January 31, 2013

Weaving

I feel bad for horses that have a vice because most times there is a good reason that they have developed that vice, and I'm sure horse below already had this habit when his owner purchased him.  Most horses develop a vice because of a living in a less than natural type of environment.  The prime reason that comes to mind are stall bound horses.  I would go nuts to being in a small 12 x 12 area for hours at a time and I know horses do.  Horses evolved to be roaming animals, mustangs have been shown to travel upwards of 50 miles a day foraging for various grasses and legumes and traveling to their water sources.



I don't know the history of this horse or really much about him.  I think there are very few horses at this facility that are isolated to just their stall and the small run.  The owners I've met care very much about their animals and he's obviously not stall bound!  Most horses boarded here have pasture access during the day unless they have an injury or have another need to stay in a smaller area.  Most horses with vices here I assume started them before their owners bought them.  A lot of show horses are kept stall bound unless they are training so if some of these fancy jumpers or dressage horses came from such a barn I'm not surprised they ended up with a vice of some sort.  Some vices are manageable and some horses only do it when anticipating food like this guy.  I've seen a couple horses with crib collars on but haven't really seen a lot of disturbing behavior.  I think the horses are happy here, and definitely happier then where they may have come from, the vices are just left over from a past life.

I think all of you are aware I'm very pro-natural when it comes to horse care.  I drive further than originally planned so my horse can have a nice big field instead of just a stall and run like most boarding places provide here in Colorado Springs.  Still there is much to learn, Dani's care is not the type of care others would choose...there is nothing wrong with stalling your horse at night.  There are many reasons to restrict pasture access and I think that in the future, like spring time, that is something I may have to end up doing because I worry about her being an easy keeper and developing laminitis but that's a whole other post!

January 29, 2013

First Lesson with Laurie on my Daenerys

I had a great lesson with Laurie on Saturday.  She found it neat to be coming out to me instead of me to her.  The lesson is more expensive because of the additional travel cost but I feel it's worth it to work directly with my mare and the little issues I have to work on her with.  I finished getting Dani ready, I have a bit blanket to heat the bit up and I love it!  Dani is very good about taking the bit and I'm working on trying to be less fumbly since she's so good I don't want to aggravate her.  I like my new Tekna bridle but I do want new reins since the ones I have are not my favorite, they are a flat cotton rein with little leather stops every so many inches.  They are fine but I like the idea of those rubber grippy ones or simple laced reins.

I told Laurie about my issues with the mounting block and also the saddle sliding over if mounted from the ground.  Laurie watched me move her towards the mounting block.  Then she decided that she would mount from the ground a few times and while on Dani she did some bending of her neck.  Then she dismounted and began showing me to move her hind quarters and shoulder over to the block.  It was tiny step by tiny step then lots of standing and petting on her shoulder and butt while standing on the block.  Dani was calm so I mounted from the block, I still grab the saddle too much, need to learn to grab her neck with mane near the whithers, perhaps putting my arm over the other side of the saddle too.  I have to note that I need longer stirrup leathers, there is no excess to put in the keeper and it all just seems messy.  It'd rather have more excess than not enough.  So I have some ordered, plus a grab strap for mental security!

Anyways, I have to say I was feeling very shaky in the saddle at first.  We did some circle work and practiced one rein halts.  For one rein halts you sit deep in the saddle, sort of tucking the butt under and pull with the inside rein.  Dani was quite responsive.  It can be a very soothing thing especially if there is a panic situation, the more I practice it the more natural it will become and will be there when I really need it!  Dani is pretty good off the seat.


Next we did some yielding of the hind quarters, it's hard to feel the difference when her legs cross over and not just move over but Laurie helped me and I think I eventually felt it.  You press and release with right leg and ask the head  to come over, then do the same on left side.  As soon as she does what I ask I release all pressure.  It will take time for both of us but helps with softness and is the first step towards teaching leg yielding.  I have to make sure to sit back during this exercise, I kept leaning forward which gives confusing signals to my girl.

Dani had a little attitude at first but then when she realized that we were doing a certain thing and she started to get it, the attitude went away.  She realized what she needed to do and that there would be release.  I have to get good about quick release of pressure when she gives the slightest try.  It's hard when I have a hard time telling if she does exactly what I'm asking from the saddle.

Another horse was in ring kicking up hind legs, and all fussy with his rider.  At times it was hard to ignore but again it's getting used to a busier stable for me and Dani both.  It's good to expose Dani to this so she also realizes to just ignore other goings on in the arena.
We then started on a little collection, I asked with alternating pressure on the reins and after even a very slight lowering of her head she received the release.  Little bit by little bit.  By the end of the lesson I felt much calmer and a little more connected to Dani.  It was great to have the lesson on her, I'll have to look at my budget and see if I can purchase a set of them and try at get at least two in a month.  We'll have to see since I had some car issues and other unexpected expenses.  I dismounted Dani when we came to a good point and led her out of the arena.  I'll have to work on these exercises over the next couple of weeks, getting her used to the mounting block and moving the hindquarters.  It was a lot of fun!

January 28, 2013

Buzzing Ponies

I rode indoors Thursday and Friday night.  There were three riders in there on Thursday, two were cantering around the whole arena and jumping jumps.  The other gal was working on some dressage moves.  The two jumpers were making lots of clucking sounds and Dani seemed to be trying to figure out if it was me making those sounds!
We began with having mounting issues again and saddle sliding over on my rolly polly mare when I tried to mount from the ground.  I later had issues with her standing near the mounting block.  At least the cinching was not too bad, she moves around a bit but I stay with her.  She moves less than previous times, I think she realizes that I will only cinch hole by hole and not hurt her.  I try not too but I can't seem to get the saddle tight enough to not slide over on mounting.  I finally got her to stand still and mounted up from the block.

I was pretty tense as we rode around, the clamoring of cantering hooves and constant clucking in the background made it hard to concentrate and I was worried that Dani would take off from thinking the clucking was for her.  It was like I had little bees buzzing around me, but this is a large arena with plenty room to share, I need to get used to this constant activity and so does Dani.
She's very sensitive to the leg, which can be good, and I mostly turned her with my seat.  I do need to get her used to my legs on her all the time, relaxed of course and that just feeling leg on her doesn't mean I'm asking for speed.  Several times she sped up like she was trying to trot, I need to work on keeping her at a walk and relaxed.  I also need to sit back and relax myself!!  We did some circles and serpentines, changes of direction to get her soft and listening to me.  I also flexed her left and right, she's very soft there.  I never fully calmed down but think the ride was a success at conquering my fears.
Bad picture of me starring down while riding, not good!!
Picture is from last weekend riding, I didn't have any
from these two days indoor rides.
The next day we worked on mounting mainly, the saddle slid again and it was cinched up tight from what I could tell.  Uge, I'm not sure what I'm going to do about this issue, I can't seem to tighten it further but it swings around with the pressure from the stirrup.  The mounting block is the best bet for this and perhaps as the saddle breaks in more it will become easier to tighten properly.  I had some of these issues with Willy I recall but still, I know it's not fun for Dani!

I worked with Dani around the mounting block and moved her hips away in a circle quickly if she backed or tried to move.  Then we went back to the block to rest her with me standing on it and loving on her, then leaning on the saddle etc.  I went over this procedure a few times with then actually mounted.  She started to walk off, another thing I'll have to work with her on, so I said Whoa and sat deep.  I got settled but then moved around side to side making sure not to cue to walk, I'm needing to get her desensitized to me getting settled, straitening the saddle etc.  Then when I was ready I made sure that the walk cue was as distinctive as I could make it.

I walked her around, did some turns, a little jigg here and there as it seemed she wanted to trot...not sure what I'm doing to cause that but I tried to sit back and relax.  We did some stops, then went back near the mounting block, dismounted and brought her over to it again and stood her there with lots of praise while I stood on it and stroked her.  It was a short "ride" I'll need a good amount of time to repeat this procedure over and over, getting her to stand still and realizing that if she doesn't she'll be worked, I can get a lead line for that and really work her to make the point.  I was to have a lesson with Laurie on Saturday so I would suggest that be a big part of the lesson to see what she suggests.

January 27, 2013

Serene Sunday

Rock seems to really like Steve, he won't leave him alone when he comes in the paddock


Perhaps we shall buy a second horse?  LOL.  He's not for sale and we can't get a second pony but it's cute because Rock just grabs onto Steve's shirt and holds him.  I was trying to have Steve take pictures of Dani and I but it was a little difficult!

January 22, 2013

My Sassy Girl

Dani has some sass and attitude from a life of being pushy and getting away with it.  She's a higher ranked mare in the herd hierarchy from what I can tell and she tries to be that at times in our herd of two.  Before I got Dani, 3 almost 4 months ago, she lived with a nice family that did some great work with her, she was head shy when they got her.  I still notice her issues with her head but she's not what I would call head shy.  Dani doesn't seem to have had consistent work on staying out of peoples space.  Before her former owners had her she was a pasture ornament, from what I'm told, so probably just did what she wanted.  She wasn't made to work a lot and thus when asked to move off in the circle her attitude is coming to the surface.  I've done work with her in leading and for the most part I feel she has improved a lot!  I still have to correct her but she's getting the rules.  This will be a process as well.
 

I recently started the Clinton Anderson Fundamentals.  The first exercise being the round pen exercise. The round pen ground is still hard and icy in some places so I'm still not completely comfortable with cantering too much in the round pen.  Let me describe the process I'm working under for those less familiar with Clinton Anderson.  First is to get the horse moving around the pen, establish direction.  You point, cluck and then spank.  If you have to keep spanking harder and closer to the horse you do that in order to get the horse to move, then you back off once they are moving in the direction and speed you want.  Then you step to the side and back to get the horse to turn inwards and change directions.  Dani has had some issues with turning in from her right side so I did a little bit of work in the arena with a long line helping her get that concept.  Honestly I'm getting pretty happy with her turn in response, it's not perfect but it's getting there.  I've had difficulty with the weather, darkness when I get to the barn etc so I've had little chance to use the round pen...it's been frustrating.  The inconsistent ability to work with her in the round pen makes this a bit harder.

I am working towards getting consistent turns of direction and making sure the horse turns when I cue.  In the video there are times that I have to get after Dani because she makes the wrong choice and turns her heels at me and changes direction without my asking.  When a horse shows attitude, kicks out or shakes their head at you it's their way of saying "get lost" and Clinton instructs that you have to hustle their feet.  It can get ugly but the horse will soon realize that the less attitude means easier work for them and less pressure applied to cue them.  I hope this Clinton's (and many other trainers!) concept makes sense.  Of course I know I'm not perfect either since I'm still learning this exercise hence why I recorded a session (I only posted a couple minutes of the beginning when she was being naughty!)  Later in the exercise there is a whole part of having the horse follow you around the round pen and moving their hindquarters...Dani has no problem with this but she gets too close so I tap her chest and move her off a bit, this still needs work. 

Her big issue is moving her feet quickly, she doesn't wanna!....but like I said I've not had her canter much because of the round pen footing condition.  She's a little lazy in moving her feet so it may take time combined with the weather. This exercise may really have to wait until springtime, I can probably move to the other exercises that don't require the round pen.

Another thing I read in one of Clinton's books is to treat all horses the same and expect the same from them.  He was discussing an abused horse and how the owner thought exercises needed to be changed for their specifics needs, it sort of sounded like giving them more leeway to me.  I get where she is coming from since I know Dani has had a bad experience with whips and trailer loading....she was never abused from what I can gather but I was concerned about the stick and string with Dani's issue.  Clinton's response was that horses in the pasture are still going to chase, bite and move the feet of the the formally abused horse just like any other.  Us as owners and trainers should not expect a horse to improve if we don't apply pressure when needed and release it when we get the correct response.  It's up to the horse how much pressure they require.  If done right they will learn that if they respond and do it with no attitude the cue will be subtle and to their liking. 
 

I've used the stick and string to smack the ground behind or in front of Dani when she was going the wrong direction, acting out with attitude etc.  I have not needed to "spank" her butt; I really don't want to and hopefully I won't need to.  She responds well enough to the cues right now (for a beginner), she kicked out that one time with just my hand raised!!  Can we say sensitive?  The camera only recorded a total of eight minutes so I never got the part at the end where she was turning in really well for being only the third time doing this with many days in between the last session.  I didn't get her following me around and moving her haunches on tape; she was a sweetheart for a lot of that, though at times I think she was trying to move my feet so I backed her off.  It will be a process as I learn and try to teach her.  We'll just keep going forward and working to improve together, I want to earn her full respect and I know that will take time.

January 20, 2013

Serene Sunday

This is Rohan, the gorgeous Friesian gelding at Whispering Winds Farm.  He is so regal and gentle.  I've put his blanket on a few times and his hood when I noticed it'd fallen off in his stall.  He's a big sweetheart!  His owner is taking dressage lessons from a former Grand Prix rider.  I haven't had the chance to watch a lesson, I usually show up as Rohan is exiting the arena and I "oo and ah" at him.
 
 
 
 
 
I love Friesians!

January 19, 2013

Quick Little Ride

I went to the barn with the hubby today, just for a short little time. I wanted him to capture a couple pictures of me riding Dani.  My goal this year is to work on my confidence, as you all know it's been shot and it will take some time to get back to where I've been before.  I've done mostly groundwork with Dani and have a lot more I plan on working with her on but I need to also get into the saddle more often, even if it's only for 20 minutes just doing some little exercises.  It will help us both out immensely.  I'm not worried too much about collection, lightness yes and Dani doesn't pull on the bit which is good.  She's very responsive to my seat and legs for turning and for halting.
 
 
I certainly felt tense today but kept trying to remind myself to relax, it will be a process.  I talked softly to Dani too which is also calming for me.  It will be a long time before my fear gets back to a normal level, I feel silly sometimes but Steve said it's only human nature when you had three falls within a short period of time that scared the daylights out of you.  Even one fall is enough to unnerve most people, especially the Desperados Storm fall!  She tried to speed up a few times, not sure why at one point but the other time I think she got a little nervous at cars coming down the driveway.  We haven't done much in the outdoor arena so it's new to her and I. 
 
 
I still had the issues with mounting, Dani would swing her butt away when I went up to the mounting block.  I tried backing her and then making her swing her butt each way to show her that it was more difficult to not just stand calmly.  Finally I just mounted from the ground, and when she tried to move I pulled on the outer rein which stopped her.  She stood still while I was "in the air" mounting at least but I'll have to show Laurie the issue I've had with the mounting block.  I would like to get her trained on that but I still don't want to get out of the habit of being able to mount from the ground.  She's a small enough horse and I won't always have a mounting block.  I'll see what Laurie says during my lesson next Saturday.
 
 
I want to work on exercises like serpentines, going in and out of cones or some such obstacle and doing spirals.  I tried a spiral but could only either get her on a big or tiny circle, not much of a transition spiraling in or out.  We'll work on it!  There was a weird sound coming from one end of the arena, something with the wind and I know Dani noticed it a few times but with a little bit of squeezing on the reins she came back to me at least.  It was good to be on her riding.  I think the saddle and bridle work well for her, it doesn't appear to be pinching and the bit I have seems to work well.  We'll see, things can always change with tack and I'm not against making minor adjustments of finding a bit that she likes better.  Like I said she seems to be doing okay with this bit.  I haven't done much riding with her in this bit so she's still getting used to it. 
 
Well, happy riding!  Hope the weather is nice like it's been the past couple days here in Colorado!  Nothing like going from the single digits to the 50s!

January 18, 2013

Bridle Fitting....NOT Bridal Fitting!!

Steve came with me to the barn tonight after we picked up my car from the shop.  It was in serious need of struts/shocks.  I can't tell you how smooth the ride is now!  Wow!  Must be like going from a rough trotting horse to a smooth gaited Peruvian Paso!!  The bumpy drive to the barn was a piece of cake tonight!
 
 Dani received a new bridle made by Tekna today.  It fits her much better than the other two I had tried out.  I was thinking of taking a ride tonight but when we got to the barn it was busy as ever.  The two wash racks were booked and we ended up trying to get some grooming done near Rohan's stall.  He's the gorgeous Friesian that likes Dani but she was squealing and tossing her head at the black beauty, she wanted nothing to do with him!!  It also took way longer than expected to get the bridle adjusted just right and I'm still not 100% sure about its fit.  I moved the nose band up, then the bit straps, then the nose band again....uge.
 
 
She was so good about all the adjustments we were making, Steve on one side, me on the other.  We did it slowly since the synthetic material was very stiff and we didn't want to hurt or scare the baby.  She was patient but though she tossed her head a few times in irritation, what can I expect? I'm not entirely comfortable with all the adjustments, it seems the bit is a little low, maybe, maybe not.  She seems comfortable when I pulled the bit up a bit to get those "wrinkles" on the side of the mouth "they" suggest, it just didn't seem to work well for her.  We'll play with it and see how it goes.  Still, she looks so pretty in her new bridle!  I had her bend her neck to the left and right with a little pressure on the reins, she still needs to get used to this bit since her last owner rode her in a curb.
 
I didn't have the time to ride and I was freezing cold; combined with a frozen husband we ended the evening around 7:30pm to head home.  Even though the days had warmed up it was still pretty cold in the barn at night and I hadn't dressed smartly; I'm so ready for spring already!  My fault of course!  I need to come with layers!  Oh well, tomorrow and this three day weekend coming up will give me plenty of time to do some horse activity with my girl.  The weather will be in the 40-50s which is a heat wave compared to the temperatures we've had lately. 
 
 
I have a lesson scheduled with Laurie in the next week to begin learning how to soften Dani under saddle and begin working with her in that regard.  I'm nervous and excited, she is one of the most beautiful and sweet horses I've known but I think I'm a bit biased!  I want to be comfortable riding her like I did with Willy, even when I had set backs with him I could keep going forward.  I'll get there with her!!!

January 15, 2013

I Am Wimp in Cold Weather!!

I went to check on Dani since it's been pretty cold lately, I've been sick too; nothing major just a head cold but it is still enough to make me want to just stay in bed.  She had a cute dusting of snow on her and was munching happily on hay even though she had snowballs on her feet.  They don't bother her on the uneven ground so much.


One of these days I’ll take my real camera to the barn instead of trying to get images from my iphone.  When it’s cold my hand freezes while taking the shots since the touch screen needs bare fingers.  Forgive me these images are really blurry because I was trying to quickly take the pictures and Dani kept moving and trying to nibble on the phone.  Oh well it gives you the gist of how chilly it was.  Even with the indoor arena it was too cold to do any work with Dani, my gloved hands and socked feet were frozen, my face was stiff from the cold.  I just brought her in to get her feet free from snowballs.  I used a hair dryer to try and melt the remnants of ice from her hooves but as soon as I removed the dryer to grab my stiff brush the melted ice refroze almost instantly.  Uge.  Well at least her hooves were even instead of dome shaped below.  My farrier said that on these cold cold days the WD-40 won't work 100%.  I wonder if a pad like these would work better than the hairdryer though….but, do I have to extra cash to buy one and try it out?  No…but one can ponder.


Aside from the snowballs my visit to Dani was typical, pony lips on the phone and little ears following my movements around her taking pictures.  She was sharing a hay pile with Rock, the cutest little appaloosa I’ve ever seen.  I’ll have to do a post about him since he’s got a lot of personality!


Last week I received a replacement butt strap from Rambo Blankets, it was green and not bungee.  I placed it on her blanket, it worked just fine and I was happy to see that this one had metal clips to it, nice and sturdy.  Steve and I discovered this weekend that Dani’s butt strap was missing again though.  It had to have been taken off since I think the clips would still be attached even if it had been ripped off.  So I placed a “lost butt strap” note on the board in the stable.  We’ll see if anything comes of it.  I don’t want to have to keep getting butt straps.  This one was free but replacement ones are $10 and if she keeps losing them that could add up!



This week it will start to warm up and the weekend should be in the 40’s, hopefully I can get some time in to work with my Daenerys.  It’s a three day weekend for me and aside from maybe seeing some movies with the hubby or getting a drink with friends I don’t have any big plans.  I’m ready for warmer weather, I used to take a break from riding lessons in the winter as a kid because it can be downright miserable to ride with your fingers frozen and your toes numb.  I’m a wimp!  At least my mare doesn't seem bothered by the cold, she actually seems to enjoy the weather!  LOL.

January 13, 2013

Serene Sunday

Today I spent the day taking care of my many other critters. Shaved my dog, did the litter box cleaning for my kitty and applied a salve to my little dogs dry nose. Then I began with my 55 gallon tropical aquarium.

Plants before

Plants after

The planted tropical aquarium needed major pruning since the plants were doing REALLY well.


I got three baby angels to introduce to the living room school. They are SO freakin cute!


My 10 gallon bedroom tank, used as a hospital tank houses Saphira my silver/gray goldfish. She got a nice water change and algae was removed from the glass so we could see her cute self!

Crabitat before

I also re-did the Crabitat (I have 4 purple pinchers and 3 Eucudorian hermit crabs). I used to have a larger pool with salt water on one side and fresh on the other but I think there was a leak and both waters became brackish. So I now have smaller pools that are separate with dry live rock for each which creates climbing for the crabs to drink or take a dip. Subsequently they have a bit more room for burrowing in the sand!
Crabitat after


This one above is Nori I think. They change shells so often and then spend weeks buried in the sand that sometimes I can't tell who's who. He's quite the happy critter.


Now the crabitat has more of a tide pool look but not the ultimate 90 gallon tank I will make in a few years.


I also freshened up the spider, Shelobs, lair. She was a very happy spider in her fresh coconut husk litter. I texted Liz and she said that Dani was doing fine and didn't have snowballs on her hooves. Today is really cold and after getting lots of work done I plan to try and have a serene Sunday. I'll go play with Dani tomorrow even though it will still be freezing cold still!!

January 12, 2013

My Present From Braymere!!!

A while back I was excited because a fellow blogger over at Braymere Custom Saddlery, a gal who makes the most awesome model horse tack, was giving away free model horses...beat up ones. She wanted people to tell her what they would like from her collection and she would see what she could do. Well my email described that I just wanted heads!


My husband brews beer and thinks it would be cool to make the tap handles horse heads to combine our two hobbies. I received this draft horse for his draft beers....LOL. Jennifer over at BCS added some details to the forelock, carved out the ears, and nostrils and added some texture to the fuzzy face of this drafty steed. She did a lot of work fixing the head as it was a resin that was not cast right. All I have to do is paint him and ta-da we'll have our first tap handle horse head!


One of my good friends commented on Facebook that I should place the horse head on Steve's side of the bed. Hmmm....I really don't think this has the same effect as the horse head in The Godfather.....what do you all think?

January 10, 2013

The Ridden Horse Behavior

I just wanted to post on here about a new forum called a wikipage that was created by horse behavior researchers.  This is a website you can join, I think for free, and be able to upload videos of you riding.  Those on this forum will then be able to critique, not the riding, but the attitude of the horse and help you to create a happy more willing partner.  Of course this will in turn improve your riding I'm sure! On one page there are loads of videos posted with ridden horse body language to help you learn more about what our silent friends are telling us.  Check it out!
 
 
Also there is a blog that will post updates and some interesting articles on horse behavior.  These both should be great resources for riders with a wealth of knowledge!!
 

January 09, 2013

Thanks for the Adventure, 2012!!

I wanted to do a year end review sooner but my busy end of the year overlapped into the beginning of this new year, so here I am January 8th, 2013 looking back at my horsie year. I have to say that all in all it was a good year! I mean come on! I finally got a pony!

January
I began the year frustrated with schedules and not feeling like I had enough time to see horses (I think that’s still an issue at times!). Nothing was able to be done really, my instructor had time constraints and that just didn’t mesh with my time availability. It happens. I filled my time with new horse magazines and enjoyed a fire horse museum at a meeting location for my work.


February
I fell in love with Vantage Point Farms, it became my top choice for boarding facilities. It had a nice outdoor arena, no fence, nice indoor, large paddock for geldings, and good sized paddocks for mares with run in sheds. No round pen but there was easy access to trails right off the property.

March
Quinntessential Arabians had a client get together where we made horse treats and talked about….uh, horses! Uschi tried to play match maker and have me buy the cute chestnut mare of Amy’s. I wasn’t in a position to buy but found it fun to dream.


Steve and I attended the Rocky Mountain horse Expo in Denver. We really enjoyed Julie Goodnight! I also posted an article by a gal from Tampa that wrote in her local paper about being 40 when she got her first horse. I can relate! Then during a lesson Divine reached around after I dismounted and got the stirrup caught in her mouth!! Crazy! I went to another instructor and rode a really big Arabian named Ramses. I liked the lesson but just didn’t feel we clicked. I wasn’t sure what direction I was going with horses at the time.

 

 April
This month I did some canter work with Divine and felt I made a few good steps forward! On a sad note a couple mares, Gretchen and Cleo at Fawor Foundation Arabian Rescue, whom I had wanted to meet for so long were adopted. I never got the chance to meet them but glad they found homes.

July
In late June and early July I was consumed with my job 24/7 for two weeks. We were dealing with the Waldo Canyon Fire here and I was activated in the Emergency Operations Centers. It was a busy time! Later that month I saw Esprit, while she was a beautiful little mare she wasn’t the right horse for me. Then I left with hubby to Cancun!!


August
I began my horse shopping in earnest! My first horse was a skinny Arab named Khan. I ended up calling the humane society and apparently he was already a case. So sad, I wished I could have taken him to a better home but hopefully he will be taken care of.


I viewed Whispering Winds Farm and placed it at the top of my list. I loved the large fields for my future horse!


August had some traumatic instances for me. I had three falls. First one was riding Divine and my foot got caught in the railing, Divine spooked and I went overboard. The next one was really horrible; I tried out a horse for purchase, Desperados Storm. He spooked under a tree and raced into the barn; I went flying into a stall door and landed hard on my rear on a cinder block or something in the aisle way. Ouch. Needless to say I didn’t buy him. Then I wanted a calm lesson on Divine, we were walking around the arena, we got to close to the wall post (the railings had since been taken down). I tensed and sort of freaked having my knee up to the post again, not sure how I guided Divine that direction. She spooked at my tenseness and trotted off and since I was so freaked out I ended up on the ground again. I fell REALLY hard and knocked the wind out of me. Never have done that before and it was SCARY!!!


September
I went to Kenlyn to check out two mares. Linda was very kind to me and I explained by recent falls and subsequent lack of confidence. The first mare I tried started to move off and I panicked a little. Linda jumped off her horse and grabbed the mare and had me get off and mount the other. She made me feel okay for being fearful and let me try out the other horse at my own pace. I was grateful to her kindness and understanding. The mares were fabulous but not for me.


Then I met Heidi the cute as a button, neighs when you dismount, Haflinger mare. She was too short and I looked ridiculous on her otherwise I would have probably taken her home! Next I met Brio a dark bay Arab and really liked him. I wasn’t entirely sure but he had potential. He got sick with a cough before Laurie could evaluate him....


Of course I ended up going to see a chestnut Morgan mare and there was just something about her, she was the one, I knew it. I liked her attitude her mannerisms and felt she was very kind and forgiving but not a push over. I made an offer and began setting up veterinary exams and had my trainer come out. This little mare had something special about her!


October
Vet exams went well and Dani moved to her new home, after training with Laurie for loading on the trailer. Dani has issues with trailers so I knew it would be an ongoing thing to train her but I felt she was worth that effort. The beginning weeks I worked with Dani on grooming, standing while tied and facing her fears of the wash rack which is much like an enclosed trailer. She even encountered a flapping flag and a Bobcat hauling huge hay bales quickly and loudly down the aisle of the barn! She seemed easy to teach and began looking to me for guidance. Laurie also hosted a “clinic” with a couple of us students, I don’t think I posted about it but it was a great clinic talking about communication and trying to be positive but not looking through “rose colored glasses” when it comes to working with horses. The three students each rode Divine through some simple exercises and while I was VERY fearful to get back on her I knew the fear was a bit exaggerated. The support from Laurie and the other riders during this clinic was awesome!

Dani got injured the night before I left to see my newborn nephew. Her left hind swelled up and the vet came out. She was bandaged for a couple weeks and stall bound. I couldn’t even do groundwork until the week of Thanksgiving!

November
Dani healed and when finally able to be back in her paddock raced off with tail high! I worked on getting her used to the indoor arena that was pretty scary and new to her. I also was selling items at home to start my saddle fund since I didn’t have one to fit her. Dani had her teeth floated (and man she needed it!) and her hooves trimmed for the first time under my ownership. The time change and then the beginning of friend and family visits reduced my time to spend with Dani. This is the reason she is on pasture 100%, I know she’s happy and content even if I can’t get out to visit her. I finally did buy a saddle and worked on finding the right girth and then found out my one bridle was way too big! LOL. And so it goes!


December
I did finally get the tack situated and rode Dani for the first time since I bought her. The ride went well for the most part and wasn’t complicated. Serpentines and changes of direction to calm me down and work Dani’s mind a bit. I got my cowboy hat that I love wearing, keeps my hair out of my face when not wearing a helmet and it looks cute! I also dealt with snowballs forming on Dani’s unshod feet and my hubby finally replaced his car that died in July with a nice GMC Sierra 2500!! The trucks name is Buddy and he should be a good trailer hauler! Most of December we had Steve’s parents back again in our house so it was fun to spend time with them, Cierra Steve’s daughter came for a week at Christmas. Dani got hurt again; her blanket butt bungee snapped and cut her leg. Another vet bill and some antibiotics for a few days, I got really good at giving her the pills turned to paste. At least this time the injury didn’t require too much maintenance. With lack of time and the injury I really couldn’t do much with Dani so I just visited her when I could to groom and hug her then it was off to family fun!

So....
This year was a whirlwind towards the end. I dove into the deep end of the pool of horse ownership and have loved every minute! I look forward to spending more time with Dani and getting a little closer to our goals of riding trails together. I’m so happy to have met Dani and that she’s my first horse, she’s a great first horse, challenging but not too challenging and cuteness galore!! Happy belated New Year!!

January 08, 2013

Move Those Feet...Just a Little.

Yes! Finally a weekend with nothing scheduled and nice weather! It was 40-50 this weekend and the snow was melting….for now, we’ll get more the end of this week, uge. This weekend I wanted to start some Clinton Anderson round pen exercises.

The round pen had drifts of snow in it when I arrived. I grabbed a shovel and started to see how deep it was but decided that perhaps doing the indoor arena jump set up would work. I took about 30 minutes to get 6 jumps set up in a corner of the indoor arena. I was mostly a circle…. A couple riders asked me what I was doing, cocking their heads in curiosity. Once I explained it made sense to them.


I went out to get Dani. We approached the “round pen” and I let her sniff it as I walked her around a couple times. Then I released her and asked her to trot. Attitude!!! She reared up away from me at the fence line and then went around a few times and tried to change directions which I corrected. Then she looked downwards trying to climb under the jump. This she could have easily done since you know that jump cross bars are only held with cups and meant to fall down easily. After a couple times of her trying that I decided this just wasn’t going to work. How could I fully apply the pressure I need to get her moving if she could easily escape through the jump and perhaps run loose in the arena, interrupting the lesson happening on the other side.

Uge. I grabbed her and tied her up to the fence and began taking down the “fences”. What a pain. I decided to go back out to the round pen outside and see what I could do. Dani explored the pen while I began shoveling snow out of the area. There was no hard ice at least so I felt it would be safe at least at the trot. When I finally finished, I want to say about 1 hour to 1.5 hours since I first arrived at the farm to do this, I was finally able to start working Dani. Point, cluck and spank to get her in the right direction. At first Dani needed more incentive to trot where I was pointing, the spanking of the stick and string on the ground behind her was enough to get her to know where to go.
 
 
After she went around a couple times I stepped out in front of her drive line and stepped backwards to get her to turn into me.  A couple times I went flying because that darn step in the middle of the round pen!! On a side note someone here trains their horse to stand on the step and it's really heavy, needs the bobcat to move it so it stays, I've asked and really don't want them to have to move it if I can work around it.  I just have to learn to work around it and pay attention to where it is behind me!  I fell twice, landed pretty hard on my butt and one time my feet went up in the air as a car was driving past the pen.  Oh how embarrassing!!!


Anyways, Dani did well when turning into her left side (despite her owner flipping over the darn step!) and then moving off clockwise but she had issues with her right side. When she was going clockwise and I stepped and backed up she ignored me so I ended up walking a ways around the fence line to her, applying pressure near her shoulder to get her to turn. I can’t say that ears didn’t get pinned and hind legs didn’t kick out at times…she is feisty and not happy being told what to do and will certainly let you know! I think she is one of the higher ranking mares in the paddock by her behavior, so she's got a bit of spunk. I just kept moving her feet when any disrespect was given. It will be a process.

 We continued for a time, she never fully turned in on her right side but we both needed a break and I wanted to yield her hindquarters and have her follow me in arcs. A++ on that! We came to a stopping point, I made sure she had her rests on her difficult side to help encourage her to do what I wanted.


When we were finally done, I hosed off her legs since they were very muddy. She had worked up a sweat too so walking her to cool her down was part of our post round pen activities. All in all I think she did well for the first time.

The next day the round pen was even less snowy so Dani and I went directly out there. I kept having issues with her right side turning, I may have to use the “insurance plan” of a halter and long line to SHOW her what I want since it doesn’t seem to be clicking. I have to work more on that side. I’ve tried getting really close then doing the backing away to draw her inwards to turn. I’ve hustled her, stepped and backed up and then when she ignored me went back to chasing her hip like in the instructions and tried again. It will just take time and consistency, and the long line may help.

Still all in all, it feels good to start this program and feel like I have steps I can take towards a final goal.  I’m not sure what I can do this week because of how dark it gets once I'm off work but honestly if I need to use the halter and lead I can do this exercise in the indoor arena sans round pen.  I also don’t want to have a lot of concentrated effort on her running around the pen for several reasons, right now the footing isn’t the best and she's kind of a pasture puff right now.  She needs to get in better shape before I demand too much from her physically.

Yesterday I only swung by the barn to check on her legs, no swelling or heat she seems to be holding up well.  The awesome thing was Dani walked away from her hay and came up to me!  She’s never done that!  Usually she looks at me and goes back to eating, she doesn’t have an issue with me walking up to her or catching her but she’s never left her food for me!  Perhaps she thought I had a treat or perhaps she is starting to realize I’m her mom and the boss mare.  Either way I scratched her and loved on her so much!!  I know this hard and slow work will pay off!

January 06, 2013