February 28, 2011

Kenlyn Urban Challenge!!!!

I'm so excited!!!!!!!  The hubby and I are volunteering on April 29th-April 30th to help out with the Kenlyn Urban Challenge which is a 15/25/50 mile endurance race!!!  We'll be helping at the vet check, it sounds like, and along the way meeting riders and their horses!!  Plus we'll get to see what an endurance race entails!!  I cannot wait!!!!!!

Willy roundpen canters

I rode Willy today.  It was just me heading out...no Steve and no coworker today.  It was a pretty cold day with a gray sky.  I brought my lungeline and a whip with me so I could work Willy in the round pen and see that he could canter in there. 

After tacking up I worked him both directions and got him to canter pretty nicely each way.  Now to just get him to do it with me on him!

A minor tangle in Willy's mane
I mounted up, happy that he didn't try to move out right away.  What a good boy!  Then I walked him, trotted him and eventually got him into the canter.  He wants to trot faster and faster in the round pen instead of breaking into the canter.  Once he did I tried to concentrate on my seat and balancing to the inside of the circle...sort of a revisit with the fall from Divine last week.  I worked him both ways at the trot and canter, he needed a little bit of prompting to stay in gait.

I finally decided to exit the round pen when a paint mare that was in a pen right next to it kept coming over to Willy with her teeth barred and ears back.  Each time around I said NO sternly to her and flicked my whip are her.  Still it's not really a conducive environment to getting work done when another horse is trying to bite mine!

I rode Willy around the property a little, doing a few trot and canter transitions.  Then I called it quits since I was a wuss and pathetic!

The cutest part of a bay horses nose, the inverted triangle!
The pens were very clean today!  I filled up only one wheel barrow with fresh manure!  Two Socks was cute when I entered with the wheel barrow since he wanted his carrot but I wanted to get work done before I gave him, Willy and Misty some carrots.  Misty was laying on the ground all cute and cuddly with her blanket.  And then of course I had to visit the mini's!

Cute Two Socks wanting his carrot
I haven't heard from Laurie in a while since things have been pretty busy for her.  I think if I lease Pstar I will definitely miss Willy and the mini's but I love Pstar so much!  It will be amazing.  Hopefully I can talk with Laurie sometime this week to get details of this down and a contract written up but I know she's closing on the new place this week!  Can't wait to see it!
Misty resting on the ground

February 26, 2011

Cinching a Western Saddle

Something I need to know since it's pretty different from the english girths.  Any reason why the billet straps are so long?

February 24, 2011

Western or English?

I’ve been reading a book about the complete trail horse. My desire with horses runs along the pleasure riding spectrum with some mild “competition” in the endurance arena. Sure I’m learning basic dressage but shouldn’t everyone? It’s a basis for a balanced seat and getting a horse balanced as well, it can be applied in any type of riding.

Anyhow, this book discusses the personalities of a trail horse and also how to work with a horse you already have to get them trail savy. One chapter discussed neck reining in depth and a lot of things mentioned made complete sense to me from the trail riding side of things. A lot of times having that free hand is vital while riding on a trail and I can see that while trail riding or endurance racing I might want to take on that approach. Can one train a horse to learn neck reining but yet still do direct reining for dressage?

I definitely see me owning a western type saddle in the future, one that would be a good trail or endurance saddle with a horn to hang things on, lots of rings and surface area to attach thing and certainly the horn is good to grab onto during a steep part of a ride or an unsteady step. Many endurance riders use a hackamore on their horses since it’s a long ride and then they don’t have to worry about a bit when it comes time for hay and water. It seems to be the track I would go myself, no bit means a horse may be more willing to drink water at rest stops and then I wouldn’t have to worry about a dirty crusty bit from a horse eating with one in its mouth. Will my future horse be able to be trained in English/dressage and yet go Western and bit-less on the trail?

Being out in Colorado there is definitely a lot more western riding here. I’ve never liked the show type western pleasure or been much into real big cowboy rodeo stuff. I think cutting could be fun, learn how to get a cow out of the herd and moving into a pen or some such thing. I don’t see why I can’t ride both disciplines but my question is do I need two different horses? I’ll have to run these questions by Laurie. No matter the discipline though, I’ll be wearing my helmet!!!

Centripetal Force and The Saddle

I had a lesson on Divine this past Monday since I had the day off and it worked out for Laurie. I did two lessons back to back. The one on Divine and then one following where I worked with Pstar.

Laurie had me on the lungeline and had me work on my leg. It doesn’t seem to stay back where it should. I wonder if my cheap English saddle I use on Willy puts me in a different position or I just don’t concentrate on that unless I have Laurie there to pick apart my seat. She had me doing trots on the lunge and use my seat in the posting trot to encourage Divine to go faster, take longer steps and then also to slow down. By creating more energy in my rise and fall it makes Divine speed up to catch up to me. It was a lot of fun.

One bad thing that I still don’t understand why it happened (actually I do, tension and leaning forward) I fell during a lungeline canter. Laurie had me hold onto the front of the saddle with my inside hand while she had Divine begin the canter. I think it was something about cantering in a small lunge circle that threw off my balance. Usually on Willy I’m cantering in a straight line, not a circle. Perhaps I should work in the round pen with him and see if I can work better on my seat at the canter. I’ve mainly just farted around with the canter on Willy; I can’t work much on collection with him because of his head tossing, nose to the wind style. I definitely feel with the canters on Willy I’ve done well, moved with him well and tried to at least work on loosening my seat and going with the movement. Why did I tense up so much? Was it holding the saddle instead of having reins and going with the movement of the horses head with my hands? Was it the centripetal force pushing me out of the circle?

No matter what it was I was pretty embarrassed about the fall. Laurie said it was almost in slow motion as I pretty much rolled off Divines left shoulder. I kind of hit the reins and the lungeline so I was worried that Divine got jerked by me…that was the first thing I asked when I popped back up was if she was okay. I felt bad but at least the fall didn’t hurt and Divine was okay, a sandy arena is a nicer place to fall than a hard gravel road! I needed to get my thoughts together since my face flushed and the tears of embarrassment and frustration welled up. I know Laurie doesn’t judge and she’s on my side, she’s a horse person and has had her share of falls but still, falling on your own is one thing but falling in front of someone is downright embarrassing. I’ll continue on though… “just keep swimming!” as Dori the fish would say!  At least I'm in good company! A year with horses  and then Simply horse crazy have had recent "falling" posts!  LOL.

Next lesson was with Pstar. I got her groomed up, hoof picked (which went a little smoother this time, though the back legs where a challenge with getting underneath quick enough while she “kicked” out) and front legs wrapped. Laurie had put a saddle on Pstar once during a lesson with Robin who had questioned how long it took to train a horse to ride. She had explained that all the work leading up to putting the saddle on a horse would make it a pretty "easy" transition. Apparently Pstar had done fine with getting the saddle on and just stood tied with it…that was all. Today Laurie was going to put the saddle on, tie her and if all went well we’d get her moving on the lunge. All went well!

Laurie lunged her at the walk and then the trot. Pstar didn’t very well! Then I got to try and had Pstar change directions many times and also did the two eyes game by having her back away from me and then come towards me using body language. I still need to work on that one. I just received a ground work book in the mail that I got off Amazon. It looks like it has a lot of games to play! I also want to work some “bombproofing” things. Tarps, plastic bags, bikes, umbrellas…scary objects to get her desensitized to weird things or at least to stop and think first.

The more I think about it I think I am up to the challenge of leasing Pstar, working with Laurie to get her worked on and eventually to the point of riding her. I talked a little bit about what I would do with her if I leased her and Laurie told me some of the games we’ve worked on among other games would be good to work on. I could do a lesson with her every other week, with the off week being a riding lesson for me since I’ll not want to lose much ground with that, and can then work on Pstar with what we did on the lesson. I’m excited at this thought! What an opportunity! Pstar is the only “unbroken”, I don’t like that term, horse I would consider buying and here I have the chance to lease her and get my feet wet (kind of have my hand held by Laurie) before I go head first and buy this young mare! I love her and am impressed with her smarts so far!

So what can I do with her during the week after work? I can do groundwork, spooky object work, perhaps get her used to being led by the halter while I jog…something she’d need to do as an endurance horse. I’d like to get her out to a couple new places but I’m sure that will come later on in her training, perhaps as a “lesson abroad” so to speak with Laurie. Since she’s not under saddle and not been on trail rides I want to test all these different things with her before deciding she’s my horse. This lease is going to be a great way to determine that!  Now I just have to talk seriously with Laurie and figure out when to start this since I also have to give notice I assume to Susan that I won't be leasing Willy anymore.  I'll miss him but working with Pstar....SIGH!

Autism and Horses

My coworker came out on Sunday to bring his grandson Brandon out for a ride on Willy. Brandon is 6 years old and autistic. He loves horses and other animals. Rich has told me about him going out to another friends stable to have him ponied around on her old gelding but it’s been cold lately and they haven’t gone out, so I invited him out to see Willy since there is an indoor arena.

The day was really windy so I was glad that I had access to the indoor arena. I got Willy groomed up but kept going outside to check if Rich was out there wandering around lost…so it took me longer to get Willy cleaned up. Rich showed up as I was picking Willy’s hooves. I gave him a brush to see if Brandon wanted to learn how to brush a horse. As Brandon loved on Willy I worked on the other side wrapping his legs in the polo’s. Then I put the saddle on. I had Rich go sign the release Susan had left out for him to review for Brandon and also to look amongst the helmets for one that fit Brandon well. Then up went Brandon!

We led Willy around the indoor arena, Brandon sat like a little pro! My stirrups were as short as they could go but I wanted to figure out how to make them shorter even since Brandon kept trying to put his feet in the stirrups…he knew what they were for! The gal that leases Ladybug came over and showed me an old trick, wrapping the stirrup leathers around the iron. It's been so long since I worked around kids and horses …it's also been a while since I was a kid and needed to get my stirrups that short! It’s a good trick and I cannot believe I’d forgotten it! Once that was done I think Brandon was much happier.

Towards the end of the ride Brandon was getting a little antsy so I asked Rich if he thought we could try a little trot. He said sure. It was a mistake though. Brandon didn’t have much to grab onto in the English saddle so he jammed his little fingers. I felt horrible! So did Rich but we didn’t know.  I really enjoyed being with Brandon...it took me back to the days in middle school and high school went I worked with my mother at the therapeutic riding program in Leesburg, VA.  Next time I’ll borrow a western saddle so he had the horn. I’ll just need to learn how to cinch it up!

After the ride Rich took Brandon to visit the little ponies and I rode Willy around the property. He was acting pretty spunky and when asked to canter he took off along the side of the arena almost at a gallop. This irritates me because he just ignores my commands to slow down. I worked him in small circles and doing neck flexes and releases to get him mind back on me. We then did some trotting around the arena and he seemed to calm down a bit. It just seems that horses get frisky when it’s windy!

Rich headed back home with Brandon. I continued riding inside. Willy didn’t want to canter in the indoor arena so I got down and free lunged him. He cantered, it didn’t seem like the area was too small for him. Maybe I should work on that with him! I was pretty much done with the day, the wind and chill just didn’t make me happy so I called it a day. It was fun to have Rich’s grandson come out and get some joy riding a horse around. Hopefully we can do it again sometime! Only issue is I think I’ve decided I’ll be ending my lease with Willy by April and starting to lease Pstar!!! Since she’s young and untrained I wouldn’t want to lead Brandon around on her for quite some time. Not sure how she’d react. Well, leasing Pstar is another blog entry all together!

Broke to ride....not baroque to ride!

Been looking at ads on Dream Horse for a beginner horse, something friends, husbands etc. could take out on a trail with me and my horse.  Of course I don't know when I'll get that second horse....depends on the boarding costs and what I can afford.  My first priority is getting MY horse first, then I'll consider an older horse that Steve or family can ride!!

But anyhow I saw this ad and nearly fell out of my seat laughing!

"A well mannered mare. She is not baroque to ride. Handles well on the ground with good manners. She has never been lame nor sick. She is a maiden mare."

When I first read that I thought "okay so she's not a flashy dressage horse, that's fine..."  Baroque of course is a style of music, art etc. from the 1600's and early 1700's.  In Dressage Today it's used to describe horses that are Lusitanos, Freisians, Andulusians....big, cresty horses with huge manes and tails.  I think this seller meant that she's not broke to ride.  Still it tickled me.

So did an ad that said the horse was for sale or for trade for something that doesn't eat!  LOL.

February 21, 2011

Much to write about

I have much to write about.  I've seen Willy and had a friends grandson ride him which was a lot of fun.  I've also had a lesson with Divine where Laurie had me canter on the lunge and I fell....oh my gosh the embarrassment!  Then I had a lesson with Pstar where Laurie put a saddle on her and then we did some lunge work.  I was so impressed with how relaxed Pstar was with the saddle....more and more I'm feeling like she's my horse but I can't do anything about claiming her as mine!  Uge!  I will write more soon.  It's late and I should get to bed soon!

Willy with Brandon on board and Rich leading

Pstar walking with the saddle on towards the arena where she did AWESOME!