Monthly Archives: April 2009

Putting pieces together

Dixie got the weekend off mainly because I was busy but also because when I did walk out to the barn he was in a sweat and look miserable. They are not quite ready for these warmer temps.

I was so excited to get some updated pictures last night now that my hubby is home. He called at 3pm and told me he was off work and heading home to feed the horses. He hasn’t been home before 7:30pm in 5 months so I was excited. I don’t have any boarders on my farm (I do board horses but mostly canter horses or horses in training board) therefore I ride alone everyday and that is hard. I am fairly cautious about things that I am doing so I don’t crank the jumps up big or push the limits if nobody is home. Not to mention it is great to have a ground person when riding new horses so a perfect time to take on my new CANTER project now that I have a bit of help.

Dixie was a bit more resistant than he has been in previous rides but I expected him to be because of the few days he had off. I started with just walking both directions using the figure eights and leg yeilds to get him moving off both legs. He has really gotten much softer in the bridle at the walk with little resistance.

I started out trotting to the right which is his stiff side. I was really focusing on sitting taller and keeping my elbows on my side so I could offer as steady of a contact as possible and when I met resistance add leg but don’t soften my feel. I can sponge gently to get his jaw a bit softer but nothing more. You can see he is a bit braced in the neck starting out.

This is what the issues on the right side look like. He is laying on my right leg with his head cocked right and fighting my request to move over and soften on that side.

A moment later I ask him to yeild and step over with his inside hind and he softens.

The opposite of above is below the bit and he has decided that is a fun evasion so I have to work really hard and moving him around when he choses to come below/behind the bit. I will move him a bit laterally or move him forward for a few strides to get him more up in balance.

I like the balance in this picture he is actively stretching forward and seeking the contact. He might be a bit low and a tiny bit on the forehand but that is okay. He is at least seeking the contact which is a huge improvement from before.

I need to trim his tail a bit shorter..ticks!

Obvious the left side is the softer side but I have to make sure not to get to much bend so more outside aids to straighten.

Ah..the right side drives me crazy!

But I say no and keep my feel and put my legs on..the right leg should be more at the girth.

And he goes back to this! Love the fast digital cameras and my hubby who just keeps clicking so I can put these sequences together.

Around the turn he stays nicely bent around my inside leg.

Someone has a bit to much love for the left rein..lordy pictures tell all. Look how pretty he has gotten. Nice muscles, a good shine and just an overall horse who is using his body better.

I have hills in my ring πŸ™‚

Houston we have a problem.

Some nicer moments

Oh boy πŸ™‚ We promise to show the good, bad and ugly. I think that fits the ugly category!

This is what I tend to do wrong..trying to turn with the inside rein when he isn’t moving off the inside leg. Need to be more insistent with the inside leg at the girth pushing him over.

Laying on the inside leg so I can’t get him bent around it.

There is work to be done but I know we are headed down the right path.

Meet Total Wildcat- pics/video

It is so much fun getting to start with a new horse. You just never know what they will be like so the journey makes it very interesting. So far he is like a big puppy. Stands like a statue for everything with perfect manners and is more interested in people than horses. He is about 15.2 h but wide and I imagine with muscle he will be a tank. He look settled in enough to ride him so I lunged him first and he was hard to keep going so I just got on him. He went around like a kid’s horse. Very slow! His feet are a bit ouchy so shoes are in order but very willing and straightforward. Went right over the ground poles and then right over the flower boxes. Attitude is everything so I think he is going to be a nice one.

If you want to look retarded put up a video of a first ride on a horse that doesn’t know much about steering or leg. I didn’t want to sit on his back for the canter but he couldn’t quite get in gear which is totally normal. I haven’t even seen him trot around in the field. I see some trail rides in his future to get that hind end strong again. He rides like a kid’s horse. He might have a bigger stride with shoes on so it will be fun to see.

Pics of Total Wildcat

Allie had some cute pics in her album. I promise to get more but doesn’t he have a cute face? He also has a wide back! No narrow Tb and I can imagine with work he is going to be quite a muscular guy.

I believe he came off the track in January. This picture was when he firstΒ got to the farm. It is always interesting to see how they go from racehorse to puppy dog in a few months.

Also found a picture of Dixie when he was at the CANTER farm. Amazing how different he looks now!


Date says they were uploaded on July of 2007 so Dixie 2 yrs ago.

Awesome weekend

Dixie and I didn’t do much in the way of riding this weekend mainly because I was super busy with other things.

I did get to see Flint Hills, former CANTER retraining project of mine, kick some butt with my mom. She won her BN division with a score of 30. He is the ultimate ammy horse! He goes clear every time and is just a special horse. I remind her every time I see her how lucky see is and how she should thank me for selling her such a nice horse πŸ™‚ Especially since I had to work so hard to convince her- he wasn’t really pretty in the beginning, he cribbed and he was a bit slow. He sure has proven his worth.

I get awesome updates on the horse I sold to the young girl. I will be posting some pictures soon but she loves him and he has been perfect.

Today, I picked up a new project. His name is Total Wildcat and he is the cutest guy. He was laying down taking a nap when we got there. I woke him up and he walked onto the trailer perfectly. Poor guy was sweaty so he immediately got a bath and then chilled out in a stall. I gave him the spa treatment which is stood perfectly for! Mane pulled, whiskers, ears, legs and chin trimmed with the clippers and a curry. He could have cared less about the clippers which is cool but letting me do his ears is a big deal.

I let him out in the field with Dixie and he didn’t even look up. He went to eating and is still got his head down in the grass without a care in the world. He is such a sweetheart. I will get pictures tomorrow!

My hubby is finally on a normal 8 hr shift so he should be around so expect more pics/video of my projects soon.

Field trip

I looked back at my posts and realized I didn’t write about Dixie’s field trip last week. I took Dixie and another horse over to my mom’s for a ride as she has sand footing…can’t I hit the lotto! Footing for my ring and a four horse trailer are on the top of the list.

I was feeling like crap from a head cold but determined to ride. Dixie and I had that awesome dressage lesson the same week. When he came out he was ready to work. I wish I had video because he was so soft and relaxed. He was stretching and his back felt so great. I could easily move him laterally and he was very steady into the contact. I had lovely work on the flat. I hope to get video very soon. My hubby has been working 13-14hr days so no video for quite some time.

My main goal of the ride was to practice cantering to jumps. I really need to get that more confirmed in the ring. It is easy for him out x-c when he doesn’t have to collect and rock back on his hind end as much but in the ring he struggles. I started with a fence in the middle so that I could circle jump and then figure eight both directions. First we trotted and then I worked on just keeping the canter. Sit lightly and support with my leg. It was a bit interesting because to much leg and he rushed but not enough and he broke to the trot. That will get better as we go but I was happy with it.

I was able to canter down the lines softly in the canter which was awesome. He was jumping so well really using his back and developing a nice round style. I have felt the scope in there but just now is it starting to show because he has learned to use all his parts correctly. This is why training just takes time and each horse progresses at a different rate.

What is really cool is that before he used to look at all the jumps. He didn’t stop at them but he wanted to peek. There are green and black pipes, blue barrels, brush and much more but he jumped everything with confidence. I felt like I gave him a good ride and we are really coming together as a team.

I am aiming him at a jumper show May 9th and looking for another event to enter.

Being Brave

Riding out alone on the trails is something I try not to do for the most part. When I was growing up my mom had a really bad accident while riding alone one day and almost died. Of course that was before cell phones but when you are knocked out and bleeding you might not be able to call anyone even if you did have a phone.

BUT…it won’t stop raining and my grass ring is flooded and muddy and horses need to be ridden. Not to mention I need to ride to keep my sanity. We are lucky enough have have a lovely trail system right out our back gate but the problem is that is knee deep in mud as well so you can only walk and well walking is boring. 5 min around the corner is a place called the C&R center that has really wide paths with sand/stone footing so that is where I have started to ride now that the weather has decided to give me the finger.

I tacked Dixie up and put him in the trailer for our short trip around the corner. I did let my hubby know where I was going just in case I didn’t call him to come find me πŸ™‚ The first five minutes of riding are always funny because the path is surrounded by woods on either side with small ditches filled with water. Not to mention there are tree stumps…evil tree stumps that might jump out and kill you. Dixie likes to study them and is very cautious about all the different stuff. I make him leg yeild left and right and we work on our flatwork. He was quite perplexed as to why he had to do flatwork while on the trail but it is my new workout plan for him. Ha, he is really going to hate me now.

I had a nice trot and canter down the main path and then decided I wanted to go down this dirt path which leads out to the road. It had a few log jumps, a huge puddle, a bank and ditch crossing so it is great practice. I had Dixie working on the bit and we were marching along when out came a deer. That didn’t bother him which is awesome. We came to the puddle and I tried to get him to trot but he broke to the walk but kept going which was fine. We cantered up a bit and jumped another log WEEEEEEEEEE fun. Then came the bank which is more like a big mound you have to climb up but it has a depression at the bottom which was filled with water. He was not sure but he went up. Right after the bank is a left turn to a skinny path but straight ahead is a wooden bridge.

Oh boy this is where the wheels fell off a bit. He was like OMG no way am I going over that bridge and I was trying to explain to him we were not going over the bridge but turning left. This is where another horse would have thrown a big fit and i would predict some rearing and other behavior. Dixie on the other hand was standing still but I could feel him shaking and trying to figure out his options. I just gently put my leg on but didn’t force anything. He was not saying no just thinking. Finally, he took a second and relaxed and I was able to turn him left. You go a short distance on this mud path and then have to cross a ditch which had running water going through it. He was so good!!!! We climb up the bank and onto the road.

You know what is really scary??? Yellow lines on the road. OMG laughing so hard at him but we went across and then just turned around and came back. He really thought I was annoying for making him go threw all that and then turning around right away. Once we got past the ditch and the bank we picked up a trot and then a canter and jumped the two jumps and cantered the puddle. Awesome!

I let him walk a bit and then we did some transitions where I insisted we not pick up a hand gallop but rather a collected canter. I did some lateral work at the canter and then more trot/canter transitions. We walked the last 5 min home on the buckle and he stood ground tied while I untacked him.

Have I mentioned how much I love this horse? I have had a lot of horses over the years but horses that I take out and ride by myself testing them with difficult questions are few and are between. Even when he is unsure he is 100% with me and behaved. I am working more on getting him across his back and building his hind end strength while on the trails. Can’t wait to go again.

Remembering- tb’s are smart!

I got rained out on Wednesday but yesterday the sun came out and I was determined to ride. My grass ring was soupy but all I wanted to do was walk/trot. I got a new bridle (seriously I have an addiction to bridles!) so I fitted that to Dixie. It is a sabre brand with a figure eight and a padded crown. Herm sprenger brass buckles and a brass chain browband. Sabre is a really nice english brand and the bridle was super reasonable on ebay. Dixie looked really pretty with it on so money well spent πŸ™‚ After getting the bridle all fit to him we headed out and my goal was to walk on a loose rein and then when I did pick up the contact focus on making him go right to work with no fussing.

He has grown up so nicely and we just ambled around looking at everything. The people next door were sanding their deck and that was quite noisy but he didn’t seem to care. I did some leg yeilding at the walk on a loose rein just getting him to move off both legs softly. When i picked up my contact he wanted to fuss but I put both legs on, elbows at my side and kept my hands steady no matter what. If he fussed I added more leg. He gave up within 1 min and I had the best ride ever. Wow, he was soft and across the back. Moving nicely around the right leg. I was super excited.

I had to email my instructor to say thank you because a lesson like that is so valuable when you can go home and repeat it to your horse and he instantly gets it. Sometimes I just need a reminder myself of where I need to be with my body and that I need to be tougher.

I gave Dixie a really good curry and lots of treats. Not sure of our weekend plans yet but thinking about a x-c school while the weather is so nice!

How can a walk/trot lesson be so hard?

My event trainer has returned from Aiken and I immediately signed up for a lesson so I could get myself kicked back into gear. I wasn’t planning on taking Dixie to my lesson but my horse lost a shoe and my farrier was MIA over the easter break so Dixie got drafted. I am sure Dixie is hating me this morning πŸ™‚

Getting good help is so important in retraining horses or riding horses in general. I am so lucky that my trainer moved to our area. She is excellent with teaching you the concepts along with giving you a lot of other information. She doesn’t only discuss your riding but questions you on your feed program, horses feet, saddle fit, chiro, vet work and anything else that she might find relevant to each particular horse. Looking at the big picture is very important when retraining any horse because if one piece of the program is missing you will not achieve the results you may want or it will take you longer. I am the type of person that asks a lot of questions (after my lesson is over) about whether she has any suggestions for things I can change in my regular routine- bits, feeding, feet or whatever she may think. She always has input sometimes it may just be confirming I am on the right track or giving me a suggestion to try something else based on what she is seeing at the moment.

She hadn’t seen Dixie in a long time. I would have to look back to see when I last rode him with her but I want to say around July? He was barely cantering in balance and had no right lead at all then. Contact was something he was clueless about and bending to the right was a struggle. I had worked out some of those issues before we spent the winter fox hunting.

What I have realized is that fox hunting is great for cardio fitness. We did a ton of trail riding when we weren’t foxhunting so he is fit but not strong. She asked me what we had been doing and what were my goals. My goals are to make him more rideable by the average person so he can get sold. I hope to sell him soon but plan on eventing him in the meantime as well as heading to some hunter paces and fun stuff. What were my issues? I told her about my changing him to the herm sprenger duo bit because he was still struggling with the concept of contact and that I am having trouble bending to the right and getting him into the outside rein.

She watched me walk around and then I picked up my reins to ask for some contact and he was all OMG nope can’t do that. We went back to the halt which is always step 1 in teaching them how to respond. I would halt and then keep my contact and press with my leg. As soon as he softened into the contact we walked forward. We spent some time walking/halting and establishing he must engage his hind end and soften across his topline. We are not asking for major anything just softening and staying steady.

The hardest thing about this is he has every single trick in the book right now. Head up, head down, pop the shoulder over there and over here, root, open the mouth and whatever else he could think of. She got on me about being quicker..way quicker to resist when he did all these things. Do not soften my contact when he is being bad. Leg, kick and keep my contact steady. Show him that there can be a happy place and when he goes there be soft and relaxed so he can figure out that happy place is where he wants to be.

Some horses figure this out quite quickly but he was sure that I was torturing him. I struggled to stay as consistent as I needed to be with the contact or as quick as I needed to be to meet his resistance. One thing I struggle with is having short arms and keeping them at my side. She said I get my reins to long so what happens is my hands are in my crotch/stomach area and when I need to increase the contact because he is resisting I can’t do it without shortening and then I lose him. She had me widening my hands a bit to increase the pressure which seemed to work well (not low and wide just a bit wider to take up the slack that may be created).

I kept feeling that he was laying on my right leg which is why he is not pushing into the outside rein going to the right. When we were going left we did some counterflexion and then a slight overbend to supple him but going right was difficult. She wanted me to think a bit of shoulder fore. I was really trying but not quite getting the result she wanted so she asked if she could get on.

Love watching someone get on my horses. At first Dixie was going nope can’t do anything OMG you are so annoying please stop poking me with your leg and making me walk into the contact. I won’t do it..nah nah nah nope. She rode for about 10 min with him doing every evasion in the book and remarked that I made him look easy compared to what she was riding. She just kept asking and asking.

All of a sudden he finally submitted and boom he was steady, on the aids and off the right leg. She kept doing changes of direction with the figure eight and kept riding him until she could make the change of direction both ways without him protesting each time she changed sides and used the different aids to push him over. Finally he softened and when she changed to the right he just pushed over with that inside hind and was soft and swinging. Boy he looked amazing!

I got back on and was able to repeat with no issues at all. I asked many question such as what she had done differently that I was not doing and she said she just was more insistent with leg and took more contact. That I needed to be more comfortable taking quite a bit more contact initially until he softened because when he did soften he was as light as a horse could be (yes, he is very light). You have to take more contact in the beginning because he doesn’t want to come into the contact and is finding every way around it. By increasing the contact and pushing with the leg into that steady contact he will come across the back and when that happens then you will be able to lighten the contact.

I asked about forward vs the slower tempo. She explained she first was using the slower tempo until he came through and went into the bridle and then when he did she allowed him to go forward. She said when they aren’t into the bridle and you allow them to go forward they really aren’t pushing from behind (I saw evidence of this) and that he was trying to run so he didn’t have to push into the bridle. There was enough leg that he was going forward but not forward like you would see a horse going when they are truly connected.

Overall, I need to be stricter from the very beginning about giving him boundaries. She really liked him a lot and thinks he should be able to get it. She suggested some more chiro work for him to release from the wither to the neck. She liked the Duo bit on him a lot and remarked he was like butter when he finally got it. We worked for 1.5hr and he was not even sweating. So he is in good shape but not strong yet.

I can’t wait to try it out today. It is raining and yucky but I can just get on and walk and use the walk/halts.

Isn’t he awesome

Rode dressage in my jumping saddle who knows why I love to stare at his neck. Look up and sit up next time why don’t ya!

No stadium pics but hubby did snap a few out x-c.

A blue ribbon matches anything

Best day ever! I will be smiling for at least another week after my awesome event with Dixie today. To think I almost didn’t go..silly me! A blue ribbon even makes the cold and rain seem not so bad.

Let’s see we got there and it was raining and had been raining overnight. I was wet before I even got on and it rained steady through the dressage warmup so I was pretty soaked. Dixie did not seem to care one bit and umbrellas and tents flapping in the wind didn’t register on his radar scale. Sometimes it seems odd for me to be riding such a quiet bunch of Tb’s. Almost all of the tb’s in my barn are so quiet you start worrying they are sick or something..sounds crazy but I do worry when horses act so well behaved in crazy circumstances where they should be a tiny bit silly?? I suppose eventing seems like an easy day compared to fox hunting for Dixie.

Our dressage warm up went well and we went in feeling as confident as one can feel who has not really practiced much since fox hunting season was over. I have been busy..that is my excuse. He was a bit OMG down the centerline and spent the first few turns wondering if he was supposed to jump out over that white fence or not but finally figured out I wanted him to stay in and he relaxed. I really do know he was thinking that because he is very easy to read. I had to do a bit of wiggling and a few kicks to say nope please stay straight here. We scored a 37 which was not bad putting us third in our division of eight. His canter was quite nice and balanced for no hind smart decision making to take off hind shoes right now. Oh well he didn’t mind.

Stadium was interesting and caused some rails if you didn’t balance them up enough. Fence one caught some people as it was a vertical with brush underneath and the horses were all WTF is that. Saw a few stops there and then the next fence looked exactly alike. Dixie sorta propped and then said oh yeah brush okay I got it and kept on going. I rode kinda retarded the first few fences but he can be a bit looky. He swears he can’t canter yet in stadium and truthfully it just not a big deal. He will soon I know it.

X-C was just so amazing I can not even tell you how fun it was and I want to go again right now. From the start box he was focused and cantered every single fence w/o a glance and jumped them all out of stride. Very soft and relaxed and on the aids. I never had to do much balancing as he pretty much balanced himself which is a nice change from this winter when he had started to get a bit on the forehand out fox hunting. He peeked at the water but kept moving and then trotted right out.

I was whooping it up as we went around just enjoy the opportunity to ride this nice horse. You really come to appreciate a horse who tries so hard and wants to play the game. He is going in a loose ring plastic bit with a loop in the reins. Gotta love it! He was so pumped up after x-c and I know he wanted more just like I did.

Super courses in both stadium and cross country. They got the horses open and forward from fence one. They were inviting and questions were introduced gradually. Thank you volunteers for standing out in that miserable weather. Pics and video to come.