Monday, August 29, 2011

Spots New Games

Annie has been playing with Spots in everything. She has been patterning him on barrels at the walk to help him learn to turn off her legs and neck-rein. This last week we added a "jump"; a pole on the ground between jump standards that we raised to one side in the cup for a couple days and finally to a full X. He had a learning curve at how to pick up his feet, then started getting into it and hopping over.

Marigold will lope up and will only trot over, she will NOT jump it. I'm not sure if it's because she doesn't think it's high enough to be worth her time or if she doesn't like to jump. Some day when they're in better condition we'll raise it to a bar and higher to see if she'll jump it. But we're a ways from that.

In addition to barrel patterns and baby jumps, Spot's is working on learning to canter around the end of the arena. It is harder to balance going around a curve, but he is gaining the strength and getting close to being able to canter the whole arena. Annie is also working on getting both leads at the right time. He struggles with his left lead.

Spots First Show!

We decided to take Spots and Marigold to the last show in the Hot August Nights series. I rode Marigold English, Michelle rode her Western and did Showmanship with her, and Annie would do Showmanship with Spots. A couple days before the show, Annie decided to take Spots in the Western Walk/Jog and just school him if he couldn't handle the class.

Annie coached us Sunday and Wednesday and Thursday was the show. It is an evening show, so we cleaned them up and backed the trucks in the afternoon. We made it with plenty of time to get registered and ready. I sat in the stands to watch Showmanship. The 18 & Over Showmanship had 4 horses init. They all did pretty well, no one bombed. They all stood nicely in line-up, I was pretty impressed with Spots; it's hard for babies to hold still! Then they placed the class; Spot's and Annie got 2nd place and Marigold and Michelle got 3rd! I was shocked! When they came out of the arena I greeted them with pictures and congrats!

In the riding classes our biggest problem was the fact Marigold is out of shape and kept breaking gait when she was loping. She also wasn't always taking the correct lead. We had decided before hand to focus on staying in lope and not on the lead. We did pretty well for our first time out. Marigold and I placed 3/4 in English walk/trot, 4/4 in English Pl., and didn't place in our last huge class. Michelle and Marigold got 5/6 in Western pl. walk/jog, 4/4 wes. pl. and their Eq. class has 16 horses in it, so they didn't place in that one. Annie on Spots in Western Pleasure Walk/Jog 18 & Over got 4/6! I was amazed and impressed! We were SO pleased with Spot's first show! There will definitely be many more to come!

Middle of August Update

Once Annie could Ride with a friend, we started pairing Spots up with Marigold. Michelle and I took turns on Marigold and Annie coached us from Spots back. Spots was being so good, Annie decided to try letting him open up and see if he'd canter, since he wouldn't in the round-pen when she tried before. She had us stand at the gate end of the arena, then took him to the far end. She began trotting, and let him go and encouraged him with her voice. It took a couple times down the side, but finally he took a canter step! We cheered him on. The next time he took 3 canter steps. By the end of the session he was cantering nearly the whole side!

Beginning of August Update

Okay, overview of August:
While I was working as crew on the Chief Joseph Trail Ride in Montana, Annie got in a few rides on Spots. They rode in the round-pen and worked on haunch turns and side-passing, rode out of the round-pen and opened and closed the gate themselves, and rode in the small arena. Another day, she got on him bareback! He appeared to be over the "scary leg" issue as he let her belly up and hook her knee over to get on!

When I returned, they began riding in the big arena that is full-size Dressage arena size. They walked and jogged on the rail, then practiced turning round a burning barrel. He acted like he did that every day of his life. They has done the first try riding with another horse while I was gone, and Spots had not been sure about that plan. We did a session with me lunging Spots and Annie riding Marigold around to get him used to her being ridden without the complication of a rider on him at the same time.

At first he was highly suspicious when she came near, but he quickly got over it when Annie scratched his head from Marigold's back. Within minutes we was letting Mari trot up to him, side-pass to his side and have Annie lean over and scratch him. So, it appeared "Scary ridden horse" issue was resolved! This is exciting as it opens up so many more opportunities for him!
My desk-top crashed so I don't have access to the pictures of this week.