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.

 

 

 

Finding the groove again

I have a feeling that I am going to be very thankful for Count Truckee coming into my life at this moment. When all hell broke loose in my life, I was left with a few horses and the one that I had to ride was Crazy as Can Be. Crazy loved trail riding but the ring stuff wasn’t his thing. I was pretty miserable and not feeling like dealing with his attitude. He wasn’t fun for me to ride and we made the best decision to move him into another job.  He has been hunting with his new owner in Georgia and is doing really well!

I really wanted to bring a horse over that enjoyed ring work because during the winter you don’t get as much opportunity to get out of the ring due to hunting at all of our local trail spots.

The weather has made riding tough and Truckee and I have been experiencing some ups and downs. It would be easy to be frustrated with him but I always remember that basically this horse lived in a field untouched for a year! He is feral in some ways and I have to remember it is an adjustment. One of his issues is that he is a bit attached and it causes him to forget that he has a job to do.

I am often alone on the farm and riding a young green horse alone isn’t wise. I pick my moments to ride when people are around. Sunday he got a nice lunging session with the vienna reins and he was excellent. Monday I brought him out and he was geared up. I could barely hook up the lunge equipment. I had him tacked up intending to ride but it was clear that wasn’t going to be in the cards. He was doing VERY impressive moves that looked like a rodeo horse coming out of the chute. He just wanted to run to the gate and couldn’t focus. Amanda brought her horse out and things went downhill from there. It was clear that Truckee and I needed to have a bit of a pow wow.

I took him over to the small lunge ring and worked on a small circle and he was wild. Absolutely wild not listening to a thing but I just patiently waited him out. Worked on introducing the voice commands and some transitions. Just walking and trotting but getting him to listen. It is a bit of tough love a times when he isn’t listening but he has to learn that I am the boss. I lunged him all over that ring. Then when he was nice and quiet I took him back to the big ring and lunged him all over that ring as well. Just making a point that he will come out and go to work and we won’t continue to play around.

I was bummed when I got rained out the next day..this is the issue because the weather keeps blocking my progress. Wednesday was a gorgeous night so I tacked him up and hoped somebody would show up at the barn but I was sure I was riding anyway. He started out lunging in the big ring very quietly with his vienna reins on. He remembered the transitions. He still is a bit of a bronc at the canter but that is just lack of balance. He was really soft and stretching into the contact. His back was relaxed and his brain was focused. Thankfully, just as I was going to get on Amanda came in so I had her hold him for a second and up I went. I could immediately tell he was relaxed. We walked around for a good 10 min just working on some simple moving off the leg and bending exercises. Wow, what a difference in the way he felt in the contact already!

He felt great at the trot and while a bit fussy when I was asking for him to take a bit of the contact he still felt amazing. He is a lovely mover and just has a great hind leg. He was so rideable and soft in the body. I was just beaming. I had forgotten just how much I LOVED what I do. I mean I know that I love it but I hadn’t been loving it for a while. Even before the drama in my life, I had taken on too much and gotten too busy. It takes the fun out of riding. I have a better plan on moving forward but I just couldn’t stop smiling during this ride on Truckee. I kept thinking to myself that this is why I do this and how rewarding it truly is to work with these horses. I finished up with him and just hung out a bit in the ring while Amanda rode. Truckee and I jumped some jumps in hand and he thought that was pretty cool. Can’t wait to do some jumping this weekend!

I then brought Junior out and had a great ride. I have been riding him a few days a week and having a blast. He is a pretty cool horse 🙂 I mean duh..I trained him and he’s awesome but talk about how nice it is to go from green to made. It’s like all the buttons are installed. Fun stuff!

Truckee and I had a light lunge session yesterday and I hope to get a ride in today. I also know that I am returning to my former self when I found myself buying a horse 🙂 More details to come on that but it is actually a CANTER horse that I retrained and sold. He is 9yrs old and mainly has been a western trail horse but he is the quiet all around type that everybody is looking for and his owner just finds herself focusing on other things in life at the moment. I’m excited about getting him. He should be an easy sale.

I really can’t wait to get more pics and video of Truckee this weekend to show off. The difference is amazing! I now need to clip him..uh my least favorite task.

I have been doing some dating and have been seeing somebody for a bit who is pretty awesome. He came to fix the pipes in the barn during the cold and get the tractor running. He is going with me to go pick up the new horse and while he isn’t a horse person, he knows farm equipment and farms which is pretty cool 🙂 It was fun to hear that he found one of my most attractive qualities to be the passion that I have for what I do. With or without a man in my life, I am just happy. It has taken a while to get back on track but I feel my old self starting to come back in full force. Please hide my checkbook…we all know the old self likes to buy horses at the drop of a hat 🙂

Allie and I also talked about me bringing over Money for Love (the cool grey horse) so I just need to see how much I can fit into my schedule. I am feeling energized but I am going to try to do better at work vs personal life balance. I might hold off one more month just to get through the worst of winter.

The journey has been rough but I find myself constantly smiling and laughing. I laugh more now than I have in a very long time. I can’t wait to get out to the barn to ride. I think that horses have always had the ability to heal if you let them. It took some time for me to find my way back but now every time I work with a horse it truly feels like it is healing me from the inside out.

Teeth done and lunging started

It’s so important to address the teeth before you really get started. I find it fixes most of the issues that they have in the mouth. You can really tell when a horse needs his teeth done and Truckee had no steering and was just overall fussy so I didn’t want to do much until we got his mouth comfortable . His mouth was pretty rough and he had two baby teeth pulled out. He got a day to recover from his dental work and then his lunging program started.

I think with a horse like him lunging will be important. He is very confident when you are on him but on the ground he tends to lack respect and focus. Ground work will help me establish some boundaries, establish trust and teach him how to use his body correctly without worrying so much.

Truckee is ultra smart! He picks everything up super quick. I had only lunged him once before but he remembered everything. I had a surcingle on him with vienna reins. I attached them very long to start just to let him get used to them. Then as we went along I gradually shortened them until there was still some room but enough for slight contact. Right now I just want him to get a feel of contact without feeling restricted. He is so smart that he was picking it up very quickly.

This horse is pure athlete! He moves across the ground so light with barely any effort. I just really love the look of him. I love the way his neck comes out of his shoulder and he is going to be super fancy. I just know this guy is going to be special. He is a wee bit athletic…hence the lunging yesterday since the weather hasn’t been kind to us. He can do some very interesting airs above ground so hopefully we keep that to a minimum under tack 🙂

I find on these really athletic horses it’s important to be able to ride them over their back into some contact because it will keep you in the tack. So I’m going to spend some good time installing those buttons along with the riding. He’s not spooky but having him able to be ridden into the contact will allow you to ride his body and help him relax. I think it also tends to give them a place to go when they are being naughty. Nothing worse than a horse with its head in the air being really naughty. I want to be able to bend them and get them over the back so that I can ride out the silly stuff! Now he might continue to be perfect but these tools are good regardless.

He is a bit thin right now. I think just the moving him to a different barn and all that stuff took a bit of a toll. He will come around here shortly. He is so sweet and he loves treats! I’m enjoying my time with him.

Weather delay

Okay, so who else is grumpy and eating everything in the house??? I had lost a bunch of weight..damn this weather 🙂

So Truckee was coming right along. It’s fun when you can get videos to compare so I happen to have one of his first ride and 3rd ride.

Amanda did his first ride since I was about as sick as can be and could barely see straight. We thought he would be a bit nervous because at this point he was still very nervous in the barn. I brought him out and walked him around the ring and he just casually glanced at everything. I lunged him for a few minutes just to let him get used to all the tack and gauge his reaction. He was forward but behaved. He still doesn’t really know how to lunge so I have work to do there.

I attached a regular lead rope to him and walked him to the mounting block. Amanda slowly climbed up and just got him comfortable but he was very relaxed. We both were quite happy since we have dealt with several in the past few months that were absolutely horrid about the mounting block and neither of us felt like dealing with another one in the middle of winter. She put her foot in the stirrup and just laid over him a bit. He was very relaxed so she swung lightly into the saddle. I walked her around a few laps and he was very relaxed. He is much more relaxed with somebody in the saddle than he is on the ground. I always like these types! They generally have good work ethic.

Now keep in mind this horse has been sitting in the field for a year just being a horse so it was a lot to throw at him but he was excellent. Steering..well that is questionable 🙂 I had a little bit of a feeling the canter might prove to be exciting. I always tend to do the riding myself on these horses that I think might be a bit hot because it’s hard not to panic when they shoot off into the canter and I had a feeling he would. Yep, he leapt into the canter and for a minute or so he was getting around the ring at a pretty good clip. I’m trying to talk to her a bit about just giving and taking on the reins so she doesn’t hold and just keeps breathing. She said she was scared and could hear I was slightly worried. Ha, I was a wee bit worried he might take off take off faster but he didn’t. Then he came back to a nice canter. She handled it well. She has come a long way in her riding and I’m thankful for her help!

I rode him several times as well and this is the last ride we have on video. He needs his teeth done and is quite fussy about being asked for steering and regulation of his pace. I asked him not to fly into the canter and he thinks that is silly. You can see that canter is a bit of a work in progress but it is a darn nice canter in there. He did well in the ring with other horses. He happily goes right over ground poles and a small little x-rail.

This past week we haven’t been able to ride due to the frozen tundra. I’m worried about his feet bruising up on this hard ground but not much we can do about it. I will be back to work with him today with some lunging. I want to get him a bit more confident on the ground and start to introduce some side reins.

I also plan on clipping him here sometime soon. He is going to be a lovely event horse! I love his feel and natural balance. I am excited to get back to work with him.

 

Horses on the farm

I love love the trips out to the farm. We pulled in the drive and the first horse we could see was our only grey horse named Money for Love. Love is a very cool older stakes horse out of the popular stallion Not for Love. You just look at Love and he speaks of class. He ran a bunch of races (upward of 70) and made over $100k. He has clean legs, big bone, nice feet and just a conformation that leads you to believe it is not a shock he held up so well to racing.

We walked into the other field and I had to stand there for a minute trying to sort out who was who. Pat, the awesome farm owner, came out and helped me 🙂 Hey, they are all various shades of bay.

Sweeter than Fudge and Mr. P.B. were familiar to me and they started mugging us. They were playing with the camera bag and just being goons.

Mr. P.B.- unraced (owner didn’t pay bills) and totally clean.

Sweeter than Fudge also unraced and a 4yr. Had a tiny tiny tendon strain as a 2yr and has just been sitting. He is next on the list! Poor guy is bored.

Just Bearable didn’t want to be caught for his pics. He is such a lovely guy. He was actually the one I intended to take home but I was sick and trying to catch him wasn’t high on my list of things I felt like doing.

Yesterday’s Story is one of the newer arrivals and he arrived in thin shape. His trainer was very upfront that he was just going to need some R&R. He is gaining but it takes time.

This guy was also a new arrival and he is very cool. Big boy with big bone! He looks like he will be ready come spring. His name is Stormy Horizon.

I ended up with Count Truckee. Very athletic!