Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Big Day Is Almost Here

Last night Kim and I signed papers on Marigold.  She is going to stay at my place till she's paid off and then probably board here until at least next Spring.

Saturday, Annie and I will trailer Spots to his new facility and settle him in.  Saturday is also his 5th birthday.  I have never owned a horse for more than 5 years.  I thought Spots would be the first one.  Apparently not.  I will own him exactly 5 years, lol.

I have been dealing with knowing this is coming all week.  I'm excited about it because I want her to love him and want him to be a great using horse, and at the same time I am really going to miss him.  Partly because is the last link to his dad, who was my dream-horse, and partly because he is my buddy, and partly because is just such a nice riding horse.  Annie and I plan to settle him in and go eat lunch and mourn.  Then, I am going to buy a Breyer horse.

In addition to selling the horses, I am going to sell most of my tack.  I haven't figured out the best way to list it yet, but I will link to it all here at the very least, if I don't just post it all on the blog.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Curb-Bit Progress

I put a whole ride on Spots by myself last night.  I realized how long it'd been when I got out all the tack and stood there going, "I know I'm forgetting something..."  and then remembered BRUSHES.  And I just went, Wow. It's been a long time since I tacked up the horse, lol.  Usually I get home from work to watch Annie ride him for a bit before she trades me for watching Des and I hope on for 15 minutes.  I am quite spoiled!

Anyway, Spots' feet were chipping because he's been getting ridden a lot and he's about due for a trim, but I couldn't get the farrier out yet so I went and bought a rasp and did the edges myself. He kept looking at me like I clearly didn't know what I was doing.  I had sweat pouring down my face and back.  Luckily his feet were long, just chippy, so I didn't need nippers and it wasn't a difficult job. I haven't rasped hooves in a few years and after the first foot I remembered why I pay someone else to do this!

Next, I tacked up in my Dressage tack and hopped on.  We walk/trot/cantered and he was pretty good.  I could tell a difference between my dressage bit and the western snaffle we've been riding in.  Both are snaffles, but with different mouth types.  After we had done some work on the bit, I switched the bridle to my favorite curb; a 3-piece mouth with jointed shanks.  He'd never worn it before but I had a feeling he would like it better than the grazing curb I had practiced in with him the other day.  We walked off and right away he dropped his head down and walked out nice.  We practiced steering neck-reining and he...did!  He turned off my leg and a couple times got confused and I would just bump him again to reinforce the rein and he would get it and turn.  he stopped nice, backed with his head down, we even went walk/trot/canter.

I held the reins in both hands and worked on bringing up his inside shoulder and asking him to move in and out on the circle.  He was right with me. Then I started asking for canter transitions.  It took us a couple circles to get on the same page, then he started taking the cue right off and we got several nice circles both directions on the correct lead.  If he takes the wrong lead, I can bump him again with my outside leg and he'll switch.  Next, we cantered down the long side and stopped at the fence.  We've never down that before and he wasn't expecting it. I turned him sideways and asked him to lope, then stop at the long-side fence.  Then we walked back to the our circle at the arena entrance.  He wanted to canter more, so we walked and jogged.  We steered around the barrels for awhile.

Lastly, we practiced side-pass, haunch turn, forehand turn, and steering while backing.  It took a little bit to get on the same page with the curb bit, but we got there and he was doing great.

It's pretty cool because we're finally at the place where I can get on him and think, "I want to canter", and we canter.  "I want to move left", we he moves to the left.  I can just get on him and ride.  We can go someplace, and sure I still lunge him if there's commotion, but then I get on and ride.  On our trail-ride I didn't lunge, I just put him around me on the lead-rope a few times and hopped on.

I think he's broke!

Friday, May 18, 2012

I Think My Horse Is Broke

Last night I went out at 7:30 pm and put the curb-bit bridle on Spots.  He hasn't worked on it since the last time I wrote about it.  I climbed up bareback and he acted like we do that all the time.  We walked around and worked on steering figure-eights between barrels and stopping and backing.  He's getting the whole neck-reining thing.  We jogged a tiny bit, but I haven't ridden bareback in years, so I didn't let him jog very much.  The dogs were busy eating horse poop around us and he wanted to stick his nose out at them and make them run away.  After we rode around and steered and stopped for a while I just sat on him and tried to take pictures of myself on him.  No one else was there to take one of us.  He stood quietly while I fiddled around and laid on him and put my feet up on his butt.  Such a sweetheart.  He let me give him lots of hugs when I got down.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Spots Plays With Ropes

Tonight, Annie put Spots through his gaits, working on neck-reining more.  Then I gave her a rope and she started rubbing Spots with it.  He didn't care at all, so she starting spinning it in the air and then throwing it in front of them.  It makes a little *zing* sound when you throw it out.  He would put his ears forward, but that's it.  Then she started throwing it and asking him to back.  He did that too, no issues.  Then she walked him around, neck-reining from the snaffle and spun the rope in the air.  He acted like it was no big deal.  Quite a nice evening I say!  Here is VIDEO!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

First Ride In Outdoor at WW Fairgrounds

Last night we threw Spots and Annie's own two boys in the trailer and hauled to the Fairgrounds.  Des sat in his stroller with Annie watching him and she videoed me working Spots.  Myself.  I lunged him both ways, he was great.  He looked around and eyed things, but didn't spook or shy.  I had to remind him to give me an ear a few times, that was all.  As we finished up, a huge 6-horse trailer pulled up and parked right next to the arena.  They unloaded several horses and Spots whinnied a couple times, but was still behaving.  I was super nervous since he'd never been ridden in there before and I was doing it all myself, no putting Annie on first or anything.

I climbed up and we worked on his jog because that is his comfort gait.  He did the slowest jog I've never ridden.  He was listening, halting and going when asked.  Turning off my leg.  We jogged around and around, with me reminding him to listen and not focus on the commotion getting larger around us.  Then I asked him to trot out and we got a good trot going.  We walked, trotted, walked trotted.  I almost chickened out and didn't canter, but then I decided I should trust him and just do it.  We got some awesome canter.  We did several transitions and they got better each time.  On his "hard" side he took the wrong lead, but flying changed when I bumped him with my outside leg.  He did that a couple times, then changed on his own a couple times, then took the correct lead right off.  This is SO exciting because with Dazzle it was such a long, hard battle.  We worked over a year to get her correct lead on her hard side.  His "easy" side he was great, correct lead and went right into the gait.

He is taking the canter when asked much faster now.  He is keeping the gait until I ask him to trot almost every time.  We can do several circles without him breaking gait.  Our transitions are getting better and better.He listens really well and lets me steer even at the canter.  He will move off my legs and listen to my weight cues.  I think he's picked it all up easier than Dazzle.  It seemed like a lot of this took a lot longer and caused me more frustration with her.  He is light on aids and has a better work ethic.  He loves to be there doing something with me.

I rode about 15 minutes, then hopped down and Annie took him back to the trailer and let him stand while she rode one of her horses and I took pictures.  Des watched for a few minutes, but then got bored and started fussing.  I decided not to push it with him because he'd been good for so long while I rode.  We packed up and headed back to the trailer so Annie could get her 2nd horse ready to ride.  I untacked Spots and brushed him and he stood calmly at the trailer.  Des watched.  Then the rest of the group Annie was meeting showed up and Des enjoyed meeting their horses and getting pushed in his new umbrella stroller.  I took him back to the car to get in and he he wouldn't let me pick him up out of the stroller; he pointed at the horses and asked to go back and see them more.  I pushed him back towards the horses and they all headed in to the indoor, so he got a personal parade.  He loved it.  Finally, he let me pack him up and take him home.  When Annie got home, she said Spots has stood calmly at the trailer during the ride and was not sweaty or upset about being left at the trailer at all.  Hopefully that means he is going to be not herd bound.  I hate herd-bound horses.  Such a pain.

Video of us!

Spots has been to the fairgrounds twice before; once last fall at Fair, and he was down in the 4H arena, never went into the covered, and then once earlier this spring at a little show and he was only lunged in it, not ridden.  He was really nervous that day and didn't go in many classes.  He was lunged and walked around a lot.  So this was his first time riding in there, second time being there.  I was thrilled and excited and proud of myself for not chickening out and proud of Spots for being so good and proving his sense once again.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Spots Goes Double

Thursday night, the kids were over practicing on Marigold for the Jr Show Saturday.  Annie warmed up Spots and I hopped on when I got home.  He was being good, we practicing our halt and he was stopping completely off my seat often and on barely any rein most the time.  He's really getting there.  The kids were tearing around bareback on Marigold having a great time.

We were just hanging out chatting and Spots was falling asleep when Annie came over and said "Hold on" and preceded to haul up behind in onto Spots.  He gave her a look like she was crazy and held still.  We then walked around in circles while I told stories about riding double as a teenager with my cousin, galloping around in the orchards being crazy.  Spots was great!  We'd never ridden him double before and it didn't phase him at all.

At the Jr show, the kids did great with Marigold.  Zach for Overall Reserve Champion for his division and Ash placed many times.  They're going to be tough competition by the end of the summer!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Great Ride With A New Tool

Tuesday evening I got home from town and Annie had just tacked Spots up. She hopped on him and he was paying more attention to the fact that the kids got there and got out Marigold then to her, so she threw the lunge line on him and lunged him a bit. He quickly settled down into his job and I ran and got my rings (running martingale). He has never worn them before and Annie wasn't sure she wanted to try them yet, but I felt like he was ready. I put them on and she lunged him in them. He's used to side-reins, so he was not concerned with the rings at all while lunging.

She hopped on and he was listening to her great this time. He tried popping his head up and diving his nose; the two things we've been working on squelching from his habits. He found to his annoyance, that neither thing is pleasant with rings. They walked in circle and stopped and turned and he tried to fight the rings a few minutes but the beauty of rings if the horse disciplines themselves so you don't have to be getting on their face. He finally stretched his neck way down and we cheered and Annie patted him. It had clicked, and he started dropping his head when he felt the rings.

I asked her to try trotting and she said, "Okay, but I'm not cantering in these". Within about 10 minutes they were cantering in them, getting some of the best transitions and uphill gaits he's ever had. He only took the wrong lead a couple times. Finally she said I had to feel thing and got down and handed me my horse. She went to go get her own.

By this time the kids had Marigold out and were loping her around the arena bareback. Spots was handling that great. I mounted up and started walking circles and moving him with my legs. I was able to just feather a finger on the reins and he'd give to the bit instead of challenging it. At the walk, he stretched down and relaxed. At the trot, his head was much, much more consistent, staying about level, sometimes dropping low. I gave him lots of praise for that. We got the nicest WP jog we've ever gotten. Half the speed of his walk, lead low, so nice. Then we cantered. We went into it easier, and I was able to just squeeze my outside rein and he gave to it and didn't lose his gait or pop a shoulder. We got the correct lead both ways, only got the wrong lead once and he flying changed to the correct one when I bumped him with my outside leg. I was ecstatic. I was squealing and cheering for him and I think the mother of the 4H kids though I was crazy. He took to the rings so quickly and receptively, I'm guessing he'll only be in them a few rides and he'll be able to maintain the consistency of his collection and head position without them. They really encouraged him to stretch and give, and at the canter to be more uphill and decisive in his movements. I had him backing beautifully, head low, weight back. So exciting. Annie was thrilled with the progress and I of course had to remind her she had not been sure about trying them.

Annie brought her horse in and he usually has to be lunged before riding, so she took him to the "B"-"E" circle and lunged him at the canter both directions.  Meanwhile, Marigold and her 4Hers were loping and trotting bareback all over the arena.  I wasn't sure how Spots would handle is all as he's not used to having all that commotion going on, he's usually the only horse in the arena.  He gave them some attention and I said, "Pay attention to me", and feathered my inside rein.  I had to remind him about 3 times and then he didn't forget anymore and we were able to continue trotting and cantering and he didn't get worried about Beau cantering.  I was really proud of him.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Firsts! Lunge-lesson and CANTER!

Yesterday we had a very horsey day. First, I arrived home from town to see a 12 yr old riding SPOTS in a lunge-line lesson. They were jogging around and around in a circle and Spots was completely at ease with this beginner on his back, bouncing and holding onto the horn once in a while. By the end of their lesson, he was balancing much better, his seat was better, he wasn't holding onto the horn. He had a great time on Spots and Spots seemed relaxed and not at all nervous with his new rider. Next, I got on him with my plain-jane curb-bit for a session on neck-reining. We working on turning, stopping, backing, then weaving a line of barrels to put it all together. He still isn't neck-reining 100%, but it's starting to make sense to him. Especially with my leg aids, he usually turns with the neck-reining, sometimes he still gets stuck and I have to direct rein him a moment and then he's on track again. He was in a curb-bit for the first time a couple weeks ago and we just walked and trotted, didn't really work on turning yet. So, really this was his first training session on it. I was really happy with the progress we made. I didn't want to drill him on it, so we did about 10 or 15 minutes and then I switched him back to the snaffle bridle to do something else. After out curb-bit session I worked on cantering. We have only started working on it in last few weeks, so this was the longest cantering session we've ever done. He was able to hold canter for about 4 circles, which is awesome for him. He was cantering closer to when I asked him and staying in it better. We worked on getting the correct lead and I figured out when I quit paying attention to HIM and paid more attention to my body position he was able to get the correct lead. After I figured that out, he started getting the correct lead pretty much every time I asked and if he did take the wrong lead,I could bump him with my outside leg and he would change leads.
I am SOOO sore. Apparently cantering works some different muscles than trotting. I haven't cantered much since having Desmond, and it shows! I hurt all over. But it was SOO much fun. He has such a smooth canter. After we finished riding and let him chill while Annie gave rides to kiddos, I worked on loading in Annie's 2-horse straight load. They had tried to load him in it once last fall, but hadn't really gotten anywhere with it. This time, I did it myself and it was evident how much he has matured since last year. He was calm, and thoughtful, continued to make attempts to step in and we had him loading and unloading easily within 10 minutes. I kept asking him in and backing him out and by the time we finished I could stay outside the trailer, throw the rope over his back, and say "Load up", and he'd load himself. I'm so proud of him! One more skill to add to his growing list!