Monthly Archives: April 2008

She raced??

I specifically remember Allie telling me when she met cryinginthechapel it was obvious she didn’t want to be a racehorse. I think she only ran two times but I haven’t looked up her record but my guess is she was slower than slow. Not to mention how these horses race without having the basics installed always boggles my mind. She is a solid 3yr who is so thick and obviously still growing. She will probably finish out at 16.1 or maybe bigger but I am always wrong so I don’t try to guess.

I have been riding her in my small ring and taking her out to the big ring to let her see the sights. She is not too interested in the jumps and shows a great mind. She looks but no real reaction. We brought her buddy otu the other day and as I rode the buddy we let Bunny eat some grass. Nope, not interested and wanted to trot around so we had to hold onto her. When it was her turn to be ridden I found myself wishing I had brought my whip down. Could she really get any slower? She is very relaxed about going around the ring. The steering well somebody forgot to install that but she was great about letting me kick her around the corners. I look like a little kid kicking a fat pony when I ride her. We did some trotting and cantering around. I could get her to canter down the long side but that was about it 🙂

She is such a sweet girl so I can’t wait to see her get a home where she can receive lots of attention. She got her new shoes on this week (still had her racing plates on) and the farrier loved her. He thought she was a quarter horse 🙂 She stood with her lip drooping until it was time to go back out.

Advertisements

Jumping report

Ah, jumping babies a source of endless amusement. I fully admit I tend to focus more on the flat than the jumping and we have done a lot of trail riding with Dixie. The jumping..well a few x-rails here and there which he had all figured out. Time for some more serious stuff. My husband loves to watch me jump the babies so he can laugh at me when they do stupid stuff or I look stupid. I love him for that because it reminds me just to relax and have fun.

Dixie let me know he was getting bored with the smaller jumps so I wanted to bring up the height and jump some oxers. We had jumped some scarier stuff at the small heights and he felt good over that. I started out with just an x-rail…boring he said!

We made it a vertical and jumped that a few times. He acted a bit suprised and jumped awkwardly the first time over the vertical probably because it looked different. Then we made it an oxer. That impressed him. As for me..no comment 🙂 It looks like he really thrusted off the ground and twisted his back a bit so who knows what i did?

His expression was funny and you gotta love the legs. I do not even judge a horse when they are first starting to jump because they just have no clue as to where the parts are supposed to go. The next jump was better and I managed not to fling myself up the neck.

Jumping goes hand in hand with the flat work and as the flat work gets better and he gets stronger behind the jumping will improve. He was a bit worried about what to do and wanted to rush away from the jumps so we just landed and came to a walk on the straight line.

In between horses for the farrier I lunged dixie in the ring over some barrels and smaller jumps. I am learning to embrace ground work more and more with some of the horses I have. Dixie is a horse I would probably never do ground work with because he is just so easy but when short on time it is a great way to build confidence and see how the react. I lunged him both directions over some poles and then made an x-rail which he just stepped over. Then I made a jump with three barrels all laying on their side and put a pole on the last barrel to keep him from running out. He trotted up to it and gave it a good look and then lauched himself over and cantered away fast..gotta get out of here that was scary! Then he came back around and refused it. I find sometimes when they do jump it so big the first time they scare themselves. I let him walk up and look at it and then next time he jumped it w/o a second thought and was very soft over it. It was time for me to switch horses for the farrier but that was a fun 15 min of work.

 

We have stretching

What a great week it has been for Dixie. It’s a little over a month and he is coming along faster than even I had imagined he would. One of the main goals of my flat work with young horses is to teach them to stretch low and long and really seek the contact. Dixie came with a nice feel in his mouth but he was very stiff over his back and laterally and would not go any further than just a tiny bit of roundness in his neck.

Teaching a horse to really stretch is something that can take time and might need to be done with side reins/vienna reins until they can understand the concept. Dixie had a good feel in his mouth but just didn’t have enough strength in his hind end at first so the basic work we have done has really helped him. I am a strong believer in lots of trails, low jumps and trot work to build strength and of course nice stretchy trot work for the babies. Each ride Dixie has started to stretch more and more. One of the reasons I find it hard to get him to stretch is that you have to provide a bit of resistance in the mouth and teach them to yeild. His reaction to the rein pressure combined with leg was to open his mouth and pull against it.

I start each ride at the walk doing very simple bending and suppling exercises and repeating the concept of leg to hand until he softens and starts to relax his neck. Then I move onto the trot. Finding the proper trot rhythm is hard when they don’t want to come into the contact. I posted a video critique on one of the dressage forums and some people said more trot and others said less. I always do what I think is best for the horse and with the Tb’s I am a believer in slowing it down first because they tend to run from the leg you must first slow it down and teach them leg means over and then once you teach them that it seems like the concept of stretching and relaxing will come next. Dixie is not always reactive to leg but he did not want to come into the contact and when I asked for more trot to push him to the receiving contact he ran around all out of balance. Okay, that won’t work let’s try slowing it down and doing slow slow trot. Mmm..yes there he is starting to supple in his neck and then I could finally start pushing him to the contact.

I could have done a dance today because when he finally let go of his back and started to seek out my hand the trot was fantastic. His shoulder began to reach and the back was swinging under me. I could have ridden for hours 🙂

The canter is still a work in progress. I think it is harder for him to engage the hind end at the canter and come into the contact but each ride we get more. I think today was the first time I even had him slightly round in the canter. He still struggles to the right but again I consider that very normal for where he is in his training. He will even out with more trail work and strengthening work on the flat.

If you want to see pictures of how he has progressed you can check out his full album here- http://pets.webshots.com/album/562846383RVbsSd?start=108

 

Riding in the rain and random thoughts

Saturday was a gorgeous day for riding and my friend was visiting so we decided to tack up Indy and Dixie for a trail ride. We discovered that Dixie was not to fond of the hair that I was currying off Indy and he exited the barn 🙂 I promised my friend he was perfectly quiet to ride..don’t worry (famous last words right).

We headed past the redneck village through the woods. Then we exited out of the woods and walked across a short section of road where there is a bridge. We got up there and heard something coming. A golf cart passed us going as fast as a golf cart could go. I tried to wave to them to slow down but they looked at me like I was crazy. Neither of the horses even cared and we walked over the bridge which is a different color. Dixie picked up his feet really high but went right out. Then we head up a hill into the fields. We did a lot of trotting and cantering and the horses were super. My friend could not believe the difference in Indy who used to be all about the short quick strides. We easily trotted and canter alongside Dixie. She quickly fell in love with Dixie and thought he was so comfortable (he is) and well behaved. Both horses took turns leading and at one point neither Dixie or Indy wanted to go past this one section of woods. I think maybe there was something in there. I have learned to just trust them..so we went through the farmers wheat a bit (don’t tell) and then made our way back to the woods. It was a great ride and with the warm weather both boys got hot. 80 degrees in April is not easy to adjust to.

Yesterday, I got out to the barn and it was lightly raining. I had went to a clinic on Sunday so the other horses didn’t get ridden. I wanted to ride Dixie first (he is the easiest of the bunch). I get on and walk down to the ring. The rain has picked up a little bit and as I make the first turn in the ring going back towards the barn a wall of rain and wind hits us. Dixie is a saint and although I can tell he is thinking I am crazy he shakes his head a bit and goes on. The rain is now really coming down and there is water running off the brim of my helmet. I am already soaked so I figured I might as well finish my ride. It took him about ten minutes to relax and as soon as I had a couple nice trot circles and changes of direction we trotted back to the barn…I don’t know why because really I was already wet but it was fun.

There is something about Dixie that just makes you want to ride him. He can be strange in the barn almost like he is waiting to be scared but when you are on him he is confident. He is my go to horse right now when I want to have a ride that will make my smile. My personal horse, Junior, also fills this role but he can have a bit more drama. He probably would have had a hissy fit about riding in the rain. Matter of a fact at our clinic this weekend he started squealing and prancing when he got rained on. He was offended that he got wet..especially his ears! 

The rest of the week looks great weather wise so I am excited. I have a few field trips planned for the horses and maybe a hunter show for Dixie this weekend. I really hope I can get people to come and see Indy. He wants a new home with his own person. I think maybe people aren’t interested because he is small?? Small but cute with a super mind and lots of mileage for a cheap price. I want him to find his person because I always feel guilty not being able to give him as much personal one on one time as he wants.

Video overload

It took me long enough but I now have video of Dixie and new pics! Dixie has gotten the word that jumping is fun and is now jumping around some baby courses mostly at the trot but we might canter out of a line if it feels right. He is slowly starting to get softer on the right side with lots of bending and suppling exercises. I think he is developing a topline..well the start of one anyway 🙂

Overall, he is much stronger and starting to push off better from behind. His canter is still weak and strung out but as he develops his muscles I am confident that will sort itself out. He likes to pull me out of the tack at the canter especially if I ask him to soften or add leg.

His jumping is quite amusing because he is all over the place so it takes a lot of channeling to keep him straight. Let’s see if this video works?

Um, great illustration on what not to do! Nice horse for saving me 🙂

Eventually we get it right

Since I am on a video roll here is some video of Indy, Klondike and Allie’s cool mare.

This is our cute little mare who I call bunny because she is missing the tips of her ears (they got frostbite when she was a baby). This was the second time I had been on her in my small ring that is less than 20m wide. It’s always fun piloting the babies around in there but they can’t build up any steam which is a good thing. She was really good for being pulled out of the field where she has just hung out for a month. I will keep putting mileage on her until she sells. She went out to the big ring to be lunged today and found it very exciting..didn’t help that her buddy would not stop screaming!

 

Indy goes x-country schooling

I currently have two other CANTER horses besides Dixie who are in training. Cryininthechapel is a lovely 3yr tb filly who is a solid girl at 16 h. She has been able to just hang out and be a horse for a month and will now start getting worked into the program. I got on her and walked her around this weekend and she was just as nice as can be. It was too muddy to do anything else but walking was perfect for the first ride.

My other project horse is Indy’s Wolf. Indy is a 5yr 15.2 h tb who has been in training for five months now. It’s hard to really describe Indy because his personality is just so funny. He loves to eat above everything else and he has a love of life that makes him a joy to work with. He came to my place after hanging out in a field for over a year and went off to his first show with less than a month of training and jumped around in the scary indoor like it was nothing. We didn’t have much steering or brakes but I was simply stunned at his good nature. We even warmed up on the racetrack because the outdoor was frozen. Freezing cold weather, strong winds and lots of horses did not phase Indy. Indy marches to his own beat. Since his first show we have spent time working on the buttons that did not come installed. Some horses are easier than others and although Indy is quiet he did not come with knowledge like Dixie did. He liked to trot 100mph…then he would break into this cute little canter but it was all over the place. I have worked to install brakes, power steering and some sort of rhythm (okay, well this is still a work in progress). Indy is always heading off the farm to various places and he enjoys going on field trips.

Indy makes me giggle when he jumps. He gets so excited and will start throwing in random lead changes trying to figure out what is coming up next. He tries so hard to please and has a nice jump when he allows me to tell him something. I was really excited to get him out x-country because I knew he would love it. I ride him out on the trails by myself and he is super. He is very dependable in all situations which I can really appreciate.

I brought two horses down to frying pan park to ride with Kelly and Allie. Indy got off the trailer and had to start out by himself. He stood quietly to be tacked and just looked around at the people walking and they hay wagon driving around. We went to the ring to warm up and he was forward but listening. I trotted to the first x-rail and I think it took him by surprised because he came up to it and hit the brakes. I could have better prepared him with a bit of a tap of the whip behind the leg to get his attention but normally he is good so I didn’t expect that. No issues on the second attempt. Then we headed out to find some baby jumps and warmed up over the logs. I walked over a small one first so he could understand what I was asking and then came back at the trot. We added in a little line of logs and he couldn’t keep his canter because his mind was too busy processing everything. No biggie..I would rather him break to the trot than run to the jumps.

Allie and Kelly joined us and we headed off to the water jump. Now Indy is used to big puddles of water in his field but lately he has been protesting water on the trail. The day before we had to have a little discussion about going across a little baby stream that was on the trail. His response was to back up and he was not scared but testing me. I had to give him a couple pops with the crop behind the leg and after a few times he walked over like it was no big deal. I thought since we had ironed that issue out the day before that the water jump should be simple. Ha, wishful thinking. Indy and Klondike stood and stared at the water. Allie brought her horse to give them a lead but they weren’t budging. I had given him a couple taps with the whip but those didn’t register. I sat and thought about how I wanted to handle it. Was he scared? Did he understand the question? Was he just being a brat? Yes to all of the above. So I got tough and gave him a couple repeated hard smacks with the whip until I felt him jump forward. Then I immediately softened and rewarded for the forward motion. I let him stand and then asked him to go forward again. As he backed up I repeated with the whip until he came up and sniffed the water and walked in. Getting tough with a horse isn’t always the right response but I know him pretty well and he was just testing me out.

We stepped in and out of the water and he splashed around. Good boy! We all headed off to the next question which was the ditches. The baby ditch had a lot of water surronding it so we chose to start with the novice ditch which had water in it but not around it. Indy came up to it and jumped huge. Next time he stepped over it…gotta love the babies 🙂 We then went and walked over the baby ditch which they all went right over.

We rode around looking for more baby jumps but did not find much we wanted to do. The next obstacle was the drop down into the water jump which just had puddles in it. The drop down only 3ft wide maybe and located between two logs. Indy did not know what to do here. He started backing up and Allie was coming around to give me a lead when all of a sudden he leapt into the complex. I am talking jumped straight up in the air and landed on all four feet in a heap. Good thing I am used to some crazy jumps because I felt like I got shot out of a slingshot. We all sat and laughed over the cuteness that is Indy. He is just so cool. The next time he had it figured out and stepped right now. We also walked and trotted up the drop.

We went through the woods looking for more logs. We found one that looked appropriate but Indy simply was not up to the task. I presented him a few times and got after him a bit but realized he was mentally and physically done at this point so I didn’t force the issue. He was good and it was not the right time to make him do something. We jumped one of the tiniest log and I let him be done.

We are hoping to find Indy his forever home with somebody who wants a horse that is more like a dog. He is still a work in progress but he is safe, fun and dependable. His personality keeps you looking forward to going to the barn everyday.

 

Pick up sticks

I am sure there are many people who also ride alone but is it not the worse when your horse knocks down the jumps and you repeatedly have to get off and fix them? I guess your horse learns to be patient for mounting but it is enough to drive me crazy.

Dixie has progressed to jumping little courses of x-rails which include the scarier jumps (flowers, fake trees and a baby liverpool made out of a blue tarp). He has built up his confidence but his lack of understanding sometimes shows when he get so focused on the front legs that he forgets the back legs. I have some pretty solid jump poles but he has not figured out that hitting them is not ideal so I have to get off and fix them. Gotta love the greenies 🙂 I am very pleased with his progress and am happy to see that he is getting braver as we go. The jumps are still very low at the moment since there are still times when he doubts he can jump the scary things. We walk right over if we have to and then come back in the trot. I keep the trot active and remember to keep my hands low and wide to channel him between them.

He has such a nice canter that we have added in some lines where we trot in and canter out. He is fairly straightforward to ride and wants to please which I enjoy. I love to work on the gymnastics but I have to save those for when I have a ground person to help me slowly build them up.

Yesterday, I took him out on a nice hack around the farm, through the woods and into the fields near the farm. It’s nice to have a horse with a great brain that you can ride out by yourself and not have to worry about having any issues. He looks at things but I love the way he thinks. He will stop and look and then maybe back up a few steps. I let him stand and then ask him to move forward and almost always he is happy to move on. We had to cross a lot of water on the trails and he could have cared less about that.

I have noticed that he has become more forward now that he has shoes on and probably because he is now getting fit and his muscles are stronger. I found myself not paying as much attention to the trot rhythm as I should and he was getting too quick. He objects to the half halts at this point because I have not had to use them until now. Another little thing I notice him protesting is the downward transitions. He likes to lock his jaw, open his mouth and pull. I do my best to keep the leg on and move the bit to keep the jaw soft in the downward. I am also getting tougher and not letting him trot so long after I have already asked him to come back. Tough love but necessary 🙂