Monthly Archives: May 2008

Wide open spaces

Dixie had a busy weekend. He was napping in the field when I woke up this morning until the neighbors started weedwhacking and then he jumped up and threw in a couple of bucks letting them know how pissed he was to be disturbed. At noon, I loaded Dixie and Charlie up for a trip to my mom’s house. I noticed Dixie had lost another those bell boots don’t do their job. It probably was when he jumped up and threw in those bucks 🙂 We got to the farm and I unloaded them and gave dixie the ghetto foot wrap. Exhibit one-

My mom was bringing her horse, Flint Hill, the former CANTER MA owned horse that I had restarted. He was excited about heading out on a trail ride

We headed off into the open fields and started with a trot. All was well until Dixie kicked a beer can scaring Flint. Flint jumped up in the air with all fours off the ground and dixie sorta stopped and then ran sideways. Too funny! We got that all sorted out and continued to trot along to let them stretch out. One thing I find with young Tb’s is that they don’t have a lot of patience in the beginning of a ride. A good trot to clear the pipes or even a little canter will let them relax and you will have a much better ride 🙂 Both of these guys are lovely on the trail but they still wanted to do that initial trot.

We did a bit of walking and then picked up a canter and I had to pass Flint because he is just to darn slow. Dixie couldn’t get collected enough to canter behind him so I just came alongside him and man it was great to just canter along on a big balanced tb who was light and soft in the bridle.

We went into the woods and let them walk to cool down and then came back out for more trotting and cantering. We came across some men doing soil tests in the fields on a four wheeler and Flint was not to sure about them but Dixie let him know he was being a big baby and pushed right on past him. One short canter to head back to the trailers and then a walk to cool down.

Wow, Dixie is just too cool. Of course I already loved him but now he has packed around my husband on the trails and was a total gentleman in this huge open fields where he had every opportunity to be silly if he wanted to be. I was trotting and cantering on a soft rein with just baby squeezes here and there to regulate speed. He really is super with listenting to your body so you don’t even have to touch the reins. He has a great balance and is so smooth to ride. It was effortless.

Back on the trailer to ride back to the farm. Unload and get a bath and hang out in the stall while I ride my other horse. Back on the trailer to head back to the farm and finally unload and get his dinner. It was a big day for Dixie and Charlie. I am blessed to have such nice horses.

Dixie, the husband horse

Dixie has been a busy horse lately. His flatwork is coming along very well and now that it has finally stopped raining we have gotten to do more jumping. I got around to making my mini x-country course in our field with the pond. I have a black pipe, a coops, some barrels and a jump coming out of the water.

Even though he lives in that field it is different being ridden around there. I w/t/c him around. Then I walked him down the natural ditch across the water (basically it’s a big slop with 3ft of water in the bottom and then slopes up on the other side). He was not sure of this especially with all the tadpoles swimming around but I let him stand and think about it. He is very funny and you can actually feel him thinking. Then he calmly walked through..didn’t even jump across like I was expecting him to do. I was asking him to just step through but I had my hands in the mane, heels down just in case 🙂

Then we jumped back and forth over the black pipe which was about 2’3″. He did stop the first time but it was an honest what in the heck am I supposed to do type of stop. I let him get a look and reapproached and he went right over. Good boy! He is just so smart about the way he thinks about new things.

Today was his first trip off the farm to go trail riding. I manage to convince my husband to do crazy things all the time. I am lucky he trusts me so much! We pull up to the parking lot where the trails are. There is one trailer of horses who have finished and we are talking to them. Did I mention both of the horses have never been trail riding off the farm before and Dixie was scared to back off the trailer so he scared himself and got off shaking. Both horses are big! Charlie is 4yr and already 16.2 and Dixie is a solid 16.2. Most of the local riders ride western on smaller quarter horses and I know they were thinking we were crazy. Those women gave us the funniest looks probably thinking we were heading out for a death mission 🙂 Of course my husband is nervous too. He doesn’t ride all that often and has never ridden Dixie before. I am going to ride Charlie who is very young and does not have a lot of trail experience to begin with. Deep down I know he trusts me but looking at his face I know he is worried especially since Dixie’s eyes are popping out of his head. I forget what it is like to be nervous because I ride these greenies all the time. I am cautious but not necessarily nervous. I always do my homework before going out on the trails and Dixie has been out alone and in groups at the farm so I was sure he was going to be fine. Charlie..well that was a bit of an unknown but he has a great brain and although young he has always processed new things well.

Within five minutes of getting off the trailer both horses were falling asleep.

Kurt gets on and I am trying to get pictures for the blog 🙂 He is a bit worried because Dixie doesn’t want to stand still but I let him know that is normal. Dixie isn’t much for standing around in the beginning of a ride. Kurt walks a few circles and tests out his steering and brakes. He is used to riding my older tb who is a lot like Dixie with a very soft mouth.

Both horses were excellent! The did a lot of looking at the various tree stumps, the puddles and some branches but did not spook. We walked and trotted for about 30 minutes. Kurt loved Dixie! (I knew he would) Thought he was really smooth and listened very well. He looked but didn’t react to anything which is good for Kurt who only rides once in a while.

We loaded the boys back up and brought them back to my own farm to spend the night. Dixie unloaded perfectly this time. Now I am looking out my window watching them walk around and eat grass. I will take them back to the barn tomorrow and Dixie is going to go over to my mom’s farm for another outing.

Consistency is key

Young horses are all about repetition and having short consistent rides to keep them working within the program. Dixie came out today and automatically remembered that leg meant move over and not go faster.

I worked much better at keeping my posting low and slow which allowed him to come through with his hind end and step under so he could come across his back. We only did 15 min of flat work and then played around over the new course I made. Lots of turns and jumps coming off the short diagonals. Part of my course is still under water and of course it was all the scary stuff that was dry so no time like the present to introduce some new jumps.

Tarp produced no reaction

How about this ugly green pipe..nope still not looking

He seems to have figured out the oxer is fun


His form is nothing special right now but like most young horses learning to jump he is still figuring out where all his parts are. I love how honest he is to jumps that most young horses who don’t have much jumping experience would find scary. We are mostly trotting with a bit of cantering. He lands very softly and canters away just as happy as can be.

Indy’s Wolf update

Oh baby when they figure it all out they really figure it out! The weather has been nothing but rain lately so I haven’t jumped Indy much. I am sure people probably think I am kinda goofy when I talk about how this horse can really jump because watching him on the flat makes you think he is cute but I wouldn’t expect the jump The horse somehow found his hind end and developed some rocket boosters. I really love this cute little horse but nobody will even come to look at him and that makes me sad. Thought you might enjoy a photo story.
January learning to jump

Almost a month later and starting to develop some style

Today (five months of training)
Let’s just say I am casually trotting to the jump and we leave oh about a stride or two out and lauch into the air very unexpected so I am surviving but obviously not slipping the reins that well

Second time we are still getting long but he makes sure to leave some room

Tarps do not intimidate Indy

I think this oxer bored him

Direction does not matter

Back to basics

Last week I wrote that Dixie had lost a shoe..I found it in my riding ring. I didn’t think to look there and didn’t feel him pull it. Yesterday, he pulled off another shoe while I was riding. My farriers hate me 🙂 Dixie is going through the stage where his hind end is moving bigger than his front end resulting in a lot of shoe ripping. Bell boots help but obviously not enough in his case.

We had 3″ of rain over the past week so riding has been hit and miss. I have a sand/stone-dust ring which drains very well but can still have a slippery base and our large grass field to ride in. I try not to ride in our grass field if it wet or else I make lots of divots and regret it later.

Over the past few days I have went backwards with Dixie to work on some basics. I am not able to keep riding him as consistently as I would like to due to the weather so we go one step forward and then a few back depending on the days. Dixie is perfectly happy to go around on a loose rein just doing nothing but when you take a bit of contact and ask him to stretch into the bridle you get a lot of mouth opening, running at the trot, mass confusion and panic. I had resolved all this before all the bad weather hit so I went back to the lunge line to refresh his memory. I love using vienna reins on a horse that really needs to learn to stretch across the back. They do slide so they give the horse the ability to move up and down.

I warmed him up without anything on just letting him trot around. Then I put the vienna reins on very loose. I have also recently moved him to a happy mouth mullen just to see how he feels about it. The minute he felt the contact he ran backwards (vienna reins were so loose there was hardly any contact and he had previously lunged in sidereins). He just shuffled back a bit and then I gently encouraged him forward and his next reaction was to trot 100mph as fast as he could. Run…run away from the pressure. I talked to him and brought him in on a smaller circle until he took a deep breath and by then he had figured it all out. He is so very smart like that. He really struggles with letting go across the back and stretching down and instead prefers to trot like a sewing machine when you are asking for something he doesn’t understand. His hind end is really pushing off but the front is going 100mph. Funny looking stuff! His canter is his best gait so I used the canter to achieve a bit more relaxtion and he can canter around perfectly balanced and happy. Then I mixed in trot with the canter and by the end of 10 minutes we have lovely trot work both directions where he was stretching down and using his shoulder.

When I rode him yesterday I started off at the walk just asking for a bit of bending left and right. Then a bit of leg yield. Oh no…he had forgotten leg meant sideways and was very stressed. Everytime I touched him to move over he trotted and then I asked him to walk which resulted in mouth opening pissy face. This is the part where my friend who was watching probably thought I was torturing the poor horse but I was being as soft as I could be and very patient. Just repeat until he understood which took the first 15 min of the ride. Once he allowed me to push him laterally he softened everywhere and automatically started to stretch over the topline. As soon as he softened I followed with my hand asking for as much stretch as he would give me.

Wouldn’t you know that as soon as I picked up the trot he wanted to cruise around at 100mph and off came his shoe 🙂 His front end just gets stuck and the hind feet just rip them off even with the bell boots on. The ground was soft so I kept working. In the trot I was working on a big circle spiraling in and out which again made him angry at first (his angry is so very cute and non threatening) and he wanted to run away, break into the canter, open his mouth and pull me down a bit but I kept working on staying slow with the trot rhythm and asking him to just move over bits at a time. Each time before I used my leg to push him over I would use a half halt to balance him up and slow him down. I worked back on forth by changing directions on the figure eight and just kept asking for some sideways steps. Once we got a bit of lateral steps to the side his whole body would soften and he became very ride-able. I love feeling the difference in their bodies once they soften and how the stride changes.

I do think that training is not always the most pretty thing in the world and if I had not been through these steps with many horses before I might worry about his reaction to contact and worry that this ugly stuff needs to stop. Deep down I know that I am doing exactly the right things and in a few rides he will understand what I am asking and we will be back to pretty again. He has the same reaction on the lunge line but then he gave in there too. I am quick to reward him anytime he stretches down and follow him with my hands and praise him.

He is such a smart horse but like all horses he gets confused when he doesn’t understand what you asking. He is such a willing horse and I love how hard he tries to figure things out. His whole personality has changed and he now comes right up to you in the field and searches you over for treats. He likes to follow me around and see what I am doing. Right now we have so much grass that all the horses are turning down the hay (nice to be able to save the $$ on hay!). They eat all night and sleep all day.

I can’t wait for today’s ride because I know he is going to go even better today. Maybe if the ground is drier we can add in some jumps. He loves to jump and so do I 🙂

Searching for Shoes

Does anybody else find themselves heading out the barn getting ready to ride and then you look down and realize your horse has no shoe? Or for the thin soled horses you know you are missing a shoe before you even get their halter around as they gimp around on three legs. That seems to be the theme around my barn lately. My poor farriers!

A big update on our lovely mare Cryinginthechapel aka Bunny. She found a home at a lovely farm and is going to be spoiled rotten. I brought her along with me to our event at MCTA this weekend. I took my horse off the trailer and she had to stand all by herself. She was super. Then she got unloaded in the middle of a very busy horse show with horses all around and she was calmer than calm. I don’t even think she looked around. Her owner was looking for a quiet horse to just do a bit of everything with and I am sure she is going to be head over heels in love already.

Dixie is one of the horses who had lost a shoe. Poor boy came gimping into the barn. I wrapped him up and gave him a good grooming until we could get the farrier out for him. He has put on tons of weight and muscle and looks so good right now. We have done two days of flatwork with some jumps added in. He is going through a bit of a fussy stage right now when he has to go out to the ring alone. He is attached to his buddies and is now boss of the field so perhaps he is worried somebody else will be boss when he leaves but he has not been able to pay attention as well as he has been. I am working on keeping the circles and figure eights controlled and in small areas and mixing in tons of transitions. He wants to pull into the downward transition so I am focusing on keeping my leg on to allow him to stretch into the contact. The right lead has temporarily disappeared. This happens sometimes for various reasons but I don’t worry. I actually love using a single ground poles and picking up my canter over that. I think sometimes their muscles just start to change and they can’t quite do what you are asking. I don’t worry about any of this.

We have also been spending a lot of time building his muscles out on the trails doing a variety of w/t and canter. Delaware has no hills so unfortunately I don’t get to use hills to build muscle but raised poles and small jumps can do the same thing.

My other CANTER cutie Indy’s Wolf managed to twist his shoe and step on his clip. Nothing like walking into the barn and panicking when you see a horse walking on three legs and holding up the other leg. I know stepping on the clip has to hurt. I had some shoe pulling tools…no matter how many times my farrier shows me how to use them I seem to be unable to get shoes off w/o a lot of effort but Indy was patient. No blood but he was ouchy. I soaked him in some hot water with iodine and epsom salts and then wrapped the foot with an animalintex poultice hoping to prevent an abscess. The farrier came back to put Indy and Dixie’s shoes on. Both of them seem to be happy now.

The weather looks great this week and my plans are to move some of the jumps into my field that has a pond in it to make a mini cross country course. I have been intending to do this for a while now but haven’t found the time or gotten the help to move some of the heavier stuff.