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! :)