April 24, 2014

Elbow pull

Dani is a great little mare to ride.  She’s responsive and pretty calm most of the time.  She doesn't throw her head way up in the air like Willy did but she’s still not as relaxed in her going as I’d like her to be.  I’m not overly worried about headset since I’m not a big dressage rider but I've learned a lot of those principles behind dressage and many boil down to a horse utilizing their body properly.  If they hold themselves in a certain way, which as a results means a lower head set, they are less apt to get injured when carrying a rider.  The “frame” is not just for looks but mechanically lifts the back thereby enabling a horse to better carry the weight. 

This is important for a trail and pleasure horse too.  As I haven’t been concerned with her mode of moving thus far I decided to work solely on her from the ground to start.  Julie Goodnight has what is called an elbow pull.  When trainers “bit up” there horses for lunging work they often utilize a side rein to teach a horse self carriage and to lower its head.  This works where a horse then learns that if they give to the bit they find release aka, the correct frame.  I like the elbow pull, similar to a chambon rein where there is pressure at the poll and via the bit. 

The elbow pull puts alternating pressure on the bit as the horses legs move the strap.  Below Julie explains it best.

From Julie Goodnight:
"The beauty of this device is threefold. One, it is self-correcting meaning that the instant the horse gives the right way he gets slack. Two, the elbow-pull creates a rhythmic alternating pull, rather than a static pull on both reins (like side reins) and it is far more effective to use one rein at a time rather than two (a horse stiffens his neck and leans into it when you pull on both reins at the same time). And third, once the horse has learned to respond correctly and carry himself in a collected frame with no contact on his mouth, you can mimic this action on the reins when you are on his back."

"As you walk, you'll feel your hips moving in a side to side action which causes your leg to close alternately and rhythmically (R-L-R-L) on the horse's sides. When you want the horse to collect, you'll first feel the rhythm in your seat and legs and then increase the rhythm in a driving fashion, then add small squeezes with your fingers, alternating R-L-R-L, using the same side hand as leg. Your seat and legs will keep the horse moving forward at the same time your hands are applying resistance to his front end with alternating pressure and causing him to shorten his frame. It is critical that the horse finds a small amount of slack when he makes the slightest effort to collect and it is also critical that you time your hands with your seat and legs. When done properly, the horse will hold himself in this frame. Remember; don't ask him to hold it too long. You'll want to release the horse before he becomes uncomfortable and resistant and gradually increase the time you ask him to hold the frame."

So I've done several sessions with Dani, the picture and video are from the first session.  She certainly had her head high up at times but she learned quickly where the release was.  Obviously the next step is to ride and apply the “half halt” with her gait rhythm.  I’m still not perfect at this myself but it will be easier to work with her on it with her knowing what the proper response is and knows what’s expected when I administer the cue.  Doing the groundwork first will also allow Dani to work on her muscle development for this carriage without having the added weight of me up there.

April 23, 2014

Sleepy pony

At KCRC I've not seen Dani  laying in the sun.  I’m sure she does a lot but she here’s the gate and my car and knows it’s either play or food time.  Well today for some reason she was laying down, flat on her side, when I drove up.  It gave me a start because at first I wondered if she was sick.  She wasn’t, she rolled onto her stomach and chest to look at me.  I walked up slowly and swung between her pen railings and pat her soft forelock.

She was obviously still waking up, she must have been fast asleep dreaming of handsome Friesians or cute appaloosa boys.  Who knows.  It’s fun to love on her when she’s laying down.  I feel the trust from her, she knows I’m not going to do anything to her.  She eventually got up as I went into the back to get ready for some round pen work.  I noticed on her offside hock that sore developing again.  The ground has become compacted and hard again.  It could use more sand I’m sure so I’ll have to get going on redoing her pen to prevent her hock sores from coming back. 

I may be looking for another boarding place soon though I've enjoyed KCRC there are things in my life that may begin making it more difficult since the self care situation isn't in my backyard but a 25 minute drive away.  I can envision us being here until fall but things may change if we put our house on the market!!!!  Yep…hoping to sell our house and perhaps buy or lease horse property!!!  It’s a pipe dream but the housing market is getting better, we shall see!!

April 22, 2014

Spring Trimming

With spring and muddy weather starting in Colorado I decided to tidy up Dani's feet.  I wanted to check her skin too and make sure no issues were starting.  Thankfully she's healthy as a horse!  LOL.

This picture above shows how her fetlocks get in the winter (this was from when I was at Whispering Winds).  They get very fuzzy and keep her warm.

I am so not good at trimming fetlocks, I may need to get a different blade.  I have a 10 which is nearly to the skin and then one that I use to trim my dog which is a 5 I think.  It's a little too long.  I need to find one that will leave about a fourth of an inch of fur so it's close but not skin close.

Overall I did okay.  If you look really close you can see rougher looking edges and I'm sure I could have contoured the fur a little better but her fetlocks look cleaner now.  Dani is very good about getting trimmed at least.  I still did a quick desensitizing to the trimmers.  I moved the clippers around her body, touched her with it on both sides and all areas.  She was fine with it...good girl.

The only issue was with trimming her ear.  She gets a really long tuft at the base that I wanted to trim up.  Dani didn't like the trimmers near her ear but I held them up there until she moved her head downwards and I was able to trim her ear hair.  Since it was just a small tuft at the bottom of each ear it didn't take to long trim.  With fresh oil on her hooves my mares legs look neat and trim.  

April 21, 2014

Serenity NOW!!!

Serene Sunday on a Monday.  Oh well, busy weekend!

April 14, 2014

Ways of Mounting

I always feel very ungraceful when mounting.  As a child I was taught to stand at the shoulder facing back place your foot in the stirrup and then hop and swing around and up.  Very much like the Julie Goodnight video below.  

Recently I was taught this other method where you stand behind the stirrup facing the horses head and then swing up from there.  That can work well but with my short arms I find it hard to reach for the mane and not grab the saddle so much.

They both have their benefits.  Since Dani has done the whole moving off when I mount I haven't had much ability to really concentrate on the way I mount.  This is my goal.
First I will send Dani away at a brisk pace in a  circle the second she moves off while I try mounting.  I'll do this by keeping a lead line on her halter bridle, looping it on the horn to get it out of the way and using it to send her in that fast circle at the right time.  Julie also shows that technique and it worked quickly the one time I tried it.  I just need to get consistent and always reprimand her when she is a bad girl to mount.  She's not terrible, it started with the mounting block at Whispering Winds.  

Then I will practice each style of mounting and figure out what works best for me.  Part of it is I;m out of practice since I don't ride regularly anymore.  The spring is here and so are the light in the later evenings so I've been able to do a little more.

Sometimes it's over whelming with what I want to work with Dani on.  Mounting, being softer and more on the bit when asked and trailer loading.  I just have to take it bit by bit.  I have fun riding even if it's not perfect form or a perfect ride.  Really she's a great mount and listens well and I enjoy it.  The mounting and trailer need to take priority.  Her stop is good, the control at the trot is great so far.  I'll be getting my trailer set up so I can practice loading during the week.  

But I digress.  Mounting.  How do you mount?  Facing the front?  Facing the back?  Always from a step?

April 02, 2014

Refresher Ride

Occasionally the weather is nice and then we have a bout of snowy weather.  Oh spring in Colorado.  The other day was nice so I got out the western saddle, dusted it off and wiped the bridle too.  Dani and I went for a little ride in the arena.

I'm having mounting issues with keeping my left hand on Dani's neck and reins and the right hand steadying the saddle.  She is always taller feeling too with the western saddle, I don't think I have this issues as much with the dressage saddle.  LOL. I feel like my appendages aren't long enough to reach where they need to reach.  Plus with regular jeans I have trouble getting my left foot in the stirrup.  Time to bring out the jods I'm thinking; nice stretchy fabric.  Dani was better about standing still for the mounting, I only had to move her in a circle once and then after I said whoa if she thought about moving and she listened.

We walked around the ring relaxing.  I had Dani flex to both sides and worked on halts.  She responds really well with just the seat.  I love that it can be a long time between rides and yet she's still a good girl.

We also did a few trotting spouts.  I'm still facing that fear of any speed.  Being mostly off this winter hasn't helped since I haven't had as much saddle time but as this weather gets nicer that will change.  Dani has a big ground covering trot, I haven't even started to try sitting trot.  Dani's responsive at the trot but I can feel our tension.  Something to work on.  It's good to be back in the saddle and here's hoping the weather and all my other obligations will allow me to ride more often this spring and summer.

After our ride I kept Dani tied while I finished some chores like setting out her hay and tidying the stall.  Even after a grooming the mare just has to shake and there is dust all over her again!!!  Anyhow I think it's good for her to realize that right after her ride doesn't automatically mean feed time.  She stood very well with little stomping and showing of impatience.

Dani is such a good girl lowering her head to get the halter off, something we have worked on for a year and something she learned really quickly. A couple weekends ago I was holding Dani's lead while talking with Lisa, one of the few English riders in the club, and Dani kept trying to get me to remove the halter.  She lowered her head near my hips and softly nudged me a couple times.  It was so cute.  When she realized that we weren't taking her halter off she went back to grazing.

April 01, 2014

Drinking Like the Fishes

I should have known.  I should have gone with a proven pond filter to begin with.  There were design flaws in the actual trough filter (such as the area that sucks in the water was on the bottom!  huh?).  I got a great filter set from Tetra.  It's actually a filter/fountain combo.  The pump sits away from the filter box that you can add additional types of filter heads.  The only issue is the filter box needs weight but I got some larger gravel to put in the bottom and it weighs the unit down plus offers more filtration, not a really strong negative against the filter at all.

I don't extend the fountain head up above my water but there are three different fountain patterns you could choose.  I just have the first piece attached to the pump which simply agitates the surface; a great thing for mosquito prone areas.

This pump makes the water CLEAR!!!  It does a great job.  It's also easy to just disconnect the filter box from the pump and then rinse out all the gunk.  I'm pretty happy with this filter.  It works with my new water heater too since the tube connecting the filter to the pump runs right below the heater.  I'm please not having icky sludge or an oil slick type layer on the top of a horse trough.  That usually happens to most tanks within a day!  They are so hard to keep clean from all the stuff horse mouths drop into them but this baby is making me giddy with how clear the water is staying.  It's a great way to maintain the water quality between major scrubbing sessions.  

My dream is of course a small automatic waterer but I know that they cost around $500 alone, add in the electrical and plumbing....that's pricey.  An automatic waterer will eventually be worth it in the future but this baby will suffice for now and the near future.

Highly recommended!

March 24, 2014

The Mane Event 2014

The Mane Event at the Horse Expo was fun as usual.  We didn't have to witness the crazy cat lady presentation again, phew!  Below are some iPhone videos I took.  Not the best quality but it shows some of the diverse equine entertainment that was presented.  The Icelandic's usually just run around showing their gaits but they are so cute you just clap along.  They did some coordinated riding.  I think they are adorable!

Later there was a freestyle group.  I do love Haflingers and thought these guys did a great job.  I don't think I could do that with Dani, she'd run off to go roll in the sand!

The fiesta group was cool.  We had seen the little kid on his gorgeous Andalusian a few years ago.  He's grown but is still a tiny guy and still a great rider of these magnificent stallion.  They have a Friesian now who is gorgeous!

I enjoyed meeting my good friend Jessica and her hubby up there.  They've been in WY for several years and are finally able to move back home to MD.  I'll miss them.  It's been great reconnecting with her.  Jessica was my next door neighbor when I was in 4th grade.  We met while I was collecting rollie-pollies.  We played Breyer horses and took riding lessons at the same places.  She's my oldest horsie friend and I'll miss having her so nearby again.

March 19, 2014

What's Going On?

Well things have been busy.  As you've noticed I haven't been blogging in a while.  I hope to do some more soon but for now here is a quick "what's up".

My good friend from high school, the one who is in Wyoming, met me at the Rocky Mountain Expo for the "Mane Event".  We enjoyed seeing fun pony stuff for a couple hours.  She and her hubby are finally moving back to MD after the longer stay in WY for the Air force.  I'll miss having my childhood horse friend so close but we'll keep in touch.  She's the one I always played Breyers with, we just "get" each other when it comes to ponies!  I will miss her greatly.  I'll do a post on the Mane Event, promise.  At least this time there wasn't a crazy cat lady!

I've been busy with planning an event for my parents.  A surprise 40th Anniversary Party!!  We had a small turn out but had a great time and my brother, sister-in-law and nephew came out from VA to surprise them as well.  I'll post more on that soon since we utilized the KCRC clubhouse for the facility.

Lastly my water trough fiiter died.  A month ago the neighboring horse had destroyed the cord to the filter.  Steve had repaired it but perhaps not as well as we'd hoped.  So the water stopped moving and because of that the heater that is inside the filter didn't do a good job of heating the water and there was a small film of ice one morning.  Nothing else can make a horse owner feel worse than frozen water!!!

This filter never really filtered the water.  It kept it moving which I liked but never got the debris out.  I don't think the design was very good since the filter media was on the bottom.  I'mm gonna turn to the experts...fish pond people!

Anyways, I opened the filter to expose the heater...duh should have done that before, and then went shopping for a new heater.  I got the kind that fits in the drain.  It took a bit to figure out how to attach it since the threaded piece is thinner than the actual drain but the heater has a rubber washer that goes on the inside.....

and a weird "nut" that screws in on the outside.  The pressure from this makes a water tight seal.  Hmm.  Okay.  I have a pond filter on order since I still like the idea of having filtration.  I have a feeling this new filter will actually filter the water like it should.  The one specifically for the trough just didn't do a good job, I still had debris in the trough.  I'll post about the new filter when I get it installed and compare it to the previous one.  

So that's all been going on.  This weekend hopefully the hubby and I will attack some trailer work and I will get a ride in.  Hope all is well with everyone in their horsie worlds!

March 11, 2014

Poor Sweetie!!

I hope soon my life will calm down.  I crashed my car, Sweetie, last week.  It wasn't major I just spun on ice to avoid 2 other cars.   The spinning turned into me going backwards over a curb with river rocks.  Luckily it was just damage to my bumper and getting an alignment. So glad I didn't hit anyone of have worse damage.

Life has been pretty busy for other reasons but I can't state that just yet.  It's fun stuff though!  

At least my car is repaired and good to go now.   It's always something right?