagon so that he would be suddenly tall...way taller than her. I have had horses get spooked about the first time they see a human be as high as they would on their back, but she did fine. Donnie draped himself over her while standing in the wagon. He bore a little bit weight on her and waved his arms around. Nope, no problem. I'll bet she can saddle right up. I want work her up slowly to more and more weight, but she can take the saddle now, if she is up to it. Then I will pony her around with saddle so she can be ready for a little kid. Donnie is too heavy right now, as he weighs 140. Luckily, I have some little nieces and nephews.

Later, Donnie was riding Joe and Genesis kept getting underfoot. It looks like she will be trained to be a pack pony soon, since following around a rider is something she wants to do. We will see how it goes.

-- Anastasia

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

General -- 06/17/09

Sorry for the lack of posts here these days! Things have been so hectic around here with putting up new fence and trying to keep up with the day to day things on my own that I haven't had much chance to work with anybody. I have spent some time with the munchkins, just trying to get them halter broke and leading well. Jasmine is finally wearing a halter, but she doesn't know how to lead! It's always fun trying to get a skittish 1000 pound horse to lead without an enclosed area (like a round pen) and by yourself! But she's slowly coming around and finding out that what I'm asking isn't going to hurt her. Marbles and Maggie are leading pretty well now, but they are still not easily caught. They haven't figured out about treats and carrots yet, so the only reward they appreciate is a good scratching. They're getting better about having their feet messed with, so hopefully I can get those awful hooves trimmed soon.

Abbi has a hairline fracture on her left front that Doc says is almost calcified, so her training should begin in the next couple of weeks. Genesis leaves for Anastasia's pony training this weekend, then it's on to her new home when she's ready.

Gentry has improved when it comes to taking the bit and the terrible head tossing that he was doing. I haven't done anything special except to make the bit just something in his mouth, rather than something that causes pain. Soft hands and a plain snaffle did wonders for this guy! I put some beginners on him last week on the lunge line and he was awesome!

Frisky seems to be a fairly well-broke mare. She did test me when I first rode her and didn't want to go where I was pointing her, or even move forward when I asked. But she's the type of mare that shows her stubbornness by stopping and growing roots, not by bucking, rearing, or taking off. After 10 minutes or so, she finally gave in and decided that doing as I asked was a lot easier than doing what she wanted (which was head back to the gate and her little heard of dwarfs). After that, she was great! She has a very comfortable little western jog, but her canter is a bit spastic. I had heard rumors that her previous owners had done nothing but gallop down the trails, leaving their horses rode hard and put away wet. So when I asked for a canter, I got a "OMG, I have to RUN!!" reaction. The calm demeanor went away and she was off like a Thoroughbred out of the gate! Quiet legs and seat, half halts, and low-key 'whoa's and she finally settled into a fairly nice canter. As soon as she quieted I asked her to halt, got off, loosened the girth, and put her away.

I've been ignoring Jewel's training for now. One of the summer projects is to build a round pen and that's what I'm going to need with Jewel. She's going to take a lot of work and patience and I feel like I'm just wasting time with her on the lunge line in the middle of the pasture since her attention span is that of a cat being taught to sit on command. It's practically non-existent.

Tabby has gone on her first trail ride and went by herself since I couldn't find anyone to ride with me and Glenn was out on the road. I only took her out for 30 minutes, but she was awesome! She crossed a small stream without trouble, went past a big rusty van sitting beside the trail, and totally ignored the barking dog at her heals as we went past the neighbor's house. She was a little concerned with being by herself, but once she was out of earshot of the rest of the herd, she settled down and seemed to enjoy the ride. Her adopter is just about ready for her and Meghan, as their fence is almost done! Woohoo!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Gentry – 05/02/09

Originally, Maggie was going to ride Gentry, but her girth was too big for him.  Then Anne said she’d ride him with her English saddle, but he wouldn’t stand still for her to get on, even with me holding him.  He’d prance and dance, then when she was finally up, he turned into a total jerk and came up off his front feet a few times.  We had Maggie’s bitless bridle on him and Anne’s saddle fit him fine, so there was absolutely no reason for him to be such a jerk!  I didn’t want Anne to get hurt, so had her get off so I could ride him and Anne would ride Willow.  Maggie rode Misfire in her new oh so comfy treeless saddle.

He stood fairly still for me to mount, but once I was in the saddle there was no standing still for him.  That horse just wants to move.  He doesn’t have to run, or even do a running walk, but if he’s not moving in one direction or another, he’s entirely unhappy.  He doesn’t even jig and prance, which is what you usually find with a horse that can’t stand still. 

Even in the bitless bridle there was a lot of head tossing nonsense, especially in the first 15 minutes of the ride or when I asked him to stand still and wait for the girls to catch up.  He’s got a very large ground-eating walk stride and he soon left the calmer mares behind.  At first it seemed like he’d never been on trail before, which I knew wasn’t the case.  Leaving our property we had to cross a teeny little 6” dry ditch and he thought it was the end of the world.  Later in the ride I realized that most of his worry was probably because Willow and Misfire were currently in front of him.  How dare they!!  He should be in the lead at all times!  Any time one of the girls was in the lead, he was a rearing, pawing, nervous maniac.

Once out on the trails, he did fine with water crossings and mud puddles.  He never spooked at anything, even when we passed the huge rusty oil/gas wells that usually give new horses at least a moment of pause as they consider the odds of getting eaten.  As long as Gentry was in the lead, all was well in his world. 

I would stop him often and ask him to stand to wait for the girls.  Sometimes he’d stand quietly until they caught up, then it was back to pawing and head tossing until I let him move off again.  Other times, there was no getting him to stand without the head tossing, pawing, and coming off his front feet in a semi-rear.

He’s still very disjointed between front and rear which doesn’t help with his lack of surefootedness!  When going down a steep hill, if I didn’t half-halt my way down the hill and keep him somewhat balanced, he might have hit himself in the nose with his front feet!  Good trail horses will look at a steep downgrade and take their time, picking their way, and watching where they place their feet.  Not Gentry!  If I let him have his head, he was walking down that hill as fast as he could, head held high, front legs swinging wildly out to the side.  Also, he loves to throw his head to the ground when going downhill in an effort to throw his rider over his shoulder.  NICE.

Gentry is going to take a good bit of work before I’m comfortable adopting him out to someone that doesn’t have experience working with his type of issues.  To sum up, here’s a list of things he needs to improve before going anywhere:

1) The incessant head tossing, and taking the bridle better (he was even a pain about putting on the bitless!)

2) Standing quietly while being mounted and not moving off until asked.

3) He needs to be comfortable anywhere in a string of horses on the trail, not just in the lead.

4) Standing quietly on the trail.

5) Hill work!

6) I need to find an equine chiropractor to come out and adjust him.  I think a lot of his disjointed movement when not collected comes from his long back.  A couple of times on the trail yesterday I felt something click under my bum.  I’m pretty sure it wasn’t the saddle, so I’m thinking it was him.  He didn’t seem bothered about it, but it’s best to get it looked at before I go any further with him.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

General – 04/29/09

Between work keeping me at the computer until late in the evening and my spare time being spent on halter breaking the new youngsters, I haven’t had a lot of time for any of the other horses lately.  Maggie is heading over this Saturday and we’re hoping to get just about everyone worked one way or the other.  She doesn’t know it yet, but I’ll be asking her to write up her own posts for the horses that she rides.  I can’t wait to get another rider’s input on some of these guys! 

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Gentry – 04/16/09

It’s been raining all week and today was the first warm sunny day that I’ve had to ride.  Gentry has been sound for over a month, so I decided that today was the day to try him out and see what he knows.  I was really excited to be getting on a well-trained Tennessee Walker.  It’s been years since I had my two TNW mares and I was really looking forward to a nice comfortable ride.

Is there a chiropractor in the house???

We started out badly, as he has terrible head manners and wouldn’t stop slinging his head around while I was grooming and tacking him.  He was difficult about taking the snaffle and kept knocking me around every time I was within reach.  It got to the point where I’d stick out an elbow and let him bop himself on it whenever he slung that big head my way.

I took him out to the back pasture and put him on the lunge line first.  It was obvious from the get go that he was a pro at lunging, so I didn’t waste too much time before I just got on him.  He didn’t want to stand still for me to mount, which is a pet peeve of mine and something I’ll need to work with him on.

I will say that Gentry’s canter, trot, and running walk were wonderful.  His canter is one that I dream of getting on Kita one of these days.  It was slow, collected, balanced and just plain dreamy to ride.  He wanted to trot more than gait, but I did get some nice running walks out of him and as long as he wasn’t slinging his head and playing with the bit, he was smooth.

But how do I describe his walk??  I seriously feel like I need a chiropractic adjustment after riding him for 40 minutes tonight and it’s all because of his walk.  For one thing, it feels his hind end is completely discombobulated.  My left hip felt like it was being shoved into my belly button with each forward stride from his left hind.  What gets me, is that he looked perfectly fine on the lunge line.

He did do a lot of stumbling, but only when he head his head in the air looking for the herd.  He’s a bit herd bound, but calmed down within the first 15 minutes and I was able to ride him out of sight and sound of the herd without him getting too worked up.  He’s very out of shape from being a pasture potato all winter and the more tired he got, the less he wanted to gait and the more he just wanted to trot.  But even his trot is smooth, as long as he doesn’t sling that head around.

I’m hoping the hind end starts to come together with the front end with exercise.  And we definitely need to work on that head slinging!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Tabby – 04/08/09

I’ve ridden Tabby a few times since the last blog post, but if I blog about every uneventful ride of circles, halts, and transitions, someone might think I was a card or two short of a full deck.  And we certainly don’t want that.  Even if it is true some days.

Last night Kayla and her brother, Jessie, came out to do some volunteer work with the horses.  A lot of help that I need is grooming, lunging, and riding.  As the two are intermediate riders, they’ll be a great help for giving some of the more experienced horses some exercise, but neither of them knew much about lunging or riding a green horse.  Jessie wants to adopt Abby when she’s ready, so we got Tabby saddled and Abby on the lunge line for the first time.  I started with Abby, giving Jessie some pointers and the basics of lunging:  stand at her hip to make her move forward, move to her shoulder when asking for a whoa, move in a smaller circle within her circle to stay at her hip, use consistent voice commands.  Abby seems to have had a little training on the lunge, but she still insisted on turning into Jessie at every opportunity. 

After Jessie was on his way with Abby, I gave Tabby over to Kayla for a lunging lesson.  Tabby is much better on the lunge, so after a few minutes of Kayla proving that she had the knack of it, I went ahead and mounted up.

As usual, Tabby stood perfectly still for mounting.  She’s moving off my leg much better now and feels so much stronger and sure of herself under saddle.  Her halts are getting much better and she doesn’t toss her head as much and stops when I roll back on my seat before I even ask with the reins.  She’s also getting better about standing still.  I’d like to get her out on the trail, but need to wait until someone can go with me on another horse for safety’s sake.

As I was finishing up with Tabby, I asked Jessie if he wanted to ride her for a few minutes.  He wants to be involved in Abby’s training and is a quick learner when it comes to riding.  At first, Tabby didn’t want to pay attention to Jessie and just followed me around.  Eventually, he had her doing as he asked and the two looked great together.

Picture 001

Next week when the kids come out, Tabby will be ready for a short trail ride.  Sounds like fun!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Tabby – 03/24/09

Tabby did extremely well again tonight!  I don’t even know why I bother lunging her before getting on anymore.  She stands perfectly still for me to mount and waits for me to cue her to walk on.   Today we had a bit of a problem at first, as she thought backing up would be the way to go when I gave her a squeeze.  After backing for 10’ or so, she finally figured out that forward was easier.   Mind you, the reins were totally lose the whole time she was backing up.

She only whinnied for her buddies a few times tonight, which is a drastic reduction from the almost non-stop crying she did the first time.  I took her on a mini trail ride around the top pasture, and the only signs she showed of being nervous was not wanting to walk a straight line.   She started tossing her head when she really got worried about being so far from the herd, so I circled her a few times until she relaxed, then headed back towards the barn.  

On the way back we did more circles, figure eights, and worked on our Whoa.  Whenever I asked her to whoa, there would be head tossing, turning on the forehand, and maybe, just maybe, she’d eventually stop for a split second.   Every time she’d stop moving I’d loosen the reins as a reward.  If she moved off again before I asked for it, I’d bring her back to a whoa, wait till she stopped moving, then loosen the reins.  It took about 10 stops for her to learn that stopping and standing was a good thing, worthy of much praise and adoration from me.

Once she had figured out the whoa, I headed back to the barn and on the way up the hill I asked for a trot.  It took a little convincing, but she finally picked up a nicely paced trot and continued it all the way up the hill.  At the top, I sat down and squeezed the reins, gave her a “WHOA”, and she came down to a walk with a bit of head tossing then stood quietly as I dismounted and loosened the cinch.

She’ll be ready for Mikayla in no time at this pace!  What a good girl!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Misfire – 03/19/09

Tonight was my first ride on Misfire and I was a bit wary because of the things I had heard about her.  She’d been abused and was a handful to ride, yet she was well broke and had been ridden in parades and shows.

We took her into the top pasture, which is currently closed off to the herd to let the grass grow.  Her little herd is in the back pasture, which runs alongside the top pasture so her buddies could run along the fence and scream about the fact that she’d been taken away.  I got her tacked up and started with lunging.  I couldn’t really be sure this mare was even broke to ride so it’s better safe than sorry.  She lunged beautifully, so it was obvious she’d had at least some training in her past.  She was very nervous and spent a lot energy calling to her buddies and trying to get away.  She paid very little attention to me so it was time to just mount up and ride. 

Her attitude didn’t change once I was in the saddle.  She didn’t care that I was up there – she just wanted to be back with her herd.  NOW.  We spent a lot of time just doing circles and figure eights, making her think about where her feet were going instead of where her friends were.  She reacted very well to leg aids and I was able to guide her with just my legs for the most part, while keeping her from taking off back towards her pasture with my seat and hands.  She’s obviously had a lot of training at some point, I think it’s just been a long time since she’s been ridden. 

After about 20 minutes of just walking, bending, and circling, she finally relaxed into my hands, stopped the jigging, and slowed her pace.  It was now acceptable for us to go over the hill and out of sight of her herd mates.  This mare just needs some mileage put on her and I think she’ll be a great mount for someone.

Tabby – 03/19/09

I haven’t had a chance to get back on Tabby until tonight.  The plan was to lunge her for a few minutes to get her warmed up and make sure she had all the kinks out, then get on her and follow Glenn and Willow on a mini trail ride around the top pasture.

The lunging went fine and she was a calm and willing to please as ever.  She stood still for me to get on and waited for her cue to walk off.  She’s still a bit herd bound and as we were walking away from the barn she called for her sisters, but never once offered to buck or spin.  She just kept marching away and even led the way in front of Willow.  Willow was being a total witch for Glenn – she wouldn’t listen, tried running out from under him several times, and even reared on him twice.  Tabby ignored Willow’s shenanigans for the most part and just kept walking the direction I pointed her.

Then we found some deer who thought it would be great fun jump as soon as we rounded the corner, then bound away like a sabertooth tiger were after them.  Tabby simply threw up her head and looked at them and kept moving forward on a loose rein.  Just as I was about to tell her how much I adored her, I heard loud profanities and the sound of frantic hoof beats behind me.  I looked back to find Glenn on the ground and Willow galloping and bucking her way back to the barn, with the saddle sliding dangerously off to the left.

I could feel Tabby getting tense, so before she decided she wanted to join Willow, I hopped off.  It’s better to get off while she’s standing there being a good girl, rather than force a big fight on only her second ride.  Glenn was fine, just a little sore and incredibly angry.  Willow had not only run back to the barn, but had jumped the fence to join the rest of the herd.  We found her unhurt, but with the saddle hanging below her belly and one stirrup missing.  I think that’s the last time he’ll get on before tightening the girth.

I got back on Tabby once we were back in sight of the barn and everyone had calmed down.  I can’t express how impressed I am with this mare!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Chessy -- 03/07/09

I debated on whether or not to even add Chessy here under the training log, because he really doesn't need any training to do his job as a trail horse for his adopter.  Today was my first ride on him, and will probably be the last.  We took him and Duchess to the back pasture and just let Duchess roam on her own, knowing she wouldn't go too far from Chessy. 

I started him under saddle on the lunge line and he acted as if he'd never been lunged before.  He had no idea how to walk on a circle and was really far too upset to even learn.  He just wanted to be next to mom, plain and simple.  If she was 20' away, she was too far.  His owners had told me that he was usually spooky and nervous just starting out, but eventually calmed down.  I think once the umbilical cord is cut and he's had some time to live on his own without mom, he'll be much more cooperative and a lot less stressed.

Between the high winds, Duchess ignoring him and walking away, and not knowing how to lunge, I finally gave up and decided I'd have more control in the saddle.  He hadn't been bucking or anything like that, he just wasn't paying one ounce of attention to me.  Once in the saddle, he was antsy and jiggy, but still not my definition of bad.  A few minutes of walking circles, half halts when he tried to trot, and lots of "easy", he calmed down and stopped trying to trot his way back to mom.  I finally got nice calm circles, and was able to bend him around my inside leg and circle him further and further away from mom and the gate.  We eventually made it out of sight of Duchess and he still remained calm and attentive, so I let him trot a few circles and figure 8s.

WOW.  That's all I have to say about his trot.

Duchess eventually came cantering over the hill whinnying, looking for her son.  Once she had caught up, I turned him into the very back pasture and asked for a canter up the hill. 

OMG.  Loose rein, rocking horse, floating.  That's all I have to say about his canter.

Hopefully his adopter will be able to make it out this week or next weekend to try him out and make sure they get along.  Duchess has already made a couple of new friends in Jewel, Meghan, Radar, and Hunter, so parting the two shouldn't be as traumatic as I had first thought.

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Please note how the wind blew up my shirt and made me look like the Goodyear blimp.  I love it when that happens and Glenn takes a picture. 

Tabby -- 03/07/09

The weather has finally started to warm up and today was an unseasonably warm and sunny 75 degrees, even though it was incredibly windy.  The original plan had just been to lunge Tabby with the saddle and bridle and work on voice commands.  I figured since it's been a few months since I worked with her, that she'd have forgotten everything and we'd have to start over.  Nope.  Even though the rest of the herd was gallivanting around the other pasture and she was by herself, she was quite the lady and did everything perfectly.  Glenn wants to learn more about training horses so I coached him as he lunged Tabby, which gave me a chance to take some pictures.

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Because she was doing so well and acting bored with the whole lunging routine, I decided today was as good a day as any to get on her for the first time.  I had kept her halter on under the bridle, so had Glenn keep a lead rope on her while I put weight in the stirrup, smacked the saddle, hung my body over her back and patted her everywhere, and generally made much to do about how wonderful she was for standing still through all of it.  Then I took a deep breath to relax myself and swung on up from the mounting block.  Of course she stood still.  It only took a light squeeze and a "walk on!" from me to get her moving.

It took her a few moments to get used to my weight on her back and get her feet moving straight, but once she had the hang of it we did some pretty nice circles at the walk.  Once she was doing well I had Glenn remove the lead rope and we were on our own.  She had a little nervousness about the newness of it all and the herd still playing in the next field, and she let out a whinny or two, but that was it!  I stayed on her only for about 10 minutes, just walking circles, practicing WHOA, and getting her used to my leg on her side. 

When I asked for a WHOA, I'd say the word in conjunction with rolling back on my hips.  If that didn't stop her, then I'd squeeze on the reins lightly.  Most of the time I didn't even need the reins.  The last WHOA, I waited until she was standing quietly, then dismounted. 

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It was a very uneventful first ride and that's just the way I like 'em!

Yes, I know I'm riding in shorts.  So sue me!  It was nice out! :)