December 28, 2010

Arabian Legends

I don't plan on breeding any of my future horses, I'll leave that to the experts.  If I'm really interested in something, like Arabian horses, I like to know all about the subject.  I just recieved this book called Arabian Legends.  It has histories and information about some of the top legendary sires and a few mares.  Aladdin, Khemosabi, Bask, Bay el Bey, Padron and Muscat to name a few!  It's great to learn about the horses and then when I see a horse online I can view the pedigree and know a little bit more about them!  How cool is that!  No matter the breeding though, I want to find a horse I bond with and is right for what I want to do.  He can be from Billy Bob's backyard breeding or a top bred horse with a loaded long as he's healthy!

December 26, 2010

Poop and Mud

I arrived around 11am to see Willy.  One of the dogs came running up the driveway to greet me.  I don't know any of the dog or cats names, they are all just kitty and puppy to me.  I opened up my car to get my tack out, in popped the little tabby cat (the one whose tail had been stepped on by Riddle).  After I got my gear out I asked the kitty to get out of the car but he didn't want to.  So I put down the saddle and reached in to get him.  He cuddled up against my neck, dug his claws into my fleece and gave me a give kitty hug complete with purrs.  Right then Lorraine got out of her car, laughing at me and cat.  We exchanged niceties about Christmas but then she went on her way to quickly take care of her Friesians and then get back to family.

Willy had mud on his face and forelock when I went to get him.  It took me a bit to get him cleaned up but having baby wipes with me are always handy!  Willy seemed more cuddly today, he nuzzled me a couple times but I'm sure it was his way of looking for carrots...quickest way to a mans heart, no matter the species!  I brought Willy into the big arena.  He tried to walk off as I put my foot in the stirrup so I moved him around in a tight circle.  Willy sighed and grunted a bit.  Then I stopped him, got him set up for the mount and went up.  He still took a couple steps but stopped when I told him whoa...he's slowly getting better. 

I worked on the usual serpentines at the walk.  Did a figure eight at the posting trot and also tried some canters in each direction.  The left lead seemed better than the right.  He wanted to rush during the right canter lead.  Again when we cantered I concentrated on relaxing and moving with the was awesome and he was a good boy for the most part.  Canter is my favorite gait!  I worked on some sitting trot and asking for Willy to lower his head.  He did it a little bit, not as much as when we are just walking but I was content anyways.

I dismounted and then took Willy outside of the ring.  I was just going to ride around the outside of the ring for a bit since I was done with circles, figure eights and serpentines for today.  Plus I knew the girl who rode Ladybug, a beautiful liver chestnut mare would be ready soon and she does jumping in the arena.

I worked on Willy trotting around the ring and keeping his pace down to a nice trot instead of the quickened fast pace trot that is jarring to ride.  We also cantered up the hills on each side of the ring.  I had a great ride with him. 

When I was done I untacked Willy at the wash racks that were full of manure.  I grabbed a pitch fork and wheel barrow to clean that up.  I'll have to send a message to Susan since she had talked to all the riders to make sure we were cleaning up after our horses.  The big arena was a mess and the wash racks were disgusting with manure.  I was the first one of the leasers that I know of on Sunday so I know it wasn't any of us!  I brought Willy to his stall and then started working on mucking.  He and Two Socks were joined with Misty in their small paddock.  It didn't look like anything had been mucked on Christmas day.  The girl and her father who leased Misty on Sundays arrived so her dad joined me in finishing up the stall.  Three wheel barrow loads later we were done and the ground could be seen again.  I came back with carrots for Willy and Two Socks.  I said my goodbyes and then of course paid my dues of carrots to the cute miniature horses.  Perhaps when my schedule gets changed in April I can come ride Willy a couple times during the week, I'll have to talk to Susan about that option.  Until next Sunday!

December 24, 2010

All I want for Christmas is an Arabian horse (aka pony!)

My all time favorite horse color is Chestnut with a decent amount of chrome.  A stripe or blaze on the nose is perfect and a few socks are great.  Below are internet pics of chestnust Arabians, some were on at one time or another.  I'm silly and browse that site regularly, dreaming away about the day I can finally call up the owners and say "Hey I'm interested and would like to come out and meet your horse".  Of course I'm even more excited about saying "I'll take him/her!"

Illusions Farm sabino Arabian gelding for sale.  How flashy is he!!
 Such soft eyes.  I can stare into a horses eyes all day.  Chestnuts are neat in that some have a flaxen mane.  Some are red as fire.  Yet some can be dark and almost like a chocolate (liver chestnut).  All are beautiful!

 I would call him Wind Fire or Al Hawa Laheeb in Arabic! 

But of course I can't choose a horse by the color.  I love blacks, and bays too.  Greys are pretty but the work to keep them looking clean is so hard!  At least with darker horses if you don't get all the dirt it sort of blends in with the coat!  I dream of the day when I can find a horse that will place their muzzle in my hands and say take me home, I'll be your friend for life.
 A part bred Arab I would have no problems considering would be a palomino.  I still want a purebred but if the palomino wins over my heart I won't look back!
 A black....yes we all have that dream.  The Black Stallion!  But I'll take a mare or gelding.
If only greys stayed this dark grey!  Love the dapples!

But most grey out to need lots of bleach for this horse!  I know there are tons of products out there to help keep the horse looking presentable, I won't pass up an awesome horse just because they're grey.  Just letting you know!  A good horse is never a bad color!

And no matter what amazing color they are or what fine pedigree they may have (this mare from Illusion Farms is a grand daughter of Khemosabi++++) they are still a horse that needs love and attention and will be my partner on the trails.  I can't wait to snuggle up against the neck of my very own pony!  Hope Santa is reading this!  Happy Holidays everyone!

December 19, 2010

After the fall....

This weekend was icky for weather.  Friday was cold and I didn't ride....I know, I'm a wus!  I have winter riding pants and boots on my Christmas list though!  I want to get all the gear I need to ride no matter the weather.  Then Saturday it was icky but the day got warmer and sunny around the time I would have been out riding...darn it, I should have gone!

Sunday, today, was beautiful.  I went to see Willy.  We approached me and nuzzled my hand as I came up to him.  What a sweet boy!  He didn't mean to take off on my last week now did he!  I brought him out to tack him up, first removing his blanket.  The blanket he wears is not thick, it actually reminds me of a shell people wear while skiing.  He was a little sweaty underneath and I question the need for the blanket except maybe at night or during a really cold day, he has a nice fluffy winter coat.  I need to learn more about when to blanket and when not to.  The area I was tacking him was again left a mess, piles of manure that I cleaned up before I even got to grooming Willy. 
I've been wondering if I need a wider bit for Willy...what do you think?
Then I got him groomed up and tacked and headed to the arena.  There was a grey mare in there since he owners were here mucking her stall.  It was pretty busy at the stable today, several mothers with their daughters doing horsie stuff.  What fun!  I mounted up outside the arena, my first attempt Willy moved around in a circle so I got down and continued moving him around in a tight circle.  Then I made him stand and mounted up, once on he moved off without me asking so I stopped him and stood for a bit.  I need to get a game plan for this, I'll have to ask Laurie what is the best way to handle his moving on while I try to mount.  Most times I've been fine and able to stay balanced but what  nuisance, some day I could get hurt by it.

I rode Willy around the outside of the ring and then noticed a little girl on a grey loping up to us, she asked if she could join us.  What could I say?  We rode around the arena, walks, trots and a little bit of cantering.  She went on about how she used to ride Willy but then didn't want to anymore, she likes Misty and rides her.  She loved to canter and asked if I wanted to race, I don't think that is such a good idea I said.  Eventually her mom got her and I guess took her back to her sister to have her help take up their mare. 

I went into the arena and did some walk, trot and canter transistions with Willy.  I got a few nice canters where the gait was nice and smooth and I was relaxed and following Willy's back with ease.  It felt great!  I still worked on getting his head down at the walk.  It didn't work so well at the trot, I'll have to do some more lunging to work on that. 

After the riding was done and I'd put Willy back I went to go pick up some of his piles that he'd created.  While backing out the wheel barrow I got tangled in another and completely fell over, flailing about.  The mothers all got up and asked if I was okay.  I said I was, bright red, and that I was more embarrassed than anything else.  Oh my gosh!  I am such a clutz!  Later I fed Willy, Two Socks and the two Mini's some carrots and said my goodbyes.  Nice day all in all!

December 13, 2010

A flying horse and a flying rider

Well I fell today.  4th time falling from a horse.  Falls are inevitable for every rider. 

Anyways, the day was quiet when I arrived.  I got Willy in his cute blanket and brought him into the indoor arena.  I groomed him up and got his tack on.  I rode him around the yard a little bit and then headed to the drive to set out on a "trail ride" in the neighborhood.  Willy felt pretty spunky and broke into a trot without me asking as we turned onto Eggar Road.  I brought him back to a walk and then later asked him to trot.  He trotted a bit with me working hard trying to keep him at a nice pace.  He always starts out nice and those goes really fast into a short choppy trot that is torture to sit and difficult to post.  I brought him down to a nicer trot and then to a walk.  I decided not to do much else but walk until we came down the second culdesac.  Then I asked him for a trot and then a canter.  We cantered up the hill but Willy didn't respond when I asked for a slower pace, he was galloping.  I could see the shadow of us on the ground, Willy's nose was to the wind and his legs were picking up more and more speed.  I finally slowed him back to a walk.

We walked some more and I decided to ask for the canter again and work harder at keeping the pace nice...big mistake.  Willy took off again, I tried to sit deep, lost my stirrups and kept asking him to stop, verbally and non verbally.  He wanted to run and didn't pay any attention to the bug on his back.  Why I didn't think to pull him to the side with one rein, the one rein stop I don't know.  Finally I leaned forward in an effort to grab his neck...I'm assuming, I have no idea what was going on in my mind.  Off I went plummeting in front of him and rolling on the gravel road about 6 feet ahead.  I barely came to a stop when I jumped back up and towards him to grab ahold of the reins.  He was at a dead stop and looking at me like "Why are you on the ground?".  I stood for a few minutes with him catching my breathe and assessing my injuries.  I knew I'd feel it later since there was still too much adrenaline in my body to sense much pain.  My left knee area hurt and my right ankle but nothing was broken.  I mounted up and walked...rather "jigged" Willy back to the stable.  He sure was feeling his oats today!

I rode him around the yard for a bit once I got back.  I asked for stops, trots, stops etc.  I figure I need to get back to basics with Willy and figure out why he ran off like that.  Why didn't he listen to my whoas and the reins?  I'll do some groundwork and basic ring stuff for a while to gain some understanding and respect where he is concerned.

Willy has had a few issues that need to be fixed, not sure what I can do with riding him only once a week.  He is very hard to stop, even at a walk.  When I get ready to mount, by putting my foot in the stirrup he immediately starts walking forward in a circle with me at the pivot point.  He'll walk on without a cue from me and he doesn't collect.  Keeping him at a nice trot pace is hard, he always wants to go really fast and do short choppy steps.  I have a lot to work on him so I think I'll be staying in the arenas for a while with an occasional walk only trail ride.  If he was my horse he would have been at my trainers long ago so Laurie could help us work this out.  Willy is a good horse and very sweet, I have no idea where his spunky attitude came from today.  As always I want this experience to help me grow as a rider, and I want to learn to ride the canter and gallop better!  My rear hurts!  LOL

December 11, 2010

Lull in riding followed by double lessons

I didn't ride for a period in November, there was a break-out of meningitis in Fort Collins so my Emergency Preparedness team had to coordinate our health department volunteers to go up and help at the POD's (point of dispensing, aka shot clinics).  Anyways I had to cancel some of my Friday lessons and then on some Sundays I was way too tired or out of town that weekend so I couldn't see Willy.
Willy's fuzzy and sweaty coat all ruffled up!
I saw Willy during a Thursday before leaving for Thanksgiving break.  He looked cute in his blanket!  We did some trail riding in the neighborhood.  Only thing to report that was annoying was that I was tacking him up in the indoor arena and Susan comes in and demands I tack elsewhere so she can bring a horse in there.  The other arena's and round pen were wide open, not sure why she had to have the indoor arena.  Anyways I went to move Willy and then came back to get my supplies but she already had the horse in there galloping inconsiderate, I had to reach quickly through the fence polls when the horse was on the other side to get my gear.  This woman just amazes me at her rudeness!

The most recent ride I had with Willy I was working on getting a nice consistent trot out of him.  Susan had mentioned I should use a martingale to help with h  is head carriage issues but I disagree I'd rather do some real work with him rather than use a tool that he could brace against and not learn anything.  I pressed him forwards up into my hands and did the half halt, one two, one two on his mouth...rewarding when he put his head down.  I was impressed and decided I would not buy a martingale but a surcingle with side reins instead to start working on him.  I have no idea what I can do with only seeing him once a week but I'll try what I can.  As I was in my car just about ready to pull out the little gray tabby kitten jumped up on my car!  I was imprisoned in my car by a panther!  Hehehehe!

I then had a lesson on Divine and a lesson lunging Gadiel, Lauries big dapple grey stallion.  That was fun!  It was a bit unnerving lunging a stallion especially one that knows to rear on cue, I was afraid of doing the wrong thing and accidentally asking him to rear.  Several times when he faced me in the ring I felt like the snake on the island in the Black Stallion must of felt, a little helpless!  But it was fun to work on the lunging again and to see Gadiel with all his power trot and canter around me!

My latest lesson with Divine was a almost perfect.  I did walks and trots, working on my seat.  Laurie has had me sit more on my crotch since I tend to sit a bit back and that restricts the movement of my lower back.  I could feel the difference for sure.  So I worked on Divine and did figure eights, halts, sitting trot and a little posting trot while trying to keep her collected and my seat in this better position.  It felt great!  I felt I did really well and Laurie said I did awesome...that I next leveled!  Sweet!  I don't really want to ever show but at the same time getting judged can sometimes help one set goals.  I know with my future horse I'll have me and the horse to continue with training.  What fun!  Still trail rides and gallops in the open fields is what I ride for...feeling the wind in my hair and the strong muscles below my seat that respond to my cues.  What a great day riding!

I wish I could buy one of Lauries horses right now, I know Eksodus is pretty nippy with me and Laurie says that would go away if he was gelded.  Plus I need to learn how to deal with that, I've never had to!  Pstar is still my favorite mare but Laurie was honest that she wouldn't be the best choice for my trail riding/endurance goals.  I wonder about Psylk though, Laurie bred her specifically for breeding to Gadiel but I love her laid back personality.  I have to keep reminding myself that my horse will come...maybe it will be one of Lauries horses but I can't feel guilty if all her horses she has for sale are sold by the time I can buy one.  Someday I can see buying a weanling from her or paying for a breeding and the care of one of her mares so I can have the foal.  Oh to dream!  For now I'll just work with Divine and Willy and continue to think about what I want in my own horse.

October 24, 2010

Fuzzy wuzzy was a horse

Willy is getting his winter coat in, and fast!  I often wonder if it occurs faster in an older horse.  So of the other horses at the farm are not at the level Willy is, he's looking more like a miniature mammoth than a horse!  Hahaha, not really!

When I got him from his paddock today he was covered in hay dust.  His head, face and half of his mane was flecked with bits of hay pieces.  He was a real mess!  I prettied him up, got him tacked up and decided to do some work in the smalled arena, the one that doesn't slope.  I mounted from the ground since I want to practice that more.  Lately I've used the mounting block, just cause.  I've been trying hard to mount with my foot pointed towards the horses head, parallel to their body, that way I don't poke them in the elbow with my toe as I mount up.  I've discovered that's what I've been doing so I'm trying to work on correcting that error.  It's almost like starting all over again learning how to mount but you don't get extra points for mounting with elegance at least!

Looking downhill at the larger/sloped arena
I worked a little on posting trot since I'd been working on that with Laurie on Friday.  I tried to feel where my feet were and occasionally glanced down to indeed see that I would point my toes down.  I worked hard keep my toes in and up.  At one point my right foot ached on the outer edge, not sure if it was from the work or the way the boot was hitting me.  It was odd.

Willy has been more reluctant to move forwards in the arena the last few times.  It takes a lot to ask him to trot and when he starts the trot it's with a slight toss of his head and a begrudging grunt.  He doesn't seem to be in pain or have a limp.  Is this an older horse thing?  We went around the ring in both directions and I feel that my posting and leg position eventually got to the place I wanted.  I then swung open the gate and rode around the outside of the bigger arena, trotting a few times and practicing a few halts.

Then I took Willy out to the Eggar road for a "trail" ride.  I wanted to see the mountains on this glorious day.  The sky was a cobalt blue and the clouds were pure white and wispy.  As we reached the crest of the road where we could see a nice view of the front range I sighed in contentment.  Oh to be fall and riding a horse, it can't get more perfect than this!  The clouds by the mountains were casting a shadow creating a dark purple/blue hue to enrich the hills.  It was breath taking.  On our way back to the stable we passed the field with the horses and donkey.  The donkey always seems to greet us as we pass and this time we got a close up look at the mare and her foal.  I need to bring a camera out next time!

Fuzzy and Sweaty Girth area
Once back at the stable I pulled off Willy's saddle and hopped up on bareback to walk around the stable yard while he cooled down and his girth area dried off.  Then I groomed him and led him back to his hay in his run.  I ran around to a couple different places in the yard where he had pood, he had to go a lot today!  I gave Willy a big hug rubbing his fuzzy coat.  Till next Sunday my silly Willy!

Wild and Crazy mares....ah, not really

Since I missed last weeks lesson I was happy to arrive at the stable and see the mares in the arena.  Little Psylk was the first one to greet me.  She has very soft eyes and is a sweetheart.  I was surprised that Pstar wasn't coming up to me but Sala was right there and since she's the boss mare that may have been why.  I greeted Divine and brought her in to groom.  She was wiggly as usual.  Seems right when I put her in the cross ties she starts to paw a little, she wants to get this over with and done so she can do other things I'm guessing. 

While Laurie and I awaited her girls bringing in the mares we got to enjoy the show of Brownie and Sala galloping around the arena in a mock panic.  Apparently they are usually the first to be brought into the stable and since they were the last left it was quite upsetting!  It is pretty impressive that the mares can run around with such gusto and spirit yet be caught and led away calmly by young girls.  Sala wasn't led into the stable with quite the calmness I describe, she pranced a bit with her head high and her tail arched.  Though she was prancing about she was 100% under control.  I love Arabs! 

Legacy of Roses aka Legs
My lesson was on the lungeline and Laurie had me working on posting trot.  I do lose my leg a bit while posting, and tend to put my toes down, so we worked on that.  I certainly felt the pull in my ankles as I tried to keep the toes pointed in and up with my heels being nice and down...of course all the while trying to remain relaxed with my knees like springs.

When I started off I wasn't do quite as well but eventually found my stride so to speak.  I just need to think about sinking into my heels and feeling the pull on the back of my calves, that helps to find the position.  I seemed to trot forever in lunge circle, as Laurie said building up my endurance.  I can't imagine how long I'll be posting the trot in an endurance race, even just the limited distance at 25 miles seem daunting to me!  I need to get in shape just as much as the horse!

After I groomed Divine I visited the other mares with carrots.  Brownie has soft gentle lips as does Sala.  For Sala it's amazing how gentle she is given she is HUGE for an Arabian.  She's 16 hands I think, I think I recall Laurie saying that but even though she's a big girl she is still a refined looking Arab.  That's what's nice about this breed.  Pstar and Psylk were in the outer stall together, so I was able to give my beloved Pstar a carrot and say hello since she oddly wasn't the first at the gate this morning.

October 17, 2010

Willy Feels Better

I am happy to report that Willy was doing much better today!  His nose was dry and he only coughed a couple times during the trot.  He's definitely getting very fuzzy.  His girth area had obviously dried funny from the previous ride, not sure if that was saturday or another day since I don't know his schedule.  It felt good to groom him and tack him up today.  His mane was nice and silky, no knots!

I mounted using the mounting block since I was wearing jeans and they are more restrictive than my jodphurs.  I figured it would be nice to just mount up easy today.  I worked him around the main ring, on the outside at first doing some posting trot.  Then I decided to go into the arena and play around in there, even though the big arena is sloped rather than graded flat.

No snot!  He feels much better!
I tried one gate and couldn't seem to get Willy in the position I wanted him to so I could reach the latch easily.  The second gate I tried I could reach fine but could not move the darn thing to save my life.  I feel silly on horseback getting into position for opening a gate but I feel even more so when the horse is in position and I can't open it!  Third times a charm, I finally got Willy where I needed him to be and opened the third and final gate.  I swung it open but didn't pay much attention to the overhead bar and sort of banged my head on it.  Yet another reason it's good to wear a helmet while riding!!

I started Willy on a trotting circle which he did quite well, including a figure eight where he didn't try to break his gait.  Then I did some walking serpentines down the arena.  Willy seems a bit more stiff turning in the right direction so I worked a little bit on some flexion movements with his neck and tight circles.  He didn't seem to like it so much but the poor boy needs to get more flexible! 

We cantered a few times with no goal in mind but to have the wind brush by.  I want to canter him more and work on my seat in the canter, it's my favorite gait since it's like a rocking horse or a playground swing.  The motion is so perfect!  I just wish I could see what it was like with a collected horse, Willy is stiff in most of his gaits so even though it's fun I'm sure it's more luxurious in a well collected horse.

After the shorter ride, since I was planning on meeting some friends for drinks later, I groomed him down.  His girth area was still wet so I took him to the arena with me and set him loose while I scooped out the poop piles.  He'd only gone once in the ring but the piles left from how many days from the other riders were still there so I decided to get all of those.  There are signs all over that in the tacking up areas and arenas all riders need to clean up after their horse.  It doesn't seem that many of them do since most times there are several piles in the indoor or outdoor arena when I arrive. 

Once I was done I brushed down the sweaty areas on Willy since he was now all dried off.  I took him back to his pen where his buddy Two Socks awaited.  I gave them both carrots and told Willy he was a sweet horse; oh yeah, you too Two Socks.  It was a nice ride but too short, I'll have to take my usual amount of time next week and get my full Willy, aka Sir William, fix.  I think he should be called Sir William, it has a very noble sound to it, plus my friends always make comments about Willy and Willy getting fuzzy. 
Apparently I know too many people who have their minds in the gutter!

Knots and Snot

Willy had a HUGE knot in his mane today!  Sometimes the kids here do a braid and then leave it.  If it's not maintained over the next couple days it turns into a rats nest!  Poor boy!  Steve came to ride with me so we grabbed Riddle as well, luckily his short mane doesn't have any tangle issues.

I spent a long time just working on Willy's mane, pulling out hairs one by one until it was loosened and I could finally brush it out.  I was worried that Steve would be all tacked up on Riddle before I even finished with Willy's mane!  Steve had a few issues with Riddle while grooming and picking his hooves but I was too busy with the knot that I figured Steve would get it all worked out.  Then heard this meow of horror, glanced over to Riddle and saw that the horse was standing calmly on the little gray tabby cats tail!  The poor thing was whacking at his fetlock and biting his leg to be released.  The cat was still a kitten so my thought is he still wasn't very "horse smart" and had decided to lay down a little too close to the horses hoof.  Finally he was released and he darted across the arena.  Steve went over to the kitty's resting spot to make sure his tail was alright, not broken or anything.  Luckily the sandiness of the arena probably had enough give in it that the tail was unharmed, though I'm sure he had some bruises and was sore for a few days after!  Poor little guy!

Steve grabbed the saddle, the older Wintec we'd used before and placed it on Riddle, a little too far back so I showed him the proper place to put the saddle and made an "air gap" into the pommel with the saddle pads.  We tried out too girths, both being too long so Steve went back to the tack room in search of another while I tacked up Willy.

Willy's nose was pretty runny and he coughed a bit, seemed he had a cold so I figured I'd take it easy on him.  I cleaned his eyes and face with a wipe to make him more comfortable.  When Steve came back with more girths it was apparent that we weren't going to have any luck with finding a tack fit.  Then Willy started coughing again, pretty hard and at the same time he farted really loud with each cough.  The sounds of farts and coughed echoed in the arena.  His nose was again covered in snot.  Today was not going to be a riding day.  I took off the saddle and unwrapped his legs, again more coughing and farting.  My poor little horse!  I know when I have a cold I don't want to do anything!

I rubbed him down a little and wiped his nose yet again.  We brought the horses back to their pens and gave them both a few carrots.  I hugged Willy and told him I hoped he'd get better, I'd send an email to Susan.  I'm sure she knew he was sick, a couple other horses seemed to have runny noses too but I figured I'd just send her a quick note.  Next to Willy's pen live the two miniature horses.  Steve wanted to go in and see them so we did.  Like me he loves things in miniature!  There were runny noses galore in the mini pony paddock as well.  Something must have been going around.  We gave the little ones some carrots too and then headed home to our warm house.  No riding today but at least I got to see my buddy.  Hopefully he'll get over his cold fast, it's not fun being sick whether you're a horse or a human!

Loving on Arabs

So it's been a week since I last rode at Laurie's, I rode on October 11th since I missed the Friday because of a painful arm (uge the tetanus shot!).  I could write a lot here about the lesson but the truth be told I can't remember much!  I have to write down at least the points of the lesson right afterwards or else I'm lost when it comes to blogging.  Oh well, you can't write about them all!

Father and Son
I rode Divine and had a few issues but rode her pretty well and Laurie commented that my seat and leg position seemed much stronger after the lessons on the lungeline....SWEET!  After my lesson I watched Ushi's lesson but left after Robin arrived.  I had some errands to run that day and as much as I wanted to stay and play with horses all day long I had to go.

Brownie is cute as ever!
So anyways I've decided to just post some pictures of the horses.  Eksodus and Gadiel were in stalls next to each other.  Gadiel is a magnificent stallion and the father of Eksodus.  They were playing with each other over the doors, Eksodus licking his lips and chewing his teeth in that baby way.  He's a cutie.

Legacy of Roses was in the barn to so I went to greet him.  I don't quite know what to do around the stallions, they seem nibbly and I would hate to do something I shouldn't and cause an issue. Better to just stay at a distance and admire!

Cavalia Oct 9, 2010

I purchased tickets for Steve and I to go see Cavalia that was touring.  The show was in Denver at the Pepsi center but in their own tents.  It was a pretty elaborate set up.  The seats were more comfortable than I thought they would be since it was set up like bleachers but they were like the nicer horse arena seating so it worked well.  We didn't get the top price tickets so we didn't get a tour of the stables to meet the horses but I wasn't quite willing to pay THAT much.  We had seats in a fairly center area, Row H so not very far back at all.  We had a great view for the show.

Cavalia started off as the story of man and horse, the history of man is accompanied by his ally the horse.  The opening scene was of a gorgeous stallion being spotted by a dancing girl who seems more fairy than human.  She danced around a "pond" and sent the horse galloping.  At times they were dancing and then she lifted her hands to his muzzle in a first touch.  Sure the horses are trained but the whole show was touching.  People don't realize the fragile connection that humans and horses have.  That bond can be broken and shattered, I'm sure people who work at rescue centers know that all too well.

There was trick riding and bareback riding.  There were scenes where one girl was in a herd of 7 horses, mostly stallions and was able to make them run in sync around the stage and step in harmony with each other.  It was eye candy for a horse lover.  I think even one who wasn't too enamour with horses would fall in love with there beauty.  Where else in the animal world can one find such a strong and spirited beast with a heart and eye so soft?  So grand and magnificent yet kind and gentle?  Words cannot even describe how amazing this show was!

There were several Arabians in the show, including some quarter horses, Percherons and Belgians but the show stealer's were definitely the baroque Lusitanos.  Templado, the most famous Lusitano in the show, had a mane that nearly touched the ground and a tail to boot.  Being able to grow a horses mane so long is an accomplishment, you'd be amazed at how easily a horse will rub there manes and break the hairs so it seems there hair never grows!  I was blown away!!!  You couldn't take pictures in the show so I took some of black and white banners that were in the "foyer" area of the tent.  I could see this show again....easily!

October 10, 2010

Clinton Anderson

I can see why people like him.  He's funny informative and entertaining at the same time.  Steve and I went to the Walkabout Tour that was being hosted up in Denver.  I'd received a complimentary invite to the event which included tickets to the Saturday and Sunday event.  I was skeptical it was actually free but we headed up anyways...what could it hurt?  We got in, and I received our two tickets for Saturday and Sunday.  Guess you do sometimes get things for free in life!!  I immediately called Laurie to see if she wanted to have the tickets for Sunday since I knew I wouldn't be heading up for it.  She sounded excited about the prospect, I regretted the last minute notice but that last thing I wanted to do was tell her she could have the Sunday free tickets and then realize when I got there Saturday that there was a big catch.

Anyways we arrived during a break so ended up walking around at the vendors.  The had a lot of tack and supplies, most looking western so not much interest to me.  Automatic waterers and feeders, so what I will invest in once Steve and I have property.  Then we saw a nice trailer that I got all excited about since I thought it was up for raffle.  Nope, the raffle was for some brake gauge for the trailer.  Well I don't have a trailer so no need entering that raffle.  We found some seats and got ready for the demonstrations.

The first demo was a mare that needed some work in round penning, she didn't like to move off and was difficult to catch.  Clinton went over some of the basics that you need when starting on ground work with a horse.  His main goal was to get the mares eyes on him rather than her heels facing him.  His first step was to get the mare's feet moving, so he kept working to get her at the canter.  Next he worked on changing directions, then consistently changing directions.  He then worked on getting the mare to turn into him...I really should have written this all down but it made sense.  I might have to purchase a book or two.

We had lunch and then went to find new seats since we were surrounded by people with little kids talking, playing video games or kicking the back of our seats.

The next horse was a handsome Quarter horse that Clinton worked on with manners.  The horse barged into his owners space all the time and wasn't good at keeping the pace she wanted...he jigged a lot more that walk or trot.  He worked him on the lunge and constantly changed directions with the horse to get him to start thinking.  Then he taught asked him to canter using just a hand signal but it took effort to get the message across.  He taught us that horses learn from the release of pressure.  He then worked with lead rope tossing over the horse, whips on the ground....basically desensitising the horse to these things to make them more steady.  It was really interesting.  Hopefully Laurie made it to the Sunday one with no problems.  I should read up on his books or view his videos sometime.  I'm having trouble remembering what he talked about since I didn't write it down but I'm not planning on training a horse anytime soon!

October 04, 2010

First Time Lunging Willy

Fall, the season when the days grow shorter and the crisp air is still penetrated by the warm sun. There is nothing more I love than to be warmed by that glowing orb and having a crisp cool breeze blow over me so I don’t get too hot. The sky always seems a darker shade of blue in the fall. This year the fall colors are slow to come; we might not have a brilliant leaf change since it’s been so dry but the sound of fallen leaves rustling in the breeze is still welcome.

Unfortunately fall brings wooly horses and burrs that cling to polo wraps. I spent 20 minutes before even leaving for the stable picking out seeds and burrs from the fleece leg wraps. If I had a choice I wouldn’t use the leg wraps when I went on a trail ride with Willy but it’s something Susan requires. Maybe I can lightly wrap the polos with vet wrap once they are on, that way the burrs won’t stick to the wrap and I can toss the seed encrusted outer layer. We’ll have to see.

Today I didn’t find Willy in his usual run so I again had to wander the stable yard looking for him but at least after being here a while I can narrow it down to a few runs that seem to be where the resident lesson horses reside most times. Willy was cute as I groomed his neck, he really leaned into the curry comb and showed how pleased he was that I was working on his itchy spot!

I worked with Willy in the round pen to start. I planned on lunging him and had a brand new lungeline that I purchased on Friday at Equiline. It’s purple, no green lines were available in the store and I didn’t want to wait to order online, oh well all my tack doesn’t have to match right? Besides, purple and green look nice together! I don’t know if Willy has ever been lunged, it doesn’t seem that way since he kept turning and following me as I walked towards him trying to cue him to walk on and trot in a circle around me. I ended up grabbing one of the lunge whips; it helped him realize what to do as I tapped the whip on the ground behind him. I had him walk and trot in both directions, his trot really does seem stiff but it’s not too bad. Once I feel that he really understands the lunging business I’ll work with side reins to start trying to encourage him to lower his neck and more fully engage his hindquarters; to collect. He still didn’t catch on to the halt that well and ended up turning into the circle as he halted. That’s not something you want when lunging a horse, they need to stay on the circle and halt. I’ll have to work on that with him.

Once we had our fun with lunging I put on Willy’s bridle and hopped up bareback again. I worked on relaxing my seat and letting my legs swing without pinching. We did a couple little bouts of trotting but I decided I wasn’t quite comfortable with the trot bareback to keep going very long. Eventually, after I had my fun with some leg exercises, I decided to put the saddle on.
Took this pic off the computer screen of a video, horrible I know!
I worked Willy in the round pen and then out in the stable yard. I mainly practiced posting trot and noticed how much easier it felt after my recent lesson with Laurie. I still felt a little left behind when going up the hill and Willy would start trotting really fast, with short steps. I had to work really hard to keep with his rhythm. I tried to slow him down and keep him at a nice medium trot, the short stepped trot isn’t that comfortable even while posting.

The older man with his daughter/granddaughter (I would assume she’s probably 8 or 9) was there with a photographer taking pictures her and the horse Silver. The photographer was also taking pictures of Willy and I, he asked first, and another girl (15 years old maybe) riding Ladybug. I watched the girl that was leasing Ladybug. She was in the main arena working over a couple jumps. She trotted the mare and then cantered her over the small cavalletis. It was effortless! It really makes me wish I didn’t have that big gap of time where I didn’t ride for years, I wouldn’t be feeling like I’m starting my riding all over from scratch. Ladybug moved like she was made of elastic. I love dear old Willy but there is a distinct difference in how he moves compared to Ladybug and of course Divine. Poor old man. He’s a good trail horse though, a great horse to have a good time with and he’s teaching me patience that’s for sure.
Cute Willy butt!

I trotted him some more and cantered up the slopes a few times. Willy stopped over by the Friesians as I said hello before realizing he was going for the huge bale of hay placed outside their run. Bad Willy! Bad, unobservant rider! I finished the ride and gave Willy a groom down and put him back in his run. Next week Steve is most likely coming out again to ride with us!

October 03, 2010

Patrick Swayze-Never knew how much he'd help me with my riding!

My lesson with Divine was again on the lungeline.  I saw Laurie holding the line in the arena as I headed back from my bathroom break...I always have to go right before I mount up, TMI I know.  My thought when I saw it was "I hope we get to do the relax type lesson again!"  And so we did.  She started me going the opposite way than we normally begin.  Let's see, let me think about this....we usually start going counter clockwise, the horses inside being the near side so I guess it just seems natural that we tend to start that way.  If I think about it that's probably the direction I start Willy out when I ride him.  It's something to think about, the direction of circling uses different muscles and creates different gravitational forces so I think it's a good idea to switch the one you "start out" on during a ride so as to get both sides worked when you and your horse are fresh.  To those that don't ride I'm sure you are scratching your heads here, sorry, if I can think of an equivalent in humans I would describe that here but right now I'm at a loss.  I'm sure there are tons of analogies I could use.

Anyways, Laurie had me ride in two point, and then transitioning to posting trot while trying to least affect my horses gait.  Several times she had me place my hands on my tummack, I mean stomach to feel the looseness that was needed there.  Aside from the jiggles I felt, I understood the sensation of relaxation needed in my core.  She also had me place my hands on the upper part of my rear to feel relaxation there as well.  It's amazing how when you place your hand on certain body parts you can better tell that part to relax and have that accomplished.  Alright, this has become a rather odd paragraph!  Moving on...

The posting trot work really helped me today.  The movement of the horses shoulder should be the movement that the seat follows in the upward motion of the post.  Here again comes the Patrick Swayze move, where he moved his pelvis back and forth trying to show Baby how to that movie.  This is indeed the motion needed, a tilt of the hips and pelvis forward as your rise from the seat and then move back to sit a step and rise again.  Laurie told me I needed to accentuate the break in my mid section so that my hips moved independently of my shoulders, therefore allowing my hands to be steady.  I've seen riders that look like they are using the reins to pull themselves up during the post, not good.  Really concentrating on the forward movement of the hips during the post is essential, it's not just an up and down movement; the SHAWING movement (or great now I'm incorporating Wayne's World!) is important to keep the rhythm and encourage the horse to continue at a steady pace forwards.

Well this post was not that great since I know other awesome things happened during the lesson but I didn't write down notes.  My lesson was Friday, and I headed home and took a nap that afternoon with a horrible headache I hoped to be fully rid of when I went out with friends for dinner (it never fully went away, darn it!) and I haven't attempted to write until Sunday evening....bad blogger!  I'll do better next time!!

September 29, 2010

Oh so excited!

So October 9th Steve and I are headed to Denver to see "Cavalia", basically a show that is Cirque de Solei with horses from my understanding.  I can't wait to see enchanted Andalusians, Lippizans, Friesians and Arabs....heck I have no idea what breeds will be in the show but I cannot wait!!!!!

I also recently received an invite and two complimentary tickets to the Clinton Anderson Walkabout tour which is a clinic on horsemanship and training to be held in Denver that same weekend!!!  So we plan on heading up on Saturday early to check out the clinic and see what we can learn and then that evening be enchanted by beautiful horses and I'm sure a few beautiful people!  Oh yes a great horse weekend is coming soon!

September 27, 2010

Nose to the wind and trot!

Willy was happy to see me today. His winter woolies are coming in more each time I see him. The day was pretty warm so I felt bad for him in all his fuzziness. I took him in to groom, he’s always covered in bits of hay and lots of dust so I take my time getting all the dirt flicked off his coat. Another gal came into the indoor arena to groom and tack up the mare she was leasing. We didn’t really talk just quietly groomed our horses in the coolness of the ring.

I got Willy tacked up and walked him around the yard practicing several stops. Sometimes I ask and ask and ask and after 10 or 20 steps he finally stops. I’m doing everything I know to ask him properly, I sit deep and press with my seat; and squeeze intermittently on the reins. As he keeps moving I apply more pressure to both seat and reins. I don’t think I’m doing anything wrong, Divine responds well and I’ve done practice with her but then again she’s collected so stopping more quickly is perhaps easier.

I took Willy out to the neighborhood I like to ride in. A truck was backing up into a driveway to deliver hay and Willy wasn’t sure how to react to that. I reassured him and moved him slowly past the offending vehicle. I asked him for a trot, which started out fine as I posted but then the choppy pace increased to such a jarring nature. I asked him to slow a little but he just tossed his head and hollowed his back even more until I finally got him back to a walk instead. I need to get a lunge set and work on him with collection, I find it hard to practice sitting trot or posting trot on him with his neck up, nose out and back hollow. It can’t be comfortable for him either, it’s not an efficient way of moving and as a previous endurance horse trotting so stiffly I would think would have been a detriment over miles of trail. I tried several more times at the trot with Willy being just as ornery. Instead of feeling like I was fighting with him I decided to stay at the walk and enjoy the day.

We did some side passing or more like lateral movements to the side of the road but he was having some issues responding to that as well. Once I got back to the stable I worked on him with turn on the forehand and some side passing. He did a decent side pass to the right but really had difficulty doing it to the left, he kept wanting to back up. I wonder if I can work on that from the ground too, perhaps ground work will help with a lot of the issues I’m having with him. I’m not experienced enough to know if his trot is just his trot or if it’s so jarring because he is uncollected. Even when Divine is uncollected her trot feels smoother than his. Now Danilla, the Arab/Mustang mare I tried out to possibly lease earlier this year, had a trot to die for, ground covering but smooth. It was very easy to sit and I hadn’t done as much work on the sitting trot at that point! Oh well we’ll see how things go with Willy.

After the ride I roughed up his sweaty areas and walked him around the arena to cool down a bit. With his halter and the long lead I had I figured I’d see if he knew how to lunge. He didn’t, he kept trying to follow me around instead of moving off from me. I grabbed one of the school whips and used that to coax him away from me I didn’t even have to touch him with it. We eventually got it and I lunged him around in a small circle for a bit until his coat was dry and cool. Then I groomed him smooth and rewarded him with many carrots as I put him back into his pen with his buddy Two Socks. I think I can work with Willy a bit and see how things go with getting his trot more collected or at least more ride able, it will teach me a lot in the process.
Willy eatting hay with Two Socks at the right

I talked with Steve a lot this weekend about horse ownership, something about going on a trail ride on Saturday and the drive up there made it prime time to talk horsies. My goal for getting a horse is spring of 2012, hopefully then I can begin the search for a horse. I’d like to be able to buy the truck and trailer at that time too but we’ll see what we can find. I’ll most likely have some money saved towards the truck but I’ll go out and buy a horse and then later that year get the trailer and truck once I have the rest saved up. I want to buy both with cash so they won’t be a top of the line set just something that works well. The truck will be an older model with miles on it but mechanically sound, same thing with the trailer; nothing fancy just something to cart my horse out for a trail ride.

It seems very doable if I concentrate on getting the horse and worry about the truck and trailer later. Previously I wanted to get them all at the same time because of my desire to do endurance riding but if I get a 4 year old horse I really can’t do longer rides anyways until the horse is 6 years old per AERC rules. The first year or two I have the horse I really should work on basic dressage training in the ring and where ever I have the horse I’m sure there will be trails or places to ride nearby until I have a rig. I’ve seen that some people even have 3 year olds that are started under saddle, granted I wouldn’t want to ride them too hard for a year since they are still young but I find that interesting and I’m not sure if that’s a good idea or not. In Equus it was stated that the last bones in the body to fully calcify are the vertebrae and that tends to be around age 5; the cannon bones calcify sooner but still, at a young age you don’t want to put too much strain on their legs and tendons. I guess with the current plan a 3-4 year old might be the best age for me to look, with the intent that at age 5 I would start working on limited distance training and at 6 maybe doing the first distance ride.

I’m just thinking out loud. It’s such an exciting prospect and fun to plan for owning a horse as a definite thing! Steve even seemed up to the idea of getting a second older horse (I’m thinking a cute quarter horse, paint or grade horse) that he could learn to ride on and my mother or friends could ride; so a beginner safe horse. Eventually he wants his own Arabian and to join me on the trail but we’ll have to see how much he gets into it. Oh to dream! 2012 is not that far away so I need to get planning and working hard on the debt snowball! Allrighty then, I’m off to go do that!