Monthly Archives: February 2014

March is almost here

I still have a case of the winter blahs. Snow..ice..mud.. make it all go away. We are all still giving a go at riding as much as possible. It seems like we get a few days on and then several days off. Makes it hard to do anything consistent but we do our best.

Truckee is coming along well with his riding/lunging. I was able to video a lunge session yesterday. He has put on weight and grown a bit. He is starting to stretch and also starting to find some balance in that canter. I adore him!

I thought I had Rockin Fun sold. He was going to a lady out in California and he was vetted and passed the vet check. She passed on him at the last-minute due to shipping costs..etc. I’m not at all upset because I am having a blast and truthfully I wanted to ask a bit more money for him anyway. He is an awesome horse. He is an ammy’s dream horse. Good flatwork, good jumper, trail rides alone and in company and so much more. Just tons of miles on him and a personality to die that makes you laugh every day.

We may get some warm weather this week and I think we are all looking forward to giving some baths and getting the horses smelling better. We went on a trail ride this weekend and when the horses heated up they all smelled terrible!

I have been busy teaching lessons. I will get Rocky and Truckee advertised here shortly. I have a training horse coming in for March. Lots to do! Life is good and no complaints. It’s all about keeping a positive outlook and I have been able to do that.

 

Why the groundwork is so important at this time of year

I talked about how riding has been inconsistent at best due to weather. It seems we get a day or so of riding and then several days off. Fields are all mud. Horses aren’t moving around. Horses get fed premium alfalfa and good food. They tend to feel good!

I would say that I am a confident rider but I have developed a sense for self-preservation over the years. The reality is that it’s important to not get hurt. I never think my horses would want to hurt me but lack of preparation, lack of training and lack of common sense on my part will put you in a stupid situation. I used to be a rider who never lunged horses. Never really focused much on ground work. I knew it was important but it took time and time was better spent riding.

I think that is the younger version of thinking on my part! Over time I began to see how ground work mostly lunging made riding so much easier. I like to think about it in terms of a really high horse. If this horse come out and it’s high as a kite but has no concept of contact, how to engage, how to go forward and how to be ridden into contact then you end up feeling like holy crap this is going to be bad. You take that same high as a kite horse and teach it about contact, going forward, how to connect from front to back and all of a sudden you have a horse who is feeling high as a kite but suddenly you have a place to ride it to. You have the tools to be able to put it to work. Work=engaging the brain. You can’t take a high as a kite horse and try to “teach” it while it’s high as a kite. You need to have the basics installed first so you aren’t overwhelming this extremely fresh horse with new concepts while it’s going boing..boing..boing around the ring. They have to know what you are asking them.

I sort of get down on myself a bit for lunging when I could be riding but Truckee needed to learn some groundwork. Truckee is NOT a bad horse at all but he is extremely athletic, forward thinking and talented. He needed to learn how to use his parts in an efficient manner. I wanted all those buttons installed so that I could use them to influence good behavior while riding. I first started lunging in side reins, then vienna reins and then the pessoa. He understands voice commands, he has learned about contact, he can stretch down into the contact and he has learned a bit about not panicking when feeling trapped (this is often important). He has gotten to understand that the contact is there and he must engage from behind and round his back. He looks like a different horse.

I knew it was all paying off but I really felt it last night. I sort of debated getting on because it was a crazy night. I had a new boarder ship in. It was cold. They hadn’t been ridden the day before and then spent the day up in their dry paddocks. They were fresh. There were four of us in the ring going every which way. This was going to be a lot for his brain to process. However, I really did think all my homework was going to allow me to have a rideable horse. I needed to test out my tools.

He stood perfectly for me to get on. Good boy! We did a little bit of baby leg yielding at the walk and he was great in the contact. It got busy in the ring and I could feel him getting anxious so we went right to the trot. Remember forward is your friend! Allow them to go forward. We just picked a half the ring circle and I focused on riding him forward and up into the contact. With a horse who wants to be silly this is often your saving grace! They need to have a place to go. They like to feel the contact and they like you to give them direction. I was just working on encouraging him to stay steady in the bridle and around the turns we would practice a little half halt and then some baby steps sideways to introduce some bending. He is just so good! He had moments of oh boy but just came to little head shakes and nothing more.

He is a narrow type of horse so it’s very important to have all this work done so that you can control his straightness!!! He could easily drop his shoulder if I didn’t have the ability to ride him up into the contact which is why I feel like it’s important for horses like him to learn about contact ASAP. It’s not that I’m holding onto his face or pulling him into a frame but I am asking him to make the correct shape with his body. He does understand that me putting some pressure on the reins and adding leg means to step under and soften his topline. This allows me to have a softer back so that I can manipulate him and it also encourages relaxation.

I am telling you he felt amazing!!! I was so proud of him because he had never been in such a busy situation but he was just so good. I was so impressed with how he felt. Wish I had video…I know…but I have more people to help with that now so we will work harder at getting video. I just walked and trotted but he is now ready to start working on the canter under tack.

It really is a ride like that just seems to make everything right in the world. I love what I do and it’s just so much fun to see horses that may have been a bit difficult starting out all of a sudden figuring it all out. His personality is emerging and he is starting to trust me as a rider. I was so proud of him!

Now I can’t wait to ride him again and of course we are getting poured on today and potentially more snow for the weekend. Uh!

I hate winter

Those of us in the mid atlantic are cussing winter on a daily basis. It has made riding difficult at best and frankly us horse women are just not happy when we aren’t riding. I am in good shape from dealing with frozen everything, carrying hot water, pushing hay through snow and just having to fight with every piece of equipment on the farm. The boyfriend was watching me throw around some alfalfa bales the other day and was impressed. Those suckers are a good 50+ lbs and I can now lift them easily! I think all of us are really going through our hay supply to keep the horses warm and happy. My thoroughbreds can put down some alfalfa!

My ring has been frozen for the most part. I have ridden or lunged when the weather is at all cooperating. Truckee continues to improve daily. He is gaining weight and I see his shape starting to change. I really really like him and find him to be freaky smart. I have a good eye for a horse and he is a horse that might not strike you as anything special standing there but I think he has talent to go right up the levels in eventing. There is just a certain feel and athletic ability about him that really makes me think he has what it takes. I love the way his brain works. He also moves across the ground so light. He is very uphill and light in the bridle. Contact is still a work in progress but it’s coming along. I have spent some time lunging him in the pessoa system here lately to encourage him to come from behind and push into the bridle.

I have to say that watching him get adjusted to the feel of the butt rope was about the funniest thing I had ever seen. I laughed until I cried (which is hard to do while lunging a horse) because he just has the most interesting reactions to things. I put the surcingle on in the barn and it has the system all set up. I went to the ring and gently slid the butt rope into place and didn’t attach any of the front peices knowing he likely would have some sort of reaction on the butt rope. OMG!!!!!!!!!! He took one step forward and went WHAT THE HECK and then it was boing…boing..boing..boing all around the circle. He bucked until the rope went all the way under his tail. I was dying laughing. I got him pulled up and repositioned and started again and he was totally fine. Then I hooked up the front part (basically like vienna reins) and he was excellent at the walk and the trot. I thought I would try a smidge of canter. Oh lord…it was bucking bronco all over again. Stopped to adjust the butt rope and did the canter again and he was fine. He really cantered well with the pessoa. I love watching them react. His reaction is OMG..I’m dying..get it off..oh okay..no big deal..back to work. Totally cracks me up. Wish I had it all on video!

He is very professional to ride but installing all the good basics on the lunge line helps a ton. He is built uphill so he needs to learn to stretch over his back and relax his back and topline. It all comes in time.

Our one difficulty is getting pics and video. We have found it’s easier for Amanda to ride and for me to do the video/pics although we need to practice the other way. This was middle of January video of Truckee. He’s going even better now but you can see the progress in just this piece. This was his first time jumping.

I think that I mentioned I bought a new horse. Yes, I jumped back into the resale game. I admit to being a bit nervous about it all since I am still going through the divorce (final at end of March!) but I can’t put my life on hold.

A friend emailed me that she was going to sell her horse. It’s a long story but basically Rockin Fun was a CANTER horse that was donated and I retrained. I started him on the flat, over fences, trail rode him and took him xc. Then he was sold locally and did some trail riding and paper chasing. He was sold once more to a friend who has done a bit of everything with him but mainly trail riding. He rides out western and the cool thing is that she could just hop on once a month and go and he was always great. He is just a really quiet TB with a great brain and a can do attitude. He’s 10yrs old and 16.1 h..and chunky! I had to giggle when I saw him because he is so darn round. I always loved him so I am pleased to have the opportunity to work with him again. I just thought he would be a good project to get back into shape and resale. He rides english, western, jumps, trail rides, paper chases, goes xc, rides out solo, rides in groups and more. Everybody needs one like him!

He really hadn’t done much of anything so he is out of shape and lacking muscle. We rode him in the ring and then I trail rode him. He was awesome on the trail and happily lead or followed and jumped logs in lovely style. Amanda hopped on again for some pics/vid this weekend.

He hadn’t done any real flatwork in a long time and hadn’t jumped in over a year if not more but he was so game!

This week isn’t looking much better in terms of weather. I think we will all get rides in tonight but supposed ice storm coming in later in the evening and then they are talking about more snow later in the week. Oh well, you just have to ride when you can and keep muttering spring is around the corner 🙂

It will be nothing but mud everywhere for a bit but such is life at this time of year. It will all pass..so I tell myself when I am trying to remain positive. I have a lot of good things happening in my life at the moment so apparently the positive thinking is working in my favor.

I need to get some updated truckee pics and video here shortly. I have a barn full of fun horses to ride. Now if we can get the weather to cooperate, life will be even better.