Event season is right around the corner so it was time to break out the red saddle pad and get Dixie in the spirit. My colors are red and yellow so I make sure I only ride horses that go well with my colors 🙂 The barn that I lease is wonderful for training event horses. It is an 80 acre family farm owned by great people who would do anything for you. When I moved out there with two horses there we no riding facilities besides the small round pen (really small) and he gave us one of his hay fields but we had no jumps. The most exciting part of the farm is that there are hours of trails and you don’t have to go far to get to them. I have grown up riding in grass rings so we got to work building jumps. Then we have slowy added a small ring with nice footing (the farm owner got stone dust from a local standarbred track for free and we mixed it with the sand) and lights. It’s not flat which makes riding dressage interesting..hey at least it seems easier when you get to an event and there is a flat ring. We also taped off the big field after one of my horses kept finding it amusing to drop his shoulder and try to run back to the barn. Riding in our big grass field is very similiar to heading out to a cross country course. Dixie shows the how tough the journey to the field can be and how the horses learn to be brave. Leaving the barn walking the path of doom. Notice the evil horse trailer, old playground slide, the scary doghouse and the little metal houses where the chickens/hens and turkeys life.
Then you turn right and head out toward the ring. On some days you are met by flying geese and crazy guinea hens which run right in front of the horses or flop around with all this cackling noise.
Walk a bit further and you are to the field. This was dixie walking back from the ring but you get the idea.
I love this farm. It’s not fancy at all and there are many things I would change about it if I owned it but the horses are relaxed and happy. Some days when the kids are zipping around on the four wheelers, the trees are blowing and all the many family members are flying up and down the driveway in their array of vehicles I wish for some peace and quiet. Peace and quiet is nice but life on a big family farm makes a great training atmosphere for horses that are expected to deal with chaos when they head off to the horse shows.
Last night, Dixie got his first experience with motorcyles and I don’t even think he paid attention. Maybe four wheels and motorcyles blend together for horses? Something I am starting to notice about Dixie is that he is becoming more alert. It could be that he is getting fit or that his diet has changed and now includes grain. He gave me the first spook the other day over my jump with the plastic christmas tree under it (yes, we are a bit redneck with the jumps). He jumped a good five feet left and took me by suprise but then went on like it never happened. Last night, he started looking for things to spook at. Suddenly, the things he has went past everyday were coming alive. I sometimes ignore the behavior if horses are really scared but I think he was messing with me because Dixie is not a spooky horse. I gave him one tap with the whip and told him to knock it off. He did and he went back to work without anymore looking. I don’t mind the funny spooking behavior. It lets me know he’s feeling good and he’s starting to think for himself. I will keep an eye on his behavior and cut back some of the grain if necessary but I believe that horses that are in work and are building muscle need the grain. I feed TC complete and he’s only getting 6lbs a day so it’s not like he’s being overloaded. I am sure he’s just feeling full of himself right now.
Every ride we make progress in our stretching work. He still is a bit reluctant to really take the stretch down but he’s getting the idea.
He still is having some trouble with the right lead but that is normal with horses off the track. He picked it up on the third try and then the second time I asked during the ride he got it on the second try. He understand what I am asking but his body isn’t cooperating. As he starts to get even on both sides of his body the trouble with the lead should go away. I notice he lands on the right lead after we jump so that is great.
Speaking of jumps- up until yesterday he has been very calmly just stepping over the little jumps. I started out with the same x-rail I have been warming up over and he took my by suprise with a big leap. Gotta love the young horses!
My husband gets a good laugh out of taking pictures of me. He is a great help with all the horses and he likes to give me a running commentary on the pictures. He let me know I look stupid over this jump. Yes, well I didn’t expect him to rock back and leap in the air. I gave him a release and stayed centered. Good enough. I am my own worse critic and having to post pictures of myself riding keeps me motivated to improve. I ride effectively but I would like to lose all the extra weight, grow longer legs and longer arms. Do they make some sort of pill for that 🙂
Dixie wasn’t fond of the flower boxes I asked him to walk over. He would stand in front of them and take baby steps towards them. Then he got scared and would back up. Normal baby horse behavior. I just kept asking him to stay centered in front of the jump and move forward. Eventually, he got brave and walked over. Coming back the other way was just as scary so we had to repeat the process. We went a few times back and forth and then ended on that note. I didn’t trot because he was still worried. I bet tomorrow he’s going to have no trouble at all.